NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, April 3, 2020


Cheyenne officials eye liquor store deliveries

CHEYENNE (WNE) - A few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic's local impact, city officials are eyeing a way to allow Cheyenne's liquor stores to make deliveries - something already permitted in most other parts of the state.

The spread of COVID-19 to Wyoming has brought some quick changes to how some alcohol is sold in the state. Last week, Gov. Mark Gordon issued an order allowing restaurants and bars with a Wyoming liquor license to sell beer and wine with takeout food orders.

But liquor stores in Cheyenne were unaffected by the proposal, and unlike their counterparts in places like Casper and Jackson, they are restricted by a city ordinance from delivering.

Members of the Cheyenne City Council, along with Cheyenne Police Chief Brian Kozak, have been drafting a new ordinance to get rid of that restriction, while implementing requirements to ensure safe deliveries. The plan is for the council to vote on the proposal during its April 13 meeting.

Under the proposed ordinance, delivery drivers for the stores would have to be at least 21, and deliveries of kegs would be prohibited.

"I think there's good reason behind it, and who knows, it might even prevent a DUI or two from occurring," Kozak said.

If the ordinance wins approval from the Cheyenne City Council, it would be effective for 90 days.

Nationwide, sales of alcoholic beverages were up 55% in the week ending March 21, compared to the same time a year ago, according to market research firm Nielsen.

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UW to keep paying student workers’ wages

LARAMIE (WNE) — The University of Wyoming will pay its 2,200 student workers through the end of the spring 2020 semester, an amount expected to total about $1.5 million, the school announced in a press release Wednesday. The news comes as part of the university’s $2 million initiative to provide students with “financial security” amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“Many UW students have been dramatically impacted by this event, particularly those students who faced financial and food insecurity before the effects of this crisis took hold,” UW president Neil Theobald said in a statement. “For many, the university has served as the primary resource for not only educational needs, but also critical amenities such as housing, food and technology. Our students have entrusted us with their well-being, and we will not let them down.”

Students will take classes remotely for the remainder of the semester due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to stay-at-home orders in at least 38 states across the country, though Wyoming has not yet taken the measure. Because of that, student work positions have been severely limited or eliminated completely.

“Given their transition to online work and learning outside of Laramie, we are allowing students and their supervisors time to work through any student employment issues,” UW spokesman Chad Baldwin told the Boomerang.

UW has also launched an emergency fund for students who may have issues staying enrolled that is expected to equal at least $500,000 total. The Associated Students of UW will also distribute $163,000 to students that responded to a notice that they would be eligible for stipends.

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Cheney calls for support for coal, soda ash industries

GILLETTE (WNE) — Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney joined 29 members of Congress in sending a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt calling on suspending or reducing federal royalty payments for coal, soda ash, oil, gas and other minerals to the U.S. Treasury during the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter highlights how the action will ensure America continues its international energy dominance while also helping to save essential industry jobs, many of which are located in heavily impacted rural communities.

"While economic conditions will improve over time, providing this necessary action now will ensure America continues its international energy dominance," the letter states. "Additionally, this could help save essential industry jobs, many of which are located in heavily impacted rural communities."

Cheney also joined Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso a day earlier in asking for help for ranchers during the pandemic.

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Man who tried to kill father with hammer pleads to a lesser charge

RIVERTON (WNE) — A Riverton man pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder on Friday, through a remote link to Fremont County District Court.

All court appearances in the county are by remote link due to coronavirus exposure restrictions.

"I struck my father on the head with a hammer," said 30-year-old Garrett Neal Powell, when District Court Judge Marvin Tyler asked him what happened the night of April 16-17, 2019.

"Where did you get the hammer?" asked Tyler.

"From my parents' garage," Powell said.

"Where was your father at the time you struck him in the head?"

"He was in his bed."

Tyler continued to ask Powell about the nature of the crime during the latter's first in-court admission of it since he was charged, initially, with attempted first-degree murder last April.

The defendant said he struck his father about four times.

"What was your intent, when striking him in the head with the hammer those four times?" asked Tyler.

"To kill him," said Powell.

"Was this done by you, purposefully and maliciously?"

"Yes, your honor."

In Wyoming, a defendant may only be convicted of attempted second-degree murder if he takes a purposeful and malicious step toward killing someone, but not with premeditation.

In pleading guilty to the lesser charge of attempted second-degree murder, Powell dodges the certainty of life in prison he initially was facing with the first-degree charge.

A conviction in the second degree is punishable by between 20 years, and life in prison.

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Three VA clinics temporarily suspend face-to-face visits

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SHERIDAN (WNE) — Veterans Affairs clinics in Afton, Evanston and Casper will be temporarily closed to patients as of April 6 due to concerns about COVID-19, but veterans are still able to receive care.

There are currently no positive cases in the Sheridan VA Health Care System, which they are all part of, however this decision has been made to protect the health of both veterans and health care workers.

These clinics are in addition to the Riverton VA Clinic, which suspended face-to-face patient visits as of March 30.

Enrolled veterans are still able to receive care during the temporary closure with telehealth services available for appointments. These virtual care options allow veterans to communicate with care teams from the comfort of their home — options include telephone appointments or video teleconferencing through VA Video Connect. Veterans are also able to communicate with their health care team directly through My HealtheVet secure messaging. Details on these virtual options are:

• VA Video Connect. VA Video Connect is software that allows veterans to do a video call with a health care professional, using Windows-based PCs and laptops, Windows mobile devices, iOS mobile devices, Android mobile devices, etc. Veterans interested in this option are encouraged to learn more at mobile.va.gov/app/va-video-connect

• My HealtheVet Secure Messaging. Veterans can send a secure message to their provider using My HealtheVet if they have any health concern or question.

• Telephone option. For veterans who have questions about appointments in general or would like to set up a telephone appointment with their care team, please call the respective clinic.

Veterans who are experiencing flu-like symptoms are encouraged to call the VA at 307-675-3575.

Cheyenne VA Medical Center continues strict visitation procedures

CHEYENNE (WNE) — While no cases have been confirmed at the Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center, it is continuing strict visitation policies and screening anyone that comes through the doors, according to VA spokesman Sam House.

"A lot has not changed. However, we've been pretty strict from the very beginning," House said Wednesday.

Now, a number of screening tents are set up outside the VA for anyone going into the facility. They take each person's temperature and ask a series of questions to help determine the level of risk. Each veteran is allowed one visitor to accompany them to ensure that residents with accessibility or memory problems have the assistance they need.

In the nursing home, however, no visitors are allowed. Staff members have been using Skype with residents so they can keep in touch with their loved ones.

Across the state, the VA has had to close mobile clinics in Laramie, Wheatland and Torrington. The clinics in Rawlins, Fort Collins, Colorado, and Sydney, Nebraska, have all remained open, but for the safety of staff and patients, the VA is pushing telemedicine nationwide. Those three clinics are seeing patients via video calls through the VA Video Connect app.

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Man’s body recovered after avalanche

JACKSON (WNE) — Jackson residents are mourning the loss of their friend, Trace Carrillo, who died Wednesday in an avalanche while snowboarding on Taylor Mountain.

“This is an incredible tragedy,” Carrillo’s friend and former Teton Valley Ranch Camp co-worker Pete Stone said. “He was a very passionate man, entirely dedicated to outdoor pursuits, his job with the USFS, and the craft of the great American dirtbag.”

Carrillo, a U.S. Forest Service wilderness ranger and avid snowboarder, was split-boarding Wednesday afternoon when an avalanche struck soon after he started his descent of Taylor’s south face and buried him.

Teton County Search and Rescue, with the help of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski patrol’s avalanche rescue dogs, found Carrillo’s body Thursday morning under two feet of debris.

“Teams worked the top, middle and bottom of the slide path, and used beacon searches as well as probe poles,” TCSAR communications director Matt Hansen said.

Rescuers retrieved Carrillo’s split board below the toe of the slide, Hansen said.

“We are very sad for his friends and family,” TCSAR Chief Advisor Cody Lockhart said.

Carrillo’s friends said the 28-year-old was smart, friendly and adored by everyone he met.

Carrillo lived in Jackson most of the year and worked at the Mangy Moose Saloon.

The Mangy Moose plans to make a donation to search and rescue in Carrillo’s name.

Avalanche danger was moderate Wednesday, with a warning about unstable snow on steep terrain.

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