News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Fremont County Year in Review: February
Dec 31, 2012 - From staff reports
1 - The Lander man who authorities said was the driver of a pickup truck that struck and killed an 11-year-old girl was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide.
In addition to the felony charge, William Dean Barnes, 52, was charged with homicide by vehicle, maximum speed/too fast for conditions, passing a stopped school bus with flashing red lights and exercise of due care by driver, all four of which are misdemeanors.
2 - A man stabbed several times in the torso and once in the face was in critical condition after an attack reported at the Maverik Country Store in south Riverton.
Officers learned the man had been stabbed and another had been hit in the head with a heavy object.
7 - Gov. Matt Mead heard concerns from landowners in the Pavillion area during a meeting Feb. 6 at Central Wyoming College in Riverton. A dozen or so landowners said concerns about water quality were overblown.
The frustrations expressed by the meeting's attendees followed a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report citing a possible link between water quality in the area and the practice of hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting gas from the ground.
7 - With an average of 18.1 students per teacher in K-3 classrooms, Fremont County School District 24 was one of two local districts to seek a waiver from the state law that requires smaller class sizes in lower grade levels.
District 25 also sought a waiver from the 16-1 student-to-teacher ratio required by a 2011 law.
8 - Fremont County government's audit for fiscal year 2011 showed assets exceeding liabilities by $130 million, but total revenues for the period took a 14 percent dive.
The audit report presented to county commissioners Jan. 24 stated revenues for governmental activities decreased $4.5 million from the previous year, falling to $26.1 million from $30.6 million.
9 - County commissioners gave preliminary approval to placing an optional 1 percent sales tax on the general election ballot.
10 - Authorities began investigating the death of a Shoshoni man whose body was found inside his home that caught fire Feb. 9.
Fremont County Coroner Ed McAuslan said the victim was 29-year-old Bryan Dearman.
14 - Travelers at Riverton Regional Airport used its services in nearly the same volume in 2011 as the year before.
Airport manager Bill Urbigkit said there were 14,587 enplanements in 2011, which was up slightly from 2010 when there were 14,542 enplanements.
15 - Family members of the Riverton couple killed in a crash near the Boysen Reservoir causeway filed a federal lawsuit accusing Encana Oil and Gas Inc. of negligence.
The lawsuit blamed Encana for allowing an employee with a degenerative eye disease and a history of vehicle crashes to operate the 12,000-plus-pound truck that collided with the married couple's stopped vehicle Aug. 25.
Deaun L. Smith, 54, and Anthony C. Smith, 53, died in the crash when the Encana truck driven by Gavin Lane Shurtleff slammed into the rear of their vehicle at a construction zone.
17 - Wyoming House lawmakers failed to approve the introduction of a bill that would have expanded law enforcement authority of tribal police officers on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
House Bill 83 died after the House voted 40-20 against passing the proposed legislation onto a committee for further discussion. The bill needed two-thirds approval for introduction.
17 -- A Lander man accused of killing a bicyclist on South Federal Boulevard while driving under the influence in August pleaded no contest to a felony in the case Feb. 17.
Michael William Sniffin, 30, appeared for a change-of-plea hearing in Lander's 9th District Court after signing an agreement with the prosecution earlier in the week.
19 - Fremont County ranked last among 15 Wyoming counties categorized for child well-being, according to the annual survey by the analysts of Kids Count.
The categories used to determine the statistics in the state calculates a cumulative rolling average of five-year periods for several indicators including infant mortality rate, child death rate, teen birth rate, low birth weight babies and teen death rate. The calculations were an average of the years 2005 to 2009 and labeled 2007.
22 - The City of Riverton increased the number of alcohol catering permits to 24 per venue, up from the original six per licensee per year.
The catering permit issue that sparked controversy throughout Riverton for more than a month finally came to a close as the permit level was raised to match the state level of 24.
22 - The Riverton Police Department identified Thomas Joseph Shakespeare, 29, of the Riverton area, as a suspect in the stabbing Feb. 1 at the Maverik Country Store on South Federal Boulevard.
A warrant issued for Shakespeare's arrest charges him with one count of attempted second-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault and battery and a count of battery.
23 - A three-judge appeals court panel denied Fremont County government's attempt to deviate from a previous ruling that created five single-member districts for electing county commissioners.
The judges in the Federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision that created the districts so American Indians could elect their commission candidate of choice.
23 -- Fremont County Republicans picked presidential hopeful Rick Santorum in the first straw poll held by the state party.
The former U.S. senator for Pennsylvania came out on top with 55 votes at the four caucuses in Lander and Jeffrey City, and Wednesday in Riverton and Dubois.
26 - A Riverton restaurant owner was set to plead guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to deliver cocaine under an agreement that required him to provide information in other drug prosecutions.
Gerardo H. Rico-Holguin signed the plea agreement Feb. 14 that called for a potential sentence of anywhere between probation and a maximum of five years in prison.