Wyoming digest

Oct 4, 2015 The Associated Press

State analysts recommend dropping ACT requirement

GILLETTE -- Wyoming high school juniors will no longer be required to take the ACT college entrance exam if initial recommendations from a state panel are adopted.

The Wyoming State Board of Education recently received initial recommendations from the Statewide Assessment Task Force, which was created by state legislators.

Task force members have been developing items to be included in a request for proposals for an alternative to the statewide PAWs test given to students in grades 3-8 in Wyoming.

Scott Marion, a consultant and facilitator for the task force, said the group is recommending a comprehensive testing system for Wyoming to be expanded to include grades 3-10.

The task force says the state's assessment system must support both state and federal accountability requirements and the tests must be validated for specific purposes.

The task force strongly recommended eliminating the 11th grade ACT because it is designed to determine college readiness and may not be valid for measuring student achievement against the state's content standards or informing instruction.

In addition, the task force is recommending a reduction in the test load for students.The summative testing time should be no more than 1 percent of the school year, the task force recommended.

Among other recommendations, the group also suggested including the 10th-grade assessment results as part of Hathaway Scholarship college entrance and scholarship eligibility requirements.

The task force will continue its work and is expected to present a revised report to the State Board of Education on Oct. 12. Board members are expected to make their final comments two days later.

The task force's final report will be given to the Wyoming Legislature on Oct. 16.

Funding OK'd for malting plant

CHEYENNE -- A state board has approved $3 million in grants and loans for a new barley malting plant in Pine Bluffs.

The Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board approved the funding on Thursday. The board consists of Gov. Matt Mead and four other statewide elected officials.

Plans call for building the facility in the Pine Bluffs Business Park. It would be owned by a local economic development organization and leased to businesses owned by Pine Bluffs residents Gene Purdy and Chad Brown.

The Wyoming Business Council supported the funding for the facility, saying it would help to meet the demand for malt at breweries in the region and also supply malt for distilling whiskey.

No change in Wyoming rig count

HOUSTON -- Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. this week declined by 29 to 809.

Houston-based Baker Hughes said Friday that 614 rigs were seeking oil and 195 explored for natural gas. A year ago, with oil prices about double the prices now, 1,922 rigs were active.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Oklahoma lost eight rigs, Texas declined by six, Louisiana and New Mexico each lost four, Colorado and Pennsylvania each lost three, Alaska declined by two and California and North Dakota each lost one.

Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio and West Virginia each gained one rig.

Utah and Wyoming were unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.

Four daily newspapers sold

CHEYENNE -- The four Wyoming newspapers in the McCraken Newspaper Group have a new owner.

APG Media of the Rockies LLC has purchased the newspapers, which include the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Cheyenne, the Laramie Boomerang, the Rawlins Daily Times and the Rock Springs Rocket-Miner.

APG is a subsidiary of the Minnesota-based Adams Publishing Group, which publishes community newspapers, digital products and magazines in several states.

The former WTE publisher and president of Cheyenne Newspapers Inc., L. Michael McCraken, says he's pleased with the purchase and praised APG's support of community newspapers.

The McCracken family sold the Northern Wyoming Daily News in Worland earlier in the year.

Snake River study commissioned

JACKSON -- Wyoming has commissioned a $370,000 study to identify projects that could improve water quality and water usage in the portion of the Upper Snake River watershed in the northwest part of the state.

Project leader Karen Griffen says the study of the watershed upstream of the Hoback River will document and map the conditions and identify water improvement projects, such as wetland enhancements.

It also will tie together research that's been conducted on other portions of the Snake watershed. The Wyoming Water Development Commission contracted the work. Griffen said the study should be completed in about a year.

Paranoid drug couple called cops

GILLETTE -- Two Utah residents who were arrested on their way to sell drugs in South Dakota after they called deputies in a state of paranoia have pleaded guilty.

25-year-old Dwight Attakai and 29-year-old Taryn Greymountain have pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine. As part of the plea agreement, charges of conspiracy to deliver meth have been dropped.

Prosecutors say they will recommend two- to eight-year prison sentences for the pair.

Prosecutors say Greymountain and Attakai were driving on Highway 59 in April when Attakai called the Sheriff's Office saying vehicles were following him.

When deputies arrived, they noticed the pair was visibly agitated. Almost 2 ounces of meth was found hidden in their car.

The pair admitted they planned to sell the drugs in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.