Wyoming news briefs for April 13

Wyoming schools rank high for internet access

JACKSON — Wyoming schools are way ahead of most of the nation’s, at least when it comes to internet access.

According to a new study from Connect K-12, a website that studies internet access in schools, 72 percent of Wyoming’s schools have broadband capabilities of more than 1 megabit per student, the goal set by the Federal Communications Commission. That’s well ahead of the nation as a whole, in which just 47 percent of schools have such broadband access.

“Over many years, Wyoming’s robust educational network has grown an infrastructure that goes beyond federal standards for student connectivity,” Gov. Mark Gordon said in a statement.

In the past few years, broadband access has quickly increased across the state. In 2016, 31 percent of school districts were above the FCC’s desired threshold of 1 megabit per student, though at the time just 14 percent of U.S. school districts were there.

In five years, the number of districts in Wyoming with broadband capabilities has more than doubled, and it has tripled across the country.

“When you compare Wyoming’s school district connectivity between 2016 and 2020, the progress is incredible,” Connect K-12 Vice President Emily Jordan said in a press release. “The state is a model of success that other education leaders across the country can look to and learn from as an example of what can be done to better connect their schools.”


Gas prices drop slightly

CHEYENNE — Wyoming gas prices have fallen 0.9 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.85 per gallon on Monday, according to GasBuddy.com's daily survey of 494 stations in Wyoming.

Gas prices in Wyoming are 7.7 cents per gallon higher than a month ago and stand 86.9 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest gas in Wyoming was priced at $2.38 per gallon Monday, while the most expensive was $3.39 per gallon, a difference of $1.01 per gallon.

The national average price of gasoline has fallen 2.1 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $2.85 per gallon Monday. The national average is down 0.5 cents per gallon from a month ago and stands $1.02 per gallon higher than a year ago.


Fremont County declared ‘Second Amendment sanctuary county’

RIVERTON — The Fremont County Commission and Sheriff have signed a resolution to make Fremont a "Second Amendment sanctuary county.”

Citizen Harold Donahue asked the governing board to adopt the resolution, which reaffirms the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms in defense of self or state.

The document also states that neither the county nor its sheriff will expend any resources or personnel to behave contrary to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"The way things are shaping up in Washington D.C.," said Donahue, "I'm becoming very concerned and worried about our constitutional rights. I feel the need to act now and speak out more than ever."

Sheriff Ryan Lee told commissioners that when Donahue first approached him about two weeks prior to discuss the resolution, it was crafted as a pledge to be made by the commission alone.

"I thought it was important and imperative that the sheriff's office be included (also)," said Lee.

The sheriff added that he receives calls on a weekly basis, at least, from community members asking whether he or his office are willing to enforce new, potential acts of Congress unfriendly to the Second Amendment.

"They want to know, 'Sheriff, if someone shows up here from the federal government, someday, and they want to take my guns away from me, are you going to help them do that?'

"And the answer is 'absolutely not,'" he said.


Buffalo Bill Center names new CEO

POWELL — Longtime Buffalo Bill Center of the West staff member Rebecca West has been named as the center’s next executive director and CEO. West’s promotion was announced Monday. 

“It’s a great opportunity to promote one of our own,” said Center of the West Board Chairman Bill Shiebler. “Her longterm experience with the center, her deep educational background, her experience on the management team, and her excellent reputation among her peers are all tremendous positives that make her a great fit to lead the center.” 

West now serves as the Collier-Read Director of Curatorial, Education and Museum Services Division, as curator of the Plains Indian Museum and as department head of the Buffalo Bill Museum. 

She began her career with the center in 1994 as an intern working as an associate researcher. West has since been promoted several times and has served in a wide range of roles across the center. 

“The past year has been a challenging one for museums around the world, and the Center of the West is no exception,” West said. “I have been fortunate to learn and mature under some of the best and brightest people who have worked here. I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working with our tremendous staff to address not only our current challenges, but also some wonderful opportunities for the center and the community.” 


Cody man faces up to 240 years on drug charges

CODY — A local man is facing 240 years in prison for six counts of delivery of controlled substances.

Since Phillip Dobbins, 43, was previously convicted twice for a prior offense under the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act, he can receive up to double the length of punishment for each charge.

Dobbins is accused of selling meth, hydrocodone and oxycodone to a confidential informant and an undercover agent on five different occasions in January and February in Cody, Powell and Shoshoni.

These alleged sales were in addition to the 12.5 ounces of meth, just more than 0.75 pounds, found inside a Ziploc container inside a panel of a vehicle being driven by Dobbins and Natosha Martin, 37, in late March. Their 2002 Cadillac DeVille was towed and searched. The meth was found in a gallon-sized baggie wrapped in a small blanket in the driver’s side floorboard of the vehicle.

This arrest is being treated as a separate case for Dobbins.

The meth was believed to have brought across state lines from Colorado. Numerous receipts were found in the couples’ car from marijuana dispensaries.

According to the affidavit, Dobbins was seen possessing a 4-ounce bag of meth and sold 3.7 grams of the substance during one particular undercover sale.

His bond was set at $100,000 cash only during an initial hearing on Monday morning.

“Anyone can understand how somebody who would not want to serve 240 years is a flight risk,” said County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jack Hatfield in arguing for Dobbins’ bond, which Judge Bruce Waters granted.


Former businessman pleads guilty to theft

GILLETTE — A former Gillette businessman admitted that he used a customer’s $14,822 to keep his business afloat rather than get the items the customer ordered.

William Anthony Dohse, 43, pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft as part of a plea agreement.

Dohse told District Judge Stuart S. Healy III at his change of plea hearing that Soundworks, his business, wasn’t doing well when a customer paid $14,822 for two Bluetooth wireless headsets in November 2018.

“I robbed Peter to pay Paul, sir,” he told Healy. “I used his money to keep my business afloat, pay employees, try to stay open.”

Then he couldn’t pay back the money he owed the customer, who had paid with a credit card and wanted his money back when, after several months, he still didn’t have his headsets.

Soundworks closed in December 2018. But between August 2017 and that time, Healy still was promising to do work for people and taking money from them allegedly to order supplies without intending to do the work, according to court documents.

In addition to the headsets, Dohse allegedly agreed to install a new stereo system and alarm system in a classic car that another man was restoring. The man made $900 in payments toward the $5,000-$6,000 project and bought equipment to be installed in the car, sending it to Dohse after the man moved to Nevada as part of his job.

Police believe Dohse eventually sold on Facebook the alarm system and other items that the man paid for and had sent to Soundworks.