DISPATCH CENTER THEFT-PLEA
Woman pleads guilty to stealing $3K from Wyoming dispatch
GREEN RIVER, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming woman has pleaded guilty to stealing about $3,000 from the Sweetwater County Combined Communications Dispatch Center for personal use between 2016 and 2018. The Rocket-Miner reported that Laura Etienne was arrested in January and charged with felony and misdemeanor counts related to misusing an Amazon Prime account set up for the center. Etienne originally pleaded not guilty in March, but she changed her plea Thursday as part of a deal. The deal includes up to four years in prison, three years of supervised probation and about $3,000 in restitution. Her husband was the former director of the dispatch center, but she did not work at the center.
WYOMING BUDGET-REST AREAS
Facing budget crisis, Wyoming closing 10 highway rest areas
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Department of Transportation plans to close 10 highway rest areas to save money. The closures starting June 15 will save about $800,000 a year. Department officials said Friday they are closing rest areas near Lusk on U.S. Highway 18; Guernsey on U.S. 26; Greybull on U.S. 14-16-20; Moorcroft on Interstate 90; Star Valley on U.S. 89; Ft. Steele on I-80; Sundance on I-90; Upton on U.S. 16; and Orin Junction and Chugwater, both on I-25. The Wyoming Transportation Commission approved the closures in a special meeting May 27. Wyoming faces a two-year budget deficit of $1 billion or more amid declining revenue.
DEAD WOMAN FOUND
Woman found pinned by car, dead, at Wyoming oilfield site
GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — A woman has been found dead at an oilfield site in northeastern Wyoming. Twenty-one-year-old Jade Ommen apparently became trapped Tuesday night between a car door and a building at the site 40 miles (64 kilometers) southwest of Gillette. Campbell County sheriff’s officials say Ommen may have gotten out of the car while it was in reverse gear and it rolled and trapped her. A man reported finding her body early Wednesday. The Gillette News Record reports a coroner concluded from an autopsy Ommen died of mechanical asphyxia. No foul play is suspected. The case remains under investigation.
Wyoming governor orders steep cuts amid revenue crisis
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon says state agencies must immediately cut spending and prepare for even deeper cuts because of an unprecedented hit to revenue. Wyoming faces a revenue drop of up to $1.5 billion over the next two years because of coronavirus-related issues. They include less business activity, an ever-weaker outlook for coal amid less electricity use, and low oil prices because of reduced demand and countries fighting over prices. Gordon already has told state agencies to freeze hiring and not proceed with large contracts. Gordon says they should prepare for a 20% cut amid a sharp decline in revenue.
Wyoming unemployment filings decline, still way up from 2019
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Applications for temporary unemployment assistance in Wyoming declined during the week ending May 30 as the U.S. economy continues to struggle with measures to contain the coronavirus. The U.S. Employment and Training Administration said Thursday the number of applications submitted in Wyoming fell to 1,926, down 31% from the previous week but still up 338% compared to the same week last year. Wyoming has processed 43,444 claims for unemployment since March 14. That represents 16% of Wyoming’s total workforce eligible for the unemployment insurance program. Wyoming’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in April was 9.2%, up from 3.5% a year earlier. The nationwide rate was 14.7%.
Armed groups gather in downtown Casper after Floyd protests
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Several groups of people openly carried guns around downtown Casper after a day of protests against the death of George Floyd. Some sat in front of businesses. Others lingered at a place where the protests began hours earlier Wednesday. They told a Casper Star-Tribune reporter they didn’t seek to disrupt additional protests but wanted to protect downtown should things escalate after dark. Earlier, hundreds marched to protest Floyd’s death under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25. The protests were peaceful. Other protests in cities nationwide have been both peaceful and accompanied by rioting and looting.