Wyoming news briefs for April 7

Minnesota man killed in wreck near Rock Springs

ROCK SPRINGS — A Minnesota man died March 31 in a head-on collision on Interstate 80 near Rock Springs. 

At 3:10 p.m. on March 31, the Wyoming Highway Patrol responded to a report of a vehicle collision at milepost 104 near the Elk Street exit of I-80. 

A 2018 Volvo commercial truck was headed west on I-80 when it crossed the median and entered the eastbound lanes, according to the WHP. It then collided head-on with a 2007 Peterbilt commercial truck. 

The collision created a large explosion causing both commercial trucks to become engulfed in flames. 

The driver of the Peterbilt has been identified as Daniel J. Debeer, 33, of Ellsworth, Minnesota. Due to the extent of damage, it is unknown if a seat belt was in use. 

Debeer died at the scene of the crash. 

The driver of the Volvo has been identified as Justin Nzaramba, 25, of Aurora, Colo. Nzaramba was wearing his seat belt and was treated at the scene of the crash for his injuries. 

Driver fatigue and equipment failure on the part of Nzaramba is being investigated as potential contributing factors. 

This is the 22nd fatality on Wyoming’s roadways in 2021 compared to 13 in 2020, 35 in 2019, and 20 in 2018 to date.


New law: People charged with animal cruelty to pay for impoundment

CHEYENNE — A bill requiring a defendant facing animal cruelty charges to pay reasonable costs for the animal’s impoundment was signed into law Tuesday by Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon.

Senate File 25 provides a source of revenue for the facility caring for the animal, if the defendant wishes to retain ownership while an animal cruelty case is underway.

At the same time, it guarantees a hearing for the owner before an animal is confiscated.

It’s a win for animal shelters and animal control entities in the state that are responsible for the care, adoption or euthanasia of impounded animals. Caring for these animals can end up costing shelters thousands of dollars, as they await either forfeiture or adjudication of a cruelty case, Cheyenne Animal Shelter CEO Sue Castaneda said in January.

Castaneda, who championed SF 25 and testified in favor of it, was present when Gordon signed the bill Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m very pleased that this got both through the Legislature and signed by the governor,” she said. “It’s going to be very important – not just for our shelter, but other shelters who have to hold animals for a very long time. ... We’re very happy (about) making some progress on this kind of thing.”


Mask variance granted for Torrington schools

TORRINGTON — Wyoming State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist has approved a mask variance for Goshen County School District No. 1.

The school board passed a request for the mask variance in a 5-4 vote on Tuesday, March 30 at the school board meeting held at Torrington High School. The variance went into effect on Tuesday, April 6.

According to a press release from superintendent Ryan Kramer, “If this change impacts your students’ ability to attend any Goshen County School, please contact your students’ principal. The principal will work with you to develop a plan of service for your student for the remainder of the school year.”

Students and staff will now have the choice if they would like to wear a mask in school, but some of the previous measures still remain in place.

“Isolation/quarantine requirements will remain in place,” said Heather Saul, Goshen County Public Health Emergency Response Coordinator. “The attorney general’s office is still working the bus situation and got the Department of Education involved so that all School Districts are consistent.”


Albany commissioners accept wind project application for review

LARAMIE — The Albany County Board of Commissioners decided Tuesday morning that an application from ConnectGen for the Rail Tie Wind Project is complete, kicking off a comment and review period that includes a public hearing June 1.

As required by county regulations, wind energy conversion system project permit applications must include a project summary; names and contact information for the applicant, owners and property owners; a site plan; a series of studies, reports, certifications and approvals; and letters of consent from property owners.

Planning director David Gertsch said the county’s planning staff reviewed the application and found it substantially complete. He had already requested additional information from ConnectGen for the site plan and noted that one property owner is still negotiating a lease agreement and thus said they “do not oppose” the application rather than giving consent at this point.

Commissioners Heber Richardson and Sue Ibarra voted in favor of deeming the application complete, while Commissioner Pete Gosar voted against.

Gosar said that because of the number of people substantially invested in support of and in opposition to the project, he didn’t want to deem the application complete without all letters of consent in hand.

“If there’s one outstanding, that’s enough for me to vote no, quite honestly,” he said. “I want the wording to be correct.”

Gertsch described the process of deeming the application complete as a “starting point.” The process now moves into the review phase, during which the planning department will consider the substance of the application and whether it meets county regulations.