Cowboy State Daily Video News: Thursday, July 11, 2024

Thursday's headlines include: - Billionaire Pulls Plug On Bondurant - Five Wyo Albertsons On List To Be Sold - Xanterra Worker Arrested For Mass Shooting Threat

Wendy Corr

July 11, 202410 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)
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It’s time to take a look at what’s happening around Wyoming, for Thursday, July 11th. I’m Wendy Corr, bringing you headlines from the Cowboy State Daily newsroom - Brought to you by Wyoming Senior Olympics - offering a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of the generous supporters who so graciously donated during the 5th annual WyoGives day of giving!

Huge construction lights have been glaring through the night along the Upper Hoback River Road while by day, a huge mountain of dirt has been climbing up to the sky. But not anymore.

Billionaire Joe Ricketts has pulled the plug on the posh 230,000-square-foot resort he’d proposed building in the Bondurant valley - but according to business reporter Renee Jean, the neighbors of the project don’t feel any more at ease. 

“When you go to the site, there's a huge mountain of dirt at the project site that used to be a beautiful meadow… and they're asking themselves, how can that possibly go back where it was, and be what it was? It's just a Humpty Dumpty proposition to them. I think on the flip side of the coin, though, Wendy, proponents of the project are disheartened and disappointed to see this project end. They were hoping for more diversification in the economy here.”

The Homestead Resort, as Ricketts’ called the project, would have been a 20-unit luxury resort including a wellness center, underground parking and a 90-seat dining hall — a huge project for tiny Bondurant, which has a population of about 100 people.  

Read the full story HERE.


There was lots of tough talk behind closed doors about the future of a controversial $500 million wind farm investment by a Spanish energy giant Wednesday.

State energy regulators and activists clashed over more turbines in Albany County, reports Cowboy State Daily’s Pat Maio, but most of these strong words took place behind closed doors. 

“What the activists locally were arguing is that they wanted Repsol, the big Spanish energy giant that bought the wind farm project, they wanted them to start the whole permitting process all over again, because of concerns about financials that were being submitted by the old owner and the new owner, and commitments and telling the truth and doing the right thing and the American way of life, right? But the industrial siting council didn't buy it. They reaffirmed their decision of what they wanted to do on siting this wind farm project.” 

Construction on more than 100 wind turbines for the 504-megawatt project had been set to begin this fall. However, the schedule is expected to slip about six months because of the legal in-fighting.

Read the full story HERE.


One day after a fatal Fourth of July shootout in a tourist hub within Yellowstone National Park, a worker in a nearby park village allegedly threatened a second shooting.

55-year-old Robert Sherman, also an employee of private concessionaire company Xanterra, is accused of making the threat while quarreling with a coworker at Roosevelt Lodge on Friday, according to Cowboy State Daily’s Clair McFarland.

“He admitted to referencing a shooting, like ‘maybe we should have a shooting down here.’ According to the court document, the version of his comment that was originally reported to law enforcement was a little more serious, something about a mass shooting. So the comment is characterized differently depending on whom you ask.”

The incident happened the day after a shootout at Canyon Village, less than 20 miles away, in which another Xanterra employee, Samson Fussner, reportedly shot a ranger before being shot to death himself in a shootout with park rangers.

Read the full story HERE.


Five of the 10 Albertsons stores that operate in Wyoming are on a list of stores that will be sold to C&S Wholesale Grocers as part of a proposed $25 billion merger between Krogers and Albertsons.

But Cowboy State Daily’s Renee Jean reports that the merger isn’t a foregone conclusion - the Federal Trade Commission is suing to stop the deal from going forward.

“Wyoming is among the states that have joined the FTC suit, which says that the combined Kroger Albertsons stores are just going to be too large, this is going to lead to less competition in the grocery market sector, not more - all at a time when inflation has already been such a huge issue. And both of these companies have posted record profits despite the inflationary period, so it's not as if they're not able to make a buck, where they're at now.” 

The five Wyoming stores on the list are in Casper, Cheyenne, Gillette, Jackson and Rock Springs.

Read the full story HERE.


And the Wyoming Freedom Caucus has been growing in numbers and influence. Now the group, and candidates aligned with it, feel 2024 could be the year it gains control of the Wyoming House.

Politics reporter Leo Wolfson spoke to members of the Freedom Caucus over the weekend, and said they all express great confidence in their chances for the upcoming election. 

“Representative John Bear, Republican from Gillette and the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said he'll be hugely disappointed if the group doesn't gain seats In the upcoming election, he thinks it's a very attainable goal that they could take over a majority of the Republican seats in the house.”

The answer won’t come until primary election day Aug. 20, when voters will get to say how they feel about the direction the state has been trending over the past couple of years.

Read the full story HERE.


A group that has already sued to stop a planned LDS temple in Cody that will boast a 101-foot-tall steeple, now claims the city is stonewalling on delivering public records.

Cowboy State Daily’s Leo Wolfson reports that he records request made by Protect Our Cody Neighborhood was filed Feb. 29 - and the group has yet to receive those documents.

“Wyoming law says you're really supposed to do it within about a month unless you can give a good good cause not to and the city hasn't given any cause, and they just haven't been answering the request. Karla Ecklehoff, one of the lead organizers for the group, believes the city is purposely stalling, to try to wait until after the court rules on the actual lawsuit against the temporal approval. That final hearing on that was held May 23, and we still have not had an answer.”

The group of residents have maintained the temple's height at 101 feet tall to the top of its steeple, plans for it to be lit up at night, and increased traffic, would be harmful to the neighborhood it's planned for.

Read the full story HERE. 


A Wyoming Bureau of Land Management environmental assessment on one of two carbon sequestration projects proposed by a Kansas-based developer severely limits the geographic area of where minimally toxic carbon dioxide can be stored in the southwestern part of the Cowboy State.

And according to the environmental assessment obtained by Cowboy State Daily’s Pat Maio, the project’s sponsors are looking to the underground storage of CO2 as a “first step” to building an industrial-scale ammonia plant.

“Now, an ammonia plant … can be a dangerous facility. If there was ever any leaks, the vapor if it ever escapes, would just burn everything around it. So it's good to know, that we now know, that there's a ammonia plant that nobody seemed to know about, including the BLM when I asked them what's going on.”

The southwest Wyoming project had covered a huge swath of land extending below Lincoln, Sweetwater and Uinta counties. The environmental assessment released last week excludes the 4,100 square miles of land in Lincoln County.

Read the full story HERE.


Convicted for committing sex acts on a 14-year-old boy in a mental health and youth foster facility, a 22-year-old Laramie woman was sentenced Monday to between seven and 10 years in prison.

Rielee Jones was originally charged with one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and another count of child pornography possession, but has taken a plea agreement, according to Cowboy State Daily’s Clair McFarland.

“They found out this kid had a phone he wasn't supposed to have, he was 14. And they were going to go through it, because he wasn't supposed to be communicating with his mother for some reason. And when they went through it, they reportedly found explicit images of this woman, who was in a position of authority as a worker at the home where he was staying while in DFS custody.”

Jones was employed at the time by the Cathedral Home for Children, a home for foster and troubled youth. In an email to Cowboy State Daily, the home voiced strong disapproval of Jones’ conduct. 

Read the full story HERE.


A home in Smoot from which about $14 million in precious metals was allegedly stolen last month no longer contains any valuables.

60-year-old Las Vegas resident Michael Reps is charged with felony theft and burglary on suspicion of stealing millions in gold and silver from his father’s home last autumn.

While the home may seem a treasure trove to potential thieves now that the case has gone public, the local sheriff told Cowboy State Daily’s Clair McFarland that it’s not.

“Saying, Look, people after the Smoot $14 million treasure story broke, people might think that they can go raid this home and get millions more in treasure, but everyone needs to know that there's no treasure left in this home. It's all been taken to a vault out of state.”

Lincoln County Sheriff Shane Johnson said the case represents the highest-value theft in his career, and in his memory for Lincoln County.

Read the full story HERE.


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 Dot Com - 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