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Casper

Casper Woman Sentenced To Prison For Helping Boyfriend Sexually Abuse Son

in News/Crime
21526

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper woman was sentenced last week to a decade in prison for conspiring to help her boyfriend sexually abuse her young son, court records showed.

Zabrina Thornton was sentenced on June 22 to five to 10 years in prison on two counts of third-degree conspiracy to commit sexual abuse of a minor.

Thornton entered an Alford plea in the case, meaning she did not admit wrongdoing in the case, but acknowledged prosecutors have enough evidence to find her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

According to court documents and the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office, investigators were contacted in late June 2021 regarding a cybertip received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The tip was in reference to several videos found online which depicted a man sexually assaulting a prepubescent child. The child at one point asked if the man will be done soon, because the child has to go to the bathroom. An identifiable tattoo could be seen on the man’s arm.

Based on information provided in the cybertip and a local law enforcement database, the videos were believed to have originated from 49-year-old Natrona County resident Samuel Rosamond.

Rosamond was living with Thornton and her two young children, an older girl and younger boy.

On June 25, 2021, Rosamond and Thornton were interviewed at the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office. During the interview, Rosamond confessed to sexually assaulting the boy on at least one occasion and recording several videos on his phone during that time.

He said Thornton did not know about and was not involved in the abuse. Thornton also denied knowledge of any abuse being committed by Rosamond.

Based on the evidence and confession, Rosamond was then placed under arrest.

During the investigation, officers found four cameras disguised to look like clock radios which were placed in four different rooms of the residence, three of which were bedrooms.

On July 15, 2021, sheriff’s investigators were contacted by Homeland Security regarding several images of concern captured by the clock cameras in the house. The images depicted Thornton and Rosamond engaged in sexual acts and intercourse with juveniles present.

The two children in the home were immediately placed into protective custody.

Thornton was again interviewed and confessed to participating in sex acts with Rosamond and juveniles in the home on multiple occasions. She was ultimately arrested.

In November 2021, Rosamond pleaded guilty in Natrona County District Court to one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor in accordance with a plea agreement. He was sentenced in March to 38 to 50 years in prison.

Court records also showed Thornton relinquished her parental rights to at least one of her children earlier this year.

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Captured Black Bear Released From Casper To Bighorn Mountains

in News/Bears
20944

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A young black bear spotted in a Casper neighborhood was safely transported out of the city on Sunday evening, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokeswoman told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.

Department spokeswoman Sara DiRienzo said that the bear was captured and immobilized Sunday morning and transported to the southern Bighorn Mountains later in the day, where it was released.

“It’s not uncommon for black bears to be spotted in town this time of year,” she said. “Cubs are separating from their mothers in the springtime and are on the move to new territory of their own.”

Casper police initially believed there were multiple bears in the area on Sunday, but there was only one.

One of the more famous examples of bears separating from their mother is famed grizzly 399, whose four cubs left the den last month. The cubs are around 2 years old and one was hazed not long after leaving its mother.

Last week, the Idaho Fish and Game Department issued a release warning residents of Salmon, Idaho, that a grizzly was spotted in the area, which is uncommon for that portion of Idaho.

“Most of Idaho’s grizzly bear populations are in the northern Panhandle area and the area in and around Yellowstone National Park in eastern Idaho,” officials said.

“But young male grizzlies may wander long distances and into areas where people don’t expect to encounter them. These young male bears typically wander through an area, but do not remain there,” they said.

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Casper Police Release Information On Abortion Clinic Fire Suspect As Video Footage Emerges

in News/Crime
20725

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Ellen@cowboystatedaily.com

A white female has been identified as a suspect who started a fire in late May that caused significant damage to an abortion clinic in Casper, according to the city’s police department.

Casper police officials on Tuesday released information about the arson suspect, asking the public to help identify her. She is believed to be of medium build and stands between 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches.

The fire at Wellspring Health Access on May 25 caused “significant” damage, according to previous Cowboy State Daily reporting.

The suspect was wearing a surgical mask for the majority of the time she was captured on surveillance footage, except for one moment when she pulled the mask down.

Police believe the suspect acted alone in the arson. She entered the building around 2:30 a.m. on May 25 and was inside for around 15 minutes, according to Casper police.

Police and fire services arrived to the clinic around 4 a.m. A witness reported the suspect was reported running away from the site – carrying a gas can and a black bag.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest of the suspect. Those with information are encouraged to call the ATF at 307-633-9400.

The FBI is also investigating the arson, as is the bureau’s policy to investigate whenever there is a violent crime that has happened at an abortion provider. The clinic will provide other services in addition to abortion.

Wellspring owner Julie Burkhart did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Tuesday.

Burkhart previously said the fire would not prevent the clinic from opening.

“This is something I’ve been afraid of happening,” she said after the fire. “I’ve worked in this field for a long time and I’ve seen vandalism, flooding, defacing property and buildings, but never arson.”

The clinic has drawn much controversy since its opening was announced last month.

The new clinic between downtown Casper and the Wyoming Medical Center will be operated by Wellspring, which is incorporated in Washington, D.C., and headed up by founder Burkhart, who is based in Colorado.

The clinic is funded by private donors and has been created and supported by a community advisory board of 15 people, Burkhart previously said. These include faith leaders, tribal communities and health care advocates.

Wyoming has only one abortion provider and 96% of Wyoming women live in a county without an abortion clinic.

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Explainer: Why Are The Feds Involved In The Casper Abortion Clinic Fire?

in News/Crime
Photo by Desirée Tinoco
20493

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Two federal agencies have been brought in to investigate the circumstances surrounding the fire at a Casper abortion clinic last week.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are both now involved with the investigation into the May 25 fire at the Wellspring Health Access clinic, which local law enforcement officers believe was intentionally set.

Casper Police Department spokeswoman Rebekah Ladd told Cowboy State Daily on Saturday that the federal investigators are being asked to look at the incident because of the nature of the fire and where it occurred.

“The FBI was brought in to consult on any potential federal charges due it being a health care facility, but at this time we do not have a determination on that,” Ladd said. “The ATF was brought in to assist in the arson investigation. That is pretty normal practice for us when we have larger potential arson investigations.”

The fire caused what has been described as “extensive” damage at the Wellspring Health Access facility early the morning of May 25. While investigators told Cowboy State Daily last week they had found the point of origin for the fire, they have not yet reported where it began.

According to the FBI, the department investigates violent crimes committed against reproductive health care providers and facilities in accordance with the the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994.

The FACE Act made it a federal crime to injure, intimidate or interfere with those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health care services, including through assault, murder, burglary, physical blockade or making threatening phone calls and mailings.

The law also prohibits damaging or destroying any facility because reproductive health services are provided within.

Wellspring clinic owner Julie Burkhart told Cowboy State Daily last week that the fire would not prevent the clinic from opening.

“This is something I’ve been afraid of happening,” she said at the time. “I’ve worked in this field for a long time and I’ve seen vandalism, flooding, defacing property and buildings, but never arson.”

Burkhart said she had received threatening letters and emails prior to the fire, but none specifically threatening arson.

The ATF is involved in the investigation as it is the federal agency primarily responsible for administering and enforcing the criminal and regulatory provisions of federal laws pertaining to bombs, explosives and arson.

According to the Casper Police Department, police officers arrived at the clinic just before 4 a.m. Wednesday in response to a report of a business burglary.

When they arrived, they saw smoke rolling out of the clinic’s windows. The Casper Fire Department arrived on the scene and extinguished the fire.

The caller who reported the burglary said a person was seen running away from the building carrying a gas can and a black bag.

The new clinic between downtown Casper and the Wyoming Medical Center will be operated by Wellspring, which is incorporated in Washington, D.C., and headed up by founder Burkhart, who is based in Colorado.

Currently, Wyoming has only one abortion provider and 96% of Wyoming women live in a county without an abortion clinic.

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Casper Abortion Clinic ‘Significantly’ Damaged Due to Smoke Caused By Arson

in News/Crime
20148

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Fire investigators have determined where a fire began Wednesday that damaged the inside of a planned Casper abortion clinic, a Casper Fire Department spokesman told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

The fire caused what has been described as extensive damage at the Wellspring Health Access facility on early Wednesday morning and investigators believe that it was intentionally set. While investigators announced they had found the point of origin for the fire, they did not report where it began.

“I don’t think anyone has actually left the scene since yesterday and we are working very closely with the police department on this investigation,” fire department spokesman Dane Anderson said Thursday.

Anderson said that while he had not been to the scene, there was reportedly a “significant” amount of smoke damage inside. He could not say how many minutes investigators believe the fire was burning, but he did say it was “not long.”

He added investigators are now working to determine if accelerants were used to start the fire and if so, what kind.

Wellspring Health Access owner Julie Burkhart told Cowboy State Daily that since law enforcement was still investigating the incident, she did not have much new information as of Thursday morning.

“We hope to be able to assess the damage in the near future,” she said.

She said on Wednesday that the fire would not prevent the clinic from opening.

“This is something I’ve been afraid of happening,” she said at the time. “I’ve worked in this field for a long time and I’ve seen vandalism, flooding, defacing property and buildings, but never arson.”

According to the Casper Police Department, police officers arrived at the clinic just before 4 a.m. Wednesday in response to a report of a business burglary.

When they arrived, they saw smoke rolling out of the clinic’s windows. The Casper Fire Department arrived on the scene and extinguished the fire.

The caller who reported the burglary said a person was seen running away from the building carrying a gas can and a black bag.

Police and fire investigators are now interviewing witnesses and reviewing footage from the clinic’s neighborhood.

Casper Police spokeswoman Rebekah Ladd did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Thursday.

The clinic has drawn much controversy since its opening was announced last month and was the subject of online debate after the fire.

Casper City Councilman Bruce Knell on Wednesday got into a series of online arguments about the the issue of abortion.

“I’m quite sure you’re not nearly as devastated as the unborn children who are ripped from the womb,” he wrote on a K2 News post about the fire at the clinic.

His comment started a back-and-forth with Casper citizens who condemned him for his comments.

“Idiots like you act like you care about children,” responded Julie Ann Schure. “But you complain if a woman collects welfare. And funny how I never hear people complain about men not taking care of their children.”

“If you don’t have a womb, you need to shut your damn mouth!!” she told Knell.

Knell went on to disagree with a number of commenters, bringing up what awaits people, he believes, if “God’s law” is broken.

“All I care about is people’s salvation,” he wrote. “And making sure they understand the word of our God because I can promise you hell is a nasty place.”



The new clinic between downtown Casper and the Wyoming Medical Center will be operated by Wellspring, which is incorporated in Washington, D.C., and headed up by founder Burkhart, who is based in Colorado.

The clinic is funded by private donors and has been created and supported by a community advisory board of 15 people, Burkhart previously said, including faith leaders, tribal communities and health care advocates.

Currently, Wyoming has only one abortion provider and 96% of Wyoming women live in a county without an abortion clinic.

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Fire At Abortion Clinic in Casper on Wednesday Morning; Police Believe It Was Intentionally Set

in News/Crime
Photo by Desirée Tinoco
20102

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An abortion clinic slated to open this summer in Casper was set ablaze Wednesday morning and law enforcement officials believe the fire was intentionally set.

While the clinic’s founder said the damage from the fire appeared to be extensive, it would not prevent the clinic from opening.

“This is something I’ve been afraid of happening,” Julie Burkhart, founder of Wellspring Health Access, told Cowboy State Daily. “I’ve worked in this field for a long time and I’ve seen vandalism, flooding, defacing property and buildings, but never arson.”

According to the Casper Police Department, police officers arrived to the clinic just before 4 a.m. Wednesday in response to a report of a business burglary.

When they arrived, they saw smoke rolling out of the clinic’s windows. The Casper Fire Department arrived on the scene and extinguished the fire.

The caller who reported the burglary said a person was seen running away from the building carrying a gas can and a black bag.

Investigators believe the fire to be intentional at this time. They are currently reviewing footage from the area to provide a description of the suspect.

Burkhart said from the outside, it appears there is “extensive” damage done to the inside of the building.

However, the fire will not stop her from opening the clinic, she said. She added that increased security measures will be added to the clinic once the damages are assessed.



Burkhart pointed to increasing violence across the country, such as the mass shootings in Buffalo, New York last week and the one at an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday, as examples of why she was not surprised the clinic was attacked.

“This is, unfortunately, a field fraught with trauma,” she said. “My former boss was murdered. So I’m just living through another traumatic moment. Violence against providers is not going to stop abortions. It’s a universal known that people have abortions and this isn’t going to stop anything.”

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

Casper Police spokeswoman Rebekah Ladd and Casper Fire spokesman Dane Anderson did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Wednesday.

The clinic has drawn much controversy since its opening was announced last month.

The new clinic between downtown Casper and the Wyoming Medical Center will be operated by Wellspring, which is incorporated in Washington, D.C., and headed up by founder Burkhart, who is based in Colorado.

The clinic is funded by private donors and has been created and supported by a community advisory board of 15 people, Burkhart previously said, including faith leaders, tribal communities and health care advocates.

Currently, Wyoming has only one abortion provider and 96% of Wyoming women live in a county without an abortion clinic.

Right to Life of Wyoming President Marti Halverson previously told Cowboy State Daily that the clinic is an “abomination” and that her organization was already looking at several avenues to thwart its completion and opening.

Sheila Leach, president of the Park County chapter of Right to Life of Wyoming, also expressed dismay at the news of a clinic in Casper and said that there is an ongoing grassroots effort involving pro-life activists across the state who are galvanizing in opposition to new clinic.

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Casper Humane Society Rescues 13 Dogs Scheduled To Be Killed In Texas

in News/Good news
20061

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Casper Humane Society on Sunday took in 13 dogs that were scheduled to be killed due to overcrowding at an animal shelter in Texas, the president of the shelter’s board said Tuesday.

CHS board President Sally Reinhart told Cowboy State Daily the 13 puppies were doing well at the shelter, although they are all being quarantined for the next 10 to 14 days to monitor them for any signs of illness.

“We’re a no-kill shelter and we believe there is a home for every dog,” Reinhart said. “Texas has a terrible euthanasia rate, around 85% to 90% of animals have to killed because they don’t have the space. We try to do our part to help and get these dogs into good homes.”

The puppies are all mixed breeds and Reinhart expects them to weigh anywhere from 25 to 50 pounds once they reach adulthood.

All of the puppies were given vaccination shots before leaving Texas. They will likely be available for adoption around the first week of June and will be available for a meeting through appointments only.

Reinhart said this is not the first time, and likely won’t be the last, the Humane Society has taken in animals from Texas who were at risk of being killed due to overcrowding.

“We work with San Antonio Pets Alive, which takes animals out of kill shelters and put them in foster homes, if they’re available, and then lines them up to go to no-kill shelters like ours,” she said. “They’re all vetted before they come here, with all their shots and spayed or neutered, if they’re old enough. It’s a win-win, because we can save them and they usually get adopted out within a week.”

The Humane Society does not see many puppies in such large groups, so Reinhart expects the dogs will have no issue finding loving homes.

The dogs were actually flown into Wyoming by another nonprofit group, Dog Is My Co-Pilot, which transports animals from overcrowded shelters to adoption centers in other geographic locations.

Reinhart praised the work of the group, which provides services free of charge to the Humane Society.

“They’re just really incredible,” she said. “We’ve been working with these groups for about five years and we just want to save as many lives as we can by having these partnerships.”

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City Of Casper Implements Vaccine Incentive For Employees, Family Members

in News/Coronavirus
13926

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Casper city employees are now eligible for a vaccine incentive that will not only be offered to them, but extended to their family members, spouses and dependents, as well.

The Casper City Council voted 6-2, albeit informally, on Tuesday during a work session to approve the incentive program, which offers $250 to city employees (full-time, part-time and fire and emergency service workers) who are either vaccinated or get fully vaccinated by the end of the year.

However, unlike many vaccine incentive programs implemented across the state, city employees’ family members, spouses and other dependents can also receive $100 if they get fully vaccinated by the end of the year. Employees who have already been fully vaccinated can also receive an additional $50 for getting a booster shot.

The program is completely voluntary, though.

City officials are hoping that through this program, around 65% of the city staff will be vaccinated against the virus by the end of the year, they said during the city council meeting on Tuesday.

Councilman Bruce Knell was one of the two council members who voted against the incentive program.

“I am 100% against using taxpayer dollars to bribe or coerce someone to take a vaccine,” he said.

The money to pay for the incentive is coming from both the city’s CARES Act relief funds and funds from the Casper-Natrona County Health Department.

In September, the Laramie County School District No. 1, which encompasses Cheyenne, offered a one-time incentive of $500 to employees who are already fully vaccinated or are willing to undergo bi-monthly COVID tests.

In late July, the City of Cheyenne announced it would offer extra vacation hours for full-time employees or additional payroll hours for part-time and seasonal employees who were fully vaccinated by Oct. 31.

Cheyenne Regional Medical Center employees who are fully vaccinated by Oct. 31 are eligible for the following: full-time employees can receive either 16 hours of paid time off or a $600 bonus, part-time employees can receive either eight hours of PTO or a $300 bonus and PRN employees (those hired on an on-call basis) will receive a $150 bonus.

Editor’s note: The original headline said the city was implementing a mandate, when they are actually implementing a vaccine incentive. That was a mistake and we have corrected that. We apologize for the error.

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Casper Woman Beaten In Possible Transphobic Attack

in News/Crime
12171

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper woman is raising funds to pay the medical bills of her sister, who was injured in what the family believes was a transphobic-related attack.

According to a GoFundMe launched by Erin Shipley, her sister Rilee Shipley was attacked late July 15 at a dog park near her apartment in Casper. The woman was kicked in the head multiple times and left bleeding in the dark as she attempted to find her glasses and get back inside with her dog.

“Please consider helping Rilee and Theo (Rilee’s spouse) financially as they figure out how to pay some of the medical bills that will come from this horrific and senseless violence and also maintain their rental and vehicle payments,” Erin Shipley wrote on the GoFundMe.

The family did not say why they believed the attack was related to Rilee Shipley being a transgender woman.

The Wyoming Medical Center said Shipley’s orbital bone, lower sinus and cheekbone were fractured and the woman had a head wound from being kicked in the head.

Rilee Shipley has filed a police report and been in touch with a victim’s advocacy group.

The Shipleys have hit their goal of raising $4,500, hitting more than $5,100 as of Tuesday afternoon.

A few days after being attacked, Rilee Shipley took to social media to say she’d realized a few things since being beaten.

“Breaking your face really hurts. (Not as bad as the neck, but close),” she wrote. “If you’re consistently good to people, even people you don’t know, for no reason and with no expectation of being repaid or even thanked, eventually it’ll come back around and the benefits you reap are 100fold what you’ve sown. I don’t have enough words to thank everyone for all you’ve done for us. In less than 48 hours, a gofundme in mine and Theo’s name has reached its goal and is still growing. We’ve been fed, we’ve been doused in love and affection, we’ve been shown how much we mean to our community and to our friends. I’m so grateful for all my people.”

An updated posted to the campaign on Tuesday noted that Shipley would have to have emergency surgery, scheduled for the coming week, to repair her cheekbone. She will soon be meeting with an ophthalmologist to find out more about her orbital bone fracture.

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Search Continues For Missing Casper Man

in Missing people/News
12157

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By Jen Kocher, Cowboy State Daily

Law enforcement officials are looking for a Casper man who has been missing for almost a month and was last seen at a convenience store in Denver.

His family insists it’s not like Ryan Schroeder to stay away from home this long without checking in with his mom and young daughter. 

The 36-year-year old Schroeder was last seen on June 24 when his friend dropped him off at a convenience store in Denver and the only tip so far to emerge is a possible sighting of him in Fort Collins, Colorado, which has not yet been substantiated. 

The fact that he isn’t answering his family’s phone calls or Facebook messages is of great concern to his cousin Sheri Schroeder, who reiterated that this behavior is far out of line for the man who has never been gone for so long and who always checks in with his family. 

She has a message for Schroeder: His family loves him and so many people are out there right now looking for him. “I don’t think he knows how many people care about him or how much he is loved,” she told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. 

Schroeder’s family reported him missing to the Casper Police Department on July 8, according to Rebekah Ladd, public information officer with the department. 

“Since then, officers have interviewed the individual who reported him missing as well as multiple individuals who had been physically with Schroeder recently,” she said. 

The department has also sent queries to law enforcement agencies nationally seeking any possible contacts with Schroeder. No such contacts have been reported.

“The (Casper) detective continues to actively investigate this case and conduct inquiries as to the location of Schroeder,” Ladd said.

Schroeder’s case has also been taken up by private investigator Amanda Waldron of “We Help the Missing,” a nonprofit organization founded in Utah with volunteers all over the country.

Schroeder is described as 5 feet, 10 inches tall, weighing 190 to 200 pounds with brown thinning hair, a short beard and blue eyes. He also has multiple tattoos on his left arm including an American flag, a pistol and math equations as well as a green skull and numbers on his left hand and fingers and a cross and angel wings on his right arm. 

Schroeder typically wears a T-shirt, khaki shorts, tennis shoes, and a baseball cap. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Casper Police Department at (307) 235-8278 or private investigator Amanda Waldron (307) 235-8278.

Tips can also be submitted to the We Help the Missing tip line at (866) 660-4025.

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Casper Animal Shelter Employee Charged With Felony Theft

in News/Crime
11713

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An employee of the City of Casper’s Metro Animal Shelter has been charged with theft following an investigation that indicated he stole almost $6,000 from the shelter over six years, the Casper Police Department announced on Monday.

Michael Gaylord, a kennel technician and six-year employee of Metro Animal Shelter, has been charged with two felony counts of theft.

“The citizens of Casper deserve honest, hard-working public servants,” said Casper Chief of Police Keith McPheeters. “When one of our own falls short of the high standards we set for ourselves, we feel it necessary to inform the community and make the changes necessary to prevent this type of behavior from taking place again. Our community can trust that the Department has no tolerance for employees who do not uphold the highest levels of professionalism, a standard our citizens expect and deserve.”

An internal investigation was launched in April, following a citizen complaint concerning an unissued receipt from a transaction at the animal shelter. The investigation uncovered numerous receipts that were unaccounted for and discrepancies in financial reports at the shelter.

Because the Casper Police Department took over the shelter in 2019, it turned its findings over to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation for further investigation.

Ultimately, investigators determined that over the course of six years, Gaylord stole at least $5,970 from Metro Animal Shelter, the department said.

The investigation confirmed that the theft consistently occurred through the misappropriation of small cash transactions, generally $5 or $10 at a time, occurring over time, and occurred during customer transactions for purchases of small items such as licenses, fees or other products when the customer didn’t want a receipt for the purchase.

“Over the last two years, the Casper Police Department has worked diligently and invested heavily to organize and restructure the business operations of the shelter,” the department’s Facebook post said. “This initial finding was made, in part, due to the attentiveness of the newly appointed Superintendent of Metro Animal Shelter.”

Immediately upon receipt of the citizen complaint that launched the investigation, the Casper Police Department leadership implemented new policies and procedures surrounding how monetary transactions are conducted and recorded at the Metro Animal Shelter, including increased checks and balances, oversight and accountability to ensure theft like this doesn’t happen again.

“The team at Metro Animal Shelter continues to be a dedicated group of professionals who work tirelessly to protect and serve the citizens and animals of Casper,” the post said.

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Natrona County Sheriff Investigating Strip Club Shooting; Left Man In Critical Condition

in News/Crime
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Natrona County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating a shooting at a Casper strip club over Memorial Day weekend.

Around 12:30 a.m. Monday, the sheriff’s office received a 911 call regarding an adult man who had been shot in the parking lot of Northern Dreams, a strip club that is around 8 miles outside of Casper, NCSO spokesman Sgt. Taylor Courtney told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.

The victim was taken to the Wyoming Medical Center with critical injuries, but he is now in stable condition.

While no one has been charged in the shooting yet, police executed a search warrant on a building in a residential area of Casper on Tuesday evening. One person was arrested during this time, but it was for unrelated charges.

There was a heavy police presence in the area where the search warrant was being executed.

Courtney couldn’t reveal much information about the shooting, the victim or a motive, as there is “still so much under investigation.”

“We have no specific information about a threat to the public at this time,” Courtney said.

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Casper Man Sentenced to 10 Years For Making, Uploading Child Porn

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10921

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for making, uploading and possessing child pornography.

Liam Van Damme, 21, was sentenced this week to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised released in U.S. District Court. He was also ordered to pay a $200 special assessment fee and may be ordered to pay restitution through a separate court order.

Van Damme came to the attention of law enforcement after he uploaded child pornography while using Google and Flickr accounts.

A probe conducted by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation showed Van Damme had images of children as young as toddlers being violently sexually abused. He also recorded a young child he had access to while the child was being changed, editing the video to focus on the child’s genitalia.

“The sexual exploitation of innocent children has to be the most heinous crime imaginable,” said Acting United State Attorney Bob Murray. “Predators like Van Damme create a demand that only leads to more kids being abused. It must stop. We will investigate, prosecute, and lock up anyone in possession of child pornography so we can put an end to this disgusting practice.”

This case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

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Wyoming Health Dept: Starting Friday, Masks Will Be Optional in Casper Schools

in News/Coronavirus/Education
10813

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

In the waning days of the school year, Casper schools have been granted a variance from the state’s public school mask mandate by the Wyoming Department of Health.

Officials with Natrona County School District No. 1 requested the variance on Monday and it was approved Thursday. As of Friday, masks will be optional for all students, staff and school visitors while on district premises.

Face coverings must still be worn on all district transportation service vehicles, which is a federal order for all schools.

All of the schools will continue to have a masking requirement in and around a designated nursing station.

“Bullying, intimidation, shaming, or harassment of any kind by any individual regarding a person’s choice to wear or not wear a face covering will NOT be tolerated,” the district said in an announcement Thursday.

Students and staff will also be required to wear a mask or face covering while visiting another school or event outside of the district if they are asked to do so.

This is the largest school district in the state to receive a mask variance, following in the footsteps of other Wyoming school districts such as Sweetwater, Goshen and Park counties. Most have reported success from this move, but around 100 people recently had to be quarantined in Sheridan County following the removal of their mask policy.

Natrona County had 25 active coronavirus cases as of Thursday.

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Man Shot, Killed While Fleeing With Casper Police Officer In Car

in News/Crime
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper police officer on Thursday shot and killed a man who tried to drive away from a traffic stop with the police officer in the vehicle, according to the Casper Police Department.

Around 4 a.m. Thursday, Casper officers stopped a vehicle and approached it to speak with its two occupants, the department said.

At one point, the driver unexpectedly exited the vehicle and the passenger moved into the driver’s seat in an attempt to flee the scene. One of the officers tried to stop the vehicle by getting into it, however, the person by then driving the car accelerated from the scene at a high speed.

While inside the car, the officer ordered the new driver to stop. Eventually, the driver drove the vehicle onto the oncoming traffic lane of Interstate 25.

The officer eventually fired his weapon at the person driving the vehicle and safely stopped the car along the side of the interstate.

The suspect was pronounced deceased at the Wyoming Medical Center Thursday morning. The officer in the vehicle did not sustain any serious injuries.

The second officer, who stayed behind with the car’s original driver, was uninjured and did not fire his weapon.

In accordance with department policy, the investigation has been turned over to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations. Both officers have been placed on administrative leave for the time being.

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Man Charged With Agg Assault After Standoff With Casper Police

in News/Crime
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man has been charged with three counts of felony aggravated assault after being involved in a standoff with Casper police.

Kevin Deschneau was arrested Thursday evening after an hours-long standoff with police.

“In dealing with an armed and potentially dangerous individual refusing to come out of a residence, these officers exercised patience, professionalism and expertise,” the Casper Police Department said on its social media on Friday. “That is evident by the outcome, the suspect exiting peacefully and the community and the officers being able to go home safely.”

On Thursday afternoon, Casper police officers responded to the report of a disturbance. The reporting party informed them a man had threatened them with a gun.

The reporting party and several other people were gathered on the side of the street, talking, when the suspect approached the group and allegedly pointed a rifle at them and threatened to shoot because he wanted them to leave.

Upon officers’ arrival to the scene, they found a male matching the description given by the reporting party. The man ignored officers’ commanders and entered a residence.

The man refused to leave the home, and due to his potentially dangerous nature, officers setup up a perimeter around the house and continue to issue commands to the man to leave the house unarmed.

For nearly two hours, officers continued to issue commands to the man in the house, asking him to leave. Officers believed the man was alone, but also armed.

Ultimately, Casper police and crisis intervention officials were able to speak with the man over the phone, which led to his eventual peaceful and voluntary exit from the house.

Officers found a loaded rifle matching the one from the report inside of the home.

The Casper Police Department was assisted by the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office and Special Response Team, the Casper-Natrona County Public Safety Communication Center and the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

#OurCommunity can be proud of how these officers responded to this situation,” CPD said.

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Casper Man Threatens Police, ‘Suicide By Cop’ During Stand-Off

in News/Crime
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Casper man has been arrested after a standoff with Casper police that came after he allegedly threatening to shoot police officers and said he would commit suicide by forcing police to shoot him.

Jackie Carbajal was arrested early Tuesday morning after the standoff that began Monday afternoon.

According to a post from the Casper Police Department, officers responded to a report of a family fight at an apartment complex in Casper on Monday afternoon. They learned Carabajal reportedly broke into his ex-wife’s apartment, physically assaulted her and took her cell phone before leaving.

The victim’s daughter, who was also in the apartment, called 911. Upon arrival at the scene, officers observed the door to the apartment to be completely destroyed, signs of a forced entry.

While on the scene, officers observed a phone call between the victim and Carabajal, who had already fled. Officers attempted to speak with the Carabajal during the call, but he proceeded to tell officers that if he saw any cops he would “shoot them immediately.”

He also told officers he had firearms and other weapons and would “shoot any cop who looked at him.” The suspect was also threatening to commit “suicide by cop,” a reference to a person acting in such a way as to force police to shoot him.

Upon further investigation, officers discovered that Carabajal had an outstanding felony warrant for his arrest for aggravated assault in which he was accused of physically assaulting his ex-wife.

A short time later, officers received a call from an anonymous person with Carabajal’s location.

Multiple officers responded to the residents where Carbajal was later found to set up a perimeter.

Not long after, officers conducted a traffic stop with a vehicle seen leaving the residence and the driver told officers that Carabajal was inside the home and might have access to firearms.

During this interaction, officers observed an additional phone call between this individual and Carabajal, in which the latter was again threatening to kill himself.

At this point, officers requested the assistance of the Natrona County Special Response Team, highly-trained crisis negotiators who talked with Carabajal for several hours.

Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, Carabajal surrendered. Following his arrest, officers recovered a firearm from inside the residence.

Carabajal was taken into custody and arrested on his felony warrant and has also been recommended for one felony charge of burglary, one misdemeanor charge of unlawful entry, and one felony charge of domestic battery.

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Casper Police Rescue (Very Cute) Abandoned Rat

in News/Good news
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Casper Police Department kicked off the holiday season by saving an adorable abandoned rat, as was the Christmas tradition in olden times.

Well, maybe not a tradition. Still, it’s a nice story.

On Tuesday morning, officers responded to the call of a reported disturbance when they saw a rat in the middle of the road, according to a post the department shared on social media.

While speaking with someone involved with the call, officers learned the rat was purchased to feed to a person’s snake, but was later thrown out. When officers finished the call around 2 a.m., they saw the rat was still in the road.

Since they felt compassion for the animal, officers encouraged it to move to a safer location off of the road.

At the end of their shift around 6 a.m., officers returned to the area to check on the rat, which was in the exact spot it had been left in, cold and afraid.

Instead of leaving the animal, officers placed some pieces of cloth from their cars into a box and placed the rat into it.

Later Tuesday morning, animal protection officers gave the rat to the Metro Animal Shelter, where it is receiving “wonderful care and meeting new friends.”

The rat must remain at the shelter for at least a week, to allow time for the owner to claim it. If not, it will be in need of a new home.

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Fly Tying: Ugly Bug Fly Shop Hosts Second Annual “Great Bug Battle”

in Travel
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Ice may still cover many of Wyoming’s fishable waters, but that doesn’t mean the state’s fly fishermen can’t get a jump start on the year with a little practice tying flies.

And that’s just what the organizers of this year’s Great Bug Battle in Casper are offering up.

The Great Bug Battle, entering its second year, gives fly tyers a chance to compete in what organizers describe as an “Iron Chef” type of contest, where competitors will be asked to tie flies using unusual materials and under interesting situations.

One of last year’s competitions saw an estimated 30 tyers using materials from a dollar store to make flies, said Corey Lincoln, manager of The Ugly Bug Fly Shop, the Casper store that organizes the contest.

“We just bought a bunch of stuff from a dollar store, threw out out there on the table and they used stuff out of there to tie flies,” he said. “We don’t do it to be serious, we just want the time to get together and have some fun with it.”

The event will be held beginning at 7 p.m. Friday at Casper’s Frontier Brewery, where those attending will be able to partake in beer brewed specially for the occasion.

The night will see fly tyers taking part in five or six different competitions, Lincoln said, with Ugly Bug owner Blake Jackson setting the terms of the contests.

Winners will walk away with promotional materials provided by several different companies, such as fly boxes, a waterproof duffel bag and a reel.

Attendees, including those who just show up watch the action, will also be able to bid on an original piece of artwork by Ty Hallock, a fishing guide known for his one-of-a-kind drawings of wildlife using Sharpies.

Money raised through the auction will be donated to “Casting for a Cause,” an organization that arranges fishing trips for women with breast cancer.

Last year, some 30 to 40 people turned out to watch the competition and Lincoln said he was hoping for a similar turnout this year.

There is no entry fee for the contest or to watch.

“Just come, tip your bartender, drink some beer and have a good time,” Lincoln said.

For more information on the Great Bug Battle, visit the Casper Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website at or see Ugly Bug’s Facebook page.

Casper Rundown — What’s Happening in Casper, Wyoming

in Column/Tim Monroe
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By Tim Monroe, Cowboy State Daily

ENERGY  – Did you ever wonder how much oil and gas comes out of Wyoming’s fields? The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission met in Casper recently.

Governor Mark Gordon chaired the first day’s activities. Supervisor Mark Watson gave his monthly report that showed oil production for October 2019 was 8,556,613 barrels, up about 9 percent from October 2018. Natural gas production was down about 10 percent from the previous year at 140,410,169 million cubic feet.

Supervisor Watson noted that applications for permits to drill (APD) were 1,060, down about 21 percent from November 2019. The rig count reported by Drill Info for the week of January 13 was 25, down 3 from the previous month. Converse County is still the leader in rig counts with rigs, down 1 from the prior report.

Baker Hughes historical records show Wyoming’s rig count is 24, compared to 33 rigs operating at this time last year.

LIGHTS OUT? – The city is encouraging residents to report streetlights that are burned out, flickering or damaged. The city will send repair crews out to make them operational. Outages can be reported using the City’s website atwww.casperwy.gov or by calling the Streets Division at 235-8283.

If the failing light is part of the Rocky Mountain Power system, get the pole number, usually found on a metal plate nailed to the pole, and call the power company or report it to the City. Streets Superintendent Shad Rogers said that with many people going to work and returning home in the dark “it is important to identify streetlights that are out or flickering.”

VACATION TIME – Where to go on our vacation this summer? Many people are thinking about a vacation trip when school’s out. VISIT CASPER, the destination management organization for Natrona County CHILLI, has joined tourism partners across the country to encourage people to participate in National Plan for Vacation Day, scheduled for Tuesday, January 28.

“Travel is a key economic driver in the United States and especially in Wyoming,” said Brook Kaufman, CEO of Visit Casper. “In Natrona County the tourism industry puts 2,600 people to work every day with spending in the county amounting to $293 million per year.” So, get your calendars and road atlas out to start your vacation planning. PS: The answer is 193 eateries in Casper!!

CASPER CHILLIN’ – The city council has agreed to a contract to spend almost $2.5 million to relocate the ice making equipment from the Casper Events Center to the city’s ice arena that is part of the Casper Recreation Center. The current equipment at the skating rink is 35 years old and has exceeded it’s operational life expectancy.

The switch-out should be completed by November 1. The project involves building a 1,250 square foot structure to house the transferred equipment. And, modifications may allow a second sheet of ice at the Recreation Center facility.

SEWER PROJECT – Back in the 1980s Casper built a fairly high capacity sewer line to serve Mills and western neighborhoods. Usage didn’t meet expectations so hydrogen sulfide gas built up in the line.

The City has applied for a state loan of some $8.0 million to rehabilitate the line between the western suburb and the waste treatment plant east of the soccer complex. The gas is a highly dangerous compound that can cause death if inhaled in high quantities.

Eating Wyoming: It’s Restaurant Week in Casper

in Column/Food/Tim Mandese
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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

We all know the age-old question that’s vexed couples and families everywhere: “Where do you want to eat?” Which usually gets the dreaded reply: “I don’t know. Wherever you want to.” Normally followed by a grumble and someone ordering a pizza. 

There’s no reason to let this happen this week in Casper.

From now through Sunday, Visit Casper is partnering with dozens of restaurants, breweries, sandwich shops, tasting rooms and others to present “5150′ Restaurant Week.” Participating venues will have special offerings with price points of $3.07, in honor of Wyoming’s area code, $18.90, the year we became a state, and $51.50, Casper’s elevation. 

So the question isn’t where to eat, but how many places you can get to before Jan. 25? Let’s plan out a whole day and see where it leads us. 

Imagine: It’s early morning. You just just woke up and need coffee. Good coffee! Strong coffee! The first stop of the day is Scarlow’s Art and Coffee, located in downtown Casper on Second Street. When you get there, Barista Kate Magee says that Scarlow’s has a special on a single flavor latte for $3.07. But you tell her you want to hit the town and see what other things you can find to eat because you are getting hungry. 

“No problem.” Kate says. “We also have a ceramic Scarlow’s to-go cup for $18.90.” 

Perfect! You grab your hot latte and hit the road heading east on Second Street. 

Suddenly on the right side of the road, you spot the old-fashioned, shiny stainless steel, blast-from-the-past, Johnny J’s Diner. Inside, Joshua DeArmon, general manager, greets you and sees you to a table. You ask “What ya got Josh?” 

He tells you that you can start with their hot homemade cinnamon roll or pie with coffee or some other beverage for $3.07. 

“Yes please! Start me out with that. What else ya got?” 

He replies: “You can get two breakfast combos with french toast, waffle or pancake, and two cups of coffee for $18.90.” 

AWESOME! MORE COFFEE! 

With the coffee kicking in, you finish your breakfast, pay the bill and hit the road. Only you realize you are going 45 mph in a 30 mph zone — and you forgot your car.

Two hours later, you are about out of caffeine fuel and you come to a stop for lunch outside of Grab & Go Gourmet. All that coffee has left you hungry again. Inside you are greeted by Chef Maggie King, who proudly tells you their special is any two hot or cold sandwiches, two chips and two deserts for $18.90. 

After cruising around a while, you realize that — yes you guessed it — you’re hungry again. But this time, for just a little snack. 

Checking your phone, you go to 5150local.com and check out where to get your snack on. You spot Frosted Tops, Custom Cakes and Sweet Treats. Sounds good so you head on over. When you get there, you find out you can get any treat and a cup of coffee or hot cocoa for $3.07. 

WOOHOO! MORE COFFEE! 

You jump in the car and head out once again. After a long internal debate about who makes the best coffee, you see the sun is setting and, yeah, you’re hungry again. Time for dinner! 

Steak and lobster sounds good. It’s a good thing you spot the FireRock Steakhouse’s $51.50 special, steak and lobster with choice of appetizer or dessert. BINGO! 

The night grows late and the plate in front of you is empty, except a lobster shell, steak bone and a small piece of parsley (who eats that, anyway?). You’ve had a wonderful day! 

There’s a lot more out there to nosh on, so get out there and enjoy the 5015 Restaurant Week in Casper before it’s all over! Stop by check out the dozen other places to get filled up. And don’t forget THE COFFEE! 

Eating Wyoming is a semi-regular column on food, dining, coffee and all things related to them written by Cowboy State Daily staffer Tim Mandese.

Something different for the New Year — a mac&cheese festival

in Travel/arts and culture
Mac&Cheese Festival
The team from HQ Southern Barbecue in Casper serves up a sampling of macaroni and cheese as part of the 2018 “Noon Year’s Mac&Cheese Fest” in Casper. (Courtesy photo)
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By Cowboy State Daily

A New Year’s celebration for those who love macaroni and cheese and may not be able to stay awake until midnight is on tap in Casper on Dec. 31.

The “Noon Year’s Mac&Cheese Festival” will mark the arrival of the new year 12 hours early in events to run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31 at a civic auditorium known as “The Lyric” in downtown Casper.

The festival, in its third year, features macaroni and cheese samples from restaurants across Casper, said Julie Schmitt, marketing manager for Casper’s David Street Station, an outdoor events facility across the street from The Lyric.

“It kind of stemmed from the idea we are a family friendly facility,” she said. “We wanted to crate something fun for families to go to and we wanted to host a fun countdown event. And what draws people more than food?”

Kustom Koncepts in Casper created these trophies for the winners of the 2018 “Non Year’s Mac&Cheese Fest.” Trophies and bragging rights are on the line again on Dec. 31 as the annual celebration takes place in Casper. (Courtesy photo)
Kustom Koncepts in Casper created these trophies for the winners of the 2018 “Non Year’s Mac&Cheese Fest.” Trophies and bragging rights are on the line again on Dec. 31 as the annual celebration takes place in Casper. (Courtesy photo)

Free samples of the macaroni and cheese will be given away, with larger servings available for purchase.

The countdown to noon will begin at 11:59 a.m. and the winning “People’s Choice” and “Kids’ Choice” macaroni and cheese chefs will be announced at 12:45 p.m., Schmitt said.

The winners will earn a special trophy created by Kustom Koncepts, along with bragging rights.

“So the … winners will go home with a trophy and the glory of being the top mac and cheese people in town,” she said.

In the past, up to 1,000 people have attended the event, braving sometimes inclement weather to get to The Lyric, Schmitt said.

“Wyoming people are hearty people,” she said.

For more information, visit David Street Station’s website.

Wyoming Suffrage to be commemorated through music

in arts and culture
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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra has commissioned an original work from rising American composer Stephanie Ann Boyd to celebrate the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Wyoming and the 100th anniversary of suffrage in the United States.

One hundred fifty years ago, Wyoming led the nation in women’s suffrage by giving women the right to vote with the passage of the Wyoming Suffrage Act of 1869.

WSO Executive Director Rachel Bailey led the search for just the right composer to capture the essence of the historic event. It was at the suggestion of Music Director Christopher Dragon that the WSO reached out to Boyd. 

“Her music is very poetic and she also deals with women’s themes, which really fit into what we were doing,” said Bailey. “The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra will debut this commissioned pieceon April 18. It will be a very exciting day for us and Wyoming as a whole as they celebrate thisreally historic anniversary.”

Visiting Wyoming for the first time Dec. 6-9, Boyd gathered inspiration for her forthcoming musical composition to celebrate the moment in the Cowboy State’s history. 

“Wyoming, of course, put through women’s suffrage about 50 years before everybody else, and so we’re taking the inspiration of that, and the stories of the women that were instrumental in that, and writing a piece about them, but also writing essentially a 25-minute minute love letter to Wyoming.” Boyd said.

A first draft of the composition should be ready by the end of this year. 

“I usually compose pretty fast, so usually I work about a month on a piece like this, but again that’s like a seven-hour a day sort of thing,” Boyd said. “I call myself a melodist because melody is the most important thing to me, but audiences will find that my work is very emotional and very exciting to listen to.”

Boyd expressed her gratitude at being a part of the commemoration of suffrage through performing arts.

“It’s an incredible honor,” she said. “I know that Christopher Dragon has admired my music for some time but being able to write for an orchestra, and an orchestra like this, is really a special and beautiful opportunity for me and I’m pleased that I get to help tell this story of Wyoming.”

The performance will be in Casper’s John F. Welsh Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now, and those interested in attending are advised to buy tickets early, since a sellout is expected.

Tickets can be purchased at the WSO website.

Some retailers look for options to seasonal help

in News
Extra workers
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By Mary Angell, Cowboy State Daily

As holidays draw near, employers at retail stores, restaurants and hotels in Wyoming may find the state’s current unemployment rate of 3.8 percent makes it very difficult for them to hire extra workers for the holiday season. 

That’s why some simply don’t.

“We try to be prepared without having to hire seasonal help,” said Louis Taubert, co-owner of Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters in Casper. “It used to be more (common), but now we look for fewer and better employees so I don’t have to deal with seasonal help.”

 Having enough employees for the holiday season doesn’t concern Taubert, because according to him, the 55,000 square-foot western store is busiest in June, during the College National Finals Rodeo.  

He added that he has a good staff, and if he needs more help over the holidays, he calls on several people who have previously worked at the store.  Some are retired, while others have full-time jobs elsewhere but are willing to work for Taubert on the weekends.

“These people already have training, and they work into the system pretty well,” he said. “That’s probably really good, considering the market now. It’s really tough to get the right candidates for a full- or part-time position.” 

The Bomgarrs store in Gillette also gets through the holidays with its regular staff.  

“The way our budget works, we kind of maneuver around (hiring seasonal help),” said general manager Steve Stalcup. 

“There’s very little range between seasons,” he added.  “We just shift our focus on what we’re doing in the store. The first part of November, we’re focused 90 percent on getting stuff done. From the day after Thanksgiving, the focus is on selling.  It’s a different paradigm as far as how you manage a season. There are hiccups, but generally it works out really well.”

Hiring seasonal workers used to be the practice, said Stalcup, who has 20 years’ experience as a store manager.  

But he occasionally found himself in the unfortunate predicament of hiring a very capable seasonal worker who the company couldn’t afford to keep at the end of the season.  Now he just makes sure his employees are cross-trained and know how to handle the extra work presented by the holiday season.

“It makes sense to keep the staff flexible,” he said.  “When you don’t hire seasonal help, you have to think more strategically, help your staff be flexible.”   

Similarly, although the Little America Hotel of Cheyenne has several staff vacancies — part-time and full-time — it is not going to hire any seasonal help, according to Shane Bustillo, human resources manager. 

The UPS Store in Cheyenne always hires extra staff members for the holiday season, but only one or two. And sometimes getting more people to help out means just calling former employees. 

“We always have backup people who have helped us for the last couple of years,” said A.K. Shrestha, area manager for UPS.

Wyoming’s low unemployment rate is not a concern for Shrestha, who recently hired a new manager, assistant manager and a couple of workers for the store. 

“It’s not hard to find people,” he said.  “We even have walk-ins who need a job.   We just changed our group, rebuilt our team in two days.”

Sense of community makes Casper neighborhood one of magazine’s 50 ‘nicest places’

in News/Community
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A Casper neighborhood has been identified by Reader’s Digest magazine as one of the 50 “nicest places in America.”

The neighborhood on south Chestnut Street near Casper College was recognized for its sense of community as described by Danica Sveda, the resident who nominated the area for the honor.

“The area is a diamond in a world of disconnectedness,” she wrote in her nomination to the magazine.

Residents who spoke with Cowboy State Daily agreed with Sveda’s description.

“We actually have a community where neighbors talk to each other, we do things over the summer,” said resident Jason Sawdon, a trooper for the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

“Everybody gets along, everybody just goes up and down (the street) and visits with each other,” said Deby Wolfe. “Everybody’s there to help you out, even when you don’t ask.”

Sveda described a race that occurs in the neighborhood during winter storms to see who can clear the most sidewalks.

“We have a friendly competition,” Sawdon said. “We go out and clear the sidewalks and rake the leaves and help each other out. That’s part of our community is to help each other out. We have a mixture of young and old in this neighborhood. Some people can physically do it and some people can’t. The ones that can help out the ones that can’t.”

Several residents noted that neighborhood children can often be seen playing up and down the streets.“It’s really cool to just watch kids,” said Kaysha Martin. “They just play all over.”

“The kids, they do go and they play everywhere,” Wolfe said. “Everybody’s watching everybody’s kids, so everybody knows that they’re safe.”

Residents also take the time to speak with each other, another fact that contributed to the neighborhood’s ranking.

“I’ve lived all over the country and it’s nice to come home and be able to say hi to my neighbors and be able to talk to them over the fence,” Sawdon said. “We can do that here. We all want to be part of each other’s lives in what little ways that we can.”

Wind turbine blades being disposed of in Casper landfill

in Energy/News
Decommissioned windmill blades
Windmill fan blades and motor housing components wait for disposal at the Casper Regional Landfill. Some 1,000 pieces from decommissioned wind turbines will be disposed of at the CRL by 2020, bringing an estimated $675,485 in new revenue to the landfill. (Photo courtesy of the Casper Regional Landfill staff)
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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily 

The Casper landfill will soon be the home of more than 1,000 decommissioned wind turbine blades and motor housing units. 

According to Cindie Langston, solid waste manager for the Casper Regional Landfill, the materials will be deposited in an area of the landfill designed to hold construction and demolition material. 

CRL is one of the few landfills with the proper permits and certifications to accept the decommissioned turbine materials. 

The turbine disposal project, which started this summer, is slated to continue until the spring of 2020, bringing the CRL estimated revenue of $675,485. Such “special waste projects” bring in about $800,000 a year, which helps keep CRL rates low, Langston said.

The wind turbine components are being delivered by InStream Environmental, a company that recycles and disposes of other companies’ waste streams. The company is retrieving the blades from two different wind farm locations.

Each turbine blade will need between 30 and 44.8 cubic yards of landfill space, using a total of 448,000 cubic yards of the 2.6 million yards set aside for construction and demolition material. The components are made of a fiberglass material that is one of the most inert, non-toxic materials accepted at CRL, Langston said. 

The average lifespan of a wind turbine is 20 to 25 years, and wind farms repurpose and recycle 90 percent of the materials in a wind turbine unit. The only materials not recycled are the fiberglass blades and motor housings. Nationwide, there are nearly 50,000 wind turbines, with 2,700 being decommissioned since the energy boom of the 1970s. 

Researchers at Washington State University are looking for ways to reuse the fiberglass components of aged-out turbines, but no practical commercial applications have yet been found. There is some hope that ground up blades can be used to create building materials, among other things.

To prevent acres of abandoned and decaying wind farms, Wyoming laws require companies provide bonds to cover the cost of decommissioning and disposal of turbines once they are taken out of service or abandoned.

Meet the young Wyoming bullfighter whose ‘life calling’ is cowboy protection

in News/Tourism/Agriculture
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Bull riding is one of the most popular events in rodeo. But it is really two events in one.

The bulls and bull riders share the arena with highly skilled bullfighters whose work begins when the ride is done.

While bull riders were out in the arena four times during last week’s College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, the bullfighters were out more than 100 times. And hometown hero, bullfighter Wyatt Mason — a Casper, Wyoming native — was in the arena 135 times looking out for his fellow cowboy.

“It’s just been a calling of mine ever since I could walk,” said the CNFR bullfighter Wyatt Mason.

Fellow bullfighters Josh Rivinious and Nathan Harp joined Mason in the arena serving as life saving partners to bull riders and artful distractions for the 1,500 pound bulls with whom they tangle.

College National Finals Rodeo in Wyoming: Special Olympics

in Community/Tourism/Agriculture
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On the last day of the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming contestants help put on a Special Olympics version of the competition for area special olympians.

The Special Olympics at the CNFR is attended by rodeo athletes from around the country — many of whom participate every year.

Miles City, Montana’s Haven Meged — who won the College National Finals Rodeo tie-down roping title — said, “To see the participants smile is pretty cool. We’re fortunate. They are happy to be here.”

And you could tell Haven Meged was happy to be there too.

Chadron Coffield, a participant in the College National Finals Rodeo, is a freshman at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington, Wyoming. Coffield was paired with one special olympian and said of his friend, “We had a lot of fun today. He got to experience new things and it is just a blast to see him have fun.”

Taylor Munsell, a participant in the College National Finals Rodeo, is from Northwest Oklahoma State. Taylor Munsell said, “It’s a great experience. Everyone should come out and try it.”

Priscilla Dowse, the CEO and President of Special Olympics Wyoming, said, “Our athletes are champions. We know that. And for them to have the opportunity to create the bond and spend that time together — everyone benefits. We have athletes who come out every year and wouldn’t miss it for anything and we have rodeo champions who not only want to win a championship but to have the opportunity to participate in this.”

Priscilla Dowse went on to say, “In fact, we have some champions who stay in touch with our athletes. It’s all about relationships and coming together.”

Branding Day in Wyoming: Ranchers and rodeo stars at work on 3J Ranch

in Community/Agriculture
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Branding day in Wyoming means hard work, comrade, tradition and stewardship. At the 3J Ranch in central Wyoming, it also means catching glimpses of real cowboys (and rodeo stars) at work.

It’s a special day in a much glamorized slice of Wyoming life.

And they say, “To be a cowboy, there’s no better job in the world.”

Last Thursday was a big day on the 3J Ranch. It was branding day. A day that was delayed more than a week by wet conditions. The cattle were gathered on a beautiful morning west of Casper, Wyoming and the 3J Ranch tradition dating to the early days of Wyoming statehood was carried out by many friends and Johnson family members.

Casper College rodeo coach Jhett Johnson led the massive branding effort. Jhett Johnson, a bonafide cowboy and rodeo star earned a world champion’s gold buckle for team roping in 2011. His son, Kellan Johnson, is a real deal cow hand and rodeo star too. Kellan Johnson won the 2018 college national title in rodeo for the same event.

Between the backdrop and the cowboys, it’s hard not to feel like you are walking into a photo shoot with a bunch of Marlboro men. They are keeping the traditions of the west alive in ol’ Wyoming and passing their knowledge on to the next generation of ranchers while they’re at it.

Modern Marvel: 90-year-old plane takes to the Wyoming skies

in News/Transportation
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The eyes go the skies when vintage aircraft signal their arrival.

A group of experimental aviators made it to Casper this weekend to spread the joy of flight and show off a 90-year-oold passenger plane from the era of Charles Lindbergh.

Frank Gambino tells us the story of the Ford Tri-Motor airplane, nicknamed the Tin Goose.

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