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Wyoming news in brief

Geringer questions legislative foresight CHEYENNE - The death of a sweeping tax measure Tuesday shows lawmakers are not thinking about the future, Gov. Jim Geringer said Wednesday.

"The demise of the omnibus (revenue) bill says, in essence, we're not going to do a whole lot about long-term planning," he said.

House Bill 120 was aimed at giving the Legislature several revenue options in this year's session. It would have raised the sales, property and fuels tax and put taxes on electric generation and sales of real estate.

The House Revenue Committee killed the bill Tuesday on a 5-4 vote.

Geringer cautioned lawmakers against using one-time money to balance the budget.

"On balance, I'm comfortable with what the Legislature is doing, I'm positive about it. But I'm still very unsettled at the lack of perspective, of looking beyond," he said.

On other bills, Geringer said he would sign House Bill 58, which would lower the blood alcohol content required for a drunken driving charge to .08 from .10.Coalbed methane production eyed for fall RAWLINS - The president of a company drilling for coal-bed methane said he hopes production will start this fall.

So far, a Dudley and Associates pilot project has not yield commercial amounts of methane gas, company officials said.

The highest production comes many months after a well is drilled, company president Dave Dudley said.

Waiting months for any financial returns "makes this a pretty good money hole," he told the League of Women Voters recently.

The project is located between Seminoe Reservoir and Seminoe Road. Wells have been drilled nearly a mile deep into the western edge of the Hanna Basin just west of the Coal Creek Arm of the reservoir.

Work on the project began in 1999.Business booms at Allwire plant GILLETTE - Business boomed in the first week of production at Allwire's new pipe and wire manufacturing plant, the plant's manager said.

The plant opened Feb. 1 and produced its first oil-and-methane-collection pipe and custom wire last week.

Plant manager Del Shelstad said he is looking into adding production lines.

"We're already at the point where we think we can buy another wire line … We've got orders coming out our ears," he said.

New orders for wire come in every day from states such as Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Utah, he said. Customers include power, oil and methane companies.

Twenty-five people keep the plant going 24 hours a day. About 50 people probably will work at the plant by the end of March, Shelstad said.

When the plant is producing at capacity, three of its five production lines will produce polyethylene oil-and-methane-collection pipe, one line will produce cable and conduit and another will produce about 100 varieties of custom wire.

The plant produces about 1,000 pounds of pipe an hour, or 24,000 feet of pipe a day.

The company could earn about $30 million a year, Shelstad said.Catchpole appointed to education panel CHEYENNE - Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Judy Catchpole has been appointed to a committee to develop new rules on federal education reform.

Catchpole is among 21 negotiators on the committee, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education Susan B. Neuman announced Wednesday.

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The rules concern standards and assessments under Title I of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Title I is designed to help disadvantaged children meet high academic standards.

Committee members include state and local education administrators, teachers, school board members and parents.

The committee is expected to go to Washington, D.C. in mid-March to negotiate the draft regulations.

"Judy Catchpole is nationally recognized for her knowledge on how federal education laws can impact rural states," Gov. Jim Geringer said Wednesday.UW enrollment rises LARAMIE - The University of Wyoming's enrollment rose 4 percent on campus and 13 percent through its outreach program since last spring, officials said.

UW President Phil Dubois said efforts to recruit and retain students have paid off. UW officials have visited every Wyoming high school at least once, traveled to schools and recruiting fairs in Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Montana, he said.

"Much of our success in attracting new students to UW is attributable to the outstanding work of our enrollment management team," Dubois said.

He also credited "generous" funding from the Legislature and support from Gov. Jim Geringer.

The university enrolled 11,416 students for the spring 2002 semester, an increase of 582 students from spring 2001.

Of total enrollment, 9,283 students were enrolled on the UW campus in Laramie, an increase of 4 percent. Also, 2,133 students were enrolled across the state through the Outreach School, an increase of 13 percent, officials said.

The university broke a record in retaining students, officials said. Ninety-three percent of the 1,422 freshmen who enrolled last fall plan to return this spring.

UW trustees in 1999 listed enrollment growth and student retention as priorities.

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