Wyoming news briefs for December 16

Student arrested for making threats against junior high school

GILLETTE — A 14-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly making terroristic threats Tuesday morning at Twin Spruce Junior High School.

Another student, a 13-year-old girl, said she received a threatening message on social media. Officers tracked the source of the message to the 14-year-old, who was arrested for making the threats, said Police Lt. Brent Wasson.

The nature of the threat was not clarified, but it was made against students and staff at the school and did not name specific names, Wasson said.

This marks the third incident where law enforcement responded to reports of students making threats in Gillette schools this month.

Earlier this month, a 12-year-old student at Twin Spruce allegedly threatened students and teachers at the school and had a specific list of people she intended to harm. The principal found out, intervened and she was removed from school. Wasson said then charges for terrorist threats were pending.

Then last week, two Campbell County High School students were removed from school after a message threatening to “shoot up” the high school circulated on Snapchat.

The 15-year-old boy who sent the private message and the 17-year-old boy who screenshot, edited and further spread the message both said they were joking and did not intend to cause harm. They also claimed to not have access to guns, Police Sgt. Jay Johnson said last week.

That case was sent to the county attorney’s office, where charges of terroristic threats were pending.


Antelope Butte awaiting more snow to open

SHERIDAN — While snow began to fall in Sheridan County Wednesday morning, Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area officials said the mountain needs significant accumulation of the white stuff before the ski area can safely open. 

SNOTEL sites in the Bighorn Mountains have shown less than 1 foot of snow depth over the last seven days, and while each ski resort requires different snow depths, Antelope Butte’s executive director, John Kirlin, said the mountain likely needs another 2 feet of snow to safely open.

Antelope Butte volunteers and staff had set an opening date of Dec. 17, but announced this week that date would be pushed back until snow conditions allow. 

“The great thing about that location, when the founders chose it, it’s a north facing slope that will hold onto snow for some time,” Kirlin said. 

Despite the delay for skiers to hit the slopes, Kirlin and board member Mark Weitz noted the lodge will also open this season.

“I can’t give an exact date yet, because it’s based on inspections and supply chains for some of the final pieces,” Kirlin said. “But it will open this ski season.”

Weitz called the lodge “stunning,” adding the opening doesn’t mean the lodge is complete. 

The building will meet occupancy standards, but will require additional odds and ends be completed. 


Health advisory issued for Lake DeSmet

BUFFALO — Health officials are advising that people and animals avoid portions of Lake DeSmet after discovery of a harmful bacteria.

Last week, the Wyoming Department of Health issued a harmful cyanobacterial bloom advisory for Lake DeSmet based on data provided by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. Under the advisory, health officials caution that people avoid contact with and do not ingest water in the vicinity of the bloom. Boiling, filtration and other treatments will not remove toxins, according to the health department. Fish caught in the vicinity should be rinsed with clean water and only the filet portion should be eaten, health officials say.

Pets or livestock should not drink water near the bloom, eat bloom material or lick fur after contact.

Bloom advisories, according to the health department, are issued for recreational use when cyanobacterial cell densities or cyanotoxin concentrations pose a risk to people or animals who come in contact with water in areas where the blooms


Kelsee Hurshman, natural resource analyst with the Wyoming DEQ told the Bulletin that since the department started monitoring for harmful cyanobacterial blooms in 2017, there have not been any reports of the blooms in Lake DeSmet. She said a staff member found the bloom in the reservoir while recreating the first week of December.

On Lake DeSmet, Hurshman said, the blooms are accumulated along the north dam area, as well as along the western shore.


Sleeping Giant opening postponed because of lack of snow

POWELL — Employees at the Sleeping Giant have been working through the year, making upgrades to the popular ski area located in the Shoshone National Forest. But one thing is missing as area skiers are eager to hit the slopes: snow. 

Officials at the facility announced the ski hill will not be opening as planned on Friday. 

“Sleeing Giant is ready for winter, but like other ski areas in the region, Sleeping Giant awaits natural snowfall and cooler temperatures necessary for mechanical snowmaking efforts to create a solid base,” said communications and marketing manager Myranda Hamel. 

At this time, Sleeping Giant cannot guarantee a specific opening date, yet the crew is eager to be open and asks the community to stay optimistic. 

“A snow dance ritual won’t hurt,” Hamel wrote in a press release Wednesday. 

“We have done everything we can on our end to make enough snow so our guests can have a fun time,” added Chris Mackie, Sleeping Giant mountain operations manager. “Even with the incredible equipment we have on hand, the outdoor temperatures still have to be just right for our efforts to be successful. We are very grateful to everyone who has purchased a season pass so far and are eager to get the season started.”


Yellowstone to suspend wildlife monitoring

CODY — Starting this winter, Yellowstone National Park will suspend a wildlife monitoring effort because evaluations over the last decade have not substantially changed.

This decision is consistent with the park’s Winter Use Adaptive Management Plan, which stated the National Park Service would continually re-examine and adjust winter use monitoring strategies and management actions as new information became available.

This decision will not affect snowmobile or snowcoach use in the park or impact visitors.

This decision will inform the park’s interest in conducting visitor use impact monitoring in the summer due to record-breaking visitation.

Future winter wildlife monitoring will be informed by science and may be different than the recent monitoring methodologies.

In October 2021, the park sought comments from the public on the proposal to suspend one component of the adaptive monitoring plan for winter use, initially put in place to evaluate effects to resources from snowmobiles and snowcoaches.