Wyoming news briefs for July 1


Indiana man banned from Yellowstone after causing disturbance

POWELL — A 31-year-old Indiana man has been ordered to serve two months in jail — and has been banned from Yellowstone National Park for five years — after drunkenly causing a disturbance and fighting with park rangers last week. 

Federal prosecutors say Kyle F. Campbell was part of a group of people who’d scheduled a guided kayak trip at Grant Village marina on June 21. However, the guide refused to take the group as he thought they were too intoxicated. Campbell and his group then became upset and created a disturbance, prompting the kayak guide to call security officers and park law enforcement rangers. 

“During the encounter, Campbell made threatening comments and gestures toward the officers,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming said in a news release. “He also exhibited signs of being intoxicated and refused to obey officers’ orders. Campbell continually struggled and kicked at the rangers, resisting arrest, and later injuring himself while banging his head in the patrol car.” 

At a June 23 appearance at the Mammoth courthouse, Campbell pleaded guilty to several criminal charges: disorderly conduct; threatening, resisting, and intentionally interfering with a government employee; violating the lawful order of a government employee; being under the influence of alcohol and a controlled substance to a degree that may endanger oneself or others; and contempt of court for refusing to comply with an order from Magistrate Judge Carmen to provide a blood sample. 

Campbell was sentenced to 60 days in jail and placed on five years of unsupervised probation, with terms that include staying out of the park. 

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Cody nearly full for holiday weekend

CODY — Cody is nearly full. Operators of various accommodations said they were completely booked up for the Fourth of July weekend at least a week in advance.

A representative from the Cody Legacy Inn and Suites said the hotel is completely booked this entire week aside from a single room hotel staff are leaving open in case of an emergency.

Crystal Kelly, a front desk receptionist at the Beartooth Inn, said her hotel is completely booked for the weekend and had only two rooms open for July 5 as of last Friday. Although they have consistent bookings filling up their schedule through the entire month of July, Kelly said with a short staff on-hand, she has been performing nearly every task necessary at the establishment.

“You do what you got to do,” she said.

The new Buffalo Bluff RV Park just north of town has had all 45 of its RV sites booked up for the Fourth weekend since its website went live a few months ago, owner Kelly Hunt said. Buffalo Bluff chose an opportune summer to start its business as tourists have been flocking to Cody in record numbers so far.

“We’re booked solid through June and July at around 90%,” Hunt said, “and the few sites we have available day-of always get filled up every night.

“We’ve been extremely successful.”

A representative from Absaroka Bay RV Park said it is completely booked for the Fourth as well.

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Renewable fuels company looks at Newcastle sawmill

NEWCASTLE — Life may be brought back to the old sawmill east of Newcastle after years in limbo if EchoTech Fuels, a California based company, has its way.

The privately owned renewable fuels company will meet with both the Newcastle City Council and the Weston County Commission on Tuesday, July 6, to discuss plans for its Black Hills Advanced Synfuels LLC, the next step in opening a facility locally. 

“The project will create at least 80 jobs, plus construction. Because of the high jobs multiplier impact of a project like this, many more jobs will be created in Wyoming to support the plant,” said Linda-Rose Myers, the company’s president and founder, according to her LinkedIn profile. 

The jobs created would include chemical engineers, skilled labor and entry-level work.  

The company is discussing the purchase of the old sawmill with Jim Neiman, owner of the sawmill, who, Myers said, “likes” the idea. Use of the rail tracks would be needed by the plant and has been agreed upon. 

EchoTech’s team of experts, according to information provided by Myers, has the field-proven capability for converting biological and carbonaceous waste materials, including woody biomass, into advanced synthetic fuels. 

The local project, Black Hills Advance Synfuels, would convert 500 tons per day of fire-prone diseased and dead woody biomass from the Black Hills National Forest into 1,150 barrels per day of advanced synthetic SAF or diesel. 

Total costs for the project are estimated at $389 million. 

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Inspection stops spread of mussels into Yellowstone

CODY — Not long after an investigation revealed no invasive mussels had spread from aquarium moss balls to Wyoming waters, a Yellowstone National Park boat inspector stopped another possible invasion.

A Yellowstone aquatic invasive species boat inspector found quagga mussels June 17 on a visitor’s boat during a routine AIS inspection at Grant Village, according to a Park news release. The inspector stopped the contaminated boat from launching.

Detection of the mussels prevented a major potential release of this highly invasive species into Yellowstone waters. If released into Park waters, AIS can cause catastrophic changes to the ecosystem.

Quagga mussels are one of many AIS that pose a grave risk to the ecology, recreation and economy of the park and beyond.

During the 2021 state legislative session, committee meetings were held to determine the potential impacts to the state, not least of which is the possible hit to tourism if waterways had to be restricted for long periods to deal with mussels if they were to get in the water.

“Preventing the release of AIS is critical because control and removal after they become established in a watershed is usually impossible and efforts to reduce their impact can be extremely expensive,” a Park spokesperson said in a statement.

To prevent the spread of AIS, Park inspectors examine all boats, kayaks, canoes and float tubes before visitors can launch them in the water. Boats with ballast tanks are not permitted to launch within the Park.

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Former Afton town administrator named Gillette administrator

GILLETTE — After a months-long search, the city of Gillette has finally found its next city administrator.

The city selected Hyun Kim to take over the full-time gig. He will start Sept. 1.

“We are very pleased to welcome Hyun Kim to the city of Gillette. His experience as a municipal administrator and familiarity with Wyoming government made him a top candidate,” said Mayor Louise Carter-King in a prepared statement. “I would like to thank the other candidates for taking the time to meet with us. They made this a very difficult decision.”

Kim comes to Gillette after serving as the city manager since 2017 of Fife, Washington, a city of 10,000 people that is a suburb of Tacoma. Before that he was the finance director for Boulder City, Nevada, and town administrator in Afton.

Kim’s background includes having been a part of renewable energy lease and private-public partnership deals.

He earned his undergraduate degree in Public Administration from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and a Master's of Public Administration from Western Governors University and Brigham Young University.

Kim has been a member of the International City/County Management Association as well as a member of the Tacoma/Pierce County Economic Development Board.

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