Judge tosses plea deal

Bob Bonnar

NLJ Associate Publisher

When Michael Davis made his way into the crowded District courtroom on the top floor of the Weston County Courthouse shortly after 9 a.m. on Monday morning, those who attended the sentencing hearing anticipated that they were about to witness the final chapter in the trial of the man accused of killing Katy Coffee in her Newcastle home on June 3, 2011.

But after hearing arguments from attorneys for both the prosecution and defense, and the heart-felt testimony of members of Coffee’s family, District Court Judge Thomas Rumpke took a half-hour to deliberate over the plea bargain that had been submitted to the court before returning to the courtroom to inform all parties that he wasn’t satisfied with the deal.

“I am going to reject the agreement,” he announced moments after court was called back into session at approximately 10 a.m. The judge’s decision means that the accused and his attorney will now have to decide if Davis will maintain his plea of guilty to voluntary manslaughter, which could result in a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Rumpke agreed to a request from Davis’ attorney, Nick Carter, to give the defense a few days to consider their options.

A healthy strategy

Alexis Barker

NLJ Reporter

While hospital officials remain focused on finishing the current expansion and renovation of Weston County Health Services, they are also looking forward and trying to develop a long-term approach to meeting the community’s health needs. As such, WCHS utilizes information and opinions from a number of different sources to pinpoint areas that need attention, and that information is then used to develop a strategic plan for the facility over the next year, according to CEO Maureen Cadwell.

She said she will continue to have meetings with different groups and organizations throughout Weston County, in addition to having discussions with hospital employees, to gather information that will eventually be used by the WCHS board to approve a long-range vision.

Once the strategic plan is prepared, Cadwell will present it to the board to gather their opinions and find out if there are any potential adjustments that have to made. The CEO intends for the board to receive their first copy for review in April, and it is hoped a final draft will be ready for their approval in May.

From wedding to western


Alexis Barker

NLJ Reporter

Local business owner Deb Carr, determined to keep her doors open during bleak economic times in northeastern Wyoming, has branched out and evolved her business to meet the needs of customers in this area. As a result, she has become something of an example for other small town entrepreneurs, and the story of her willingness to adapt to ensure her business is meeting a need in the community is worth telling.

The tale begins 23 years ago with a single mother who was trying to provide the best for her children, and hoped her talent to create beautiful wedding gowns with her own hands would help her do so.

There was certainly some risk involved when Deb took a leap of faith (in herself) and started a business in the basement of her home.

Learning from the legislature


Alexis Barker

NLJ Reporter

Two Upton High School students have had the opportunity this year to serve as interns for Representative Tyler Lindholm during the 2017 General Session in Cheyenne. Josie Olson is set to begin her journey this month, while Kassaundra Talbot served for two weeks during January.

Talbot revealed that her principal, Linda Crawford, presented the opportunity to her because “she always sets her students up with amazing things.” Crawford “pulled her in,” and showed her an experience she was sure Kassuandra would love.

“Boy was she right! I would like to say I am very community involved,” commented Talbot, suggesting that her community involvement may have sparked Crawford’s interesting in putting her in Cheyenne.

Catch a rising star!


Local student will appear on television this month

Alexis Barker

NLJ Reporter

A press release issued this week announced that Newcastle High School senior Madison Frazee will be featured as part of KEVN Black Hills FOX’s Rising Star of the West scholarship contest Monday, February 13, on The SIX and on Black Hills FOX News at 9:00 p.m. Frazee submitted a 60 second video detailing one of her passions, which led to her being selected as a semi-finalist in the competition.

“Frazee is one of the semi-finalists who will be seen through March 3. Her one minute commentary will be aired and then placed on www.blackhillsfox.com for viewers to watch and rate. One competitor from each week will then advance to the final round in May,” the release from Black Hills FOX stated.

“I originally wasn’t going to do this scholarship, but I took Mrs. Sweet’s class and we were required to do a scholarship. I figured I was more interested in this than anything else,” recalled Frazee, who joked that she did not expect much, besides getting the grade.

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