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Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Visitors to state parks urged to use fire caution CHEYENNE — Although no fire bans or restrictions have been imposed, visitors to state parks are urged to use caution with campfires.

Fires are permitted only in provided fireplaces or grills and must be completely extinguished before leaving, State Parks and Historic Sites officials said Tuesday. Also, discharge of firearms and fireworks is prohibited.

Many state parks have received little or no rainfall this spring, officials said, adding that with warm, dry weather expected through the end of May, fire bans could be imposed at any time.

Inmate, serving time for murder, dies of cancer RAWLINS — An inmate serving a life sentence for murder has died at the Wyoming State Penitentiary, officials said Tuesday.

Arthur M. Armstrong, 73, had lung cancer and been in the penitentiary infirmary for an extended period. He died Sunday.

Armstrong, a Pennsylvania native, was convicted of first-degree murder stemming from a 1990 bar fight in Green River. He was sentenced by District Judge Jere Ryckman on Jan. 30, 1991.

Armstrong was convicted of shooting David Anastos at the Ponderosa Bar on July 29, 1990. Anastos died the next day.

2 arrested after robbery attempts in Cheyenne CHEYENNE — Police arrested a pair of men after two foiled restaurant robbery attempts.

Hurrie Lee Purdiman, 32, and Brent Dougherty, 20, were arrested Monday night at The Home Ranch Motel at 2414 E. Lincolnway.

Police recovered a pellet gun thought to have been used in the crimes.

The men are suspected of attempting to hold up a Pizza Hut on Monday evening, minutes before dashing into a Subway sandwich shop, both on East Lincolnway.

Employees of the Pizza Hut apparently thought the robbery attempt was a joke and no money was handed over, police said.

At the Subway, no cash was taken because employees and others in the store hit the floor, foiling the attempt, Sgt. Alan Spencer said.

Witnesses saw the men run across the street and down the block to a room at the motel, police said.

Descriptions provided by witnesses helped officers spot the suspects during a room-to-room search.

Governor's volunteer award winners named CHEYENNE — Gov. Dave Freudenthal on Tuesday announced seven recipients of the Governor's Service and Volunteer Awards.

"I am delighted at this opportunity to recognize people who gave of their own time and effort and expected nothing in return," Freudenthal said. "Lives have been improved around the state as a result of their volunteerism, and they have certainly earned this recognition from their peers."

The Wyoming Commission for National and Community Service coordinates the awards program.

The winners were the Mercer House Board of Directors in Casper, nonprofit business or government category, Casey Box of Jackson Hole High School — under-18 volunteer, Arnold Woods of Casper, adult volunteer, Dick DeSomber of Gillette — senior volunteer, Northern Arapaho Tribal Housing AmeriCorps Tribes Program of Ethete — national service program, Margaret Spoonhunter of Arapahoe — national service program member and Rising Star Partnership of Sheridan — community promise award.

Colorado sheriff hurt in high-speed chase LARAMIE — A Colorado sheriff was injured during a high-speed, 60-mile chase that started in Laramie when officers attempted to stop two men suspected of breaking into a pop machine.

Jackson County Sheriff Rick Rizor was injured when his vehicle was struck by the suspect vehicle after it crossed into Colorado, authorities said. Rizor's vehicle rolled several times in the ditch.

Rizor and the two suspects were treated and released at Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie, the Albany County sheriff's office said in a release.

Joshua Rondeau, 22, and Justin Ayers, 20, were arrested. Both are from Vermont and attend Wyoming Technical Institute, authorities said.

The incident began about 1:05 a.m. Monday when Albany County deputies responded to a call of two individuals breaking into a pop machine at the school north of Laramie.

Deputies chased the vehicle through downtown Laramie, west across the Clark Street viaduct onto Wyoming 220 and about 12 miles to the Colorado border, the release said. Speeds sometimes exceeded 90 mph.

The crash occurred as Rizor attempted to stop the suspects by slowing his vehicle in front of them.

Authorities said Rondeau and Ayers could face charges of eluding, aggravated assault and burglary.

Blown fuse leaves Gillette in dark GILLETTE — A blown fuse was to blame for a power outage Tuesday morning in Gillette.

The outage left about 11,000 customers without service from 6:01 to 6:48 a.m. Also affected was the Neil Simpson plant at Wyodak.

The loss was attributed to a fuse at a Black Hills Corp. power plant, a company spokeswoman said.

Rick Lock, Gillette's electrical division superintendent, said: "We worked with their system dispatch and we were able to reroute power to town through a different line."

The cause is under investigation, according to Black Hills.

Some rush-hour businesses were disrupted.

"We had to turn people away because we couldn't cook any food," said Regina Ickes, a waitress at Granny's Kitchen.

There was coffee available but the few people in the restaurant "sat in the dark for a little bit," she said.

Training set on substance abuse prevention POWELL — The Powell Community Substance Abuse Coalition is hosting a free training session from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 31 for anyone interested in preventing substance abuse in the community.

This first of three training sessions will be provided to assist the community in planning programs that will "Reduce Abuse Together." The session is in the Trapper Room of the DeWitt Student Center at Northwest College.

For more information or to register, call the Powell Police Department at 754-2212. There is free child care and lunch provisions are available. Preregister for details.

Woman receives 10 years in fatal DUI CHEYENNE — A Scottsbluff, Neb., woman was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for a drunken driving collision that killed a Cheyenne man last summer.

Kellie D. Wilhelm, 42, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and aggravated assault and battery, both felonies, and two misdemeanor counts of reckless endangering.

The charges stemmed from a collision in southeast Cheyenne that killed Timothy O'Neill, 28, and seriously injured Todd Martin, of Cheyenne.

Authorities said that at 12:36 a.m. on July 20, 2002, Wilhelm's 1999 Ford pickup truck was northbound on College Drive and collided broadside with an eastbound 1997 Plymouth Voyager van driven by Robert Humble, of Cheyenne.

Wilhelm, Humble and one of three passengers in the van, Michael Hays, of Cheyenne, were treated and released from United Medical Center-West.

Martin was hospitalized with a broken neck.

Prosecutors alleged that Wilhelm had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12 percent and was traveling 62 mph in a 40-mph zone.

First District Judge Nicholas Kalokathis sentenced Wilhelm to three years, three months to 10 years in prison for the aggravated vehicular homicide charge; two-and-a-half to five years in prison for aggravated assault and battery; and six months in jail for each of the reckless endangering charges.