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MAY 17 Wyoming News Briefs

Bear spray burst clears out Pinedale Food Basket

Bear spray burst clears out Pinedale Food Basket

PINEDALE (WNE) – On Monday, Pinedale Community Food Basket Thrift Shop employees and shoppers found out firsthand how effective bear spray can be at repelling invaders.

With garage doors raised to welcome springtime warmth and sunshine, an accidental burst of the oily pepper spray outside immediately blew in through the stacks and shelves of donated items.

Even after airing out, the lingering and unpleasant aroma was enough to call for drastic action, according to thrift store manager Sandy Hinderliter.

Tuesday, employees loaded every book, upholstered furniture, kids’ toys, baskets – and the store’s entire stock of clothing – to be hauled to the dump. “Hard” items that could be wiped down were brought outside Tuesday as employees worked to clean the entire emptied store.

Newly donated items dropped off in the shop’s Quonset hut are considered “safe” and would serve to restock the shop, according to Hinderliter.

“We felt that it would be too costly to take all of clothes to wash and dry them and we decided to throw them out,” she said.

Stacks of books also went to the dump, due to fears that some might hold enough bear-spray residue to affect browsers at the recycling center next door.

“They have offered for us to look through those books and take anything we might want,” she added.

Wednesday morning, employees again cleaned inside the store with the plan to begin restocking shelves and filling hangers later that day.


Wyoming treasurer seeks White House support for increasing uranium production

CHEYENNE (WNE) – Wyoming State Treasurer Curt Meier on Tuesday sent letters to President Donald J. Trump and other key officials asking them to advance “stable and secure” domestic uranium mining.

“Wyoming is home to the largest uranium mining operations in the United States,” Meier stated in the letters. “This industry is vital for the nation and for the economic well-being of our communities.”

Meier noted, however, that the number of Wyomingites employed by the uranium industry today is less than half the number employed in 2013. He said helping Wyoming’s uranium companies continue their operations is important to the state and the nation as a whole.

Pending final numbers, it is believed domestic uranium producers supplied less than 2% of the needs of all U.S. power plants in 2018. Additionally, international treaties mandate that U.S. nuclear ships and submarines must be powered by domestic uranium.

“If there were not enough U.S. plants to handle the needed supply, the result will be a profound and direct threat to our national security,” Meier said. “The uranium mining industry in Wyoming welcomes the opportunity to compete in a fair global marketplace. In fact, the industry would flourish in an open market committed to worker safety and environmental safeguards.”

Letters were also sent to Peter Navarro, assistant to the president and director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and Ambassador John R. Bolton, national security adviser. The president has 90 days to act and offer recommendations on a report submitted April 15 by the Department of Commerce that outlines the effects of uranium imports on national security.


Nebraska man found guilty of attempted murder following 2017 Cheyenne shooting

CHEYENNE (WNE) – A Laramie County jury found 51-year-old Timothy Leners guilty last week of attempted second-degree murder.

Leners, of Fremont, Nebraska, now faces 20 years to life in prison for shooting Christopher Trout in the chest during a Dec. 23, 2017, fight outside of an east Cheyenne apartment.

Cheyenne Police Department officers responded at about 7:50 p.m. that day to a call of a shooting with injury at 5419 Imperial Court #2.

According to court documents, Leners tried to kill Trout by pushing him to the ground and shooting him once in the chest with a 9mm handgun. Trout was then taken to Cheyenne Regional Medical Center for his injuries.

Witnesses told officers that Leners shot Trout after an argument about Leners pursuing a relationship with Trout’s wife.

On Dec. 23, 2017, Trout said he and Leners starting pushing each other, and Trout slipped on the ice. While he was on the ground, Trout said Leners pointed a gun at him. Trout grabbed the gun in an attempt to escape, but Leners shot him in the chest.

Trout’s wife said both she and her husband were trying to get Leners to leave the home.

During an interview at the Cheyenne Police Department, Leners said the two of them rolled around all over the front yard during the fight and that Leners was trying to leave the home, but Trout wouldn’t let him.

The snow in the front yard of the home looked untouched, and Leners didn’t have any injuries except for a bruised wrist, the officer wrote.

Leners told officers he shot Trout in self-defense.

Leners will be sentenced following a pre-sentencing investigation.


Tongue River Elementary developing literacy program

RANCHESTER (WNE) — During a drive back from visiting family in Colorado over winter break, Annie Griffin pondered ways to encourage young children to read.

Griffin, the Tongue River Elementary principal, mulled possibilities over with her husband who teaches at Tongue River Middle School. After several discussions with staff members, she ultimately decided to move forward with a new program called Project GIFT.

GIFT stands for “gifts that inspire family time in Tongue River” and is a literacy program that provides free books to kids from birth through kindergarten. The main idea involves parents reading with children before they go to school and then students continuing that literacy throughout their academic careers.

The initiative doesn’t officially begin until this fall, but different aspects have already started.

A few months ago, Griffin began working with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a national nonprofit that gives children a free book every month until age 5. The local WREN Foundation paid postage costs for delivery, and Griffin said nearly 30 students have already received book through the partnership. At TRE’s kindergarten screening last month, Griffin passed out books and Project GIFT backpacks to incoming students to take home this summer. Title 1 federal funding covers the cost of books once students begin kindergarten or Kinderboost.

Moreover, when the program officially starts at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, Griffin will visit TRE Kinderboost students, the Tongue River Child’s Place and Tongue River preschool co-op once per month to read a book. The kids will take the book home and complete short quizzes with their parents.


Campbell County school officials to question staff about concealed carry

GILLETTE (WNE) — Campbell County School District officials will poll teachers and staff as they tackle the issue of whether to pick employees to conceal carry guns in schools for safety reasons.

It is allowed under a Wyoming law approved by the state Legislature in 2017. The law sets minimum levels of training and that the guns be carried throughout the day or placed in secure biometric containers.

In March and April, the school district hosted three public comment sessions to gauge local reaction to the idea. The idea of a poll of staff is the next step in the process.

Deputy Superintendent Kirby Eisenhauer said he’d like to send two questions to district teachers and staff to measure their reactions to the idea. He hopes to send out the questions by email and receive responses before the end of the school year May 24.

He told school trustees he wanted to ask teachers and staff what building they work in and about whether they favor, are against or if they need more information about concealed carry in the district.

Eisenhauer also plans to add a dialogue box so those who respond can comment. He hopes to compile results soon after the school year ends.

Board Chairwoman Anne Ochs said she believes there is a public misconception that if the district approves going forward with concealed carry, that every teacher in every school who wants to carry guns will be able to do so.


Jackson voyeur back on probation

JACKSON (WNE) — The man who was arrested for recording his tenants in their bathroom was sentenced Tuesday to probation.

Riley Sills, 38, said his motives were not sexual, and the court believed him.

“The tenants agreed to his terms to not use alcohol or drugs and he suspected they were,” said Sills’ attorney, Dick Mulligan. “He put video equipment in his bathroom, and it did capture them putting something up their noses. He confronted them instead of just throwing them out. It was stupid, and he admits that.”

Sills, an admitted drug user, who said he has been sober for four years, said he didn’t know placing hidden cameras in his tenant’s bathroom and bedroom was illegal.

“I see that this was illegal now, but at the time I thought I was protecting myself,” Sills told Judge Timothy Day. “I didn’t want to be throwing someone out because I’m paranoid. I did it more, like, for proof.”

Sills has an extensive criminal history, which his attorney said stems from his drug addiction, and the felony voyeurism charge violated his probation.

The court has revoked and reinstated Sills’ probation three times, Day said. One of those violations resulted in him spending a year in prison.

“I could reimpose those sentences,” Day said. “That would overlook the fact that, while this offense is not excusable, there are mitigating factors.”

Day said he had to take into account that it wasn’t a violent offense and the fact that Sills has maintained sobriety and stable employment.

“I’m going to give you another chance here,” Day said.