SVI Media is part of the Wyoming News Exchange. These stories come courtesy of the WNE.
Grand Teton visitor bitten by rabid bat
JACKSON (WNE) — A Grand Teton National Park visitor has been treated for rabies after being bitten by a bat that later tested positive for the disease that’s fatal if not treated.
The incident occurred last week when the visitor, who was part of an organized group, was hanging out near Jenny Lake. The bat fell from a tree onto the visitor’s shoulder, and when the visitor tried to brush it off, it bit the person’s hand.
The leader of the group captured the bat in a plastic bag and contacted park rangers, which health and park officials say was precisely the correct thing to do.
Later, after tests at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory showed the bat had rabies, the visitor was contacted and immediately began treatment, according to a park press release.
The type of bat responsible for the bite hasn’t been confirmed, but it’s believed to be a long-eared myotis, said park spokeswoman Denise Germann.
There are at least 12 bat species in Teton park, and generally they are doing good things like eating insects and, in some cases, pollinating plants.
Typically less than 1% of bats have rabies.
“To date this calendar year, there have been a total of five bats that have tested positive for rabies in Wyoming,” the press release said.
Though the incidence of rabies is low, the risk is serious, and it’s important for anyone who has potentially been exposed to seek treatment immediately.
Woman charged in high-speed chase, shooting
CHEYENNE (WNE) — The court case of a Cheyenne woman who was the passenger in a high-speed chase and shootout in Cheyenne was bound over to Laramie County District Court on Friday at her preliminary hearing.
Chasity Jacobs, 19, appeared in Laramie County Circuit Court on Friday in front of Circuit Judge Denise Nau. She is charged with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree accessory to murder, reckless endangering with a firearm and misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine.
At the hearing Friday, Jason Moon of the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation testified to the facts of the case. Jacobs’ DNA was found on some of the guns involved in the shooting, according to testimony.
According to court documents and Moon’s testimony:
Jacobs and Childers were arrested May 3 after a high-speed chase and shootout along Interstate 25 and throughout downtown Cheyenne. Childers was allegedly driving a stolen 2016 Toyota Camry and reached speeds of about 115 miles per hour during the chase. When the chase went through downtown Cheyenne, the speeds were around 64 mph.
Throughout the chase, multiple shots were fired at a Wyoming Highway Patrol cruiser and a Cheyenne Police Department cruiser, striking both vehicles several times. The chase ended near the Veterans Affairs Medical Center on East Pershing Boulevard after Childers was shot by Cheyenne Police Department officers involved in the chase.
During an interview with law enforcement, Childers allegedly told them Jacobs hadn’t fired a gun, and he was responsible.
Sweetwater Co. ambulance services in trouble
ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — The county’s two main ambulance service providers are in trouble financially, and a solution is proving elusive.
Castle Rock Ambulance Services is operating at a $35,000 per month loss, and Sweetwater Medics required a subsidy equaling about $1.2 million from the county to continue running.
Sweetwater County Commissioner Jeffrey Smith shared those figures at Tuesday’s commission meeting while reporting on a gathering Monday between key players.
“Most people don’t realize they’re losing tons of money,” Smith said. “Something has to be done.”
Smith told the Rocket-Miner that a large part of the problem is the fact that local ambulance providers are only reimbursed for an average of 42% of what they bill.
He compared the process to extortion. The insurance company offers to reimburse the provider at a certain rate, say around 60%, and if a protest is made, insurance responds by saying it will just send the money to the person using the service and the service can try to get reimbursement from them instead, which is difficult and, at times, nearly impossible.
Another issue is that Sweetwater Medics’ contract with the county prevents them from raising rates unless approved by the commission, according to Smith. Current rates are below the national average without an increase for several years.
Smith attended Monday’s meeting as the commission’s liaison with Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County. After five hours of discussion, attendees came away with more questions than answers, even though “a lot of smart people are working on it.”
Two killed in crash near Rawlins
RAWLINS (WNE) — Two people were killed instantly on Aug. 4 following a car accident that occurred near milepost 23 on Highway 287 just north of Rawlins, according to Wyoming Highway Patrol press release.
Siva T. Chintala, 28, of Ft. Collins, Colo. was reported to have been heading southbound on the rain-covered roadway when he lost control of the 2017 Mercedes C-300 he was driving.
“The Mercedes entered the northbound lane and collided head-on with a 2011 Ford F-350,” according to the release.
Wyoming Highway Patrol was dispatched to the collision around 7 p.m.
Although Chintala and Chana M. Gottsleben, 27, also of Ft. Collins, Colo., who was is the passenger seat of the Mercedes, were reported to have been wearing seat belts, both succumbed to their injuries at the scene of the crash.
Kelsey A Jaure, 24, of Rawlins, was reported to have been the driver of the F-350. She was not wearing a seatbelt and was subsequently taken to Memorial Hospital of Carbon County.
Her condition was not reported.
“Speed and equipment failure on the part of Chintala is being investigated as possible contributing factors,” according to the release. T
he release also reports this to be the 97th and 98th motor fatalities in Wyoming for 2019. Last year at this time, there were 62, while 2017 saw 88.
At this time in 2016, there were 65 motor fatalities.
Albany County issues bonds for airport work
LARAMIE (WNE) — The Albany County Commission approved the issuance of $5.6 million worth of bonds this week to fund an expansion of Laramie Regional Airport.
Six banks bid on the bonds, which will ultimately be split by five banks. More than half of the bonds have been sold to Laramie banks.
“I continue to be amazed at the levels at which this kind of debt can get sold,” said Todd Bishop, CEO of Kaiser Wealth Management, which was contracted to sell the bonds. “I think part of that is due to the fact that there is a scarcity of Wyoming tax-exempt bonds. We’re a small state. There’s not that many out there for our in-state banks to purchase.”
The county has an average fixed interest rate of 2.08% for the bond issuance.
The county will ultimately be reimbursed by the $7 million that’s earmarked for the expansion project out of the new Special Purpose Excise Tax, commonly known as the sixth-penny tax, that was overwhelmingly approved by Albany County voters in August 2018.
Bishop estimated that, if the airport waited until all its sixth-penny revenue came in to move forward on the project, the cost of the project would be “probably double” in that time frame.
The expansion of the airport comes amid record-breaking growth in 2018.
The airport saw more than 32,500 passengers in 2018, around 3,500 more than the previous record set in 2016.