CASPER CITY COUNCIL WILL CONDUCT A WORK SESSION AT CITY HALL AT 4:30 P.M. TODAY TO CONSIDER $13 MILLION IN REQUESTS FROM GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND NONPROFITS SEEKING FUNDING IF NATRONA COUNTY VOTERS APPROVE THE FOUR-YEAR OPTIONAL ONE-CENT SALES TAX IN NOVEMBER.

IF RENEWED, THE OPTIONAL SALES TAX IS ESTIMATED TO RAISE BETWEEN $50 MILLION AND $58 MILLION OVER THE NEXT FOUR YEARS.

HOWEVER, CITY RESIDENTS IN THE PAST HAVE WANTED MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS INCLUDING STREET REPAIR AND EQUIPMENT FOR THE POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS.

AFTER COUNCIL SETS THOSE PRIORITIES, ABOUT $5 MILLION MAY BE AVAILABLE FOR THE OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.

LAST WEEK, REPRESENTIVES OF THOSE AGENCIES PITCHED THEIR REQUESTS TO THE COUNCIL.

THE LARGEST REQUEST WAS FROM THE CASPER AREA TRANSPORTATION COALITION FOR $1.7 MILLION FOR ITS FIXED ROUTE PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEM CALLED THE BUS, AND ITS ON-DEMAND SERVICE CALLED CATC, WHICH IS USED BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE NO OTHER WAY TO GET TO WORK AND MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS.

OTHER LARGE REQUESTS INCLUDED $1.5 MILLION FOR THE YMCA'S NEW SWIMMING POOL, $1 MILLION FOR THE SCIENCE ZONE TO RENOVATE A NEW BUILDING, AND $1 MILLION FOR THE PLATTE RIVER RAILS TRUST.

MANY REQUESTS CAME FROM AGENCIES THAT DIRECTLY SERVE THE POOR AND NEEDY FAMILIES, INCLUDING THE FOOD BANK OF THE ROCKIES, WYOMING FOOD FOR THOUGHT PROJECT, THE POVERTY RESISTANCE FOOD PANTRY, INTERFAITH, SETON HOUSE, AND THE SELF-HELP CENTER.

HOWEVER, THE CITY'S LEGAL DEPARTMENT HAS DETERMINED THAT SEVERAL ORGANIZATIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED FOR FUNDING INCLUDING THE $420,000 REQUEST FROM THE CASPER MOUNTAIN BIATHON BECAUSE THAT FACILITY IS NOT IN THE CITY.

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THE WYOMING GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCED FRIDAY IT HAS OFFICIALLY SUSPENDED THE GRIZZLY BEAR HUNT, JUST ONE DAY BEFORE IT WAS SET TO BEGIN.

THE DECISION COMES IN RESPONSE TO A THURSDAY RULING FROM U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE DANA CHRISTENSEN, WHO PUT A 14-DAY HOLD ON GRIZZLY HUNTS IN WYOMING AND IDAHO WHILE HE DECIDES WHETHER THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WAS CORRECT IN LIFTING PROTECTIONS FOR THE BEARS IN THE GREATER YELLOWSTONE ECOSYSTEM.

THE SUSPENSION OF THE HUNT WILL REMAIN IN PLACE PENDING FURTHER DIRECTION, ACCORDING TO A STATEMENT FROM THE DEPARTMENT.

WYOMING GAME AND FISH DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR SCOTT TALBOT CALLS THE SITUATION "UNFORTUNATE." HE ADDED THAT THE DEPARTMENT WILL AWAIT FURTHER INFORMATION ON WHETHER THE BEARS WILL REMAIN UNDER STATE MANAGEMENT.

THE DEPARTMENT'S STATEMENT ADVISED THAT THE WYOMING ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE WOULD HANDLE QUESTIONS RELATED TO THE REVIEW OF CHRISTENSEN'S DECISION.

THE DEPARTMENT HAS ALREADY BEGUN NOTIFYING PEOPLE WHO RECEIVED A 2018 GRIZZLY BEAR HUNTING LICENSE THAT THE HUNT IS SUSPENDED.

GOVERNOR MATT MEAD SAID HE WAS DISAPPOINTED BY THE JUDGE'S RULING.

WYOMING U.S. SENATORS MIKE ENZI AND JOHN BARRASSO ALSO ISSUED STATEMENTS ECHOING THOSE SENTIMENTS.
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IN LIGHT OF CHEYENNE MAYOR MARIAN ORR'S COMMENTS THAT SHE WANTS TO WORK FOR PASSAGE OF A STATEWIDE NON-DISCRIMINATION BILL IN THE WYOMING LEGISLATURE IN 2019, THE DIRECTOR OF A GROUP THAT LOBBIES FOR LGBTQ RIGHTS SAYS SHE THINKS SUCH A MEASURE HAS A GOOD CHANGE OF PASSING THIS YEAR.

SARA BURLINGAME OF WYOMING EQUALITY ALSO A DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR THE WYOMING LEGISLATURE IN HOUSE DISTRICT 44.
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CASPER, WYO. (AP) - A WYOMING JUDGE HAS UPHELD A FORMER CARNIVAL WORKER'S CONVICTION FOR SEXUALLY ASSAULTING A CHILD.

JOSHUA WINTERS HAD CHALLENGED THE CONVICTION, ARGUING THAT THE PUBLIC DEFENDER WHO REPRESENTED HIM AT TRIAL WAS INEFFECTIVE.
THE CASPER STAR TRIBUNE REPORTS THAT JUDGE THOMAS SULLINS DISAGREED, WRITING THAT THE ATTORNEY'S DECISIONS COULD BE CONSIDERED SOUND TRIAL STRATEGY.

PROSECUTORS SAID WINTERS LURED A 5-YEAR-OLD BOY AWAY FROM A WYOMING BOWLING ALLEY IN JULY 2016 THEN MOLESTED HIM.

A JURY IN 2017 FOUND WINTERS GUILTY OF AGGRAVATED KIDNAPPING, FIRST-DEGREE SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR AND SECOND-DEGREE SEXUAL ABUSE OF A MINOR.

WINTERS, WHO IS 35, WAS SENTENCED TO SERVE 80 TO 115 YEARS IN PRISON.

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CHEYENNE, WYO. (AP) - THE WYOMING STATE CAPITOL MAY REOPEN AS EARLY AS THIS WINTER AFTER YEARS OF BEING CLOSED OFF TO THE PUBLIC FOR RESTORATION WORK.

LEGISLATIVE SERVICES OFFICE SPECIAL PROJECTS MANAGER WENDY MADSEN SAYS MOST OF THE SUBSTANTIAL WORK ON THE BUILDING HAS BEEN MORE OR LESS COMPLETED, EXTENDING THE HISTORIC BUILDING'S LIFESPAN FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER CENTURY.

THE CASPER STAR-TRIBUNE REPORTED FRIDAY THAT THE WYOMING CAPITOL BUILDING IS ONE OF JUST 11 IN THE NATION CLASSIFIED AS A NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR.

TWO OF THE MOST CRITICAL UPGRADES TO THE BUILDING ARE AN EXPANSIVE SPRINKLER SYSTEM AND A PROPER VENTILATION SYSTEM.

ONE REVIEW OF THE BUILDING'S SAFETY SAID THAT WITHOUT THOSE ADDITIONS, EVERYONE WOULD LIKELY SUCCUMB TO SMOKE WITHIN MINUTES SHOULD A FIRE TAKE PLACE.