Wyoming news briefs for May 13

Man sentenced to prison in former girlfriend’s murder

AFTON — Joann Hakes disappeared January 3, 2015 and her remains were discovered on May 18 of 2019. Her former boyfriend, Ronald Weerheim, was charged in her murder.

The court case continued in recent weeks and Lincoln County Attorney, Spencer Allred, has released an updated statement on the sentencing of Mr. Weerheim.

“Ronald Weerheim entered a plea in the murder of Joann Hakes,” Allred said. “He stated to the Court that he no longer contested the charge of second degree murder.”

On May 10, 2021, in the District Court in Kemmerer, Wyoming, Ronald Weerheim was sentenced to 25 to 40 years in the Wyoming State Penitentiary after he entered a plea of no contest to second-degree murder charges.

“We are extremely pleased with the final outcome of this case,” stated Allred. “Ms. Hakes was last seen over six years ago and her remains were found two years ago. Entering the murder conviction and receiving this sentence can finally give some closure to this terrible situation that this family has had to deal with for so long.”

Hakes had not been seen since January of 2015 before her remains were discovered May 18 of 2019 on a property located near Etna.

Weerheim, Joann’s boyfriend at the time according to the Attorney’s Office, was charged with First Degree Felony Murder, Second Degree Murder and Kidnapping.


Historic dude ranch changes hands

POWELL — The historic UXU Ranch is again changing hands, as three business partners from Arizona are purchasing the North Fork guest ranch. 

Park County commissioners approved one step in the sales process last week, unanimously agreeing to transfer the UXU’s liquor license to the new group. 

John “J.L. Grief” Hoskin of Yuma, Arizona, and Rick and Patrice Holloway of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, are purchasing the ranch through a newly formed limited liability company called UXU 1929. 

Hoskin will be moving to the ranch and operating it from April to November, First Deputy Park County Clerk Hans Odde told commissioners, while the Holloways will remain in Arizona. Hoskin will bring significant Western experience with him to the UXU, as he’s worked as a Western lifestyle photographer for decades — capturing images of rodeos, ranches and horses in places like Wyoming. 

He and the Holloways are purchasing the facility from Bill Perry of Hidden Creek Outfitters. Perry purchased the ranch in 2017 and operated it for four seasons. The prior owner, David Gill, owned it for roughly six years. 

The ranch has been in operation since the 1920s and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It sits on about 34 acres leased from the Shoshone National Forest, about 17 miles east of Yellowstone National Park. 

Odde said his understanding is that the sale of the UXU is expected to close in the next couple of weeks, with a new Forest Service lease potentially finalized by the end of the month.


Big Horn GOP supports Second Amendment sanctuary

GREYBULL — Big Horn County Republican Central Committee members cast a unanimous vote on Monday night to designate Big Horn County a Second Amendment Sanctuary County and called upon the county commissioners to do the same when they meet again on Tuesday, May 18.

In a statement, Louis Gary Welch, chairman of the BHC Republican Party, and Scott A. Brown, who serves as the state committeeman, said the central committee passed two resolutions during their official monthly meeting, which was attended by 19 people.

The first calls upon the commissioners to adopt a resolution that was handed out at the Second Amendment  Sanctuary listening session held May 10 at the Weed and Pest building west of Greybull. 

More than 120 county residents attended.

“The BHC Republicans call upon the commissioners to declare Big Horn County, Wyoming. a Second Amendment Sanctuary County by adopting the resolution AS IT WAS WRITTEN,” according to the statement. “The second resolution was almost identical to the first with exception of substituting the words, ‘Big Horn County Board of County Commissioners,’ with ‘Republican Central Committee of Big Horn County,’ thereby taking a stand for the Second Amendment regardless of what the commissioners choose to do.”


National gas prices hit $3 per gallon, Wyoming up 2.9 cents in a week

GILLETTE — COVID-19 recovery and slow improvement in supply fuels have pushed gasoline prices to their highest level in 2,381 days.

The national average price of gasoline today has passed the $3 per gallon mark, according to GasBuddy.

It is a milestone not seen since David Letterman still hosted "Late Night," Pharell’s hat was introduced to the world, and Kim and Kanye got hitched.

GasBuddy previously prognosticated that gas prices may escalate past the key barrier in its 2021 Fuel Outlook released in January. While many Americans are pointing fingers, they should be pointing at the same factor GasBuddy mentioned months ago: COVID-19 related recovery is pushing things back to normal and leading to rising gasoline demand.

On Monday, GasBuddy reported that Wyoming gas prices rose 2.9 cents per gallon in the past week. Gas prices in Wyoming are 7.1 cents per gallon higher than a month ago and stand $1.18 a gallon higher than a year ago.

The cheapest station in Wyoming was priced at $2.54 a gallon while the most expensive was $3.49, a difference of 95 cents a gallon.