Rock Springs man dies after house fire and more from around the state

Fremont Co. has lowest ACT scores, highest education costs in state

RIVERTON (WNE) — Fremont County had the lowest composite ACT score in the state last year - and the highest average per-student public education operating costs.

In the Wyoming public school statistics report of 2018 by state economist Wenlin Liu, Fremont County's composite ACT score was 17.9, compared with the Wyoming total composite ACT score of 19.5, and the Teton County score of 21.7.

The highest possible score on the test - a standardized evaluation taken by high school juniors that is used for college admissions - is 36.

English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning are subjects evaluated.

Fremont County has eight public school districts - the most of any Wyoming county and just over one-sixth of the statewide total number of 48.

There are 23 counties in Wyoming.

In Fremont County, each student's annual education, as of last year, costs an average of about $22,300 per student, while across the state each student's education costs just about $17,700 on average per year.

This means that the cost of going to public school in Fremont County is 126 percent that of the state average.

The local cost is also higher than in any other county, with Sweetwater County showing the lowest per-student expense at about $15,600.

In addition, the report states that almost 55 percent of hot lunches sold to students in the county are under the free and reduced exception, whereas only about 36 percent of hot lunches statewide are transferred at a free or reduced rate.

The graduation rate locally is about 75 percent, compared to almost 82 percent statewide.


Judge removed from Albany County aquifer case

LARAMIE (WNE) — At the request of attorney Jason Tangeman, Albany County District Court Judge Tori Kricken has been removed from a case brought by Albany County commissioners against Tumbleweed Express, a gas station on the east side of Laramie that Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent has alleged is a threat to the Casper Aquifer.

Court documents in the case do not state Tangeman’s specific objection to Kricken handling the case.

Tangeman is currently involved in an appeal of a major December ruling that Kricken made in a case involving the University of Wyoming’s right to regulate gun possession on campus.

Dawnessa Snyder, who serves as Wyoming’s District Court Judge in Rawlins, is now set to handle the Tumbleweed Express case. 

Throughout April, the gas station’s owners and county officials have clashed over whether fuel sales and recent construction work is illegal.

The gas station lies within the the Aquifer Protection Overlay Zone, which was created by county commissioners in 2003. Gas stations and fuel pipelines are banned within the zone, but Tumbleweed Express was grandfathered in.

However, the county’s zoning resolution also states that right to the grandfathered use should end if “active and continuous operations of a non-conforming use is discontinued for a period of twenty-four consecutive months.”

County officials had assumed Tumbleweed Express’s pumps had not been in operation for the last decade.

According to Trent’s 17-page injunction request, Tumbleweed Express’s state licensure for “weights and measures of weighing devices of the above-ground fuel pumps or devices used fore dispensing Liquefied Petroleum Gases” expired in 2009 before being renewed in 2018 after new owners Amandeep Pandher and Manjot Singh purchased the property.


Woman who led Highway Patrol on high-speed chase appears in court

CHEYENNE (WNE) — The woman who led Wyoming Highway Patrol on a high-speed chase along Interstate 80 that injured two troopers was arraigned Thursday in Laramie County District Court.

Nicole Montano of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, is currently facing two felony counts of aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon, along with five misdemeanors related to her April 2 arrest in Laramie County.

Her trial date for those charges was set for Sept. 16. Altogether, Montano is facing a maximum prison sentence of a little more than 23 years, if convicted.

According to court documents, Montano and Uong refused to stop the morning of April 2 when an Albany County Sheriff’s deputy attempted to pull them over on eastbound I-80 for a registration violation. As the two fled, a state trooper joined the chase and tried to get them to pull over.

Montano, who was driving, allegedly hit speeds of up to 137 mph while weaving in and out of traffic, trying to avoid the state trooper. She was able to avoid two spike strips laid out on the roadway, but when trying to avoid the third, the car skidded off the road at 100 mph and spun out on the grass.

While trying to get back on the road, Montano struck two Highway Patrol vehicles, injuring those officers before being boxed in.

State troopers found more than $1,000 worth of electronic items in the vehicle, including multiple video games that still had security devices attached to them, according to court documents.


Rock Springs man dies after house fire

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — A Rock Springs man died after suffering injuries in a house fire on Wednesday afternoon.

Sweetwater County Coroner Dale Majhanovich confirmed the death of Charles Berti, 70, of Rock Springs.

On Wednesday afternoon, Rock Springs police and fire departments and the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office responded to a fire at 1019 N. Front St. The Rock Springs Fire Department deployed three fire apparatus along with 10 employees to extinguish the fire.

The RSFD rescued Berti, who was then transported to Memorial of Sweetwater County. Two RSPD officers who attempted to rescue Berti were also hospitalized for smoke inhalation, and they were later released.

Preliminary findings in the investigation indicate that the fire was accidental in nature, according to the press release. The case remains under investigation.