Wyoming news briefs for October 26

Unemployment in Wyoming down for the third month in a row

CASPER — Wyoming’s unemployment rate has fallen for the third month in a row, according to data from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services. 

Unemployment across the Cowboy State fell to 4.5 percent in September from 4.9 percent in August, the department reported in a Monday news release. It’s also much lower compared to last year’s numbers — in September of 2020, the state unemployment rate was 5.7 percent. 

David Bullard, a senior economist for the department, attributed the dip to more people dropping out of the workforce. 

The number of employed people is going down, but there hasn’t been much of a change in the number of people looking for jobs, he said. 

He said labor markets in other parts of the country are experiencing the same trend. 

For one, pandemic stimulus payments and unemployment benefits are leading many Americans to delay their job search, Bullard said. 

Meanwhile, with the economy reopening, people are spending more — leaving businesses especially desperate to hire. 

For months now, frustration with stagnant wages has also driven more and more workers away from lower-paid jobs. 

It’s hard to predict what will happen after stimulus payments fade out, Bullard said.

“What happens after that is up in the air,” he said. 

While unemployment rates fell across the Cowboy State, the following three counties reported the biggest dips: Sweetwater County fell from 4.7 to 3.4 percent;  Natrona County fell from 5.0 to 3.7 percent; and  Campbell County fell from 4.6 to 3.4 percent. 

In September, Natrona County reported the highest unemployment rate in the state, at 3.7%. Campbell, Sweetwater and Sublette counties were tied for the second-highest unemployment, at 3.4 percent. 

Teton County reported the lowest unemployment, at 1.8 percent. Crook and Weston counties were tied at 2 percent.


Powell woman dies while on firefighting assignment

CODY — A firefighter from Powell died Oct. 11 in California while on assignment to fight a fire in the Inyo National Forest, according to a National Forest news release.

Layla Bradley, 29, died while on an assignment to the forest.

She was working as a member of a wildland fire engine crew from Dragon Fighters Inc., a company that works under contract with the U.S. Forest Service. They were providing additional initial attack coverage for the forest during a difficult fire season.

The forest received a report of a medical emergency at the Rock Creek Fire Station on Oct. 11. Forest Service personnel responded and attempted lifesaving efforts on Bradley. Mono County Emergency personnel also responded. The efforts were unsuccessful.

The Inyo National Forest staff appreciates the support that contract fire companies provide to the U.S. Forest Service and expresses their deepest condolences to Bradley’s family and friends.


Evanston man sentenced in incident that injured officer

EVANSTON — The Evanston man involved in an altercation with law enforcement that resulted in a police officer’s leg being broken has been sentenced for several charges stemming from the January incident. 

Cody Mallett was arrested on Jan. 18. According to police reports, Evanston Police Department Sgt. Chad Liechty and two other officers responded to a domestic dispute call at Mallett’s residence late that evening. 

Mallett’s wife reportedly told officers he had been drinking all day and had threatened her before locking himself in an upstairs bedroom. Liechty tried to speak with Mallett, who came out of the bedroom and moved aggressively toward Liechty, pulling a kitchen steak knife from behind his back while doing so. 

Liechty attempted to deploy his taser to stop Mallett; however, his taser reportedly did not work. Mallett then lunged at Liechty and attempted to stab him in the chest, an effort that was thwarted by Liechty’s protective bulletproof vest. 

The three officers successfully disarmed Mallett, who continued to resist arrest. 

Liechty told his fellow officers he believed his leg had been injured in the struggle with Mallett. Subsequent assessment at Evanston Regional Hospital revealed a fractured fibula that required surgical repair. 

Mallett was charged with felony interfering with a police officer with intent to cause bodily injury, aggravated assault and battery, misdemeanor interfering with a police officer, domestic battery and domestic assault. 

At a hearing in late September, Mallett pleaded guilty to both charges of interfering with a police officer and the aggravated assault and battery charge. 

He was sentenced to a total of 5-13 years behind bars. The domestic battery and assault charges were dismissed through the plea agreement. 


Guilty plea entered in stalking case

GILLETTE — Jonathan R. Fishbeck, 29, pleaded guilty Oct. 7 to a felony stalking charge as part of a plea agreement.

Fishbeck was accused of using different aliases on social media and asking people to contact his ex-girlfriend on his behalf.

Prosecutors will recommend a suspended 3.5- to seven-year sentence and four years of supervised probation for stalking.

Fishbeck and his ex-girlfriend had a falling out March 20, and when his former girlfriend tried to leave through the garage, he allegedly forcibly restrained her and prevented her from leaving the house by grabbing her hair and pulling her back inside.

Two days after that incident, the woman was granted a temporary protection order against him and he was served that order while in jail. When he was released April 6, his bond conditions stipulated that he have no contact with the woman.

But the following day, he called her from an unknown number.

On April 13, a man identified as “Roy C” contacted her on her OnlyFans account, sending dozens of messages, including some encouraging her to contact Fishbeck and talk to him about what happened. Based on the way he was talking, she believed it was Fishbeck. Police called the phone number “Roy C” provided to her and Fishbeck answered, according to the affidavit. 

She told police Fishbeck continued to contact her through OnlyFans. She also was concerned because he always seemed to know where she was. 

Fishbeck was arrested April 22 and two hours later tried to call her through the jail phone system, but the call was blocked in the system. Within minutes, he had called a friend, asking the friend to call her number and talk to her, according to the affidavit.