Wyoming news briefs for May 28


Investor, philanthropist Friess dies

JACKSON — Foster Friess, a part-time Jackson resident, legendary investor, philanthropist and political insider, died Thursday at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 81.

The announcement came from Foster’s Outriders, the charity organization through which Friess donated tens of millions of dollars in Jackson and around the world.

A Friess family statement said they were “thankful to the many people who have shared their prayers during his illness” and that “we know many of you mourn with us.”

No cause was given, but the Jackson Hole News&Guide reported in January that Friess was fighting a bone marrow cancer called myelodysplasia.

The announcement of Friess’ death said he had given away more than $500 million during his lifetime.

In January, Friess gave $40 million by making a list of 400 people he knew and letting each of them decide how to direct $100,000. At least 35 of the recipients were in Jackson Hole, and many others were around Wyoming.

Friess was also active in conservative Republican politics, not only as a source of donations but as a candidate. He lost the 2018 Wyoming gubernatorial primary to eventual Gov. Mark Gordon by a margin of about 37,000 to 29,000 votes.

Friess was also an early hopeful in the 2020 primary campaign for Wyoming U.S. senator that was eventually won by Cynthia Lummis.

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No commercial air service to Cheyenne for CFD

CHEYENNE — Commercial airline flights at Cheyenne Regional Airport will be suspended slightly longer than initially expected due to construction delays on runway upgrades, meaning widely available flights into Wyoming’s capital won’t be available during Cheyenne Frontier Days in July.

After commercial flights were suspended in April to begin a $62 million infrastructure investment, local airport officials announced earlier this week that the reopening date will no longer be in July.

Nathan Banton, general manager of the Cheyenne Regional Airport, said the delay was caused by a nationwide shortage in the type of concrete needed to complete the runway renovations, along with some weather delays this spring.

“That’s what’s really kind of driving the delay in the project at the moment,” Banton said. “Right now, the airport is still usable, but the runway we have available right now isn’t long enough for commercial flights to land.”

“What’s going to happen is we’re not able to get into that next phase of the project prior to CFD starting, which is really quite unfortunate, especially since we worked hard with our airline partner (so that) they were going to do three flights a day during Cheyenne Frontier Days for us to really help with people getting in and out,” he added.

Banton said the plan now is for the project to be completed by the start of September, ahead of the Labor Day weekend. At that point, United Airlines flights between Cheyenne and Denver are expected to resume.

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Charges pending against man in theft of giant tires

GILLETTE — Charges against a 64-year-old Upton man are pending after he admitted to stealing two haul truck tires worth more than $50,000 from the Black Thunder mine near Wright in 2019.

Sheriff’s Investigator Josh Knittel said that on May 19, the mine called the Sheriff’s Office to report two haul truck tires had been stolen from the mine site between October 2019 and the beginning of 2020.

Big Horn Tires had received a call from a tire broker who said he had two tires for sale through the 64-year-old man, who was trying to sell them for $23,000, Knittel said. The deal had been finalized May 17, and the tire broker had arranged for the tires to be shipped to Big Horn Tires, which planned to sell them to Black Thunder.

When the truck arrived to pick the tires up, the 64-year-old figured out that they were headed to Gillette and he canceled the deal, Knittel said.

Black Thunder had conducted an audit of its tire inventory and learned that two were missing. The serial numbers on the missing tires matched the numbers on the tires the 64-year-old was trying to sell, Knittel said.

The man told investigators he was working at the mine’s tire department when he drove up to the mine one day with a semi-trailer, loaded up two new tires and left. He hung onto them for a while and tried to sell them back to the mine, Knittel said.

The tires, which are valued at $28,000 each, are on their way back to Black Thunder.

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