Wyoming news briefs for August 31


Donations for family of fallen marine reach $500,000; local bank fund established

JACKSON — Three days after an online fundraiser was started, donations to assist the family of Rylee McCollum — the Jackson native and U.S. Marine who was killed in Afghanistan — have reached nearly $500,000.

About 10,000 people from all over the nation had contributed via two online GoFundMe accounts.

In addition, friends have established a local account for direct donations to Rylee’s widow, Gigi, who is expecting to give birth to their baby in September. Donations can be made to that account via the Bank of Jackson Hole, which has branches in Pinedale, Dubois, Alpine, Jackson, Wilson and Teton Village.

Bank of Jackson Hole will match up to $10,000 given through that account.

“This will allow people to donate to that account where 100% of their donations will go directly to the family,” Ed Liebzeit told the Jackson Hole Daily. Liebzeit, who is assisting as a veteran and Commander of the Jackson Hole VFW Post, noted that donors may not be aware that GoFundMe charges administrative and processing fees.

Donations can be deposited into the Bank of Jackson Hole fund named FBO Rylee McCollum. Donations can also be mailed to the fund c/o Bank of Jackson Hole, P.O. Box 7000, Jackson, WY 83002.

The online fundraisers are available at GoFundMe.com under “Rylee McCollum’s Child Education Fund” and “Rest Easy USMC Rylee McCollum.”


Campbell County Public Library offers banned books reading challenge

GILLETTE — Campbell County Public Library will be offering an online banned book reading challenge for teens and adults starting Wednesday.

“I feel it’s as important as every year, (to remind) the teens you do have the intellectual freedom, you have the right to read what you want,” said Marcy Mathis, teen room library youth services coordinator.

The library also will display books such as “The Hunger Games,” the “Captain Underpants” series, “A Clockwork Orange” and “The Catcher in the Rye” that have been challenged or banned in places across the United States.

“It’s another way for us to promote them to our teens,” Mathis said, adding that adults can participate this year as well.

The challenge is part of its commemoration of Banned Books Week that will happen at the end of September.

Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read, started in 1982 in response to a surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries.

Despite the recent controversy involving requests by some Gillette residents to remove what they deem to be questionable books, Mathis said she did not think that this year’s banned book reading challenge is “necessarily more important than the previous year or anything like that.”

The challenge will end Oct. 3.

For every banned book someone reads, his or her name will be entered into a prize drawing scheduled for Oct. 4.  There will be one winner for each age group.

To sign up, visit ccplswy.readsquared.com.

For more information, call 307-682-3223, and for a look at the library’s collection development policy, visit www.ccpls.org.


Sheridan school board votes at special meeting to require masks

SHERIDAN — The Sheridan County School District 2 Board of Trustees voted unanimously at a special meeting Monday to update the district’s COVID-19 policy and require students and staff to wear masks while in the classroom and on school buses.

The action comes just a day prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year Tuesday.

It was the second time in August that SCSD2 officials have updated their COVID-19 protocols. Administrators reviewed the policy, also known as the Smart Start Plan, at the board’s regular meeting Aug. 9, stating protocols had not changed from the end of the 2020-21 with masks being optional but not required.

However, on Aug. 25, SCSD2 officials issued an update with masks then being “strongly recommended” while in class and on school grounds.

SCSD2 Superintendent Scott Stults said the recommendation to require masks was made after consulting with local health officials and considering a recent increase in reported COVID-19 cases.

The SCSD2 COVID-19 policy may be viewed on the school district’s website at scsd2.com/updated-covid-19-plan.


Jackson Town Council votes to extend mask order through December, depending on risk level

JACKSON  The Jackson Town Council at a Monday morning workshop voted unanimously to extend Teton County Health Officer Dr. Travis Riddell’s mask-wearing mandate through December, as long as the COVID-19 risk level remains high.

The vote was 4-0 in favor, with Councilor Jim Rooks absent from the meeting. The order is effective through Dec. 31, unless the council votes to remove or alter it based on potential new information from public health officials.

It was noted at Monday’s meeting that Riddell had reached out to both Jackson Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson and Teton County Board of County Commissioners Chair Natalia Macker over the weekend to request that the respective elected bodies vote in favor of the extension.

County commissioners are expected to address it at a Thursday morning meeting.

Riddell’s initial order, which went into effect last week, was set to last for 10 days, through Sept. 4, barring an extension. 

A relatively new Wyoming statute empowers county health departments to put mask orders in place for up to 10 days and then leaves it to local elected bodies to determine whether they want to extend the order, as the town did Monday.

Riddell’s order requires people to wear appropriate face coverings inside buildings within the county unless the risk level were to drop to yellow, or moderate.


Alleged Old Trail Town thief arrested

CODY — Since Zakary Diller didn’t have a home to stash his allegedly stolen guns, he decided some bushes around the corner from where he committed the crime would be the best place to store them.

But it was his less than discreet hiding spot that revealed Diller’s theft of five guns and other artifacts pilfered during an alleged burglary at Old Trail Town in the early morning of Aug. 23.

Diller, 23, is now facing up to 48 years in prison and $75,000 in fines for charges of aggravated burglary with a deadly weapon, theft of a firearm, theft of property valued $1,000 or more, and possession of a firearm as a felon. 

Although Diller was known to regularly carry a firearm on his person, according to court documents, there was no proof provided in the affidavit that he did so while committing the alleged crimes.

Diller is also accused of stealing a multitude of other items, including custom-made knives, ropes, holsters and a white felt cowboy hat.

He is accused of breaking into four different structures and the gift shop at Old Trail Town. Locks were broken off every building that was burglarized.

“Diller expressed intent to go out and steal more things and sell them this weekend,” Jack Hatfield, Park County deputy prosecuting attorney, said during Diller’s initial hearing Friday.

Diller is currently being held on a $50,000 cash-only bond.

“He is an extreme flight risk and danger to the community because of the nature of his convicted felonies,” Hatfield said. “As young as he is, Mr. Diller has racked quite an extensive record so far.”