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Wyoming News Briefs


August 15, 2019

Council gives initial nod to e-cig ban

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The Cheyenne City Council voted 8-1 Monday night to approve the second reading of an ordinance amendment adding electronic smoking devices to the list of smoking instruments banned in public places.

A third reading and council vote is needed before the amendment can go into effect.

The ordinance approved by council in 2006 already bans cigars, cigarettes, pipes, hookahs and water pipes.

The proposed amendment defines an electronic smoking device as “any device that can be used to deliver aerosolized or vaporized nicotine to the person inhaling from the device, including, but not limited to, an e-cigarette, e-cigar, e-pipe, vape pen or e-hookah.”

The proposed amendment would redefine smoking as “inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, pipe, or any other lighted or heated tobacco, nicotine or other product intended for inhalation, including hookah and marijuana, whether natural or synthetic.”

The sponsor of the measure, Councilman Jeff White, proposed an additional amendment that would exclude devices designed to deliver prescription medications, such as inhalers. That amendment passed in an 8-1 vote.

E-cigarettes are still fairly new, and according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists are still learning about their long-term health effects. But the CDC also says most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which has known negative health effects.

Fireworks shell breaks through roof, starts small fire

GILLETTE (WNE) — A firework shell in the initial minutes of Sunday’s Pyrotechnics Guild International show went awry and broke through the roof of a Gillette couple’s home.

It started a small fire that was quickly put out, but the couple wasn’t hurt.

The home of Keith and Blanca Fare is 2 miles north of Cam-plex, where the PGI display is taking place. The fire happened at about 9:15 p.m. Sunday, roughly the same time the show started with the national anthem.

The home is at 4515 University Road, the closest road to Cam-plex across Highway 51.

Pyrotechnics Guild International spokesman Tom Sklebar told the News Record he did not know the costs of the damages, but PGI would pay for the homeowner’s expenses.

“The rocket launched during the displays at the PGI event took an errant trajectory and struck a house,” he said. “All occupants were outside at the time and no one was injured.”

PGI will reconfigure its display options to prevent another incident from occurring, Sklebar said.

Firefighters arrived to the home in 58 seconds after being paged around 9:15 p.m. to find the home was hit by fireworks. The fire was extinguished before the fire department came, but not before there was damage to the residence, according to a Campbell County Fire Department press release. An amount of the damage was not known.

The Fares were contacted, but they declined to comment on the incident.

Campbell Co. looks into charges for former Blackjewel CEO

GILLETTE (WNE) — Campbell County Commissioners have fielded many questions about the Blackjewel LLC bankruptcy, and one that keeps coming up is if the county will pursue criminal charges against Jeff Hoops Sr., the company’s former CEO and president.

At the Commission’s monthly meeting with elected officials Monday, Commissioner Mark Christensen told County Attorney Ron Wirthwein to look into how the county could prosecute Hoops criminally.

“There’s got to be tons of statutes that apply. There’s easily fraud,” Christensen said.

Nearly 600 of Blackjewel’s 1700 employees in four states were locked out of their jobs at the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines in Campbell County on July 1 hours after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Most are still owed for time worked between their last paycheck and the mines shutting down while nearly $1.5 million representing multiple employee contributions to their own 401(k) and health savings accounts were not made.

Sheriff Scott Matheny said someone needs to file a complaint for there to be an investigation. So far, no complaints have been filed.

“Then it has to be, what jurisdiction did that crime occur in? In this instance, it might be more appropriate for a federal charge,” said Deputy County Attorney Carol Seeger. “[Right] now, none of us have any hard facts to know what, if anything, might have happened.”

Commission Chairman Rusty Bell said Seeger told him that if any illegal activity has been committed, it will be still illegal a month from now.

“Sometimes you have to be a little bit patient,” he said. “Let this bankruptcy part get hashed out, let’s get people back to work.”

Laramie man charged with ‘terroristic threats’

LARAMIE (WNE) — A 26-year-old Laramie man was arrested in the early hours of Sunday for an incident at the Ranger Bar in which he allegedly threatened to kill a number of patrons.

Devon Vasquez was charged with making “terroristic threats,” a felony that, under Wyoming law, means a person “threatens to commit any violent felony with the intent to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly or facility of public transportation, or otherwise to cause serious public inconvenience, or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such inconvenience.”

According to a police affidavit, witnesses at the bar said two individuals, including Vasquez, “attempted to pick a fight” with a man who was sitting in the smoking area of the bar.

According to that man, the bartenders came to the smoking area when Vasquez was standing on a table.

After the bartenders told Devon Vasquez to leave, he reportedly told a witness that he was “going to shoot him in the face with a 9 mm.”

“Devon Vasquez then stated to all witnesses and [the] victim that he was going to kill them all,” Laramie Police Department Sgt. Sally Dallas’ affidavit states. “A few of the witnesses forcibly removed Devon Vasquez from the premises.”

At that point, someone called 911.

A firearm was not located on Devon Vasquez’s person.

Grand Teton visitor bitten by rabid bat

JACKSON (WNE) — A Grand Teton National Park visitor has been treated for rabies after being bitten by a bat that later tested positive for the disease that’s fatal if not treated.

The incident occurred last week when the visitor, who was part of an organized group, was hanging out near Jenny Lake. The bat fell from a tree onto the visitor’s shoulder, and when the visitor tried to brush it off, it bit the person’s hand.

The leader of the group captured the bat in a plastic bag and contacted park rangers, which health and park officials say was precisely the correct thing to do.

Later, after tests at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory showed the bat had rabies, the visitor was contacted and immediately began treatment, according to a park press release.

The type of bat responsible for the bite hasn’t been confirmed, but it’s believed to be a long-eared myotis, said park spokeswoman Denise Germann.

There are at least 12 bat species in Teton park, and generally they are doing good things like eating insects and, in some cases, pollinating plants.

Typically less than 1 percent of bats have rabies.

“To date this calendar year, there have been a total of five bats that have tested positive for rabies in Wyoming,” the press release said.

Though the incidence of rabies is low, the risk is serious, and it’s important for anyone who has potentially been exposed to seek treatment immediately.


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