NEWS BRIEFS for Friday, Dec. 20, 2019

Bodies of two found in burned house

RIVERTON (WNE) — Authorities found a man and child deceased in a residence gutted by a fire early Thursday morning on Darnall Road north of Riverton.   

The bodies – of a man and a “young female” – were found inside the home roughly eight hours after the fire was reported, Fremont County Sheriff Ryan Lee said.

Witnesses indicated a father and daughter may have been in the home when the fire began. 

Agents from the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation were reported at the site, along with local authorities.

Dispatchers received a call at about 4:45 a.m. Thursday from 36 Darnall Road, during which callers “sounded as though they were under distress on the other end” and “kept saying they are going to live (and) asking where someone was.” 

Dispatch attendees were unable to return the call. 

FCSO reports indicate a “large” structure fire was reported at about 4:55 a.m. Thursday from 32 Darnall Road. 

When firefighters arrived at the scene, they “encountered pretty heavy involvement” and “pretty heavy fire conditions,” Riverton Volunteer Fire Department chief Henri DeClercq said.

“My instincts tell me it was probably going for a while before we were called to it,” he said. 

By the time the fire was extinguished, the home was blackened, its middle had collapsed, and it was still pluming smoke, visibly, toward Burma Road and Wyoming Highway 789.   

The cause and origin of the fire are under investigation, Lee said, calling it a “very, very tragic incident.”   


Sublette attorney asks for livestock stop ruling to be reversed

PINEDALE (WNE) — On Dec. 10, Sublette County Circuit Court Magistrate Clay Kainer ruled that a deputy’s stop of Rex F. Rammell to search his livestock trailer did not show probable cause and agreed with Rammell that the deputy’s report would be suppressed. 

Rammell, of Rock Springs, was charged with five misdemeanors and is challenging them in court with a jury trial set for Jan. 14. His motion to suppress the evidence had been argued and taken under advisement. 

However, since Kainer’s order, it was discovered that he was not appointed and approved properly under state law as a magistrate, which Judge Curt Haws and Sublette County commissioners tried to rectify at their Tuesday meeting. 

Also on Tuesday, the Sublette County Attorney’s Office filed its motion in Circuit Court to reverse and vacate Magistrate Kainer’s order to suppress evidence. 

“At the time the magistrate heard and considered (Rammell’s) motion to suppress, he was acting without authority having not been previously approved to act as a magistrate by the Sublette County Commission as required by WSS 5-9-210,” the motion said. “The magistrate exceeded his authority granted under (the law) and should not have been allowed to hear or rule upon the motion to suppress, especially after questions of the constitutionality of (the brand-inspection law) were raised but later ignored by the magistrate … The ruling of the magistrate involving (the brand inspection law) is erroneous and sets a precedent requiring law enforcement to have probable cause or reasonable suspicion prior to enforcing this specific law, thus rendering it unconstitutional in nature.” 


Growing flu activity in Wyoming

SHERIDAN — Because reports are showing flu season in Wyoming is getting active, the Wyoming Department of Health wants residents to do what they can to avoid becoming ill with influenza or spreading it to others.

Reggie McClinton, an epidemiologist with WDH, said Wyoming’s overall flu activity is at a relatively low level currently but reports are showing significant increases in several local areas.

“With national reports of flu activity already elevated and increasing, this is not surprising,” he said. “Several states are already reporting widespread activity.”

Influenza is a contagious, respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said her key message is to get your flu vaccine as soon as possible if you haven’t already.

“The shots take about two weeks to become effective so you don’t want to wait until everyone around you is ill,” she said. “Every season we see serious illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths in Wyoming due to flu. Influenza should never be overlooked or accepted as a minor problem.”

Harrist said nearly everyone six months or older should get a seasonal flu vaccine. They can help you avoid the flu, she noted, they reduce the spread of the virus and they can also help make illnesses less severe for those who do get sick.


Committee receptive to UW pool, stadium projects

LARAMIE (WNE) — Legislators on the Joint Appropriations Committee seemed receptive this week to helping fund a $74.3 million renovation of War Memorial Stadium and a rebuild of Corbett Pool.

During the University of Wyoming’s budget presentation, few legislators on the committee stated out-right that they’d oppose funding of the project.

Most of the discussion during that budget hearing, legislators described the projects as meritorious and largely debated how much funding they could provide during the 2020 legislative session and still get the projects finished.

JAC co-chairman Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, did express concern that he would get pushback from his constituents for supporting the project.

“You’ve given me some good information to talk to my constituents about, but maybe Cowboy Joe could talk to some of the people up there and get more of the football fans behind this,” he said. 

Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, did say he’s “not a fan” of the War Memorial Stadium project.

As part of UW’s budget proposal for the upcoming 2021-2022 biennium, UW had requested $37.8 million from the Legislature, with plans to fundraise for $25 million and provide another $11.5 million from university funds.

UW already issued a request for proposals on Nov. 19 to hire a consulting firm to work on both projects. Responses were due Dec. 13.

The State Construction Department recommended total funding of the project but, in his budget proposal, Gov. Mark Gordon suggested moving forward with two projects, though at a lower price.