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State Briefs

Deputies rescue drunk party goers

CODY (WNE) — An evening gathering in Badger Basin resulted in a possible life-saving rescue by Park County deputies who’d spent almost five hours on the scene to ensure the many partygoers were OK.

According to a sheriff’s office release, on the night of May 7, deputies became suspicious that a party involving alcohol was being held in the hills of Badger Basin off of WYO 294. When the deputies arrived, they noticed a large bonfire with numerous people standing around it.

When everyone saw the patrol vehicles, many ran off into the hills. Those who stayed were interviewed and citations were issued if they were underage and under the influence of alcohol.

Once that group was managed and safe rides home were arranged, the deputies agreed to search for those who had run away. 

The temperature that night dropped into the 30s. In the high desert, people can succumb to hypothermia in temperatures as high as 60-70 degrees, according to the release.

Over the course of the next hour and a half, deputies walked over three miles around the base of the hills but were not able to find anyone. From there, they climbed to the top of one of the hills for a better vantage point. While on top, one of the deputies observed a male who appeared to have fallen in the small ravine.

When the deputies reached him, they discovered that he was unresponsive and suffering from the beginning stages of hypothermia. They requested Powell Valley Hospital ambulance for assistance. 

The male, whose breath test showed a .308% blood alcohol content, was subsequently arrested for being a minor under the influence of alcohol.

Deputies reported that all of the minors were safe and accounted for.

Wyoming community colleges graduate first-ever Bachelor degree recipients

CODY (WNE) — For the first time in Wyoming’s history, community college graduation ceremonies included Bachelor degree recipients.

Beginning on May 6th at Central Wyoming College, and continuing on May 13th and 14th at Western Wyoming Community College and Laramie County Community College, graduates of the first class of Bachelor of Applied Science students will be recognized during commencement ceremonies. 

During the 2019 Legislative Session, the community colleges were authorized to begin offering Bachelor of Applied Science degrees.

This was in response to the establishment of Wyoming’s Educational Attainment goals, which seek to increase the percentage of adults with a postsecondary credential, such as a certificate, an associate degree, or a bachelor degree.

Many working adults who may benefit from a bachelor’s degree are unable to move to another city, or are unable to pursue an online degree that is tailored to their local economy.

By allowing the community colleges to offer limited Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degrees that are customized to meet the needs of the local business and industry needs, a larger share of Wyoming citizens now have access to this level of training and education.

Since 2019, five community colleges have received authorization and approval from the Wyoming Community College Commission and Higher Learning Commission to offer BAS degrees, with CWC, LCCC, and WWCC launching their programs in 2020-21. 

Northwest College and Northern Wyoming Community College District also offer BAS programs and will be welcoming their first classes of graduates in coming semesters.

Tick and skeeter season brings bug bite danger

JACKSON (WNE) — Slap on some bug repellent, tuck your pant legs into your socks and scan yourself for creepy-crawlies.

In a seasonal advisory, the Wyoming Department of Health warns that ticks can spread tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Colorado tick fever, and mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus.

“The reported case numbers from the diseases ticks and mosquitoes can cause are usually not high compared to other illnesses, but we see some activity each year, and the results can be quite serious for some people,” Department of Health epidemiologist Courtney Tillman said in a press release. “Avoiding these insects and their bites is key.”

To guard against ticks, the department recommends using insect repellents with 20% or more DEET and/or picaradin and wearing light-colored clothing so you can see critters on you. Pet owners should check their furry pals for ticks and use tick control products recommended by their vets.

Insect repellent containing DEET is also recommended for thwarting mosquitoes, the press release said. Picaradin and oil of lemon eucalyptus can also work.

The department recommends wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts in light colors and tightly woven material, plus shoes and socks. Also, be aware that mosquitoes like to feed at dawn and dusk.

90-year-old woman ticketed again, this time for hitting son with cattle prod

GILLETTE (WNE) – A 90-year-old woman was ticketed for unlawful contact after hitting her son with a cattle prod Friday. Deputies had ticketed the same woman on Wednesday for destruction of property after putting honey on her son’s door to try to “sweeten” him up.

After 5 p.m. Friday, her son, 59, reported that his mom had hit him and his wife with a cattle prod after his wife, 54, confronted the 90-year-old about opening a gate to the property on the 3000 block of West 4J Road, said Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds.

The 59-year-old showed deputies a video of his mother hitting him with the cattle prod.

During the prior incident involving honey, the man said his mom has been trespassed from most of his property and is only allowed on a small joint portion of the land.

Cam-Plex general manager resigns

GILLETTE (WNE) — Jeff Esposito, general manager of Cam-Plex, resigned last Thursday, leaving the multi-use facility without a director as it approaches a busy summer that includes the National High School Finals Rodeo in July.

Two other management-level Cam-Plex employees also resigned in recent weeks.

Sandra Olsen, director of sales and marketing, and Paul Storiale, performing arts manager, have also resigned, said Darin Edmonds, chairman of the Campbell County Public Land Board, adding that neither of those resignations are related to Esposito’s resignation.

Esposito was hired to head Cam-Plex in April 2018 and started the job that May.

“It was really a matter of wanting to be closer to our family,” Esposito said. “We’re headed back east and this will put us within driving distance of all of our family.”

Esposito, who came to Gillette from Erie, Pennsylvania, accepted another position and is moving to Ownensboro, Kentucky.

“Where we’re at within 60 days of rodeo, we’re going to have to figure out who’s steering the ship right away,” Edmonds said.

Land Board members are now tasked with finding a short-term and long-term replacement as the facility navigates the upcoming rodeo finals, pursuit of a facilities master plan, negotiates the upcoming International Pathfinders Camporee and weighs the prospect of building an indoor arena to host national finals rodeos long-term.

The land board has an agenda item to discuss the vacant general manager position.

Torres arraigned on first-degree murder charge

SHERIDAN (WNE) — Christian Torres pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency to a first-degree murder charge before 9th Judicial District Court Judge Melissa Owens Wednesday. The 15-year-old defendant’s trial is scheduled to proceed Sept. 6-16. 

Torres was initially charged with second-degree — or not premeditated — murder. However, after a second preliminary hearing determined adequate probable cause to bind the defendant over to district court on the charge, Torres is accused of the first-degree — or premeditated — murder of his adoptive father, Edgar “Eddie” Jones on July 27, 2021. 

The charge is a felony punishable by life imprisonment if the defendant is younger than 18 years of age, a $10,000 fine or both. 

If Torres is convicted of the charge this year, he will be eligible for parole in 2047, barring any disqualifying behavior. 

A competency evaluation by the Wyoming State Hospital is already underway, said Jonathan Foreman, one of Torres’ defense attorneys. An additional evaluation found Torres competent to proceed with criminal legal hearings was completed — and Torres was found competent — in March. 

Deputy Sheridan County and Prosecuting Attorney Christopher LaRosa expressed concerns Torres’ trial would not have commenced within 180 days of his initial arraignment for second-degree murder — which took place March 15 — and would violate Wyoming statute that requires a speedy trial take place within 180 days of a defendant’s arraignment except in certain circumstances. 

As a result, Owens scheduled Torres’ trial to begin Sept. 6, before the close of the 180-day window Sept. 11. A pretrial hearing will be conducted Aug. 1.

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