NEWS BRIEFS for Thursday, January 31, 2019


Self-defense plea set in Sundance murder trial

SUNDANCE (WNE) — According to her lawyer, Marty Smith is set to use self-defense as an argument in her upcoming trial related to the death of Sundance man Doug Haar last August. She stands accused of involvement in the suspected homicide and faces several felony charges as an accessory to the alleged crime.

Smith appeared in District Court on Wednesday accompanied by lawyer Steven Titus of Gillette, for a pre-trial hearing. Various points of order related to the trial were discussed and settled between the defendant’s lawyer, Deputy County Attorney Linda Black on behalf of the state and Judge Michael Deegan.

No objections were put forth for the list of witnesses each side intends to call, though Titus did request to remove an item of evidence that the state intends to introduce and explained he intends to object to any testimony regarding the second suspect, Jessie Johnson, as “hearsay”. 

Judge Deegan made a tentative motion to remove the requested piece of evidence but, regarding the potential objections, responded that this will need to be resolved at the trial because the basis for an objection would need to be established.

No decision has been made yet as to whether Smith will testify, Titus said. 

Smith is charged with accessory before the fact of murder in the second degree and felony counts of accessory before the fact of voluntary manslaughter, accessory before the fact of involuntary manslaughter and accessory before the fact of aggravated assault and battery.

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DEQ approves transmission line project

ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s Industrial Siting Council approved Rocky Mountain Power’s request for a permit for its Gateway West Transmission Line Project on Wednesday. 

The permit allows Rocky Mountain Power to construct 191.4 miles of 500-kilovolt, 230-kV and 345-kV alternating current electric transmission lines and associated substation facilities as part of the company’s Energy Vision 2020 plan. 

Construction is anticipated to begin around April and be completed around October 2020. The project is scheduled to create about 325 jobs with a peak of 511 workers in October 2019, according to the Wyoming DEQ. 

The 500-kV and 230 kV portions of the project will run start in Carbon County about 20 miles northeast of Hanna then travel along the Interstate 80 corridor from Sinclair to Point of Rocks before terminating at the Jim Bridger Substation. The 230-kV portion starts 10 miles northwest of Medicine Bow and terminates southeast of Hanna, the press release states. 

The project will cross 101.8 miles of private land, 74.3 miles of property managed by the Bureau of Land Management, 14.7 miles of state land, and seven-tenths of a mile of water body crossings.

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Funding extension for Sheridan, Riverton air service approved

SHERIDAN (WNE) — The Wyoming Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Commission approved extensions to funding for air service in Sheridan and Riverton Tuesday, ensuring local air service will continue through the next year.

The Sheridan and Johnson counties Critical Air Service Team requested additional funds to cover an increase in its minimum revenue guarantee with Key Lime Air — which operates out of the Sheridan County Airport as Denver Air Connection — related to increased fuel costs and to extend funding through Jan. 11, 2020.

The Aeronautics Commission granted CAST a total of $935,000 — 60 percent of the group’s MRG with Key Lime Air — through Jan. 11, 2020. That funding requires a local match of $623,336, which will make up the remaining 40 percent of Key Lime’s MRG.

The local match, which has already been funded, is split between Sheridan County, the city of Sheridan, Johnson County and Buffalo.

The commission granted the Fremont County Air Service Team the same amount through the same period for the Denver Air Connection’s operations out of the Riverton Regional Airport.

Though technically two different requests, Aeronautics Commission Chair Bill DeVore told the board both requests would need approval for either of them to be effective.

“The two work concurrently with each other; without one you won’t have the other,” DeVore said.

The commission’s decision clears up short-term uncertainty for local air service, which faced the prospect of losing state funding as the state shifts its priorities for air service improvement in the state.

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Wyoming Sugar hits 1 million bags of sugar

WORLAND (WNE) — Wyoming Sugar announced this week that they have made 1 million bags of sugar, on this their 102nd campaign, and expect thousands more before the campaign is finished. 

“The last time, I think it was the year 2000, when the factory was owned by Imperial, they produced a million bags and it was with almost 20,000 acres of sugar beets. This year we are over a million, we should get to about 1,050,000 bags, might be a little bit more than that even and we did it on just under 12,000 acres,” Wyoming Sugar Company President and CEO Mike Greear said. 

He credited the feat to the growers and employees of Wyoming Sugar. “My hats off to our growers and to our employees. The growers brought in a helluva crop with a high sugar content and our employees have done a wonderful job of getting it into the bins for us,” Greear stated. 

The sugar content of the sugar beets this year was just above 19 percent for company average and just under 33.5 tons harvested per acre. 

Greear also stated that the closing of the Western Sugar Cooperative Torrington facility has kind of spooked people about the viability of Wyoming Sugar. He stated that Wyoming Sugar employs 150 people and that Wyoming Sugar feels for the community in Torrington and the loss of their jobs. 

“All I can do is try to make sure that we work hard here to keep all those jobs and our factory viable in Worland. This year was a good step in the right direction,” Greear said.

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Two killed in crash near Pinedale

AFTON (WNE) — On January 28, 2019, a fatal crash occurred at milepost 131 on US 191 north of Pinedale, Wyoming.  Around 4:35 p.m., Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers were dispatched to the area for a two-vehicle collision.

A 2010 Toyota Yaris was traveling northbound on US 191 when the vehicle crossed the center line and entered the southbound lane colliding head-on with a 2006 Subaru Forester.

The driver of the Subaru has been identified as 62-year-old Pinedale, Wyoming resident Mary A. Menster.  Menster was wearing her seatbelt and transported by helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center where she later succumbed to her injuries.

The driver of the Toyota has been identified as 44-year-old Bedford, Wyoming resident Marion D. Robinson.  Robinson was wearing his seatbelt but succumbed to his injuries at the scene of the crash.  The male juvenile passenger in the Toyota was transported to St. John’s Hospital in Jackson, Wyoming.

Lane use and sun glare are being investigated on the part of Robinson as a contributing factor.  The road conditions were dry at the time of the crash.

This is the 13th and 14th fatality on Wyoming’s highways in 2019 compared to 5 in 2018, 3 in 2017, and 4 in 2016 to date