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Wyoming News Briefs

Temple Grandin to speak in Sheridan in support of new nonprofit

SHERIDAN (WNE) — Temple Grandin, a prominent figure in both the agriculture and autism communities, is coming to Sheridan in July to help raise funds for a new local nonprofit.

Grandin is an advocate for the humane treatment of livestock. According to her website, around half the cattle in the U.S. are handled in facilities she designed specifically to reduce stress on animals before slaughter. 

A professor of animal science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, she is also a spokesperson for people with autism.

Grandin will speak July 6 at the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center and July 7 at Tongue River High School. 

The events were organized by Laurie Morris, founder of Resources, Education, Autism, Community, Harmony (REACH), to raise funds for the budding organization.

Morris was inspired by her nephew Phillip Carleton, who is on the autism spectrum, to create a space that will offer a helping hand to people with autism in Sheridan County. She said local resources are slim, and the goal of REACH is to provide direct support to people affected by autism spectrum disorder for essentials such as therapy, housing and medical needs.

Carleton moved to Sheridan from California in 2018 to attend Sheridan College. 

After the move, Morris said trying to locate resources for him in the county was difficult to navigate.

Morris anticipates REACH will gain its nonprofit status by October. 

In addition to being a one-stop shop for autism-related resources, her other long-term goals for REACH include providing college scholarships and finding a larger facility to house the organization. For now, the board is starting by looking for a dedicated office space and spreading awareness of REACH’s existence.

Tickets to see Temple Grandin at the WYO Theater are available on the theater’s website at Tickets to see her at Tongue River High School are available at and must be reserved by June 23.

Montana man accused of kidnapping Wyoming woman

CASPER (WNE) — A Montana man is accused of kidnapping a Wyoming woman and holding her hostage at his residence for at least one month, authorities say. 

Adolfo Vargas Lepe, of Roberts, Montana, made his initial appearance Thursday on a federal criminal complaint charging him with kidnapping, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Montana said in a statement. 

Lepe allegedly kidnapped a Lander woman, who is identified as “Victim #1” in federal court filings, from her home and kept her against her will from April to May 29, the statement said. 

The 59-year-old man took her to his residence in Roberts, “where the victim was not free to leave,” the statement said. 

Lepe is accused of repeatedly assaulting and mentally abusing the woman. 

She was finally able to escape on May 29 and called 911 for help, the statement said. 

Lepe is facing up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release if he’s found guilty. 

He is being held in custody until further proceedings. 

The Carbon County Sheriff ‘s Office and the Lander Police Department helped conduct the investigation.

Bridger-Teton personnel surveying visitors about their experience

JACKSON (WNE) —The U.S. Forest Service is trying to get a picture of how many people are recreating in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, what activities they’re engaging in while there and how satisfied they are with their experience.

So this summer, the National Visitor Use Monitoring survey that began in October 2022 will continue. Rain or shine, contract employees will be out on the Bridger-Teton wearing bright orange vests and asking people to answer some basic questions. The surveyors want to talk to locals as well as out-of-towners.

“We would appreciate it if visitors would pull over and answer a few questions,” Bridger-Teton Recreation Program Manager Shannon Connolly said in a press release. “It’s important to receive feedback from local individuals using the forest, as well as out-of-area visitors, so all types of visitors are represented in the study.”

The contract employees will be stationed near signs that say “Traffic Survey Ahead.” They will be at developed and dispersed recreation sites and along Forest Service roads.

The surveys are voluntary, and all responses are confidential. Names are not included.

Interviews will last about 10 minutes. Questions include where you recreated on the Bridger-Teton, how many people traveled with you, how long you were in the forest and how satisfied you were with the facilities and services. About one-third of the visitors will be asked about recreation spending during their trip.

The surveying will continue through Sept. 30.

“Although the survey is entirely voluntary, participation is extremely important so we can assess visitor experiences on the forest and strive to make it a better place to visit,” Connolly said.

Cody man pleads guilty to setting hotel bed on fire

CODY (WNE) — The Cody man arrested last year for setting a bed on fire at the Super 8 hotel in Powell pleaded guilty during an April 4 change of plea hearing.

Due to a plea agreement, Randy Tamlin Matthews, 33, pleaded guilty to first degree arson and interference with a peace officer. A second count of interference with a peace officer was dismissed.

Matthews was sentenced to serve between six and eight years in a state prison with credit for 394 days served. Upon completion of his prison sentence, he will be placed on three years of supervised probation.

Matthews committed the offense in March of last year after he lit his bed at the Super 8 motel on fire and sent photos of it to his parents, the affidavit said.

The owner of the Super 8 motel called Matthews’ parents, saying he was “attempting to light things on fire, and had broken a beer bottle in one of the common areas, and had thrown a lit cigarette on the carpeted floor,” the affidavit said.

Matthews was taken to the Powell Valley Health Care emergency room, where he became “more hostile in his behavior and speech,” yelling at officers using profanities, according to the affidavit.

Since Matthews was not compliant and “was now creating a physical and biological hazard to those around him,” he was transported to the Park County Detention Center, where he “made several attempts to strike” Powell Police Officer Dustin Del Biaggio, the affidavit said.

Matthews was subsequently charged with arson in the first degree and two counts of interference with a police officer.

Bridger-Teton looking for company to manage Jackson-area campgrounds

JACKSON (WNE) — The Bridger-Teton National Forest is looking for a company to operate about 15 campgrounds and a hot springs pool in the Jackson area.

For well over a decade, the Bridger-Teton has asked private companies to collect fees from visitors and maintain developed campgrounds and other developed sites across the Jackson and Blackrock Ranger Districts. Aud and Di Campground Services, Inc., a Utah-based company that operates campgrounds throughout Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, has held the contract for the past ten or so years.

Bridger-Teton spokesman Evan Guzik said the forest is rebidding the contract because it’s set to expire April 30, 2024.

The Forest Service isn’t asking companies that bid on the contract to change anything in particular. Instead, when companies submit their bids, they’ll be able to spell out how they want to operate and whether they’ll be looking to make any changes to fees or other operations.

One thing that companies will be required to do is detail how much they want to charge people for the first three years of operations.

Bids are due by 4:30 p.m. July 31, and the Bridger-Teton hopes to decide which company will take over the operation by December 2023 so the firm can start operating campgrounds the following May.

The contract will be for five years, with an option for the Bridger-Teton to renew the contract for another five years without a competitive bidding process at the end of the first five-year term.

Prospective applicants can find details posted on the federal contracting website, or by contacting Linda Merigliano, the forest’s recreation/wilderness program manager, at [email protected] or 739-5428.

Man arrested after challenging police to a fight

GILLETTE (WNE) — A 52-year-old man was arrested for breach of peace and interference after resisting arrest Thursday night when he challenged police to a fight.

A 45-year-old woman said she heard the man arguing with three men outside in the 2600 block of Dogwood Avenue. She and her boyfriend went outside and intervened, and the three men left the area, said Police Deputy Chief Brent Wasson.

After the argument was broken up, the 52-year-old stood in the middle of the road and yelled profanities at the woman and her boyfriend. He started to walk away, then turned around and threatened them before walking away again, Wasson said.

Police saw the man jumping a fence behind the Powder Basin Shopping Center. They tried to talk to him, but he ran away. They later found him and told him he was being detained, and he challenged them to a fight.

He refused to comply when instructed to put his hands behind his back, and a Taser was used, Wasson said.

He was taken to the hospital to be evaluated, and after being cleared, he was arrested for breach of peace and interference.

Law enforcement ‘impersonator’ identified as off-duty SCSO deputy

SHERIDAN (WNE) — According to a press release by Sheridan County Sheriff Levi Dominguez, the law enforcement “impersonator” reported to Sheridan Police Department Wednesday has been identified as a Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office Deputy who was off-duty at the time of the incident. As of this time, Dominguez wrote, there is no known concern to the public from a possible law enforcement impersonator in the Sheridan area.

SPD received a report to dispatch at 3:22 p.m. Wednesday from a driver who was informally pulled over near the intersection of West Brundage Lane and Big Horn Avenue. The suspect identified himself as a law enforcement officer to the driver, presented a badge and gave the victim a verbal warning for a perceived violation of Wyoming State Statute.

Sheridan County Undersheriff Devereaux Johnson said SCSO protocol dictates off-duty deputies must inform dispatch if they make any public contact while off-duty. Following Wednesday’s incident, the deputy did not follow through with that protocol, creating a lapse in communication that created concern for the victim driver and the public.

SCSO apologized for the lapse in communication and for creating public concern.


If you see something, say something — about algae blooms

JACKSON (WNE) — As spring transitions into summer and air and water temperatures begin to rise, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality wants people to avoid algae blooms, and report signs of them in water across Wyoming.

Cyanobacteria, the noticeable blue-green algae that can be seen floating on the surface of contaminated lakes, can form harmful blooms that produce toxins that can harm humans and pets. These blooms, which typically form in late summer, can occur in streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs and take various forms.

Blooms can be green, tan, brown or blue-green. They may float in or on the water and look like spilled paint, grass clippings, clumps or scums. Harmful cyanobacterial blooms may also be attached to aquatic plants, rocks or other material and look like films, mats or gelatinous balls.

The Wyoming Department of Health and the Wyoming Livestock Board advise those who encounter blooms to take the following steps:

• Avoid contact with water in the vicinity of the bloom, especially in areas where cyanobacteria are dense.

• Do not ingest water from the bloom. Boiling, filtration or other treatments will not remove toxins.

• Rinse fish with clean water and eat only the filet portion.

• Avoid water spray from the bloom.

• Do not allow pets or livestock to drink water near the bloom, eat bloom material or lick fur after contact.

• If people, pets or livestock come into contact with a bloom, rinse off with clean water as soon as possible.

• Animals, young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk, according to the DEQ. 

The Department of Health advises that anyone who comes into contact with a bloom and begins to experience adverse health issues seek medical or veterinary attention immediately.

To report a suspected harmful cyanobacterial bloom, visit

Campbell County receives $45K in sports betting revenue to treat problematic gambling

GILLETTE (WNE) — Sports betting has been legal in Wyoming since September 2021. Now, counties are starting to see some of that revenue come to them.

Campbell County applied for and received $45,553 in sports betting revenue from the Wyoming Department of Health. Those dollars must be spent on county programs to prevent and treat problematic gambling behavior.

Under state statute, every month, sports betting operators will send 10% of their revenue to the Wyoming Gaming Commission. 

Each fiscal year, the first $300,000 of this money will be appropriated to the Wyoming Department of Health. 

This is the first year the funds have been available, said county grants specialist Kristin Young.

Similar to opioid settlement money, there are restrictions on how the money can be spent.

Teen pleads not guilty in Lincoln Park shooting

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A Cheyenne teen pleaded not guilty Thursday to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree-murder in connection with the April death of a teen girl at Lincoln Park.

Johnny Munoz, 17, is one of two defendants allegedly involved in the April 30 shooting that led to the death of 15-year-old BayLee Carabajal-Clark. He pleaded not guilty to the two charges during his arraignment Thursday morning in Laramie County District Court.

A criminal trial has tentatively been set for October, District Judge Catherine Rogers said. Munoz appeared for his arraignment on a video call from the Laramie County Juvenile Services Center at the Archer Complex, where he is being held.

According to charging documents, Munoz allegedly worked with Julian Espinoza, who law enforcement says was driving the car Munoz was in at the time of the shooting and “unlawfully agreed to kill” Carabajal-Clark.

Rogers denied the request of defense attorney, Patricia Bennett, to lower her client’s bond. His bond remains at $250,000 cash. 

Laramie County Assistant District Attorney Jonah Buckley opposed the request to lower Munoz’s bond, saying there is an inherent potential flight risk with charges as severe as murder. He said Munoz could also pose a potential danger to the community.

The maximum penalty for the charge of first-degree murder is life in prison or death, but because Munoz was under the age of 18, he would not be subject to the death penalty. 

Espinoza’s case was bound over to District Court last week. He is facing felony charges of conspiracy and aiding and abetting first-degree murder.

Rainfall, snowmelt lead to rising water levels

PINEDALE (WNE) — Water flows in Pine Creek below Fremont Lake continue to rise with spring storms and as higher elevation snowpack melts. 

Sublette County Emergency Management and the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office are asking the public to be alert for sudden rising waters when recreating this time of year. 

On June 5, the National Weather Service in Riverton issued a flood advisory for Sublette and Lincoln counties upstream Green River from La Barge down to Fontenelle Reservoir to remain in effect until further notice. 

The river gage is at 8 feet, and minor flooding of low-lying agricultural land next to the gage has occurred. The river is expected to continue slowly rising, cresting and then remaining steady at between 8.5 and 8.8 feet. 

The “flood action stage” takes effect if and when the gage reaches 9 feet. 

Fields south of La Barge around the gaging station have ponded water less than 1 foot deep as of June 5. On June 3, Pine Creek above Fremont Lake was measured flowing at 1,140 cubic feet per second. One cubic foot of water contains 7.48 gallons and each gallon weighs 8.34 pounds, so the high water in Pine Creek was flowing at 92,327.136 pounds per second last Saturday. 

Sublette County Emergency Management reminds the public to “respect the water and the force associated with it.” 

In addition to staying alert for floodwaters, recreationists should use caution along riverbanks, which may be prone to collapse due to erosion from the fast-moving water. 

Report any observed flooding in Sublette County to emergency management by calling 307-367-2284.