Wyoming news briefs for August 2

Posted 8/2/21

News from across Wyoming.

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Wyoming news briefs for August 2


Man receives probation for felonies

CHEYENNE  A man charged with multiple felonies, including sexual exploitation of a child and aggravated burglary with a weapon, was given probation July 23 in Laramie County District Court. 

Charged in four separate cases, David Isaac Rutherford received five years of supervised probation, with a suspended sentence of six to eight years in prison, from Laramie County District Judge Peter Froelicher. 

In April, Rutherford entered no-contest pleas to felony sexual exploitation of a child (using a child to make pornography), felony aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon, felony stalking (probation violation) and two felony counts of interference with a peace officer with injury, as part of a stipulated plea agreement. 

Additional charges – felony burglary, two counts of felony interference with a peace officer with injury, 21 counts of felony sexual exploitation of a child (possessing child pornography), and misdemeanor charges of property destruction and violation of a stalking protection order – were dismissed at sentencing as part of the agreement. 

In the child sexual exploitation case, a Laramie County Sheriff’s deputy found 22 pornographic images of an underage girl on Rutherford’s cellphone while investigating a stalking case against him.

In the stalking case, the same girl reported that Rutherford had been repeatedly calling and texting her since they’d ended their relationship, and that he’d been showing up in stores she visited and sitting on a hill overlooking her parents’ home, according to court documents. 

In the aggravated burglary case, a Laramie County Sheriff’s deputy determined Rutherford had broken into two campers at the Terry Bison Ranch dry storage area and taken several items, including a handgun. 


Blue-green algae detected near Granite Springs Reservoir

LARAMIE  The Wyoming Department of Health has issued a harmful cyanobacterial bloom recreational use advisory for the causeway at Granite Springs Reservoir. 

The reservoir is located in Curt Gowdy State Park, located about 27 miles east of Laramie. The causeway is an area west of the Granite Springs Reservoir where Middle Crow Creek flows toward the reservoir. The causeway is separated from the main reservoir by a road. 

Harmful cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can form harmful blooms in slow-moving water during the late summer when water temperatures are warmer. 

These blooms are considered harmful because they produce toxins and other irritants that can pose a risk to humans, pets, livestock and wildlife. 

Cyanobacteria was not detected in the main reservoir, a source for Cheyenne’s drinking water. Cheyenne’s Board of Public Utilities laboratory staff will continue to monitor water quality in Cheyenne’s water sources. 

The BOPU is also working with Curt Gowdy State Park to notify recreational users in the park of the affected area. 

The BOPU asks residents to follow these recommendations: 

  • Avoid contact with water in the vicinity of the bloom, especially in areas where cyanobacteria are dense and form scum; 
  • Do not ingest water from the bloom. Boiling, filtration and/or other treatments will not remove toxins; 
  • Rinse fish with clean water and eat only the fillet portion; 
  • Avoid water spray from the bloom; 
  • Do not allow pets or livestock to drink water near the bloom, eat bloom material or lick fur after contact; 
  • If people, pets or livestock come into contact with a bloom, rinse off with clean water as soon as possible. For more information about blue-green algae, visit www. wyohcbs.org.


Illinois woman charged with disturbing wildlife in Yellowstone National Park

JACKSON — After a two-month investigation, Yellowstone National Park rangers believe they have identified the woman who approached and photographed a mother grizzly bear and her cubs during a May 10 incident that ignited social media discourse.

The Carol Stream, Illinois, native had just driven into the park with her family. At Roaring Mountain, three grizzly bears were grazing, and a small crowd of tourists gathered to watch.

Some of those visitors later told park rangers that they advised her to back up, but she ignored them.

As the woman stood just 10 yards from the mother grizzly, snapping photos with her smartphone, the sow made a bluff charge, and one of her cubs scampered into the woods. Investigators determined that the bear came within 15 feet of the woman, who quickly dropped the phone to her side and walked away.

Another visitor filmed the entire encounter from the sunroof of her car, and posted it to Instagram the same day with the caption, “Absolutely INSANE.” The video quickly went viral, with calls to find the woman and permanently ban her from the park. Within days, a park ranger was assigned to investigate.

Two weeks after the incident, the National Park Service posted a screenshot from the video and asked the public for help identifying the woman. According to court documents, “numerous tips were received,” which allowed investigators to track down the suspect through her father’s Facebook account. 

The Illinois woman was charged July 20 in the U.S. District Court in Yellowstone with two related counts of disturbing wildlife. She is set to appear in court Aug. 26 at 9 a.m. in Mammoth.


State Dems form union

CASPER — The Wyoming Democratic Party staff is unionizing as a part of the IBEW Local 415 union. 

Workers handed in their union cards Saturday to Joe Barbuto, the chair of the party, and he voluntarily recognized the union. 

“A big part of it is walking the walk,” said Lindsey Hanlon, the deputy communications director and a union member. “It seems appropriate that the Democratic Party is also unionized so we’re showing support not just with our words, but with our actions.” 

The union consists of the four members on salary who do not have control over hiring and firing: the communications director, the deputy communications director, the administrative director and the data director. 

“As a Democrat, party leader, and union member myself, I’m incredibly glad our staff has taken the steps to organize and offer my full support as they move forward,” Barbuto said in a statement. 

Unionization of state Democratic parties is a semi-new trend. 

Idaho’s Democratic Party was the first state party to unionize back at the end of 2017. Wyoming will be the 17th state Democratic party to unionize, joining Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire (still in the process), Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.

“We’re unionizing because we think it’s the right thing to do, not because we have any complaints with our employment,” said Nina Hebert, the communications director for the state party. “We’re all happy with our pay and our benefits, but that could change with another chair. The nature of politics is turnover.”