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Wyoming News Briefs

Man uses bed sheets to rappel from third-story hotel room and escape deputies

GILLETTE (WNE) — A 26-year-old man eluded deputies multiple times Saturday night, once after initially contacted during a traffic stop and a second time when he rappelled out of a third story hotel window using multiple bed sheets he tied together.

He was first contacted in a blue 2014 Ford Explorer outside of the Towne Places Suites hotel on Second Street in Gillette around 11 p.m. Saturday. He was in the back seat of the SUV along with two women, 26 and 33, who were in the front seats, said Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds.

While the deputy stood by the driver’s side door and tried identifying everyone inside, the 26-year-old man fled the SUV through the back passenger side door and took off on foot.

Deputies later learned he had fled to the Super 8 motel, not far from where the initial stop occurred, and sought a search warrant for the third-floor room he checked into. While that search warrant was being signed, the 26-year-old escaped through the third story window by rappelling down the side using multiple bed sheets he tied together, Reynolds said.

The man has an outstanding warrant and more charges pending, Reynolds said. He has also evaded deputies on at least one other occasion in recent weeks.

The investigation continues.

Cody Police investigating Monday morning armed robbery at Holiday Inn

CODY (WNE) – Cody Police officers are investigating an alleged armed robbery early Monday morning at the Holiday Inn, according to a department release.

At 5:09 a.m., officers responded to the hotel on a report of a robbery at the front desk.

Upon their arrival, officers spoke with witnesses and learned a masked female wearing a black hooded sweatshirt entered the front door of the hotel and approached a front desk clerk. The suspect demanded money as she lifted the side of her sweatshirt to expose a holstered pistol on her hip.

According to the release, the clerk placed money in a bag and gave it to the suspect. The suspect then walked out the front door and left in an unknown direction. 

The suspect is described as female, approximately 20-30 years old, medium build, 5’3” to 5’7” in height, who was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black pants and a black gator-type face mask.

Officers canvassed the area and were unable to locate the suspect.

There are no suspects at this time. 

This case is still under investigation and there is no further information available at this time. 

If anyone has any information regarding this case, please contact Cody Police Det. Sgt. Trapp Heydenberk at (307)527-8700. 


Gordon rescinds Public Health Emergency declaration

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Gov. Mark Gordon signed an Executive Order on Monday rescinding the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.

To facilitate efforts to address the state’s nursing shortage, the governor signed a separate executive order to allow working nurses time to get licensed in Wyoming, according to a news release.

Executive Order 2022-03, “Executive Order Rescinding Declaration Of A State Of Emergency And Public Health Emergency,” immediately rescinds Executive Order 2020-2.

“Wyoming has done a wonderful job in persevering through the pandemic,” Gordon said in a prepared statement Monday. “The emergency is over, but people’s responsibility to one another is not. There is one lingering concern – Wyoming’s shortage of healthcare workers. This shortage includes nurses, and has existed long-before COVID and was only exacerbated by the pandemic. Therefore, Executive Order 2022-02, “Nurse And Nursing Assistant Staffing Emergency And Temporary Relief,” is effective today and remains in effect for 60 days.”

That order allows nurses and nursing assistants licensed in other jurisdictions to provide nursing care in Wyoming in order to address staffing shortages.

Test score of 0 gets an A+ from UW

LARAMIE (WNE) — For the first time since summer 2020, the University of Wyoming has registered a day with no positive COVID-19 test results. 

UW spokesman Chad Baldwin said the results are based on the university’s ongoing testing program as well as students and faculty self-reporting results from other locations. 

Along with requiring every student, faculty and staff member to take a COVID test before the 2021-22 term began, the university has been randomly testing 3% of its campus population every week since August, Baldwin said. Prior to this week, the positivity rate had been at 2.5%. 

Reports of positive tests had spiked during the Christmas holidays and in January, he said, but have since been on the decline. 

Over the last month there have been fewer than 10 positives a day. Baldwin said the decline at UW likely aligns with public health factors identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including that many people have had the virus by now and that UW has a relatively high vaccination rate on campus compared to the rest of the state. 

The university will continue to test through the end of the spring semester, but won’t after that, Baldwin said. 

The decline of positive cases in daily testing at the university also is reflected throughout the Laramie community and statewide. The number of active cases of COVID-19 as reported by the Wyoming Department of Health has grown smaller over the past couple of weeks. There were 228 active cases across Wyoming reported Friday. 

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, there have been 122,807 confirmed cases of the virus in the state with 121,249 recoveries and 1,749 deaths.

Lummis, Barrasso support postal reform

PINEDALE (WNE) – U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis released statements earlier last week supporting bipartisan postal reform legislation. 

The Postal Service Reform Act of 2022 passed in the Senate by a 79 to 19 vote on Tuesday.

“While this reform bill is far from perfect, it gives USPS the resources it needs to keep our post offices open and operating at full speed,” Sen. Barrasso said. 

Sen. Lummis also said it’s far from perfect but said it was the better alternative to a bailout.

“People across Wyoming, especially our most rural residents, rely on the postal service for everyday necessities, and I’m confident that this bill will address some of the challenges they have been facing, particularly in terms of reliability and speed of service,” Sen. Lummis said.

Key provisions in the bill include: Required six-day delivery, elimination of retiree health-care pre-funding mandate, non-postal services like hunting and fishing licenses, rural newspaper sustainability and requiring an integrated network for parcel and package delivery.

Land Board makes $405K capital request ahead of National High School Finals Rodeo

GILLETTE (WNE) — The Campbell County Public Land Board has asked the city and county for extra dollars to cover a few immediate replacements and repairs before it hosts the National High School Finals Rodeo in July.

During a joint meeting Thursday night, land board members asked $405,500, split between its funding entities, the city and the county, during the current fiscal year, which runs through June.

The figure was reached by compiling estimates for maintaining its radio inventory, buying new refrigerators and freezers, ticketing laptops and a Black Widow implement for rodeo arena ground work. The majority of the funding request comes from the cost of repainting East Pavilion, Morningside Park and the Wrangler Arena inside bathrooms as well as remodeling the Morningside Park ticket office and crow’s nest.

Land board chairman Darin Edmonds said the land board has its funds tied up as collateral for other ongoing projects at Cam-Plex, warranting the funding request.

City council members and county commissioners in attendance said each of their boards would discuss the funding request and aim for a decision one way or the other next week.

The National High School Finals Rodeo comes to Gillette on July 17. But in order to receive supplies in time and to make the necessary fixes, land board members are hoping for a decision soon.

The last time Cam-Plex hosted the high school finals back-to-back, in 2016-17, the facility netted almost $1 million between the two years, said Renae Keuck, Cam-Plex director of finance. The event also brings thousands of people into Gillette and has been an economic boon for the city in the past.

CFD warns: Don’t fall prey to ticket scalpers

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Less than 24 hours after Cheyenne Frontier Days announced its 2022 Frontier Nights concert lineup, CFD officials warned people to beware of ticket scalpers. 

Musicians on tap for the annual series of shows range from Wyoming-based artists Chancey Williams and Ian Munsick to top country music duo Brooks and Dunn, country/ rap/rock artist Kid Rock and rap/country musician Jelly Roll. 

Scalping refers to the practice of buying event tickets, sometimes for face value, and then reselling them to consumers at an often significant markup. 

CFD CEO Tom Hirsig told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle that the practice undermines the volunteer effort to keep the event less expensive than commercially organized concerts. 

Last year, the average ticket to a Frontier Nights concert, which sometimes includes multiple bands, cost about $90, CFD data show. Hirsig estimated that’s about $45 less than an equivalent show that is organized by a for-profit venture. 

The “many websites claiming they can sell you tickets for our night shows,” the organization said, are actually “doubling the ticket price and hoping to buy online at and pass those tickets on.” 

Because it can be hard for individuals buying tickets to easily determine that the website where they are purchasing them is a reseller and is not actually CFD, Hirsig said it has a hard time educating concertgoers so they don’t take part. 

“People think we are selling those tickets to the scalpers, and we do everything we can to prevent” this, he said. “We have software in place with AXS, our ticket provider, to identify ticket scalpers and prevent them from buying.”

Rock Springs residents hopeful city overturns chicken ordinance

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — Rock Springs resident and chicken owner Mackenzie Bertagnolli is currently fighting to be able to keep her beloved pets, even with a city ordinance standing in her way. 

Following a call made to animal control on March 1 and a visit made to her home, Bertagnolli was told that due to a city ordinance, she is not allowed to own chickens. 

Ordinance 3-527 Certain Domestic Animals Prohibited states the following: “It shall be unlawful for any person to keep or maintain within the city any horses, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, other domesticated livestock, chickens, ducks, geese or other domesticated fowl except where the property upon which the animal is to be kept or maintained is properly zoned for such use...”

Bertagnolli said she was unaware of the ordinance prohibiting the ownership of chickens within city limits and addressed the city council recently to argue for a change in the ordinance. 

Bertagnolli cited the health and cost benefits of chicken ownership. She also said many other towns and cities in Wyoming such as Cheyenne, Casper and Gillette allow residents to own chickens within the city limits. 

Rock Springs City Councilor Keaton West said that the ordinance prohibiting chicken ownership passed in 2013 and the majority of the constituents he has spoken with want it to remain in place. 

West said that there are several factors as to why people are opposed to allowing the ownership of chickens within the city limits. 

“It’s things such as them being a nuisance and having to live next to them. People are also concerned about the mess and the potential of the chickens carrying disease,” he said.

Bertagnolli started a petition to change the ordinance, and as of March 9, it has over 500 signatures.

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