Wyoming News Briefs for Wednesday, March 17


March 18, 2021

Legislators pitch in to fix Capitol leak

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A historic winter storm that brought nearly 31 inches of snow to Cheyenne last weekend caused some slight damage to the Wyoming State Capitol, but the weather’s impacts to the building were quickly taken care of, in part with the help of a few state lawmakers who were nearby.

After the heaviest bands of snow fell overnight Saturday, House Speaker Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, learned from a security official Sunday morning that there was water dripping into the House floor from the chamber’s skylight due to a vent that was blown open, allowing snow to get inside the building.

After coming to the Capitol from his nearby residence, Barlow called Rep. Barry Crago, R-Buffalo, another lawmaker living near the Capitol, to help him get rid of the ice and snow that had built up inside the ceiling vent.

“He came in, and we spent a solid eight hours removing snow and ice and blocking off the vent, which was allowing it to blow in on Sunday,” Barlow said Tuesday.

Barlow and Crago, who were joined in the cleanup effort by Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne, later Sunday afternoon, eventually sealed up the vent with plywood.

The cleanup effort continued Monday, as there was also some snow and ice stuck in the ceiling of the Senate chamber, albeit less than on the House side. Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, was joined by Barlow to remove the snow and ice on his side of the Capitol on Monday.


AARP COVID dashboard shows nursing home improvement

SHERIDAN (WNE) — The latest release of AARP's nursing home COVID-19 dashboard shows that both COVID-19 cases and deaths in Wyoming nursing homes fell in the four weeks ending Feb. 14.

The number of nursing home deaths per 100 residents in Wyoming saw a substantial drop from 2.22 per 100 residents for the four week period ending Jan. 17 to just .76 for the four-week period ending Feb. 14. The nursing home resident cases per 100 residents also dropped over the past four weeks ending Jan. 17 from 10.4 cases per 100 nursing home residents in Wyoming to just 3.6 for the four week period ending Feb. 14.

“The nursing home dashboard numbers are showing improvement across the board and we are pleased to see that,” said AARP Wyoming State Director Sam Shumway. “We are now starting to return to levels of infection and death rates we haven’t seen since last fall. We are optimistic that those trends continue.”

The COVID-19 death rate in nursing homes is the lowest since the four week period ending Nov. 18, when the death rate was .25 per 100 residents. For the first four, four-week periods of the AARP Nursing Home COVID-19 Dashboard, there were no deaths in Wyoming nursing homes. The death rate peaked at 2.95 deaths per 100 residents during the four week period ending Nov. 15. That was one of the 10 highest ratios nationwide for a four-week period since the inception of the dashboard.


Naked woman objects to police request to get dressed

DOUGLAS (WNE) — A Douglas woman is being charged with attacking two Douglas police officers after they asked her to get dressed and leave the premises during an incident that began in basement of the LaBonte Bar earlier this month.

According to court documents, Kirbie Cooper allegedly attacked the officers as they tried to get her to put on clothes and leave. She now faces a single felony of attempting to cause bodily injury which, if convicted, is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

On March 6 at approximately 2 a.m., Douglas police officers Anthony Boonstra and Rudy Toman went to the LaBonte Hotel where Cooper and a man only identified in court documents as F. Munsinger were in the basement, “where they were not supposed to be,” Boonstra’s statement reads.

“When officers arrived, they made contact with Cooper and Munsinger . . . Officers saw Cooper was not wearing any clothes and (she) ran further into the basement from officers when confronted. Officer Boonstra asked (Cooper) to put her clothes on and Cooper allegedly became aggressive toward them,” according to the statement.

According to police reports, Cooper shoved and kicked the officers until they could place her in handcuffs.

As Toman and Boonstra carried the woman to their police car, she began to resist again, kicking the officers. She was subdued with a taser and placed in the car.

“Once at the Converse County jail Cooper refused to get out of the patrol car and had to be carried into booking, where she was booked,” Boonstra stated in the affidavit.


Actor accused of trying to intimidate alleged victim

JACKSON (WNE) — A California man whose Valentine’s Day arrest in Teton County last year made national headlines appeared in felony court Tuesday morning charged with another crime.

Brian Hickerson, of Santa Monica, is accused of trying to intimidate the victim in a domestic battery case to not testify against him. Represented by public defender Elisabeth Trefonas, Hickerson pleaded not guilty Tuesday to intimidating a witness and was ordered to have no contact with the victim. He appeared in Teton County District Court virtually.

Hickerson is known for playing “Officer Williams” in the movie “M.F.A.” in 2017, according to the Internet Movie Database better known as IMDb.

Hickerson was arrested Feb. 14, 2020, by the Teton County Sheriff’s Office after a 911 call to a house on Indian Springs Drive. The victim told deputies Hickerson started throwing her around the bedroom during a fight and then “struck [victim] with a closed fist on the right side of her face.”

The victim’s face was red and swollen, according to police.

Hickerson was out on bond with release orders to have no contact with the victim when police said he used a new phone number to text her “threatening language” in messages and videos referencing “having information that would be embarrassing” to her if she “refused to drop the charges” against him.

The texts were sent over the summer, documents said. Detectives stated in records that Hickerson identified himself in the messages, saying, “time to go to war, I guess.”


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