NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Jan. 4, 2019

From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

No Campbell County business for Bank of the West

GILLETTE (WNE) — Campbell County will not be doing business with Bank of the West anytime soon.

At their regular meeting Tuesday, commissioners designated five local banks as depositories for county money. The local branch of the Bank of the West was originally on that list, but the county voted to remove it.

Last year, Bank of the West announced it would no longer do business with a number of industries, including coal-fired power plants and fracking.

Since then, Wyoming cities such as Worland and Rock Springs and counties like Fremont and Sweetwater have cut ties with the bank. Gov.-elect Mark Gordon, then state treasurer, also said Wyoming would no longer place investment money in Bank of the West.

Campbell County has not had money at Bank of the West for many years, said County Administrative Director Robert Palmer.

The city of Gillette recently took a similar stance.

Gillette Finance Director Michelle Henderson said Bank of the West was not on the list when the city sent out requests for bank depositories for public funds.

The city agreed to a list of several local banks at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. Bank of the West was not on that list.

Henderson said the city’s money has not been at Bank of the West in recent years but not sending an invitation this year was because of the bank’s anti-fossil fuels stance.

Wells Fargo, which recently announced it would reduce its financial ties to the coal industry, is not on the county’s list of banks. But Campbell County Health pulled $5.9 million from Wells Fargo last month in response to the announcement.

Man gets third domestic battery charge in two weeks

LARAMIE (WNE) — A 28-year-old Laramie man has been charged with domestic battery for the third time in the last two weeks.

All three charges will be felonies since Thomas Massey has three previous convictions of domestic battery in the previous 10 years.

On Dec. 20, officers from the Laramie Police Department responded to an apartment on North Third Street for a report of domestic violence.

The officers were told by Massey‘s girlfriend he injured her hand days prior.

On the day police arrived, Massey bit the injured hand during an argument and “squeezed her injured hand hard enough that it made her cry due to the pain.”

Massey was released the same day on a signature bond.

On Christmas Eve, he violated several conditions of his release, including drug use and having contact with the victim.

Massey overdosed on heroin Dec. 24 at a house on Mitchell Street. When police responded, his girlfriend reported Massey also kicked her in the head and back.

Within days, the woman who posted his bond requested District Court Judge Tori Kricken to rescind that release.

Kricken did, finally issuing an arrest warrant Wednesday, but not before Massey was arrested for a third incident of domestic battery.

Laramie police officers responded at about 9:45 a.m. to North 10th Street for a report of domestic disturbance. At Kricken’s request, he’s now held on a $50,000 cash bond.

Big Horn Mountain Festival canceled

WORLAND (WNE) — For what would have been their 15th year of operation, the Big Horn Mountain Festival planning committee has decided to cancel the annual music event in Buffalo this year, due to a schedule conflict with Longmire Days, an event celebrating a fictional, Wyoming-based character featured in books and on television. 

Earlier this week, the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce announced that Longmire Days will be held July 18-21, the same weekend traditionally reserved for the Big Horn Festival. 

Lynn Young, with the festival committee, expressed his disappointment in the timing, and the ultimate decision to cancel the festival. 

“Having two events on the same weekend really puts a hurt on the festival for ticket sales, and there was no assurance that visitors would be able to find accommodations on that weekend,” explained Young. “It’s real sad.” 

The committee had considered moving the event or the date, but ultimately decided that the options were not worth the risk to sponsors and volunteers, who number in the hundreds. The committee also had to consider the cost of rebooking bands, sound crews and security for the event. 

A byproduct of the festival over the years has been the establishment of the Bighorn Bluegrass Camp, which teaches youth bluegrass music and instruments, over a week-long period before the festival. (The festival traditionally ended with the students as the last musical act to showcase what they had learned.) 

“We’ll put our efforts into supporting the bluegrass camp, rather than the festival this year,” said Young, although the camp may need to be restricted without the festival. 

Man pleads guilty to five counts of sexual abuse of minor

EVANSTON (WNE) — A 35-year-old Evanston man has pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree. 

Marcus P. Delgado appeared in Third District Court on the morning of Friday, Dec. 21, when he changed his pleas to guilty as part of a plea agreement reached with the Uinta County Attorney’s office. 

Delgado was charged with nine counts of sexual abuse of a minor related to events that occurred between September 2015 and December 2017, with two victims who were between six and eight years old at the time of the abuse. Court documents indicate the two victims were friends of Delgado’s family members. 

As part of the plea agreement, the charges on the five counts were reduced from sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree to the second-degree offenses, with dismissal of the other four counts. 

Each count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor carries a possible penalty of up to 20 years of imprisonment, a $10,000 fine or both. 

Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson-Kallas and Nathan Jeppsen, Delgado’s attorney, reached an agreement of four to six years each on three of the counts and five to seven years on the other two counts. 

However, the agreement would call for the sentences to be split in part and suspended in part, with Delgado serving one year in the Uinta County jail, followed by six years of supervised probation. 

Judge Joseph Bluemel accepted the guilty pleas but has not yet accepted the plea agreement.