NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, May 22, 2019

From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

Raft operator dies on Snake River

JACKSON (WNE) — Brian Allen, a 44-year-old Moran resident, died Tuesday afternoon after the raft he was operating became tangled on a log in the Snake River, officials said.

The incident happened around 3:30 p.m. in Grand Teton National Park on a stretch of the river near the historic Bar BC Dude Ranch.

A group of four Grand Teton Lodge Company employees were on a scenic float training trip when the boat became stuck.

“Some of the passengers fell into the cold and swift moving water, and as the boat operator attempted to dislodge the raft, he fell into the water as well,” Teton park spokeswoman Denise Germann said in a press release.

The passengers were able to climb back into the raft but called Teton Interagency Dispatch when they could not find Allen.

“Rangers immediately responded to the scene and various locations along the river with multiple rescue boats, and rescue/medical personnel,” the press release stated. “Teton County Search and Rescue members assisted with aerial reconnaissance in the county helicopter.”

At 5:15 p.m. rescuers located Allen’s body near the log snag.

The Teton County Coroner pronounced him deceased.

The other passengers did not report any injuries, officials said.

The National Park Service is investigating the incident.


Man accused of stealing from Boy Scouts, elderly woman pleads not guilty

GILLETTE (WNE) — The 41-year-old man accused of stealing from Scouting troops and of taking $122,400 from an elderly woman has pleaded not guilty to four felony charges against him.

Jason Barnum allegedly took $31,000 from fundraising activities and donations to the Scouts, spending some of it on trips to chase a woman in Iowa who he would later marry, according to court documents. He entered not guilty pleas at his arraignment last month in District Court to three counts of theft and one count of obtaining goods by false pretenses.

A trial is scheduled for Sept. 9.

When a local troop’s treasurer went on vacation in March 2018, she left Barnum with the troop bank ledger, checkbook and debit card in case he needed to make purchases while she was away. He was the scoutmaster at the time,

He never returned the items despite numerous requests to do so, court documents said. Instead, he allegedly used the bank information to steal money Boy Scouts had earned from popcorn sales, donations and fundraising events.

During the Gillette Police Department’s investigation of the alleged thefts, investigators discovered Barnum also had conned a 76-year-old Gillette woman out of $122,400 between July 2017 and May 2018.

In May 2017, the elderly woman hired Barnum to complete several projects around her home. Two months later, he asked to borrow $4,500 to buy a truck, promising to pay it back by October 2017 with an inheritance he was about to receive from his recently deceased aunt.

Over the following 10 months, he requested and received money from the woman on 46 occasions, always promising to pay it back with his forthcoming inheritance, which didn’t exist, according to court documents.


WyoLotto announces new game in conjunction with state rodeos

CHEYENNE (WNE) — WyoLotto has announced a new game coming to Wyoming this summer.

The Ragtime Raffle will only be available for a short amount of time, from June 9 to July 27 or until 100,000 tickets are sold. For only $20 a ticket, players will have a shot at $1 million in total prizes: a grand prize of $750,000, plus three $75,000 prizes and five $5,000 prizes along the way. Players must keep their tickets to claim any of the prizes, and winners of the smaller-tier prizes will still stay in the running for the grand prize of $750,000.

Tickets will be available at all WyoLotto retailers. WyoLotto also will tour Wyoming and sell tickets at Cody’s Nite Rodeo, Casper’s College National Finals Rodeo, Evanston’s Wyoming Downs, Laramie’s Jubilee Days and Cheyenne Frontier Days.

WyoLotto spokesman Bart Henyan noted that since rodeos are such a major part of Wyoming culture, the organization wanted to embody the “ragtime excitement, theatrics, music and culture.”

“We think it pairs well with rodeos and rodeo culture,” he said.

“The music events and Western experiences are synonymous with rodeos. Since there are so many rodeo events throughout the state, it gives our team the opportunity to visit these towns and be a part of the events and see our players all over the state.”

WyoLotto hasn’t launched a new game since Lucky for Life, so they wanted to introduce a new game to players this year.


Emma, Oliver most popular baby names in 2018

GILLETTE (WNE) — Emma was again the newborn name Wyoming parents chose most often for girls in 2018 while Oliver was the top selection for boys.

Emma was the most frequently used female name for the third year in a row, followed by Amelia, Elizabeth, Evelyn and Harper, according to Vital Statistics Services, part of the Wyoming Department of Health.

For boys, Jackson and Logan were tied for second after Oliver. Wyatt and Theodore followed to round out the top five.

“Each of these names had been in Wyoming’s top five in the last five years. Names do go in and out of fashion, but it seems to take some time for major changes in popularity to occur,” said Guy Beaudoin, Vital Statistics Services deputy state registrar.

Wyoming continued the downward trend that started in 2015 when 7,716 babies were born to resident mothers, falling to a low of 6,551 babies born to resident moms in 2018.

“Our state’s number of births last year was the lowest number of births we’ve seen in more than 15 years,” Beaudoin said.

At the same time, there was a moderate increase in resident deaths from 4,767 deaths in 2017 to 5,069 deaths in 2018.

“With Wyoming’s aging population, we expect these numbers will likely continue increasing in future years,” Beaudoin said.