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Wyoming newsman Dan Neal will lead the WyoFile staff in covering the 2017 Legislature.

The WyoFile board of directors hired Neal last week to serve as interim executive editor of the online news source through the legislative session. The session is slated to run Jan. 10 through early March.

Neal is deeply familiar with the legislature as a reporter, editor and policy advocate over the last four decades.

“Dan Neal is a veteran journalist who knows how the Wyoming Legislature works,” said Patrick Larvie, acting chairman of the WyoFile board of directors.

“He is a savvy policy watcher who we think will lead important conversations about how the laws and policies being crafted this session will affect Wyoming, its people and places for years to come,” Larvie said. “We’re excited to have him lead our editorial team.”

Originally from Idaho, Neal started reporting on people and policies in Wyoming in 1980 when he worked at the Riverton Ranger. He moved from Riverton to Casper, where he worked for the Casper Star-Tribune as a reporter and editor for many years. He left the paper as its editor in chief in 2004 and says he is pleased to return to journalism with WyoFile.

“I’ve admired the organization’s commitment to provide Wyoming people information they need with in-depth reporting about its people, policies and places,” Neal said. “It’s a great service in the public interest.”

Neal became executive director of the Equality State Policy Center in 2005. The ESPC is a progressive, nonprofit advocacy group that works on issues related to government transparency and accountability, among other things.

In November, Neal, a Democrat, made an unsuccessful bid to represent House District 56 in Casper. He was defeated by Republican Jerry Obermueller, a retired accountant.

Neal said that those concerned about his partisan involvement should judge his integrity by the journalism produced under his watch at WyoFile.

“The proof will be in the pudding,” he said. “The quality of journalism practiced by WyoFile derives from a strong ethical commitment to seek the information Wyoming people need by reporting many divergent points of view with integrity.

“Good journalism is driven by a search for truth,” he said. “It gives voice to those who have not been heard. It holds those in power accountable to the people they serve.

“I’m sure our readers and our sources will hold me — and all of us at WyoFile — accountable for doing so.”

Larvie said the WyoFile board had discussed Neal’s partisan work and concluded that his track record as a journalist demonstrates an ethical dedication to fact-based journalism.

“We are satisfied that Dan’s commitment to good governance and accurate coverage of Wyoming’s Legislature is a non-partisan commitment and that fairness and accuracy will be his guides as he leads WyoFile,” Larvie said. “We’re glad to have a newsman of his quality lead reporting on the Legislature during the historic and challenging session that lies ahead.”

A period of economic decline has forced the governor and Legislature to make significant budget cuts and staff reductions. This session, funding for education and health care are likely to dominate the policy discussion, along with debate over new sources of state revenue.

Neal will begin work for WyoFile after Christmas. Veteran Wyoming journalist and former WyoFile Board President Anne MacKinnon, who has been off the board while she donated her services as interim executive editor from October through December 2016, will return to the board as soon as Neal begins work.

Dustin Bleizeffer is WyoFile’s energy and policy reporter, now on leave till June 2017. He is WyoFile’s former editor-in-chief, a position he accepted in 2010 after working as energy reporter for the Casper Star-Tribune for 10 years. He hails from Gillette, Wyoming, where he worked several years in the coal mining and oilfield service industry. He has reported on the coal-bed methane gas boom in the Powder River Basin from the onset of the development in the late 1990s, and its bust in the late 2000s. His work includes a 2008 series on the failings of Wyoming’s workers’ compensation program. He traveled to China in 2009 and 2014 to write about international efforts to address climate change, coal mine safety, and conversion of coal into synthetic products. In 2010 he traveled to Berlin with the American Council on Germany to report on international energy strategies. He contributes to the Power to the People blog. He is a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow for the 2016-17 program at Stanford University in California where he’ll research a major new editorial project for WyoFile. Bleizeffer is a 1998 graduate of the University of Wyoming. He lives in Casper. Contact: [email protected] or (307) 267-3327. Follow Dustin on Twitter @DBleizeffer.

Guy V. Padgett serves as WyoFile’s business manager. Padgett has long been interested in public life in Wyoming. During his time in Casper, Padgett served on numerous non-profit boards, volunteered as an election judge, and served on the Casper city council, including a term as mayor. He has worked as an Assistant Curator of Education at the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper, as well as the Executive Director of the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra. Padgett is a graduate of the University of Wyoming, and completed a Master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Denver in June of 2011. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado, with his husband and their cat. Contact: [email protected].

Angus M. Thuermer Jr. reports about natural resources, criminal justice, federal lands, policy and other issues across the state, topics that have engaged him as a Wyoming journalist for the past 37 years. He lives in Jackson and joined WyoFile in the summer of 2014. He reported and photographed for many years for the Jackson Hole News. He was editor of that paper and of the Jackson Hole News&Guide. He served on the board of the Wyoming Press Association and is a past president of that organization. He is co-owner and photographer of the Jackson Hole Ski Atlas, has volunteered as an obituary editor for the American Alpine Journal, and works with the League of Women Voters to host election forums in Teton County. He settled in Jackson in 1978 after a stint as an alpinist, rock climber and Wyoming oilfield roughneck. He graduated from Yale with a BA in English in 1974 after growing up in the Washington, D.C. area and overseas as a Foreign Service brat. He enjoys fly-fishing, photography, skiing, mountaineering, boating, hunting and wilderness travel where the outcome is uncertain. Contact: [email protected].

Andrew Graham is a recent graduate of the University of Montana’s masters program in environmental journalism. A native of Maryland, he brings a fresh eye to Wyoming, and has a keen interest in how natural resource industries affect not just the landscape but also the people and culture that gather around it. His first story for WyoFile was an investigative report on oil pipelines under rivers, a pivotal experience that led him to pursue in-depth reporting. When not working, he likes to ski, drive long distances and explore new country. Contact: [email protected].