From Wyoming News Exchange newspapers

Former Pavillion clerk accused of stealing $34,000 from town

RIVERTON (WNE) — Accused of having stolen over $34,000 from the town of Pavillion, the town’s clerk was charged recently with aggregate theft.

Rebecca Irene Milleson, 48, also known as Rebecca Hatcher, has been released on bond and, according to court documents, has paid the missing money back to the town.

Fremont County Sheriff ’s Office detective Eric Granlund wrote that on Jan. 27, he was notified by Wyoming Community Bank in Riverton that they’d discovered “a number of fraudulent charges” made against a checking account held by the town of Pavillion.

These were in the form of 11 checks made payable to Milleson, who is the town clerk.

Granlund was told nine checks were deposited through a phone application electronically, but then taken physically to a different bank and cashed.

However, two of the checks were deposited and/or cashed three times apiece, documents state.

The payouts occurred between Aug. 4, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021.

“The total amount of fraudulent gains was $34,399.67,” Granlund wrote.

The detective spoke with Pavillion town officials and learned that Milleson had confessed the fraud to Pavillion Mayor Charles Snyder, and had volunteered to pay back the money.

Milleson’s husband deposited the exact amount due on Jan. 29.

Felony-level aggregate theft is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

As of press time, Mayor Snyder was unavailable for comment.

Sheridan man dies of hypothermia

SHERIDAN (WNE) — A Sheridan man died in a stairwell of a building on the corner of West Works and Main streets early Sunday morning.

The 36-year-old man, Jacob Michael Keane, was found in the unheated stairwell of an apartment building located on West Works Street.

Toxicology reports will not be available for weeks, but Sheridan County Deputy Coroner Kaye Penno confirmed Keane’s death to be from hypothermia.

On Saturday and Sunday in Sheridan, lows reached minus 27 degrees Fahrenheit and highs only reached to minus 3 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service out of Billings, Montana.

Sheridan Police Department is still investigating the case and could not provide further details regarding the man’s death.

Committee proposes 6.5% cut in education

AFTON (WNE) — State Rep. Evan Simpson, R-Afton, says the Recalibration Committee has set a 6.5% cut to education in House Bill 61 before it will go on for debate and public comment in the legislative session.

He says Governor Mark Gordon asked for a 10% cut, but it was decided that may be too large of a cut to the programs.

“The Education Committee chairman has decided to wait until we’re live to actually debate those on the floor,” Simpson said. “So while there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes, nothing is actually going to be surfaced in terms of tangible effort on the bill until March.”

Co-chair of the Recalibration Committee, Rep. Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, says it will cut K-12 education by $100 million per year. He says the goal right now is how to best roll this bill out so the Legislature can receive public comment.

“That bill is really a vehicle on the discussion on how we want to fund K-12 education going forward,” Sommers said in a digital press conference. “How we want to manage our shortfall.”

He says that it may depend on how things roll out in the last week of February, but there may be an opportunity then to start receiving public comments. He says after that there could be items added to or taken away from the bill as debate moves forward.

Albany County seeks funding for Mullen Fire cleanup

LARAMIE (WNE) — As landowners and land managers consider the clean-up and recovery work necessitated by last fall’s Mullen Fire, funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency could help get those projects underway.

During a meeting Tuesday morning, Albany County Fire Warden Chad Dinges told the Board of Commissioners the county can qualify for as much as $430,000 in grant money through FEMA’s Fire Management Assistance Grant program for post-fire hazard mitigation work.

The Mullen Fire, which burned more than 176,000 acres in Albany and Carbon counties, cost almost $45 million to suppress, Dinges said.

Dinges said his department is collaborating with the Albany County Emergency Management Agency and Wyoming State Forestry Division to secure grant funding for the next two years, which requires 25% in matching funds or in-kind donations.

According to Travis Pardue, an assistant district forester with the state division, the Mullen Fire burned about 3,100 acres of private land. Though that’s a small fraction of the total burn area, it includes 220 landowners who suffered the loss or damage of 66 homes. The community of Foxborough was hit the hardest, with 90% of its structures lost.

“There was a lot of damage done,” Pardue said.

Half the fire area was considered to be burned at a moderate or high level, making it vulnerable to erosion this spring and summer.

“It’s going to cause a lot of damage if we don’t do anything,” he said.

Retirement could leave Newcastle without ambulance

NEWCASTLE (WNE) — The future of ambulance services in Newcastle and Weston County is uncertain after Roger Hespe, owner of Newcastle Ambulance Service, announced his plans to retire on Facebook and in a letter addressed to the City of Newcastle in June of this year.

According to Mayor Pam Gualtieri, the Newcastle City Council reached out to the Weston County commissioners, as well as Upton and Osage, to discuss the future of ambulance services in the area after receiving notice of the planned retirement.

“It is a serious issue. There is no state statute saying we are required to have EMS services, but it is definitely needed,” Gualtieri said. “We have to have a plan of action, and it can’t just be the council. It is going to take the whole county.”

The mayor said that discussions are in the beginning stages and include various options.

Gualtieri told the News Letter Journal that individuals, both local and not, have expressed interest in acquiring the ambulance service from Hespe. If this were to occur, the service would remain a private business.

The other options, according to Gualtieri, involve some form of government-operated service, whether that be city, county or hospital run.

“We have been able to open the doors with the other entities. That is a huge start,” Gualtieri said. “I am confident something is going to happen. … The question is whether it will be A, B or C.”

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