Wyoming news briefs for June 30
Cody couple arrested with meth now face federal charges
CODY — A local couple arrested for transporting thousands of dollars of meth to Cody from Denver is now being prosecuted federally.
Phillip Dobbins, 43, and Natosha Martin, 37, are charged with knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully conspiring to distribute 50 grams or more of meth. This charge carries a minimum five-year sentence and up to $5 million in fines. They are both now in federal custody.
Authorities say they found 12.5 ounces of meth inside a Ziploc container inside a panel of a vehicle being driven by the couple in March.
At first, Martin denied knowledge of the meth, but later admitted the meth was hers and that she had smoked some of it.
In a follow-up interview Martin said she had been selling meth for Dobbins since January.
Martin told authorities she provided Dobbins with $3,000 in cash when they arrived in Aurora, Colo. to buy the meth. She said Dobbins had told her if she gave him the cash, he would make enough money selling it to help her move from her current residence.
She told authorities she had accompanied him on two other trips to buy meth in Colorado. When contacted by buyers, she would obtain the meth from Dobbins.
Martin is scheduled for a preliminary hearing with Judge Michael Shickich in Casper on Tuesday.
Park County was pursuing six charges against Dobbins but has since dismissed those charges to allow the federal charges to proceed.
According to the local affidavit, Dobbins was seen possessing a 4-ounce bag of meth and sold 3.7 grams of the substance during one undercover sale.
Trans Ova Genetics opens Torrington satellite location
TORRINGTON — Trans Ova Genetics opened a satellite location at M Lazy Heart Ranch this spring and is now offering in-vitro fertilization (IVF) collection services for area cattle.
“We utilize their facilities, their chute and setup in a lab area to collect their donors. We’re taking the unfertilized egg out of the ovaries,” said Professional Services Technician Cassie Spear. “The eggs are then sent to our Iowa location, where they’ll be fertilized.”
Spear said eventually they would like to offer donor housing, recipient embryo transfers and flushing services.
Trans Ova Genetics was founded in 1980. It originated in Sioux Center, Iowa in Dr. David Faber’s garage, according to Client Service Representative Danielle Schubert.
“We’re the industry leader in advanced reproductive technologies,” she said.
Nationwide, the company’s services include embryo transfer, in vitro fertilization, sex-sorted semen, genetic preservation and cloning services.
“More than just an assisted reproductive technology company, we’re the best partner to equip our clients with the tools they need to achieve their breeding goals,” she said.
The company has nine regional centers and more than 50 satellite locations. Spear said Trans Ova opened their Torrington Satellite Center because they saw client need in the Wyoming area.
The satellite location opened on April 13, 2021. The site typically does procedures twice per month, based on demand. Those interested in signing up can contact Schubert at 605-222-4283.
Jackson Hole Airport sues over PFAS pollution in Snake River Aquifer
JACKSON — Jackson Hole Airport is joining a consolidated lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of South Carolina that charges aviation firefighting foam manufacturers with knowingly keeping quiet the health hazard of one of their product’s chemical constituents: polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
To date there are more than 500 plaintiffs in the case, and they consist of water districts, municipalities and other entities that are grappling with the consequences of trace levels of PFAS that have percolated into their own, or neighboring, water supplies.
In Jackson Hole Airport’s case, a type of firefighting foam containing PFAS that’s required by the Federal Aviation Administration was used for decades for training on the property.
Over the years airport staff have commissioned consultants to do extensive water testing that’s mapped out the geographic scope of a PFAS plume that’s fouled the Snake River Aquifer and soils near the airport. They’ve also supplied — and now expanded — a program that provides nearby residents with complimentary drinking water filters certified to eliminate the pollutant.
PFAS are not among the 90 contaminants that are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That federal agency, however, has established a 70-part-per-trillion recommended health advisory level.
There is a growing body of scientific study suggesting that exposure of higher concentrations of PFAS may be a human health hazard, with wide-ranging effects that span a decreased response to vaccines in children and increased risk of testicular and kidney cancer.
Just one residential water sample has tested for more than the EPA’s current health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion, registering 70.3. In one test well on airport grounds, however, groundwater tested at a maximum of 382 parts per trillion — more than five times the recommended limit.
Campbell County residents casting early ballots for college district
SHERIDAN — Like the opening shots of a battle, the first ballots to determine whether Gillette College will stand as its own community college could be cast as early as Friday.
Voters in Campbell County may cast absentee ballots in the special election on the formation of a new community college district and board from July 2 to Aug. 16, with polls for the election open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 17.
If approved, the ballot proposal would allow Campbell County to establish a community college district and levy up to 4 mills for its operation and maintenance. Voters would also elect seven members for the college’s board of trustees. The current NWCCD Board of Trustees is composed of all Sheridan County residents, as Sheridan County forms the district’s tax base.
The battle lines between those who support and oppose the proposal to split from the current Northern Wyoming Community College District and its main campus at Sheridan College seem to be clear: local control versus an unnecessary tax burden.
“We want to make the decisions for our community college,” said Josh McGrath, a supporter of the Vote Yes for Gillette College campaign. He said currently Campbell County residents have little say over what programs are offered at the Gillette campus.
Jacob Darby, a Gillette area resident and rancher, however, is helping lead an opposition group, the Anti Tax Coalition, because he believes the creation of a new, independent Gillette College will place an unnecessary burden on businesses and taxpayers there.
“I don’t see the need to tax us just to have our own community college,” said Darby, who’s also running for the potential new college board. “We’re currently getting it for free, with Sheridan County paying most of the taxes. . . I’m loving it.”