NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Aug. 21, 2020

Cheyenne man pleads not guilty to biting, hitting girlfriend

CHEYENNE (WNE) – A man accused of hitting and biting his girlfriend while he was intoxicated was seen Thursday morning in Laramie County District Court.

Joshua Jovan Taylor pleaded not guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and battery-threaten with a drawn deadly weapon and two counts of domestic battery. His trial is scheduled for Dec. 21.

On July 18, Taylor got into a fight with his girlfriend when he came home from a party intoxicated. The girlfriend said she tried to comfort Taylor, but he threw her down on the bed and held her down. When he held her down, he also bit her face, according to court documents.

The girlfriend was able to break free and lock herself in the bathroom, but she had to open the bathroom door because Taylor was going to force himself in anyway, according to court documents. When he got into the bathroom, he grabbed the girlfriend by the head and tried to slam it into the wall, before he shoved her into the bathtub and then slapped her.

She was able to escape, naked, and hide in the bushes outside her apartment, where she sent a text message to two friends stating “hey come here now he is beating me.” When the friends arrived, Taylor opened the door and waved a gun around at them.

When officers interviewed the girlfriend, they observed bruising on her head, arms and a bite mark. They also saw the bathroom door of the apartment was broken inward, according to court documents.


Evanston designated as Main Street America program

EVANSTON (WNE) — Evanston’s Urban Renewal Agency (EURA) and Main Street has been designated as a 2020 Accredited Main Street America program. 

“Evanston’s Main Street program has met 10 rigorous performance standards and is one of only about 700 communities throughout the United States that are accredited,” Wyoming Business Council Regional Director Elaina Zempel said at a recent Evanston City Council meeting. “Evanston receives recognition for being a vanguard of award finalists for 35 years.”

Zempel offered her congratulations to Jane Law, EURA and Main Street director, and Evanston for their continued efforts to revitalize and build their downtown. 

Law presented a certificate of appreciation to Mayor Kent Williams and the Evanston City Council for their continued support of EURA and the Main Street Program and read comments given by Wyoming Main Street Program Manager Linda Klinck, who was unable to attend. 

“Wyoming Main Street understands the need for economic development in Wyoming’s communities and provides training and tools, but your Main Street successes are only possible with full local support, especially that of the municipal government. Please accept this recognition knowing that the Wyoming Business Council acknowledges your continued financial aid for Evanston Main Street.” 


Fire danger in BLM High Desert District increases to ‘very high’

PINEDALE (WNE) — Federal land management agencies upgraded their fire danger ratings to “very high” this week. 

Immediate campfire restrictions are implemented in Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton Park and most outdoor smoking and chainsaws are banned in the Bureau of Land Management’s High Desert District. 

Teton Interagency Fire managers announced campfires in Teton Park and the Teton and Gros Ventre wilderness areas are limited to designated and installed fire rings or grills. 

Campfires are not allowed at all on the National Elk Refuge. 

Wednesday, the BLM High Desert District joined Bridger-Teton National Forest by elevating the current very high fire danger to Stage 1 fire restrictions. 

Campfires are only allowed in BLM-provided grates at recreation sites, stoves using pressurized gas, fully enclosed grills or in a 3-foot-diameter cleared of all flammable materials. 

Smoking is banned except in an enclosed vehicle or building, developed recreation site or 3-foot cleared space. 

Chainsaws must have approved spark arresters and users must have round-point shovels and at least an 8-ounce fire extinguisher. Welders or acetylene or other open-flame torches are banned without a 10-foot cleared space and fire extinguisher. 

“It is important we all do our part to prevent unnecessary risks of wildfire starts,” said BLM’s Bradford Purdy. “Failure to comply with fire restrictions on federal lands is punishable by law. Those found responsible for starting wildfires will also face restitution costs for suppressing the fire.” 

The National Weather Service issued multiple “red flag” warnings for western Wyoming in the past week when elevated fire conditions are expected – hot temperatures, low relative humidity, sustained gusty winds and lightning. Vegetation has dried very quickly and increases fire’s potential. 


National Weather Service: Smoke likely to cloud Tetons for days

JACKSON (WNE) — Particulate matter from smoke causing visibility so bad it’s washing out the Tetons will be around the valley for days to come, according to federal meteorologists.

National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Vorst, based in Riverton, told the Jackson Hole Daily that he sees nothing in the forecast that will wipe away smoky skies, which have been around all week but became particularly pronounced Thursday.

“We’re kind of in a stagnant pattern where we need something to wash it out,” Vorst said. “In the near future it doesn’t look like we’re going to see that kind of weather.”

Smoke will settle into the valleys of western Wyoming at least through the weekend, he said.

The U.S. Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow Fire and Smoke map shows that wildfire smoke is currently visible in every state west of the Mississippi River. 

There are three primary thrusts of air concentrating particulates through New Mexico, Arizona, northern California, Nevada and western Idaho.

The arc of concentrated smoke affecting Jackson Hole traces to conflagrations burning in the Sierra Nevadas of central California. From there, it’s heading over the Great Basin, past the Snake River Plain and then sweeping across central Wyoming before dissipating in eastern Colorado and western South Dakota.

At least as of Thursday afternoon, some places have it worse, the smoke maps show. Cheyenne, for instance, is being affected by the same stream of smoke dulling the skies over Jackson Hole and also by the growing wildfires that are burning through the Southern Rockies of Colorado.