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Feb 12, 2013 - The Associated Press

Mead grants first commutation

CHEYENNE -- Gov. Matt Mead has granted his first commutation of a prison sentence since he took office two years ago.

Mead had denied every previous commutation recommended by the Wyoming Board of Parole -- a total of 17 cases since 2011.

Mead commuted the sentence of Joe Welch, an Alaska man who last year was picked up for escape and extradited to Wyoming.

Welch was convicted of felony burglary in Wyoming in 1980 and sentenced to up to five years in prison. Welch says he walked away from alcohol abuse treatment at the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston amid bureaucratic uncertainty over whether he was supposed to be there or in prison.

Welch said getting arrested 31 years later cost him his job and his house.

Gas prices up, still below U.S. average

CASPER -- Gas prices in Wyoming have steadily increased over the past few weeks after hitting lows not seen in two years, but the cost of a gallon of fuel is still much lower than the national average.

Greg Laskoski, a petroleum analyst for gasbuddy.com, said prices across the United States are also up, but by more than twice as much.

The national average stood at $3.54 a gallon on Friday, while the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Wyoming stood at $2.98, according to figures tracked on gasbuddy.

Laskoski says Wyoming's gas prices are low because of relatively cheap Canadian crude and because Rocky Mountain-area refineries are running at a higher capacity than their counterparts elsewhere in the country.

State snowpack slowly increasing

CHEYENNE -- Wyoming's snowpack is slowly growing.

The statewide snowpack was 84 percent of average on Monday, up from 82 percent last week and 76 percent at the start of the month. Lee Hackleman of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Casper said the weekend storm increased the snowpack in the southern part of Wyoming significantly.

The National Weather Service said about 20 inches fell in Sinks Canyon south of Lander over the weekend. Casper Mountain got 14.5 inches of snow.

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