Wyoming news briefs for August 19
Albany County Commission OKs mask mandate for county buildings
LARAMIE — Anyone having business in a county building, including the Albany County Courthouse, will have to be masked up.
The move to stiffen up local public health protocols comes after the Albany County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution by a 2-to-1 vote Tuesday evening that implements recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On July 28, the CDC changed its guidance, recommending that everyone older than 2 wear a mask while indoors in public places, regardless of vaccination status.
Dr. Jean Allais, the county’s public health officer, also supported implementing CDC recommendations because of the prevalence of the delta variant, a more transmissible strain of the COVID-19 virus. The variant is responsible for 92% of new infections in the county, she said.
There are 89 active cases in Albany County, which is experiencing moderate-high transmission levels, according to state metrics.
“This is a very different virus than we were dealing with last year,” Allais said about the delta variant.
Allais said that because Gov. Mark Gordon has stated he won’t issue any new health orders, counties could make their own decisions at the local level.
“If you think you’ll get higher compliance with a requirement than a recommendation, then I think that’s the way you need to go,” she said.
Accused belly shooter pleads not guilty to assault charges
RIVERTON — Accused of shooting his friend in the belly after a fight about a song, Ronald Blaise Jenkins pleaded “not guilty” on Tuesday to two counts of assault.
Jenkins, whose birth year is 1995, faces one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, and another of assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Each is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
According to Bureau of Indian Affairs court documents, at around 4:33 a.m. on Jan. 5, a man who had been shot in the stomach was being driven to Riverton SageWest Health Care emergency room. The 20-year-old injured male is named in court documents as W.S.
Emergency room staff said a silver GMC truck containing three or four males had dropped the wounded man off at the emergency room and left.
Later, the wounded man’s girlfriend came to the ER, where a Riverton police officer spoke with her. She said W.S. had been out drinking with Jenkins, Dylon Blackburn and Clifton Littlethunder.
Police officers and a BIA special agent went to Blackburn’s home, where a silver truck as previously described was parked in the driveway.
When contacted, Blackburn said he’d been with Jenkins and the alleged victim, and they were parked in the vehicle pullout known as “Checkpoint Charlie,” on Rendezvous Road on the reservation.
According to Blackburn, Jenkins and the victim had argued about a song on the radio, and the latter tried to fight Jenkins. Jenkins then reportedly drew a pistol and shot the man in the stomach.
A jury trial is scheduled for Sept. 27 in Casper before U.S. District Judge for Wyoming Scott W. Skavdahl.
Man arrested for assault in Hulett motel
SUNDANCE — A Belle Fourche man was arrested in Hulett last week after allegedly beating his victim to the point of severe trauma, including kicking him in the face and striking him with a chair.
On August 8 at around 7 a.m., an altercation took place outside a room at the Pioneer Motel in Hulett. When the Hulett Police Chief arrived, a male subject answered the door who was allegedly showing signs of severe trauma with blood covering his face.
The chief requested a response from EMS. Meanwhile, he reports that a witness advised she had seen two other subjects involved in the altercation attempting to hide up the road from the scene.
The chief allegedly located Myles Dillon and a female hiding in the tall grass and bushes near the golf course. He reported smelling a strong odor of alcohol and observing Dillon’s clothing was covered in potential blood residue that did not appear related to any injury on his body.
According to court reports, Dillon attacked the victim in several ways, including kicking him in the face with pointed-toe cowboy boots; kicking him around the head, neck and chest area; and striking him with a wooden chair, breaking the chair and wooden rail of the hotel.
During a pat-down search, the chief allegedly found drug paraphernalia on his person. Dillon later allegedly admitted to having marijuana.
Dillon has been charged with a felony count of aggravated assault and battery. He has also been charged with misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance and property destruction.
Injuries to the victim are reported to include severe trauma to the head, face and neck and a potential collapsed lung. The victim was eventually life flighted.
Colder weather, higher moisture and humidity welcomed for Crater Ridge
LOVELL — The Crater Ridge Fire has nearly doubled in size since last week, but colder, wetter weather and, therefore, good news is on the horizon. The Big Horn Mountain fire is currently reported as branching out across 4,093 acres, a sizable increase from the 1,660 acres reported last week.
The fire stands at 30 percent contained, lowered from the 35 percent reported last week due to the fire’s growth. Direct containment efforts continue on the north edge of the fire along Forest Service Road 111, but elsewhere indirect containment lines, where fuel like timber and brush has been cleared to keep the fire from spreading, remain the primary approach to containing the fire.
Currently 180 personnel are fighting the fire, including four hand crews, one fire module, nine engines, five water tenders, two pieces of heavy equipment and two helicopters.
Rocky Mountain Incident Command Team Spokesperson Cass Cairns said the fire’s growth has been largely due to warm and dry weather over the last week, causing it to spread westward to 2,033 acres as of Friday and continue burning west for over a thousand more acres since.
A high chance of rain was predicted beginning Aug. 18, Cairns said Tuesday, while the humidity is projected to increase from 17 to 21 percent to 75 to 79 percent, all while temperatures drop down to as low as 53 degrees in the day, a decrease of nearly 30 degrees from Monday.
“It definitely would count as welcomed news,” Cairns said.
The danger will still be in wind speeds, as winds during the thunderstorm are projected to increase to 20 miles per hour, coming in from the south.