NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019


Money for stadium cut from capital construction bill

LARAMIE (WNE) — If the Wyoming House wants to restore $15 million in funding for renovation of War Memorial Stadium’s west stands, it would do so in defiance of a Feb. 5 warning shot from senators, who showed willingness to kill this year’s capital construction bill in its entirety as the bill became bloated with projects like the UW stadium renovation.

The Legislature's revived capital construction bill greatly reduces the $94 million in spending it included when introduced by the Joint Appropriations Committee.

The Senate brought the bill back to life Friday, but stripped out the $15 million the bill originally appropriated for renovations of War Memorial Stadium’s west stands and a new pool for the University of Wyoming’s swimming and diving teams.

The new version of the bill passed the Senate on a 21-8 vote and awaits House consideration.

The initial JAC-sponsored capital construction bill, Senate File 162, would’ve appropriated $15 million into a holding account at the state treasurer’s office for both projects.

Senators unanimously voted to kill the bill Feb. 5 before reviving a trimmed version Friday once both chambers reached a compromise on the main budget bill.

When the Senate Appropriations Committee originally proposed cutting the funding for the stadium and pool Feb. 1, there was little pushback on the Senate floor.

Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, said funding the renovations would be more appropriate once UW requests the money through the supplemental budget process.

“While I appreciate having $30 million in the budget for the university, this was not a priority for the University of Wyoming. It was not a recommendation from the board of trustees to the body,” Rothfuss said.

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Governor signs crime victim compensation bill

SHERIDAN (WNE) — The Wyoming Legislature passed House Bill 45, a bill clarifying crime victim compensation eligibility, Feb. 12, and Gov. Mark Gordon signed the bill into law the same day.

Crime victim compensation is a program through the Wyoming Division of Victim Services that allows a victim — of any crime resulting in injury, medical or counseling costs, loss of employment or wages or any other economic deficit that may have been caused by the crime — to be granted money to help alleviate those expenses.

The bill will give authorization to the DVS to allow additional time for victims to acquire and claim expenses for mental health counseling and care.

The Legislature agreed that compensation may be rewarded to those who have suffered losses because of the crime occurring within a two-year period.

The passing of HB45 allows the division to award a victim one extra year of compensation for mental health counseling.

The law originally allowed victims or dependents of the victims up to $15,000 for medical or mental health expenses related to injury caused by the crime.

Victims are now also eligible for an extra $10,000 awarded by the DVS in case of an injury or counseling that exceeded the $15,000.

The additional compensation can also be used to cover future loss of wages, special medical needs or any other special assistance related to injury from the crime committed. The new bill will also benefit victims who may need more time for counseling or recovery from injury due to a crime.

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Student arrested for terrorist threats against school

RIVERTON (WNE) — Officials have confirmed that a Dubois student was arrested last week for making terroristic threats toward the local school.

Officials with the Fremont County Sheriff's Office said they were notified Monday afternoon about the alleged threat.

Deputies contacted the student at home Tuesday evening after notifying district administrators about the issue, according to a statement Thursday.

The FCSO worked with Fremont County School District 2, the student's family and mental health services to "further evaluate the validity of the alleged threat."

After the investigation was complete, the student was placed under arrest.

"At this time the student remains in custody, and there is no threat to the school or community," Thursday's statement reads.

The FCSO says it is working with the Dubois school district, the Fremont County Attorney's Office and professional mental health services in order to follow "every action that can be taken according to law."

On Thursday officials said further investigation into the matter is ongoing, and additional details are not available.R32;

Terroristic threats

Wyoming statute says a person is guilty of a terroristic threat if he or she "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 cause serious public inconvenience, or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such inconvenience."

The felony carries a punishment of up to three years in prison.

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Cody area highway to be renamed for wild horses

POWELL (WNE) — A Cody area route will soon become the “Wild Horse Highway” after the proposal drew more ayes than “neighs” in the Wyoming Legislature. 

In passing Senate File 112 last week, state lawmakers agreed to name a roughly 30- mile stretch of U.S. Highway 14/16/20 — from Cody city limits to just east of Emblem — after the McCullough Peaks wild horse herd that roams along the road. 

The bill now sits on Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon’s desk for final approval. 

State Sen. Hank Coe, RCody, and Rep. Sandy Newsome, R-Cody, shepherded the bill through the Legislature at the request of the nonprofit group Friends of a Legacy (FOAL), which advocates on behalf of the McCullough Peaks herd. 

“A highway designation is the least we can do in recognition of the impact wild horses have had on our shared history and tourism-based economy,” Coe said in a Friday statement. “People come from around the world to view these descendants of Buffalo Bill Cody’s herd and this designation will only help attract more people to the area.” 

In introducing the measure to her colleagues on the House floor last week, Newsome called the McCullough Peaks herd both a “national icon” and an “emblem of the American West.” 

She said renaming the stretch as the Wild Horse Highway will “promote another rather unique tourist attraction, therefore encouraging visitors to spend more time in Park and Big Horn counties.” 

Beyond drawing attention to the horses, Newsome said the new name will also encourage travelers “to pause and admire the open terrain and badlands of the Big Horn Basin.”

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Monkey request has Marbleton looking at ordinance

MARBLETON (WNE) — With an “exotic animal request” on its Feb. 11 agenda, the Marbleton Town Council was rather curious about a town resident’s desire to have a pet capuchin monkey. 

The town has no exotic animal code but town attorney Thayne Peterson agreed to draft one for its March 11 meeting. 

Resident Brittney Ewing told the council for years she has researched having a monkey, an exotic species, and is ready to buy one. 

Ewing received her Chapter 10 permit from Wyoming Game and Fish to transport a monkey into and own it in Wyoming. She presented paperwork of her research on the closest experienced veterinarians, inside and outside enclosures and required vaccinations. 

“There is no specific town ordinance so I am here to clarify if I can get permission to have it here,” Ewing said. “I plan on having it as a personal pet in my home. It’s a permanent thing. It’s an unusual request so I wanted to make sure.” 

She hopes to buy a capuchin monkey, which has a 40-year lifespan, weighs an average 7 pounds and is about 18 inches long, plus a tail of a similar length. She said they are extremely intelligent and bond very closely to their companions. 

“We have an ordinance against livestock without a permit and we have one against dangerous predators,” Peterson said. Chicken owners need to get a conditional use permit. “I’m not sure this has been considered in the past in my tenure. At this time, it’s not in violation of ordinances.”

Sheriff KC Lehr told the council, “We’ve seen everything from wallabies to pythons out there. I appreciate her taking the initiative to come and ask about it.” 

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Wyoming this Weekend, Feb. 22-24

By The Wyoming News Exchange

A birthday celebration for one of Wyoming’s best-known celebrities will highlight the weekend’s activities in the state.

Cody will host the Buffalo Bill Birthday Ball on Saturday, featuring music, dancing and Wild West entertainment.

The celebration is held in conjunction with Cody’s official declaration of the fourth Saturday in February as “Buffalo Bill Day.”

Other events scheduled for the weekend include:

A 2-day women’s snowmobiling riding camp in Dayton through the weekend;

The annual Juried UW Student Exhibition featuring artwork from selected University of Wyoming students on Friday in Laramie, and

An exhibit of the work of Seattle artist David W. Simpson at Sheridan’s Edward A. Whitney Gallery through the weekend.

For more information on these and other events, please visit the state Tourism Division’s website at TravelWyoming.com.

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