June 2, 2022

NEWS BRIEFS for June 1, 2022

From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

Yellowstone's first bison goring in '22

JACKSON (WNE) — Summer is once again here in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, at least as evidenced by the first bison goring of a visitor to Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park reported its first bison goring of the 2022 season, sending out a press release Tuesday afternoon that said an Ohio woman got within 10 feet of a bison Monday morning on a boardwalk near Black Sand Basin just north of Old Faithful.

The woman approached the bison, which gored her and threw her 10 feet into the air.

She sustained a puncture wound and other injuries, park officials said in a press release, and was transported to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Officials did not provide information on the severity of her condition.

Bison, park officials said, have injured more people in Yellowstone than any other animal.

"They are unpredictable and can run three times faster than humans," they stated.

Last year, the first goring happened in late June when another midwesterner — a 30-year-old woman from Ann Arbor, Michigan — got too close to one of the territorial herbivores and was bucked into the air.

Park regulations require visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from bison, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, deer and coyotes, and 100 yards away from bears and wolves.

Park officials have said that Yellowstone usually experiences one or two gorings a year, on average, events that are typically precipitated by humans getting too close.

But some years, human-bison-air encounters are particularly acute, like in 2015, when five people were injured by the animal Wyoming adopted as its state symbol.

This story was posted May 31, 2022.


Freer guilty on 21 counts of sexual assault of minor

DOUGLAS (WNE) — After a shortened trial and quick deliberation, a Converse County jury last Thursday found Leon V. Freer guilty of 21 of the 27 felonies he was charged with relating to sexual assault of a minor and creation of child pornography.

Freer remains in jail awaiting sentencing after Judge Scott Peasley ordered a pre-sentence investigation. He has not set a sentencing date yet.

The trial began May 23 with jury selection and had been scheduled to last through Friday evening, but wrapped up Thursday, May 26, and the jury returned the verdict by that evening.

The jury determined Freer sexually assaulted the unidentified victim or victims who were under the age of 16 and 17 at the time between early 2019 and early 2021, with most in 2020.

Freer was found guilty of 18 counts of first, second and third degree sexual abuse of a minor, two charges of sexual exploitation of a child and one charge of voyeurism.

He faces up to five years in prison for the voyeurism conviction; 12 years for child exploitation (creation of pornography); 20 years each for some of the sexual assault charges; and 50 years for others.

This story was published on June 1, 2022.


Rock Springs residents protest gun violence in wake of recent mass shootings

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — A group of Rock Springs residents stood on the corner of Dewar Drive and Gateway Boulevard on Saturday, protesting gun violence in wake of the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.

On May 14, 2022, ten people were killed in a Buffalo supermarket and just last week on May 24, 21 people – 19 children – were killed at an elementary school in Uvalde.

Raif Nettik, the organizer of the protest, said “it’s tiring” seeing the pictures of the children who were gunned down on social media, and he couldn’t stay silent anymore.

“It’s exhausting to know that no legislative action has been done,” he said, referencing the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people. “As of now, it doesn’t look like any action is going to be done in Texas either.”

Nettik and four others stood in front of the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce where a flag was flying at half-staff in remembrance of the victims of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Their signs read “Make Murder More Difficult,” “No More Silence, End Gun Violence,” “Choose the 2nd Grader over the 2nd Amendment” and “Kids Need Homework, Not PTSD.”

Nettik, who said he is a gun owner, said there need to be background checks and holding periods before an individual can purchase a gun.

“I believe universal background checks can quite possibly point to mental health or whether they have any ties to organizations that may want to harm people,” he said.

Nettik said he has not discussed the issue with lawmakers at the state and national level and doesn’t believe he will.

“Reaching out to the senators and those currently in power wouldn’t do much,” he said.

This story was published on June 1, 2022.


Local couple arrested for embezzlement

WHEATLAND (WNE) — A local Douglas couple who had pastored Crossroads Baptist Church in Douglas and the Circle G Cowboy Church in Glendo were arrested for embezzling funds from the Glendo church.

Pastors Lynda and Marty Roark were arrested in Denver and extradited to the Platte County Detention Center where they are currently awaiting their bond hearing.

Both parties are being charged with theft of over $1,000 and use or disposing of less than $1,000.

The couple was arrested as they arrived from a flight from Belize and then taken to the Colfax Detention Center in Denver.

Platte County County Attorney Douglas Weaver issued arrest warrants for Lynda and Marty Roark on felony charges.

The couple was detained in the Colorado jail for two weeks before being extradited back to the Platte County Detention Center.

This story was published on June 1, 2022.


WyVA graduates say hello and goodbye at graduation

LUSK (WNE) — The largest graduating class from the Wyoming Virtual Academy chattered and laughed, nervously adjusting their caps and gowns and smiling for pictures, just like any other graduating class found all over Wyoming every spring.

What makes this class unique is that many of the students have never met in person.

They have listened to each other in virtual classrooms all year. Some of them have seen each other in videos. They have labored through classes and shared memories of studying and hard homework assignments. Some of the students may have met in person for small group field trips.

By and large, though, most of them were meeting both each other and their teachers and administrators for the first time — on the same day the school prepared to tell its graduates good-bye.

More than five-hundred attendees filled the auditorium of the Niobrara County High School on Saturday, May 21, to celebrate the 66 students receiving their diplomas.

Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Brian Schroeder spoke at the graduation ceremony, telling graduates he was “reassured based on those students here today that the future of Wyoming is bright.”

Following the ceremony a reception was held for all graduates and attendees at the Niobrara fairgrounds.

This story was published on May 25, 2022.


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