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Truck driver given 10 to 20 years for fatal Wyoming crash

(Information from: Laramie Boomerang,

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — A truck driver has been sentenced to between 10 and 20 years in prison for falling asleep at the wheel of her semitractor-trailer and causing a fatal crash in Wyoming.

The Laramie Boomerang reports 48-year-old Tonya Hightower was sentenced Tuesday for the March 2018 accident that killed 57-year-old Vidal Madera of Laramie.

The commercial truck driver from Kansas pleaded not guilty to aggravated homicide by vehicle.

A jury found her guilty in August after determining her decision to drive on Interstate 80 while knowingly fatigued constituted recklessness.

Hightower told a Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper at the scene that she had taken leftover pills from a 2017 surgery including hydrocodone, a prescription opioid pain medication.

Court records say she did not test positive for narcotics when blood was drawn later.



Bill addresses pensions, health care for miners, retirees

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is co-sponsoring a bill with West Virginia's two U.S. senators and others aimed at preserving the pensions of about 92,000 retired coal miners and the health-care benefits of another 13,000 working miners.

Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia announced the bill Wednesday.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, says in the statement that he raised the issue of protecting miner pensions and health benefits with President Donald Trump this week, and is "committed to continuing to work with him and my colleagues" toward a solution.

The bill would transfer money from the Abandoned Mine Land fund to prevent the insolvency of a 1974 miners' pension plan, and add coal company bankruptcies from 2018 and 2019 to 2017 health-care legislation.


Wyoming lawmakers decide not to pursue nuke waste proposal

(Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune,

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming legislative committee has decided not to pursue legislation to study the storage of spent nuclear fuel in the state.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports the Joint Committee on Minerals, Business and Economic Development announced the decision Tuesday after the proposal's sponsor noted the governor's office has full authority to pursue the topic on its own without the consent of the Legislature.

The proposal offered by Republican Sen. Jim Anderson, of Casper, was intended to authorize Gov. Mark Gordon's office to study whether the storage of spent nuclear fuel rods in Wyoming would be economically, logistically and environmentally viable.

Anderson pitched the idea as a means to raise state revenue.

Gordon has said that while nuclear waste storage isn't the best industry for the state, he's open to considering it.



Wyoming High School Activities Association approves softball

(Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune,

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming High School Activities Association has unanimously approved softball as a sanctioned high school sport.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that as a result of Tuesday's vote, the first sanctioned softball season will be played in the spring of 2021. Wyoming had been one of just two states, along with South Dakota, to not have a sanctioned high school softball season.

The action by the WHSAA comes after waiting for the required eight programs to commit to the new sport.

The vote brought celebration for the grassroots movement that started the push for adding an 11th girls sport to match the 11 boys ports that have been offered since before gymnastics' final season in 2010.

Discussions began after a groundswell of support predominantly out of Cody.



Church: Wyoming sex abuse queries lacked victim cooperation

(Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune,

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Two Catholic Church officials who succeeded a Wyoming bishop accused of sexual abuse say a lack of victim cooperation hampered the investigations.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports at least 16 men said they were abused by former Bishop Joseph Hart, who retired in 2001.

Bishop David Ricken took over for Hart in Wyoming before transferring to Wisconsin in 2008. He was followed by Bishop Paul Etienne, who headed the Cheyenne diocese until 2016.

The diocese says a 2002 allegation against Hart was forwarded by Ricken to police but was dropped due to a lack of alleged victim cooperation.

The church says Etienne requested a Vatican investigation into Hart in 2010, but did not initiate his own investigation because alleged victims "were not willing to speak."

Hart has denied all allegations.



Wyoming homicide victim identified as Cheyenne woman

(Information from: The Billings (Mont.) Gazette, [,](<,>))

CODY, Wyo. (AP) — Investigators say a homicide victim found in northern Wyoming was a 40-year-old woman from Cheyenne.

The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation on Tuesday identified the victim as Angela Elizondo.

A hunter found her body off Wyoming Highway 120 outside Cody on Saturday.

Investigators say a suspect arrested is a 45-year-old man from Cheyenne. They haven't released his name but Park County records show 45-year-old Joseph Carl Underwood was jailed early Sunday on five potential charges including mutilating or disposing of a dead body in a hidden location.

Jail records show Underwood was arrested near where the body was found and being held on $1 million bond.

The Billings Gazette reports investigators believe Elizondo was killed elsewhere before being left in the remote area.


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