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Wyoming News Briefs SEPTEMBER 20

First Wyoming case of vaping-related illness confirmed in Uinta County

EVANSTON (WNE) – The first case of vaping-associated lung illness in Wyoming has been confirmed in a Uinta County resident, according to a press release issued by the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).

The release states the young adult was hospitalized with severe lung disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as of Thursday, Sept. 19, there were 530 confirmed cases of vaping-associated lung disease spread across the country in 38 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The CDC reported seven deaths confirmed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota and Oregon.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist for WDH, said the Uinta County resident “reported vaping in the months leading up to illness.” That individual is reportedly in his or her 20s and has now been released from the hospital.

The CDC reports that all patients treated for the lung disease have reported using e-cigarettes prior to becoming ill and no consistent evidence of an infectious cause has been discovered, leading to chemical exposure as the suspected culprit.

The CDC also reports that most of the patients have reported using ecigarettes containing THC or THC in combination with nicotine, although some have reported using products containing nicotine only.

The investigation into the outbreak of illness has not identified any specific vaping product or substance to link all of the cases.

Symptoms associated with vaping-related lung illness include cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, fever, and even nausea, vomiting and weight loss.

“If people who vape experience symptoms associated with severe lung disease, they should seek medical care right away,” said Harrist.


Experts: fixing illegal trash problem on reservation a high-dollar task

RIVERTON (WNE) — Addressing the issue that Fremont County Commissioner Mike Jones describes as a quandary with "no oversight," Wyoming lawmakers are consulting with Wind River Indian Reservation solid waste officials to address illegal garbage dumping on the reservation.

Former Wind River Environmental Quality Commission director Ryan Ortiz described the litter as "rampant" in his talks with state legislators in an August meeting. (Ortiz has since left the position in solid waste to accept a job as chief financial officer for the Northern Arapaho Tribe.)

Council woman Snyder and Fremont County Solid Waste District Superintendent of Operations Andy Frey estimated there were about 400 tons of garbage at the Fort Washakie transfer site and 800 tons at the Ethete site - not including the garbage illegally dumped on the rural expanses throughout the rest of the reservation.

Fremont County Solid Waste District Superintendent of Operations Andy Frey said the county has 20 small scale, low hazard, low volume transfer stations in rural areas that are similar in every respect to the ones on the reservation, with two exceptions: they charge fees and are secured during off-hours.

"We run those sites in a somewhat different manner in that we charge fees; we have them fenced; the gates are closed and locked when the sites are not open.”

The reservation dump sites, conversely, do not charge fees, at present.

"In fact, the gates are swung open 24 hours a day; no fee is charged... Additionally, people are not even driving into the fenced site, but disposing of their waste right next to the site, even though it's free."

State Senator Cale Case (R-Lander) said that addressing the lax legal formations around these infractions would be the best start toward conquering the issue.


Man who shot Teton Park wolf gets guiding probation

JACKSON (WNE) — A Kelly resident and big game hunting guide who illegally shot and killed a wolf in Grand Teton National Park last winter is being allowed to commercially outfit hunters without interruption.

Meeting Aug. 26, the Wyoming State Board of Outfitters and Professional Guides unanimously decided to issue Gros Ventre Wilderness Outfitters owner Brian Taylor a one-year conditional outfitters license.

That was the recommended penalty proposed by a three-person investigative committee, said Amanda McKee, executive director of the outfitters board.

“The board as a whole voted to accept the committee’s recommendation,” McKee said.

The seven-person board, she said, voted unanimously, although members who were part of the investigation recused themselves from the vote.

The outfitters board made its decision ahead of the 2019 big game seasons on Bridger-Teton National Forest land where Taylor guides, which started for bow hunters Sept. 1 and rifle hunters Sept. 15.

Reached over the weekend, Taylor said he was eager to put his misstep with the law in the past.

“A regrettable mistake was made that I have been accountable for from the beginning,” he said.

Apart from the licensing probation, Taylor pleaded guilty to unlawful take of wildlife, was fined $5,040, lost his wolf hunting privileges for a year and earned a year of probation.

“By issuing such a nominal punishment to Mr. Taylor, Wyoming has set an outrageous and dangerous precedent,” the Humane Society of the United States’ native carnivore protection strategist, Wendy Keefover, said in a statement. “The state’s outfitter board has signaled that poaching wildlife on a national park in Wyoming is worthy of nothing more than a slap on the wrist.”


First responders perform drill at Mountain View school

MOUNTAIN VIEW (WNE) — A heart-in-the-throat call on the scanner late Tuesday afternoon about shots at the Mountain View school and then the report of an explosion and critical injuries brought to the Valley area the dread of school shootings similar to those that have happened across the nation.

But this incident had forewarning and was staged as a practice to prepare for a major event such as this if something really happened.

In fact, a post by the Uinta County Fire and Ambulance noted an active shooter drill was being conducted at the “K-8 Building in Mountain View,” and “crews are training for an event that we hope never happens in our community but as always in emergency response, we train to be prepared for anything that may arise.”

The idea of arming teachers has been an on-going discussion in Wyoming, and some area residents have filed suit twice in the Evanston area to stop the board’s decision of arming teachers.

According to Mountain View Mayor Scott Dellinger, the area still needs to prepare so if something of this type of calamity hit the area, there would be an adequate response to control and mitigate the problem.