NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019

From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

Family unhurt in forced airplane landing

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — A pair of 2-year-old twins and a newborn infant were among the five people rescued Monday from a downed aircraft by Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport.

The Sweetwater County Combined Communications Center received a report around 6:30 p.m. of a downed airplane in the desert surrounding the airport. Deputies quickly responded and learned that the pilot had been in contact with aviation authorities, reporting that he successfully landed his Piper Archer single-prop-engine fixed-wing airplane in a snow-covered field near the airport after running low on fuel.

The man was flying from Wayne, Nebraska, to his home in Heber, Utah, with his wife, a pair of twins and a 2-week-old infant, according to a Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office press release.

The pilot refueled in Ogallala, Nebraska, and intended to refuel again in Rock Springs. However, they encountered an unexpected strong headwind while flying from Rawlins to Rock Springs. The pilot discovered he would not have enough fuel to make it all the way to the airport. Around 5:30 p.m., while flying at an altitude of about 8,500 feet, the plane’s engine sputtered and died. The pilot immediately initiated emergency landing procedures.

No one was injured, and the plane sustained no damage during the emergency maneuver. However, winter conditions and frigid temperatures, with an estimated wind chill well below zero, left the family cold and stranded in a remote desert area with no apparent means to escape.

After determining that it would take several hours to reach the stranded party by a tracked vehicle, deputies, in coordination with airport personnel, emergency dispatchers and emergency medical services, diverted an Intermountain Life Flight helicopter to assist with the rescue effort.


Man sentenced to prison in 2018 murder

SHERIDAN (WNE) — Christopher Labuy changed his plea and was sentenced in 4th Judicial District Court Monday for second-degree murder.

On Jan. 10, 2018, Christopher Labuy shot Eric Kaylor in the head during an argument after drinking that evening at a North Main Street apartment complex. Labuy said Kaylor pointed a firearm at him twice before Labuy fired his gun at Kaylor.

Family members of the victim traveled from Washington, D.C., and appeared in court Monday. The hearing and sentencing were determined on the same day to alleviate travel burdens for family members.

Sheridan County Prosecuting Attorney Dianna Bennett said Labuy and Kaylor were both veterans.

Kaylor’s older sister appeared in court on behalf of the family members who were not able to make the trip and said Kaylor was a kind, humble and unique person. The sister continued by stating that Kaylor and Labuy were friends. Labuy had a history of violence towards Kaylor when he was drinking, but the two otherwise remained friends with the trust that Labuy would never go too far.

Labuy pleaded not guilty on Feb. 6, 2018, and changed his plea, per a plea agreement, Monday. Labuy admitted the shooting was not self-defense as he previously stated. Labuy apologized to the Kaylor family and his own family in his closing statement, saying he must serve the consequences of his actions.

The court accepted the plea agreement, and Labuy was sentenced to not less than 27 years and not more than 50 years at the Wyoming State Penitentiary without probation.


Cheyenne shelter appoints new CEO

CHEYENNE (WNE) — After what was billed as a national search for a new leader, the Cheyenne Animal Shelter chose one of its own. 

Animal Control Officer Don Kremer will be the shelter's new CEO starting Feb. 11. 

Kremer, who has been an animal control officer at the shelter since 2014, succeeds former CEO Bob Fecht, who resigned last year amid public outrage after he ordered animal control officers to pepper spray a young dog the day after it bit an employee. 

Kremer was not one of the animal control officers present when the dog was pepper sprayed. 

But after then-Community Cat Program Coordinator Jay Klapel wrote to board members calling the incident abuse, Kremer wrote a redacted report disputing her account of events. 

Kremer's report described the spraying as a safe, brief and relatively harmless exercise to determine whether pepper spray would deter an aggressive animal and demonstrate how to use it.

But the shelter's board later said the test on the dog was wrong. 

Board member Richard Mincer also conceded in a meeting with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's editorial board that the spraying was not real training for the whole staff, but a demonstration involving a select group of animal control officers, Fecht, the shelter manager and the bitten employee.

Kremer will inherit a shelter working to recover its reputation following a month of criticism that consumed his former boss. 

In a news release, Cheyenne Animal Shelter Board Chairwoman Tammy Maas said the board conducted an "intensive review process" before choosing Kremer. The shelter noted his experience as a pastor, Lander police officer, volunteer, taekwondo champion and "accomplished public speaker" in the release. 


Cloud Peak board approves larger bonuses for execs

GILLETTE (WNE) — The Cloud Peak Energy Corp. board of directors has approved larger bonuses for the company’s top six executives and for those executives to receive the bonuses as as lump sum cash payments “as soon as practicable,” according to a company filing with the SEC on Tuesday.

This is a change from a previous deal announced Nov. 13 that called for executives to get bonuses equal to 100 percent of their base salaries to be distributed in five payments through July 1, 2020. Now, those executives will receive their retention bonuses all at once up front.

The new SEC filing also outlines that the company’s top four officials will receive considerably more bonus money.

President and CEO Colin Marshall will get a bonus equal to 150 percent of his base salary.

Executive Vice President and COO Bruce Jones will get 115 percent.

Executive Vice President and CFO Heath Hill will get 115 percent.

Executive Vice President Bryan Pechersky also will get 115 percent. He’s also the company’s general counsel and corporate secretary.

Receiving 100 percent as previously outlined is Senior Vice President Amy Clemetson and Todd Myers, senior vice president for marketing and business development.

The retention payments are subject to being paid back on a pro-rated basis if an executive quits before Jan. 24, 2020.

Cloud Peak also has reaffirmed its commitment to reviewing its financial alternatives, including a potential sale of the company, according to a Tuesday press release. Toward that end, it has new outside financial representation.

The board has retained Centerview Partners LLC as its investment banker, Vinson & Elkins LLP as its legal advisor and FTI consulting Inc. as financial advisor.