Wyoming News Update

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TRIBAL JUDGE CHARGED-GUILTY PLEA

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The former chief judge of the Wind River Indian Reservation tribal court has pleaded guilty to two drug distribution charges.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports Terri Smith entered guilty pleas to a single count each of cocaine distribution and conspiracy to distribute oxycodone Tuesday.

Court records say Smith pleaded guilty as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

Prosecutors are expected to dismiss a single count of use of a communication facility to commit a drug felony.

Smith's attorney did not reveal the terms of the plea agreement but says she resigned her judgeship earlier this year.

Records say Smith became the court's chief judge in January 2018 and the crimes took place while she served on the bench.

Smith remains free on bond prior to her scheduled sentencing Oct. 29.

YELLOWSTONE-BISON PETTING

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A man caught on video petting a bison is the latest example of dangerous behavior by a visitor to Yellowstone National Park.

The bison dodges from the man, who was on a crowded boardwalk near a thermal area. Yellowstone officials warn the outcome could have been worse.

Park officials said Wednesday they're still investigating details of the video posted online July 8, including who the man was and where and when the incident happened.

On July 22, a bison charged and tossed a 9-year-old Florida girl several feet (meters) into the air after tourists came within 5 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) of the animal.

The girl was treated at a nearby clinic and released. Yellowstone officials said Wednesday they will not cite anybody for that incident.

YELLOWSTONE-FIRE INVESTIGATION

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — A seasonal concessionaire employee has been sentenced to three months in jail for igniting a small grass fire near the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Park officials say Curtis Faustich pleaded guilty Tuesday to discarding lighted material in a hazardous manner. He said he dropped a cigarette on the ground while sitting at a picnic table July 26.

The blaze scorched 4 acres of grass and sage before it was contained.

Faustich also was sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation, was ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution and is prohibited from entering Yellowstone for two years.

UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING ENROLLMENT

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The University of Wyoming expects to welcome about 1,800 freshmen students for the new fall semester this month.

Vice provost for enrollment Kyle Moore tells the Casper Star-Tribune that it would be the second-largest freshman class to arrive at the college and topped only by last year's record-setting group of new students. It is the third straight year of strong freshman classes at UW.

In all, the university is expecting a total enrollment of more than 12,400.

Moore says the university is still on a trajectory to meet its goal for total enrollment to exceed 13,000 students by 2022.

In its effort to increase enrollment, the university has created new programs and announced new strategies such as the "The World Needs More Cowboys" marketing campaign.

COAL BANKRUPTCY

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal judge has approved Contura Energy's bid for three mines owned by the bankrupt Blackjewel coal company.

A Blackjewel spokesman says U.S. District Judge Frank Volk in West Virginia approved the sale Tuesday. The deal still needs the federal government's approval before it's finalized.

Contura has said it wants to reopen and rehire staffers from Blackjewel's Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines in Wyoming but still needs to determine employment decisions at the Pax Surface Mine in West Virginia.

A Contura spokesman declined to comment Tuesday pending the federal government's approval. The Tennessee-based company had bid nearly $34 million for the three mines.

The judge also approved bids for several other Blackjewel mines in the two-day sales hearing.

Blackjewel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection July 1.

PEDESTRIAN KILLED

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Police are investigating after a pedestrian was hit and killed by a vehicle in Casper.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports the man, whose name and age have not been released, was struck in the southwestern part of the city Monday night. Investigators have not released any details about the circumstances of the accident.

Police say no one else was injured.

SheridanWyoming.com

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