TePee Pool plans for
renovations unveiled

THERMOPOLIS (AP) — The concessionaire that runs the biggest swimming and soaking pools at Hot Springs State Park is planning a renovation and major improvements under an agreement with the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.
TePee Pools Inc. promises to install alternating-temperature hot tubs, a children’s splash park, sun deck and climbing wall at the popular park in Thermopolis.
The improvements could be a long way off yet. A master development plan negotiated between TePee Pools and the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources requires the improvements no sooner than 2033, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.
First, the existing facilities will be renovated. The renovations should be done by this time next year, department Director Milward Simpson said.
“We’re convinced the state has the necessary assurances that these projects are going to happen,” Simpson said. “Nobody has a crystal ball in terms of what’s ultimately going to take place, but in terms of approving a master plan and a lease that gives the state the assurances it needs, we feel we did reach that point.”
TePee Pools officials did not return a message seeking comment.
The state yanked TePee Pools’ lease last spring after it deemed a previous master plan unacceptable. Local residents rallied to save the pools, and the state decided to give the company another six months to negotiate a plan.


After death, Riverton car
accident now a homicide

RIVERTON (AP) — A 73-year-old woman involved in a three-vehicle crash in Riverton has died, and investigators are now treating the case as a vehicular homicide.
The Riverton Ranger reports Carolyn Whitman, who was injured in the Nov. 13 crash, died Friday. She had worked for the Riverton Police Department since 1983, when she was hired as a secretary. Later, she joined the investigations section as a technician responsible for tracking evidence and typing interview transcripts.
Investigators say 27-year-old Reuben Revere, of Ethete, was arrested for driving under the influence. His blood-alcohol content was 0.17 percent, more than two times the legal limit for driving.
Officials at the time said it was difficult to immediately determine how the crash happened because of icy road conditions.


Immigrants Social Security eligible in Obama plan

By Jim Kuhnhenn
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Many immigrants in the United States illegally who apply for work permits under President Barack Obama’s new executive actions would be eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits upon reaching retirement age, according to the White House.
Under Obama’s actions, immigrants who are spared deportation could obtain work permits and a Social Security number. As a result, they would pay into the Social Security system through payroll taxes.
No such “lawfully present” immigrant, however, would be immediately entitled to the benefits because like all Social Security and Medicare recipients they would have to work 10 years to become eligible for retirement payments and health care. To remain qualified, either Congress or future administrations would have to extend Obama’s actions so that those immigrants would still be considered lawfully present in the country.
None of the immigrants who would be spared deportation under Obama’s executive actions would be able to receive federal assistance such as welfare or food stamps, or other income-based aid. They also would not be eligible to purchase health insurance in federal exchanges set up by the new health care law and they would not be able to apply for tax credits that would lower the cost of their health insurance.
The issue of benefits for immigrants who are illegally in the United States is a particularly sensitive one for the Obama administration.
As a result, the White House has made it clear that none of the nearly 5 million immigrants affected by Obama’s actions would be eligible for federal assistance. The decision to deny them access to health care exchanges and tax credits has especially disappointed immigrant advocates.
“They were specifically carved out of that, which is deeply unfortunate because it cuts directly against the spirit” of the health care law, said Avideh Moussavian, an attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “They should have had the opportunity to buy health insurance just like anybody else.”
Less clear until now was their eligibility for retirement benefits for which they would have paid into through payroll taxes.
Describing the administration’s position, one official said Wednesday that any immigrant considered lawfully present and holding a Social Security number would be entitled to Social Security and Medicare upon retirement because they would have paid into the system.
Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a leading Republican opponent of Obama’s executive actions, said making immigrants illegally in the U.S. eligible for Social Security and Medicare “is an attack on working families.”
“The amnestied illegal immigrants are largely older, lower-wage and lower-skilled and will draw billions more in benefits than they will pay in,” he said.
Beneficiaries would have to be of retirement age and have worked for at least 10 years. Immigrants would also be eligible for survivor benefits if the deceased worker had worked for 10 years. For disability insurance, they would have to work for 5-20 years.
A report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers this week concluded that Obama’s executive actions would expand the U.S. tax base because about two-thirds of immigrants illegally working in the United States don’t pay taxes.
But many immigrants currently working illegally still pay into the Social Security system because they have obtained an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Moussavian said the number has declined because the Internal Revenue Service has made it harder to apply for the identification number.
The Social Security Administration estimates that out of about 11 immigrants who either entered the U.S. illegally or have overstayed their visas slightly more than 3 million paid payroll taxes of about $6.5 billion in 2010, with their employers contributing another $6.5 billion.
Those payments would not qualify toward the 10 year requirement needed to be eligible for benefits, the administration official said. The official was not authorized to describe the policy by name and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“It’s one of many reasons why they would want to come forward,” Moussavian said. “Many immigrants have contributed enormously through payroll taxes and income taxes and they go to programs that they can’t currently access.”


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Wyoming Trivia

State Nickname: Equality State, Cowboy State

State Flower: Indian Paintbrush

State Bird: Western Meadowlark

State Tree: Cottonwood

State Gemstone: Jade

State Mammal: Bison

State Fish: Cutthroat Trout

State Reptile: Horned Toad

State Dinosaur: Triceratops

State Sport: Rodeo

State Coin: Sacajawea Golden Dollar Coin

State Grass: Western Wheatgrass

Area: 97,914 Square Miles

Date of Statehood: July 10, 1890

State #: 44

State name is from a Delaware Indian word meaning "mountains and valleys alternating"

First National Park: Yellowstone 1872

First National Monument: Devil's Tower 1906

First state to give women the right to vote

First National Forest: Shoshone National Forest

First state to have a country public library system

First state to have a woman governor Nellie Tayloe Ross 1925

First artificially lit evening football game in Midwest 1925

First town in nation to be governed entirely by women: Jackson 1920 to 1921

First business west of the Missouri River: Trading post at Fort William

 

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