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Flu Cases Beginning to Pick Up in Wyoming

February 9, 2016 Uncategorized No Comments

Dog with a bag of cold water on his head

With flu activity reports beginning to increase, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) wants residents to know they should take common-sense steps to avoid spreading influenza or becoming ill with the disease.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. Influenza can sometimes cause severe illness.

Dr. Tracy Murphy, state epidemiologist with WDH, said “While there have been relatively few reported flu cases so far this season, we are seeing a recent noticeable increase. The current level is still low for what we would expect to see during the more active periods of a flu season. We know that the timing of peak activity can vary from season to season.”

Murphy said influenza should not be taken for granted. “The 2014-15 influenza season was very severe with 29 influenza-associated deaths reported in Wyoming. This was an unusually high number for our state.”

Common-sense measures can help slow or prevent influenza’s spread. “Covering your mouth and nose with your sleeve or a tissue when you sneeze and cough; frequently washing your hands; and staying home from work, school, day care and errands when you are ill can help,” Murphy said.

Flu vaccines are also available in many locations; WDH recommends nearly everyone over the age of six months receive an annual flu vaccination. “Because we are not yet seeing widespread community transmission or the likely peak of activity, we want people to know it’s not too late for vaccination,” Murphy said.

“While not always perfect, vaccines are the most effective and most important tool available to help prevent influenza. This season’s vaccine appears to be a good match to the strains circulating in Wyoming,” he said.
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Commissioner’s Weigh In on Grove Phase III

February 9, 2016 Uncategorized 1 Comment

 

Grove PhotoTeton County wants the Housing Authority to partner up with Habitat For Humanity to finish the Grove affordable housing project.

The agency is deciding on a plan to move forward and finish the third and final phase of the construction located on Snow King Avenue and Scott Lane.

If the Authority goes along, the partnership could save any further expense on the provision of another 24 units of ownership-based deed-restricted housing.

That will depend on what category of affordable housing is provided. Categories begin at category one, which is designed for those least able to afford a home, to employment-based – a designation that simply means that you work in Teton County.

The Authority would not have to spend any additional money if the units are all offered up as employment-based., or by determining a mixture of categories including employment-based. If the units were all category one, the cost to the Authority would be roughly 5 million dollars or about half of the cost of going without the partnership of Habitat.

The commissioners can only make a recommendation as the Housing Authority will make the final decision.

Governor Mead Delivers 2016 State of the State

February 8, 2016 Uncategorized No Comments

matt meadToday, in his state of the state address to 63rd Legislature at the opening of the budget session, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead said Wyoming remains strong. He recognized the citizens of Wyoming for keeping the state strong. He recognized the Legislature for working hard on the tough issues. He recognized this is a time of constrained revenue and has reduced his budget recommendations twice already.

Governor Mead recounted the proactive efforts that have gotten Wyoming where it is today, including streamlining government, keeping the standard budget flat, developing water and energy strategies, working on wildlife and other natural resource issues and providing economic catalysts as well as effective, efficient services. Wyoming has also saved well for a rainy day, amassing the largest rainy day fund relative to the overall budget in the country.

“To move ahead we must provide a budget that recognizes not only the challenges now and in the future, but the opportunities that also exist. My budget proposal does that…while cautious it helps us stay proactive,” said Governor Mead. “It does not overspend – yet it provides for economic and growth opportunities. It represents some hard choices. It sets priorities not just for the next two years but long term. My budget, by borrowing from and repaying the rainy day fund, provides a method to trim our sails and still continue great momentum.”

The Governor thanked the Congressional delegation for its work in getting Abandoned Land Mine funds restored to the state. The Governor indicated the organizations in Wyoming that support expanding Medicaid and the reasons why they support expansion. He asked that school funding and funding options be looked at over the next year – a process everyone should be involved in.

Governor Mead further said, “What we do now will either build or stagnate Wyoming. Let’s step up, with courage and build Wyoming, take care of our citizens and provide a conservative yet positive path forward.”

 

National Parks Maintenance Backlog Reaches $11.9 Billion

February 6, 2016 Uncategorized No Comments

nat-park-service The National Park Service (NPS) this week released its Fiscal Year 2015 deferred maintenance statistics for national parks. The $11.93 billion nationwide total is a $440 million increase from the previous year.

Deferred maintenance is necessary work – performed on infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, visitor centers, trails and campgrounds – that has been delayed for more than one year. Aging facilities, increasing use of park facilities and scarce resources contribute to the growing backlog.

“While Congress provided increases this year, the annual bill for maintenance in America’s national parks is still almost twice as much as is appropriated,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

Congressional funding for the National Park Service in 2016 includes an additional $90 million for non-transportation maintenance. Congress also passed a new highway bill which will provide a $28 million increase for transportation projects in parks this year. Funding for transportation-related maintenance and construction will continue to rise, by $8 million per year for five years, until it reaches $300 million per year in 2020.

Nearly every unit in the National Park System has maintenance items that have been deferred. Regions regularly evaluate and prioritize project submissions to ensure available dollars make a difference, and will be using the new funds to address the highest priorities. For details about deferred maintenance at a particular national park, visit go.nps.gov/deferredmaint  and click on the “NPS Asset Inventory Summary by Park” report.

Even though more maintenance items had to be deferred in 2015, these increases from Congress are welcome. Jarvis said they are part of a multifaceted approach to end the growth of deferred maintenance and eventually have enough resources to keep pace with annual maintenance responsibilities.

“We have a lot yet to do but I think everything is moving in the right direction,” Jarvis said of the deferred maintenance issue. “Congress has pitched in with base funding and with additional funds for the Centennial Challenge – a program that enables us to leverage private and non-profit partner contributions to complete important projects that improve visitor services in parks. There is more Congress can do through the Centennial Act now under consideration including short-term mandatory appropriations.”

Wyoming Tourism Numbers Surge to Record Levels in 2015

February 5, 2016 Uncategorized No Comments
Wyoming’s tourism economy saw another year of tremendous growth in 2015. In a preliminary assessment released today by the Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT), a record 10.5 million people visited the state in 2015, up from 10.1 million visitors in 2014 or 4.2 percent. Wyoming significantly outpaced the national average visitation growth rate of 2.4 percent.  This follows several years of consistently strong rises in visitation. Over the last decade, Wyoming’s tourism marketing has helped contribute to a 48 percent increase of visitation in the state.  
Travel spending in the state grew to just under $3.4 billion in 2015, an increase of $9 million over the previous year.  This visitor spending directly affects Wyoming’s economy by generating $175 million in local and state tax revenues, up 7.4 percent in 2015 compared to $163 million in 2014. Since 2005, tax revenues generated by the tourism and hospitality industry have grown by more than 86 percent
Additionally, travel-related jobs are showing growth with the creation of 690 new jobs in Wyoming last year. The state’s tourism industry supports just under 32,000 full and part-time jobs, an employment number that has risen 7.7 percent in the past 10 years, and represents 12 percent of the state’s total workforce.
“We knew that by adding Seattle to our target markets and deepening our presence in existing markets, our campaign was strategically focused to get more visitors to Wyoming,” the Wyoming Office of Tourism’s Executive Director, Diane Shober said.  “With the addition of the work being done by local lodging tax boards and many tourism related businesses, Wyoming was and continues to be well positioned for success,” Shober added. 
This year, WOT will evolve the state’s tourism strategy from a targeted group of key markets to a true national television advertising campaign. This new strategy will reach 25 percent of all American households nationwide while employing a more efficient media buy. The national television campaign will be supported with print, magazine and social media advertising and complemented with outdoor billboards and digital advertising in specific markets. 
“Our marketing efforts have been widely successful, and expanding our approach will connect with more potential visitors. By executing a very strategic, research-based program and layering broad national advertising with emphasis in key markets like Chicago, Seattle, Kansas City, Portland and Minneapolis, we will be able to generate even stronger results,” Shober said. “We are excited to release more details about WOT’s 2016 advertising and marketing plans during the ‘Wyoming Governor’s Conference on Hospitality and Tourism’ at the end of February,” Shober added.
The research, conducted as two separate reports by Dean Runyan & Associates and Strategic Marketing and Research, Inc., enable WOT to monitor and report on industry performance and marketing program success. Final reports will be made available later this spring.

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