THEM ON US: 12.30.13
Catching up with Conrad
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Conrad Farnsworth is still at it. We profiled the Newcastle brainiac in our “Geek Week” issue after he built a nuclear reactor in his parent’s backyard shed. After conquering nuclear fusion, Farnsworth has gone on to other endeavors including his latest projects – ultrasound machine design and “a little fractal research,” according to Farnsworth.
He also built a collapsible drone on a 3-D printer. It didn’t fly. He will try again in 2014.
Despite his successes in 2013, Farnsworth might be happy to see the year end. He failed to get into his dream school, MIT, and was later disqualified from the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for a rules violation.
But his phone kept ringing. The Huffington Post, Fox News and The Colbert Report all wanted to profile the teenage genius.
Farnsworth now attends South Dakota School of Mines and recently told the Rapid City Journal he has dozens of other projects he wants to get to in the new year.
All is not well with Wyoming gas
With natural gas prices continuing to plummet, Wyoming has a real problem. Too many abandoned wells are turning up both on public and private land.
According to a story in AllGov.com, there may be as many as 1,200 neglected wells statewide that need cleaning up or capping. An additional 2,300 wells currently sit idle as their owners wait for a healthier market or have gone out of business. Capping 1,200 wells will cost an estimated $8 million. The state annually allocates only $1 million for such work. Gov. Matt Mead is proposing another $3 million over the next four years to address the problem.
Some organizations, like the Powder River Basin Coalition, say it’s time for the state to get tough with companies that exploit Wyoming’s resources.
“There has been a lot of hand-holding and coddling over the years when it comes to oil and gas operators and their ability to pay the bonding,” Jill Morrison, an organizer with the group, told The New York Times.
$20 million business park in JH?
Former county commissioner Paul Perry is pushing a 120,000-square-foot, $20 million business park in Jackson Hole and gaining some traction.
In a Wyoming Business Report story, Perry said while he was a commissioner he worked hard to promote business-park zoning in the county in order to attract different types of businesses to help diversify Jackson’s tourism-centric economy.
According to the piece, commercial or light industrial space is needed in the valley. Jackson Hole leases run about $17 per square foot as compared to about $3 in Cheyenne.
Using the proceeds from the saw of land that Walgreens is building on, Perry has secured property he wants to build the park on. It will be called Space Tech, which is also an acronym for South Park Advanced Center for Entrepreneurs and Technology.
Idaho moonshine hits shelves
Just in time for New Year’s Eve, the Idaho Statesman and Teton Valley News both ran a story on Idaho’s Grand Teton Distillery and its newly-released hooch. The Teton Moonshine series includes two flavored whiskies – Spiced Apple Pie and Huckleberry – and a blended American clear whiskey.
The Teton Valley-based distillery has already won raves and awards for their potato vodka – infused with Oregon cherries. Now, thirsty patrons can look for the trio of 80 proof moonshine concoctions distilled from an 80/20 split of corn and potato. A 750-milliliter bottle will retail for $19.95.
Lose the ling
An exotic fish species just made the hit list in Wyoming. Beginning last Wednesday, all burbot caught by state anglers in the Green River drainage are to be killed.
Also known as ling, burbot are in the freshwater cod family of fish that have learned to adapt to colder climates. They are believed to have been illegally introduced to the Green. Wyoming Game and Fish, along with University of Idaho and Trout Unlimited have launched a seek-and-destroy initiative, hoping to restore native trout and bass to Flaming Gorge, Fontenelle, and Big Sandy reservoirs which have seen dramatic changes in desirable game fish due to burbot predation.