NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020

Gillette man faces five drug charges after 121 fentanyl pills found in home

GILLETTE (WNE) – A stash of 121 fentanyl pills found in a home on Rohan Avenue in July — an amount described as “large” and “not indicative of a user quantity” by an agent with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation — and has led to drug charges against a 38-year-old man.

Matthew Skipper has been charged three counts of delivery of fentanyl and heroin and two counts of possession with intent to deliver cocaine and fentanyl.

Skipper was convicted in 2012 and served time in prison for delivery or possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance in Park County, which doubles the penalty that can be made against him if he is found guilty. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison and a $40,000 fine.

He is being held in the Campbell County jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond.

The charges involve interactions between Skipper, confidential sources and DCI since early March. According to an affidavit of probable cause:

He is accused of delivering and conspiring to deliver five fentanyl pills March 13 to a confidential informant for $150. The counterfeit oxycodone pills containing fentanyl were called “blues” because of their blue color.

On May 8, the informant arranged to buy $450 worth of heroin from Skipper, which was about 2 grams.

Agents conducted a search of a house on Rohan Avenue on July 1 and found the 121 fentanyl pills along with about 40 grams of cocaine in four packages. The drugs were found nearby some clothing identified as Skipper’s and bank documents, bond revocation paperwork, bill of sale documents and bench warrant paperwork of Skipper’s, according to court documents.


CWD found in new deer, elk hunt areas

SHERIDAN (WNE) –  The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has confirmed two new hunt areas where deer and elk have tested positive for chronic wasting disease in the Sheridan Region.

CWD was confirmed in Deer Hunt Area 25 in the Bighorn Mountains with a positive test from an adult doe mule deer that died during a WGFD capture operation. Deer Hunt Area 25 is surrounded on three sides by four known CWD positive deer hunt areas.

In Elk Hunt Area 123 near Wright, a sick elk was sampled by WGFD personnel, testing positive for CWD. Although Elk Hunt Area 123 is newly-positive for elk, the corresponding Deer Hunt Areas, 8 and 21, have been known positive since 2003 and 2019, respectively.

To ensure that hunters are informed, WGFD announces when CWD is found in a new hunt area. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hunters do not consume any animal that is obviously ill or tests positive for CWD.

Continued monitoring of CWD over time is important to help WGFD understand the potential impacts of the disease as well as evaluate future management actions for deer and elk. A map of CWD endemic areas is available on the WGFD website. The disease is fatal to deer, elk and moose. 

Throughout the fall, WGFD is asking hunters to collect lymph node samples from deer and elk for CWD testing in focused monitoring hunt areas across Wyoming. Hunters are an important component in helping WGFD understand the disease and achieve CWD monitoring goals.

Please visit the WGFD website for more information on chronic wasting disease testing, transmission and regulations on transportation and disposal of carcasses.


Explosion, fire at Silver Eagle Refinery injure two 

EVANSTON (WNE) — Local emergency crews were kept busy over the weekend after a fire broke out at the Silver Eagle Refinery east of Evanston. 

According to a press release issued by Uinta County Fire and Ambulance, fire and emergency medical services crews were dispatched to the area at about 10:30 on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 19, after an explosion at the loading rack area of the refinery. 

The release said two trucks were loading at the time of the explosion, but the resulting fire was contained to the loading facility and there was no damage to the refinery itself.

The loading facility structure collapsed in the fire. 

All roads in the area were closed to the public while crews responded. 

Because it was contained to the loading facility, fire crews were able to let the fire burn itself out while maintaining protection for other structures and facilities. 

Fire Deputy Tim Overy said there was still continuing burn-off at the loading area as of Monday morning, but the fire was contained and controlled. 

Two drivers who were in the loading area at the time of the explosion were transported to Evanston Regional Hospital with burn injuries. Overy said one of those individuals was subsequently transferred to the burn unit at the University of Utah Medical Center. 

The cause of the explosion is still under investigation.


Jackson public works department warn against grease disposal 

JACKSON (WNE) — Please, just don’t do it.

That’s the message the Town of Jackson Public Works Department is trying to get out there when it comes to dumping grease down the sink — please, don’t do it.

The last three weeks have been rough on the town’s public works employees, as an unusually large amount of fats, oils and grease — called FOG by public works employees — has been making its way into their wastewater treatment plant. 

“What we’ve been experiencing in the last three weeks is a ton of grease getting to our wastewater treatment plant, which has been causing operational headaches with our system that we employ for filtering out,” said Assistant Public Works Director Johnny Ziem. 

Jackson residents are responsible for the maintenance of the “sewer laterals,” or pipes that connect from their homes to the town’s sewer mains, so if people are dumping their bacon grease down the drain and clogging their own pipes, that’s their own problem to deal with. But when that grease gets into the sewer main and sometimes all the way to the wastewater treatment facility, that’s the town’s problem. 

Ultimately, taxpayers shoulder that burden, as Ziem explained that it takes about four hours for public works employees to break down, clean and reassemble the equipment.

Bacon grease isn’t the sole culprit, either. In fact, Ziem said, there are a lot of things people pour down their drains or run through their garbage disposals that would surprise them about the amount of FOG they contain. Coffee grounds, dairy products, salad dressings, shortening, etc., all have pipe-clogging fats, oils and greases.

Ziem said it’s best to pour greases, fats and oils — and coffee grounds — into a container and dispose of them in the trash.