NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Aug. 28, 2020

Riverton student tests positive for coronavirus

RIVERTON (WNE) — A Riverton High School student has tested positive for coronavirus, and several others have been quarantined as a result. 

Fremont County School District 25 superintendent JoAnne Andre-Flanagan said the infected student came to school Monday – the first day of the semester – and passed the health screening protocols put in place at RHS to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Andre-Flanagan said the student’s family decided to have the student tested for coronavirus that day, and on Tuesday the family called the school to say the result was positive. 

Administrators then compiled a list of six other students who had had close contact with the infected student, informed those students’ families, and sent the list to public health officials, who followed up with additional questioning. 

RHS also contacted all families with students in that class, Andre-Flanagan said, but the entire class will not have to quarantine.

As of Wednesday, Andre-Flanagan said two of the six students who had close contact with the infected student had been “released” back to school. She is waiting to hear whether the other four will have to stay in quarantine.

If they do have to stay home from school, Andre-Flanagan said the exposed students will receive online instruction, as will the infected student. 

It is up to individuals to decide whether to take a coronavirus test, Andre-Flanagan said.


Man accused of holding gun to heads of two men

LARAMIE (WNE) — A 21-year-old Laramie man, Kobi Vasquez, has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault and battery after he allegedly held a loaded gun to two men’s heads Friday night.

Police responded to the area of 4th and Gibbon streets at around 9:40 p.m. after there was a report of three gunshots.

Soon after, police were dispatched to a residence on North Cedar Street, where they met with a man identified in court documents only as T.G.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, T.G. said that he and Vasquez had left The Ranger Bar earlier, and Vasquez drove drunk and, while on Bradley Street, stuck his handgun out the driver side window and fired at least two shots.

Later while driving around, T.G. and Vasquez got into an argument, which led Vasquez to point the handgun at T.G.’s head.

Vasquez then allegedly put a loaded magazine into the handgun and racked the slide to a round, pointed the gun at T.G.’s head and stated “his 9 was going to clap his head.”

Instead, Vasquez drove to T.G.’s residence on Cedar Street, where the pair continued to argue.

When T.G.’s father told Vasquez to leave, Vasquez drew the handgun and pointed at the head of the father and said “I’m going to shoot your ass.”

Instead, Vasquez eventually left in his Jeep after another round of arguing.

Police later found Vasquez’s Jeep on South Hayes Street, where they found Vasquez inside.


Goshen schools suspend attendance policies

TORRINGTON (WNE) — Goshen County School District No. 1 voted unanimously to temporarily suspend the district attendance policy due to the novel coronavirus pandemic during an Aug. 24 special meeting. 

The now-suspended District Policy 5113 states “All students are expected to be in attendance for regular classes.” To successfully complete a grade level, elementary and secondary school students could miss no more than 10 classes. 

Given state, local and school district recommendations for students to stay home when showing symptoms of COVID19, the policy is not applicable for what Superintendent Ryan Kramer called “a unique year. 

“In other years, we reinforced a really intense requirement on attendance, which we know definitely impacts student learning,” Kramer said. “We don’t discount that in this situation. But we also do not want to put a heavy burden on families. If a student has a runny nose or a cough, we would prefer that they not come to school.” 

Kramer referenced the district’s first positive case of COVID-19 at Torrington High School and the student’s and their parents’ decision to stay home and get tested when they started showing symptoms. The action, he said, might have prevented additional exposure. 

He acknowledged board member Mark Jespersen’s concern that in rescinding this policy, the district personnel would still reach out to students with a significant number of absences and reiterate they care and want them in school. 

Students and educators who are absent due to illness or potential virus exposure can still participate in class remotely, Kramer said.


Evanston woman arrested, accused of stealing from disabled person

EVANSTON (WNE) — A former Evanston resident wanted for allegedly stealing several thousand dollars from a developmentally disabled person has been apprehended by the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) in Mesa, Arizona. 

An arrest warrant was issued in late February for Belinda Waters, 62, on charges of felony exploitation of a vulnerable adult after an investigation by the Evanston Police Department. 

The EPD was contacted in February by a staff member of Mountain Regional Services Inc. (MRSI) regarding a developmentally disabled client. Waters had become the client’s legal guardian in late 2008 after she had been caring for the client while employed by MRSI. 

At the time Waters assumed guardianship, the client had received nearly $35,000 in a payment from Social Security, which Waters was to oversee for the client’s care. 

Approximately $7,000 was spent on legal fees, leaving about $28,000 in the client’s account. At the time the investigation began, however, there was approximately $4,300 remaining in the account and no record of where the majority of the missing money had gone. 

Staff at MRSI were aware that at one time Waters had used some of the money to purchase the client new eyeglasses and a recliner. However, those purchases were estimated to have cost between $1,000-2,000 and the client’s current caregivers were unaware of any other purchases or payments on the client’s behalf. 

Locating Waters was difficult because she had reportedly moved to Arizona at about the same time she had assumed the client’s guardianship. 

Investigators discovered Waters had left employment at an Arizona caregiving facility after an investigation began into money that had allegedly gone missing from a client in Waters’ care.