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News Briefs: November 2, 2018

The Star Valley Independent is a member of the Wyoming News Exchange. These stories come courtesy of the WNE.

Explosion at oil processing site kills Gillette man

GILLETTE (WNE) — A Gillette man died in an explosion at a Tisdale Creek Ranch oil processing site Wednesday afternoon.

Beau Damori, 36, was found dead about four hours after the explosion once firefighters had secured the area enough for his body to be recovered, said Chief Deputy Coroner Steve Rozier.

There were two other men at the oil processing site when the explosion happened, but they were not in the same area as Damori, Sheriff Scott Matheny said.

Justin Doyle, 27, and Zachary Ness, 31, reported they heard and felt the explosion at about 2 p.m. and ran from the building where they were working, Matheny said. They saw flames around a propane tank and decided they didn’t have enough time to get into their pickup and drive from the scene. The fire was so hot that when the pickup was discovered later, its windshield and windows had melted.

Neither Doyle nor Ness was hurt in the explosion. Both Campbell County emergency medical services and Life Flight were called to the scene on North Highway 59 about 4 miles south of Cow Creek Road, but neither was needed, Matheny said.

The explosion caused a fire that engulfed 10 large oil tanks, two passenger vehicles, two semi-trucks, three buildings, two full 1,700-gallon propane tanks and set off a 2-acre grass and brush fire surrounding the oil processing site, according to a Campbell County Fire Department press release.


United in flight: Denver Air Connection partners with United Airlines

SHERIDAN (WNE) — Passengers on Denver Air Connection will soon be able to book tickets from Sheridan to their final destination without making two separate transactions on two different websites, thanks to an interline partnership with United Airlines. 

In addition, local travelers will no longer have to recheck baggage and go through security upon arriving at Denver International Airport.

Denver Air Connection announced its partnership with United Airlines Wednesday; Denver Air Connection’s Wade Goetz broke the news to a full crowd of attendees.

Local 767 pilot for United Andrew Cameron previously held a management position within United and served as the company’s liaison with DAC to help establish the partnership. Cameron lives in Sheridan but flies DAC frequently to Houston, which is his home airport for work.

Goetz credited Cameron for doing a lot of unrecognized legwork for United to make this happen.

The transition will start mid-November, but full rollout of the new services is hoped to be established by the first quarter of the new year.


Blue Federal Credit Union to redevelop Cole Shopping Center

CHEYENNE (WNE) – Blue Federal Credit Union representatives on Thursday announced plans to build a corporate headquarters at the Cole Shopping Center, with construction set to begin in mid-2019.

It will be the organization’s first and only headquarters, housing approximately 170 employees, with a 400-person capacity as the company grows. Existing office employees now dispersed among local branches will move to the new location, including accounting, human resources, marketing and executive staff.

All branches are expected to remain open for customers, though, and the cooperative continues to hire new staff.

The 8-acre, “campus-style” property will include the headquarters building, a new branch location and retail space. Open outdoor space and community facilities will be incorporated into the plan, too.

“We are really excited about revitalizing a part of Cheyenne’s history that many of us grew up with,” said Michele Bolkovatz, Blue’s vice president of public relations.

The shopping center, located at Pershing Boulevard and Converse Avenue northeast of downtown, was once home to Safeway, Cole Square Cinemas and Blockbuster Video, but has been mostly vacant since Safeway’s closure in 2016. At the time, a company spokeswoman said the business was not profitable, according to previous reporting. Safeway purchased the land from Frank Cole in 2013, but plans to expand were stalled when the store didn’t meet profit expectations.

Safeway had been in the shopping center since 1952.

Through the years, the center housed everything from craft stores to doctors’ offices, all of which closed up shop for various reasons.


Llong-llost Yellowstone llama llured out of lloneliness

JACKSON (WNE) — A fugitive llama that spent three months giving it a go in southern Yellowstone National Park is back in the company of its camelid companions in a Montana pen.

The story of Ike, the lost-then-found llama is an odd one, by any standard.

When the News&Guide first reached the lost livestock’s original owner, Kirstin Baty, on Monday, she had no clue that her llama Ike was no longer on the lam.

On Tuesday the Wilderness Ridge Trail Llamas owner was still unaware that her middle-aged pack animal with a gnarly toothache had been captured late last weekend.

“I guess I need to go pick him up,” Baty said Tuesday afternoon.

The llama-tarian who recovered Ike is Susi Huelsmeyer-Sinay, and she declined to clarify what could be construed as rustling a lost llama.

“I don’t know what will happen,” said Huelsmeyer-Sinay, an owner of Bozeman, Montana-based Yellowstone Llama Treks.

“The point was to save Ike,” she said. “That’s all I have to say. He was abandoned. We will see.”

Ike’s monthslong saga living off the land in the Yellowstone backcountry began with a toothache.

The white “12- to 15-year-old” approximately 350-pound animal that was used on packing expeditions suffered an abscess in his mouth a couple of years ago, and afterward the Batys were never able to get it totally cleared up. Ike’s halter, at times, irritated the abscess, and guides would loosen the constraint to ease his discomfort.

The sympathetic move backfired this summer in Yellowstone.