Sep 12, 2013 The Associated Press

Whooping cough reports increasing

CHEYENNE -- The Wyoming Health Department is reporting a sharp increase in whooping cough cases.

State health officer Wendy Braund says the number of cases is a cause for concern.

Braund is encouraging awareness and vaccination to help protect vulnerable residents from the disease.

The agency says it has recorded 63 whooping cough cases so far this year, compared to a total of 59 in 2012, 13 in 2011 and 14 in 2010.

Braund says many of the cases were reported over the last two months. Infants less than a year old are the most in danger from whooping cough and usually must be hospitalized.

Man charged in cow killing

GILLETTE -- A 30-year-old Gillette man accused of fatally shooting a yearling cow for its meat and then damaging a backhoe after disposing of the remains has been charged with two felony counts of destruction of property.

Justin Epley was charged after deputies were tipped off that cow remains were found in the basement of a home where he rented a room. Investigators say they found the rear legs of a cow hanging from the ceiling and knives near the cow parts. They also found unwrapped meat in a freezer.

Epley is accused of shooting the cow and disposing of its remains with a backhoe. Authorities say he then put the backhoe into drive and sent it into a ditch. The cow carcass and backhoe were found Sept. 4.

Lawyer's discrimination suit dismissed

CHEYENNE -- A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a Cheyenne attorney who says he was improperly fired from the Wyoming Public Defender's Office.

Dion Custis says he asked that his gender-discrimination lawsuit be dismissed because it was taking up too much of his time.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal granted the dismissal on Tuesday.

Custis contended in his lawsuit that office director Diane Lozano fired him after he ended their five-year relationship. He worked at the public defender's office from 1994-2011.

Lozano's office noted that Custis testified during a Wyoming State Bar hearing that he was fired for unrelated ethical violations for which the Wyoming Supreme Court later censured him.

Custis said he needs to focus his time and efforts on his law firm clients.

UW advised to grow overseas

CHEYENNE -- University of Wyoming needs to invest more in enabling its faculty to conduct research and instruction in other countries, according to one of the recommendations of a two-year study done by the university.

Anne Alexander, director of the UW International Programs who helped oversee the study, said increasing the state's only four-year public university's international contacts and presence is important because Wyoming's main industries and economic diversity efforts are interconnected with the global economy.

In addition, the university benefits in many ways from attracting international students and faculty and helping its students and faculty gain some global perspective through research and study abroad, Alexander said. For example, UW students who have some exposure to study abroad generally perform better academically.

"So generally it's good economic development policy for us to be really, really good at increasing international perspectives and then it's also really good for us as a university," she said.

The study recommends that UW establish a $2.5 million endowment to help more faculty study and research abroad, Alexander said Wednesday.

Currently, UW provides less than $50,000 a year for faculty to lead students in field studies overseas, she said. The study recommends increasing that by at least $100,000 for faculty, who mainly now tap grants and other special endowment programs for travel abroad.

"We need to be able to increase our faculty's ability to teach and do research abroad and to build on what they are already doing," Alexander said.

Other recommendations of the study, which began in 2011, includes that UW create an English language support center to help attract and retain international students; augment courses in foreign languages, such as Chinese, Arabic and Japanese; share international speakers, forums and activities with other communities throughout the state, especially with community colleges.

"We found that people are really interested in working together to bring into their communities interesting international programs, and speakers with interesting research projects or amazing experiences abroad," Alexander said.

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