Pinedale on the Web
Pinedale Online is Pinedale, Wyoming on the web. We give our viewers, locals and out-of-area visitors, a "slice of life" snapshot window into our world view of what is happening in Pinedale. Visit us for current local news on what is happening, photos of local events, links to area businesses and services and more. We are long-time area residents and are happy to answer questions if you are planning a visit to our area. Much of our information is by community contribution.
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|NEWS AND UPDATES (Click here for archived news stories)|| |
May 18, 2016:
At the Incident Command Center set up at the Tip Top Search & Rescue building in Pinedale, Sgt. Katherine Petersen, the Sublette County Sheriff Office’s Public Information Officer, allowed me into the Command Center to take a news photo as long as I agreed to crop out portions that had to remain confidential. Sgt. Petersen stated the search for the truck and weapons was concentrated in the Half Moon Lake area.
"Yesterday we concluded the visual inspection around the boat ramp areas of both Fremont and Half Moon Lakes," she said. "DCI (Department of Criminal Investigation) have several teams on foot in the Half Moon area looking for weapons. Finding the weapons is our top priority. There is presently no word on the gauge of weapons."
I took a drive up to Half Moon Lake and drove down the dirt road toward the lodge. I came upon a team of men who looked more like civilians. Some had more beard and longer hair than normal regulation. The clothes also looked very casual. They were bagging what looked like common roadside trash while one of them recorded what it was and the location on a recording device. I asked to take their picture and they were agreeable as long as a couple of them could turn their back to the camera. They referred all questions to DCI-Cheyenne. I asked if it was okay to drive to the boat dock for a photo and to the trail head for a photo and they agreed.
As I was coming back from the boat dock, Sgt. Petersen arrived and stated that with so many media arriving, it would be best if they closed access to eliminate the possibility of our presence compromising evidence collection.
I drove back to the Incident Command Center and spoke with Sgt. Petersen further. "There is no word on the gauge of the weapons we are looking for yet," Petersen said. "Utah Department of Public Safety is interested in sending their own equipment including a helicopter, a sonar boat and a dive team. At this point we don’t know if there is a connection between the missing truck and the suspects."
At this point, I drove to all of the areas mentioned by law enforcement staff and took notes and photos.
At the end of the day I went back to Incident Command and spoke with Incident Commander, Colonel Mark Farrell.
"DCI is called anytime there is a death," he said. Right now, we don’t have any evidence linking the two crimes. We have two specific goals at this point. 1. Finding the truck and a link to this area. 2. Finding the four weapons that were reported to be in Derek’s possession. In all likelihood though, we’ll never find the weapons. Some of the agencies involved in these searches are, The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, The Centerville Police Department, The Utah Department of Public Safety, Utah Transit Authority Police, Wyoming Highway Patrol, The US Marshal’s Service, The National Forest Service Law Enforcement, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Sublette County Unified Fire, Sublette County EMS, Rock Springs Police Department, Green River Police Department, and the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office."
May 19, 2016:
I arrived at the main entrance to Half Moon Lake. Way down below on the lake, the expected sonar boat from Utah had arrived and was searching in a grid pattern in the area of the boat dock. Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper, J.B. Moeller was standing beside his vehicle just offside the pavement. "I’m just here to help with the roadblock and to make sure no one interferes," he said.
Sheriff Haskell and Sgt. Petersen arrived on the scene as did a number of Utah media vans full of cameramen, producers and commentators. I stood beside Sheriff Haskell and we spoke as he was fitted with his microphone for his interview. "We know the water is shallow and normally a truck wouldn’t sink all the way," he said. "But, sometimes strange things happen. It could float out to deeper water and flip upside down. The bottom side of trucks is usually dark, so they would be hard to see from the surface." As we spoke, what looked like a civilian Beechcraft Bonanza began doing a circle around Half Moon Lake. "Yes, it is a civilian aircraft," Haskell said. "Right now, we don’t see a need to block airspace."
The interview began. The producer asked the sheriff if he’d mind taking off his sunglasses, so he did, but squinted in the bright sun. Sgt. Petersen sat on the rail fence checking messages on her phone. The airplane moved about half a mile north and began a wide circle over the Kelly Park Nordic ski area.
Then the plane bank hard into a tight circle. About a minute later, Sgt. Petersen’s phone rang. Coincidentally, the interview ended. Casually, Sgt. Petersen got down off the fence and thanked the news team and went to the side of the sheriff.
The sheriff then got in his vehicle rolled up his windows and got on the radio. Sgt. Petersen went to her vehicle and drove down the mountain. Trooper Moeller got into his patrol car and repositioned it on the highway leading uphill, where Kelly Park was located. I looked around at the four news teams and no one seemed to notice the activity. I walked over to Trooper Moeller asked if they had just found the truck. "I don’t know," he said. "I’ve just been ordered to restrict traffic uphill."
Five or ten minutes later, vehicles loaded with men came up the dirt road out of Half Moon and roared up the mountain toward Kelly Park. A minute later, a truck pulling the sonar boat also drove up the hill. A few minutes after, a Utah DPS helicopter arrived over the Kelly Park area. I looked at Trooper Moeller and asked him if they found the truck. "I’m seeing the same things you see, and I don’t know any more than you do," he said.
For a while we just baked in the sun. Eventually, the news teams began to get information from their stations and they shared it among themselves in quiet huddles. Finally, a KSL news helicopter flew into the Kelly Park air space. They hovered over one spot for quite some time. They then flew to a rocky area across from the road block. A young KSL man ran through the forest and collected the video tape. Another young KSL staff person tried to get it from him, but he dodged her and delivered it triumphantly to the van where it was uploaded and sent by satellite to Utah.
Now the word was out. KSL had put it on the air. We looked at it live on our phones. There was the truck in an Aspen grove. A tow truck roared uphill. A truck and flatbed followed. I expected they would load it quickly and we’d get the photo of the truck we all wanted.
Instead, we baked in the sun for hours. Trooper Call relieved Trooper Moeller and then Trooper Huffman relieved Trooper Call. In between, we talked hunting, fishing, high speed car chases, arrests, justice, horses, investigation procedures, bad cop stories and heroic cop stories.
Then on a ridge on the south side of Kelly Park a mile or two away, an old truck worked its way down a ridge toward us. It was an old wood cutter in an old pick up. I ran over to him as he came to the checkpoint and asked him if he was the one who spotted the truck. "Nope." Was all he said and drove on down the mountain.
All the vehicles that went up the hill started coming down the hill in a big convoy. Search and Rescue, mysterious looking men is stealthy looking vehicles, unofficial looking official vehicles, the truck pulling the sonar boat and finally, The Truck. It was almost fully covered in a tarp. It didn’t slow down as it came through the checkpoint. An anonymous official said it was going into an FBI holding center.
Trooper Huffman got in his vehicle and drove back to town. The media people packed up and went back to town. I got in my truck and drove up the mountain to Kelly Park. No one was on guard. I know Kelly Park and I felt I had a good idea where that KSL helicopter had been hovering. The heavy tracks in the dirt and muddy road helped. I put it into four-wheel drive and drove right to the spot where all the tracks ended. I got out and took a few photos. I stayed on the wheel and traffic areas. I did no personal exploration. I stood in the aspens and a Wyoming Sage Grouse joined me and we looked at each other. I thought about the guys who had ditched the truck. The father had walked out and gave himself up and the son walked out and gave himself up about a day later.
I went down to the Incident Command and spoke with Wes Johnston. "No, we haven’t found the weapons yet," he said. I asked him if the suspects were talking. "No," he said. "They aren’t helping as much as we’d like. They have not been very forthcoming. They have lawyered up and we can only speak to them in the presence of their attorneys," he said. At that point, I asked him if he had turned the heat down in their cell to help persuade them. "Look," he said sternly. "We have something in this country called the Constitution. I just hate all that Hollywood kind of stuff. We don’t like it when a few cops act badly. It reflects poorly on the whole profession. No, we don’t mess with their heat. We just feed them."
As of this moment, the weapons have not been found. The suspects are in jail in Utah.
Sgt. Katherine Petersen: "We do not have an active search for weapons because it would be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack at this point. Anyone who comes across anything suspicious in those areas around Fremont, Half Moon, or the CCC ponds are asked to call LE immediately and not touch anything. That’s all we have for now. Since FBI, DCI and Lincoln County took over, we’re pretty much back to business as usual."
I am a big advocate of the public’s right to know. However, I think the public would rather have a successful investigation than to risk not getting a conviction because me or someone else had a slip of the tongue. I have left out some names, places and conversations that took place. Once in a while I don’t know if something is off the record or not, so if I think it better not to say something, I’m not going to. I stay a respectful distance away from officers when they are on the phone or having conversations with other officers. First, because it is just the right thing to do and second, because I think it helps the relationship. I’m not going to mention the owner of the plane. I’m not going to pin point the location of the truck just in case investigators need to go back for a further search. I appreciate the kindness and the access given to me by all the agencies I had contact with.
Click on this link for more pictures: After the Successful Manhunt (30 photos)
SCRHCD Board approves proposed budget, changes to services ahead (posted 5/22/16)
Construction season, mowing, chipseal, flower planting
town of Pinedale
Summer is upon us, nearly, and with it comes the construction season. We know that construction on roads and sidewalks is inconvenient. Please rest assured that we are doing the best we can to mitigate the impact on local residents and businesses. There is a weekly public meeting to discuss project timelines and details that everyone is welcome to attend. For more information on the meetings, or on the projects themselves, please visit www.townofpinedale.us. We know it is hard to appreciate the construction but having safe water, sewer, and sidewalks is important to the health and safety of Pinedale.
Town staff is geared up and ready to make our town as attractive as it can be, as well as making it safe. We are already mowing, pruning and planting. Soon, we will be doing chip seal and pothole filling on our streets. We will be doing a quadrant of chip seal as soon as we get some good hot weather.
That said, we need your help too. As residents and users of our public spaces, you see a lot of the town. You may see something in need of attention that we missed. So if you notice an area of parks that you think needs some maintenance, or even if you see a pothole you think should be filled, please let us know about it. It is easy to miss something, so we are counting on you to be on the lookout. When you do come upon something that needs attention, just call Town Hall at 307-367-4136 and we’ll get a work order started.
Additionally, the Sage and Snow Garden Club will be setting out barrels of flowers soon. Please do your best to keep these lovely additions to Pine Street free of debris and trash. Last year most of the local businesses put out extra flowers and decorations. I think the whole town appreciates this extra effort—so thank you to do those who go the extra mile in making Pine Street so special!
With summer so short and so full of activities, it is up to all of us to keep our town as beautiful and safe as we can.
Horse Creek parking lot and winter trailhead in the Wyoming Range
Bridger-Teton National Forest
The Big Piney Ranger District, of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, was awarded a Wyoming Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Grant, from the Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails (SPHST) Office, for the expansion and improvement of the Horse Creek parking lot and winter trailhead, located west of Daniel, Wyoming.
This project will expand the existing parking lot by approximately 1-acre and will reduce resource impacts by providing a hardened parking area that will reduce sediment run of and resource damage during the early winter and late spring. Additionally, new restroom and information facilities will be installed at the site.
Horse Creek winter trailhead is a premiere snowmobile destination and has been recognized in top-ranked winter sports publications. In addition to a tremendous amount of local use, the area sees visitors from across the United States in search of quality snow and technical terrain each winter. Use has rapidly outgrown the existing facility and as a result of the insufficient parking area, users have been forced to park on the highway shoulder off Forest Service land in the highway right of way, which results in access and safety issues.
The Big Piney Ranger District would like to thank "Without the partnership and support of the Wyoming State Trails Program, this project would not have been possible," said Big Piney District Ranger Don Kranendonk. "And truly, without the local community and snowmobile clubs lending their support and commitment to this project throughout the years, we would have never been successful in obtaining this grant," he said.
The Big Piney Ranger District is anticipating the project to be completed prior to December 2016. RTP Grants are administered through the Federal Highway Administration and are derived from federal gas taxes paid on fuel used in off-highway vehicles. Awards are based on an 80% federal share with a 20% local match required.
Pinedale Aquatic Center restructures due to reduction in revenue (posted 5/20/16)
Sublette County Sheriff's Office issue advisory in Harrison case (posted 5/20/16)
Pinedale Lions Club
Over the last few months, many will have heard of friends and acquaintances who have lost their jobs as work in the oil field began to up. When times are tough, and there doesn’t seem to be sufficient funds to go around, it is often the local 501©3 organizations who can help with grants for requests which meet the mission of the organization. The Pinedale Lions Club has a vision program to assist the local needs.
Pinedale Lions Club encourages people in need of financial assistance for new eye glasses to contact the Department of Family Services DFS (111 N Sublette, Pinedale or Tel 307 367 4124). DFS assist in the screening before sending qualified applicants to local Lion Dan Jones to co-ordinate the financial side. "About 10% of our project funds go towards helping with vision requests" says Dan "but that figure can rise and fall with the demand". Recipients of a Lions Club vision grant are kept confidential and Lion Dan does not disclose names to even the club members.
As well as financial help, the Pinedale Lions Club has eye glass collection boxes in seven locations in Pinedale. Rather than allow unwanted eye glasses to sit in a drawer and gather dust, everyone can help by recycling old prescription, reading and sunglasses with plastic or metal frames. Children's glasses are especially needed. In Pinedale, Lions Recycle for Sight boxes can be found at Rocky Mountain Bank, Rendezvous Pointe, Bank of Sublette County, Public Health Nurse’s Office (up next to the Medical Clinic), Rebel Auto, Clear Creek Vision (the local eye doctor) and The Food Basket. Any business willing to display a collection box should contact the Pinedale Lions Club Tel 307 360 6272.
Annually Lion Dan collects and sends up to 400 glasses from Sublette County to the regional Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers (LERCs) in California. LERC volunteers clean, sort by prescription strength and package the glasses. Most of the recycled glasses are distributed to people in need in developing countries where they will have the greatest impact.
The Lions have gained worldwide recognition for their work to improve sight and prevent blindness. The vision program encompasses Lions Eye Banks that provide eye tissue for sight-saving surgeries for those at risk of losing their vision as well as surgical & research hospitals. The closest facilities are the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank and Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute in Denver, CO with millions of dollars raised annually throughout the Lions Club volunteer organization to support their work.
For the visually impaired, the Lions of Wyoming own the Allen H. Stewart Lions Camp on Casper Mountain.Lions statewide support an annual week-long nationally certified School for the Blind each July which teaches children life skills in a fun outdoor environment.
Said Helen Keller "The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision." The vision of the Pinedale Lions Club is to continue provide financial help for vision-related requests and to seek help from our community in the drive to change someone’s life through a pair of recycled glasses.
Come out and help with the Pinedale community clean up this Saturday May 21. Volunteers should meet at Rendezvous Pointe at 8am and then return around 11:30am to enjoy a BBQ meal provided by the Pinedale Lions Club.