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Wyoming News Briefs Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020

Trustees set budget of $33 million for UW construction

LARAMIE (WNE) — Last week, the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees gave administrators a budget of $33.4 million to move forward with a number of construction projects related to the planned re-vamping of the university’s dormitories.

Almost half of that funding is budgeted for the least glamorous project: $14.9 million to relocate utilities on the northeast corner of campus to accommodate the demolition of Wyoming Hall and construction of new dorms on that section of campus.

That price tag was a little daunting for trustees, but they ultimately opted to move forward with all utility relocations after administrators said it would cost more in the long-run to delay any of that work.

Trustees approved for administrators to have Wyoming Hall demolished at a cost no more than $2.7 million.

A budget of $13 million was also approved for the construction, excluding “soft costs,” of a new parking garage on the north side of Grand Avenue, between 10th and 11th streets.

According to the trustees’ directive, the parking garage should have a minimum of 400 parking spots.

The parking garage is planned to compensate for the loss of parking spots along the west side of 15th Street that’s expected to occurred as dorms are built over the coming years.


Woman killed in Torrington shooting

TORRINGTON (WNE) — Numerous social media posts have confirmed that Deedra Strauch, of Scottsbluff, Neb., has died as the result of a gunshot wound she sustained last week in South Torrington.

Goshen County Sheriff Kory Fleenor could not confirm the death or divulge any details of the ongoing investigation on Monday, but a crowdfunding page organized by Becky and Brandee Strauch reported Deedra Stauch passed away on Jan. 26.

Terry Anderson was arrested in Henry, Neb., by Nebraska law enforcement officials. Anderson had been charged with one count of aggravated assault and battery in connection with the incident. Charging documents were not available by press time from the 8th Judicial Circuit Court.

If Anderson is found guilty, aggravated assault and battery carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. According to a press release from the Goshen County Sheriff’s Office, Strauch was found with a gunshot to the head by GCSO deputies after they responded to a call of an accidental shooting.

“On Jan. 24, 2020, at approximately 1:08 p.m. The Goshen County Sheriff’s Office along with Torrington Emergency Medical Services responded to a report of an accidental gunshot wound to the head,” the release said. “Deputies arrived at the residence and found one female with a gunshot wound to her head. The female was transported to Community Hospital where she was then transferred to Regional West Medical Center.”


City hall, fire department searched in embezzlement investigation

GREEN RIVER (WNE) — Sheriff’s deputies served search warrants at Green River City Hall and the Green River Fire Department Tuesday morning, seeking financial records involved in the department’s foundation.

According to a press release from the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, the warrants were served at 9 a.m. and focus on records sought for an ongoing embezzlement investigation, focusing on “at least one specific member of the Green River Fire Department.”

According to the release, no arrests have been made in the investigation.

City Administrator Reed Clevenger said the investigation doesn’t focus on either the city or the department, but the foundation. He said the foundation was run independently from city and GRFD operations.

“We are cooperating fully with the sheriff’s office,” Clevenger said.


Lincoln commissioners detail losses from plant closure

AFTON (WNE) — In a hand-delivered letter to the Wyoming Public Service Commission at a public hearing in Kemmerer on Monday, the Lincoln County Commissioners noted a detailed list of financial losses associated with proposed closures of the power plants.

Noting original plans that called for a 2029 closure of the Naughton Power Plant facilities, rather than 2025, the commission advised the decision would result in the “displacement of up to 450 workers with direct jobs at the plants and at the mine and indirect jobs in the community.”

Referencing the job losses, the commission’s letter advised the loss would be “over $45 million per year, or $180 (million)-plus over four years.”

The commission also suggested that wage and tax losses over a four-year period would be over $250 million.

The Lincoln County Commissioners letter warned of an impending closure of the associated coal mine, if the power plants close.

Advising that coal contracts from the power plant are only made one year in advance, “any significant decrease in those orders could lead to early closure of the mine which could accelerate and prolong the burdens,” noted with the power plant closures.

In summary, the Lincoln County Commission asked that the Kemmerer Naughton Units 1 and 2 maintain operations until 2029 giving “Lincoln County more time to diversify its economic base,” while keeping the power grad much more resilient until renewable energy sources and their technologies can get up to speed.”


Lawsuit filed in death of Douglas man

DOUGLAS (WNE) — The family of a 24-year-old Douglas man killed almost two years ago has filed a wrongful death suit against the two men who were present at the time of the shooting.

The civil suit was filed in the 8th Judicial District Court Jan. 17 by Dustin Bruegger’s mother, Joann O’Brien, and names Zachary Edison and Austin Silsby as defendants.

“I just want the truth,” O’Brien said about the incident that ended Bruegger’s life.

In the court documents forensic pathologist James Wilkerson, of Loveland, Colorado, determined the “manner of death is homicide” after an autopsy was completed but no criminal charges were ever filed and police remained mum publicly about the case.

Edison placed a call to 911 reporting that Bruegger had shot himself in the chest around 5:30 p.m. Feb. 3, 2018. Bruegger was shot at pointblank range with a high velocity rifle in the chest, however one police officer allegedly stated that he heard one of the men (Edison and Silsby) say that he used a handgun, according to court documents.

Both defendants admitted to handling both the .44 magnum and a black semi-automatic rifle. When police examined the guns following the shooting, they found no fingerprints on them and the muzzles had no blood or human matter on them.

Cheyenne attorney Tom Jubin, representing Austin Silsby, stated that Silsby didn’t do anything.

Neither Edison nor his attorney responded to messages left by the Douglas Budget.

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