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Wyoming News Briefs for Friday


March 5, 2020

Yellowstone visitors asked to review pictures for signs of mother, children

JACKSON (WNE) — People who visited Yellowstone National Park on Sept. 8, 2019 are being asked to look through their pictures and videos to see if they have any images of two missing children or their mother, to help with a case that has garnered national attention.

The FBI and Rexburg, Idaho, Police Department are asking the public for help in the investigation into the disappearance of Tylee Ryan, 17, and Joshua (JJ) Vallow, 7. Lori Vallow, who was arrested in Hawaii last month, is facing several charges, including two counts of felony abandonment in the disappearance of her children.

The ongoing investigation has determined that the children were in Yellowstone on Sept. 8, 2019 with their mother and uncle, Alex Cox. The group was traveling in a silver, 2017 Ford F-150 pickup, with Arizona license plate CPQUINT.

The FBI has established a website for the public to upload photos and video:

Of Vallow’s children, Tylee disappeared first, according to a probable cause affidavit written by Rexburg police Lt. Ron Ball. The teen went on a day trip to Yellowstone with her mom, little brother and uncle. A National Park Service camera captured her image at the entrance.

But ever since? No trace, Ball wrote.

Then JJ vanished, the document says.


Laramie City Council votes for carbon-neutral goal

LARAMIE (WNE) — The Laramie City Council voted unanimously this week to pass a resolution “establishing the intent” of council to make the city carbon-neutral by 2050.

That vote was based on recommendations advanced in February by the Environmental Advisory Committee, a group of local residents appointed by the city council and the Albany County commissioners.

In February, the EAC presented its findings to council-members for how the city can reduce greenhouse gas emissions — both those produced from municipal operations and those coming from the community at large.

Ahead of Tuesday’s council meeting, city staff prioritized the EAC recommendations into three categories: Near-term activities for the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years, mid-term activities for the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years, and long-term activities that will run until 2050.

Based on council’s vote, city staff now plan to develop more specific work that the city can incorporate into their budget planning that’s set to begin in April.

The vote came at a council meeting packed with residents who came to support the effort, and council-members expressed enthusiasm for that level of civic engagement.

The resolution calls for an adoption of a comprehensive plan for the carbon-neutral effort to come no later than the 2023 fiscal year. During Tuesday’s meeting, City Manager Janine Jordan said that such a comprehensive plan will be an important tool for council-members to determine how feasible it will be for Laramie to become carbon neutral by 2050.


Gillette man sentenced to prison for stealing from Scouts, elderly woman

GILLETTE (WNE) — A Gillette man who pleaded guilty to taking more than $150,000 from the Boy Scouts and an elderly woman has been sentenced to several years in prison.

Thursday morning, District Judge Thomas Rumpke sentenced Jason Barnum, 42, to four- to six-year prison sentences on three theft counts, to be served concurrently, and a five- to seven-year sentence for the fraud, to be served consecutively.

Barnum also must pay restitution to his victims, including $15,672 to the local Boy Scout troop, $1,980 to the Cub Scouts, $10,976 to the Boy Scouts of America and $117,397 to Maxine Heer, the woman he stole from.

In November, Barnum pleaded guilty to taking more than $30,000 from the Boy Scouts while he was a scoutmaster and more than $120,000 from Heer, for whom he had worked and befriended.

Prosecutors had recommended an imposed three- to five-year prison sentence on each of the theft counts, to be served concurrently, and a suspended five- to 10-year sentence for the fraud and then 10 years of supervised probation. As part of the plea agreement, he had to pay $10,000 before his sentencing.

But new charges have come to light. Barnum has been charged in Circuit Court with two counts of felony fraud and three counts of misdemeanor fraud for allegedly taking money from people who had hired him to work on their homes while he was out on bond.

Rumpke said the new charges played a big part in sentencing Barnum more harshly than the plea agreement.


Fuel spill closes highway west of Riverton

RIVERTON (WNE) — The highway west of Riverton was closed for about 12 hours Tuesday while crews worked to clean up a 2,500-gallon fuel spill.

A 34-year-old Casper-based truck driver was treated and released for minor injuries suffered in the tractor-trailer wreck that caused the unleaded gasoline to spill just after 11 a.m. Tuesday in the 9300 block of U.S. Highway 26 near the Diversion Dam junction.

Officials said the westbound combination — which also was pulling a pup trailer for a total load of 11,000 gallons of fuel — had drifted off the highway to the north, striking a guardrail at the Winchester Draw bridge.

The impact caused the trailers to jackknife and roll over sideways, coming to rest facing east, according to reports.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Travis Hauser said the pup cap came off the rear trailer during the crash, causing fuel to begin leaking into the state right-ofway.

He also noted that several holes were punctured in the fuel containers when they tipped over.

Hauser said the driver had evacuated the cab by the time responders arrived at the scene.

Hauser didn’t know what caused the driver to veer off the road, though he noted that the highway curves slightly in the area of the crash.

Multiple fire departments and law enforcement agencies responded to the crash site, including maintenance crews from the Wyoming Department of Transportation who were able to take advantage of equipment stored at a nearby sand shed to help contain the spill.


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