Year in Review 2013: First Quarter, January-March

Sheridan County Commissioner Bob Rolston

We begin our Sheridan Media 2013 Year in Review with a look back at a few of the top stories for the first quarter, of January through March.

As a somewhat unusual kick-off to the new year, during the first quarter, Sheridan County made the national news when one of the county's commissioners went to Washington.

After securing one of the last tours of the White House before sequestration, through his association with Wyoming's Senator John Barrasso, Commissioner Bob Rolston dropped an S-word during a candid interview with an ABC reporter that ran on ABC News.

The reporter was met with what some might call, down-home honesty.

Making news across the state, during the same time frame, was a case described by prosecutors as one of theft and deception. In February, Miranda Mraz was found guilty of stealing from the local Eagles Club in downtown Sheridan after she claimed she'd been attacked by a man who tried to cut her face when she tried to turn off the building's alarm system. She was sentenced to 2 to 8 years in prison, but the time was suspended to 8 years of supervised probation. She was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and about $6,000 in restitution.

Also making state news was a case involving a report of a vehicle, stolen under the guise of a test drive. Donovan Sullinger, who was an employee of Affordable Autos in Sheridan, reported the theft to local police saying he handed over the keys to a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee to a man who identified himself as Aaron Kristopher, but the potential buyer never returned.

The vehicle was valued at $5,800.

As per other crime stories covered during the first quarter of the year, we reported a rash of vehicle thefts, burglaries and vandalisms over a weekend in March, and in January, five juveniles, ranging in ages from 14-16, were cited for breach of peace after driving around and threatening people with a handgun in the Sheridan business district.

Sheridan Police Lt. Christ Dahmke reported that the juveniles were picked up during a traffic stop and found to be in possession of an Airsoft-type handgun.

He said no one was hurt and the juveniles were released to their parents, but the incident could have ended much worse than it did.

As for the weekend crime spree, Sheridan police reported that there were six vehicles stolen, five vehicles burglarized and three vehicles vandalized.

Once again, Sheridan Police Lieutenant Chris Dahmke gave us the details.

The police lieutenant said all the vehicles involved were unlocked, with the keys left inside and all of the stolen vehicles were recovered in the Sheridan area.

As for local business and economic development issues covered in the first quarter of the year, in February, a local coal producer announced expansion overseas and city and state officials gave an update on Sheridan's North Main I-90 Interchange project.

Cloud Peak Energy, Inc. was the coal producer who announced contracts to ship 16 million metric tons of coal per year to Asia via a port in Washington, with the coal coming from the Spring Creek Mine north of Sheridan. At the time of the announcement, the company was in the process of securing permits for expansion of the Gateway Pacific Terminal's capacity. Operation was anticipated to begin in 2018.

In regard to the ongoing North Main I-90 Interchange project, the update included sketches that were presented to the Sheridan City Council, during a work session.

City Public Works Director Nic Bateson said the city had been discussing the possibility of acquiring the former interchange area from the state transportation department and considering the expansion of the pathway system and constructing a Gateway Park.

The North Main I-90 Interchange project is estimated to cost $44 million, with the city's enhancements projected to cost around $2 million. That's not counting in the Gateway Park.

The year's re-cap will continue throughout the week.