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Wyoming News Briefs


April 16, 2020

Gillette shatters previous cold temperature record

GILLETTE (WNE) – Winter is proving a bit hard to shake this year, and Monday morning was a chilly morning worthy of the record books.

Gillette’s long-time record tracking location southeast of Gillette observed a low of 4 degrees between the hours of 5 and 6 a.m. Monday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Bunkers in Rapid City, South Dakota.

The low not only beat the previous record of 9 degrees set in 1997, it shattered it. Bunkers said dipping 5 degrees below a previous record, especially in the month of April, is interesting to witness.

“It’s clearly an unusual late-season cold snap,” Bunkers said. He reminded people that March and April are the snowiest months in Campbell County, which means cold air is frequently dropping down from Canada. 

Records have been kept at the site dating back 118 years to 1902.

At the North East Wyoming Regional Airport, which is not the official record tracking weather site in Gillette, temperatures dipped to 3 degrees.

Just last week, the weather rebounded back to temperatures in the mid 60s and recreating outdoors was the favorite way to spend the day. Gillette residents won’t be as lucky this week.

According to Bunkers, winter will hold a tight grasp on the region throughout the week. Tuesday’s record low is 7 degrees, set in 1986.

Additional snow is also on the horizon, with isolated snow continuing today and returning late Tuesday through Thursday. The best chance for accumulation of a couple of inches is expected to occur Wednesday.

Amber Alert ends; charges filed against mother

RIVERTON (WNE) — The Friday-afternoon Amber Alert asking Fremont County residents to search for a Dodge truck containing missing children has been resolved. 

Wyoming Highway Patrol announced that the children were found late Friday evening. 

They were found in Colorado, where the Amber Alert also was active. 

According to a Fremont County Sheriff’s Office announcement, 30-year-old Stacia Potter-Norris took her own children – of whom she did not have legal custody. 

Four children aged 14, 11, 6 and 5 were “under an active protective custody tribal court order,” the statement reads. 

They were last seen April 5, in Riverton. 

Authorities believed Potter-Norris may have been heading to California in a dark grey 2019 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck, possibly pulling a 2015 brown and white Heart camper. 

Charges filed Potter-Norris was charged by the Fremont County Attorney’s office Friday, with interference with custody. Because she is the children’s mother, the felony charge is punishable by up to two years in prison, rather than the five years faced by non-parental defendants under the same allegations.

Prosecutors to seek prison time for man who secretly videotaped women in bathroom

POWELL (WNE) — Park County prosecutors plan to seek two to four years of prison time for a Lovell man who secretly videotaped his female coworkers in a women’s bathroom. 

It will ultimately be up to a judge to determine the appropriate sentence for Scott Abraham, as the defendant will be free to argue for a lesser sentence, such as probation. 

Authorities say that Abraham hid a miniature video camera in a bathroom at his Powell workplace on at least two different occasions in 2018 and 2019, capturing images of four coworkers using the private bathroom. 

Court records say he was caught after one of the women spotted the camera in mid-June 2019; he allegedly admitted to Powell police that he’d set up the device in hopes of “getting away with something forbidden,” referring to himself as a fool who’d made a “stupid mistake.” 

Abraham, who has no prior criminal offenses, reportedly told police the June 2019 incident was the first time he’d set up the camera in the bathroom. 

However, when Investigator Chris Wallace searched the device, he found evidence that it had been used to record the women in August 2018 as well. 

Abraham was arrested last November and charged with six felonies. He spent a couple of days in jail before being freed on a $10,000 bond. 

Last month, Abraham’s attorney and the Park County Attorney’s Office submitted a filing announcing they had reached a plea deal. The document says Abraham has agreed to plead guilty to all four counts of voyeurism, while prosecutors will drop two charges related to allegations that Abraham surreptitiously recorded a pair of conversations between coworkers. Abraham is scheduled for a change of plea and sentencing hearing on May 26.

Jonah requests special provisions

PINEDALE (WNE) – While the Wyoming Legislature passed House Bill 158 to change payments of ad valorem taxes to monthly beginning in 2023, before it even takes place, JonahEnergy, LLC., is asking Sublette County to exempt it. 

In a letter from Jonah Vice President Paul Ulrich, he asks Sublette County Commissioners to rely on a section of the bill that allows a company to be exempted and pay taxes on the previous schedule. 

“The newly enrolled act also provides for counties, section F, to enter into an agreement independently with a taxpayer to provide an exemption from the Enrolled Act,” Ulrich states in the letter. “This section is critical as it demonstrates the understanding of the Legislature that in some cases a taxpayer in good standing should not be required to shoulder additional unnecessary financial burden.” 

He argues Jonah deserves the consideration because, “It is a taxpayer in good standing.” 

The company paid $118 million in tax revenue to Wyoming in 2019 – $30 million in ad valorem taxes. 

“Our entire investment is in Wyoming,” Ulrich said. “We are dedicated to Sublette County and Wyoming.” 

Ulrich told commissioners during their April 7 video meeting that the company is merely asking to keep the past pay schedule, but provide additional guarantees, such as a first lien, that are a better protection for the county. 

Sublette County Treasurer Emily Paravicini discouraged the special consideration, saying the bill passed to protect counties, which bear the brunt when a company goes into bankruptcy. 

Sublette County Assessor John Paravicini also cautioned the commissioners, saying giving one company a break opens the county up for “asks” from every other company. “We are already seeing companies become very creative in their reporting,” John Paravicini said. 

Black Hills Energy donates to relief efforts

CODY (WNE) — Black Hills Energy recently announced plans to donate $375,000 to coronavirus relief efforts across its eight-state service area, including $30,500 in Wyoming. This investment is supported by its electric and gas subsidiary serving the state as well as the Black Hills Corporation Foundation, the charitable arm of Black Hills Energy.

As the impact of the coronavirus grows, Black Hills Energy’s top priority is the continued safety of its customers, employees and communities. After assessing the growing needs in communities it serves, Black Hills Energy designated $375,000 for immediate relief efforts in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Black Hills Energy has identified food insecurity as an essential need in Wyoming and allocated $10,000 for immediate relief efforts through the Wyoming First Lady Jennie Gordon’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative.

Additionally, it offers assistance options for customers who may be financially impacted by COVID-19, including 12-month payment arrangements and budget billing, as well as temporary suspension of nonpayment disconnections.

Visit for more information about these and other programs.

Gillette man accidentally shoots himself in the leg

GILLETTE (WTE) —A 25-year-old man accidentally shot himself in the leg on Saturday night while sitting in a vehicle at the Power River Basin Shopping Center parking lot.

He was showing off his handgun in a silver Jeep to his 24-year-old brother when it accidentally discharged and hit him in the upper left thigh, said Gillette Police Lt. Brent Wasson.

Wasson said he was unsure why the victim showed off the firearm.

“The victim was taken to Campbell County Memorial Hospital. His condition is unknown, but it is not believed to be life-threatening, Wasson said.

Wasson didn’t know what type of handgun it was.

IRS warns of scams related to COVID-19 stimulus payments

SHERIDAN (WNE) — Internal Revenue Service — Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) warned Wyoming taxpayers to be alert about possible scams relating to COVID-19 economic impact payments.

Andy Tsui, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-CI Denver Field Office, made the announcement Thursday in an effort to prevent taxpayers in need from being victimized by criminals using the recently approved payments as an opportunity to commit a crime.

COVID-19 economic impact payments will be on their way in a matter of weeks. 

For most Americans, this will be a direct deposit into their bank account. For the unbanked, elderly or other groups who have traditionally received tax refunds via paper check, they will receive their economic impact payment in this manner as well.

Scammers may try to get you to sign over your check to them or use this as an opportunity to get you to “verify” your filing information to receive your money, and then use your personal information in an identity theft scheme.

Tsui offered the following tips to spot a scam:

• The IRS will not call and ask you to verify your payment details. Do not give out your bank account, debit account or PayPal account information — even if someone claims it’s necessary to get your check.

• If you receive texts or emails claiming that you can get your money faster by sending personal information or clicking on links, delete them. Don’t click on any links in those emails or texts.

• If you receive a “check” in the mail now, it’s a fraud — it will take the Treasury a few weeks to mail those out. If you receive a “check” for an odd amount (especially one with cents), or a check that requires that you verify the check online or by calling a number, it’s a fraud.

For more information, see the IRS website at


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