Wyoming news briefs for August 6


Vanguard settles with Campbell County

GILLETTE — After spending three years and nearly $1 million in litigation, Campbell County Commissioners have agreed to a settlement in a case with a mineral producer that was trying to claw back taxes it already had paid.

In August 2018, Houston-based Vanguard Natural Resources was going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and it filed complaints against Campbell, Sublette, Park, Natrona, Johnson, Carbon and Sweetwater counties, claiming that those counties should return $5.2 million in taxes that it had already paid.

Vanguard, an oil and gas firm, had been trying to get back $447,595 from Campbell County, which it had paid for 2016 and the first half of 2017. It also argued that it shouldn’t have to pay $178,000 in production taxes for the second half of 2017.
Campbell County filed a counterclaim of $524,898. The other six counties filed counterclaims as well, and all seven have been involved in litigation with Vanguard — which has since gone under restructuring and is now known as Grizzly Energy — in Texas since 2018.

County Administrative Director Carol Seeger said that a couple of weeks ago, attorneys for Vanguard and the seven counties participated in mediation and came out with a solution.

In the settlement, Vanguard will pay the seven counties $2.3 million total. Campbell County will be paid $163,366.

The commissioners voted in favor of the settlement at their regular meeting Tuesday.

“It never sits good with anybody, but it does get us out of this thing, and we can quit spending money on attorneys’ fees,” said Commissioner D.G. Reardon.

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Laramie schools to recommend mask use when school resumes

LARAMIE — Albany County School District No. 1 plans to adhere to health guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control as the start of the 2021-22 school year approaches.

During a discussion at a Board of Education work session Wednesday night, Superintendent Jubal Yennie outlined the district’s current position, which takes guidance from the federal agency by way of state and county health departments. 

“I had a plan going into the fall, but things have to change at this point,” he said. 

The CDC currently recommends universal masking in schools, regardless of one’s vaccination status. That recommendation was echoed by the state health officer, Dr. Alexia Harrist. 

There are currently no mask mandates in place in the state or the county, and Yennie drew a distinction between a recommendation and a requirement. 

“We do not have a health order,” he said. “I’m not going to recommend that we mandate masks because we do not have a health order.” 

Board Chair Janice Marshall reiterated that stance later in the meeting. 

“The CDC ‘recommends,’ and that’s the key word,” she said. “That doesn’t mean ‘requires.’ That doesn’t mean ‘mandate.’ It ‘recommends,’ and that’s what we will do.” 

Yennie said he and the school board have received feedback he described as “vitriol” from members of the public on both sides of the mask issue. 

“When I say we’re going to follow the recommendations, we’re going to follow the recommendations,” he said.

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Powell man accused of throwing boy into wall

CODY — A Powell man is facing charges of child abuse, accused of throwing an 8-year-old child against a wall by the child’s throat and lifting the child up by ears.

Rudy DeHaan, 38, is currently in custody with a $10,000 cash-only bond set during his initial hearing last Tuesday. If found guilty for the felony, DeHaan could receive up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

“The safety of this child is very concerning to the state,” said Saige Smith, Park County prosecuting attorney.

Investigators spoke with Dr. Aaron Billin, a Powell Valley emergency physician and the county health officer, whom the minor made claims to. Billin and Park County Sheriff’s Deputy Neal Corr said there were bruises and scratches on the child’s forehead and ligature marks on the child’s neck consistent with the child’s story. Billin said this incident “is as clear as it gets” regarding abuse.

Department of Family Services Caseworker April Patterson said the child attributed the injuries to DeHaan, and the child’s aunt said this story was consistent with what she heard from the child’s four siblings who were all at home during the incident.

During an interview with deputies, DeHaan admitted to striking the child in the face. He said he hit the child when he became defiant about being asked to clean his room. DeHaan did not admit to any of the accusations involving grabbing of the throat or ears.

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Man sentenced to prison on child sexual abuse charges

SUNDANCE — Travis Price of Sundance has been sentenced to up to 40 years for two felony counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree.

He was originally accused of 13 individual felony charges related to sexual abuse of a minor. He pled guilty on two of the charges.

According to court reports, a Crook County Sheriff’s Office deputy on February 2 interviewed the victims, who claimed Price had touched them inappropriately while they were minors.

Price was interviewed after the deputy had spoken with the alleged victims and the deputy reports that Price commented several times during the interview that he was “so scared” and allegedly also said he didn’t mean for anything to happen but blamed an incident in his own past.

Judge John R. Perry sentenced Price to between 18 and 20 years in a penal institution on each of the counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree to which he pled guilty, with credit for 164 days already served.

As the sentences are to run consecutively, the full sentence will be between 36 and 40 years.

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