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Wyoming News Briefs SEPTEMBER 23

Riverton police kill man after knife attack

RIVERTON (WNE) — A Riverton Police Department officer shot a man to death Saturday afternoon outside Walmart after the man attacked the officer with a knife, eyewitnesses said.

The shooting happened on the sidewalk outside the south entrance to the store on North Federal Boulevard, adjacent to a temporary hamburger stand that was being operated at the store by Riverton's Veterans Hall group for a Saturday fundraiser.

The RDP officer was not injured. The knife appeared to have struck the officer on protective vest he was wearing over his torso.

After the knife attack, witnesses said, the officer ordered the man to disarm, and when the man did not comply he was killed by a single shot to the head by the officer.

Some witnesses said the man might have moved aggressively toward the officer again before he was shot.

The Riverton Ranger's accounts of the incident came from witnesses at the scene, corroborated at least once by separate, additional witnesses.

Neither RPD or the Fremont County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the shooting, had made an official statement by 4 p.m. Saturday.


Campbell County Health hit by ransomware attack

GILLETTE (WNE) — Campbell County Health is working hard to serve the community while its computer systems are down after a ransomware attack Friday.

The hospital is on divert, meaning it is not accepting any EMS transports to the emergency room. Other hospitals in the region are aware of the situation and are working with CCH.

According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, that is designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid.

According to a press release Saturday morning, there is no evidence that any patient data has been accessed or misused. CCH does not have an estimate of when its systems will be back up, but the ransomware has affected all 1,500 of the organization’s computers, including its email server.

As of Saturday evening, CCH had transferred six patients to other facilities. There are about a couple dozen more patients in the hospital and 142 in the Legacy Living and Rehabilitation Center, which is “in good shape,” said Jonni Belden, administrator at the Legacy.

Heeter said CCH might not be the only victim of this ransomware attack, adding that there are potentially two other places in Wyoming that were affected.

CCH is talking with its cybersecurity attorneys as well the state Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the governor’s office and the FBI to figure out what steps to take to resolve this issue.


Search firm selected for UW president search

LARAMIE (WNE) — The University of Wyoming search committee tasked with finding the university’s next president has selected a search firm, Georgia-based Parker Executive Search, to aid in the search.

The search committee interviewed three other companies by video last week before landing on the selection this week.

The search firm will funnel applicants it identifies to the search committee, which consists of 16 members selected by Board of Trustees Chairman Dave True.

Parker Executive Search conducts searches for both academia and companies.

Former UW President Dick McGinity, who’s been charged with seeking out presidential candidates from outside academia, will forward any candidates he identifies to Parker Executive Search.

Earlier this year, Theobald told the Laramie Boomerang he’s likely to pursue the job on a permanent basis.

“When the time comes, I expect I will seek to be considered,” he said at the end of July.

Last week, Gov. Mark Gordon, who appoints all trustees, wrote in an open letter that the trustees should not “default to the perceived ‘obvious’ or expected choice.”

Gordon’s spokesman, Michael Pearlman, later told the Boomerang that, while Gordon doesn’t have a personal aversion to Theobald, the governor’s warning was indeed specifically “referring to the acting president.”

“No matter how tempting it may be to insert a familiar face into the top position, it is a notion which should be resisted in favor of conducting a comprehensive search to recruit a large and diverse pool of well-qualified applicants,” Gordon said in his letter.


No bond reduction for teen charged with attempted murder

GILLETTE (WNE) — A judge denied a motion to reduce the bond of a teenager who is charged as an adult with multiple counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Dale Warner has been in the Campbell County Jail since Nov. 13 on a $275,000 cash-only bond. Warner, 15, is accused of bringing two guns and 36 bullets to Sage Valley Junior High School on Nov. 13, allegedly with a plan to shoot nine students and teachers.

In March, Warner pleaded not guilty to nine charges of attempted first-degree murder.

His attorneys, local public defender Jefferson Coombs and Wyoming State Public Defender Diane M. Lozano, asked that his bond be reduced to $10,000 and that he be placed under his parents’ supervision.

District Judge Michael N. “Nick” Deegan denied the motion to modify the bond during a Thursday afternoon hearing, saying Warner is “a threat to public safety.”

Most of the inmates in the juvenile detention center in the Campbell County Jail are there for days at a time, but Warner has been in jail for more than 10 months, Coombs said, adding that sometimes he is the only person there.

There will be a hearing Oct. 28-30 to determine whether Warner’s case should be moved to juvenile court.


Lease sale nets $8.3 million

CASPER (WNE) — By the time the federal government’s quarterly sale of public land for oil and gas sales came to a close last week, 175 parcels of land encompassing over 264,000 Wyoming acres had garnered bids from eager developers. The sale fetched $8.3 million, with about half of these earning marked for the state.

In July, the Bureau of Land Management announced it would open up for auction 210 parcels encompassing 320,511 acres, having whittled down the number of nominated parcels from its initial count of 224. Officials deferred or rejected 14 parcels due to “resource conflicts,” according to the BLM. A considerable cluster of sales were located in the Big Horn Basin.

But several Wyoming conservation groups chose not to celebrate the in-roads made for development in one of the country’s leading energy centers.

A protest filed on Aug. 17 by four conservation groups opposed the pace and scope of the quarterly sale. The sale allowed sensitive wildlife habitat to go on the auction block, the protest stated.

For instance, 35 parcels fell into sage grouse priority habitat management areas, the conservation groups said. And six parcels intersected with the protected Red Desert-to-Hoback migration corridor, a 140-mile-long migration corridor for the Sublette deer herd. Nearly 200 parcels overlapped with crucial winter range for mule deer, elk or pronghorn, according to the analysis presented by the groups.

“The BLM is continuing a pattern of reckless leasing,” John Rader, conservation advocate at the Wyoming Outdoor Council, said.


Growing share of Sheridan tax income coming from Internet

SHERIDAN (WNE) — While Sheridan’s sales and use tax revenues have continued to grow this year, those gains are increasingly dependent on Internet, rather than local, sales, according to a presentation City Treasurer Karen Burtis delivered last week.

The city’s Internet sales tax returns have grown by 157% in 2019 over last year, year-to-date, which equals about $100,000 in additional revenue.

Burtis’s presentation also showed Internet sales tax revenues in July — sales and use tax reports are always two months in arrears — were up 236% over July 2018, an increase of just more than $50,000.

Those profits have bolstered Sheridan’s overall sales and use tax revenues. The city’s year-to-date sales and use tax up 4.4%, or about $48,000. The city’s budget anticipated sales and use tax would increase by 2.5% this fiscal year, so the city’s returns are exceeding expectations.

Monthly sales and use tax has also risen by 6.9% over last July, or about $26,000.

But Burtis said Internet sales tax revenues account for a larger portion of Sheridan’s total tax income than they have in the past.

“(Internet sales tax) represents 14% of our overall sales and use tax whereas last year it was only 5.7%,” Burtis said. “If you were to back out those Internet taxes for last year and this year, the sales and use tax would actually drop by $51,000 from last year, or a 4.9% decrease… Internet sales tax is extremely important to us.”

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