NEWS BRIEFS for Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020

Fourteen pounds of meth found in car after speeding stop

GILLETTE (WNE) — Two California residents are in the Campbell County jail Tuesday after they were stopped for speeding and officers found 14 pounds of crystal meth in their trunk Saturday. 

Ian Arbee Batar Molina, 26, and Dyna Pech Sum, 29, are charged with possession with intent to deliver and possession of meth. The destination of the meth allegedly was Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Louey Williams with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation said the 14 pounds is a substantial amount of meth. While the value of the drug varies based on amounts sold, it could be worth $641,300 on the street, he said.

The bust came after a routine traffic stop by sheriff's deputies at about 9 a.m. Saturday on Highway 50 in which a deputy was following a 2020 Chevy Malibu going 2 mph over the 55 mph speed limit. When the speed limit dropped to 45 mph as they neared Gillette, the car slowed only to 49 mph.

Deputies pulled over the car near West 4J Road and learned it was a rental car that was due back in Livermore, California, on Monday.

A drug dog indicated drugs were present, which Molina and Sum denied. In the trunk, deputies found two cardboard boxes with 12 shrink-wrapped bags of crystal meth weighing a total of 14 pounds, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

A preliminary hearing has been set for Oct. 8 to determine if there is probable cause to bind them over to District Court to stand trial on the felonies.

Bond was set Monday for each at $75,000 cash or surety.


New health orders loosen restrictions on restaurants

RAWLINS (WNE) –   Although COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Wyoming, new health orders set to take effect Oct. 1 will ease restrictions on restaurants.

The changes to Health Order No. 1 no longer require restaurants to space out seating in booths and increases the permitted number of people at a table from six to eight. Larger tables are permitted for members of the same household. This increase in the number of people per table also applies to indoor and outdoor gatherings listed in Order No. 2. Outdoor seating is still encouraged. 

Gov. Mark Gordon worked with the Wyoming Department of Health to ease restrictions on restaurants in the state, according to a press release.

“Even in the face of a rising number of active cases, we recognize that the restaurant industry has faced challenges throughout this pandemic,” Gordon said. “Nevertheless, they have really responded to ensure the safety of their customers. These are important steps that will help our restaurants recover and safely welcome more customers throughout the fall and winter.”

The updated health orders reflect Wyoming Department of Health data indicating that sit-down dining in restaurants has not significantly contributed to the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state, the release said. 

Over the past 14 days, Wyoming has averaged approximately 79 new cases per day, and the percent of COVID-19 tests with a positive result is 5.1%.


Teton County mask order extended through Oct. 31

JACKSON  (WNE) — The Teton County Face Covering Order – aka the mask ordinance – has been extended through Oct. 31, according to the Teton County Public Health Department.

Visit the COVID-19 health orders section of to read more.

With hundreds of thousands of visitors passing through Jackson Hole this summer and fall, local health officials stand by the use of masks as one of several important tools to control the spread in Jackson Hole. 

Teton County saw COVID-19 cases plummet about two weeks after implementing its countywide mask order.

“We had a lot of things happening at the same time. So that’s why I can’t say, ‘Well, for sure it was the mask order,’” Teton County Director of Health Jodie Pond told the News&Guide in a recent article on the impact of local mask orders. “But mask orders work. Nationally, do you see it working? Yes, we see that all the time.”

As of midday Tuesday there were 53 active coronavirus cases in Teton County with one person at St. John's Health in intensive care, according to Teton County Emergency Management's statistical dashboard.

Another 121 people were in quarantine Tuesday. One Teton County resident and a total of 50 people from across Wyoming have died since the pandemic began. 


I-25 chase with speeds up to 144 mph ends near Douglas

DOUGLAS  (WNE) — It started in Platte County, between Chugwater and Wheatland, when a traveler called law enforcement to report a white motorcycle racing at high speeds headed north on I-25. 

It ended when the bike ran out of gas near Douglas. 

Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers kept a watch for the speeding biker when Trooper Adam Watson caught sight of it north of Wheatland. 

“The motorcycle passed Trooper Watson going 120 mph,” WHP Lt. Randy Starkey said. “He (the biker) sped up and was recorded going 144 mph on the radar.” 

The chase began at mile post 89 and ended at mile post 146. In that time, the biker allegedly ran one pickup off the road into the median between Orin Junction and the Platte County line, according to Starkey. 

While three WHP troopers were giving chase, Converse County Sheriff’s Office and Douglas Police Department officers blocked off exits to make sure that the speedster couldn’t divert to another road. 

The chase ended with no injuries when the motorcycle simply ran out of gas, according to Starkey. 

“We’re happy that the chase ended and the driver was taken into custody without incident,” he said. 

Brandon Barmettler of Greeley, Colorado, was arrested and charged with a variety of crimes, including no registration, no insurance, speeding, reckless driving and committing a felony with possession of a firearm, according to Starkey. 

Additional charges may be pending.

 “When he stopped, we searched his belongings and found a felony amount of suspected methamphetamine,” Starkey said. 

Barmettler is in the Platte County jail awaiting charges there before appearing in Converse County for charges as a result of the pursuit.


Forest Service closes 'bowl' to snowmobiles, other motorized vehicles

SHERIDAN (WNE) – U.S. Forest Service officials have announced the temporary closure of a popular sledding hill in the Bighorn Mountains to motorized traffic including snowmobiles, snow bikes and ATVs.

According to a press release from the Bighorn National Forest, the closure at "the Bowl" will go into effect in December due to accidents and close calls between children and motorized vehicles in recent years. 

“While we strive to provide a spectrum of opportunities for our visitors, our number one priority is their safety,” Tongue District Ranger Amy Ormseth said in the press release. “We have received letters of concern and reports of accidents and are compelled to take action.”

The hill located just off U.S. 14 between Arrowhead Lodge and Burgess Junction has long been a popular sledding hill for locals and tourists alike. Adults can often be seen pulling children — sometimes utilizing a snowmobile — back to the top of the hill, extending the day of fun by minimizing the time and effort it takes to climb back up the hill for another sled down.

Bighorn National Forest officials said they received several complaints last winter and are aware of at least one incident in which a young child collided with a snowmobile while sledding and suffered broken bones as a result.

"Over the years we have heard, anecdotally, about incidents of alcohol use, motorized vehicles narrowly missing people on sleds, and snowmobiles being driven at high rates of speed around people sledding," Ormseth said. 

She added the closure area will apply only to the area of the hill, and snowmobile use will still be permitted on the trail that goes through the open meadow below the hill. All other snowmobile use will continue as currently allowed, she said.