Trim trees

for safety

With the start of school fast approaching, the City of Casper would like to remind commercial and residential property owners and tenants to remove or trim any overgrown tree limbs, shrubs, bushes, or other vegetation that obstructs visibility for traffic, alley access for vehicles and the walkability for pedestrians on sidewalks and crosswalks.

To ensure compliance with City ordinances, ask yourself these questions: Can pedestrians walk safely down the sidewalks? Do vehicles have a clear view of street signs, crosswalks, traffic signs, stop signs and oncoming traffic at intersections? Can city service vehicles and other traffic navigate safely down the alleys? Can your dumpster be emptied without interference from overhanging branches?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then it is time to take action. City ordinances require that trees, bushes and shrubs that overhang a street, alley or sidewalk need to be trimmed to at least 15 feet above the surface of the street or alley, and 8 feet above the sidewalk.

Trees, bushes, shrubs and other growth need to be cut back to the property line along the street, alley or sidewalk to allow clear access for either vehicles or pedestrian traffic.

Tree limbs and clippings can be taken to the compost yard at the City of Casper Solid Waste Facility for no charge. For additional information, contact Code Enforcement at (307) 235-8254.

Information on extra trash days and the proper disposal of limbs and shrubbery can be obtained by contacting the Solid Waste Facility at (307) 235-8246. If you have questions regarding proper tree trimming/pruning techniques, contact the Parks Department at (307) 235-8283. Information can also be obtained via the City’s website at www.casperwy.gov.

Game and Fish welcomes warden

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department welcomes new game warden Dylan Bergman to the Casper Region.

As a game warden in the Casper Region, Bergman will spend time doing boating safety on local reservoirs, as well as working with fish and wildlife from Pathfinder all the way to the Black Hills.

“I enjoy spending time outdoors and interacting with the habitat, wildlife and people,” says Bergman. “I am excited to get kids involved in the outdoors doing things like hunting, fishing, hiking, backpacking and just being outside. The great thing about this job is you work the law enforcement, like stopping illegal harvest of game, but also get to deal with people and wildlife habitats.”

Bergman grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains before coming to Wyoming to work on his master’s degree at the University of Wyoming. He started work with Game and Fish as a habitat biologist before being accepted into the game warden program. Bergman completed the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy in April, where he was named the honor graduate of his class. This distinction is limited to one student per class and based on objective evaluation of the individual’s performance and leadership throughout the 13 week course.

“We are thrilled to have a new warden training in Casper,” says Casper Regional Wildlife Supervisor Brian Olsen. “Bergman is excited to meet new people, provide assistance to the public and be involved in the many communities around the Casper Region. We encourage people to get to know Dylan and share in his excitement for the job and wildlife.”

Bergman will be stationed at the Casper Regional Office of the Game and Fish and can be reached by calling 307-473-3400.

Casper receives national budget award

The City of Casper has received the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its FY 2016 adopted budget. The GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program is the only national awards program in governmental budgeting. Of cities nationwide, approximately 2 percent receive the award each year. This is the ninth consecutive year that the City of Casper has received this award.

In order to receive the budget award, the City of Casper had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines were designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide and a communications device. Documents submitted to the budget awards program are reviewed by selected members of the GFOA professional staff and by outside reviewers with experience in public-sector budgeting. The review panel provides feedback on the City’s budget document intended to increase transparency and accountability, and to make the budget document easier to understand and use.

Additional information about the award can be found at www.gfoa.org. The City of Casper’s FY 2016 Adopted Budget document is available at www.casperwy.gov/UserFiles/Servers/Server_62983/File/Government/Budget/Budgets/FY16%20Adopted%20Budget.pdf.

Prevent rabies

Rabies prevention strategies, including animal vaccinations, can help state residents avoid a deadly disease for themselves, as well as for their pets and livestock, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

In 2015, a Fremont County woman died due to rabies, which was Wyoming’s first recorded human rabies case. Over the years, rabies has also been confirmed in Wyoming bats, cats, cows, dogs, foxes, horses, squirrels and skunks.

Dr. Karl Musgrave, state public health veterinarian with WDH, said there have been several confirmed cases of rabies so far in Sheridan County this year in skunks and in one cow.

Rabies can infect any mammal and affects the central nervous system, causing paralysis and ultimately death. Symptoms include behavior changes, including aggression and agitation, and excessive salivation.

Musgrave emphasized the importance of animal vaccinations. “This can keep pets, horses and other livestock from getting rabies, and help protect pet owners should pets be bitten by a rabid wild animal,” he said. Musgrave noted it is also important to report animal bites to local animal control officials and to follow recommended quarantine guidelines.

General tips for preventing rabies:

Enjoy wildlife such as bats and skunks from a safe distance.

People waking to find a bat in their room or a child’s room should contact a medical professional immediately as bats have such small teeth even unknown or minor contact with bats has led to rabies infection. If the bat can be safely captured, it can be tested.

Vaccinate dogs, cats, ferrets, horses and other selected livestock for rabies and keep vaccinations up-to-date.

Treat animal bites with soap and water and contact a medical professional immediately.

Never adopt wild animals or bring them into the home. Do not try to nurse sick or injured animals – call animal control for help.

Report animals acting strangely to city or county animal control departments.

Teach children to never approach unfamiliar dogs, cats or wildlife, even if they appear friendly.

Keep pets under supervision or on a leash to minimize contact with wild animals.

Drug Court appoints coordinator

The Natrona County Court-Supervised Treatment Program is pleased to announce the appointment of Eric Fernelius, MSW, LCSW, as the new program coordinator for Drug Court. Mr. Fernelius has worked in the field of addictions for the past 21 years. He has worked for Drug Court since 2010 and has been the clinical supervisor for the program since 2012. He is a 2003 graduate of the University of Wyoming with a master’s degree in social work.

The Natrona County Court-Supervised Treatment Program is an alternative sentencing option for the addicted criminal offender. The program lasts for 18 months, giving clients the time to gain recovery skills and apply them in real life situations. Strict supervision combined with substance abuse treatment is the key to the program’s success. The program has helped reduce the rate of re-offending drug/alcohol-related crimes in the community.

Despite state budget cuts in funding resources, the program continues. The Natrona County Court Supervised Treatment Program is partially funded through the Wyoming Department of Health, Behavioral Health Division.

Expanding to reach teens

The world is full of distractions and that can make it hard for youngsters to tackle homework. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming is expanding its services to teens which will include homework help. A brand new Teen Club will open in the fall at Dean Morgan Junior High, giving students a safe place to go after school to bond with friends and get homework completed.

Youth ages 13-18 will be welcomed at the new Club site. This is in addition to the Teen Club located at the Main Club on East K Street in Casper. There will be no weekly charge for teens to attend or to receive Club services. A $10 annual membership fee applies.

“This new Dean Morgan site will allow us to reach teens that need us most at a place where they already are,” said Chris Stier, BGCCW Teen Club Director. “By going to where they are, they can have ownership of what we do and together we can create fun, outcome driven programs that focus on Academic Success, Good Character & Citizenship, and Healthy Lifestyles.”

Programs offered will be similar to what is offered at the Main Club’s Teen Center including Cowboy Ethics: Be Somebody, Money Matters, SMART Program, Career Launch, Power Hour, Keystone leadership club, gym activities, and tech time. Members will have the opportunity to gain knowledge in art, college readiness, career exploration, healthy relationships and lifestyles, and financial literacy.

The hub of activities for the Dean Morgan site will be the cafeteria and will be open from 2:45 – 5:30 p.m. each day following the school day.

This expansion falls in line with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s “Year of the Teen” where the organization as a whole is working to reach more teens at a critical developmental stage in their lives. BGCCW three year strategic plan for teens includes expansion into middle schools to provide the proven, world class programming the Club is known for.

For more information about the Dean Morgan site or Teen Programming, please contact Chris Stier at (307) 473-5553.

Governor’s Arts Awards

Each year the Governor’s Arts Awards recognize artists, arts organizations and patrons who display excellence in the arts and outstanding service to the arts in Wyoming. Now in its 35th year, the Wyoming Arts Council’s 2016 Governor’s Arts Awards is now open for nominations.

Any Wyoming citizen, organization, business or community may be a Governor’s Art Awards (GAA) nominee. Accomplishments that are noted should reflect substantial contributions made in Wyoming that exemplify a long-term commitment to the arts. Special consideration will be given to nominees whose arts service is statewide.

Established in 1982, these awards were first made possible by an endowment from the Union Pacific Foundation in honor of Mrs. John U. Loomis, a lifelong patron of the arts. Over the years, individuals and organizations from more than 20 Wyoming communities and statewide organizations have been honored for their dedication to the arts in Wyoming.

The Wyoming Arts Council has a public nomination process with nominations due in early October. The Award Ceremony takes place in Cheyenne in February, and is a gala event with a number of elected officials attending. The Governor gives a State of the Arts speech, awardees are honored, and there is some kind of entertainment, usually by an awardee. This year’s ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 3.

Previous GAA recipients are not eligible for nomination, but nomination of previously unselected nominees is encouraged. Nominations must be emailed or postmarked no later than Oct. 3, and emailed to arts@wyo.gov or sent to: Governor’s Arts Awards Wyoming Arts Council 2301 Central Avenue, 2nd Floor Cheyenne, WY 82002.

Nomination forms are available for download at the WAC web site, www.wyomingartscouncil.org. For more information, contact 307-777-7742 or brittany.perez@wyo.gov.

New travel warnings as Zika reaches U.S.

As the Zika virus reaches Miami, Florida, travelers from Wyoming, especially pregnant women or those who may become pregnant, are urged to pay attention to Zika-related travel warnings, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

“Zika can be passed to babies during pregnancy and has strong links to a serious, brain-related birth defect known as microcephaly,” said Dr. Tracy Murphy, state epidemiologist with WDH. Zika virus is spread to people mostly through bites of certain types of mosquitos.

Murphy said he would not be surprised for local transmission in United States to expand beyond the initially confirmed area in Miami, Florida but does not expect it to spread to Wyoming. “Folks need to stay informed when planning travel both within the United States and to other areas affected by Zika virus, but the mosquitoes that spread the disease do not make their homes in Wyoming,” he said.

Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:

Pregnant women should not travel to the newly identified area in Florida or other Zika-affected locations.

Sexual partners of pregnant women who live in or who have traveled to an affected area should consistently and correctly use condoms or other barriers against infection during sex or abstain from sex during the pregnancy.

All pregnant women who live in or travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission, or who have sex with a partner who lives in or traveled to an area with active Zika virus transmission without using condoms or other barrier methods to prevent infection should be assessed for possible Zika virus exposure during each prenatal care visit and tested according to CDC guidance.

Women and men who traveled to this area should wait at least 8 weeks before trying for a pregnancy; men with Zika symptoms should wait at least 6 months.

Anyone with possible exposure to Zika virus and symptoms of Zika should be tested.

“We want women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant to check whether their travel destination is affected by Zika virus and if it is they should consider postponing their plans. Their partners also need to know the risks,” Murphy said.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.

“While Wyoming’s mosquitoes are not known to transmit Zika, we know state residents travel to areas with transmission and we want them to protect themselves,” Murphy said. To date, Zika virus has not been confirmed in any Wyoming resident.

More information and frequently updated CDC travel warnings can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.

Free ‘Weeds of the West’ e-pub

Pigweed, dogbane and horsetail are among plants featured in the free downloadable “Weeds of the West,” a guide to more than 350 species found around the home, farm and ranch.

The guide, available as a pdf or ePub at bit.ly/weedswest, aids in identifying species that compete with native plants, horticultural and agricultural crops or are toxic to livestock and people.

Entries include descriptions, habitats and characteristics for weeds growing in all western states, including Hawaii. More than 1,000 photographs show early growth stages and mature plants, plus important features for identification.

Abundance and ability to reproduce, compete and spread rapidly often characterize weeds. According to the editors, the “weed” label does not mean a plant is always undesirable or cannot be beneficial under certain circumstances.

They give as examples species undesirable on grasslands for livestock as being valuable wildlife forage or habitat elsewhere. Some species poisonous to livestock are valued as ornamentals, and some nearly universally unappreciated weeds may help reduce soil erosion on disturbed sites.

Published by the Western Society of Weed Science, Cooperative Extension of the United States and the University of Wyoming, “Weeds of the West” is one of more than 500 guides and how-to videos available from University of Wyoming Extension (see bit.ly/UWEpubs) covering livestock, wildlife and Wyoming open spaces, plus gardening, estate planning, energy planning and other topics.

For more on weeds, see “Wyoming Weed Watchlist,” “Cheatgrass Management Handbook” and “Weed Control in Gardens and Lawn.”

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