NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Mar. 27, 2020


Governor signs daylight saving bill

GILLETTE (WNE) — Wyoming is officially all-in on wanting to make daylight saving time permanent, but will it happen?

Gov. Mark Gordon officially signed the bill on Monday.

Similar measures failed in the Wyoming Legislature before, but recently there has been a ton of interest. People have said they are disgusted when the clock moves ahead an hour then later in the year it goes back, said state Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Campbell/Converse.

The Utah Legislature voted in favor of making the change a few weeks ago then Wyoming legislators followed suit at its recent budget session. No fewer than four western states need to do the same before they can petition the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to give them the green light to make the change.

House Bill 44 or Enrolled Act 87, considers the western states to be Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

Daylight saving bills failed in Colorado and South Dakota, but one was signed into law in Idaho. Nebraska has suspended its legislative session due to COVID-19 and the Montana and North Dakota legislatures have yet to meet.

On the federal level, a bill that would allow states to make any changes related to daylight saving time at anytime, the Daylight Act, was introduced in the U.S. House in 2019 then was sent to the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce where it has sat for a year.

As it currently stands, states need federal approval to make any changes with daylight saving time. But with COVID-19 taking over the headlines, the change is unlikely to be made this year.

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Grand jury indicts four Fremont County residents on federal kidnap, assault charges

RIVERTON (WNE) — Four Wind River Indian Reservation residents are charged last week with kidnapping, and two of those also are charged with assault.

United States Attorney Mark A. Klaassen announced Wednesday that Ashley Rose Yellowbear, 27, Samuel Harold Friday, 37, Kristen Jade Antelope, 26, and Rusty Tso Tabaho Sr. 27, were indicted by a federal grand jury on March 18 for kidnapping and aiding and abetting. Yellowbear and Friday also were indicted for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to do bodily harm.

"Even in times of crisis," Klaassen said, "we must continue to enforce the law and protect our communities. Violent crime is a top priority for my office and we are working to address violence in Indian country and across Wyoming."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is conducting the investigation, with the help of the Wind River Police Department.

Court documents allege the following: 

  • Around Jan. 1, the defendants knowingly and unlawfully kidnapped a woman and a man to assault them, and intimidated them to prevent them from reporting the crimes.
  • The defendants knowingly aided and abetted each other in the kidnapping.
  • Yellowbear and Friday each assaulted one of the victims with a tire-iron.

The maximum penalty upon conviction for kidnapping and aiding and abetting is up to life in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, five years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund. Restitution may also be ordered.

The maximum penalty upon conviction for assault with a deadly weapon is up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and $100 to the Federal Crime Victims Fund.

Restitution to the victims may be ordered in this charge as well.

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Goshen County corn growers earn national recognition

TORRINGTON (WNE) — A local corn-producing family placed high in the country again this year during a national conference to recognize yield production winners. 

Rick Cook, Robert Cook and Chris Cook, all of Lingle, placed in the top three in their division among 531 national winners of the 2019 National Corn Growers Association’s National Corn Yield Contest. 

The Cooks were among 531 national winners of the 2019 National Corn Growers Association’s National Corn Yield Contest. 

The wins came during what was arguably one of the more difficult growing seasons in recent memory, said Kevin Ross of Minden, Iowa, president of the NCGA.

“The challenges U.S. corn farmers faced in 2019 were, in many ways, a perfect storm,” Ross said. “From a slew of weather-related issues to trade disruptions and persistent low prices, farmers were tested in many ways, often many times, over the past year.” 

The Cooks attended the 2020 Commodity Classic held in San Antonio, Texas, in late February where they was recognized out of the 7,454 entries out of 46 states.

The annual contest began in 1965 with only 20 entries from three states. At the time the highest yield was 218.9 bushels per acre with an average in the mid-60’s. Cook’s 2019 yield weighed in at 239.5. Average yield this past year was more than 383 bushels to the acre, well above the projected U.S. average of 168 bushels per acre. 

Beyond bragging rights and a nice trophy, the contest spurs growers to try new and innovative techniques and technologies in corn production. “Farmers are encouraged through the contest to utilize new, efficient production techniques,” according to a NCGA press release.

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Bridger-Teton supervisor:  ‘We’d like to keep the forest open’

JACKSON (WNE) — With COVID-19-related restrictions closing down national parks, the Bridger-Teton National Forest is now more than ever prized by cooped-up Jackson Hole residents needing fresh air and a stretch of the legs.

Bridger-Teton supervisor Tricia O’Connor isn’t keen to close any of the 3.4 million acres she administers, but she has also put the public on notice that it must behave responsibly and healthfully.

“We’d like to keep the forest open,” O’Connor said. “If we can manage this well, we won’t need to do any closures.”

But the valley’s two most popular hikeable ski areas — Snow King and Teton Pass — have been primary areas of public health concern, she said.

“People have been having parties at the top of Snow King,” O’Connor said. “And we’ve heard of get-togethers with beer after a ski on the Pass.

“That’s the kind of thing that’s going to be really hard for our county health department,” she said. “They may say, ‘We need to do something that precludes people from doing that,’ and I don’t want to have to” close them.

Besides being too close to each other, some skiers are also being disrespectful of the resource. O’Connor has heard reports of beer cans strewn along the Snow King skin track, and her husband witnessed the same at Cache Creek.

“And it’s not like there’s a lot of out-of-towners here now,” O’Connor said.

Bridger-Teton officials encourage residents to recreate responsibly by exploring less popular areas, maintaining 6 feet of distance from others, making conservative decisions and recreating locally.

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AARP launches new platform aimed at connecting seniors virtually

SHERIDAN (WNE) — AARP Community Connections, a new online platform launched by AARP Innovation Labs Wednesday, allows users to organize and find local volunteer groups to help pick up groceries, provide financial assistance or lend emotional support to neighbors, friends and loved ones.

Across the country, these informal online groups — also called “mutual aid” groups — help communities stay connected at a time when people must practice social distancing to stay safe.

AARP Community Connections is live and completely free to use, and AARP membership is not required. For more information, visitwww.aarpcommunityconnections.org

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“In this time of uncertainty, we are remaining firm in our commitment to assisting those age 50+, their families and connections,” AARP Wyoming State Director Sam Shumway said in a press release. “Across the country, people are informally organizing online mutual aid groups to stay connected, share ideas, and help those most affected by COVID-19. We want to ensure that these resources are readily available and known.”

AARP Community Connections includes multiple resources to help those who are feeling isolated, depressed, overwhelmed or anxious. Users are able to:

  1. request a call from an AARP volunteer or a trained counselor;
  2.  easily create an account with Savo to make connecting with their families easier;
  3. join “The Mighty,” a safe, supportive online community for people facing health challenges and their caregivers.

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