Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

Wyoming News Briefs- Former Greybull Doctor has licensed suspended

Board of Medicine suspends physician’s license

GREYBULL (WNE) — The Wyoming Board of Medicine has suspended the license of a Casper physician who spent nearly two decades of his career at South Big Horn County Hospital before his resignation in March of 2017.

The order of summary suspension against Demar “Dusty” Hill alleges that he failed to comply with the terms of a monitoring agreement with the Wyoming Professional Assistance Program (WPAP) by returning to his job at Cedars Health in Casper before he was discharged from a treatment program for an opioid addiction at the Professional Renewal Center in Lawrence, Kansas.

The suspension order, dated March 27, 2019, also sheds light on an investigation that began while Hill was employed by South Big Horn County Hospital, where he’d worked since the summer of 1998.

His resignation in March of 2017 sent shock waves through the community and hospital district.

The suspension order's findings of fact states that the Board of Medicine received a written complaint against Hill from the executive director of the Wyoming Board of Pharmacy in August of 2016, advising that possible diversion of oxycodone was occurring in the Basin-Greybull area.

The order states, “It was alleged that Dr. Hill would prescribe oxycodone 15 mg or 30 mg to patients who were opiate naive, then when the patient called to report that the medication was making them sick, he would tell the patient to bring the remainder of the prescription back and he would ‘trade’ it for another prescription that the patient could tolerate.”

The document also alleges that Hill “would go into the patient’s home, give the lower dose of pills or a prescription for them, and retrieve the higher dose of pills.”


Cody man charged with stabbing wife

CODY (WNE) — A Cody man is facing charges for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, accused of stabbing his wife in her back with a knife March 20.

Police officers arrested Ryan Quinn, 34, after the incident.

After Quinn slammed Kymberli Quinn’s head against a bathtub by her hair and punched her in the face, the victim said she was able to get out of the bathroom. During the physical altercation, Quinn allegedly made a comment about “needing to kill” her, according to Cody police officer Rick Tillery.

As his wife was engaged in a 911 call placed from her cellphone while standing in the trailer home kitchen, Quinn grabbed a 13.25-inch knife with a serrated blade and stabbed her, the affidavit said.

The victim fell to her back, staring back up at Quinn as he “hovered” over her and appeared to consider stabbing her again, she told officers.

But as Quinn hesitated, she was able to grab the blade of the knife, ensuing in a short struggle for control of the weapon, “ending in the knife blade being broken off at the handle,” the affidavit said.

She was then able to get away from Quinn’s grip and escape the residence.

Quinn has pleaded not guilty to the felony, which carries up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 fine.

He has also pleaded not guilty for two separate counts of domestic battery, interference with an emergency call and driving under the influence of alcohol, misdemeanor charges carrying a total of up to two years in prison and $3,000.


Newcastle to test biochar at compost site

NEWCASTLE (WNE) — The city is testing a new program that turns wooded waste collected at the city compost site into biochar instead of grinding the waste into a wood chip product.

On April 1, Travis Peterson, city arborist, told the Newcastle City Council that he had recently tested a process for turning the waste into biochar and that it was cheaper. According to Peterson, the city realized an annual net gain of $30,101.70.

Biochar is a charcoal used as a valuable soil additive, according to

Peterson said he has been kicking around the idea of turning collected waste at the compost site into biochar but had not acted on the idea until now.

He said that he burned down the waste in two different “pit kilns” to provide a safe and clean controlled batch burn.

The biochar conversion limits the volume of product the city has to deal with and saves the city money, Peterson said.

According to Peterson, the wooded waste collected in 2017 was ground by contracting a company from Montana and total cost to the city was $13,591. The volume of the chips created was 675 cubic yards, enough to fill 18 school buses.

Turning the 2018 collected waste into biochar, according to Peterson, cost the city a total of $1,378.30 and created 67 cubic yards of volume, enough to fill nearly two school buses.

“The value of the biochar from the 2019 pilot project is $17,889 at $267 a cubic yard,” Peterson said. “The annual net gain for the City of Newcastle is $30,101.70.”


Colorado men arrested for cocaine delivery

SUNDANCE — Two Colorado men face a lengthy list of felony charges after being caught with a sizeable amount of cocaine in the vehicle they claimed to be driving to visit a friend in North Dakota.

On March 30, a Crook County Sheriff’s Office deputy was patrolling I-90 when he observed a red SUV with Colorado plates traveling at 97 mph, above the posted 80 mph speed limit. The deputy initiated a traffic stop near the Wyoming border.

The deputy made contact with two males in the front seats. He notes in his affidavit that, while speaking to the driver, later identified as Paul Williams, passenger Aaron Gonzales began speaking for him and speaking quickly when talking about the SUV.

Williams gave consent for the vehicle to be searched. In the driver door storage area, the deputy allegedly observed a plastic container consistent with marijuana from a dispensary; inside, he observed a green leafy bud.

In the rear compartment, the deputy located a paper sack with a receipt for 14.05 g of Colins OG marijuana. He also found a gift sack, inside of which was a vacuum-sealed package containing a white substance and a plastic bag.

The seized items were weighed at the Sheriff’s Office. The white substance in the vacuum-sealed package weighed more than 19 ounces.

Testing of the white substance later revealed it to be cocaine.

Gonzales and Williams face felony charges of possession of cocaine; possession of cocaine with intent to deliver; conspiracy to possess a controlled substance with intent to deliver; conspiracy to possess cocaine.


Disputed Johnson County tax funds to be distributed

BUFFALO (WNE) — More than $130,000 in long-escrowed tax dollars will be distributed to Johnson County special districts after the settlement of the Concord Energy tax protest case.

The biggest benefactor of the funds will be local schools, which will receive $86,997. Of this amount, $60,605 will go directly to the Johnson County School District, $1,955 will go to the Johnson County Recreation District and $978 will go to the Board of Cooperative Education Services or BOCES. The state school foundation will receive $23,460, which will be used to fund school construction throughout the state, according to County Treasurer Carla Bishop.

Johnson County will receive $18,291 for general operations of the county.

The Johnson County Board of Equalization – composed of the county commissioners – voted unanimously to settle the Concord Energy tax appeal on March 19.

Concord first came before the county BOE in late September to appeal former County Assessor Cindy Barlow's assessment of its

property for the 2018 tax year.

The county board ultimately agreed with Eggers and voted unanimously to remand the assessment to Barlow for reconsideration.

While Barlow had appealed the county's ruling to the Wyoming Board of Equalization, Eggers and Deputy County Attorney Barry Crago negotiated a settlement that would prevent the case from going to the state board. Eggers and Crago eventually agreed on an assessment of $17 million for Concord’s property in fiscal 2018.


Competency review hearing held for murder suspect

LOVELL (WNE) — A trial involving a man who allegedly killed his ex-wife Carol Barnes more than a year ago will move forward after a hearing on April 2.

A competency review hearing was held in Big Horn County Fifth Judicial District Court to go over the evaluation that was performed on Donald Joe Crouse at the Wyoming State Hospital.

At his Dec. 18, 2018, arraignment, Crouse pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness.

Due to the plea, Judge Bobbi Dean Overfield had ordered that an evaluation be done at the Wyoming State Hospital to determine whether he was competent to stand trial.

Crouse appeared in person with his attorney, Timothy Blatt, at the hearing on Tuesday. The victim’s family was also present in the courtroom.

Big Horn County Attorney Marcia Bean told Overfield that Crouse has been found competent to stand trial. She recommended proceeding to the trial that is tentatively set in June.

Bean informed the court that she would have a decision on whether her office will seek the death penalty within 30 days.


Department of Education, Microsoft partner for computer education

CHEYENNE (WNE) — School districts will have some help from Microsoft in their mandate to offer computer science to all students by the 2022-23 school year.

The Wyoming Department of Education on Tuesday announced a new partnership with Microsoft and CSforALL, an organization with the mission of incorporating computer science into K-12 education. Microsoft’s TechSpark initiative is giving the state more than $95,000 to train school districts on implementing computer science curriculum.

The training is called SCRIPT, or Strategic CSforALL Resource and Implementation Planning Tool. It was designed by CSforALL to train teams of district administrators and educators to create or expand computer science education in their districts.

Students in every school district in Wyoming will have the option to take computer science courses by the 2022-23 school year, per legislation passed last year. Wyoming is the first state to require such education. Given the challenges in implementing an entirely new subject area, the training is needed, said Laurel Ballard, Student/Teacher Resources Team supervisor for the state Department of Education.

“There was a lot of confusion about what’s going on,” Ballard said.

She’s been the liaison between the state and individual districts, focusing on addressing what districts say they need to meet computer science requirements.

Ballard said districts have raised concerns about funding and teacher credentialing. She said once districts go through the training, the whole process will be less overwhelming, and districts may have an easier time facing their other challenges.


UW proposes cutting a week from winter break

LARAMIE (WNE) — University of Wyoming administrators are proposing revisions to the school’s academic calendar that would give students a full week off for Thanksgiving Break while shortening winter break from five weeks to four, with spring semester beginning the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The proposed calendar changes would go into effect in fall 2020 and run through spring 2023.

The calendar committee that produced the proposal was chaired by Honors College Dean Donal Skinner and included numerous faculty and administrative representatives, as well as leaders from Staff Senate, the UW Alumni Association and ASUW — the school’s student government.

“From a student travel perspective, this was seen as advantageous,” Skinner told trustees about the proposal for a full week off for Thanksgiving. “Also, a lot of students (leave for a full week) anyways. This is kind of acknowledging the existing situation.”

In recent years, classes have begun on either a Monday or Wednesday, sometimes after Labor Day.

The proposed calendars would have classes always start on a Monday, and always two weeks before Labor Day.

The proposal would also build in a three-day weekend during the middle of both fall and spring semesters, while ensuring final exams in both semesters occur in a single week, and not two weeks, as was in the case in the last two fall semesters.

In total, the calendars would mean six more instructional days each year.


Northwest College faces budget Cuts

POWELL (WNE) — Community colleges across the state are struggling with falling enrollment figures, and Northwest College is not immune to the trend.

The issue was on the agenda for Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting — and the declining numbers will most likely impact the school’s budget for the coming school year.

“You all know our enrollment doesn’t look good,” NWC President Stefani Hicswa told the board.

Fall 2018 enrollment numbers at NWC showed an unduplicated headcount of 1,524 students, a decline of 10 percent from the previous year. It was also the lowest headcount at Wyoming’s seven community colleges.

Over the past five years, NWC’s unduplicated enrollment has dropped nearly 23 percent, whereas the state as a whole saw a 13 percent drop. In the past decade, the drop was nearly 16 percent for NWC and 11 percent for the state’s community colleges overall.

As for full-time equivalent enrollment — which is the total credit hours taken by all students, divided by a full-time semester load of 12 credit hours — NWC had the equivalent of 1,359 students last year. That was a 12.3 percent drop over the prior year, while Wyoming’s other community colleges saw decreases of a few percentage points.

As NWC enrollment falls, so does revenue from tuition. State funding, meanwhile, is based on average enrollment numbers at all of Wyoming’s community colleges.

“We are, therefore, in the process of getting input from budget managers and doing analysis to determine what reductions will need to be made,” Hicswa said.

Unfortunately, a shrinking budget may also hurt enrollment in the future: Without the funding to maintain competitive compensation, Hicswa explained, the school might lose good faculty and staff.