Wyoming news briefs for May 2


Man sentenced to 70 days in vehicular homicide

SHERIDAN — Sheridan County Circuit Court Judge Shelley Cundiff sentenced Todd A. Kohler to 70 days in jail, one year supervised probation and 230 hours of community service education on distracted driving in relation to the 2020 homicide by vehicle of Shariah Harper. 

“[This] is the absolute toughest thing I’ve ever done as a circuit court judge,” Cundiff said to the circuit courtroom, nearly filled with supporters of the victim’s family and defendant alike. 

According to court documents, Kohler was traveling in his FedEx pickup truck on Wyoming Highway 338 — also called Decker Road — at the intersection of Highway 339 Dec. 8, 2020, when he struck Harper’s vehicle. Harper died as a result of the crash. 

As a result of the incident, Sheridan County and Prosecuting Attorney Dianna Bennett charged Kohler with homicide by vehicle, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, a $2,000 fine or both. After initially pleading not guilty, Kohler changed his plea to no contest in March. 

Analysis of Kohler’s blood indicated he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash, Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper William Kirkman said. 

However, WHP’s investigation did identify the cause of the crash: distracted driving. Kirkman said Kohler admitted to looking at the GPS on his passenger’s seat when he collided with Harper’s car. By the time Kohler saw and reacted to Kohler’s vehicle — by steering away from the vehicle and breaking — it was too late to stop the collision, Logan said. 

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Teton County Planning Commission approves affordable housing rezone

JACKSON — Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust Executive Director Anne Cresswell said she hasn’t seen such a philanthropic pairing: 13.13 acres in Horse Creek from part-time residents Paul and Kathy Spicer and $10 million from the Hughes Charitable Foundation for affordable housing.

Though Teton County staff recommended against the Housing Trust proposal, two out of three county planning commissioners voted to change the “Rural-3” acres to “Suburban” to make the project possible.

County staff believed the rezone wasn’t consistent with the vision for the rural area, 6 miles south of Jackson, in the Land Development Regulations and Comprehensive Plan. A few neighbors worried about potential disruption to an already stressed Hoback water ecosystem.

But staff acknowledged that the decision-makers have more wiggle room to interpret the LDRs in favor of the rezone.

The property off Highway 89 is currently horse corrals, so ecological damage will be less than making a new clearing. Plus, the 25 affordable homes are, as many community service providers commented Monday, desperately needed.

The rezone needs the Board of County Commissioners’ approval. It comes before the board with two conditions to ensure the land is used for single-family workforce homes. But it also comes with one “no” vote from Planning Commissioner Susan Lurie.

“I think it really is a great project,” Lurie said, “But I voted ‘no’ on another matter because it was, to my mind, inappropriate to locate it in an ‘R-3’ zone. So if I’m going to be consistent, I’ll have to say ‘no’ on this one.”

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Grand opening scheduled for military museum

CHEYENNE — Although it has been open since August 2020, the National Museum of Military Vehicles in Dubois has scheduled its grand opening ceremony for May 28.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the big event, due to health concerns about having many people gathering physically in one place, spokesperson Craig Blumenshine said by phone Friday. Now, it is safer to hold such gatherings, he noted.

The official opening ceremonies are purposefully being held over Memorial Day weekend, and admission will be free on May 28, according to Blumenshine. "It's just a wonderful time for the museum to uphold its mission of honoring veterans and their families."

The 140,000-square-foot, single-story building has nearly 500 restored military vehicles, pieces of artillery, naval vessels and aircraft. They date "from 1897 to the present with a current emphasis on the American experience in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War," according to a news release.

Gov. Mark Gordon is among the scheduled speakers at the opening event, which is to begin at 10 a.m. Dan and Cynthia Starks had founded the privately funded $100 million museum, and Dan Starks is its chairman.

In what is considered the off-season, the facility at 6419 U.S. Highway 26 is open Wednesdays to Sundays, and starting May 25, it is open daily. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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