NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Wyoming Senior Olympics won't be held this summer in Cheyenne

CHEYENNE (WNE) – The Wyoming Senior Olympics allow residents over age 50 to showcase their athletic abilities in everything from weightlifting to softball. But due to coronavirus, the 2020 Senior Games, meant to take place Aug. 5-8 in Cheyenne, have been canceled.

Mayor Marian Orr said Tuesday that as sad as the announcement is, it came as no surprise.

“Our seniors are the last folks that we’re going to want to bring together in a group, because they tend to be the most vulnerable population, despite how healthy they probably are,” Orr said.

The games are held in a different location for two years at a time, and Cheyenne hosted its first event last summer, offering 24 sports like bowling, swimming and cycling.

Usually, medals are awarded to the three top competitors in each event, and athletes have a chance to win a bid to the national games every other year. This year would have been a qualifying year for the national games.

However, Orr noted that many athletes’ training regimes were probably affected by coronavirus mitigation measures, which caused the doors to close at gyms, pools and other facilities.

“It takes preparation, and social distancing doesn’t always provide well for training,” Orr said.

To honor the seniors’ hard work and training, Orr said they’re looking into ways to highlight the athletes using social media. And even as the games are canceled, Orr said their healthy lifestyles serve as an example for us all.


Test results negative for 28 who had contact with Campbell County COVID-19 patient

GILLETTE (WNE) — All 28 people who came into contact with Campbell County’s latest confirmed case of COVID-19 have tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

Campbell County Health staff performed emergency surgery on a woman in her 60s last Thursday, Public Health reports. The woman, who was asymptomatic, later tested positive for the coronavirus, the county’s 15th confirmed case.

During her time at Campbell County Memorial Hospital, she came into contact with 28 people, meaning they were less than 6 feet from her for 10 minutes or more. According to protocol, all were tested for the virus.

Dr. Kirtikumar Patel, the county’s public health officer, said Tuesday that tests for all 28 came back negative.

Had any tested positive, they would have had to follow the same guidelines as anyone else, including self-isolating and quarantining at home for 14 days.

The county’s number of confirmed cases remains at 15, while there are nine probable cases, according to the Wyoming Department of Health’s daily COVID-19 update. Of the 24 confirmed and probable cases, 22 have already recovered.

Across Wyoming, the confirmed count grew by eight over the past 24 hours to 452, and there are 152 probable cases. Of those 604 combined cases, 409 have already recovered. There have been seven virus-related deaths.

Overall, Fremont County leads the state with 131 confirmed and nine probable cases, followed by Laramie at 108 and 54. Also in double figures is Converse County with 14 (nine), Sheridan with 12 (four) and Sweetwater and Johnson counties each with 11 confirmed cases.


First responder fund in Jackson aims to fill in gaps

JACKSON (WNE) – While most of us have been holed up at home working, watching Netflix and donning real pants only to buy groceries, first responders have gone about their business, helping sick people, keeping the public safe. Even though each house call could expose them to the coronavirus, working through a crisis is what they signed up for.

Wilson resident Tom Patricelli wanted to find a way to thank those first responders. With the help of Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr and the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, he found one, a new fund designated for first responders, their families and agencies.

“These people can’t stay home, they can’t shelter in place,” he said. “I think sometimes we take them for granted, but they are putting it on the line for us every day.”

Patricelli seeded the First Responders Support Fund with its first influx of cash and hopes others will follow suit.

The fund is intended to cover three main areas: first responders’ families, training and protective equipment. Economic stagnation caused by county and state orders that closed business has lowered town and county revenues, which eats into the budgets of the Teton County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS and the Jackson Police Department.

Somewhat similar philanthropic efforts have existed in the past, and some still do, but they aren’t quite like this fund. The sheriff’s office has the Teton County Sheriff’s Auxiliary and the Teton County Search and Rescue Foundation. Smith said the Community Foundation has had a fund for first responders, but this one allows agencies to apply for funds on behalf of individual first responders.



Glenrock’s Knotty Pine Saloon cited for operating despite order

GLENROCK — Citizen complaints regarding alleged violations of Wyoming’s COVID-19 statewide public health orders prompted Glenrock police officers to visit the Knotty Pine three times last month, and the final time got the business a citation. 

“Glenrock Police Department responded to multiple alleged incidents of multiple violations of health orders,” Glenrock Police Chief David Theel said Monday. 

Knotty Pine owner Rusty Henderson said on the evening of April 21, Sgt. Colter Felton “showed up at my residence with a citation and summons. He said Chief Theel said he had to write me a ticket for violation of state health orders.” 

Henderson noted the reason for the citation was listed as patrons drinking on the outside back patio of his establishment, which he contends is not part of the Knotty Pine itself. 

Henderson has owned the Knotty Pine for nine years and lived in Glenrock for 55 years. He said he’s depressed by what’s happening with his business.

State -mandated public health orders have closed bars and restaurants to anything other than curbside pickup or delivery to slow the spread of the coronavirus, laws which he says he was abiding by even as patrons were using the patio outside to socialize. 

Henderson intends to have his day in court May 11. 

“This is a state health order that violates our basic Bill of Rights and according to the U.S. Constitution our right to work and be in a free market,” he said. 

Henderson has started a Knotty Pine Legal Fund where he’s asking people to contribute to legal fees involved in fighting his upcoming battle. Henderson’s GoFundMe page had raised $1,010 as of Monday afternoon.


Colorado man pleads guilty in case involving fentanyl at Campbell County jail

GILLETTE (WNE) – A Colorado man has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver fentanyl after he took the drug into the Campbell County jail and worked with another inmate to give it to others in jail.

Jacob Mann, 36, of Denver, also pleaded guilty to taking heroin into jail and possession of heroin. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend imposed sentences up to 3.5 years in prison on the charges.

Mann originally landed in jail March 1 for possessing meth. Police had a tip that a man named Jake had brought several ounces of meth with him to Gillette with the intention of selling it and was staying at a local hotel, according to court documents.

Police went to the hotel with a drug dog, which indicated drugs were in the room occupied by Mann. 

A small amount of meth residue was found, and Mann was arrested for felony possession because he had five previous convictions for possession. 

On March 8, detention officers learned of reports of drugs in the jail. In one of the cells for “F” block, a drug dog indicated on the cell where Mann had been assigned. On a shelf in the cell, officers found a small container with 0.4 grams of black tar heroin. 

In a separate bindle, they found three blue pills with markings indicating they were oxycodone. Mann denied knowing anything about them, according to an affidavit.

Deputies and investigators with the Division of Criminal Investigation suspected the pills were fentanyl disguised as “blue oxy 30’s,” according to an affidavit.

Pills of that type have been blamed in several overdose deaths in Wyoming, they said. Fentanyl is a pain reliever that can be 100 times stronger that morphine.