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Gordon Supports Letting Cowboys Play Football This Year

in News/University of Wyoming
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon supports the reopening of the University of Wyoming football program for a limited season if it can be handled safely, he said.

Gordon, in a Facebook post and tweet, said he has spoken with the governors of other Mountain West Conference states to examine the possibility of resuming football play this year.

“I’ve had good conversations with Gov. (Brad) Little of Idaho and Gov. (Gary) Herbert of Utah about our shared desire for a safe return of Mountain West Conference football,” Gordon said. “UW Athletics is working diligently on this issue and I believe progress is being made.”

The presidents of the 12 universities that make up the Mountain West Conference agreed in August to cancel fall sports because of concerns over the coronavirus.

However, MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson, in a statement Wednesday, said a number of groups are working to find solutions to the challenges of starting the football season this fall.

Those challenges include finalizing plans for frequent rapid response testing of student athletes. 

Michael Pearlman, a spokesman for Gordon, said the governor supports the idea of having players return to the field this year.

“If it can be achieved safely through the availability of frequent, rapid response testing,” Pearlman said in an email.

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Man Follows Park Service Advice & Helps Friend Attacked By Grizzly Rather Than Pushing Him Down

in Grizzly Bear Attacks/News
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Just last month the National Park Service advised people not to push their friends down in front of a bear if they are attacked.

That advice apparently works.

Two archery hunters from Idaho came upon a grizzly bear on Friday morning and one started to get mauled.

Instead of ensuring his friend was down on the ground and then running away, his friend decided — just like the Park Service advised — to help instead.

What makes this story even more bizarre is that this bear attack appears not to have been started by idiotic behavior of humans.

Unlike the Montana man who went searching for a grizzly bear in an abandoned barn (he found it) or the Montana woman who wasn’t paying attention while trail running and literally bounced off a grizzly, these two hunters appeared not to have done anything overwhelmingly stupid.

In fact, the Idaho Fish and Game Department credits the archery hunters for how they handled the situation: they were prepared.

The department said the victim (hunter #1) was pursuing an elk in a remote area of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest when he and his hunting companion (hunter #2) encountered the bear in thick brush.

Although you are supposed to be loud in grizzly country to not surprise a bear (Montana man: please take note), it kind of defeats the purpose when you are hunting — because you also alert the animal you’re hunting.

Regardless, the grizzly apparently went after hunter #1 who was able to deploy his bear spray right before he got knocked to the ground.

Following National Park Service advice of not pushing your friend down in front of the bear and running away, hunter #2 actually helped his buddy.

“The hunting companion came to his aid and deployed his own bear spray canister, shortening the duration of the attack and causing the bear to flee the area,” the department said.

“Their preparedness and use of bear spray allowed both hunters to walk out of the backcountry on their own accord to call for help,” they said.

As for the health of the hunter, he’ll be ok, apparently. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

To warn other visitors of bear in the bear country, the department is putting up signs to let them know there are bears present in the bear country.

Hopefully the signs will alert people who are in bear country that there are bears in the bear area.

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33 New Coronavirus Cases in Wyoming on Saturday; 639 Active

in Coronavirus/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Editor’s Note: This is a map of the active coronavirus cases in each county across Wyoming. The number of active cases is determined by subtracting the total number of recoveries seen since the illness first reached Wyoming in mid-March from the total number of confirmed and probable cases diagnosed during the same time period and taking into account deaths related to the disease.

The number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming dropped by 15 Saturday as the reported recoveries outnumbered the total of new cases for the first time in several days.

The Wyoming Department of Health, in its daily coronavirus update, said 33 new laboratory-confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus were reported Saturday, while the number of people reported as recovered from the illness in the last 24 hours was set at 48.

The end result was 639 active cases, a decline of 15 from Friday.

Albany County had 131 cases; Natrona County had 98; Fremont had 52; Sheridan had 51; Laramie had 49; Converse had 39; Teton had 30; Park had 26; Campbell had 25; Uinta had 21; Lincoln had 19; Carbon had 18; Crook had 17; Goshen and Sublette had 16; Platte had nine; Hot Springs had eight; Sweetwater and Washakie had five; Weston had two, and Big Horn and Johnson had one.

The active cases were made up of 521 people with laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus and 118 with probable cases.

Active cases are determined by adding the total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness first surfaced in Wyoming on March 12, subtracting the number of recoveries during the same period among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness.

The Health Department said the number of confirmed cases in the state went up by 30 on Saturday, with new cases reported in 12 counties: Albany, Campbell, Carbon, Fremont, Hot Springs, Laramie, Lincoln, Natrona, Sheridan, Sublette, Teton and Uinta. Albany and Fremont counties saw the largest increase in cases at five.

The increase brings the number of confirmed cases seen since the illness was first detected in Wyoming in March to 4,039.

The number of probable cases, where a patient has coronavirus symptoms and has been in contact with someone with a confirmed case but has not been tested for the illness, went up by three Saturday to total 741 since the pandemic began.

The 48 recoveries reported Saturday brings to 4,092 the number of people infected with coronavirus to have recovered since mid-March. The recoveries have been seen among 3,469 people with laboratory-confirmed cases and 623 with probable cases.

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Wyoming State Bar Introduces New Governing Members

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Cheyenne attorney has been named president of the Wyoming State Bar for the coming year.

Billie L.M. Addleman, managing partner at the Hirst Applegate Law Firm, earned his law degree from the Univesity of Wyoming College of Law and has practiced at Hirst Applegate since 2004.

Addleman’s primary focus is in civil litigation, including professional liability, commercial litigation, real estate litigation and professional licensing. He also serves on the UW College of Law advisory committee and the Laramie County Community College paralegal advisory committee.

Addleman was one of a number of attorneys elected to fill officers’ positions in the Bar, according to news releases from the organization.

Laramie attorney Benjamin Rose was elected to serve as the chair of the Young Lawyers section, for which he will serve one year. He is focused on development for the University of Wyoming College of Law.

P. Craig Silva, a Casper attorney, has been elected commissioner of the bar to represent the Seventh Judicial District, which consists of Natrona County. He will serve a three-year term.

Basin attorney Jennifer L. Kirk has also been elected commissioner of the bar, representing the Fifth Judicial District, consisting of Big Horn, Hot Springs, Park and Washakie counties. She will serve a three-year term.

Kirk is a Basin native and earned her law degree in 2014. She has spent the last year working as a deputy county and prosecuting attorney for Big Horn County.

Finally, Sheridan attorney Kevin K. Kessner was elected commissioner to serve the Fourth Judicial District, consisting of Buffalo and Sheridan counties. He will also serve a three-year term.

Elected vice president was R. Scott Kath from Powell, who earned his degree from the UW College of Law in 1983 and is a partner with the Copenhaver Law Office.

J. Kenneth Barbe of Casper is now the Wyoming State Bar president-elect. He’s been a resident of Wyoming since 1975 and obtained his degree from the UW College of Law in 1983. He will serve as president when Addleman’s term is complete.

Barbe is a member of the firm of Welborn, Sullivan, Meck & Tooley P.C. in Casper.

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Fire Burning At Medicine Bow National Forest

in News/wildfire
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A fire in the Medicine Bow National Forest in southeastern Wyoming first reported Thursday grew to more than 200 acres Friday morning, officials said.

U.S. Forest Service officials, on the agency’s “Inciweb” fire-tracking website urged those visiting the forest’s Savage Run Wilderness area to leave because of the threat posed by the fire.

The fire, known as the Mullen Fire, was reported midday Thursday, but the cause had not been determined as of late Friday morning.

The fire origin started in the Savage Run Wilderness area in the forest in Carbon County.

There is a possibility for extreme fire behavior through the weekend and a high probability for fire growth to the north and east, up the Mullen Creek drainages, as well as the Savage Run Creek drainage, the Forest Service said.

Ground crews are focusing on protecting the area near the A Bar A Ranch to the west and private property to the east. The Rambler and Rob Roy areas have been evacuated.

Two helicopters are currently working the fire edges. Forest Service staff, the Wyoming Game and Fish officials and Albany/Carbon Counties staff are helping people get away from the fire area.

The fire is in extremely rugged terrain with live blowdowns and beetle-killed deadfall trees.

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Wyoming Supreme Court Rules Man’s Parental Rights Improperly Terminated

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A man who had not seen his newborn daughter within the first three years of her life was improperly denied a chance to argue against the termination of his parental rights, Wyoming’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Justices unanimously ruled that Cody John Niland should have been given a chance to argue in court that the termination of his parental rights would not be in the best interests of his daughter.

“Mr. Niland has a protected interest in his right to parent … and that interest was affected ‘in an impermissible way,’” the opinion said. “The termination of Mr. Niland’s parental rights before he had the opportunity to … present evidence or to examine, explain or rebut evidence … was a ‘denial of fundamental fairness’ guaranteed by Wyoming law.”

Justices ordered that Niland be allowed to present arguments in the case.

The ruling stems from the efforts of the state Department of Family Services to terminate Niland’s parental rights over his daughter, identified only as NRAE.

According to the opinion, the girl was born in 2016 and both she and her mother tested positive for methamphetamine. The mother was arrested for child endangerment and the child was placed in foster care.

The mother identified Niland as the child’s father and the department tried to find him, the opinion said.

“The department struggled to find Mr. Niland — sometimes he was homeless, other times he was incarcerated,” the opinion said.

Genetic testing in October 2018 showed Niland to be the father and in December 2018, he expressed an interest in having his daughter placed in his custody.

At the same time, rehabilitation efforts for the girl’s mother were unsuccessful, so the DFS sought to have the parental rights of both the mother and Niland terminated so the child could be adopted.

The DFS argued that the legal requirements for termination of parental rights were met including that the child was left in the care of another for at least one year without provision for the child’s support or communication from the absent period. The DFS also argued that the child had been abandoned by her parents.

Niland argued against termination, saying he did not know the girl was his daughter until the genetic testing was completed more than one year after her birth. He also said he had not been given an opportunity to show he could financially support his daughter.

A district court in Laramie County ruled that evidence supported the legal requirements for the termination.

However, under Wyoming law, before the parental rights can be terminated, a finding must also be entered that such a decision would be in the best interests of the child.

The DFS asked the district court for such a determination and the district court granted the request based on evidence submitted earlier and without hearing arguments from Niland. In addition, the decision was made eight days after the DFS’ request, the opinion said, before Niland’s deadline of 20 days to respond to that request.

Justices agreed that while Niland was given an opportunity to argue that the legal requirements for the termination of parental rights were not met, he was not given a chance to argue that the termination of those rights would not be in the child’s best interest.

“Mr. Niland was denied due process when the district court determined the best interests of the child without providing an opportunity for him to be heard,” the ruling said.

Justices ordered that another hearing be held and that Niland be given a chance to to present his case.

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Cheney: Our Cities Are Burning Because Dems Won’t Stand Up To Thugs

in Liz Cheney/News/politics
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney continued to speak out against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice president nominee Sen. Kamala Harris this week.

On Tuesday, Cheney delivered remarks at a House Republican news event regarding the GOP’s “Commitment to America” agenda, which calls for restoring American ideals and rebuilding the economy.

She noted the importance of participating in the general election in November, describing it as being critical to future legislation regarding the coronavirus, the economy, the military and “our founding values.”

“Every single day, the Democrats tell us what they would do in…’a Harris administration with Joe Biden,'” Cheney said. “They would defund our police, dismantle our freedom, destroy our history and abandon our founding values.”

Cheney continued to criticize the Democratic party in her speech, blaming Democratic administrations’ policies for this year’s wildfires in the West Coast states.

She also blamed unrest, violence and looting seen in several cities across the nation on the failure of Democrat leaders to enforce laws in their communities.

“Our cities are burning because Democrats won’t stand up against the rioting of thugs who are destroying the lives built by hard-working Americans over decades,” the representative said.

Neither did Cheney mince words when discussing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, whom Cheney has commented about many times in the past. She called the House speaker a “partisan hack” during her speech.

“The Democrats leading this House care so little about the American people that they have squandered 17 months trying to score political points while our nation faces unprecedented challenges,” she said.

The representative closed her comments by reiterating that the Republican party will continue to fight for American values and return power to the people all across the republic.

“We’ll make sure that our children know the unparalleled contribution to freedom this nation has made, and that they know that we enjoy the blessings of every one of those freedoms because of the men and women who wear the uniform of this country and who have sworn to protect us all,” she said.

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Barrasso Backs Bipartisan Military Spouses Licensing Bill

in military/News
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso is joining 22 other senators in supporting a bill that would make it easier for the spouses of members of the military to practice their professions where their spouses are stationed.

On Thursday, the senators introduced the bipartisan Military Spouse Licensing Relief Act, which gives military spouses with valid professional licenses in one state reciprocity in the state where their spouse is currently serving on military orders, according to a news release.

For example, if a military spouse has a cosmetology license in Colorado, but his or her spouse is serving in Wyoming, their license would be valid in both states.

“In Wyoming, we recognize the sacrifice that our service members and their families make every day,” Barrasso said in the release. “Military families often move every two to three years. The last thing they need to worry about is spending time and money trying to maintain their careers in a new state.

“Our bipartisan bill will make it easier for military spouses to transition the professional licenses they’ve already worked hard to obtain when they move to a new duty station,” he continued.

The bill would amend the Service Members Civil Relief Act of 2003. The SCRA already provides a number of protections for active duty service members and their families, including rental agreements, civil judicial proceedings, installment contracts and credit card and mortgage interest rates.

This legislation wouldn’t preempt state law on how the licenses are used, as military spouses would still be required to comply with standards of practice, discipline and continuing education requirements.

Some of the senators co-sponsoring the bill alongside Barrasso include Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-California.

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Jimmy Orr: Don Day Says Wyoming Will Get Break From Smoke Soon

in Column/Jimmy Orr/News/weather
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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Before Wyoming’s weatherman Don Day left for a fall hunting trip, we tracked him down to discuss the smoky air that is affecting many areas of the state.

Day said it will take 24 to 48 hours but we should be getting a break from the smoke due a rainstorm that will hit the Pacific Northwest over the weekend.

“There’s going to be rain moving into Washington, Oregon, even far northern California and that’s going to really help reduce the coverage of the fires,” Day said. 

He said the rain won’t extinguish the fires but will give firefighters some help.

The cold front will act as a broom, Day said and will push the smoke out.

“It will bring upper level winds that will be faster and stronger,” he said. “It may not completely get rid of the smoke, but by Sunday and Monday the smoke will be greatly reduced.”

If you’ve felt like the smoke has hung around for a long time, you’re not imagining things. It’s the time of the year.

“The thing to remember about high pressure this time of year is the winds aloft — the prevailing winds — are very weak,” he said.  “So when you build up a lot of smoke, there’s nothing to push the smoke out. It kind of lingers and hangs around until the weather pattern changes or the fires go out.”

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Victim’s Family Speaks Out Regarding South Dakota AG Crash

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A family member of the man killed last weekend in a crash involving South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg is speaking out regarding the investigation.

On Thursday, an Atlanta news station posted an interview with Tony Boever, Joseph Boever’s brother. In the discussion, Tony Boever said some people have even been blaming his brother for the the accident in which he was hit by a car driven by Ravnsborg, an event still under investigation.

“My worst fear is that my brother was just laying on the side of the road, within the reach of the headlights from where the car apparently stopped and was laying there dying and suffering,” Tony Boever said in the interview.

Ravnsborg said in a statement earlier this week that he drove home from the Spink County Lincoln Day Dinner in Redfield, South Dakota, around 9:15 p.m. on Saturday.

He didn’t drink any alcohol before, during or after the event, and said that on his way back to Pierre he hit what he believed to be a deer.

“I didn’t see what I hit and stopped my vehicle immediately to investigate,” he said in the statement.

Ravnsborg was alone and uninjured in the collision. He then called 911 to report hitting a deer.

The Hyde County Sheriff arrived on scene to assess the damage to the AG’s vehicle and look for the deer.

Neither the sheriff nor Ravnsborg saw Boever’s body in the ditch, even though Ravnsborg used his cell phone flashlight to search the area, he said.

He returned to the scene of the crash the following morning on his way to return the sheriff’s vehicle. He and an employee stopped to look for the animal again, but instead found Boever’s body nearby.

“My chief of staff and I checked and it was apparent that Mr. Boever was deceased,” Ravnsborg said. “I immediately drove to Sheriff Volek’s home to report the discovery and he accompanied me back to the scene. Once there, the sheriff instructed me that he would handle the investigation, and asked me to return to Pierre.” 

Tony Boever questioned Ravnsborg’s reasoning for going back the next day to the area where the crash happened.

He also questioned the transparency in the investigation, as the case involves one of South Dakota’s highest officials. He noted Ravnsborg hadn’t been placed on administrative leave yet, something that didn’t sit right with him.

“You’re innocent until proven guilty, but you also don’t get to just live your life like nothing happened,” Tony Boever said.

A medical examination on Boever’s body was completed earlier this week in Minnesota. North Dakota investigators are also assisting the investigation of the crash.

According to his obituary, Boever was a South Dakota native who held a nursing degree and was known for his gentle personality.

He graduated from Brookings High School in 1982 and received his nursing degree from the University of South Dakota. He married his wife, Jennifer Mohr, in 2017.

Boever worked in various nursing homes over the years, was a handyman and had a natural talent for gardening, especially when he cultivated jade plants. He was also a voracious reader who taught himself to read at five.

His obituary touted Boever’s insatiable curiousity, quit wit and dry humor.

“He loved his wife and family as we loved him and his passing leaves a hole in all our hearts,” the obituary stated.

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