NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, July 10, 2020

Man accused of hitting wife with hammer

EVANSTON (WNE) — An Evanston man was arrested on charges of domestic battery and aggravated assault and battery early on the morning of Monday, July 6, after allegedly hitting his wife in the head with a hammer. 

John Rasmussen was taken into custody after he reportedly admitted to striking his wife in the head “two or three times.” 

According to a police report, Evanston Police Department Officers Zachary Marler and Cody Saloga responded to the Rasmussen home after receiving a medical call for a woman who said she had been struck by an object. 

Upon arriving at the home, Marler and Saloga found a woman lying in a medical style bed with “a substantial amount of dried blood on her face with a laceration in the middle of her forehead near her hairline.” 

There was also reportedly dried blood behind the woman’s head on the pillow. 

Upon questioning, the woman, April Rasmussen, told officers a hammer must have fallen on her head, although officers could find no shelf or any structure above her the hammer could have fallen from. 

On further questioning, John Rasmussen, who was in the room, allegedly told officers he had hit his wife with the hammer because he “felt like it” and was “tired” of being her nurse’s aide. 

John Rasmussen was booked into the Uinta County Detention Center to await his court appearance. The Uinta County Attorney’s office has filed charges of aggravated assault and battery and attempted first-degree murder. 


Riverton to add direct flight service to Denver

RIVERTON (WNE) — Amid worries about air-service cutbacks due to state and local budget reductions, Riverton Regional Airport instead will have its own daily, non-stop flight to and from Denver beginning Aug. 1.

"That's awesome," Fremont Air Service Team chair Missy White said. "It's our own dedicated flight. ... It will overnight here, leave in the morning, and go straight to Denver, (and) in the evening, it will come from Denver straight to Riverton and spend the night on the tarmac."

SkyWest Airlines currently flies between Riverton and Denver with a stop in Rock Springs. The plane remains at Riverton Regional overnight.

White said Rock Springs also will have its own dedicated route to Denver International Airport beginning Aug. 1.

"It's because enplanements are going up," she said. "We all agree there's enough interest among our communities to each have our own dedicated flight."

Daily enplanements fell to the single digits in March as the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Fremont County, prompting many travelers to cancel their pre-planned flights to avoid coming into contact with COVID-19.

Throughout the month of May, only 120 people flew out of Riverton - a paltry number when compared to the 942 enplanements recorded in January, but still almost five times higher than the total for April, according to previous reports.


Sweetwater commissioners pass on mask resolution

GREEN RIVER (WNE) — Responding to a recent increase in COVID-19 infections, the Sweetwater County commissioners debated a resolution mandating people visiting county buildings to wear masks while inside, ultimately passing it back to the county’s human resources office.

According to the resolution, county employees would have to wear a face covering, but can have it removed if they’re in their private office of in another area isolated from the public. The mandate would have also required employees traveling to perform their duties to wear a mask at any time they’re in contact with the public or county employees.

“We should not require people coming into the building to have to wear face masks even though we would recommend it,” Commissioner Wally Johnson said.

He added that he doesn’t agree with requiring employees to wear face masks and residents have freedoms to not be forced to wear a face mask.

Commissioner Jeff Smith also questioned how it would be enforced as it goes beyond the state health officer’s orders.

According to Deputy Sweetwater County Attorney John DeLeon, the language in the resolution can be changed from mandatory to discretionary, while allowing some emphasis on mask recommendations, but include options for county employees to use social distancing if they are not wearing a mask.

Johnson later recommended the commissioners revise the resolution.


Renowned author, head of UW writing program dies

LARAMIE (WNE) — Brad Watson, an award-winning author and the University of Wyoming’s creative writing program director, died this week. He was 64.

Watson published four books and essays in The New Yorker, Granta, Black Warrior Review, Ecotone, The Oxford American, The Idaho Review, The O.Henry Prize Stories, New Stories from the South, and others.

His 2010 short story collection, “Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives,” was nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, one of the literary world’s most distinguished honors.

“The Heaven of Mercury,” Watson’s 2002 novel, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Jacob Silverman in his New York Times book review called the novel “splendidly dream-laden.” His latest release, 2016’s “Miss Jane,” was also praised by critics.

UW interim provost Anne Alexander said she was “heartbroken” to hear about Watson’s death.

“He was an extraordinary writer, an inspirational teacher, a fantastic colleague and a beautiful soul,” Alexander said in a statement. “UW was lucky that he chose to be part of our family and make Laramie his home, and he will be sorely and dearly missed.”

Watson was born in Mississippi and lived in Alabama, Florida, California, Boston and Wyoming. After trying a year in Hollywood to break into the film industry, Watson returned to Mississippi where he began his higher education and eventually his writing career. Watson graduated with a bachelor’s from Mississippi State University and a master’s from the University of Alabama.