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Wyoming News Briefs

Man caught with 1.5 pounds of meth and 1,000 fentanyl pills gets 12-20 years

GILLETTE (WNE) — A man who police found with 1.5 pounds of meth and 1000 fentanyl pills during a traffic stop in Gillette earlier this year has been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Donnie L. Neice III, 53, received a 12- to 20-year sentence at his Oct. 10 sentencing hearing for each count of possession with intent to deliver fentanyl and possession with intent to deliver meth, set to run concurrently.

Neice was a passenger in a car full of people that was pulled over at 1:50 a.m. on March 21 after traveling in the wrong lane of traffic on Highway 59.

There were four people in the car, and the driver told police they had driven to Gillette from Casper to pick up some friends and were returning to Casper. Another officer arrived with a drug dog, and the police K-9 signaled that there may be drugs in the front driver’s side door.

While searching the SUV, officers found a backpack with 1.5 pounds of meth and about 1000 blue M30 pills containing fentanyl. Another bag with a single M30 pill was also found. 

A straw with suspected drug residue was later found in the back of the deputy vehicle. Neice admitted the pill and straw in the squad car were his and later admitted that he knew about the meth and fentanyl in the SUV, according to court documents.

District Judge Stuart S. Healy III gave him credit for 204 days served and $425 in fines and fees.

Laramie County Sheriff’s Office provides update on Saturday’s highway shooting

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The Laramie County Sheriff ’s Office released more information Monday about a shooting that took place south of Cheyenne on U.S. Highway 85 Saturday evening.

Charges against the alleged shooter, 29-year-old Bear Larkman, are still pending with the Laramie County District Attorney’s office, according to the press release.

The shooting escalated from a road rage incident, deputies said, culminating in one man sustaining injuries that officials described as “non-life-threatening.”

At 4:30 p.m. Saturday, deputies responded to a call to mile marker 2 on U.S. Highway 85, where they found a 49-year-old Colorado man who had been shot. Deputies said that Larkman, the alleged shooter, fled the scene before they arrived.

The victim, who was not identified by LCSO, was taken for medical treatment and is in stable condition, officials told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation sent out a notification at 5:12 p.m. Saturday that Highway 85 was closed at mile marker 4 due to “law enforcement activity.” WYDOT urged motorists to use Interstate 25 as an alternate north-south route.

According to the news release, Larkman was contacted by phone and agreed to surrender to LCSO that same evening. At around 5:30 p.m., he was arrested without incident and booked into the Laramie County Detention Center.

At 6:56 p.m., WYDOT sent out a follow-up notification that Highway 85 had been completely reopened, though it may have opened to traffic earlier than that.

No charges have been filed against the unidentified Colorado man in connection with the case.

Gillette man dies in head-on crash Saturday

GILLETTE (WNE) — A 53-year-old Gillette man died Saturday afternoon after a crash on Highway 14-16 near the Eagle Butte Coal Mine overlook. 

Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds said a 70-year-old woman was traveling south in a Ford Expedition when she collided head-on with a Honda motorcycle, driven by the 53-year-old. The man, Steven W. Lucore, of Gillette, flew off the motorcycle.

Lucore was taken to the hospital where he was officially pronounced dead at about 3 p.m., said Campbell County Coroner Paul Wallem. Wallem said the cause of death is significant torso injuries from the accident.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol is investigating the crash, Reynolds said.

Wyoming sees solid growth in jobs, payroll 

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The Research & Planning Section of the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services reported Friday that from second quarter 2022 to second quarter 2023, total employment in the state rose by 6814 jobs (2.5%), and total payroll increased by $266.8 million (7.2%).

In second quarter 2023, the largest job growth occurred in professional and business services (1249 jobs, or 6.0%), local government (including public schools, colleges and hospitals; 1105 jobs, or 2.5%), mining (including oil and gas; 916 jobs, or 5.7%), leisure and hospitality (729 jobs, or 1.9%), and construction (693 jobs, or 3.2%). 

Sizable job gains were also seen in health care and social assistance (529 jobs, or 2.1%), transportation and warehousing (339 jobs, or 3.5%), federal government (302 jobs, or 3.9%), wholesale trade (272 jobs, or 3.5%) and manufacturing (269 jobs, or 2.7%). Retail trade employment fell by 322 jobs, or 1.1%. Employment rose in 19 counties and fell in four counties.

Laramie County gained 1096 jobs (2.4%) and its total payroll increased by $41.8 million (6.7%). Mining (including oil and gas) added approximately 250 jobs, and strong growth also occurred in local government (including educational services), professional and technical services, administrative and waste services and other services. 

Job losses were seen in retail trade, finance and insurance, and transportation and warehousing.

Local man arrested for felony eluding, other charges

LARAMIE (WNE) — A local man is currently in custody and facing charges of felony eluding, theft of a vehicle, three charges of auto burglary, possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine and marijuana), reckless driving and driving on a suspended license, according to a Laramie Police Department news release.

At approximately 8:17 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 2, Laramie Police Department (LPD) officers were dispatched to a sighting of a vehicle which had been reported stolen about 30 minutes prior. Officers attempted to stop the vehicle around Curtis and McCue streets, although the driver, 23-year-old Russell Thomas Goodrum, failed to stop, and a pursuit was initiated.

The LPD pursuit was taken over by Albany County Sheriff’s Office deputies and it went throughout Laramie, resulting in two separate crashes at 22nd Street and Grand Avenue, and North 22nd and East Harney streets. A LPD officer was able to deploy spikes at 15th and East Sheridan streets, and the suspect vehicle finally stopped in the 500 block of N. 3rd St., where Goodrum was arrested.

Early morning crime spree leads to the arrest of two teenagers

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — An early morning crime spree led to two teenagers’ arrest on Monday, Oct. 30, according to police reports.

In the morning on Monday, the Green River Police Department announced that officers were dispatched to two separate calls for shots fired in the areas for W. 3rd N. Street and Chugwater Drive, where they found property damaged at both scenes but no injuries. The Rock Springs Police Department and Sweetwater County Sheriff ’s Office were also at the scene, assisting with the investigation.

On Tuesday, Oct. 31, RSPD reported that the juvenile suspects reportedly stole a vehicle, broke into several other vehicles and took a handgun from one of them in Rock Springs.

It was reported that the suspects then traveled to Green River in the stolen vehicle where they committed several incidents of property damage, including a hit and run at the intersection of E Teton Avenue and Monroe Avenue that damaged a stop sign and two separate calls for shots fired in the areas of W. 3rd N. Street and Chugwater Drive.

The suspected teenagers then traveled back to Rock Springs, where they stole another vehicle and ultimately crashed at the intersection of Dewar Drive and College Drive, which led to a foot pursuit with local law enforcement, according to Tuesday’s report.

Once apprehended, the suspects were arrested; they face multiple charges stemming from the incident. 

Electric vehicle charging stations added in downtown Laramie for ‘mutually beneficial relationship’

LARAMIE (WNE) — Electric cars are here, and growing in popularity and accessibility.

The city of Laramie in partnership with the Wyoming-based company OtterSpace recently installed four new 80A Level 2 charging stations with the hopes of doing more for the downtown area than simply providing charge for electric vehicle drivers.

The four stations are located at the University Avenue and 1st Street Bison Lot, also used for free parking. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was on Oct. 25.

City Manager Todd Feezer said it was “absolutely” a strategic placement, specifically designed to allow travelers to stop into the city and shop downtown.

“That’s by design,” he said. “Maybe [they’ll] buy some meals, or do some shopping, something like that while their cars are charging.”

OtterSpace financed the roughly $75,000 to purchase and install the chargers, with the only contribution from the city coming in the form of an estimated $1200 for ground markers. OtterSpace founder Mike Yin described the project as a “mutually beneficial relationship” for travelers, his company and Laramie itself.

“The goal is that it’s a mutually beneficial relationship for both the downtown of Laramie and for us as a company,” Yin said. Yin’s company is working to add electric charging stations across the state to address the growing numbers of electric cars on the roads, specifically those that travel through Wyoming. He also is a Wyoming State Representative, a Democrat from Jackson.

“Tourism is our number two industry, right, so for those that want to be tourists in Wyoming, if they have electric vehicles, they have to understand whether there’s charging to even get to where they’re going, or if there’s charging on the way, or even evaluating a place that they want to visit whether there is that infrastructure there,” Yin said.

Denim or bust: JHMR eyes world record for skiers and riders in jeans

JACKSON (WNE) — Skiers heading to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort on Dec. 9 should plan to pull out their best pair of denim.

The ski resort announced it will host its first-ever Ski in Jeans Day in an attempt to break the world record for most people skiing and riding in jeans.

Perks of the day include discounted lift tickets and rentals in order to celebrate the most famous pants in the West. The resort will offer $25 lift tickets throughout the day to all guests, as well as $25 performance equipment rentals, $100 off group lessons and live music to kick off the season.

The previous world record for most skiers and riders in jeans was set earlier this year at the Remarkable Ski Area in New Zealand, with 102 total visitors on the slopes wearing denim.

In order to beat the world record, participants should show up at the official count at 12 p.m. at the base of the Sweetwater Gondola.

They will scan in at the gates to be counted, and then all skiers and riders will gather at the top of Sweetwater for a group photo to commemorate the historic moment.

No one hurt when school bus crashes through fence, off road

GILLETTE (WNE) — All 17 elementary school students aboard a Campbell County school bus safely made it to school after experiencing a scare on their way Wednesday morning.

While driving north on Cook Road, a 49-year-old school bus driver had an unspecified medical episode, causing him to lose consciousness while passing through the intersection with Echeta Road, said Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds.

The bus drove off of the north side of Echeta Road, hit a berm and went into a drainage ditch, knocking down about 30 yards of barbed-wire fence in the process and high-centering the bus.

The driver said the last moments he remembered prior to the crash were picking up the last student and ramping up to the 45 mph speed limit, Reynolds said.

The school bus took significant damage to its front end, engine and undercarriage and caused at least hundreds of dollars of damage to the fence.

EMS responded and cleared each of the 17 students on the bus and a secondary bus picked up the children and took them to school. Their parents were informed of the incident, Reynolds said.

The driver was taken to the Campbell County Health emergency department.