NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019


 

Feds: Guernsey schools acted appropriately in sexual misconduct allegations

CASPER (WNE) — Federal investigators concluded that Platte County School District No. 2 responded appropriately to reports of sexual misconduct involving kindergartners last year. 

“After careful consideration of all the evidence, (the Office of Civil Rights) concludes that the District has taken steps to understand what occurred and respond appropriately,” an attorney for the office, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education, wrote to the family who made the complaint. 

A family alleged in February that their 6-year-old was sexually assaulted by a classmate and that the district did not adequately respond to the incident. The district told the family that it had swiftly referred the allegations to the state Department of Family Services and the local police department. The family later filed a Title IX complaint with federal authorities, which prompted the Office of Civil Rights to open an investigation in April. 

The letter describes both the district’s response to the initial report in February, as well as the police investigation. The document states that the kindergartner who was accused of inappropriately touching his classmate was suspended for eight days and was later placed in a separate classroom, though a challenge by his parents placed him back in the general class. 

The letter also indicates the school hired more educators to monitor behavior, had increased training, offered therapy to students and evaluated district policies, among other changes. 

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White supremacy group posters appear in Cheyenne

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A number of posters advocating for a white nationalist group called Patriot Front were found on light poles in downtown Cheyenne on Tuesday morning.

Patriot Front formed from Vanguard America after 2017’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and functions under the guise of “American Nationalism.

Daniel Sharon of Cheyenne found the posters on light posts and tore them down, but he said it isn’t the first time this has happened. In June, he found posters for the American Identity Movement, another white supremacist group with ties to the rally in Charlottesville.

“It’s something that should be taken seriously,” Sharon said.

Cheyenne Police Department Public Information Officer Kevin Malatesta said the posters shouldn’t have been put up in the first place, even if the issue is sensitive because of free speech rights.

“If they’re on public property, they’re not allowed to begin with,” Malatesta said.

The posters said, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of victory. Patriot Front.”

The Patriot Front manifesto discusses the American identity in depth, saying, “Nationhood cannot be bestowed upon those who are not of the founding stock of our people, and those who do not share the common spirit that permeates our greater civilization, and the European diaspora.” It goes further to say that Americans are descendants of Europeans, and that even those born here may still be foreign.

“It’s unfortunate that we have that kind of speech in the community,” Malatesta said.

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Law enforcement stops delivery of meth to northwest Wyo

THERMOPOLIS (WNE) — Through the assistance of several law enforcement agencies, three pounds of methamphetamine were kept out of Thermopolis and surrounding communities on Sunday, Oct. 27.

Hot Springs County Sheriff Jerimie Kraushaar said the sheriff’s office received information from a confidential informant, that 2.5 pounds of meth was coming through Thermopolis, at which point a half pound was supposed to be dropped here. “Of course, we didn’t want that to happen.”

Though one of the subjects was known, a second was not, Kraushaar said, and that they were coming from Las Vegas. There was also know knowledge as to whether they had weapons, but that the couple — later identified as Joe Charles Curtis Sr. of Taft, Calif. and Moranda Standingrock of Rygate, Mont. — would be in Thermopolis.

Due to snow, the couple got stuck on the other side of South Pass, allowing time to contact Fremont County law enforcement and let them know the situation. The information Hot Springs County received coincided with what Fremont County was seeing, and Fremont County officers got the vehicle pulled over with the assistance of Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Lander Police Department provided their drug detection dog to do a sniff of the vehicle. The couple refused consent to a search of the vehicle, Kraushaar said, and with the dog getting a positive identification it allowed for seizure of the vehicle. The couple was not arrested at this time, but when the meth was found in the vehicle, they were. Kraushaar added the entire system worked out well.

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Escaped inmates returned to Conservation Camp, dog still missing

NEWCASTLE (WNE) — Everything but Shadow, the dog taken by two Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp inmates who escaped on Sept. 22, and a few tools have been returned to Weston County, according to Mike Moore, Newcastle’s city engineer, and Mark Horan, Wyoming Department of Corrections public information officer. 

The Wyoming Department of Corrections reported that Jason Green and Robert Simpson had both been apprehended in Texas after their escape from the honor camp just north of Newcastle. The two individuals left the facility sometime between 8 p.m. and inmate count at 10 p.m., according to Warden Todd Martin, taking a dog who was part of the camp’s Project LOVED with them. 

The two men, Martin said, headed west on foot after leaving the facility. They then broke into the Newcastle City Shop, stole a truck and left for Laramie before heading to Texas. 

Documentation from the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial District, Weston County, shows both Green and Simpson facing charges of escape: felony conviction, theft of $1,000 or more and burglary. The escape charge alone is punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment. 

“The dog is still missing. At one point, it was thought that the inmates might have dropped the dog off at an animal shelter in Texas, but that lead hasn’t panned out,” Horan said. “The dog is microchipped, though, so we’re hoping someone will find him eventually.” 

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Yellowstone bird population appears healthy

CODY (WNE) — Birds in Yellowstone National Park seem to be healthy, though biologist Lauren Walker wishes the average visitor cared more about the sweet sounds that fill the air, or the fascinating raptors.

Birds are her speciality, and as an author of Yellowstone’s 2018 Bird Project Annual Report, so she may be prejudiced.

“The average visitor thinks very little about them,” Walker said.

Tourists say they come to the world’s oldest national park to see bears and wolves and bison. But she said “people like seeing” eagles and owls too, and bird observation seems to be gaining in popularity.

But it goes both ways.

Sometimes, crew members surveying birds may be seen with binoculars studying raptor nests and motorists pull alongside and ask what they are looking at. When they say birds, Walker said, “They say, ‘Oh, I don’t care’ and drive away.”

At about the same time as nationwide attention was drawn to September science reports indicating some 3 billion birds have been lost across North America since 1970, according to Walker, Yellowstone has seen only “a slight decline since the 1990s. I wouldn’t say dramatic.”

While the large mammals may be the main draw for Yellowstone tourists who do not classify themselves as birders, the Park is blessed with an abundance of birds and a large variety.

Among other species are bald eagles, peregrine falcons, osprey, trumpeter swans, loons, and songbirds of many types, from robins to sparrows, bluebirds, thrushes, meadowlarks and warblers.

“We survey quite a diverse group of species,” Walker said.

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Woman charged after alleged attack with lumber

SUNDANCE (WNE) — Michelle Hunt has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly attacking another Hulett resident with a 2x6 piece of lumber.

On Oct. 18, a Crook County Sheriff’s Office sergeant and deputy responded to reports of a domestic disturbance at a residence in Hulett at around 9:15 p.m. The caller was allegedly “actively being battered” by Michelle Hunt while speaking by phone to Crook County Dispatch.

Prior to the officers’ arrival, Hunt allegedly left the scene.

According to a statement from the victim, Hunt allegedly arrived at his home intoxicated and “yelled” at him for not sending her text messages. She was escorted out of the house and the door was locked.

The victim claimed that she kicked and banged on the door while yelling. A short while later, the victim looked out of the window and allegedly saw Hunt attempting to put gravel into the fuel tank on his truck.

The victim stated that he went outside to stop her, at which point she hit him with her hands, scratched him and struck him with a piece of 2x6 lumber. According to the victim, he grabbed the board and took it away from Hunt to throw it out of her reach and she then grabbed his chin and beard.

Hunt was placed under arrest and charged with a felony count of aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon, a felony carrying a maximum penalty of ten years’ incarceration.

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Gillette to host Special Olympics in 2020 and 2021

GILLETTE (WNE) — Gillette will host the state’s Special Olympics Summer Games again in 2020 and 2021.

Next year’s event is scheduled to take place April 30 through May 2. The games haven’t been in Gillette in 15 years. It has been in Laramie since. Gillette has hosted the Area IV Special Olympics Summer Games, which determines who represents northeast Wyoming in the state event.

The Special Olympics is projected to bring in 750 competitors from around the state “and by the time you add the families and coaches, we’re bringing 1,000 people to town,” said Phil Grabrick, coordinator for the Gillette Masters of the Special Olympics said.

“It’s going to be fun,” Special Olympian and Phil’s son James Grabrick said. “There will be a lot of people.”

James will participate in 3-on-3 basketball, the 400-meter run and softball throwing.

The news of the state Special Olympic games coming back to Gillette was welcomed by city officials.

“I’m excited,” Councilman Bruce Brown said. “It just brings a level of energy that you have to witness to really understand it. It will be a big boom to the economy for those three days and just having the athletes around is just great.”

The Campbell County Convention and Visitors Bureau blocked off 440 hotel rooms as of Tuesday.

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