NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020

Man accused of threatening campers with machete

LARAMIE (WNE) — A 41-year-old Cheyenne man, Joseph O’Byrne, has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly using machetes Sunday to threaten the lives of campers at Happy Jack.

Those campers told deputies for the Albany County Sheriff ’s Office that, the night before, they had been hiking and “had spoken to the defendant about his dogs on the trail and the defendant laughed and continued down the trail,” according to an affidavit of probable cause.

The next morning, O’Byrne came to their campsite off Forest Service Road 714 that morning and, while brandishing two machetes, allegedly asked them if “they were ready to die and then stated he was ready to die,” the affidavit states. O’Byrne then reportedly began hitting trees and swinging his machetes as the campers filmed a portion of the incident.

After leaving briefly, O’Byrne allegedly confronted the campers a second time, again hitting trees with his machetes and swinging them around before he got into his minivan and began to drive away.

That was about the time when deputies arrived, and O’Byrne pulled his minivan over and exited.

Along with the two charges of aggravated assault for threatening to use a drawn deadly weapon when “it was not reasonably necessary in defense of his person, property, or abode or to prevent serious bodily injury to another,” O’Byrne was also charged with possession of a deadly weapon with unlawful intent and breach of peace.


Harmful algae bloom confirmed at Keyhole

SUNDANCE (WNE) — The Wyoming Department of Health has issued a recreational use advisory for Keyhole Reservoir due to a harmful cyanobacterial bloom (HCB).

On Aug. 10, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality received a report from Keyhole State Park of dog illnesses that were potentially linked to cyanobacteria exposure. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality visited the reservoir on August 12 and collected water samples.

Cyanobacteria densities were found to exceed the 20,000 cells/mL recreational use threshold as identified in Wyoming’s HCB Action Plan. Cyanotoxin results are pending. The Wyoming Department of Health is working directly with resource management agencies to ensure that signs are posted at the reservoirs.

HCBs are also referred to as harmful algal blooms (HABs) since cyanobacteria are commonly known as blue-green algae.

The Department of Health issues advisories to inform the public that there may be health risks for people and animals in areas where HCBs occur. Lakes and reservoirs under a recreational use advisory are not closed since HCBs may only be present in certain areas of the water body and conditions can change frequently.

The advisory will remain in place until the bloom has fully dissipated and cyanotoxin concentrations are below recreational use thresholds identified in Wyoming’s HCB Action Plan, or until the primary recreation season ends on September 30th, whichever comes first.

The status of advisories in Wyoming as well as other HCB resources can be found at


Access to coronavirus testing in Park County to drop off

CODY (WNE) — Access to rapid COVID-19 testing will be dramatically dropping off in Park County this week.

Powell Valley Healthcare has stopped offering rapid testing for the next 1-2 months due to running out of the tests.

Bill Crampton, Park County public nursing manager, said too many people were getting tested repeatedly, causing the hospital to run out much more quickly than expected.

The hospital started with the capability to offer 500 tests a week, which Park County Public Health promoted. Crampton said he regrets publicizing this fact.

“It was being badly abused,” said Crampton. “We had people testing multiple times that shouldn’t have gotten them.”

Crampton said people should wait to receive a second test at least 90 days after taking a first one.

Powell had a much higher capability for rapid testing than Cody Regional Health because Powell owned a machine prior to the pandemic that has the ability to mass process tests.

This Cepheid machine is now being configured for testing that will combine COVID-19 with other illnesses under one single test.

The federal government had provided PVHC these tests initially because of Park County’s proximity to Yellowstone National Park.

CRH will continue its rapid curbside testing but can only offer 25 tests per day on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8 a.m. Monday-Friday.

Only those who are considered high-risk for infection or already symptomatic will be given a non-rapid test at either hospital. The test will then be sent to the Wyoming Department of Health State Lab, Crampton said.


Church gives away 21,000 pounds of food

POWELL (WNE) — A steady stream of vehicles poured into the Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church parking lot Tuesday morning as volunteers gave away 21,000 pounds of meat and cheese. 

The free distribution was “a wonderful testament of living in a great small town in America,” said Greg Wise of Powell, one of many volunteers who helped with the giveaway. 

Within hours, all 1,100 boxes of meat and cheese were distributed. 

“It was an awesome day,” said Mike Walsh, pastor of Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Powell. 

He called the giveaway “a total success” as volunteers worked to ensure things ran smoothly. 

Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church partnered with Convoy of Hope, a faith-based nonprofit, for the local giveaway. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Convoy of Hope has delivered 50 million meals and counting across America. 

There were no requirements to receive the food, which was available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Due to the demand, the giveaway was limited to one box per household. Options included barbecue pork with cheese, sloppy joe meat and chicken taco meat with cheese. 

People from around the area attended the giveaway Tuesday. About 850 vehicles went through the line, Walsh said, and other boxes were distributed through local nonprofits and organizations.