Prosecutor explains probation in child abuse case

RIVERTON (WNE) — Public comment following a probationary sentence for a mother whose baby had 13 broken bones prompted deeper explanation from the Fremont County Attorney’s Office.

Assistant Fremont County Attorney Ember Oakley prosecuted the case against Kylen Jenkins, 22, whose months-old baby was seen by medical personnel in February of 2019, and found to have broken bones, malnourishment, and a nasal cyst.

Oakley wrote in a Nov. 20 letter to The Ranger that the child’s injuries were indicative of child abuse.

“In this case, as in all, there are unique factors,” compromising a prosecutor’s ideal level of proof for achieving a desirable sentence, which in this case would have been several years in prison.

“The defendant (was) out on an unsecured bond and being allowed to attend medical appointments with the foster family and DFS (The Department of Family Services), against my objection,” Oakley wrote.

What Oakley found most troubling about the prospect of going to trial, is that DFS is required by law to pursue “reunification” of parent with child.

Any chink in the limited evidence available in the case, she’d noted at Jenkins’s sentencing hearing, could have compromised the trial and placed mother and child back in the same home. “It was important to secure the conviction so that the case could move forward in the best interests of the child,” Oakley wrote.

The prosecutor noted further that she faced the ultimatum of pursuing the harsher sentence for the mother by going to trial, or ensuring the baby boy’s distance from her by settling on a felony conviction, albeit with a more lenient sentence attached to it.

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Activities Association issues mask mandate

PINEDALE (WNE) — The Wyoming High School Activities Administration (WHSAA) Board of Directors approved a face covering mandate for all winter sports and activities.

This mandate will be for spectators as well as participants and coaches.

Ron Laird, WHSAA Commissioner, told the Roundup that this mandate would include athletes on bench and seated in chairs, coaches and officials.

Only the athletes participating in the sport out on the court, track or in the pool will be exempt until they return to the bench or locker room, Laird added.

Details on winter sports and activities guidelines are available at the WHSAA's website, www.whsaa.org.

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Grizzly 399, cubs, return to Grand Teton

JACKSON (WNE) — The grizzly gossip mill was in full swing Wednesday as word spread that bear 399 and her four cubs were on the move and headed home to their normal territory in and around Grand Teton National Park.

Once the Wyoming Game and Fish Department heard the rumor of the five famous bruins' northerly travels, bear biologist Mike Boyce was on the scene, essentially escorting the grizzly family to the park boundary.

“Yep, they are back north,” Boyce said via text. “Watched them cross the park boundary yesterday afternoon. Happy Thanksgiving!”

Grizzly 399, a 24-year-old sow with global fanfare, spent almost an entire month living on and near southern Jackson Hole ranches and subdivisions. She foraged with her cubs on elk and deer carcasses, shriveled berries and occasionally more concerning foods like a beekeeper’s honey and livestock feed.

The bears roamed north once — but just for a day — and seemed to have localized on private land in the southern valley, which was a first for a sow grizzly with cubs in modern Jackson Hole. The family group’s southern sojourn enraptured the community and also caused ample anxiety for wildlife fans and managers who yearned for a happy outcome.

Grizzly 399 reportedly passed across and through Wenzel Lane, the Aspens, Shooting Star, and the Snake River and the R Lazy S ranches on her way to stepping over a buck-and-rail fence marking the national park’s boundary Wednesday afternoon.

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$2 bills used to promote local shopping

TORRINGTON (WNE) — Jackie VanMark couldn’t close her wallet after she picked up $200 worth of $2 bills as a pledge to shop local this holiday season.

Goshen Economic Development (GED) is asking shoppers to stop by their office in the 21st and Main building to convert their cash into $2 bills as part of a push from the National Main Street program, a nonprofit whose aim is to revitalize downtown areas in small cities like Torrington, to show how money circulates throughout communities, according to GED Community Development Director Sandy Hoehn.

“You don’t see a lot of $2 bills anymore, so it’s just nice to see the circulation,” Hoehn said. “Informing the community that they’re out there because someone shopped local here is cool to do.”

VanMark, a local business owner herself as a real estate salesperson through Century 21 Realty, said it’s especially important to shop local as the pandemic hits small businesses particularly hard.

“We all saw, and were probably surprised by how much the service sector and sales were part of our economy,” she said. “When they were allowed to open back up and get back to work, wow, the economy started exploding again, which is what we want. Small business is the heart of the economy.”

Hoehn said the program started last year during the holiday season, but she sent a reminder to business owners stating if they see a $2 bill, it is, in fact, real.

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