April 23, 2020

Bones from burial site discovered in Cheyenne backyard

CHEYENNE (WNE) – A group of sewer workers came across some human bones buried in a Cheyenne resident’s backyard Tuesday night, but the discovery probably won’t be leading to any new true crime podcasts or TV shows.

Workers with a private company found the bones nearly 10 feet underground while repairing a sewer line in the backyard of a house on West 29th Street at around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. It was around then that Libby Bushell, the owner of the house, was returning from a walk with her dogs.

“When I got back, one guy said, ‘Hey, come here, I’ve got something to show you,’ and it was a human skull,” Bushell said.

The Cheyenne Police Department does not suspect any sort of foul play, and the case has been turned over to the Laramie County Coroner’s Office and the state’s archeological experts for further examination.

Though an exact age of the bones has yet to be determined, the area where the bones were found previously served as a burial site dating back as far as 1871. Burial sites were fairly common on the west side of Cheyenne in the years immediately following the city’s founding in 1867, according to local historian Bill Dubois.

It wasn’t until 1875 that the first burial permit was issued at the historic Lakeview Cemetery, and some remains were moved from the impromptu burial sites to the cemetery, which is the city’s oldest.

“Some of (the sites) that they knew about were gathered up and buried in Lakeview, but for a lot of them, they didn’t who they were, so they just left them there,” Dubois said.


Wyoming archives, museums collecting COVID-19 memories

SHERIDAN (WNE) — The Wyoming State Archives and State Museum, the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center and Wyoming State Historical Society are working together to encourage Wyoming residents to consider how they would tell future historians about their experiences and memories of this unusual time.

Do you keep a journal or a blog? Have you created your own mask for making essential trips outdoors? Are you creating artworks or craft projects to commemorate or pass the time? Are you talking on Facebook or Instagram with your friends about how this pandemic has affected your life?

Preserving those memories are all ways to give future historians clues about how we coped, how we communicated — and how we memed.

Historians learned about the influenza pandemic of 1918 through personal stories and photographs, as well as official accounts and newspaper articles of the time. Letters, diaries, photos and artifacts speak volumes about the courage, fear and community support that people experienced.

For more information or to offer items, contact Kathy Marquis, state archivist, at [email protected]; Jennifer Alexander with Wyoming State Museum Collections at [email protected]; or Sara Davis, University archivist at the AHC at [email protected].

To send your digital memories directly to the State Archives, see wyoarchives.org and click on the COVID19 donations link.


State buys land in Weston County

NEWCASTLE (WNE) — A process that began in late 2018 came to fruition this year when the state of Wyoming completed a transaction purchasing 4,349 acres of land in the Moskee area in Crook County, roughly 7 miles east of Sundance.

As previously reported in the News Letter Journal, the purchase of the land would open up the acreage to hunting and other recreational activities.

Documents from the office dated Dec. 27, 2018, state that the Forestry Division of the Office of State Lands and Investments had indicated that Moskee was an area of crucial concern and was within the “State’s Priority Forest Landscape,” part of the Wyoming Forest Action Plan and the Forest Legacy Program: Assessment of Need.

The document further states that the land could meet the trust land management objectives by increasing annual revenue and appreciation potential.

“There are an estimated 1,075 AUMs (AUM is the amount of forage needed by an animal unit for grazing for one month) available for grazing on this property,” the document says. “At the current rate of $6.18/AUM, this would generate approximately $6,643.50 per year in grazing revenue.”

According to Murkin, the now-state-owned land was purchased using $6 million that was awarded to the Forestry Division by the Forest Legacy Program. The land acquisition was valued at $11,525,000.


Lovell man found dead Sunday

LOVELL (WNE) — A local man was found dead Sunday morning after an alleged drunken scuffle took place between himself and a companion.

Edward Diaz, 49, of Byron, was arrested by Lovell Police on a charge of manslaughter, Lovell Police Chief Dan Laffin said. According to the affidavit of probable cause, the victim was Simon Bracamontes of Lovell.

According to the affidavit, Lovell Police received a 911 call early Sunday morning from a resident on East Main Street, where an individual allegedly stated he had killed his friend.

Officers entered the residence and found Bracomontes lying face down in the kitchen. Diaz told officers he had been drinking with Bracomontes since late Saturday night, where they watched a mixed martial arts television program together.

According to the affidavit, Diaz told officers that he and Bracomontes at some point got into a verbal argument that escalated into a physical fight.

Diaz allegedly stated to officers that Bracamontes picked him up three times and held him in a bear hug. Diaz then stated that he got behind Bracamontes, placed his right arm around Bracamontes’ neck and attempted to get him to pass out. The April 20 autopsy, according to the affidavit, found that death was due to asphyxiation by strangulation, in a preliminary finding.

There was also a finding of vascular trauma to the throat, which is consistent with Diaz’s alleged account. With a manslaughter charge, Bracamontes’ death has been ruled to have been caused unintentionally by reckless action.

Diaz’s bail was set at $200,000 in an initial appearance hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Laffin said the event was an isolated incident and at no point did the general public face any danger.


Nearly 42 percent of Wyoming households have responded to census

LOVELL (WNE) — Wyoming residents are generating new momentum in responding to the 2020 Census.

As of Tuesday, April 21, the statewide response rate for Wyoming was 41.9 percent. That represents a significant increase from March, but still leaves the state lagging behind all of its neighboring states.

One of the biggest challenges facing response rates in Wyoming is the fact that approximately 23 percent of residents live in an area designated as “Update Leave.” Update Leave areas are part of a special operation for the Census Bureau and encompass rural locations that have city-style addresses but may use P.O. boxes to receive their mail, or it can be homes that contain rural route or highway contract route addresses.

These locations have not yet received a formal 2020 Census invitation or paper questionnaire, which is contributing to the lower statewide self-response numbers.

If that describes your situation, you can still respond online if you live at a home with a city-style address (ex: 510 Cowboy Way) but use a P.O. box to get your mail. The U.S. Census Bureau urges you to go online and complete your questionnaire.

Simply go to http://www.my2020census.gov and click on “Start Questionnaire” and then click on the link underneath the ID field that reads, “If you do not have a Census ID, click here.”

The U.S. Census Bureau is asking Wyoming residents with non city-style addresses, like rural routes or highway contract routes, to please wait for their Census

packet with ID to be dropped off at their home due to the complexity of these types of rural addresses.

The update leave operation is currently slated to resume in mid-June 2020 but is subject to change.


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