Wyoming news briefs for June 3
Woman changes plea in 2018 death
SUNDANCE — Marty Smith has changed her plea to “no contest” on charges that she was an accessory to the death of Sundance man Doug Haar and will appear in District Court next month for a sentencing hearing with Judge Thomas W. Rumpke. Smith was found guilty of both charges in 2019, but the case was to be heard again following a successful appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court.
Smith is expected to plead “no contest” to one felony count of accessory before the fact to involuntary manslaughter and one felony count of accessory before the fact to aggravated assault and battery.
In exchange, the State has agreed to suspend the remaining portion of Smith’s original jail sentence.
According to the plea agreement, on the manslaughter charge, the recommended sentence will be between six and 18 years, with credit for time already served and the remaining portion suspended. On the aggravated assault charge, the recommended sentence will be between six and ten years, again with credit for time served and the remaining portion suspended.
Smith was convicted in 2019 of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault and battery in Haar’s death and she was sentenced to six to 18 years in prison. Wyoming’s Supreme Court ruled in February that the jury in her case was given improper instructions, so she should be tried again.
Price tag increases for new G&F office
POWELL — The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission approved a change order for construction of the new Cody Regional office, increasing the price of the project by $329,675.76 for power services and materials. The price increase is primarily due to increasing building material costs.
Construction is underway for the facility, which is expected to be complete by mid-summer of 2022. The project was delayed for a few weeks in January, while the Game and Fish confirmed that the low bidder on the project, BH, Inc., qualified as a Wyoming company.
“Every week we wait to finalize costs, we see an increase in the materials prices,” said John Kennedy, deputy director of internal operations for Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “Approving costs now is the best use of sportsperson funds.”
The Game and Fish says another change order is coming, tied to the rising cost of other materials. The new estimate will be ready for approval in early June.
Material prices have been skyrocketing across the country.
Georgia Pacific Building Products, one of the largest wood products manufacturers in North America, reports construction materials have experienced significant rates of price increases and continue to soar “causing a rise in development costs of commercial high rises, offices and other buildings that require a significant amount of building materials,” the company reports.
The Game and Fish Commission has budgeted up to $10 million for the new Cody office, paid entirely with funds from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses.
Commissioners seek change in power line route
AFTON — Lincoln County Commissioner Robert King says the commission is working to get the Gateway West Transmission Line to move south of Cokeville.
Rocky Mountain Power and Idaho Power has proposed this project which will build 1,000 miles of new high-voltage transmission lines between the Windstar substation near Glenrock, Wyoming and the Hemingway substation near Melba, Idaho.
The current plan is to have it pass through north of Cokeville and King says that will create some problems.
“That will totally encircle Cokeville with power lines,” King said.
He says up until a couple of years ago, these types of lines required 1,500 feet of space between them. Now that has been updated to 250 feet. So, he says he proposed to Wyoming Rocky Mountain Vice President Sharon Fain to move it to the line that already exists to the south of the town.
“So it only makes sense to me… to move that line to the south with an existing corridor that’s already been looked at, reviewed,” King said. “And would not impact the community as adversely as this would.”
He says this will also affect crop lands and so he is hopeful that they will listen to the commission. He also says one thing it will need to learn from the transmission group is how it decided to determine why the line is planned to go north of town.
Conservation Camp resumes community service
NEWCASTLE — After over a year of lockdowns at Wyoming Department of Corrections facilities sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the department will be bringing back the community service program by mid-summer.
According to the DOC compliance manager, C.J. Young, both the community aspect and the fire mitigation aspect for a number of inmates from the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp, located north of Newcastle, will return. Up to 60 individuals have participated in the program, depending on their security classification, he said.
At the start of the pandemic, the program stopped, as reported by City Engineer Mike Moore during a council meeting. At that time, he said that regular city employees were taking on the additional tasks that DOC inmates had been doing.
Last year, the Weston County Fairgrounds also expressed the need for more volunteers as it prepared for the annual county fair due to the lack of assistance from the honor camp because of the lockdown.
“The WHCC crews are a huge benefit to our fairgrounds. While we were able to use their crews, our fairgrounds looked better than ever,” manager Kara Fladstol Brown said. “Also, their assistance in the past has allowed us to make some major improvements and our facility more marketable.”
She noted that the crews have helped with everything from grounds maintenance to performing essential aspects of setting up and cleaning up during the fair.
“After not having them available this last year, we have realized how much we rely on their assistance throughout the year and especially at fair time,” Brown said.