NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Sept. 25, 2020


Laramie officer strikes demonstrator with vehicle

LARAMIE (WNE) — A 22-year-old Laramie resident was struck by a vehicle driven by a police officer Wednesday evening at a protest downtown.

The man hit by the vehicle declined medical care, the Laramie Police Department said in a news release.

In a video posted by the Laramie Human Rights Network that has garnered attention on social media, a parked police vehicle can be seen surrounded by a handful of demonstrators on Grand Avenue, who took to the streets Wednesday following the news police officers in Kentucky would not be directly charged in the death of Breonna Taylor, an unarmed 26-year-old African-American woman who was shot and killed by police in March during a raid, per USA Today.

In front of the vehicle are an officer and the 22-year-old man holding a camera, the latter of whom appears to be directed toward the sidewalk by the officer.

The vehicle then turns its lights and sirens on and moves forward, striking both the officer and 22-year-old. Both remained on their feet following the collision.

The Laramie Police Department also released footage of the demonstration and collision via drone and body cam footage.

In a statement, Laramie Police said  the arrest of a 22-year-old woman for allegedly obstructing traffic multiple times during the protest led to the collection of demonstrators near the vehicle.

“The Laramie Police Department regrets that a member of our community was hit and would remind all demonstrators that police vehicles, when being operated as an emergency vehicle according to Wyoming State Statutes, must be yielded to both by other vehicles and pedestrians,” the statement reads.

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Wyoming solar projects to be featured in National Solar Tour

SHERIDAN (WNE) –   The 25th Annual National Solar Tour kicks off its virtual tour Sept. 28 and will feature Wyoming homes and businesses powered by solar energy.

Powder River Basin Resource Council is working with the tour sponsors Solar United Neighbors and the American Solar Energy Society to feature 25 homes and businesses powered by solar energy.

The tour will run Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 and can be found at nationalsolartour.org/2020-local-tours. Several communities, including Sheridan, Buffalo, Cheyenne, Laramie, Casper and Gillette, will be featured in the Wyoming tours. The tours will feature videos of home and business owners showcasing their systems and talking about their experiences.

The Wyoming solar tour is part of Powder River’s RENEWyoming campaign to assist people around the state who are interested in going solar. As installation costs have dropped, Wyomingites have taken full advantage of this opportunity to generate their own power.

For more information on the solar tour, contact Powder River at 307-672-5809 or email [email protected]. For more information on the National Solar Tour, visit www.nationalsolartour.org.

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Pinedale man charged with hitting two people with truck

PINEDALE  (WNE) — Hours after being kicked out of a bar on Sept. 11, Ivan G. Sandoval was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and for running into two people with his truck. 

Sandoval was charged last week with alleged drunk driving and two felony counts of aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon – running into a man and a woman with whom he was arguing, according to Circuit Court records. 

Sublette County Deputy Dan McClure wrote in his affidavit that he was one of four deputies who responded to an “ongoing domestic” at the Corral Bar and that Sandoval had struck another man and was kicked out after the fight was broken up. 

Sandoval’s friends stayed at the bar and went home when it closed. They tried to move a woman who had passed out on the counter into a chair, and she reacted by striking a man three times in the face, the affidavit says. 

The woman was “acting crazy” so someone brought her outside. 

Sandoval then backed over a barbecue grill and drove forward and hit the woman, knocking her down about 10 feet away, according to the affidavit. As a man tried to pull her away, Sandoval allegedly hit him and ran over his foot. He was arrested and taken into custody. 

The woman, Kerstan Willis, was arrested for assault and public intoxication, according to McClure. Sandoval was being held on $20,000 cash or surety bond until his preliminary hearing.

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Antler prices climb in virtual Scouts auction

JACKSON  (WNE) — Elk antler fetched an average $18.19 per pound at this year’s virtual Boy Scout Antler Auction, an 8% jump over 2019.

But there was considerably less antler sold: just 8,117 pounds, down 21% from the 10,320 pounds sold a year ago.

Still, the benefit yielded a total of $151,468, which is just about what the annual auction has generated on average in recent years, though it’s down more than $25,000 from 2019.

The annual Elk Antler Auction is typically held in mid-May, the centerpiece of the early spring ElkFest weekend, but festivities were canceled this year because of COVID-19.

Antlers sold at the auction are collected off of the National Elk Refuge, where 8,000-plus elk spend the winter. Scouts typically help comb the 25,000-acre unit of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the sheds, then prepare and execute the spring sale. In return, they receive 25% of the proceeds, while the remaining 75% goes to the refuge’s irrigation program, weed management and equipment.

Because of the pandemic, Bridger-Teton National Forest firefighters stepped in to help with the antler collection this past spring. The auction was still orchestrated by Boy Scouts but was held online over 10 days this month.

Forty-five bidders took part in the auction, which, because it is a benefit, typically generates a premium per-pound dollar figure for antlers.

While $18.19 was the average cost-per-pound of antler, some extraordinary sets attracted much more. 

A matched, brown 7-by-7 pair that weighed in at 19 pounds saw a winning bid of $1,076. A beetle-cleaned 8-by-7 deadhead ended up the priciest single object at the auction, claimed with a bid of $2,176.

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Mullen Fire grows during critical weather conditions

LARAMIE (WNE) – The Mullen Fire burning in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest southwest of Centennial and Laramie is quickly on the move again.

The fire, which remains at 2% containment, grew substantially in a 24-hour period from 14,653 acres at 6 p.m. Wednesday to 17,763 acres at about 6 p.m. Thursday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The Mullen Fire became more active both night and day because of increased wind, warmer temperatures and lower humidity. The activity picked up with southwest winds strengthening and gusts of 40 miles per hour. The critical fire weather is expected to remain high through Saturday with stronger winds ahead of a cold front arriving

later in the weekend.

The fuels in extremely rugged terrain consisting of dense vegetation and live, blow-down and beetle-killed deadfall lodgepole pine trees are also contributing factors to increased fire activity.

Fingers of the fire crossed Forest Service Road 500 to the northeast on Thursday. In another area, it has entered the Keystone Fire burn scar, impacting Forest Service Road 512. The southeast part of the fire is also turning to the northeast.

Carbon Power and Light has turned off electricity to evacuated areas west of the community of Albany for the safety of firefighters, which has increased to a total of 290 personnel.

Areas still under mandatory evacuations include: Lake Creek community; Rambler community; Rob Roy community; and the Keystone communities of Keystone proper, lower Keystone, Langford/Ricker, Moore’s Gulch and 507C cabin grouping.

A pre-evacuation notice is still in place for private land along Fox Creek Road, the communities of Albany and Centennial, extending northwest along Highway 130 and all areas of Highway 11.

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