NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, November 16, 2023

 

November 16, 2023



From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

Newcastle City Council puts police dissolution ‘to bed’

NEWCASTLE (WNE) — The Newcastle City Council has voted to end the discussion on possibly dissolving the Newcastle Police Department and moving all city police services to the Weston County Sheriff’s Office.

Councilman Tyrel Owens first suggested on Sept. 5 that the council hold a public meeting to gauge the public’s interest in city- vs. county-led policing. He cited staffing troubles, financial consideration and crumbling infrastructure as some of the reasons that constituents had approached him about such a change.

On Oct. 30, the council held a town hall to listen to public input on the issue. While many in attendance, led by former city officials, expressed their desire to keep the department for reasons of continued “public safety,” there was a faction that suggested the council continue to explore the option and ultimately make a decision for the community after further investigation.

Mayor Pam Gualtieri promised that the future of the police department would be on the agenda and discussed at the council’s next meeting, on Nov. 6. At that meeting, Gualtieri stated that the consensus of those who attended the meeting, both those who spoke and those who signed in (leaving their preference on the sheet), was to keep the police force.

“I would like to put it to rest today if the council agrees,” she said, noting that she would like to hear from the council in a roll call.

Owens stated that, based on the numbers generated at sign-in, he thinks that a lot of people are undecided. He didn’t believe the issue should be “put to bed” yet, but the rest of the council members expressed their desire to keep the police department as is.

This story was published on November 16, 2023.

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Black Hills Energy: Customers can expect lower natural gas heating costs this season

CHEYENNE (WNE) — Black Hills Energy officials say customers can expect to see lower costs for natural gas heating, but they still should make efforts to reduce overall energy usage.

On a quarterly basis, Black Hills Energy’s natural gas utility (Black Hills Wyoming Gas) updates its Gas Cost Rate to reflect the cost of gas purchased from natural gas suppliers on behalf of customers.

Going into the 2023-24 heating season, the winter Gas Cost Rate for Wyoming customers taking service under the GCA option will be approximately 48% lower compared to last winter’s per therm Gas Cost Rate.

Natural gas prices are a pass-through cost without any markup from Black Hills Energy.

“Historic production and above-average storage have provided a stable market to power this winter’s heating,” said Dustin McKen, Black Hills Energy’s general manager of Wyoming operations, in a news release. “As we do throughout the year, we’re encouraging customers to use less energy through energy conservation and energy efficiency projects.”

Tips range from easy and inexpensive — like lowering the thermostat by a couple of degrees and closing curtains to keep warm air inside — to more involved projects like insulating the attic or installing weatherstripping around doors and windows to keep out drafts.

Additional energy efficiency tips include:

. When you are home and awake, set the thermostat as low as is comfortable on cold days.

. Run complete loads of laundry and dishes to avoid using more hot water and energy than necessary.

. Skip the drying cycle on your dishwasher. Instead, prop the door open once dishes are washed and allow them to air dry.

. Use weather stripping and caulking around doors and windows to seal any holes or gaps, reducing energy waste.

. Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees and ensure the water heater is insulated properly.

This story was published on November 16, 2023.

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Campbell County Sheriff’s Office investigates 150 barrels of oil dumped from well site

GILLETTE (WNE) — More than 150 barrels of oil were poured from an oil tank onto land surrounding a Campbell County well site, resulting in about $12,000 of lost oil and $15,000 in clean-up costs.

The spill was called in to the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office as a destruction of property report by a Vermilion Energy USA employee Tuesday afternoon.

He told deputies that an unknown person opened the valve on an oil tank located off of Highway 450 sometime Saturday afternoon between 1:03 and 1:18 p.m.

The company investigated the incident itself and determined that the lost oil wasn’t caused by anyone with the company, Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds said.

Photos of the incident were shared with deputies and the investigation continues.

This story was published on November 15, 2023.

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Rock Springs officials: Massage parlor workers believed to be trafficking victims

CASPER (WNE) — Workers at a downtown Rock Springs massage parlor are believed to be human trafficking victims, the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday.

“We believe the masseuses and others working there are trafficking victims forced or otherwise coerced to perform labor, including sex acts, as part of a larger network of organized criminal enterprise possibly operating throughout the region,” spokesperson Jason Mower said in the statement.

The sheriff’s office, in partnership with the Rock Springs Police Department, served the massage parlor with a search warrant Tuesday afternoon following “a months-long human trafficking investigation,” the statement said.

Earlier this year, officials started investigating alleged “sexual acts at an Asian massage parlor” located on the 600 block of Broadway St.

Detectives uncovered information that indicated those involved with the “purportedly legitimate business are, in fact, likely human trafficking victims,” according to the statement.

Illicit massage parlors often put on a front of legitimacy to hide in plain sight, wrote Lieutenant Michelle Hall, lead detective on the case. These businesses, which are a growing trend, operate in every state across the United States and are a known issue.

“Unfortunately, many of those engaged in commercial sex as part of these types of operations are actually labor and sex trafficking victims,” Hall said.

This story was published on November 16, 2023.

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Truth Registry for Park County under development

CODY (WNE) — A new online public service called Park County Truth Registry for Representatives is under development.

“The truth is always in the public interest and will no longer be hidden from public view,” registry director Jon Sowerine, of Wapiti, said in a press release.

He’s seeking board members to help him vet submitted information before it’s posted on the website.

The registry was created on October 9 as a public nonprofit and filed it with the Wyoming Secretary of State, he said. Its initial purpose is to inform the public about candidates and people already elected or hired in Park County, Wyoming.

Sowerwine said his goal is to provide a public information system to explain the history and current issues of candidates and elected and hired employees in Park County.

The site, parkcountytruthregistry.com, is being designed as a public information system for the collection and dissemination of pertinent and truthful information about individuals involved with public concerns in Park County, he said. The information will be validated by a board.

Examples of what may be submitted and published include, but are not limited to the following: legal background search data, past termination causes, accuracy of resume, conflicts of interest related to public concerns, previous lawsuits and legal issues, documented moral and ethical actions, legal actions, documented personal interactions, financial relationships and dealings that may affect public trust.

All information submitted will be presented to the board and analyzed for publication. Only information that can be verified, which involves or could affect the public trust, will be published. Once published it will remain permanently on the site database for future searches.

All published documents will include the board analysis and may be edited by the board, he added. Both positive and negative information may be submitted and will be treated equally.

This story was published on November 15, 2023.

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