Wyoming News Briefs
November 5, 2020
Not guilty plea entered in attempted manslaughter in Gillette
GILLETTE (WNE) — The man accused of attempted manslaughter after a bullet from his gun grazed another man’s head has pleaded not guilty to charges against him.
Zachary Shawn Manning, 34, faces two counts of attempted manslaughter and a misdemeanor count of reckless endangering. A March 1 date has been set for a three-day trial in District Court.
Manning is accused of firing three shots from his apartment balcony Aug. 2 using his custom Olympic Arms AR-15 after he saw people with “glowing eyes” and thought a neighboring apartment building was being invaded.
One of the bullets grazed the head of a 22-year-old man, continued through his front door and into his TV, according to an affidavit of probable cause. The resulting wound required stitches on the left side of the head. The man was treated and released from Campbell County Memorial Hospital.
Manning told police he was trying to defend his neighbors. He said cars had shown up and appeared to be surrounding the apartment. He got out his AR, loaded it and waited on the balcony in a prone position, according to the affidavit.
“It looked like they were kidnapping people and before they started pulling people out, it seemed like all the cars had hooked to the houses and was trying to pull them (off) their foundations,” he told police.
His blood alcohol content was 0.141%, according to the affidavit.
Draft bill increases access to public employee personnel records
SHERIDAN (WNE) — Personnel records that were once exempt from public view may soon become accessible.
The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee approved a draft bill allowing performance data and evaluations of personnel files to be released if requested.
“This bill draft, in summary, amends the personnel filing exemption to authorize the inspection of performance data and evaluations for specified public employees,” Legislative Service Office’s Brian Fuller said.
The bill specifies which public employees’ personnel records are available under the new allowance, which allows applications, performance ratings and elements of performance for public review.
In its August meeting, the Joint Judiciary Committee moved to amend the personnel file mandatory exemption under the act to create different classes of employees and specify what information from the personnel file for this class of employees may be available for public inspection.
Those employees, if the bill passes, would include the attorney general, director of any department in the executive branch appointed by the governor, president of any institution of higher education — which now, by definition, would include the University of Wyoming and all community college districts — CEO or director of any separate operating agency, commissioners of the public service commission and members of the state board of equalization and managers and assistant managers of any county or municipality.
The bill that passed included amendments to allow current and former employees, and managers of counties or municipalities in addition to those employed under state statute 15-4-202, which include city managers, city attorneys and municipal judges.
The bill with amendments moves to the general session, sponsored by the Joint Judiciary Committee.
Yellowstone National Park closes for the season
POWELL (WNE) — There was a flurry of activity at the East Gate to Yellowstone National Park on Sunday as park employees prepared to close to automobile traffic for the winter.
The gate will remain closed for about six weeks until the winter over-snow season starts.
But the next time Park County’s only gate will swing open to wheeled vehicles won’t be until the first Friday in May — hopefully. The 2020 opening was delayed about three weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Who knows what 2021 will bring.
Despite the late start and an early fall blizzard, the park continued to draw a good crowd.
More than 837,000 visits to the park were logged in September, smashing the previous September record of 724,000 visits, set in 2018.
In his third year, Superintendent Cam Sholly said he is very pleased with the way the season went.
“Although a challenging season in many ways, the Yellowstone team and our partners made this summer a success and allowed millions to experience Yellowstone, while maintaining low COVID-19 infection rates,” Sholly said. “I cannot say enough about the performance of this team and the strong collaboration with our surrounding states, counties and communities.”
The East Gate was fairly quiet Sunday, with mostly locals looking for one last chance to search for wildlife on a beautiful day in the 50s. Traffic in the eastern section of the park was light and, even at the Midway Geyser Basin and Old Faithful, parking was a breeze.
Wolf, moose and elk poached; investigators seek leads
JACKSON (WNE) — Law enforcement investigators at two agencies are asking for information about a wolf, bull elk and moose that were shot and left to waste recently by poachers in the region.
The wolf — the victim of the most recent poaching — was found the morning of Oct. 26 near the Pilgrim Creek trailhead, which is located within Grand Teton National Park. The black-colored animal wore a tracking collar, according to a news release from the park, and its body was found near the trailhead.
Grand Teton National Park’s call for information is targeted at individuals who were in the Pilgrim Creek area the morning of the 26th. The National Park Service’s Investigative Services Branch is heading the case. Tips can be texted or phoned into 888-653-0009 or emailed to [email protected]
Whoever shot the wolf could be subject to a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail, according to the park’s notice.
Both ungulate poachings were outside of Jackson Hole but nearby, and they’re being investigated by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Sometime during the evening of Oct. 21, a cow moose was shot and left to waste along the Union Pass Road at the north end of Buffalo Meadow on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The moose was less than 100 yards from the road, which connects Pinedale to Dubois.
The second poaching claimed a bull elk, which was shot and partially field-dressed, but only its antlers were removed and all of the meat was left to waste. The carcass was found in the North Fork of Fish Creek drainage near Salt Pass south of Afton.
After COVID-19 exposure, Gov. Gordon tests negative, self-quarantines
CHEYENNE (WNE) – After a potential COVID-19 exposure, Gov. Mark Gordon has tested negative for coronavirus and is under a 14-day self-quarantine as a precautionary measure.
According to a news release sent around 5 p.m. Monday, Gordon took a rapid result test at the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department that came back negative, and he is awaiting results of a secondary test.
The possible exposure occurred at a meeting where all attendees took precautionary measures, including the wearing of masks for the entirety of the meeting, according to the release.
COVID prompts EWC to turn to online and hybrid classes
TORRINGTON (WNE) – Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington will transition to online and hybrid delivery of courses due to an increased number of student COVID-19 cases, the college announced on Oct. 27.
According to EWC Director of College Relations Tami Afdahl, the college originally planned to wrap up courses the week of Nov. 16 and transition online, prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. As of press time Wednesday, five positive COVID-19 cases have been identified among students and 40 students are quarantined in on-campus housing due to exposure.
“Due to the exposure and the number of students we have quarantined, we just felt like it was time to limit the number of students on campus,” Afdahl told The Telegram.
EWC’s Douglas campus will continue to operate normally.
“We are not closing the campus down,” Afdahl said in a press release. “We are trying to limit the number of students on campus and in the residence halls for safety reasons. The safety of our students, our employees and our community is our primary concern.”
Delivery of each course will vary, depending on the professor and the class. Afdahl said the college hopes professors will be able to transition by the end of the week as they take time to prepare students for remote delivery.
“Some of our faculty have already been doing a blended mode of delivery,” Afdahl said. “Some will transition a little easier than others.”
Black bear euthanized in Story
SHERIDAN (WNE) — A 2-year-old male black bear was euthanized in Story on the morning of Oct. 23 after receiving repeated food rewards at residences and businesses for several weeks.
On Oct. 2, Sheridan Game Warden Ryan Kenneda received a call about a bear entering a garage and chicken coop. A trap was set for two days but was unsuccessful in capturing the bear.
On Oct. 14, the bear got into trash at a ranch outside Story. Kenneda visited with the ranch owner and the dumpster was later secured, but the bear returned on Oct. 17. On Oct. 19, a resident reported the bear on a porch on Mitchell Drive and getting into a chicken coop and unsecured garbage.
On Oct. 22, Warden Kenneda received a complaint of a bear between Robertson Road and Cottage Lane. When he responded, he found the bear breaking into a trash bin on Ponderosa Drive. Kenneda hazed the bear and it traveled to the North Piney Creek area.
On Oct. 23, the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of the bear accessing trash on Loucks Street. The SCSO contacted Kenneda who authorized the responding deputy to euthanize the bear at approximately 8:45 a.m.
“Unfortunately, after its extensive history of accessing unsecured residential and commercial garbage, there were no other management options for this situation,” Kenneda said.