Wyoming news briefs for March 25

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UW professor dies in avalanche while skiing

CHEYENNE — A 61-year-old University of Wyoming professor has died after being caught in a backcountry avalanche while skiing in western Wyoming near the Idaho border. 

Jay Norton, a UW Extension soil fertility specialist, was skiing March 17 in the Game Creek drainage on the western slope of the Teton Mountains near Victor, Idaho, when the avalanche happened, according to the university. 

“We have lost a talented and beloved member of our community,” said UW President Ed Seidel. “Our hearts go out to his friends and family as we all grieve his loss.” 

Norton’s spouse, Urszula Norton, is an associate professor in UW’s Department of Plant Sciences. 

Norton was skiing with companions in Game Creek Canyon in Wyoming just east of Victor when Teton County Search and Rescue responded to the avalanche call, the Teton Valley News reported. The party had been staying at the Plummer Yurt, and Norton and an unidentified older woman were buried in the slide on the northeast aspect of Game Creek. 

They were located and uncovered by their companions, according to Teton County Search and Rescue. 

The woman was conscious, but Norton was unconscious. The companions performed CPR on Norton, but he died as search and rescue responded. 

He was the second person killed in an avalanche-related incident in Teton County this season, said Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr.

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Devils Tower entrance fees go cashless

GILLETTE – Entrance fees for Devils Tower National Monument will only be accepted as card or digital payments starting on April 1.

Part of the move to stop accepting cash to enter the park came as a means to cut down the time employees spend managing cash. It also would increase the amount of revenue that could go toward projects and visitor services while reducing the chance for wrongdoing or mishandling, according to a National Park Service press release.

Passes may be purchased ahead of time by visiting recreation.gov or through the recreation.gov app. Passes bought on the app can be stored on a phone or printed in advance.

Devils Tower is open 24 hours a day year-round. But the bulk of its visitors come between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Of that 500,000 or so visitors to the park each year, about 80% come during those summer months.

Entrance fees are $25 per car and $20 per motorcycle. For those walking or riding bicycles, the cost is $15 per person age 16 and older. The fee covers seven days. People also can stop by the park for a fee-free day visit on Aug. 4, 25 or Sept. 25.

Visitors can buy an annual pass for all national parks for $45 or $80, respectively.

For more information, visit nps.gov/deto or call 307-467-5283, ext. 635.

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Wright woman out $800 after puppy scam

GILLETTE — A 37-year-old Wright woman is out $800 after she tried to buy a puppy on Facebook.

She said she found a Facebook post by a Sheena Meyers selling a Labrador puppy for $600.

The woman could not drive down to Colorado to pick up the dog, but the seller told her she could have the dog brought here for an extra $100, Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds said. The seller said she would use a pet shipping company called United Pet Emirates, which would fly the dog to Campbell County.

The woman paid the $700 for the dog and the transportation, Reynolds said.

The woman then got a call from a representative of the pet company, saying they needed an additional $100 for pet insurance. If the flight turned out to be uneventful, she would get her $100 back. The woman paid for the pet insurance.

The company contacted her again, requesting another $500 in order to transport the dog in an airport-approved carrier. She refused to pay for it, and she was told the dog would be held in quarantine until she paid the $500, Reynolds said.

She contacted the seller and explained what was going on. She asked for her money back, and the seller refused to return the money.

Deputies researched the company and did not find any animal transport companies with that name. The woman was cautioned about buying puppies off Facebook or Craigslist, Reynolds said, and she was told to report the incident to Facebook. 

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WYDOT announces strategy for National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure funding

LYMAN — Wyoming will soon receive National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) formula funds to use to facilitate electric vehicle infrastructure development, especially charging stations, around the state. 

The funding is part of the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), signed by President Biden in November 2021. 

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) is allocated $3.9 million this year and expects $5 million each year for the next four years for a total of $23.96 million for EV infrastructure over five years. 

In preparation to execute NEVI funding and other program incentives, the state has developed a Zero Emission Vehicle Strategy and will circulate the strategy over the next month to allow the public and interested parties to provide comments and feedback.

Wyoming’s interstates have been designated as “Alternative Fuel Corridors” and under the NEVI program must have infrastructure installed first. 

WYDOT and other state officials have scheduled public meetings around the state in early April to gather public input as well as feedback from potential bidders and other interested parties. 

Each meeting is expected to have a virtual component so viewers can attend any meeting and see the proposed plan and make comments. 

The meetings will be held in Cheyenne, Casper, Cody, Riverton, Jackson, Rawlins, Gillette and Sheridan. 

Those interested in making a public comment can also email dot-publicaffairs@wyo.gov. For more information, visit https://www.dot.state.wy.us/home/planning_projects/zero-emissionvehicles/national-electric-vehicle-infrastructure-(nevi)-program.html.