Two Wyoming men dead in crash near Medicine Bow
Two people died in a head-on collision north of Medicine Bow Saturday. The Wyoming Highway Patrol reports that 69-year old Michael Hopkins of Laramie and 57-year old Jonathan Schmidt of Casper both died at the scene of the crash, milepost 36 on Wyoming 487.
The report says the 2004 Ford Ranger Hopkins was driving northbound in the Shirley Basin when it entered the southbound lane and collided with Schmidt’s southbound Subaru Forester. The crash happened around noon Saturday.
Two passengers, one in each car, survived the crash and were transported to the Wyoming Medical Center, according to the report. One was a nine-year old boy. The patrol says driver fatigue on the part of Hopkins is being investigated as a contributing factor.
The deaths are the 48th and 49th on Wyoming highways in 2019, compared to 25 this time last year.
Healthcare committee looking for possible hospital site
The Platte Valley Healthcare Sustainability Project Committee and its corporate partner, Health Management Services, are scouting for a piece of land in Saratoga for a critical access hospital. Four of the parcels on the short list are owned by the town. Two others pieces of land are privately owned. Emma Diercks reports.
Report: State prisons are almost full
Wyoming prisons are operating at near capacity, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
A report released last week from the D.O.J’s Bureau of Justice Statistics examines prisoner counts and demographics from 2017. It uses data collected from state departments of corrections and federal prisons.
According to the April 25th report, Wyoming’s correctional facilities were running at 90 to 95 percent of capacity. The final inmate count for 2017 showed a population of 2,182 prisoners. The five institutions in Wyoming’s prison system are designed to hold a total 24-hundred prisoners.
Currently, they are holding a higher amount. In an email to Bigfoot 99 last month, Mark Horan with the Wyoming Department of Corrections said the total inmate population is now at 2,580.
The increase in the inmate population over the last year continues a trend shown in the federal report and bucks what is happening nationally. While the rate of incarceration nationwide decreased 2.1 percent from 2016 to 2017, Wyoming’s prison population grew 4.2 percent.
At the same time, Wyoming prisons are dealing with a shortage of correctional officers. The problem has drawn the attention of Representative Donald Burkhart of Rawlins. Burkhart said he wants to make recruitment and retainment of corrections department employees a legislative issue in the coming year.
To address the prison guard shortfall, Burkhart said salaries, benefits, retirement plans and working conditions need to be evaluated.
As Bigfoot 99 has reported previously, Wyoming corrections officials have attempted to address the inmate overcrowding by relocating prisoners to other states. In 2018, 888 inmates from Rawlins were transported to a facility in Mississippi.
Horan said last month their return will depend on bed space and adequate staffing at correctional institutions in Wyoming. The rate of increase in the inmate population in Wyoming is the third highest in the country, behind only Utah and Idaho.
Saratoga officials to review recreation director job description
A Saratoga town councilman has drafted a job description for the municipality’s recreation director. The draft of the job description will be discussed at the May 7th town council meeting. Emma Diercks has more.
Scholarship deadline today
If you need money for college, don’t delay. Today is the deadline for two scholarship opportunities offered by the Soroptimist International of Rawlins. The scholarships go women and girls in Carbon County. Cali O’Hare has more.
Sports: WHSAA to eliminate 1A 11-man football
The Wyoming High School Activities Association held their final Spring meeting and the way football is played throughout the state change. Joey Saverine has the story.
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