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Wyoming News Briefs April 7, 2022

Cody woman bonded out of jail after receiving four new felony charges

CODY (WNE) — A Cody woman who was recently found not guilty in a jury trial and is now facing four new felonies was recently bonded out of jail after being in custody for more than a year.

Chelsea Velker was assessed a $25,000 unsecured bond by Hot Springs County Judge Bobbi Overfield on March 11.

She was first arrested by authorities in January 2021 on charges of allowing a child in the presence of meth. Within minutes of being found not guilty by a jury in December, the Park County Attorney’s Office filed new charges against her for burglary, theft, forgery and conspiracy to commit theft.

Authorities allege Velker and Travis Dawe stole checks from the Caleco Foundry and Sunlight Photographics and also from other individuals. They are also accusing the couple of stealing antique cameras, radio equipment and a computer.

Dawe is facing the same four charges as Velker but no hearings have been scheduled on his case. He was found guilty in the same jury trial as Velker.

In a letter sent to the court on March 2, Velker said she would participate in the Ezekiel 37 Ministries sober living program (in which she said she is already participating) and participate in Park County Drug Court.

During her jury trial, Velker had claimed throughout that she was not a frequent drug user.

“I’m asking to be released so I can move forward,” she wrote.

If found guilty on all charges, Velker could face up to 50 years in prison.

This story was published on April 6, 2022.


Enrollment now open for Wyoming Connections Academy

LOVELL (WNE) – Open enrollment has begun for Wyoming Connections Academy, giving parents the option of enrolling their students in a virtual school. Wyoming Connections Academy is a statewide online learning outfit that resides in Big Horn School District No. 1.

The academy currently has just over 600 students, principal Shannon Siebert said.

The service ballooned during the height of the pandemic, with Connections Academy reporting its enrollment as 1,200 in 2020.

The enrollment has calmed as brick and mortar schools have returned to their normal functions, but Connections Academy still has significant growth compared to where it stood before the pandemic. Siebert said its highest enrollment before 2020 was 456 students.

The deadline for parents to enroll their K-10 students into Connections Academy is November 14 while grades 11-12 have their cut-off date on October 14. Students who miss those deadlines may still enroll for the winter semester, with that deadline being February 3. Parents can find information and resources on the school’s website: https://www.connectionsacademy. com/wyoming- virtual-school/.

They can also enroll their students on the website. If the necessary documents are at the ready, Siebert said the process only takes three to five days.

Siebert said Connections Academy has been working on updating its core curriculum, making it more interactive and engaging for students.

Siebert said a huge misconception within Wyoming is that students who enroll in Wyoming Connections Academy are unable to join local sports teams.

“They can get involved in local sports activities like football, volleyball, wrestling and golf. They can still do that and attend Wyoming Connections Academy,” Siebert said.

Siebert said the family only needs to become members of the Wyoming High School Activities Association to participate.

This story was published on April 7, 2022.


Children located safely after Amber Alert

BUFFALO (WNE) — Two Buffalo children have been safely recovered after the Buffalo Police Department issued an Amber Alert on Sunday, a rare occurrence in Johnson County. Less than 24 hours after the Amber Alert was issued, the children were located in Texas.

According to the Amber Alert, issued Sunday night, 4-year old Aspen Roth and 2-year old Serenity Naslaund were taken by their non-custodial mother, Alexis Roth, also of Buffalo. Roth was also traveling with a 3-month old child that she had custody of.

The Buffalo Police Department received a report that the children had been taken at about 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Chief of Police Sean Bissett said. Roth had taken the children from their legal guardians, their grandparents, without their permission and without telling them, he said.

The police department determined that the children could be in danger and decided to issue the Amber Alert.

Amber Alerts, designed to better coordinate state and local resources in the case of missing children, are issued through the Wyoming Highway Patrol in Wyoming.

The alert was broadcast across Wyoming and surrounding states and later, once officers found information indicating Roth might be heading south, it was expanded to New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Using electronic surveillance and investigatory work, police were able to locate Roth near Amarillo, Texas, and at around 11 a.m. on Monday, Texas law enforcement officers made contact with Roth and the children, Bissett said.

Roth was arrested and has been charged with kidnapping and interference with custody, according to Bissett. Both are felonies. Roth is being held in Texas.

This story was posted on April 7, 2022.


Registration opens for 2022 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage

POWELL (WNE) — Emerging from the challenges of the pandemic, the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation will host its first full in-person pilgrimage in two years.

The 2022 Heart Mountain Pilgrimage will take place July 28-30 and feature workshops, film screenings, educational sessions and a groundbreaking on the Mineta-Simpson Institute at Heart Mountain.

Registration for the event is now open to the general public.

Each year hundreds of visitors make a pilgrimage to the Heart Mountain National Historic Landmark Site, where 14,000 people of Japanese Ancestry — two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens — were incarcerated during World War II.

The journey is taken by former incarcerees, their descendants, friends, and members of the public who “seek to understand this dark and poignant history and its impact on us today.”

“Attendees tell us time and again that the Pilgrimage is a transformational experience, and that they come away feeling deeply connected to this community,” said Heart Mountain Interpretive Center Executive Director Dakota Russell. “I think after the past two years, we all want to feel a little more connected. That’s why it is so exciting to be returning to an in-person event.” For more information, call the center at 307-754-8000 or email info@heartmountain. org.

This story was posted on April 7, 2022.