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Wyoming Supreme Court Rules Against Negligence Claim In Cody Traffic Accident Case

in News/Wyoming Supreme Court
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A driver failed to prove that another driver was negligent when the two were involved in an auto accident at a Cody intersection, Wyoming’s Supreme Court has ruled.

The court rejected arguments by Nathan Wageman that a jury should have found Destin Harrell negligent in the accident.

According to the ruling, Wageman was driving his car toward what was described as a “complex” T-intersection. Drivers approaching the intersection from one direction have to drive down a steep hill, while drivers approaching from the direction of the stop sign at the intersection have an obstructed view of the road because of shrubbery and “at certain times, blinding sunlight.”

The ruling said Wageman and his wife were driving north on the road and Harrell was at the intersection’s stop sign facing east, waiting to turn left.

“Mr. Harrell proceeded from the stop sign as Mr. Wageman turned and Mr. Harrell’s car struck the driver side of Mr. Wageman’s truck,” the ruling said.

Wageman sued Harrell for damages for injuries he suffered in the accident, alleging Harrell was negligent in the accident.

The jury in the case disagreed, finding Harrell was not negligent.

Wageman said the evidence he presented was sufficient to prove Harrell’s negligence and the jury’s ruling was improper.

But the Supreme Court’s opinion, written by Justice Lynne Boomgaarden, said jurors were told that Harrell’s view was obstructed by the sun and were also told that when Wageman started making his turn, his vehicle crossed over Harrell’s lane of travel.

Because jurors were presented with conflicting information, they were not bound to declare Harrell negligent, the opinion said.

“The evidence shows Mr. Harrell carefully approached the intersection, took extra time to twice look left and right, proceeded slowly when he thought it was safe, and only collided with Mr. Wageman because Mr. Wageman had cut sharply into his lane of travel,” the opinion said. “The jury could reasonably conclude from this evidence that Mr. Wageman failed to meet his burden to establish that Mr. Harrell breached his duty of ordinary care. We therefore will not disturbe the jury’s verdict.”

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Grand Teton National Park Sees Highest October Visitation On Record

in News/Recreation
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Continuing the trend from late summer, Grand Teton National Park again saw record-breaking visitation numbers, this time through the month of October.

The park hosted an estimated 351,173 recreational visits over October, an 88% increased compared to October 2019. Statistics show that this October saw the highest number of recreation visits on record for the month.

The list below shows the October trend for recreation visits over the last several years:

  • 2020—351,173
  • 2019—186,487
  • 2018—207,534
  • 2017—187,499
  • 2016—186,185
  • 2015—190,681

Visitors to Grand Teton National Park are reminded to plan ahead and recreate responsibly.

The park highly encourages visitors to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local and state authorities, by maintaining social distancing guidelines and wearing a face covering when in buildings and high-visitation areas outside. 

The park saw an estimated 603,789 recreation visits in September, a 17% increase compared to September 2019. 

In general, hiking use in the park increased approximately 54%, camping in concession-operated campgrounds increased 24% and backcountry camping increased 79% in September 2020 compared to September 2019. 

In August, the park hosted an estimated 710,198 visits, the second-highest number of recreation visits on record, just behind August 2017.

Yellowstone National Park has also seen record-breaking numbers over the last few months, setting all-time visitation records in September and October, as well.

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Interior Department Uses Grizzly 399, Cubs As Perfect Example Of How To Travel In Bear Country

in Grizzly Bears/News
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We’re not saying we used a Twitter post as an excuse to write about Grizzly 399, the objectively best bear in Yellowstone, but hey, at least it’s not politics, right?

The U.S. Department of Interior on Wednesday showed off an image of the 24-year-old mama bear and her four cubs, noting they were the best example of how to hike in bear country.

“A sweet reminder to give other families you see on the trail plenty of space! Take it from Grizzly 399, the safest way to hike in bear country is with groups of 3 or more,” the tweet read, alongside with a picture of the grizzly and her four cubs walking away from the camera (which is probably for the best).

While we all love watching 399 and her cubs, there’s been concern recently about their eating habits. The five-some ventured farther south this fall and have been eating some human-related items, such as honey from a beekeeper’s hives and a compost pile.

That’s concerns Wyoming Game and Fish Regional Supervisor Brad Hovinga.

“Here’s a bear that’s long habituated to being around people,” Hovinga told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “Now she’s in a new area that has different food sources, and some of those food sources are associated with human and residential activity.”

Wildlife photographer and advocate Tom Mangelsen was upset with the beekeeper for not properly taking care of his property.

“That’s not good,” Mangelsen told the newspaper. “The beekeeper needs to take responsibility for leaving honey out that the bears might find. Same thing with compost.

“You can’t just have stuff out,” he said, “and expect the bears to not find it and eat it.”

It’s not the first time this year, there has been worry about the most photographed group of bears.

One of her cubs was spotted limping around a month ago, but has seemed to improve since then.

In September, the bear family was caught on camera while the cubs were playing with traffic cones in Grand Teton National Park.

Grizzly 399 is considered the most famous bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. She has had around 16 cubs, including her latest four that were first seen this year.

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Thanksgiving Lefovers: Be Careful What You Feed Your Dog

in dogs/News
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Now that Thanksgiving is over, if you are like many (like Dave Simpson), you have a lot of leftovers.

As dog-lovers (we like cats too), we wanted to remind you that — although it’s tempting to share your Thanksgiving feast with your doggo — it can also be dangerous for them.

To that end, we went to our friends at the American Kennel Club and the ASPCA to see what dogs can and cannot handle over the Thanksgiving holiday.

My veterinarian advises not giving them any special food at all. Her regular dog food is enough and she’ll be happy.

But if you can’t resist sharing your bounty, consider the following:

Do NOT let your dog have any of these foods:

Turkey bones, skin, and gravy
Stuffing
Casseroles
Mashed potatoes
Creamed peas
Chocolate, cookies, pies, and sweets (especially anything containing xylitol)
Alcoholic beverages
Raisins and grapes
Onions, scallions, and garlic
Ham
Yeast dough
Fatty foods
Foods containing spices

And it’s not because they are being a Scrooge (to mix holidays), it’s because there are unsafe and unhealthy ingredients in these food items.

What is safe to eat? The American Kennel Club lists the following:

Sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Just remember not to give your pet sweet potatoes containing any added ingredients.

Potatoes. You get to enjoy both kinds of potatoes, and your dog can have that option, too. However, give only boiled or baked potatoes with no butter, sour cream, salt, or pepper, and serve in moderation.

Apples. Full of vitamins A and C and contain lots of great fiber, making them a healthy Thanksgiving treat for your pet. But be sure to cut around the core, as large amounts of apple seeds can be toxic.

Turkey meat (no bones, no skin). For those that wonder if dogs can eat turkey at Thanksgiving, the answer is yes. The main dish is okay to offer up as long as it has not been prepared with any seasoning. However, do not feed your dog any skin. The outer layer is likely to have been prepared with butter, spices, or other fatty ingredients that may cause pancreatitis or other issues for your dog.

Green beans. But the bean dish should be plain — without any added ingredients like butter or spices.

Plain peas are a fine choice, but creamed peas should be avoided. Fattier food items like this that may upset your dog’s stomach.

Pumpkin. Pumpkin helps with digestive health and it’s great for a dog’s skin and coat. Also, if feeding canned pumpkin, make sure it’s just pumpkin and not the pre-spiced pie mix.

Enjoy the weekend!

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13 Deaths, 702 New Coronavirus Cases; 10,433 Active

in Coronavirus/News
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The number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming fell by more than 1,400 on Wednesday as the Wyoming Department of Health reported it had received new reports of more than 2,200 recoveries.

However, the department also announced Wednesday that the deaths of 13 more Wyoming residents were linked to the illness.

According to department figures, three of the deaths occurred among Fremont County residents, while Laramie and Campbell counties each saw two residents die. One victim also came from each of Converse, Crook, Goshen, Natrona, Platte and Washakie counties.

Further details about the deaths will not be released until Monday.

The announcement of the deaths came as the department said it had received reports of recoveries among 2,217 people with either confirmed or probable cases of coronavirus.

The state also reported 702 new laboratory-confirmed cases and 100 new probable cases. Combined, the numbers left the state with 10,433 active cases, a decline of 1,428 from Tuesday.

Natrona County had 2,342 active cases; Laramie County had 1,474; Albany had 1,219; Campbell had 1,129; Fremont had 705; Sheridan had 613; Sweetwater had 434; Goshen had 370; Uinta had 360; Park had 246; Lincoln had 210; Washakie had 192; Teton had 158; Johnson had 150; Carbon had 140; Platte had 116; Sublette had 114; Converse had 108; Weston had 83; Big Horn and Hot Springs had 77; Crook had 63 and Niobrara had 53.

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.

New cases were reported in 22 counties, with Laramie County reporting the highest number at 168. Natrona County reported 114.

The increase in confirmed cases brought the total seen since the disease was first diagnosed in Wyoming in mid-March to 26,677.

The number of probable cases, meanwhile, increased by 100 to total 4,084.

The 2,217 new recoveries brought the number of people to recover since the pandemic began to 20,113.

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Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon Tests Positive For Covid-19

in Coronavirus/News
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Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon has tested positive for the coronavirus his office announced on Wednesday.

“Governor Mark Gordon received results today of a COVID-19 test that showed he is positive for the virus,” the statement read. “He only has minor symptoms at this time and plans to continue working on behalf of Wyoming remotely.”

Only moments after the statement was released, a video was posted on Gordon’s Facebook page of the Governor and First Lady wishing citizens a Happy Thanksgiving.  The positive coronavirus test was not mentioned.

“Jennie and I want to wish you all a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving. In these challenging times, we are thankful for our family, friends, healthcare workers, service members and first responders,” Gordon said.

Gordon’s office was closed on Tuesday to be “thoroughly cleaned” after an employee of the governor’s office tested positive.

Gordon spokesman Michael Pearlman on Tuesday told Cowboy State Daily that he didn’t know the exact number of people who were exposed to the virus.

“Governor’s office staff are telecommuting on a rotating basis, so there are only a handful of people in the office every day and I don’t know who of those may have been in close contact with this individual,” he said in an email. “Those who are in the office are wearing face coverings at all time when they are not in their private offices.”

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Cheney Praises Trump’s White House For COVID Vaccine Innovation

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

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, speaking during an award acceptance speech this week, praised President Donald Trump and his administration for their help with the development of two coronavirus vaccines.

Cheney received the American Life Sciences Innovation Council’s 2020 Champion of Health Care Innovation award from the Wyoming Hospital Association, the Casper Chamber of Commerce, the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce and the Wyoming Medical Society.

“One of the stories that has not [been as prominent[ is the really incredible process that has gone on through Operation Warp Speed put in place by President Trump and the task force at the White House,” she said during her comments on a Zoom call this week. “I think the untold story that’s not getting enough credit is the distribution system that’s been set up.”

Cheney credited the Trump administration’s establishment of a partnership between the military and the American private sector. She also hailed the administration’s decision to leave the distribution of a vaccine and other health mandates up to the states, instead of implementing nationwide health orders.

She added a jab at the transition process between the Trump administration and incoming President-Elect Joe Biden’s team, saying she was “grateful” the latter didn’t yet have access to the vaccine distribution system yet, as she believed the Biden administration would seize the vaccines and “nationalize” them.

She also commented on Gov. Mark Gordon’s recent order to send assistance to hospitals across the state, especially in Cheyenne and Gillette.

“The vaccines are certainly the light at the end of the tunnel, and those are coming very quickly, but we’re going to have to get people through the next several months here and make sure that people’s businesses can continue to thrive,” Cheney concluded.

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Park County GOP Says Mask Order is Unconstitutional; Wants it Rescinded

in Coronavirus/News
Cody Stampede Rodeo
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Members of Park County’s Republican Party are studying a resolution calling for the county’s health officer to rescind the mandatory face mask order that took effect last week.

The resolution to be voted on by the county’s central committee during a Dec. 3 meeting alleges the order is unconstitutional because it was put into place without the input of elected officials.

“Obviously, this was an end run around our elected officials at the sate level, our county commissioners and our mayors and city/town council,” the proposed resolution said. “Furthermore, input from the public was never solicited!”

A copy of the proposed resolution has been delivered to Park County commissioners, but Martin Kimmet, chairman of the Park County Republican Party, said it would remain an unofficial document until it could be reviewed and adopted by the party’s central committee.

The document was signed by Kimmet and other members of the party’s executive committee.

Dr. Aaron Billin, Park County’s public health officer, was one of more than a dozen county health officers to seek state approval for public health orders mandating the use of face masks in public settings.

In a posting to the Park County Health Department’s Facebook page, Billin cited studies concluding that the use of face masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing are powerful tools in preventing the spread of the coronavirus as the reasoning behind his order.

However, Billin sought approval for his health order from Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, without consulting elected officials, the proposed resolution said.

The resolution said the party is challenging Billin’s authority to issue the order and asks that he rescind it.

“Should he not, we urge our elected Park County Commissioners to nullify this unconstitutional order, in haste, at their earliest opportunity,” the document said.

Commissioners in several counties, including Uinta, Carbon and Washakie, have said mask mandates requested by their county health officials were submitted for state approval before the commissioners were alerted to the orders.

State law does not appear to require county commissioners to approve public health orders and it specifies that county health officers are under the “direction and supervision” of the state Department of Health.

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415 New Coronavirus Cases in Wyoming; 11,861 Active

in Coronavirus/News
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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming increased by 68 on Tuesday as the state reported 415 new laboratory-confirmed cases of the illness.

The Wyoming Department of Health, in its daily coronavirus update, said the state also saw 113 new probable cases of COVID-19 and received reports of 460 recoveries.

Combined, the numbers left the state with 11,816 active cases, an increase of 68 from Monday.

Natrona County had the highest number of active cases at 2,634; Laramie County had 1,623; Albany County had 1,568; Campbell had 1,378; Fremont had 751; Sheridan had 617; Sweetwater had 456; Goshen had 409; Uinta had 388; Park had 310; Lincoln had 254; Platte had 173; Johnson had 171; Weston had 170; Washakie had 166; Teton had 139; Carbon had 135; Sublette had 116; Converse had 109; Big Horn had 92; Hot Springs had 78; Crook had 72, and Niobrara had 52.

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.

Reports of new cases Tuesday came from all but one county, Niobrara. The highest number of new cases was seen in Natrona and Campbell counties, 50.

The total number of confirmed cases seen since the coronavirus was first reported in Wyoming in mid-March stood at 25,975 on Tuesday with the reported increases.

The number of probable cases, meanwhile, increased by 113 Tuesday to total 3,984 since the pandemic began.

The reports of 460 recoveries brought to 17,896 the number of people to recover from the illness since mid-March.

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Denver Mayor Advises Not to Travel on Thanksgiving; 30 Minutes Later He Boards Flight to Houston

in News/politics
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One of the reasons politicians have such a bad rap is some say one thing and do another.

Take the case of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

After telling Denverites to stay home for the Thanksgiving holiday, he got on a plane on Wednesday and flew to Houston to spend time with his family in Mississippi.

In fact, 30 minutes before boarding the flight to have an in-person dinner with his family — in direct opposition to what he advised — he tweeted:

“Host virtual gatherings instead of in-person dinners. Avoid travel if you can.”

The job of a press secretary can be a horrible one if you have a hypocrite for a boss.  And in this case, his deputy communications director had to answer to the press.

His statement? Another reason politicians have such a bad reputation. Instead of admitting a mistake was made, he tried to rationalize it.

“As he has shared, the mayor is not hosting his traditional large family this year, but instead traveling alone to join his wife and daughter where the three of them will celebrate Thanksgiving at her residence instead of having them travel back to Denver. Upon return he will follow all necessary health and safety guidance and quarantine,” Mike Strott said.

What makes this all worse?  Hancock’s press conference last week where he said he was just going to be having a Zoom call for Thanksgiving.

“We’re going to be doing a Zoom so that we can at least see each other on Thanksgiving. So please, I urge everyone, maybe get a small turkey this year and celebrate with just those you live with,” he said.

In other words, the mayor lied and went against everything he said not to do and his people are trying to cover for it. 

Hancock is not the first and certainly won’t be the last politician do this.

Earlier this week, New York Gov Andrew Cuomo advised citizens to stay at home for Thanksgiving but then announced his was traveling to spend Thanksgiving with his mother.  He quickly changed his mind.

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