Cowboy State Daily Video News: Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Wednesday's headlines include: * Teton Pass Could Re-Open Next Week * 100,000 Tons of Rock To Be Blasted In Yellowstone * Upton Vandal Allegedly Talked To “Demons” While Setting Fire

Wendy Corr

June 19, 202410 min read

Wendy play 6 19 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)
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It’s time to take a look at what’s happening around Wyoming, for Wednesday, June 19th. I’m Wendy Corr, bringing you headlines from the Cowboy State Daily newsroom - Presented by Cheyenne Frontier Days - starting July 19th, from sun-up to sun-down - there’s something for everyone! Check it out at C-F-D RODEO DOT COM!


An end may be in sight for Jackson workers who live in Idaho and have had to add hours of extra travel a day to get around a “catastrophic” failure of Highway 22 that has kept Teton Pass closed for a week and a half.

Bob Hammond with the Wyoming Department of Transportation told Cowboy State Daily’s Leo Wolfson that officials hope to have a temporary rerouting of the road paved by the middle of next week and the road opened to traffic soon after.  

“The road is expected to be paved, possibly as early as this weekend and then by the middle of next week people could be traveling on that road. They're creating a kind of a detour on the road. It's not going to be the permanent fix. But it is a temporary fix… Hammond told me they've been literally working to 12 hour shifts every day. So literally 24 hours a day through the clock to get this work done.”  

Since the road collapse on June 8, people have had to detour through Swan Valley to Alpine and then up the Snake River Canyon, a distance of 85 total miles, to cover the 24 miles between Jackson and Victor, Idaho, over the pass.


Yellowstone National Park’s next major road project will include blasting nearly 100,000 tons of rock that remains from a prehistoric volcanic explosion, and the feds are giving the park $22 million to do it.

Cowboy State Daily’s Andrew Rossi reports that starting in fall 2025, the Federal Highways Administration money will be used to significantly transform Golden Gate Canyon in northwest Yellowstone to make the corridor to Mammoth Hot Springs more scenic, safe and accessible.

“Yellowstone superintendent Cam Sholly said that it's a lot of money for a short stretch of road, but these improvements are overdue… they're going to remove rock from the Three Noses as they call them… these three outcrops of rock that stretch out over the highway. So it's not going to remove the character of the canyon, but it is going to make it safer and mitigate rock falls. There's also going to be two new parking areas, a new pit toilet and a pedestrian pathway to provide a better view of Rustic Falls.”  

Golden Gate improvements are part of nine projects totaling more than $370 million in Infrastructure Act money to replace bridges and roads in Yellowstone, including the ongoing replacement of the Yellowstone Bridge, expected to be completed in 2026.


It was 2019 when the Gittleson family members saw the first wolf on the ranch property they lease in northern Colorado, roughly 12 miles from the Wyoming state line. While at first, it seemed like no big deal, since then the ranch has lost 11 cattle to wolves. 

Cowboy State Daily’s Mark Heinz reports that the Gittleson place seems to be right in the middle of where wolves are traversing back and forth from both Colorado and Wyoming. 

“I spoke with the ranchers directly and they said it wasn't really a big deal when the adult wolves showed up. They pretty much kept to themselves - but then they had a litter of pups, and they had to teach them how to hunt, and of course, what's available and easy to hunt right there? Well, cattle, so they started losing cattle to those wolves.” 

Kim Gittleson said her family has dealt with other predators, such as bears and mountain lions, for decades. But wolves are turning out to be something different. And so far, non-lethal deterrents have produced mixed results.


U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman, who is trooping throughout the coal-rich Powder River Basin this week visiting mining operations, said she plans to invite former President Donald Trump to the Cowboy State.

Hageman told Cowboy State Daily’s Pat Maio on Tuesday that the 45th president recognizes the importance of Wyoming’s energy industry. 

“She feels that he's the only one that kind of gets what's going on in the energy world, and that our current president, Joe Biden, is kind of failing that - because, you know, he's proposed to basically kill off the coal industry by 2041 on public lands here in the Powder River Basin. So yeah, that's a concern.” 

Hageman said that while he was in office, the former commander in chief helped America achieve energy independence for the first time in more than 60 years.


And accused of damaging a building and burning a camper while talking to demons, an Upton man could face up to 10 years in prison.

The case against 30-year-old Jeremy Lee Hammelman-Hames began at 3 in the morning on May 30th, when a Weston County Deputy was sent to investigate a reported vehicle crash involving a shirtless male walking eastbound along the railroad tracks in Upton. Crime and Courts reporter Clair McFarland has the story.

“The deputy wrote in the affidavit on that case, that Hammelman-Hames was captured on surveillance, allegedly destroying the building, and then there's a fire kind of going up in the background when he's not in the frame. The deputy somewhat randomly puts in there, ‘you know, I can see him walking around talking to the demons.’ And at this point, he you know, he's got his shirt unbuttoned. He's talking to either the demons or himself.” 

The felony property destruction case against Hammelman-Hames rose to the felony-level Weston County District Court earlier this month. He was arraigned on Tuesday. 


A Cody man who’s a suspect in his girlfriend’s unsolved disappearance has reached a plea agreement on a separate federal gun violation that could keep him in jail.

27-year-old Adam Aviles Jr. isn’t charged with homicide in the October disappearance of his on-and-off girlfriend Katie Ferguson. But Cowboy State Daily’s Clair McFarland reports that Aviles was indicted May 14 with one count of possessing ammunition as a felon and another of possessing a Glock .45-caliber handgun. 

“He was scheduled to go to trial the coming week for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, the two charges together carry a potential penalty of 30 years in prison. The plea agreement might stipulate less, it might not. We don't know, because the US Attorney's Office has chosen not to file it publicly.”

Aviles has been a homicide suspect in the case of his missing girlfriend for months. When he was arrested in November on suspicion of being a felon in possession of ammunition, investigators reportedly had found blood and a bullet hole in Aviles’ Dodge Durango.


More public light is about to be shone on some of Wyoming’s oldest and coldest unsolved mysteries when a new statewide database comes online.

During a Joint Judiciary Committee meeting Tuesday, Ryan Cox, commander of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, said the database is already created and being tested internally before it’s released to the public, which Cowboy State Daily’s Leo Wolfson reports, should happen in a few months.

“What this will do is allow the public to see every active cold case in Wyoming currently, which is about 150, and be able to see at least some details about every one of these cases, and just kind of have a better grasp of kind of what's what's all out there.” 

Cox said the system is already being used in beta testing with DCI internally and will be shared with Wyoming’s other law enforcement agencies in the coming weeks.


A chain of events set off by a pickup getting stuck in a remote part of Carbon County led to a Rawlins man getting nailed for poaching an elk and losing his hunting and fishing privileges.

Outdoors reporter Mark Heinz says on October 31st, Carbon County Search and Rescue was called out l after some hunters reported their friend missing south of Rawlins.

“They had shot a bull elk in an area that they did not have a proper tag for which is basically poaching and they were on their way out and the truck got stuck. And then subsequently, one of the people in the hunting party decided they were going to try to walk back to Rawlins and got lost, so they had to call search and rescue… according to Game and Fish, the guy actually posted photos of him with the elk on social media.”  

Corey Cruz pleaded guilty to a charge of intentionally taking an antlered elk without a proper license.


Wyoming is stepping up its ties with a major submarine power plant maker to evaluate the viability of building tiny nuclear reactors to augment a power-starved electrical grid.

The Wyoming Energy Authority on Monday announced a multimillion-dollar award for Virginia-based BWX Technologies Inc. to begin the next phase of a year-old contract to further its emerging tiny reactor design. That’s according to energy reporter Pat Maio.

“Wyoming is the only state in the country that has gotten anything similar to this, this possible work of building these miniaturized nuclear power plants. So that's a big deal. And that'll be work that kind of carries on for another year.”

The mini reactors could meet the specific needs of potential Wyoming end users, like southwestern Wyoming’s trona mining operations.


And as the world debates whether it’s ready for an artificial intelligence politician, there’s growing pressure to shut down Wyoming’s first AI candidate.

VIC, a customized ChatGPT bot with a full name of Virtual Integrated Citizen, is running for mayor of Cheyenne. Cowboy State Daily’s Leo Wolfson reports. 

 That last week, OpenAI, the company that runs ChatGPT, announced that the company will not tolerate VIC’s campaign and threatened to possibly pull the plug on the bot. 

Open AI said the bot infringes on the company's policies against political campaigning. They also have policies against election misrepresentations, interference, deep fakes, although VIC does not appear to infringe on any of those things.”

Secretary of State Chuck Gray has also attempted to shut down VIC’s campaign, arguing that the bot is ineligible to run in Wyoming elections because he is neither a registered voter or an eligible elector.


And that’s today’s news. Get your free digital subscription to Wyoming's only statewide newspaper by hitting the Daily Newsletter button on Cowboy State Daily dotcom - and you can watch this newscast every day by clicking Subscribe on our YouTube channel. I’m Wendy Corr, for Cowboy State Daily.


Radio Stations

The following radio stations are airing Cowboy State Daily Radio on weekday mornings, afternoons and evenings. More radio stations will be added soon.

KYDT 103.1 FM – Sundance

KBFS 1450 AM — Sundance

KYCN 1340 AM / 92.7 FM — Wheatland

KZEW 101.7 FM — Wheatland

KANT 104.1 FM — Guernsey

KZQL 105.5 FM — Casper

KMXW 92.5 FM — Casper

KBDY 102.1 FM — Saratoga

KTGA 99.3 FM — Saratoga

KJAX 93.5 FM — Jackson

KZWY 106.3 FM — Sheridan

KROE 930 AM / 103.9 FM — Sheridan

KWYO 1410 AM / 106.9 FM  — Sheridan

KYOY 92.3 FM Hillsdale-Cheyenne / 106.9 FM Cheyenne

KRAE 1480 AM — Cheyenne 

KDLY 97.5 FM — Lander

KOVE 1330 AM — Lander

KZMQ 100.3/102.3 FM — Cody, Powell, Medicine Wheel, Greybull, Basin, Meeteetse

KKLX 96.1 FM — Worland, Thermopolis, Ten Sleep, Greybull

KCGL 104.1 FM — Cody, Powell, Basin, Lovell, Clark, Red Lodge, MT

KTAG 97.9 FM — Cody, Powell, Basin

KCWB 92.1 FM — Cody, Powell, Basin

KVGL 105.7 FM — Worland, Thermopolis, Basin, Ten Sleep

KODI 1400 AM / 96.7 FM — Cody, Powell, Lovell, Basin, Clark, Red Lodge

KWOR 1340 AM / 104.7 FM — Worland, Thermopolis, Ten Sleep

KREO 93.5 FM — Sweetwater and Sublette Counties

KGOS 1490 AM — Goshen County

KERM 98.3 FM — Goshen County

Check with individual radio stations for airtime of the newscasts.

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Wendy Corr

Broadcast Media Director