Wyoming news briefs for July 30


Man charged in fatal wreck near Evanston

EVANSTON — The driver who police say rear-ended another vehicle on Interstate 80, causing a crash that killed two people, has been arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated homicide by vehicle, driving while under the influence and causing serious bodily injury and reckless driving. 

On Sunday, July 18, Braylin Scott Wertenberger of Boulder, Colorado, slammed his GMC Sierra pickup into the back of two cars that had stopped near milepost 1 on I-80 due to another accident a half-mile further east.

 The pickup Wertenberger was driving collided with a Toyota Rav4, which was pushed into the Ford truck in front of it. Three people in the Toyota were taken by ambulance to the hospital where one, a 12-year-old Riverton boy was pronounced dead. The boy’s grandfather who was driving the Toyota and also from Riverton, later succumbed to his injuries. 

According to an affidavit filed by Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Scott Neilson, who investigated the crash, a witness described the GMC pickup — which was three months overdue for registration — as traveling approximately 85 miles per hour as it approached the slow-moving and stopped traffic. 

Neilson was advised that multiple pipes and tinfoil containing black, burnt apparent drug residue consistent with heroin use, as well as several butane torches and lighters, had been discovered throughout the GMC. 

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Enzi service set for Aug. 6 in Gillette

GILLETTE — A public ceremony to celebrate the life of former U.S. senator and former Gillette mayor Mike Enzi, begins at 1 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Gillette College Pronghorn Center located, fittingly, just off Enzi Drive.

Jerrica Mills, the office manager of Gillette Memorial Chapel, confirmed that Pastor Donavon Voigt of First Baptist Church will officiate.

Instead of flowers, the announcement from the funeral home suggested memorials can be made to Project Mercy, Mike and Diana Enzi Scholarship Fund at the University of Wyoming, and the Wyoming Community Foundation Mike & Diana Enzi Charitable Fund.

Enzi died Monday after sustaining injuries in a bicycling accident Friday near his home.

He served 24 years in the U.S. Senate, 10 years in the Wyoming Legislature and eight years as Gillette's mayor.

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Dayton murder victim identified

SHERIDAN — Sheridan County Sheriff's Office officials identified the 47-year-old homicide victim found dead in his home July 28 in Dayton as Edgar Jones.

According to a press release, at approximately 3:53 a.m. July 28, SCSO received a call that law enforcement near Hardin, Montana, was in contact with a 15-year-old male who was involved in a rollover accident. The teenager disclosed to Montana law enforcement he had killed his father in Dayton.

SCSO deputies responded to the home on Main Street in Dayton and found a deceased male inside the residence. The cause of death appeared to be from a single gunshot wound.

SCSO officials said the 15-year-old male was taken into custody by Montana law enforcement. The Sheridan County Attorney’s Office has filed one count of second-degree murder against the male juvenile and a warrant was granted.

The investigation remains active and is being conducted by the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office, Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and the Sheridan County Coroner’s Office.

Law enforcement did not release the name of the 15-year-old male suspect.

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Peabody coal sales up from year ago

GILLETTE — As much of the western United States swelters and seeks relief with electric fans and air conditioners, a battered and bruised domestic thermal coal industry is warming up to a bump in sales.

That includes Peabody Energy Corp., which is reporting a nearly 26-percent increase in sales in the second quarter of the year compared to 2020. And while the company also saw a $23 million net income loss for the quarter, it has made significant financial improvements over the first half of 2021, according to its quarterly earnings report released Thursday morning.

“We are optimistic about the future given strong coal market demand and pricing around the globe as economies continue to recover from the pandemic,” said company President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Grech in the report. “The company has taken a disciplined approach to focusing on expanding margins, through ongoing operational improvements, cost controls and sales strategies, along with reducing debt, as we progress to position the company to be resilient in all market cycles.”

While higher fuel costs in the second quarter impacted Peabody’s Powder River Basin bottom line, it was more than made up for in the increased volume, which generated about $45.5 million in cash for the company.

The 22.5 million tons sold between Peabody’s three PRB mines — NARM, Rawhide and Caballo — was a significant improvement over the 17.9 million tons sold in the second quarter of 2020. The company also brought its PRB cost-per-ton down to $9.04 while realizing an average price of $11.06 per ton.

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COVID relief funds distributed to tribes

RIVERTON — Both the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes have received and begun distributing millions of dollars of new federal COVID relief funds. 

According to a Thursday statement by the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, it has received $22,334,504 for the first payment of the American Rescue Plan Act. The figure was based upon the tribe’s population. 

A second payment is expected this summer, which will be based upon 2019 tribal employment numbers and could be worth several more million dollars. 

The Northern Arapaho Tribe reported July 7 that its first payment was worth $50 million. 

The NAT also can expect a second payment soon, also based on employment statistics and possibly rounding out at around $30 million. Payments to enrollees EST noted that tribal members should be receiving a one-time payment of $2,000 in the coming days, “to alleviate a negative financial impact incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Department of Treasury regulations, the statement reads, allow no more than $2,000 to each tribal member individually. 

The Northern Arapaho Tribe is dispatching $1,500 to each member following an application process. 

The NAT general Council voted for the $1,500 amount in a meeting in May. 

Remaining funds are to be used on ARPA-designated purposes, chiefly, fighting economic setback incurred by the pandemic or demanded by its societal changes.

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