NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Penitentiary reports 15 coronavirus cases

RAWLINS (WNE) — Over the past two weeks, a combined total of nearly 1,200 inmates, staff and contract workers among two major Wyoming corrections facilities have been mandatorily tested for the presence of novel coronavirus, the DOC reported in a Monday press release.

This includes Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins, which has so far tested 876 people. Meanwhile, the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton has tested 311 people, with no confirmed positive cases.

Results for WSP, however, weren’t as great. As of Monday, the WDOC reports, the Rawlins prison has 15 inmates officially confirmed to have contracted COVID-19. In addition, two WSP staffers as well as seven healthcare contract workers were also confirmed to have the virus.

Mitigation efforts to try and thwart the spread of the disease continue, the DOC said in the release.

“WDOC is closely following the most up to date guidelines from the Wyoming Department of Health and Center for Disease Control, which includes isolating positive inmates, quarantining positive staff away from the workplace, and plans are underway to conduct facility wastewater sampling in an effort to minimize risk,” the release reads.

The WDOC also said once testing is completed at all WDOC facilities and offices, random testing on 20% of the staff and inmate population will be conducted on a continuous basis and will be adjusted as necessary.


WHSAA says sports will resume as normal

DOUGLAS (WNE) — High school sports will make their return for the 2020 fall season, barring any surges in the novel coronavirus between now and when practices begin Aug. 10, according to Wyoming High School Activities Association Associate Commissioner Trevor Wilson. 

What the practices and games are going to look like, however, remain up in the air as school districts across the State of Wyoming grapple with what will be the strangest school year of our lives. 

“As of today we are moving full speed ahead to start when scheduled,” Wilson said. “There’s no way we can predict in a day or a week with (COVID-19), but we are planning to get started on Aug. 10 for 4A football, golf and tennis, and Aug. 17 for the remaining sports.” 

As the Douglas Budget reported in it’s July 22 issue, schools will reopen under one of three tiers laid out by the state, with how many students allowed to attend in person classes the main difference between the tiers. 

How that affects school sports, remains to be seen. 

Teams have been allowed to hold workouts since early summer, but have been advised by the WHSAA to keep gatherings limited to 50 people outdoors and 10 indoors, while doing their best to keep the same “pods” of five to 10 people to limit exposure as outlined in the phase two portion of a document titled “Guidance For Opening Up High School Athletics And Activities.”


Traffic stop nets eight pounds of pot

GILLETTE (WNE) — The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office arrested three men after a highway traffic stop turned into an interstate drug bust just after midnight Monday morning.

Deputies arrested Jerrell Riley, 38, Rashawn Felder, 30, and Charles Turner, 27, on suspicion of felony possession with intent to deliver marijuana, THC liquid and THC wax, said Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds.

After stopping the three North Dakota men for driving 74 mph in a 70 mph zone, the deputy smelled marijuana coming from their car and a police dog indicated as well.

Eight pounds of suspected marijuana, 13 pounds of THC liquid and 9.7 ounces of THC wax were all found inside of the car, Reynolds said.

The three men were suspected to be returning to North Dakota after picking up the drugs in Colorado, Reynolds said.

They were stopped near Highways 59 and 387 outside of Wright, according to the arrest log.

The three men were taken to jail and each is being held on $3,000 bond cash surety, Reynolds said.

Their preliminary hearing in Circuit Court is Aug. 6.


NPS investigates dirt biking on historic hayfield

JACKSON (WNE) — National Park Service investigators have not yet closed the loop on an illegal dirtbike track that a large party of motorists scoured into a historic Mormon Row hayfield in the process of being restored to a native plant community.

The July 18 incident drew the ire of locals and Grand Teton National Park fans from out of the area after law enforcement posted a video of the suspects on social media. Ten days later, there was no news to report about progress on prosecuting the incident, park spokeswoman Denise Germann told the News&Guide.

The National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch, which has an employee stationed in Jackson Hole, is taking the lead on the case and is working on identifying those involved and assessing damages to the rehabilitated, once-tilled field, which was recently seeded with sagebrush and more than two dozen other species of native grassland plants.

One nongovernmental organization that advocates on behalf of motorized and mechanized recreation activities like dirt and mountain biking has condemned the party’s off-trail ride, which left a 2 to 10-foot-wide track stretching for nearly a quarter mile through the rangeland near the base of Blacktail Butte.

“We would very much like to catch these folks and make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again,” the Advocates for Multi-Use of Public Land said in a prepared statement. “We know our community of dirt bikers understand the need to be responsible stewards of our public lands.”


Green River street part of ‘Purple Heart Trail’

GREEN RIVER (WNE) — Trona Capital of the World, Launching Point for Powell’s Expedition and now Purple Heart City. Green River has another moniker.

Flaming Gorge Way was recently included in the Purple Heart Trail, a system of roads landmarks and other monuments designed to give tribute to men and women who have earned the Purple Heart, according to the program’s website.

This is the first such designation in Wyoming.

According to a release from the city, resident Josh Coursey approached Jennie Melvin with the city’s Urban Renewal Agency/Main Street organization to apply for the designation.

After approaching representatives of the American Legion Post 28, the group was able to earn the new designation for Green River.

With it, Wyoming becomes the 47th state with Guam to with the designation.

According to the release, Coursey believes the designation not only honors the residents who have earned the Purple Heart, but will function as a means to attract traffic off Interstate 80 to the downtown section of the city.

Melvin said signs are in production and will be placed on light poles along Flaming Gorge Way.

The program was originally established in 1992, establishing the trail at a monument in Mount Vernon, Virginia. Mount Vernon was George Washington’s plantation and is his burial place.