Wyoming news briefs for June 18


DA confident she will be exonerated

CHEYENNE — Following a call by the Wyoming State Bar for a disciplinary hearing addressing what it called her “incompetence and lack of professionalism,” Laramie County District Attorney Leigh Anne Manlove issued a brief public response late Thursday afternoon.

“Now that this matter is public and I am permitted to speak about it, I welcome the opportunity to ensure that the people of Laramie County who elected me get to hear all of the facts,” Manlove said in a news release.

The 23-page charging document was filed with the bar’s Board of Professional Responsibility on Friday, June 11, by Special Bar Counsel W.W. Reeves. Reeves wrote that the state bar’s Review and Oversight Committee found probable cause to bring the charge against Manlove because of multiple professional conduct violations since her tenure began in January 2019.

The charge stems from three separate disciplinary investigations: an “unprecedented” letter signed by the all Laramie County District Court and Circuit Court judges, and two complaints from mothers of victims, who said Manlove mishandled their daughters’ cases.

Manlove has 20 days from the charge’s filing to submit her response.

“Politics is a contact sport, and I knew that coming into office, but my number one priority is fulfilling my obligation as a public servant,” she said in the release. “I have a job to do, and I will not lose sight of that. This process will unfold as it must, according to the Rules of Disciplinary Procedure, and I am confident I will be exonerated.”

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Domestic violence call leads to 100 mph chase

EVANSTON — An Evanston man was in stable condition Wednesday evening after he allegedly led law enforcement on a high-speed chase along the Wyoming/Utah border earlier in the day. 

According to an incident report, the pursuit began at 11:54 a.m. Wednesday. 

The Uinta County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by Evanston police after Devin R. Symons had left an apartment on Lilac Way and had allegedly been drinking and threatening and abusing his girlfriend. 

Symons was driving a 2015 black Ford Focus and was on a road near the Wasatch exit in Utah, when sheriff’s deputies said he was weaving all over the road at speeds up to 100 mph. 

The deputies followed him until he drove back into Wyoming. 

Symons eventually deliberately accelerated and drove over an embankment and rolled the vehicle near the Anschutz plant. Symons was ejected from the vehicle and transported to the University of Utah hospital via AirMed. 

Wednesday’s incident wasn’t Symons’ first interaction with law enforcement — the chase appeared to carry over from a domestic violence call received by the Evanston Police Department on Monday, June 14, at 11 p.m.

According to the incident report, both Symons and his girlfriend had been drinking that night, and an argument ensued when the girlfriend asked him to put a cigarette out because her baby was in the room. 

The argument escalated, and Symons allegedly hit her repeatedly and destroyed her cellphone and television. He then calmed down and the altercation ended. 

During the two days following the domestic violence call, Symons allegedly sent his girlfriend messages, threatening her life and their children’s lives. 

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Fire 85% contained after reaching Keyhole

GILLETTE — The 103-acre Pine Haven Fire was 85-percent contained as of Thursday morning after reaching into Keyhole State Park and closing its Wind Creek Campground.

No one has been reported hurt by the fire that has burned one home, an outbuilding and two campers Wednesday, according to a Crook County press release.

“It burned up by Wind Creek Campground in Keyhole State Park,” said Crook County Public Health Response Coordinator Melanie Wilmer. “That is closed to the public at this time. (The fire) is on state and private land.”

Firefighters established a line around the fire and mop-up has started. Some fuel remains inside of the lines and will continue to burn and smolder. The cause of the fire is still unknown, the press release said.

Evacuation orders have been lifted for residents in the northwest section of Pine Haven and Highway 113 into the town has reopened. A timeline for when Wind Creek Campground will be reopened has not been announced.

The Pine Haven Volunteer Fire Department has been assisted by other volunteer fire departments in Crook County, Moorcroft, Carlile, Sundance, Aladdin, Hulett, Beulah and Oshoto.

The volunteer efforts were aided by more support from the Wyoming State Forestry, the Crook County Sheriff’s Office, Crook County Emergency Management, Wyoming Highway Patrol, the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service, which all assisted with the multi-agency effort, the press release said.

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Teton County fire danger raised to ‘high’

JACKSON — Fast-drying vegetation, unseasonably warm temperatures and a crush of tourists have convinced Teton Interagency Fire officials to elevate the fire danger to “high” weeks earlier than normal.

A high summertime fire danger is life as usual in the wildfire-adapted Northern Rockies. But typically, the designation wouldn’t come until a week or so into July.

“We’re about three weeks ahead right now,” Bridger-Teton National Forest wildfire specialist Andy Norman told the Jackson Hole Daily. “The last two weeks have been very dry, and the fire danger has increased very dramatically.”

In fact, conditions Monday were drier within Teton Interagency Fire’s district than during any other June 14 on record. That’s according to a measure called an “energy release component” that gauges the aridity and availability of vegetation averaged across three monitoring stations on the forest, Norman said.

Jackson Hole has lacked rain since May 23, and no significant precipitation is forecast for the next 10 days. But on the plus side, Norman said, especially volatile grasses and sagebrush are still mostly green. Once they cure out and brown, he said, that will change the equation, increasing the risk of wildfire more yet.

More people means a higher chance of wildfire, and right now Jackson Hole is grappling with unprecedented early-June crowding and a high interest in camping.

“The number of humans in the woods is incredible,” Norman said. “It is very, very high right now.”

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Wyoming ranked among top states to live

LYMAN — Wyoming is in the top 20 states to live in according to the latest release by WalletHub. 

With nearly 15 million people having moved last year, many of them influenced by COVID-19, the personal-finance website WalletHub released its report Tuesday on 2021’s Best States to Live in, as well as accompanying videos. 

To help Americans settle down in the best and most affordable place possible, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 52 key indicators of livability. They range from housing costs and income growth to education rate and quality of hospitals. 

Wyoming came in at 13 in the top 20. New Jersey, Massachusettes and New York came in one, two and three. Idaho, Wyoming’s neighbors, came in in fourth, Utah at seventh and Colorado at 16th. Nebraska was listed as No. 20. 

Wyoming was listed as #3 in the hardest working states, following North Dakota and Alaska. Texas was listed fourth. This was based on the highest average of workweek hours. 

Wyoming and Montana tied for the lowest average of leisure time spent during the day. They were followed in third place by Oklahoma.

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