NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Dec. 13, 2019

Report shows Pinedale water ‘outstanding’

PINEDALE (WNE) — A final report due to the Environmental Protection Agency that shows all the monitoring and testing conducted in 2019 says there is no reason to be concerned about Pinedale’s water supply. 

Consultants of Jorgensen and Associates with Strike Consulting Group presented the study at the Dec. 9 Pinedale Town Council meeting. 

The EPA limits fecal coliform to 20 coliform-forming units for every 100 milliliters of water sampled, in order to maintain a freshwater supply that is not filtered. There is a limit of 100 CFU for total coliform. Fecal coliform is a bacteria that grows in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. 

In July and August of 2018, the biweekly test results showed the allowable amounts of fecal coliform were exceeded. The EPA issued a letter of noncompliance to the Town of Pinedale. 

The town chose to conduct a watershed study and contracted with Jorgensen and Associates, Strike Consulting Group and JVA Consulting. 

Through all the tests, fecal coliform was detected in small amounts – not in Fremont Lake – but at the inlet of Sylvan Bay Creek and again at Pine Creek. 

Additional tests for 100 pharmaceuticals and cleaning supplies were conducted to determine if there were human influences. Nothing indicated human causes. 

Mike Jensen, with Strike, said the testing establishes a baseline so if there are problems in future years, then there is a starting point.

“Pinedale’s water is not excellent, it’s outstanding,” Jensen said.


Consent judgment reached with Cheyenne handyman shop

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office has reached a consent judgment with a former Cheyenne handyman shop and its owner for violating the Wyoming Consumer Protection Act.

Grandpa’s Shop LLC and its owner, Luke Christensen, entered into a consent judgment, which was filed in Laramie County District Court on Dec. 5. The AG sent out a news release about the consent agreement Wednesday.

If people feel like they were wronged by Grandpa’s Shop, they can submit a Consumer Refund Claim to the AG during the repayment period. The repayment period for Christensen is estimated to be about seven years to return more than $80,000 to wronged consumers, according to the news release.

The consent judgment allows Christensen to resolve the accusations laid out in a complaint the AG filed in district court Nov. 22. The complaint stated the shop “engaged in a pattern of unfair and deceptive trade practices against residents of Wyoming through transactions for contractor/handyman services for consumers’ homes.”

Grandpa’s Shop LLC operated from Sept. 12, 2012, to Nov. 9, 2018. The shop and Christensen had its contractors license revoked by the city of Cheyenne in July 2017, but continued to offer those services, according to the complaint.

People would hire Grandpa’s Shop to do various home renovation tasks and the shop would leave “certain consumers’ homes unfinished and in a state of disrepair,” the complaint said. The shop also took money from customers, promising home renovation services, and either didn’t begin work on the home or would work on the home without proper permitting.


Fremont Co. turns to short-term fixes for jail overcrowding

RIVERTON (WNE) — Due to budgetary issues, short-term solutions are in place to combat crowding at the Fremont County Detention Center, while long-term solutions are on hold, temporarily.

"We're not just sitting by watching; we're thinking of ways that we can help alleviate concerns in the future," Fremont County Sheriff Ryan Lee told the Fremont County Commission during his monthly report Tuesday.

Since summer, Lee has voiced concerns before the commission regarding overcrowding at the detention center, which houses, ideally, no more than 160 inmates.

As of Monday, the county had 185 inmates, 179 of whom were held within the jail.

Inmates not at the detention center included three juveniles being held in Natrona County, one person on home confinement, one person on a furlough, and one adult confined in the Hot Springs County Jail, according to Lee's report.

Commissioner Clarence Thomas, who was asked to develop a task force to help ease overcrowding at the detention center, said the project has been delayed due to a lack of interest among government entities.

In Lander, he said, city leadership lacks interest due to the small number of arrests recorded there compared to Riverton. As for Riverton, Thomas wondered if "a lack of funding" could be part of the problem.

For now, Lee said, solutions include working with judges and Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun to negotiate lower bonds, retrofitting certain areas within the facility to house more inmates, and "trying to think outside of the box" to ease overcrowding.


Invasive weed spotted in Goshen County

TORRINGTON (WNE) — With another growing season just months away, farmers in Goshen County need to be on the lookout for invasive Palmer amaranth in their fields. 

Jenna Meeks, Assistant Supervisor of Goshen County Weed and Pest, warned producers at the High Plains Crop Summit last month that Palmer amaranth has been spotted in Goshen County, and that if left unchecked it could present a serious issue for local farmers. 

Palmer amaranth is an aggressive weed that can grow up to three inches per day, according to a report from North Dakota State University. It can grow up to eight feet tall and rapidly take over production fields. 

In some plots in the Midwest, it has resulted in 90 percent or more yield loss, Meeks said. 

One of the most dangerous things about Palmer amaranth is the rapidity with which it can produce seeds. Meeks said it can begin producing seeds when it’s just four inches tall – it grows up to three inches per day – and larger specimens can produce over 1 million seeds per plant. Those seeds, Meeks said, are easily transferable. 

“My soapbox is that if you’re buying product or if you’re making trades for products – like if you going to give someone something and they’re going to spread manure on your place, I would be very cautious,” Meeks said. “Even if you know these people very well, even if you are friends, to have some due diligence earlier in the season and make sure Palmer isn’t on their property.”