NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, June 25, 2020

Missouri woman suffers minor injuries in grizzly attack

POWELL (WNE) — A Missouri woman suffered minor injuries after being briefly attacked by a grizzly bear on Monday morning in Yellowstone National Park.

The 37-year-old woman had been hiking alone on the Fairy Falls Trail — located north of Old Faithful — “when she encountered two grizzly bears at very close range,” Yellowstone officials said in a Wednesday news release.

The woman from Columbia, Missouri, attempted to use her bear spray, the release said, but was knocked to the ground by a female grizzly. The woman suffered a scratch on her thigh from the bear and injured her face in the fall, but ultimately declined medical attention, the release said.

“From the injured person’s statements, this appears to be a typical case of a mother grizzly bear protecting her offspring following a close-range encounter,” said Yellowstone bear management biologist Kerry Gunther. “Because this bear was displaying natural protective behavior for its cub, no action will be taken against the bear. Several trails in the area will be closed to give the grizzly family group time to clear from the area.”

Following the incident, the Fairy Falls Trail was cleared of hikers and both the trail and the surrounding area have been temporarily closed to the public.

It was the first time a bear has injured a visitor in Yellowstone since June 2019, when a black bear bit into a tent and bruised the thigh of a woman inside. That bear was believed to have become habituated to humans and was killed.


Rare earth production project wins federal funding

GILLETTE (WNE) — A rare earth elements project that will be located in Campbell County has received more than $800,000 in federal money.

Researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory have developed technologies and methods to extract rare earth elements from coal ash.

Tuesday, it was announced that the project received an $810,568 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Technology Commercialization Fund, which was created to promote the DOE national labs’ energy technology and work on the commercialization of those technologies.

The NETL will create a pilot-scale production facility at the Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center, which is under development in Campbell County, to demonstrate the economically viable production of rare earth elements from coal ash.

Rare earth elements are a series of chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust. Because of their unique chemical properties, they’re essential in many technologies, spanning a range of applications like electronics, computer and communication systems, transportation, health care and national defense.

The potential to recover rare earth elements from coal is significant for Campbell County and Wyoming, the nation’s top coal producer. Studies have shown that Powder River Basin coal ash has high extractable rare earth element content compared to other coal ash.

In addition to the $810,568 from the DOE, the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources is contributing $375,568, Campbell County and city of Gillette are contributing $187,500 each and Energy Capital Economic Development is putting up $60,000.


Legislators reject plan for in-person committee meetings

SHERIDAN (WNE) — Proposed policy changes that would have allowed committee chairs to host hybrid remote and in-person meetings in their home communities or at the Wyoming State Capitol died in the Wyoming Legislature Management Council Tuesday.

Prior to the vote, Legislative Service Office Director Matt Obrecht said the best way to accommodate legislators’ interest in resuming in-person meetings is to restrict them to the Capitol Complex in Cheyenne as hybrid meetings with a remote option.

LSO has encountered significant resistance from meeting presenters to appear in person — for one upcoming committee meeting, 13 of 14 scheduled participants said they weren’t willing to testify in person, he said.

The Capitol can accommodate both Zoom technology and large crowds, with overflow areas to allow appropriate spacing if necessary. Keeping meetings in the Capitol also limits travel for LSO staff, some of whom are “deathly afraid” of going into another community to run a public meeting, he said.

Following initial presentation of proposed policy changes, Rep. Mike Greear, R-Worland, said he would not readily accept the responsibility as chairman of his committee to enforce health protocols in addition to running a normal meeting.

Legally, the Legislature is not required to abide by state public health orders — to preserve separation of the executive and legislative branches of government — but proposed policy explicitly stated orders would be followed. Some council members argued state guidelines are not enough.


Two die in crash near Worland

GREYBULL (WNE) — A 70-year-old Greybull man has been identified as

one of the two men who died in a two-vehicle, head-on collision north of Worland on Wednesday, June 17.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol states in a release that Marian Duda was southbound in a 2006 Jeep Liberty when he crossed into the northbound lane and collided head-on with a 1992 Chevrolet 2500 driven by 47-year-old Javier Mendoza of Worland.

Both men succumbed to their injuries at the scene of the accident, which occurred near milepost 169 on U.S. Highway 20. Troopers were notified of the accident at

6:18 a.m.

The accident report states that Duda was wearing his seat belt, but that Mendoza was not.

The crash is still under investigation.

Duda and Mendoza were the 38th and 39th fatalities on Wyoming’s roadways this year — compared to the todate totals of 72 in 2019, 42 in 2018 and 58 in 2017.


Crook County declared Second Amendment Sanctuary

SUNDANCE (WNE) — Crook County was declared a Second Amendment Sanctuary last week on the passing of a symbolic resolution by the county commissioners. 

Resolution 2020-19 recognizes that the Constitution of the United States of America states, “The right of citizens to bear arms in the defense of themselves and the state shall not be denied” in Article 1 and further recognizes that the Second Amendment guarantees the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. 

It also notes that citizens of this county derive economic benefit from activities involving firearms. 

The resolution was put forth by Sheriff Jeff Hodge at a special meeting of the commission.

“We want to make people aware that we support our Second Amendment rights,” says Hodge. “They are important to us for hunting and fishing, for possessing firearms, for recreation and for personal protection and we want the people to know that we support and we will defend those rights.” 

The resolution states that the commission strongly supports the inalienable right of Crook County’s citizens to keep and bear arms for the defense of life, liberty and property.