Daily Archives: March 15, 2012

James ‘Jim’ S. O‘Brien

Jan. 17, 1919 – March 8, 2012

Jim O’Brien, age 93, died March 8, 2012, at Billings Clinic in Billings, Mont., after a short illness.

He was born Jan. 17, 1919, at Hardin, Mont., to Jim and Maggie Fonwald O’Brien. Jim went to Mountain Pocket Country School and finished eighth grade at Soap Creek Country School by Hardin, Mont. In the 1930s Jim joined in his dad’s farming and ranching operation to help the family until he joined the United States Army in 1940.

In 1943, Jim was assigned to the 23rd Infantry of the 2nd Indianhead Division. He went from basic training at Camp McCoy, Sparta, Wis., to Belfast, Northern Ireland, South Wales and from there to Omaha Beach, Normandy, France on D-Day plus 1.

He was advanced to the position of staff sergeant of the Infantry Platoon while there. He was wounded at Saint-Lo HILL 192 on June 19, 1944, and sent to the hospital in England. He returned to the Indianhead Division on July 20, 1944, and advanced in battle from there to the port of Brest, France.

He was on the Siegfried Line for 40 days and went through the Battle of the Bulge. He was then sent to a hospital in England with trench foot and spent seven months in the hospital. He was discharged from the Army in 1945 and returned to the States. Jim said, “I spent 4 years, 7 months and 28 days in the U.S. Army.”

During his time of service Jim was awarded the Purple Heart; Combat Infantry badges for European, African and Middle Eastern campaigns; the American Defense service medal; two Overseas service bars; three Bronze Stars for fighting in Normandy and was given an honorable discharge in June of 1945.

On Sept. 21, 2010, Jim and his best friend and chaperone Speed Schlattmann were on the Wyoming Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. in honor of their service for their country. Jim enjoyed this experience greatly.

Jim was a Golden Eagle member of Eagles Aeries #1884 and #3086; was a lifetime member of #2281 VFW in Thermopolis and belonged to Legion Post #29 in Basin.

At the time of his death, he was married to Juanita O’Brien and lived outside of Basin. Juanita and Jim met in 1968 and worked together building houses in Wyoming and Montana for Nordaas American Homes.  In Basin and Greybull, Jim built the two Overland Express stores. Jim retired at age 65 and kept fishing and hunting and raising a small herd of cattle for several more years.

Jim is survived by is loving wife Juanita of the home; his best buddy, Pepper, and his children, Christy, David (Paul), Robert (Linda), Gary, Pat (Ralph), Mary (Bob) and Karen (Bruce); his daughter-in-law, Dee O’Brien; his sister-in-law, Carol; brother-in-law, Lothar; his niece, Jessica (Basti); his nephew Benjamin (Lena); two sisters, Mary Hurley and Lila Fossen, and by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his oldest son, Larry; his parents, Jim and Maggie; his brothers, Leonard and Stafford, and his sisters, Selena, Patricia, Margaret, Stella and Rita.

A Celebration of Life ceremony will be held at Eagle Aerie #3086 in Basin at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 17, 2012.

Atwood Family Funeral Directors, Inc. is in charge of arrangements.

(Paid obituary)





Albert Jay Cheatham

June 7, 1950 – March 3, 2012

Funeral services for Albert Jay Cheatham of Lovell were held March 9 at the Greybull/Basin Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Albert, 61, died March 3 at the Hospice House of Campbell County Memorial Hospital in Gillette after a courageous battle with cancer.

He was born June 7, 1950, in Basin, the son of Raymond and Carrie Cheatham. He attended elementary schools in Greybull and Shell before the family moved to Basin in 1966 where he completed his schooling and graduated with the Basin High School Class of 1968.

Albert was drafted into the United States Army and served in Vietnam from 1969-71.

He married Connie Turner July 1971. After his discharge from the Army, Albert attended Wyoming Technical Institute in Laramie where he completed a vocational program. He worked at Cloud Peak Motors in Greybull before moving to Lovell where he worked for Murphy Ford for many years.

Albert married Patricia Diane Jares Aug. 24, 1990. They were members of the LDS Church and served the church in various positions in the Lovell Ward.

Albert worked as a truck driver and mechanic for Big Horn County Road and Bridge until 2011 when he retired due to illness.

An avid outdoorsman, Albert loved camping, hunting, fishing and Dutch oven cooking. He was an accomplished photographer, was skilled in the art of woodcraft, could fix anything that was broken, and always kept a garden and preserved what he grew.

His parents and his wife Patricia in 2005 preceded him in death.

He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Albert Dean and Michelle Cheatham of Gillette; two brothers, Robert A. Cheatham of Springville, Utah and Dennis K Cheatham of Sidney, Neb.; three sisters, Barbara A. Hall of Greybull, Carol L. Cheatham of Kannapolis, N.C. and Linda K. Somerville of Boise, Idaho; seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Burial with full military rites was in the Odessa Cemetery.

Ghosts place third in Buffalo

by marlys good

Matt Dillon and Chandini Dahlberg finished fourth overall and first in the 1A/2A class in the Duet competition at Buffalo Feb. 24-25 to lead the Greybull High School Grey Ghosts to a third place in the 1A/2A division.

Ezra Hanson finished 14th overall in Oratory and 7th in the small school competition. “There were a lot of people in his category,” said Coach Ted Menke.

Junior Josh Hopkin made it to the “Super Congress” (finals) but didn’t place in the top six overall. Menke said “It was a really good finish for Josh. I am proud of all of our kids. They did well.”

The Ghosts were hampered with lack of numbers; just nine of 16 students made the trip. “We were down, mostly because of sickness,” Menke said, “but those who went did quite well.”

Thermopolis won the small school title, topping Greybull, Lovell, Big Horn, Wright and Guernsey. The meet included five schools from South Dakota and large schools from Wyoming including Cheyenne East, South and Central, Casper Natrona and Kelly Walsh.

The team hopes to be at full strength for the National Qualifiers Meet in Riverton this weekend. Menke looks for strong finishes from Dillon and Dahlberg in Duet, and believes both will do well in their individual competitions — Dillon in Humor and Dahlberg in Oratory.

The season winds down with the state meet in Rock Springs March 15-17.

Plans, location of indoor arena discussed

by jennifer butler

On Monday, March 5 a few members of the Big Horn County Fair Board met together in a special work session to discuss the prospect of the indoor arena. Board Chairman Felix Carrizales, board member Tim Flitner and Dallen Smith were in attendance.

Smith had drawn rough blue prints of where the building would stand and how it would be utilized when completed. Smith’s plans were to connect the new arena with the existing building, in order to utilize existing features, such as the kitchen, to help save funds.

The original plans were to first build the shell of the building then continue the process. Flitner  suggested the project be done in phases. First update the kitchen and bathrooms then continue to add pieces to the building until completed. He said, this plan enables us to step away from the project if the board had invested too much in the final project. He added that the board would update what is needed most so the fairgrounds are not left with outdated bathrooms.

During the meeting those in attendance walked around the grounds and mapped out a possible locations for the new building. Carrizales said by seeing where the building would stand and how it could be used it helps him see the vision. He added that he is still concerned about the overall cost and the approval of the community.

He said the fair board needs to build the trust in the community before undergoing such a large project.

Flitner said the building could be used year round and by several of the Big Horn Basin communities.

Smith provided the board with project profits after each of the three phases. He projected the fair would have a net profit in year three of around $30,000.

Carrizales said although he feels better about the project, and he could see the potential it could offer the county, he is still not convinced it is the best option for the board now.

The board is currently reviewing bids for complete construction of the arena.

A grant to the Daniels Fund was submitted by County Grants Writer Maria Eastman March 1.

Tatom case heads to District Court

by nathan oster

Saying self-defense is “a factual issue for a jury to decide and not this court,” Circuit Court Judge Tom Harrington on Feb. 29 bound a 41-year-old Shell man over to District Court on three felony charges that stem from a stabbing incident earlier this year in Shell.

Raymond Ryan Tatom, 41, is accused of second-degree attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault in connection with the stabbing of Tim Mills, 60, during a bar fight Jan. 27 at the Antler Inn.

Harrington’s finding of probable cause came at the end of four hours of testimony which included two witnesses for the prosecution in Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office Captain Blaine Jolley and Deputy Darold Newman and five witnesses for the defense, all of whom were present at the bar on the night of the stabbing. Those defense witnesses included bar owner Al Martin and his girlfriend Wendy Cummings as well as patrons Tom Easterly, Elizabeth Wolfson and Joe Little.

Jolley testified that he arrived on scene to find Easterly applying pressure to Mills’ wound and that Tatom was not present.  Tatom had gone home.  A short time later, Tatom summoned deputies and EMTs for treatment of injuries he had sustained in the fight..

Jolley said deputies were initially concerned with “taking care of the medical needs of the two men” and that Tatom was transported to South Big Horn County Hospital to be checked out and treated.  It wasn’t until the next day, after law enforcement had spoken with witnesses and concurred, that Tatom was arrested.

Jolley testified that he had “gotten the impression from Al (Martin)” that Tatom “had a negative reputation in the Shell area for carrying a knife and being aggressive with it” and that the fight started in the dining room area over a discussion about a mutual acquaintance, named “Wally,” and that Tatom proceeded to make derogatory comments about Mills’ wife and son.

By this time angry, Mills asked Tatom to step outside. When Tatom declined, Mills went out by himself to cool off.  At some point, Wolfson joined him, the two sharing a smoke and talking about what had gone on inside the bar.

Jolley said witness interviews suggested that Mills re-entered the bar through the door leading to the bar (rather than the door leading to the restaurant area) and that he found Tatom at the bar talking with Joe Little.

Within seconds of Mills re-entering the bar, the two men were fighting.  None of the witnesses testified about knowing who threw the first punch — just that the two men ended up on the floor — Mills on top of Tatom and with Tatom’s head and neck up pressed against a single stair that connects the two rooms (bar and dining area).

According to testimony, Mills punched Tatom several times in the face.

At some point during the scuffle, Tatom pulled his knife and stuck Mills in the abdominal area. It was at that point, according to testimony, that Wolfson cried out “Knife!” and bar patrons moved in to assist the injured Mills.

Under cross examination from Tatom’s attorney, Dion Custis, Jolley indicated that he recovered the knife outside the bar, where it had been hidden by Easterly after the fight broke up, and that he did not initially question Tatom about what happened because he was primarly concerned with his medical state.

When he took the stand, Deputy Newman described the knife as “a folding, black pocketknife with a 3- to 4-inch blade,” adding that it had a straight edge.

Newman also provided an account of statements Tatom made to him during the investigation.

“He told me that he was in a fight, that he did fear for his life, and that Tim had been egging him on the whole night,” said Newman.  “He said when Tim left, he thought everything was going to be fine.”

According to his testimony, Newman said Tatom told investigators he was sitting at the bar when Mills re-entered.  Newman added that Tatom’s account is that Mills started the fight, pulling him out of his bar stool, and that the two men ended up on the floor.  At one point, Tatom indicated to investigators that he tried to run away, Newman testified.

Tatom told Newman that Mills “was telling him, ‘I’m going to (expletive) kill you!’” as he repeatedly punched him in the face and banged his head and neck against the stair directly beneath him.

Tatom told Newman he “got dizzy” and was “seeing stars” as Mills was punching him, and that he was begging Mills to get off him.  Tatom told Newman he drew his knife as a last resort, and that his original intent “was to stick him in the leg or in the waist just to get his attention.”

Tatom eventually did confess to stabbing Mills.

Newman also interviewed Mills, who gave a strikingly different version of what transpired.

Mills told Newman that when he re-entered the bar, Tatom faced him and put his thumb in his eye.  It was at that point, Mills said, that he hit him for the first time and the two men eventually ended up on the floor.  Mills told Newman he recalled being stabbed, pulling away, and the knife then being brought to his neck.  In later testimony, Martin was credited with kicking the knife out of Tatom’s hand.

In one final question from the prosecution, Newman was asked if at any point in time any of the witnesses thought Tatom’s life was in danger.  “None of the witnesses told me that,” Newman said. “Actually, a couple of them said that in no way was his life in danger.”

On cross examination, Newman said Mills was described by witnesses as being very angry and that he had gone outside to “cool off.”

The two men had been drinking, Newman said.  In later testimony, bar owner Al Martin said that Tatom had consumed 11 beers, Mills “three to four.” Martin was better able to remember Tatom’s drink count because he kept track on a tab — whereas Mills paid for each drink with cash.

Newman said he hadn’t asked other witnesses, specifically, if they heard Mills telling Tatom he was going to kill him.

The defense opened its case by calling Easterly to the stand.  Easterly, who lives near Shell, testified that he initially tried to calm the situation, but eventually gave up “when I saw that wasn’t going to happen.”

He said he did not see how the two men ended up on the floor, but that he was the one who took the knife outside to ensure that it was not used again that night.  “I didn’t see it until it was handed to me,” he said, adding that both he and Martin were initially concerned with caring for Mills.

Little said he arrived at the bar around 8 p.m. and that the fight lasted only a matter of seconds before he “turned around and Tim was holding his guts.”  Little said he told both men to “knock it off” and that Mills was still mad and “on the fight” when he re-entered, but that he did not see who threw the first punch.  Little said he never saw the knife or the fight, and that the whole thing lasted only a matter of seconds.

Cummings said she took note of the tension between Mills and Tatom during their initial argument, but that she did not see how the two men ended up on the floor.  She did testify to seeing Mills hit Tatom “a couple of times” and Tatom “bringing the knife up toward his head.”

Martin testified that Tatom “wouldn’t let it go” and that Mills “didn’t look too heated to me” before he stepped outside to cool off.  “Tim asked Ray to come outside and fight; Ray didn’t,” he said. “It wasn’t a heated conversation, just stupid bar talk.”

Like the other witnesses, Martin said he didn’t see who threw the first punch, just that he observed Mills hitting Tatom and that he was the one who kicked the knife out of Tatom’s hand as it was nearing the neck of Mills.

Martin also acknowledged receiving a telephone call from an attorney claiming to represent Tatom within five minutes after Tatom left the bar on the night of the fight.  He also said he had hired an attorney to represent the bar in the matter.

Elizabeth Wolfson echoed many of the comments voiced by other witnesses about the events leading up to the fight.  She had been the one to spot the knife and yell, “Knife!”  She also painted a vivid description of Tatom bringing the knife up to the neck of Mills.



In his closing argument, Custis challenged the prosecution’s argument that the act was done “purposely and maliciously” and that there was an “intent to kill” on the part of Tatom.  “No evidence has been presented to this court to suggest that he was doing anything less than defending himself with that knife,” said Custis.

He cited witness testimony that Mills was on top of Tatom and that Tatom was saying, “Get him off me” before he even drew his knife.  When he did draw his kife, Mills was still on top of him, acting “in a threatening manner” and “unleashing serious bodily force that could result in death.

“He was in fear of his life when he used the knife,” Custis said.

Custis also argued that the two aggravated assault charges should be combined, calling it, “one continuous act” that occurred “within the realm of 10 seconds to a minute.”  And within that time frame, Tatom “believed he was going to be killed.  His neck was cracking on that stair. He felt he could be seriously injured, so he pulled the knife out.

“This was an obvious self-defense situation  — and more specifically it was not done with any purpose or maliciousness … it was done in reaction to Tim being on top pounding on his head.”

Frentheway disagreed.

“We don’t believe this is a complicated case and that the facts are pretty clear,” he said, in summarizing his argument.  “We believe we have shown at least probable cause (that Tatom) had the intent to do serious bodily harm (to Mills).”

Frentheway challenged the self-defense argument, describing Mills as “an older man with medical issues.

“While Tatom was getting punched — and we’re not defending the fact that there should have been a fight — but the fact of the matter is, Tatom had a weapon and there was never a reason for him to fear for his life.”

Frentheway asserted that Mills was in the process of getting off Tatom, and that there was no evidence that Mills continued to punch Tatom after he’d been cut. “It was at that moment, as he was getting up, that Tatom brought the knife up to his neck.”

Had Martin not kicked it out his hand at that moment, “Who knows what would have happened,” Frentheway said.  “Had he cut him, he would have died rather rapidly.  We believe it meets the probable cause test … and that the case needs to go to a jury.”

Harrington agreed with the prosecution, telling the defense “You might not even get to argue self-defense based on these facts” and ruling that there was probable cause for Tatom’s case to be sent up to District Court.

“There isn’t any real evidence, at this point, that there was ever a reasonable basis to escalate this from a fistfight into a deadly force situation,” Harrington said, calling it “a purposeful, voluntary action” that was carried out “with malice.”

And as for the self-defense argument, he said, “It’s a factual issue for a jury to decide, and not for this court to decide.”

Marion Otis Riley

May 17, 1925 – March 2, 2012

Funeral services for Marion Otis Riley of Basin will be held Saturday, March 10 at 10 a.m. at the LDS Church of Greybull/Basin. A viewing will be held at Atwood Family Chapel Friday, March 9 from 2-7 p.m. Mr. Riley, 86, died March 2 at St. Vincent Healthcare Hospital in Billings, Mont.

Marion was born May 17, 1925, in Burlington, the son of Thomas Earl and Viola Ruth Griffin Riley. He grew up and received his schooling in Burlington.

Marion served in the United States Army during World War II, beginning active duty on Sept. 26, 1944. He was honorably discharged June 28, 1949.

Marion married Betty Ellen Ainslie July 10, 1944, in Red Lodge, Mont. The couple had seven children. Betty died Oct. 14, 2006.

Marion was a hard worker and enjoyed farming and mechanics. He was a truck driver for Feusner Dairy for two years, Gordon Refinery for seven years, Sweetheart Bakery seven years, Wyo-Ben 13 years, G-K Construction 10 years and Puregro for two years. He worked for Tri-County Telephone for three years before he retired.

Marion married Dorothy Allen Feb. 14, 2009, at the LDS Church.

He was a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints. He enjoyed playing cards, bingo and gardening.

His parents, wife Betty, grandson Billy and brother Alvin Riley preceded him in death.

He is survived by his children and their spouses, Orville and Dee Riley of Townsend, Mont., Carolyn Lewis of Bristol, Va., Ken and Karen Riley of Rapid City, S.D., Bob and Mary Riley of Riverton, Bruce and Jeanie Riley of Kalispell, Mont., Don and Nancy Riley of Basin and Jack and Joyce Riley of Cheyenne; step-children Kengie Hilton of Cedar Hills, Utah, Marlin Jones of Emblem, Kalyn Jones of West Jordan, Utah, Lennis Jones of Pleasant Grove, Utah, and Shelley Peterson of Pryor, Mont.; step-daughter-in-law Susie Jones of Logandale, Nev.; two sisters, Marjorie Harkin of Cody and Florence Nordoff of Redding, Calif.; three brothers, Tom Riley of Ralston and Stan Riley and Vernon Riley, both of Cody; 16 grandchildren; 31 great-grandchildren; six great-great-grandchildren; 32 step-grandchildren, and 51 step-great-grandchildren.

Burial will be in the Burlington cemetery.

Two wrestlers earn invites to New Zealand

by nathan oster

Luke Zeller and Rob Nuttall qualified for the Cultural Exchange trip to New Zealand and several others earned invites to Fargo, N.C. for the Junior Nationals based on their performances at Juniors State Friday and Saturday in Douglas.

The Greybull-Basin Athletic Club sent nine kids to the tournament to compete in both Greco and Freestyle.

“When you go to a state event you can keep team points, but you must have an official and a pairer for your team to compete for a team placing,” said Mark Sanford, head coach of the Greybull-Riverside team part of the GBAC contingent in Douglas.  “It’s too bad we didn’t have a pairer.

“As a team we would have placed second in both Greco and Freestyle.  That is against all other towns in Wyoming.  We had quite a few kids go and we represented our club well.”

GBAC had no individual champions, but several second-place finishers.

Matt Grovenstein placed second in both Greco and Freestyle at 126.

Chris Ogg earned fourth in both at 126.

Jesus Burgos claimed a second in Freestyle and a fifth in Greco at 152.

Luke Zeller was second in Greco and third in Freestyle at 160.

Spencer Redland was third in both at 170.

Matt Brown was second in Greco and third in Freestyle at 182.

Rob Nuttall was second at 195 in Greco and second at 182 in Freestyle.

Zane Edeler was third in Greco and fourth in Freestyle at 220.

Oscar Gomez was fourth in both at 285.

The wrestlers who qualified and plan to attention Junior Nationals in Fargo include Ogg, Redland, Brown and Edeler.  Burgos may also join that crew, according to Sanford.




Frazier, Sylvester make all-conference

by nathan oster

Greybull put two players, seniors Austin Frazier and Travis Sylvester, on the all-Northwest Conference boys’ basketball team, which was announced at the conclusion of the State 2A Boys Basketball Championships over the weekend in Casper.

Lovell, which won the conference, put four players on the team, including conference player of the year in senior Colin May as well as a trio of juniors in Ryan Clark, Dylan Hultgren and Cody Savage.

Brian May, who guided the Bulldogs to a 7-1 conference finish, was chosen conference coach of the year.

Rounding out the squad were two players each from Rocky Mountain in juniors Bryce Ward and Michael Bernhisel and from Riverside in junior Clint Getzfreid and senior Brynnt Wood.

Frazier led the Buffs in scoring, averaging 13 points per game, after missing his entire junior season due to a knee injury.  Frazier’s final line also included 99 rebounds (fifth most on the team), 74 assists and 53 steals. He was also one of the team’s top free-throw shooters, nailing 69 percent of his attempts from the stripe.

Sylvester played point guard and was a defensive stopper for the Buffs.  He finished the season averaging 6.7 points per game, but was the team leader in assists, with 159, and steals, with 103.  He also ranked fourth on the team in rebounding with 126.

Both were repeat selections.  Frazier made the team as a sophomore, Sylvester as a junior.

Sylvester also all-state

Sylvester also earned a spot on the all-state team for 2A.

Joining him on that elite team were two members of the state champion Wyoming Indian Chiefs in senior John Soundingsides and junior Alvin Spoonhunter, as well as two members of the runner-up Lovell Bulldogs in May and Savage.

The rest of the all-state team included Timmy Benedict of Wright, Jesse Brown and Tyson Lonebear of Wind River, Brynnt Wood of Riverside, Colton Wright of Burns, Stephen Yellowtail of Tongue River and Zac Zimmerer of Southeast.

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