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Wyoming News Briefs March 5, 2020

Two people federally charged in meth trafficking case

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Two people are being charged in federal court for allegedly trafficking meth and other drugs through Cheyenne on Interstate 25 on Saturday, Feb. 29.

Neoal Guyeal Hayes and Iesha Monique Dembo are both being charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

According to court documents:

On Feb. 29, law enforcement identified Hayes and Dembo driving a 2007 Cadillac Escalade southbound on I-25 near the Central Avenue exit in Cheyenne. The two continued driving to Thornton, Colorado, and law enforcement established surveillance on the vehicle.

Later that day, Hayes and Dembo drove the car back through Cheyenne, and a Cheyenne Police Department officer conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle at the intersection of I-25 and Interstate 80. The vehicle was driving 74 mph in a 65 mph speed zone.

Officers also knew that Hayes had a suspended Colorado driver's license, and Hayes was driving the car. A police K9 was able to detect the smell of a controlled substance coming from the car and began searching the vehicle.

Officers found 0.7 grams of suspected heroin on Hayes, and found a black duffel bag and backpack behind the driver's seat of the car. In the duffel bag were more than five pounds of suspected meth in six Ziploc-style bags, and 10 grams of suspected heroin in a sandwich bag.


Cost to allow teachers to carry guns almost $4,000

GILLETTE (WNE) — If the Campbell County School District were to allow certain employees to carry firearms in schools, it would have to spend close to $4,000 per person.

Larry Reznicek, the district’s human resources manager, said the training would make up most of the cost. He estimated it would be $3,000.

Only one person, a district employee, made public comment Tuesday night at the second of three public hearings hosted by the school district on the policy to allow educators to conceal carry handguns in six rural schools.

At the first listening session, retired Gillette teacher Vicki Swenson asked how much the district would have to spend on each applicant, since it would have to pay for everything except for holsters and the guns themselves.

The actual training, which includes at least 32 hours of handgun training with live fire and at least 24 hours of scenario-based training, would cost about $3,000, Reznicek said.

Ammunition would cost $200, a psychological evaluation would cost $400, a drug test would cost $75 and a background check would be $40.

In total, the district would spend $3,715 on an applicant before allowing them to carry.

Melissa Powell, a district employee, asked what would happen if a school didn’t have anyone who applied.

“Would someone from another school who was interested in applying transfer to that school?” she asked. “Or would that school not have anyone?”

Reznicek said while he couldn’t speak for the school board, “if nobody applies, then nobody applies.”


Sleeping Giant to remain open

POWELL (WNE) — After announcing in January that this would be the final winter for the Sleeping Giant Ski Area, the ski hill’s leaders have now reversed course, “due to an outpouring of community support.”

The nonprofit Yellowstone Recreations Foundation, which operates the North Fork ski area, described itself this week as being “thrilled” to announce that the ski area “is committed to continuing winter operations in 2021 and beyond.”

Foundation leaders had said the ski area would cease winter operations when the current season ends later this month. They cited a continuing struggle to make ends meet — with annual deficits in the neighborhood of $200,000 per year — and the loss of donor dollars.

The Jan. 21 decision to “suspend winter operations” was met with dismay from the area residents who frequent Sleeping Giant — and many began looking for ways they could help keep the ski hill operating.

“We cannot say thank you enough for the passionate responses from our community members, who continue to ask, ‘how can I help?’ We hear you and we thank you,” the foundation said in its Tuesday news release announcing that operations will continue next year.

Located just a few miles east of Yellowstone National Park in the Shoshone National Forest, Sleeping Giant is one of the oldest ski slopes in the country. It first opened to snowsports enthusiasts in 1936, though financial troubles led it to close in 2004. A massive community effort — spearheaded by Jim Nielson of Cody and boosted by state and federal dollars — led to the ski area being revamped and reopened in 2009.


Pipeline company seeks action against bankrupt methane company

BUFFALO (WNE) — Fort Union Gas Gathering Co. requested legal clearance to take action against bankrupt local coalbed methane company US Realm Powder River in a Feb. 28 petition with the Wyoming Bankruptcy Court.

Specifically, Fort Union sought permission to exercise its rights under a gathering agreement with US Realm, including the suspension of further services and termination of the agreement.

Essentially, if US Realm doesn’t pay up, Fort Union wants to have the ability to turn off access to its pipelines. No access to pipelines means no access to markets, effectively eliminating any hope that US Realm will restructure as a profitable operation.

Bankruptcy law prevents any of a business' creditors from taking action against it while it is in the process of restructuring. US Realm's initial 120-day exclusivity period for that process was due to expire at the end of February, but on Feb. 26, the company filed for a three-month extension, through May 28.

Fort Union's Feb. 28 petition claims that over the four months since US Realm, formerly known as Moriah Powder River, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company has failed to pay for its natural gas treatment and gathering services, amassing an additional debt of more than $2.8 million.

Although US Realm listed payments to Fort Union each month its profit and loss statements for the bankruptcy court, Fort Union alleges that no such payments have actually been made.


Yellowstone to begin spring plowing

CODY (WNE) — Roads in Yellowstone National Park began to close to oversnow travel Monday. Spring plowing will start as road segments close. All oversnow travel will end for the season March 15, at 9 p.m. Weather permitting, some park roads will reopen to automobile travel April 17, at 8 a.m.

Road closure dates (gates close at 9 p.m.):

Monday: East Entrance to Lake Butte Overlook (Sylvan Pass), Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris.

Wednesday: Norris to Madison, Norris to Canyon Village.

March 15: All remaining groomed roads.

At Mammoth Hot Springs, the Gift Shop, Ski Shop and food services will close Tuesday. The Mammoth Hot Springs Campground, Yellowstone General Store, Post Office, Medical Clinic, Albright Visitor Center and self-serve fuel pumps remain open all year.

At Old Faithful, Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins closed Monday. The Bear Den Gift Shop, the Geyser Grill, and the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center will close March 15.

At Tower Junction, self-serve fuel pumps are available all year.

The road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Mont., through Mammoth Hot Springs to Cooke City, Montana, is open to automobiles all year.