News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Oct 6, 2013 - The Associated Press
Storm leaves state, slaps neighbors
PIERRE, S.D. -- In the span of 24 hours, the scenic Black Hills in South Dakota were coated in up to three and a half feet of wet, heavy snow, one of several Great Plains states walloped by a storm system that's caused millions of dollars in damage.
National Weather Service meteorologist Katie Pojorlie said the snow was expected to end later Saturday, giving people a chance to start digging out from the unusual, record-setting early fall snowstorm.
But wintry weather wasn't the only thing wrapped into the powerful cold front, as thunderstorms brought heavy rain, hail and as many as nine tornadoes to Nebraska and Iowa. Fifteen people in northeast Nebraska were injured in a tornado Friday, and three died in a car accident on a snow-slicked Nebraska road.
Forecasters said the front would eventually combine with other storms to make for a wild -- and probably very wet -- weekend for much of the central U.S. and Southeast.
Power outages and impassable roads plagued western South Dakota on Saturday. More than 25,000 people lost power in the Rapid City area, and authorities were recruiting snowmobilers to help rescue about 80 motorists who'd been stuck in their vehicles overnight.
Rapid City plow driver Jesse Curnow said Saturday morning things weren't moving so smoothly in chest-high drifts after a 21-inch snowfall.
State settles in old murder case
CHEYENNE -- The state of Wyoming has entered a confidential settlement ending a federal lawsuit brought by a Montana man who was cleared of murder after a Sublette County deputy sheriff came forward to say other county investigators had withheld critical evidence from the man's defense attorneys at trial.
U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl of Casper this week dismissed the federal lawsuit filed by Troy Willoughby, of Wickes, Mont.
Ian Sandefer, a Casper lawyer representing Willoughby, said this week the terms of the settlement agreement are confidential.
Willoughby was convicted in 2010 in the 1984 killing of Lisa Ehlers.
Willoughby was granted a new trial after Sublette County Attorney Neal Stelting announced in 2011 that county officials had failed to disclose possibly exculpatory evidence to Willoughby's attorneys.
Willoughby was acquitted at his second trial. He served three years in custody before he was released.
In his federal lawsuit filed last year, Willoughby sought unspecified damages against two former officers of the Sublette County Sheriff's Office, Brian Ketterhagen and Sarah Brew, and a former investigator for the County Attorney's Office, Randall Hanson. Skavdahl dismissed Brew from the case in August.
At Willoughby's first trial, his ex-wife and a former friend testified they had all partied in Jackson with Ehlers the night before she was killed.
They said Willoughby drove after Ehlers after she left a party in Jackson without paying him for drugs and shot her around 6 a.m. when she stopped at a turnout in Hoback Canyon.
Stelting in June 2011 issued a statement alleging evidence had been withheld from Willoughby's defense team. The announcement came two days after the Wyoming Supreme Court had upheld Willoughby's life sentence.
Reps hard to reach during shutdown
CHEYENNE -- There are few things that get the voting public's blood boiling more than a government shutdown.
To make matters worse, the shutdown has forced temporary cutbacks of congressional staffers, causing angry calls from constituents to go unanswered.
Constituents who call Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., are likely to be greeted by a recorded message informing them that "congressional offices are operating with minimal staff this week."
"We have less than half of our normal staff (in the Washington office)," said Joe Spiering, Lummis' press secretary.
Spiering said the best way for constituents to contact the congresswoman is via email.
"But if they call and leave a voicemail, we will get back to them," he said. "We do check the voicemail regularly, and we hope by next week we will have more people back to man the phones."
Sen. John Barrasso's Washington office is also operating with less than half its normal staff, press secretary Laura Mengelkamp said in an email.
"Most district offices are closed," Mengelkamp said. "Senator Barrasso's Cheyenne and Washington, D.C. offices remain open with limited staffing. Anyone from Wyoming who needs help from Senator Barrasso and his staff can call the toll-free office number."
Naomi Duprey, a staffer in Sen. Mike Enzi's Washington, D.C. office, said "a lot of other House and Senate offices don't have anyone working right now."
It isn't just the representatives' Washington offices that are operating with skeleton crews. Staffers at offices in Wyoming are staying home as well.
While Enzi is "retaining the staff necessary to keep the (Washington) office open" normal hours, only one of his five Wyoming offices will be open per day, Duprey said.
The offices will take turns operating until the shutdown is over.
None of Wyoming's representatives has offered any concrete plans for how they plan to facilitate an end to the shutdown.
Parvo outbreak sickens Gillette dogs
GILLETTE -- Veterinarians in Gillette say they're seeing more dogs with a gastrointestinal virus called parvo.
Vaccinations can immunize dogs from the virus but veterinarian Darren Lynde says most dog owners don't realize that more than one shot is needed.
Parvo isn't contagious to humans. Dogs that get it experience flu-like symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea. They lose their appetite and become lethargic.
Lynde says the outbreak is the biggest he's seen in 20 years of practice. He said the virus isn't seasonal but dogs tend to get it during the warmer months when they're more active outside.
Lynde says parvo is fatal about 20 percent of the time but intensive therapy can help dogs overcome the virus.