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Wyoming News Briefs Oct. 9

Woman charged with stealing from Evanston Police Department

EVANSTON (WNE) — A former City of Evanston employee has been arrested and charged with three counts of felony theft for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars from the Evanston Police Department (EPD) over an approximately three-year period.

Selina Zuehlsdorff was previously employed as an administrative assistant at the EPD and was arrested following an investigation conducted by the Uinta County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the investigation, Zuehlsdorff took time off from work in late June and her coworker Linda Liechty noticed the cash in the till was $50 short from what was recorded on receipts. Liechty reported the shortage to Lt. Ken Pearson and Police Chief Jon Kirby, and Pearson began to look back through deposits and receipts to the beginning of the year, ultimately finding almost $1,000 in discrepancies.

Zuehlsdorff, who completed the weekly reconciliation and made the weekly deposits, reportedly began acting strangely and took several more days off from work before coming into the police department and allegedly telling Pearson and Kirby that she had been taking money for years, at which point her employment was terminated.

Kirby then requested the sheriff’s office investigation, which revealed significant and regular cash losses totaling more than $6,000 between 2017 and 2020.

Though it was not common practice at the EPD to have two people go over the receipts and deposits, the EPD has reportedly changed its practices for handling cash deposits.

Cash transactions regularly occur for services such as VIN inspections and fingerprinting and document fees.

Zeuhlsdorff is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Uinta County Circuit Court on Nov. 20. If convicted, she could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $10,000 or both.


Sublette County Commissioners address pronghorn crossings

PINEDALE (WNE) – Sublette County Commissioners agreed in theory to help with a wildlife crossing and fence between LaBarge and Big Piney, but they requested a formal memorandum of understanding during their Oct. 6 meeting.

In a project extending back many years, a collaboration with the Wyoming Department of Transportation and Wyoming Game and Fish Department worked to minimize the number of collisions with wildlife on U.S. Highway 189 south of Big Piney.

A major pronghorn corridor, initially each agency contributed $1.25 million and the plans were to provide fencing for 2 miles and two underground 7-foot corridors to minimize conflicts with vehicles.

Federal grants were later obtained and the project grew to include 36 miles of fence, 18 miles on either side of the highway, and between seven and nine crossing tunnels. Since the road must be built up to cross the tunnels, plans were to use 28,000 cubic yards of road base and 55,000 cubic yards of pit run from existing county gravel pits as the county’s contribution to the projects.

The project will be bid next summer, with most of the work completed in the fall and the following year.


Trial date set for Torrington man charged with assaulting an officer

TORRINGTON (WNE) — Jeremy Velasquez will stand trial for allegedly trying to headbutt a Goshen County Deputy Sheriff.

A conviction under Wyoming’s felony interference with a police officer statute provides for no more than 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

According to the affidavit of probable cause submitted to the court by Goshen County Deputy Sheriff Michael Staiger, Staiger responded to a location in Goshen County to investigate a harassment call.

Staiger arrested Velasquez and began escorting him to his patrol vehicle. On the way, Velasquez allegedly tried headbutting Staiger, according to the affidavit. Staiger “regained control” of Velasquez and transported him to the Goshen County Detention Center.

Velasquez’s Public Defender Eric Palen and Velasquez appeared before Goshen County’s Eight Judicial District Court on Sept. 23 because Palen had previously filed a motion to withdraw as Velasquez’s defense attorney.

The motion states, “Mr. Velasquez has conducted himself in a manner that warrants forfeiture of his right to counsel.”

Judge Patrick Korell approved the motion.

The order allowing the withdrawal stated, “Mr. Velasquez engaged in conversations and conduct that were potentially abusive, threatening and derogatory toward staff and members of the Public Defenders Office.”

On Sept. 29, Velasquez appeared in District Court with Public Defender Jonathan Foreman.

Judge Patrick Korell issued a case management order as a result of the hearing.

The order set the trial date for March 9 and 10 of 2021.


Jackson Hole’s animal carcasses headed to Rock Springs landfill

JACKSON (WNE) – A looming deadline to cap the animal pit at the old Horsethief Canyon landfill means that Teton County’s roadkill, hunter scraps and other wild animal remains will soon be trucked to Sweetwater County.

Most of the community’s refuse is taken to a Bonneville County, Idaho, landfill.

But wild game carcasses aren’t allowed to cross state lines because chronic wasting disease is circulating through deer populations in Jackson Hole and elsewhere in western Wyoming.

With no landfill of its own, Teton County had been in a bind and has examined possible solutions with federal agencies and neighboring counties.

The decision to go the trucking route beat out buying an incinerator to dispose of the carcasses. It mostly came down to economics, said Teton County Superintendent of Solid Waste and Recycling Brenda Ashworth.

“With prevalence of CWD being so low in our county, the tonnages of carcasses just don’t make it economically feasible to install an incinerator and run it,” Ashworth told the Jackson Hole Daily.

Gross 7-year cost estimates were coming in around $1 million to $1.3 million to purchase and operate an animal incinerator capable of destroying chronic wasting disease prions, the vector of the lethal, incurable illness that infects cervids such as deer and elk.

Trucking carcasses to Rock Springs, by contrast, is expected to cost closer to $300,000 over the next seven years. That price tag includes the purchase of a $150,000 freezer truck and running animal remains down to the Sweetwater County landfill five or six times per year.

Teton County is staring down a Dec. 31, 2021, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality deadline to cap the animal pit.

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