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Wyoming News Briefs JULY 19

State matches funds for Jackson CWC center

JACKSON (WNE) — The State Building Commission has approved matching funding for the new Central Wyoming College center in Jackson. The allocation amounts to more than $7.5 million from the state.

Administrators said the funding will be matched through philanthropy and possible local public funding in Teton County.

That community already approved a $3.82 million special purpose excise tax in 2017 for land acquisition, planning, design, engineering and construction of the new facility, which now is to be located south of High School Road in Jackson.

CWC previously purchased property for the center on Veronica Lane in Jackson, but in June administrators said that land would be sold in favor of the larger, two-acre plot, which will provide more space for parking and other amenities.

Housing options for students are “a big priority” but are not in the plans at this time, administrators said last month.

At that time, the CWC center had just been named as the Wyoming Community College Commission’s No. 1 capital construction priority for the coming year. As a result, the WCCC included the $7.5 million match for the facility in its 2020 request for funding from the Wyoming Legislature, which the State Building Commission considered this month.

According to previous reports, the Jackson Center will offer courses in culinary arts, nursing, allied health and outdoor education as well as foundational coursework, business degrees, entrepreneurial success classes and more.


Passenger in high speed chase, shootout in Cheyenne charged with attempted murder

CHEYENNE (WNE) – The passenger in a May high-speed chase and shootout in Cheyenne has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly admitting to her role in the gunfire.

Chasity Jacobs, 19, was in Laramie County Circuit Court Thursday to face felony charges of first-degree attempted murder, first-degree accessory to murder and reckless endangering with a firearm. She also was charged with misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine.

She pleaded not guilty, and her bond was set at $500,000 cash by Circuit Judge Denise Nau.

Jacobs and Dominique Childers were arrested May 3 after a high-speed chase and shootout along Interstate 25 and throughout downtown Cheyenne. Childers was allegedly driving a stolen 2016 Toyota Camry that reached a maximum speed of 115 mph while trying to avoid being pulled over on the interstate. Childers drove through downtown Cheyenne at speeds close to 65 mph, according to police reports.

Throughout the chase, multiple shots were fired at a Wyoming Highway Patrol cruiser and a Cheyenne Police Department cruiser, striking both vehicles several times.

The chase ended near the Veterans Affairs Medical Center on East Pershing Boulevard after Childers was shot by Cheyenne Police Department officers involved in the chase.

During an interview with law enforcement, Childers allegedly told them Jacobs hadn’t fired a gun, and he was responsible.

But as the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation continued to work the case, they claim to have found DNA evidence from Jacobs on a 9mm Ruger pistol and two magazines, and magazines from the other gun used in the shooting. And two phone calls made by Jacobs from Laramie County Detention Center on May 9 were recorded by jail staff, which allegedly implicated her in firing at police officers.


Tennis ball-sized hailstones cause damage in Gillette

GILLETTE (WNE) — A hail storm that swept through Gillette Wednesday afternoon caused damage to a number of homes and vehicles.

The hail started around 4:45 p.m. and lasted anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes in parts of Campbell County.

Both the Gillette Police Department and the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office received several calls about hail damage and one possible tornado sighting.

Police Lt. Chuck Deaton said most of the police vehicles parked on the north side of town were damaged. Several windows were shattered, cracked, broken or a combination of those. Several squad cars received body damage as well.

Windows of businesses on Gillette Avenue downtown were also shattered, Matheny said.

Meteorologist Melissa Smith with the National Weather Service in Rapid City, South Dakota, said her office has received several photos and videos of tennis ball-sized hail from the storm.

Smith said a lot of the larger hail hit the northeast part of Gillette and also the Lakeland Hills subdivision as well as Sleepy Hollow.

Other parts of Gillette saw anywhere from small hail to golf ball-sized hail.

Smith said it is common for hail to hit northeast Wyoming in the summer. According to data compiled by the National Weather Service, there have been 102 hail storms in Campbell County with reports of golf ball-sized hail from 1955 to 2017.

In that same time frame there have been 15 reports of storms with tennis or baseball-sized hail.


Man faces aggravated assault, battery charge after Sheridan street dance fight

SHERIDAN (WNE) — One man faces a felony charge in Sheridan County Circuit Court following a fight during Sheridan WYO Rodeo Week.

Dustyn C. Kamensky faces one felony count of aggravated assault and battery after a fight involving a firearm July 13. He faces up to 10 years and up to a $10,000 fine for the charge.

Court documents said on July 13, officers found four men fighting near the intersection of West Loucks and Griffith streets around 1 a.m.

Jesse Offt, the victim, said he and Kamensky had gotten into a disagreement at the street dance and the argument had escalated throughout the night. Offt said while on the phone with Kamensky, Offt did several things intended to start a fight with him.

Kamensky went home, picked up a gun and started back toward Offt’s home. Kamensky waited in the bushes and started a fight with Offt when he passed by near Loucks and Griffith streets. Kamensky pulled the gun, racked a round and pointed the gun at Offt. Offt rushed Kamensky and the two continued fighting only to be pulled apart before law enforcement arrived.

Officers found an unspent bullet stove-piped between the chamber and the breach of the pistol.

Kamensky told officers, “I would have shot him if my gun hadn’t jammed.”

The court scheduled a preliminary appearance for Kamensky for 1 p.m. July 30. He appeared for an initial court hearing and was held on a $5,000 unsecured bond.


National High School Finals Rodeo sets record attendance, boosts Sweetwater County economy

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — The 2019 National High School Finals Rodeo marked record highs in the amount of contestants, horses, recreational vehicles and entries.

The event saw 1,590 contestants, the highest number Sweetwater Events Complex has checked in since it began hosting the event in 2012.

“The National High School Finals Rodeo is a huge success for the city of Rock Springs, city of Green River, Sweetwater County and the state of Wyoming," Events Complex Executive Director Larry Lloyd said. "It is estimated to bring $8,487,383 into our economy. These families are staying in our hotels, eating at our local restaurants, fueling up at our gas stations, renting tubes to float the Green River and buying fishing poles to fish Lake Flaming Gorge and the Green River."

This year broke another record with an all-time high of 1,787 contestants. Participants entered a range of events from barrel racing and poles to bareback and bull riding. Many were involved in more than one event. Along with the traditional rodeo events, there are 42 queens and 181 shooting sports contestants.

This year, almost 500 local volunteers filled 875 volunteer positions ranging from checking-in contestants and their horses to taking tickets. Volunteers parked 1,300 RVs and stalled and housed 1,940 horses on the grounds, the largest number of horses ever stalled at the facility.

"The Sweetwater Events Complex turns into a small town as families run around on 780 golf carts while running to the Trade Show, rodeo and back to their RVs," the Sweetwater Events Complex release states.


Pinedale man faces aggravated battery, sexual assault charges

PINEDALE (WNE) – A man who exposed a woman to allergens on June 8 and June 9, allegedly aware of her severe allergies and likelihood of a serious reaction, is charged with the felony of aggravated assault and battery.

Leonard R. Handy is also charged with second-degree sexual assault after allegedly having intercourse with the woman by causing her submission, court records show.

The two felony charges were filed in Ninth District Court on Wednesday, July 17, after Circuit Court Judge Haws found sufficient grounds at Handy’s July 8 preliminary hearing to bind the case over to the higher court.

Judge Haws set a cash-only bond of $50,000 and conditions that Handy go nowhere near the woman or her family.

The affidavit written by Sublette County Deputy Sinclair Streeter states that he assisted with a 911 call when the woman suffered severe respiratory distress after Handy allegedly “came into close contact with (the woman) without taking “normal precautions against her allergies.”

He allegedly did the same thing the day before and exposed the woman to allergens and, according to the deputy’s affidavit, took advantage of the woman’s health conditions to have intercourse with her.

The felony charge of aggravated assault and battery – knowingly or recklessly injuring another with a deadly weapon – carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of not more than $10,000 or both. The felony charge of sexual assault in the second degree – causing submission that would prevent an ordinary person’s resistance – carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of not more than $10,000 or both.


Yellowstone's Mt. Holmes Lookout struck by lightning, incinerated

JACKSON (WNE) — The historic Mount Holmes Fire Lookout burned to the ground Tuesday after being struck by lightning, and another lightning strike separately started Yellowstone National Park’s first fire of the year.

A park employee working at the Mount Washburn Fire Lookout witnessed and reported the lookout’s late-afternoon fire, park officials said in a press release. The 88-year-old restored lookout building sat at 10,000 feet in elevation, southwest of Mammoth Hot Springs and north of Madison Junction.

The fire also damaged a park radio repeater but did not spread into the surrounding landscape.

The very next day, Yellowstone’s first wildfire of 2019 was detected by hikers on Seven Mile Hole Trail. Tiny, at just a tenth of an acre, the 7 Mile Hole Fire is believed also to have been ignited by lightning. The blaze is smoldering on a steep, timbered slope just above the Yellowstone River, photos show.

At press time Thursday, there were no plans to suppress the backcountry wildfire, which can be monitored from the canyon rim and is not considered a threat to the public.

Also as of press time Thursday, the Mount Holmes Trail west of the junction with the Trilobite Lake Trail and the summit of Mount Holmes were closed. The closure was to remain in effect until further notice.

The Mount Holmes Fire Lookout was built in 1931, renovated in 1998 and staffed as a functional lookout until 2007. It was eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.


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