State Briefs

Llong-llost Yellowstone llama llured out of lloneliness

JACKSON (WNE) — A fugitive llama that spent three months giving it a go in southern Yellowstone National Park is back in the company of its camelid companions in a Montana pen.

The story of Ike, the lost-then-found llama, is an odd one, by any standard.

When the News&Guide first reached the lost livestock’s original owner, Kirstin Baty, on Monday, she had no clue that her llama Ike was no longer on the lam.

On Tuesday the Wilderness Ridge Trail Llamas owner was still unaware that her middle-aged pack animal with a gnarly toothache had been captured late last weekend.

“I guess I need to go pick him up,” Baty said Tuesday afternoon.

The llama-tarian who recovered Ike is Susi Huelsmeyer-Sinay, and she declined to clarify what could be construed as rustling a lost llama.

“I don’t know what will happen,” said Huelsmeyer-Sinay, an owner of Bozeman, Montana-based Yellowstone Llama Treks.

“The point was to save Ike,” she said. “That’s all I have to say. He was abandoned. We will see.”

Ike’s months-long saga living off the land in the Yellowstone backcountry began with a toothache.

The white “12- to 15-year-old” approximately 350-pound animal that was used on packing expeditions suffered an abscess in his mouth a couple of years ago, and afterward the Batys were never able to get it totally cleared up. Ike’s halter, at times, irritated the abscess, and guides would loosen the constraint to ease his discomfort.

The sympathetic move backfired this summer in Yellowstone.

American Airlines kicks off Cheyenne air service

CHEYENNE (WNE) – Dozens of passengers took flight in Cheyenne Sunday after more than seven months without commercial air service.

American Airlines, marketed as American Eagle, is now providing once-daily nonstop service between Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Cheyenne Regional Airport through SkyWest Airlines. Each CRJ200 regional jet will seat roughly 50 passengers.

The first flight was scheduled to depart at 11:20 a.m. Sunday after boarding from the airport’s new terminal at 4020 Airport Parkway.

The daily flight from Dallas departs at 9:30 a.m. and arrives in Cheyenne at 10:50 a.m. The flight from Cheyenne departs at 11:20 a.m. and arrives in Dallas at 2:20 p.m., according to the airline’s website. Flyers can reserve tickets at

“We look forward to working with the community and finding new opportunities to engage with Cheyenne,” said McKall Morris, corporate communications manager for SkyWest Airlines. “We are really encouraged with the support we are seeing so far.”

Cheyenne has been without commercial air service since late March, when Great Lakes Airlines suspended all turboprop flights.

The Cheyenne Regional Air Focus Team signed a one-year contract with SkyWest this summer, guaranteeing a minimum revenue of $2.3 million – on par with what the group raised this year in local, state, federal and private funds. This includes $580,000 through the Air Service Enhancement Program, $1.2 million in approved city and county funds and roughly $120,000 in private donations.

Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport working to bring the county to the table

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — Sweetwater County commissioners will host a public hearing to gather public input on a request from Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport Director Devon Brubaker for the county to amend its budget and provide $133,333 for the first phase of the commercial terminal modernization project.

In March 2018, the federal government passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which designates $1 billion for airport infrastructure improvement projects. It prioritizes projects at non-primary airports that are classified as regional or local and are not located in a metropolitan area, or classified as small or non-hub, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

On Sept. 27, the FAA announced it awarded $205 million in the first round of supplementary funding. The airport met the Oct. 31 deadline to apply for the final round of supplemental funding for fiscal years 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Discretionary funds are highly competitive, and projects that are “shovel ready” are more likely to receive funding, according to Brubaker.

Initially, the costs of the design plan was intended to be split between the county, which would pay two-thirds, and the city of Rock Springs, which would cover one-third.

With the request before the county commissioners still tabled and the deadline approaching, Rock Springs provided $200,000. The application was submitted, and now Brubaker says he is continuing to work with the commissioners to restore the two-thirds and one-third split and “bring the county to the table.”