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Wyoming News Briefs


February 21, 2019

Gillette man sentenced to prison in string of attacks

GILLETTE (WNE) — A Gillette man was sentenced Thursday to more than 10 years in prison for assaults on a puppy, his girlfriend and a fellow jail inmate.

“This is a horrific series of events,” said District Judge Thomas Rumpke. “It’s bad enough that you tortured the animal…Then on probation you beat up a household member, and if that’s not enough, while in jail, you decided to – pardon the language, but there’s no other way to say it – beat the crap out of somebody.”

In 2016, Santos pleaded no contest to aggravated animal cruelty, a felony, after his 14-week-old pit bull puppy died of injuries caused by blunt force trauma, according to court documents.

He was sentenced to 14 to 20 months in prison, which was suspended in favor of 320 days in jail and two years of probation. Because he failed to comply with conditions of his probation, Rumpke reimposed the prison sentence at Thursday’s hearing.

While on probation in July, Santos attacked his girlfriend after she admitted to going through his phone while he was sleeping because she suspected he was speaking to other women, according to court documents.

When she confronted him about the other women, he became angry, pulling her hair, hitting her and strangling her for long enough that she felt she was “going to die.”

On Thursday, Rumpke sentenced Santos to five to seven years in prison for strangulation and six months in jail for domestic battery.

While in jail in November, Santos attacked another inmate, kicking him in the head several times and possibly fracturing his eye socket, according to court documents. 

Rumpke sentenced him on Thursday to three to five years in prison, which will run consecutively to his other sentences.

Governor signs crime victim compensation bill

SHERIDAN (WNE) — The Wyoming Legislature passed House Bill 45, a bill clarifying crime victim compensation eligibility, Feb. 12, and Gov. Mark Gordon signed the bill into law the same day.

Crime victim compensation is a program through the Wyoming Division of Victim Services that allows a victim — of any crime resulting in injury, medical or counseling costs, loss of employment or wages or any other economic deficit that may have been caused by the crime — to be granted money to help alleviate those expenses.

The bill will give authorization to the DVS to allow additional time for victims to acquire and claim expenses for mental health counseling and care.

The Legislature agreed that compensation may be rewarded to those who have suffered losses because of the crime occurring within a two-year period.

The passing of HB45 allows the division to award a victim one extra year of compensation for mental health counseling.

The law originally allowed victims or dependents of the victims up to $15,000 for medical or mental health expenses related to injury caused by the crime.

Victims are now also eligible for an extra $10,000 awarded by the DVS in case of an injury or counseling that exceeded the $15,000.

The additional compensation can also be used to cover future loss of wages, special medical needs or any other special assistance related to injury from the crime committed. The new bill will also benefit victims who may need more time for counseling or recovery from injury due to a crime.

Campbell County to help Wright with man camp

GILLETTE (WNE) — Campbell County will assist the town of Wright prepare for the arrival of a proposed man camp to house workers in the oil and gas industry.

County Planner and Zoning Administrator Megan Nelms said a trucking company called her in December, asking if it could set up a man camp in Wright to house at least 100 workers.

Wright Mayor Ralph Kingan said he wanted to bring the county on board because Wright has a limited staff. Nelms will work for Wright to help the town plan for the proposed camp.

“That’s where I thought it’d be better if we had the county involved, to make sure everything is done and they’re not just bringing in a bunch of junk,” Kingan said.

While a man camp can be little more than an RV park, this one is much more than that, Nelms said. It’s a one-level structure that contains a movie theater, a cafeteria and a recreational area and is being dismantled in Louisiana. The company wants to reassemble it in Wright as soon as possible, she said.

“They were very upfront and interested in working with us,” she said. “They’re not a fly-by-night company that will ravage the town.”

“I have no issue with you helping them, this is going to be as big of a county issue as a town issue,” said Commissioner Mark Christensen. “But I would like to see some regulations or contractual obligations for security.”

The county’s zoning regulations have got that covered, Nelms said. There is a section specifically for construction camps. It was added in 2011, but Nelms said this is the first time anyone has called asking about the rules.

Legislature approves law to let governments spend excess tax revenue

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — A bill to give local governments the ability to use excess special purpose taxes after voter approved projects are completed is going to Gov. Mark Gordon for his signature.

House Bill 95, sponsored by Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, successfully made it through the Legislature on Friday. It would allow governments to spend funds on other capital projects like the Bitter Creek restoration project in Rock Springs.

The House voted 50-8 with two excused in favor of concurring with a Senate agreement to change a section of the measure from a two-thirds vote of a governing body to a simple majority, on Friday.

“This bill directly affects Rock Springs, because HB 95 will free up approximately $2.2 in excess sixth penny money from the 2012 special purpose excise tax ballot that would otherwise be in legal limbo,” Stith said. “It’s up to the mayor and City Council, of course, how to spend the money, but it is my expectation that the city will use all or a portion of the funds as matching funds for an upcoming State Loan and Investment Board grant application for the Bitter Creek project.

“In this way, the city can leverage excess funds to deal with the flood control problem in downtown Rock Springs.”

The project involves the repair of a 1920s-era levee.

Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo said he is appreciative of the efforts of the legislators who supportive the measure, in particular, Stith and Sen. Liisa-Anselmi-Dalton, who cosponsored HB 95.

Albany County to open new one-student school

LARAMIE (WNE) — Albany County School District No. 1 will open another rural elementary school this fall for a single child who’s set to begin kindergarten. The child’s younger sibling is also set to attend the school in two years.

The “new” school is actually a re-opening of Cozy Hollow School off Tunnel Road — northeast of the Wheatland Reservoirs.

That school, which has previously served the same family, was closed about a decade ago.

Reopening Cozy Hollow School is necessary now “that the generations have come around, so to speak,” ACSD No. 1 business manager Ed Goetz told the school board on Wednesday.

Wyoming statutes require school districts to provide on-site schools for isolated students when transportation to other schools in not possible.

Cozy Hollow has operated off-and-on for much of the last century, and the district still owns a modular on the site.

“That’s in pretty good condition,” Goetz said. “It will need some work. We’ll need to get some furniture up there.”

ACSD No. 1 operates a second one-student school, Notch Peak Elementary, in a nearby area.

However, the district considers it impractical to transport Cozy Hollow’s students to Notch Peak since the roads connecting the two are impassible for much of the winter.

Superintendent Jubal Yennie said the district would likely need to hire a new teacher for the school.

Between Notch Peak and Cozy Hollow, the district will need to spend about $150,000 teaching just two students next year.

Impact assistance sought for transmission line project

RAWLINS (WNE) — The small square table held a handful of people, delegates from every affected city, each presenting how the TransWest Express Transmission Line project will impact their community. Their conclusion: $8 million needed to weather the storm of construction.

The $8 million will be distributed among Carbon and Sweetwater counties, the cities of Rawlins, Sinclair, Wamsutter and Saratoga. The cities of Dixon and Baggs were present for the meeting, but determined no need for finical assistance.

Several representatives found physical attendance impossible as the weather closed many routes into Rawlins, but a conference call was able to maintain communication across snowy roads.

Carbon County requests $600,000 for Road and Bridge, $375,000 for Sheriff and $214,000 for general funds, for a total $1,189,424.

Rawlins requested $241,180.74. The cost will not go to utility improvements, believing increased strains on these will be resolved using capital generated by the additional population. The fund distribution is not set; rather the funding will be placed into the general fund. According to Rawlins City Manager Scott Hannum, this allows for a more flexible response to erosion caused by new citizens.

Saratoga needs $1,512,924 to cope with the influx of construction workers.

Sinclair asked for $179,550 for street maintenance, water system, sewer system, police, fire department and general funds needed to maintain public parks and other places.

Wamsutter requested $2,758,518 and the Sweetwater County government requested $2,561,498. These funds will be distributed in much the same way between police funding, sewer and public health care.

The next step for the affected governments is to approve memorandums of understanding at their next council meetings. After which, the plan will be submitted for final approval from the Industrial Siting Council.


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