NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, April 17, 2019


From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

Evanston schools approve concealed weapon policy again

EVANSTON (WNE) — Slightly more than one year after passing policy CKA to allow approved staff to carry concealed firearms on school district property, the Uinta County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees voted again to adopt the concealed carry rule at the Tuesday, April 9 regular board meeting. 

After several months of revisiting the rule and again soliciting public comments following a court ruling declaring the original policy null and void last fall, trustees voted unanimously in favor of the CKA “packet,” which included the rule itself and all attendant documents and forms, along with the district’s responses to public comments received. Trustee Russell Cox was not in attendance at the meeting. 

The vote clears the way for district staff to again apply for approval to carry concealed firearms in the workplace, which trustees have indicated they believe will be a deterrent to anyone considering acts of violence in Evanston schools. The rule in its entirety and all other associated documents are available to review on the district website. 

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Former UW basketball player acquitted on assault charges

LARAMIE (WNE) — A former University of Wyoming basketball player Tuesday was acquitted of all charges stemming from an alleged altercation at a downtown Laramie bar late last year.

A six-person jury found Ny Redding not guilty of one count of simple battery and one count of simple assault following a daylong trial inside an Albany County circuit courtroom. The jury deliberated for roughly 30 minutes before reaching a verdict following a trial that saw the prosecution and defense call a combined 10 witnesses.

The most serious allegation made by prosecutors was that Redding struck a female University of Wyoming student, leaving her unconscious.

A senior point guard for the Cowboys last season, Redding started the first nine games before being suspended indefinitely after the Laramie Police Department cited Redding for disorderly conduct and inciting a fight during an altercation at Roxie’s on Grand in the wee hours of Dec. 9.

The state alleged that Redding struck UW student Molly Pickerill and left her unconscious — something Pickerill also claimed in an interview with the Star-Tribune following the alleged incident. Redding was also charged with misdemeanor assault based on allegations he pushed Jayce Kelley, one of Pickerill’s roommates.

Three witnesses called by the defense testified that they didn’t see Redding strike Pickerill. Each said it was Redding who was being attacked by other people there that night and that he was acting more in self-defense.

Bobby Watkins, the coach of Wyoming’s women’s rugby team who said he was at the bar celebrating a friend’s going-away party, testified that he didn’t know who struck Pickerill, but “I can tell you it wasn’t Ny,” he said.

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Woman killed in crash near Cheyenne

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A Cheyenne woman died Tuesday from injuries suffered in a crash at the intersection of Hayes Avenue and U.S. Highway 30.

Clara Newton, 81, was in the passenger seat of a Polaris Ranger side-by-side when the vehicle was struck by a Range Rover traveling westbound on U.S. 30 at 11a.m. Tuesday, according to a Cheyenne Police Department news release.

Newton was partially ejected from the Polaris and could not be revived at the scene.

The driver and passenger of the Range Rover were transported to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center for treatment, and the driver of the Polaris received medical attention at the scene. Everyone involved in the crash was wearing a seat belt.

Investigators are performing an accident reconstruction to assess speed, possible traffic violations and any other factors that could have caused the crash.

It’s the third fatal accident near or at the intersection of U.S. Highway 30 and Whitney Road in less than a year.

In 2018, there were six crashes at that intersection. In both fatal crashes, drivers were making a left turn from northbound Whitney Road onto westbound U.S. 30 and pulled in front of an eastbound vehicle on U.S. 30.

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State sets fines for trench deaths

JACKSON (WNE) — Wyoming’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is penalizing Fireside Resort, owned by Wilson developer Jamie Mackay, for five “serious” violations following a trench collapse that killed two men last year.

The proposed penalties, issued March 12, add up to $10,532. That amount can be negotiated through an informal conference process or a formal contention. When reached by phone Tuesday, Mackay’s attorney, George Santini, of Cheyenne, had no comment, his secretary said.

The trench collapse killed Juan Baez-Sanchez, 42, and Victoriano Garcia-Perez, 56, on Sept. 28. The men were working on the 12-foot- deep, 41-foot-long trench at a house construction site at 120 S. Indian Springs Drive, a property owned by Mackay. The workers died from compression asphyxiation.

Department of Workforce Services Communications Manager Ty Stockton said the fines aren’t more or less severe due to the two fatalities.

“It’s the violation that’s being fined, not the severity of what happened,” Stockton said.

If the exact same violations existed at a jobsite but nobody was killed or injured, the fines would be more or less the same.

“The fines are in place to address those violations completely in and of themselves,” he said. “Obviously, the fatalities is what got us looking at them, but you can’t replace a human life. They’re not meant as a reparation for somebody dying.”

The role of the fines, he said, is to “hopefully change behavior.”

“Those fines are in place to make sure the workplace in the future is safer,” Stockton said. “There’s nothing we can do for the folks that died before, but going ahead, we try to keep anybody else from being killed or injured.”

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Green River joins opioid legal fight

GREEN RIVER (WNE) — The city of Green River joined the ever-increasing list of states and municipalities involved in lawsuits against the manufacturers, marketers and prescribers of opioids that caused an 

epidemic of addiction.

The Green River City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday in favor of an agreement with Charles L. Barnum and Rick Koehmstedt to represent the city in investigating, handling, presentation, settlement and litigation related to opioid proceedings. The legal challenge was compared to the litigation against the tobacco industry that led to a settlement totaling billions in exchange for the dropping of lawsuits filed for 

recovery of related health care costs.

It was noted that although Wyoming is a small sate by population, it averages 16.9 opiate-related deaths for every 100,000 residents, or about 100 opioid-related deaths per year, according to the council 

packet. In 2015, there were 383,000 prescriptions for opioids written by licensed providers, which equals about 65% of the Wyoming population.

“Our community has been effected by this,” Green River Police Chief Tom Jarvie said of the opioid epidemic.

He said he was more than 10 years into career before he first saw heroin in Green River, and now he can think of several overdose deaths off the top of my head. Jarvie added he believed people were irresponsible with their promotion and prescription of opioids even though they knew addiction problems were present and would continue.

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Man injured in explosion, charged with making meth lab

TORRINGTON (WNE) — A trial date has been set for Tarique Rishard Jeske, who is facing up to 20 years in prison after allegedly constructing a methamphetamine lab, which in turn blew up in his face. 

Jeske will go before a jury of 12 peers on July 29, according to court documents. He was initially charged and arrested in January, and his case was bound over to the Eighth Judicial District Court in February. 

Jeske is charged with possession of a controlled substance precursor with intent to manufacture a controlled substance, possession of laboratory equipment or supplies with intent to engage in a clandestine laboratory operation, and one count of attempting to manufacture a controlled substance. If found guilty, Jeske faces 20 years and a $25,000 fine on each count. 

According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause filed in the case, Jeske’s alleged activates caught the attention of law enforcement officials after he received burns to his face, chest and arms. Jeske told police he had sustained the injuries “when a lighter he was playing with ‘blew up.’” Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation detective Jason Moon, who filed the affidavit, was contacted by the Torrington Police Department after Jeske sought treatment for the injuries. When police searched Jeske’s home, they allegedly found all of the makings of a meth lab. 

Moon wrote in the affidavit the items found were consistent with what is known as a “shake and bake” method of methamphetamine production. The various cold medicines and ammonia pills are combined with the lithium from the battery to create a reaction, and the bottle was likely used as a “bubbler” to create a gas used in the production process. 

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Neighbors object to re-opening of pig farm

WHEATLAND (WNE) — The pig farms east of Wheatland are causing controversy again. A new company wishes to use an old, closed down property belonging to Wyoming Premium Farms to open up a new farrowing facility where there once was a feeding facility. 

The Special Use Permit was submitted to the Platte County Zoning and Planning Board and was discussed at last week’s public meeting. 

The Permit pertains to turning a feeding facility into a farrowing facility. Tearing down some buildings and adding new ones. Promising fewer pigs than before, and therefore, less odor to surrounding neighbors and the town. 

In the past there was litigation over the smell that permeated the area and the company was required to enact several measures to try and mitigate the problem. This went on for several years until the property was eventually shut down. 

Landowners Richard and Bonnie Johnson were there to present their objections and the history of the property and lawsuit. 

“We are not in opposition to the pig farm, we are in opposition to a site. This site hasn’t changed since we filed our legal business with it. The pig farm sits at about 4,661 feet. To the east of it is a range of hills that go up to 4,900 feet, our house sits at 4,519 feet down the draw from this pig farm. So on calm, clear nights we get odor coming down the creek,” Richard explained. “We fought the odor from this thing for five years.”

The board decided to table the decision as the owner of the company was not able to attend the meeting due to weather.

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Gillette man killed in crash

GILLETTE (WNE) — A 27-year-old Gillette man died in a one vehicle rollover about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday. 

Matthew Schmaljohn, died at the scene of the crash at exit 141 on Interstate 90 about 15 miles east of Gillette, according to the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Schmaljohn was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident and died at the scene.

Schmaljohn was driving a 2001 Dodge Ram and driving east on I-90 when he took the Rozet exit. He drifted off the left side of the exit before he over-corrected back to the right side of the shoulder and overturned his truck.

The Wyoming Highway Patrol is investigating inattention or fatigue as possible contributing factors.

Schmaljohn was the 39th person to die on Wyoming’s roads this year, nearly double the amount that died in all of 2018, when 22 people had died.