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In 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This piece of legislation provided funding for a plethora of economic recovery and technology programs across the nation. ARRA allowed for funding to be allocated to broadband infrastructure development and adoption programs. 

Wyoming was initially awarded approximately $1.8 million and partnered with various organizations to help rural Wyomingites obtain access to broadband internet and to map where it was still needed. 

“LinkWYOMING works to map where residents have broadband access, why they do or do not have access to the internet, and how we can get people to adopt this program,” says Troy Babbitt, broadband enterprise architect for Wyoming and LinkWYOMING partner. 

Babbitt says that with increased internet access residents can jumpstart a home business, increase their access to educational and health care outlets, and view weather data pertinent to crops and livestock.

“My father is a retired rancher,” he continues, “and although he no longer runs cattle, he enjoys being able to stay up-to-date on prices by watching live video streams from the sale barns.”

The process

The fact that Wyoming is a very rural state is one of the challenges LinkWYOMING faces, according to Babbitt. 

“Internet service providers are looking at the bottom line and are looking at the feasibility of making a return on their investment when they considering providing service to that area,” he explains. 

However, rural location does not stop residents from being able to access the internet. Although LinkWYOMING does not provide internet access to rural residents, it takes steps to help residents get connected. 

“When someone in a rural area contacts us about getting connected to the internet, we first look at the service providers that cover that area,” Babbitt explains. “There are many options, and we are always looking for incentives to bring better broadband internet to Wyoming residents.  

“In many places, the internet is available on copper phone lines offering digital subscriber line (DSL) service.  Fixed or mobile wireless is usually another option,” he continues.  “We would try to get the rural resident in contact with a wireless service provider, which could include getting a family fixed internet signal where a dish is mounted on the home.”

Broadband benefits

Babbitt says that access to internet will improve the quality of life of Wyomingites.

“It really becomes a quality of life issue,” he explains. “I see so many benefits to having internet, such as telecommunications and teleconferencing, and now data, video and voice are all combined on the same internet infrastructure to provide information.” 

“Having access to the internet really shortens the communication distance in Wyoming and allows users to have many more options in their life,” he adds. 

Partnering for access

“Governor Matt Mead understands how important it is for residents to have access to broadband internet,” Babbitt says. “He wants to make information technology (IT) the fourth largest industry in the state and is partnering with service providers to make that happen. He is discussing opening interstate corridors for service providers to help connect people to the internet.”

Others are partnering with Governor Mead to help make LinkWYOMING a success. 

“The money was originally awarded to EdLab, a non-profit group formerly known as the Puget Sound Center for Teaching and Learning Technology, who partnered with the state and that is where LinkWYOMING came from,” explains Babbitt. “CostQuest is doing all of the mapping for this project. Their role is to work with state service providers and request coverage maps to determine coverage areas and speed.”

Babbitt says that this is a quarterly process with 60 providers participating.

Another partner called VisionTech 360 was instrumental in the beginning of the grant for conducting surveys and compiling reports. According to Babbitt, they did all of the regional planning and formed groups in different sectors to vocalize the needs of that area. 

Wyoming Survey Analysis Center in Laramie is working to wrap up the grant and see it to the close by putting together reports on the findings. 

“I can’t say enough about the Wyoming Business Council,” Babbitt continues. “They work hard to attract business to Wyoming. Big data centers find Wyoming attractive, and broadband is the next necessary utility needed to attract those kinds of businesses in different parts of the state.”

“We want to keep continually upgrading the existing businesses in Wyoming, but we also want to attract new businesses,” he adds.  

Kelsey Tramp is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In 2009, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This piece of legislation provided funding for a plethora of economic recovery and technology programs across the nation. ARRA allowed for funding to be allocated to broadband infrastructure development and adoption programs. 

Wyoming was initially awarded approximately $1.8 million and partnered with various organizations to help rural Wyomingites obtain access to broadband internet and to map where it was still needed. 

“LinkWYOMING works to map where residents have broadband access, why they do or do not have access to the internet, and how we can get people to adopt this program,” says Troy Babbitt, broadband enterprise architect for Wyoming and LinkWYOMING partner. 

Babbitt says that with increased internet access residents can jumpstart a home business, increase their access to educational and health care outlets, and view weather data pertinent to crops and livestock.

“My father is a retired rancher,” he continues, “and although he no longer runs cattle, he enjoys being able to stay up-to-date on prices by watching live video streams from the sale barns.”

The process

The fact that Wyoming is a very rural state is one of the challenges LinkWYOMING faces, according to Babbitt. 

“Internet service providers are looking at the bottom line and are looking at the feasibility of making a return on their investment when they considering providing service to that area,” he explains. 

However, rural location does not stop residents from being able to access the internet. Although LinkWYOMING does not provide internet access to rural residents, it takes steps to help residents get connected. 

“When someone in a rural area contacts us about getting connected to the internet, we first look at the service providers that cover that area,” Babbitt explains. “There are many options, and we are always looking for incentives to bring better broadband internet to Wyoming residents.  

“In many places, the internet is available on copper phone lines offering digital subscriber line (DSL) service.  Fixed or mobile wireless is usually another option,” he continues.  “We would try to get the rural resident in contact with a wireless service provider, which could include getting a family fixed internet signal where a dish is mounted on the home.”

Broadband benefits

Babbitt says that access to internet will improve the quality of life of Wyomingites.

“It really becomes a quality of life issue,” he explains. “I see so many benefits to having internet, such as telecommunications and teleconferencing, and now data, video and voice are all combined on the same internet infrastructure to provide information.” 

“Having access to the internet really shortens the communication distance in Wyoming and allows users to have many more options in their life,” he adds. 

Partnering for access

“Governor Matt Mead understands how important it is for residents to have access to broadband internet,” Babbitt says. “He wants to make information technology (IT) the fourth largest industry in the state and is partnering with service providers to make that happen. He is discussing opening interstate corridors for service providers to help connect people to the internet.”

Others are partnering with Governor Mead to help make LinkWYOMING a success. 

“The money was originally awarded to EdLab, a non-profit group formerly known as the Puget Sound Center for Teaching and Learning Technology, who partnered with the state and that is where LinkWYOMING came from,” explains Babbitt. “CostQuest is doing all of the mapping for this project. Their role is to work with state service providers and request coverage maps to determine coverage areas and speed.”

Babbitt says that this is a quarterly process with 60 providers participating.

Another partner called VisionTech 360 was instrumental in the beginning of the grant for conducting surveys and compiling reports. According to Babbitt, they did all of the regional planning and formed groups in different sectors to vocalize the needs of that area. 

Wyoming Survey Analysis Center in Laramie is working to wrap up the grant and see it to the close by putting together reports on the findings. 

“I can’t say enough about the Wyoming Business Council,” Babbitt continues. “They work hard to attract business to Wyoming. Big data centers find Wyoming attractive, and broadband is the next necessary utility needed to attract those kinds of businesses in different parts of the state.”

“We want to keep continually upgrading the existing businesses in Wyoming, but we also want to attract new businesses,” he adds.  

Kelsey Tramp is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

2011 Fall Favorites

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Cheyenne – “We do have an influence on American Farm Bureau,” said Perry Livingston, president of Wyoming Farm Bureau (WyFB).

Livingston spoke at the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation 2014 Legislative Meeting in Cheyenne on Feb. 27, giving an update about the meetings he has attended and informing members about upcoming issues that need to be watched. 

Livingston attended the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) annual convention that was held in San Antonio, Texas on Jan. 12-15. A total of 373 Farm Bureau delegates were present at the convention, and the Resolutions Committee passed four of the resolutions that Wyoming had submitted. 

Advisory committee

Livingston also attended an Advisory Committee meeting for Farm Bureau that took place Feb. 9-15 and was assigned to the tobacco committee. 

“Surprisingly 67 to 70 percent of tobacco raised in the U.S. is exported all over the world,” described Livingston. “They use American tobacco for flavoring, and its primary use is for cigarettes.” 

The exporting of tobacco keeps the American tobacco industry alive and will for years to come, stated Livingston. 

“The U.S. is cutting back on their consumption of tobacco all the time, but there’s still a market out there for that product,” he added. 

Federal agencies

Livingston also told the WyFB members that the IRS is proposing to modify rules to strengthen the way they review non-profit organizations. The last day for comment was Feb. 26. 

“That has a direct effect on Wyoming Farm Bureau,” said Livingston. “Be fore-warned that the IRS is going to take a long hard look at our organization and other non-profit organizations.” 

“There is no way to know what their motivation is,” he added. 

Livingston also reminded members that last summer the Department of Labor tried to install regulations that would not allow children to work on farms and ranches. 

“American Farm Bureau, along with other agriculture organizations around the U.S., put a tremendous amount of pressure on Congress,” reassured Livingston. “Congress, in turn, leaned on the Department of Labor, and last fall, they pulled their regulations.” 

“We have to meet federal agencies head on,” stated Livingston. “We have to continue to do that.”

GMO

In October 2013, the president of the Oregon Farm Bureau spoke to American Farm Bureau about a petition that was placed on Oregon’s Jackson County ballot that would eliminate the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in that county. 

“We might think it is not a big deal, but around 90 percent of sugarbeet seed is raised in Jackson County, Oregon,” explained Livingston. “It is very important for Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.”

WyFB did send money for the campaign to fight the GMO petition. 

“It is important that we reach out because there are not a lot of people in that county,” said Livingston. “It’s going to be very important to the state of Wyoming and general agriculture across the U.S.”

“We just have to continue to monitor and keep our eyes open,” said Livingston. “It is imperative that WyFB and American Farm Bureau continue to stand out there in front of the ball and take on the federal government and their agencies that are against private enterprise.”

Madeline Robinson is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Prairie Center – Blackened, rolling hills as far as the eye can see is what a fiery inferno left behind after roaring through the small, tight-knit community of Prairie Center earlier this week.

According to Goshen County Emergency Manager Shelly Kirchhefer, the initial fire was started on the evening of July 10 with a lightening strike at the Bruce Simmons Ranch. It burned roughly 500 acres but didn’t cross Highway 159, as firefighters were able to contain it.

“We had crews working on the fire until about 10 or 11 p.m. They left night roamers to watch the hot coals because we were going into a weather scenario the next day of high winds and red flag warnings,” Kirchhefer says. “Fire crews had determined there were no hot spots, and everything seemed to be extinguished.”

The early morning hours of July 11 arrived with a cold front moving through the area. Humidity dropped, and the wind began howling, resulting in pristine conditions for a prairie fire to reignite.

“Once the fire started back up, there was no stopping it. With the wind blowing 50 to 60 miles per hour, there was nothing we could do. It was so fast and hot,” says Kirchhefer. “Miraculously, no homes were lost. There are burn spots where the flames came right to up to the houses on the ranch, but they were able to control the fire before it engulfed them.”

Kirchhefer also says 12 counties from Nebraska and Wyoming sent trucks to assist, and they counted anywhere from 85 to 100 fire engines at the scene.

She says, “With each truck having a minimum of two to three men in it, there were so many people here to help, and it was very much needed.”

  Lieutenant Jeremy Wardell, from the Goshen County Sheriff’s Department, states from an aerial estimation, 25,000 acres were charred – the biggest fire Goshen County has ever seen. Several ranches were impacted, with outbuildings, hay and silage reserves and cattle herds impacted.

Kirchhefer says as of now, the biggest concern is coal dust. The blaze was contained just over the Neb. state line where coal trains travel through frequently.

“Coal dust holds heat, and if the wind would decide to pick back up, that could be bad. Right now we are just trying to mitigate that specific area,” she comments.

Two injuries were reported when a tanker truck and a fire engine working the scene collided, with one man being airlifted to Scottsbluff, Neb. He is now in stable condition.

“What a devastating impact on these families' livelihoods. This community is so close up here, and they’ve already had semi loads of hay to unload. Neighbors helping each other and the outreach to the families has been unbelievable and so heartwarming to see,” she adds. 

Lacey Brott is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..