THE NATRONA COUNTY COMMISSION ON TUESDAY APPROVED A $48.5 MILLION BUDGET FOR THE NEW FISCAL YEAR THAT BEGAN MONDAY, AND GRANTED AN UNUSUAL REQUEST THAT WILL RAISE SHERIFF'S OFFICERS PAY ON PAR WITH THE CASPER POLICE DEPARTMENT.

SHERIFF GUS HOLBROOK, DEPUTIES AND THEIR FAMILIES, AND THEIR FRIENDS URGED COMMISSIONERS AT A PACKED MEETING TO ENHANCE DEPUTIES' SALARIES BY 5 PERCENT.

COMMISSIONERS HAD TO PASS A BALANCE BUDGET AS REQUIRED BY LAW, AND IT INCLUDED A 2 PERCENT COST OF LIVING ALLOWANCE FOR ALL COUNTY EMPLOYEES.

BUT THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE NEEDED MORE BECAUSE IT IS ALREADY UNDERSTAFFED AND WILL LOSE MORE DEPUTIES BECAUSE OF LOW MORALE, AND MANY REMAINING DEPUTIES CAN RETIRE NOW, AND OTHERS ARE LOOKING AT HIGHER-PAYING JOBS AT OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES.

THE COMMISSIONERS RELENTED IN A MOVE THAT DIDN'T CHANGE THE BUDGET, WITH THE HOPE THAT COUNTY REVENUES WILL RISE DURING THE YEAR.

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE, WHICH PATROLS A COUNTY THE SIZE OF CONNECTICUT, ELIMINATED THREE DEPUTY POSITIONS.

IT WAS DOWN NINE DEPUTIES IN THE PAST FISCAL YEAR, AND HOLBROOK SAID HE RETURNED ABOUT $1 MILLION TO THE COUNTY BECAUSE HE COULDN'T FILL THESE POSITIONS.

ALL THE COMMISSIONERS SAID THEY FULLY SUPPORTED THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE, ADDING THEY WERE WILLING TO TAKE THE RISK THAT REVENUES WILL IMPROVE THAT WILL COVER THE 5 PERCENT PAY RAISE THAT GOES INTO EFFECT IMMEDIATELY.
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A LAND CONSERVATION GROUP AND TWO ENERGY COMPANIES SAY THEY'VE BOUGHT AND PLAN TO RETIRE OIL AND GAS LEASES WITHIN AN AREA OF WESTERN WYOMING THAT'S BEEN THE FOCUS OF OTHER RECENT CONSERVATION EFFORTS.

THE TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND, STANLEY ENERGY AND MOUNTAIN ENERGY ANNOUNCED THE FEDERAL LEASE PURCHASES TUESDAY.

THE LEASES COVER SOME 40 SQUARE MILES OF THE WYOMING RANGE LEGACY AREA.

FEDERAL LAW PROHIBITS NEW OIL AND GAS LEASING IN THE AREA THOUGH OLDER LEASES COULD STILL BE DRILLED. THE LEASE PURCHASES ASSISTED WITH A GRANT FROM THE WYSS FOUNDATION HELPS ENSURE THAT WON'T HAPPEN ON THE LAND IN QUESTION.

GOV. MATT MEAD SAYS IN A STATEMENT THE U.S. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT WORKED WITH THE COMPANIES TO BALANCE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT WITH ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS.
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CASPER, WYO. (AP) - THE SALES OF PRODUCTS THAT CAN BE TAXED IN WYOMING ACCELERATED TO $3.9 BILLION FOR THE FIRST FEW MONTHS OF THIS YEAR...

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A WYOMING GUN MANUFACTURER PLANS TO ADD 75 JOBS AND POSSIBLY EXPAND ITS MANUFACTURING FACILITY.

GUNWERKS ALREADY NEEDS MORE ROOM TWO YEARS AFTER MOVING TO CODY FROM NEARBY BURLINGTON.

GUNWERKS MAKES CUSTOM, LONG-RANGE RIFLES.

JAMES KLESSENS WITH THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GROUP FORWARD CODY SAYS THE COMPANY WILL HAVE 112 EMPLOYEES. MOST JOBS WILL START AT $18 AN HOUR.

KLESSENS SAYS FORWARD CODY HOPES TO BUILD A NEW FACILITY WITH A $3 MILLION STATE LOAN AND A $3 MILLION STATE GRANT.

IF THE FINANCING IS APPROVED AND THE FACILITY BUILT, GUNWERKS WOULD LEASE THE BUILDING FROM FORWARD CODY.
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CHEYENNE, WYO. (AP) - ONE WYOMING AIR NATIONAL GUARD C-130 AND CREW HAS BEEN ACTIVATED TO ASSIST WITH FIGHTING WILDFIRES IN COLORADO AND THE REGION.

THE AIRCRAFT, WHICH IS EQUIPPED WITH THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE'S MODULAR AIRBORNE FIRE FIGHTING SYSTEM, JOINED THE FIGHT ON THURSDAY.

THE WYOMING GUARD SAYS IT WILL BE STATIONED OUT OF PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE IN COLORADO SPRINGS FOR AT LEAST THE NEXT FIVE DAYS.

THE WYOMING CREW JOINS THREE OTHER C-130S THAT HAVE BEEN ACTIVATED FROM OTHER STATES.