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Jimmy Orr

Jimmy Orr has 1365 articles published.

Your Wyoming Sunrise: Tuesday, May 24, 2022

in Wyoming Sunrise
20048

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Today’s Wyoming sunrise (or just a little later) was taken by Gail Symons of Sheridan, Wyoming.

Gail writes: “This is my favorite still photo from this morning. An iconic view of the horse drive. And look at the luscious, verdant grass.”

To submit yours, email us at: News@CowboyStateDaily.com

NOTE: Please send us the highest-quality version of your photo. The larger the file, the better.

NOTE #2: Please include where you are from and where the photo was taken.

NOTE #3: Tell us about your sunrise. What do you like about it?

Note #4: We prefer horizontal (not vertical) photos. Thanks!

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Wyoming Law Enforcement Agencies Preparing For Massive Trump Rally

in News/politics
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
20046

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Law enforcement agencies are planning for substantial staffing increases in Casper this weekend as Saturday’s outdoor rally featuring former President Donald Trump is expected to draw up to 20,000 attendees. 

Rebekah Ladd, public information officer for the Casper Police Department, said her department has been coordinating with state and federal law enforcement agencies, the Wyoming Highway Patrol and the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office to provide coverage for the event.

Ladd said her department plans to have double the number of staff working that it typically would on a Saturday afternoon and evening, in addition to a number of staff ready on-call. 

All other security at the event will be provided by Event Strategies Inc., the event management company organizing the “Save America Rally,” she said.

Ladd would not comment as to how many Casper Police Department staff will be working the rally itself due to safety concerns and did not have a number for how much the additional payroll cost will be to the department. 

She said a standard number of officers will be patrolling the streets of Casper outside the event.

“We’re preparing for an influx of visitors to our town with an appropriate staffing level,” she said.

Lt. P.J. Cross said Wyoming Highway Patrol will have all seven members of its Casper division staff on duty Saturday afternoon and evening during the rally, as well as members from other jurisdictions available on call. 

On Monday night, his staff was still putting together travel mitigation and closure plans for the area surrounding the Ford Wyoming Center, the venue for Trump’s appearance.

Since the event is taking place within the City of Casper, the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office will not have any additional deputies on-staff, but it will provide two members of its Emergency Management System team to the rally and will have “numerous” EMS members on call, said Kiera Grogan, public information officer at the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office. 

Grogan said the department is planning for “the biggest of the big emergencies.”

Because entry to the event is free, Cross said it is very difficult to predict how many people will actually turn out. 

“He’s (Trump) been to more rural places than here and had more people than that so we really have no idea what to expect,” said Cross.

The rally will start at 4 p.m. but Trump is not scheduled to take the lectern until 7 p.m. 

Cross said the Highway Patrol will close eastbound travel on Events Drive from the Interstate 25 South onramp to the Ford Center around 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. to alleviate potential clogging issues after Trump stops talking.

“We just want to keep it flowing,” Cross said.

Cross said there will be other traffic mitigation steps implemented and announced Tuesday morning.

It will be a busy weekend all around in Casper, with all three high local schools hosting their graduation ceremonies at the Ford Center on Thursday and Friday. Ladd advised residents to expect longer-than-typical traffic delays.

“These are very big events in Casper,” Ladd said. “A lot of people come out for the graduation ceremonies. We expect a very busy town.”

The state track meet was held in Casper last weekend, and Ladd said the summer tourist season is in full swing, a milestone she judges by how filled up the city’s RV and trailer campgrounds are. Grogan, likewise, said there are very few hotel and motel vacancies.

“It’s an interesting conundrum to have,” Ladd said.

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Fremont County Sheriff’s Office Says Woman’s Shooting Of Ex-Boyfriend Likely Self Defense

in News/Crime
20040

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Initial findings suggest that a Riverton woman who shot her ex-boyfriend before dawn on Saturday acted in self-defense, according to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office.  

The office announced Monday that at about 2:50 a.m. Saturday, a 24-year-old male broke into his 31-year-old ex-girlfriend’s home east of Riverton and attacked her current boyfriend, who is also 24. 

Watching the struggle, the woman believed that her ex-boyfriend was determined to kill her current boyfriend, the announcement stated.

As a result, the woman shot her ex-boyfriend through the arm, and the bullet lodged in his ribcage area, Fremont County Undersheriff Mike Hutchison told Cowboy State daily.

“She retrieved a pistol and felt she had no choice but to use deadly force to stop the violent attack and to protect herself and (her current boyfriend),” reads FSO’s statement.  

The ex-boyfriend was taken by ambulance to SageWest Health Care of Riverton but has since been flown out of the area “with serious injuries,” the report said.  

Hutchison told Cowboy State Daily that the current boyfriend also has injuries but they are not serious.  

The ex-boyfriend, Hutchison said, was not armed at the moment he was shot.    

The incident is still under investigation, but initial findings “support the female’s claim of self-defense,” the statement said.  

In Wyoming, the use of force is justified in cases of self-defense and also to protect someone else in the immediate area who is believed to be in serious or mortal danger.

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Drones Dropping Contraband To Wyoming Inmates, Dept of Corrections Says

in News/Legislature
20031

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Drones have been flying over Wyoming prisons in attempt to drop contraband to inmates, the director of the state Corrections Department told a legislative committee Monday.

Dan Shannon told members of the Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee drones have been flown over the state’s minimum security prisons and dropping tobacco products to inmates.

 “We do have issues with drones,” Shannon said as the committee began studying the issue of trespass by drones.

The committee is developing legislation to make drone surveillance and object delivery over prisons punishable by misdemeanors — or felonies, depending on circumstances.

The committee is also examining ways to define drones in the state’s criminal code and draft a bill that would make drone trespass and surveillance over private property a crime punishable by law.

All bill concepts are still in their infancy.

Shannon, who said drones dropping tobacco products over minimum security facilities has been a recurring problem, also said WDOC staff conduct a daily rooftop check over prison facilities with their own drones.

Shannon noted in a later interview that tobacco, which was outlawed from the state’s prisons in 2007, is so valuable, it’s a form of currency in WDOC institutions.

Because it’s outlawed, tobacco is considered contraband. Guns, communication devices, drugs, alcohol, and tools to escape also are considered contraband under the law.

The use of drones either for good or ill is a “two-way street,” Shannon told the committee.

He said that law enforcement agencies have been willing to help stop the illicit fly-overs, but added state law is limited and does not allow prison staff to “stop” a drone.

“I certainly would like to have the authority to stop that drone, especially if there’s a weapon or narcotics attached to it,” said Shannon. “I consider (the drone) a threat.”

“As much as I like the idea of shooting drones, I like the idea of a drone battle, maybe we should authorize that” in statute, quipped Joint Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jared Olsen, R-Cheyenne.

State Rep. Art Washut, R-Casper, made a motion to craft a bill addressing drone flights over prisons.

State Rep. Ember Oakley, R-Riverton, asked the Legislative Service Office to include language in the draft bill that would allow prison staff to “capture or disable the drone by whatever means necessary.”

“It’s pretty strong, but policy-wise I would put that forward,” Oakley added.

The committee approved the direction, as well as a provision brought by Rep. Barry Crago, R-Buffalo, matching penalties for the delivery of contraband by drones to other laws against importing contraband into prisons.

For example, smuggling a firearm into a prison on one’s person can be a 10-year felony; the punishment for gun-dropping by drone would match that penalty under the bill now being contemplated by the committee.

Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, emphasized that photographing or otherwise studying prison occupants or procedures by drone should be illegal under the bill as well.

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Bill Letting Game and Fish Ticket For Trespassing Revived In Committee

in Wyoming Game and Fish/News/Legislature
20030

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

A legislative committee on Monday revived a bill giving the Wyoming Game and Fish Department the ability to cite people passing through private property to hunt or fish on public land beyond it.

However, the bill is not intended to stop individuals from crossing over corners between public and private land to access the public land, its sponsor said.

“This is not a corner crossing bill,” sponsor Rep. Barry Crago, R-Buffalo, said during a Monday meeting of the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee in Lander.

Crago referenced House Bill 103, which he had brought to the state’s budget session in February but which, he said, was rejected before sufficient time could be devoted to its proper development.

Crago said the bill clarifies a Game and Fish Department statute forbidding people from entering private land without the permission of the owner for hunting, fishing or antler-gathering. The bill would allow the Game and Fish Department to cite people for passing through private property during those activities.

Different sheriffs read the current statute in different ways, said Crago, adding that he hoped to merely clarify the statute “so it’s enforced equally throughout the state.”

He also said he wants the bill to emphasize that an offense occurs only if there’s actual contact with the private land. For example, vaulting over a sliver of land or coasting down a river between two private banks would not be illegal under the bill.

Tim Cotton, an attorney who spoke publicly against the bill, said he hoped to see more provisions protecting unknowing offenders. He also said he disagreed with giving Game and Fish Department staff more authority because they aren’t governed by local elected officials, as sheriff’s offices are.

“Oftentimes (WGF) are poor custodians of the discretionary role,” said Cotton, adding that by having “an unaccountable, unelected Game and Fish Department enforcing (expanded laws) — we’ll run into issues on that.”

Nick Dobric, of Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, offered a joint solution: require state entities to disclose locations of public easements using a public mapping system.

That way people have ways of knowing whether they’re trespassing by using someone’s road, he said.

There is legislation working its way through Congress, noted Dobric, that would compel federal entities to publicize their mapping and access data for recreational purposes as well.

The committee voted unanimously to develop Crago’s bill further.

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Wyoming State Bar Says Laramie County DA Leigh Ann Manlove Is Not Competent

in Leigh Anne Manlove/News
20044

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Testimony and evidence offered during the disciplinary hearing into Laramie County’s district attorney proved she had not competently fulfilled the duties of her office, according to a document filed with the Wyoming Supreme Court.

The special counsel for the Wyoming State Bar, in the latest filing in the disciplinary proceedings against Leigh Anne Manlove, denied Manlove’s earlier claims that the Board of Professional Responsibility did not pay enough attention to the witnesses in her favor during her disciplinary hearing before the board.

Weston W. Reeves argued in the Friday filing that the testimony offered instead proved that Manlove has not competently fulfilled the duties of her office.

“The administration of criminal justice in Laramie County has been in shambles since Jan. 8, 2019, when Manlove took office and fired the majority of her employees without having an effective transition plan in place,” his statement said. “As a result of her incompetence in the position, the community of Cheyenne has suffered. Lives have been lost. Thousands of cases go unprosecuted. The judges are beside themselves.”

The Board of Professional Responsibility in February held a hearing into complaints against Manlove filed by Reeves that alleged she has failed to properly carry out the duties of her office.

Manlove was accused of, among other things, exaggerating the impact of budget cuts to her office to dismiss hundreds of cases in Laramie County courts.

The BPR recommended that Manlove be barred from the practice of law, a recommendation that has been forwarded to the Wyoming Supreme Court, which will make the final decision on the recommendation.

In her response to the BPR’s report, Manlove said the BPR panel hearing her case did not pay sufficient attention to witnesses and evidence offered in her defense. She also argued the BPR’s recommendation of disbarment was not in keeping with the scope of the allegations against her.

But Reeves, in his reply to Manlove’s response, said the hearing revealed that Manlove should be disbarred so Laramie County can begin the process of repairing its district attorney’s office.

“It will be years before the people of Laramie County can be served by a rebuilt district attorney’s office which can meet its obligations to the public,” it said. “The time to start that process is now.”

Conditions in the district attorney’s office have not changed since Laramie County’s seven district and circuit court judges sent a letter to the Wyoming bar expressing concern over the office, Reeves said..

“The conditions which produced the judge’s letter to Bar counsel … were unchanged more than a year later at the time of the hearing,” the reply said. “Manlove blamed everything on budget cuts but lawyers leaving her employment and her incompetence were the real causes of the office failures.” 

Evidence offered during the hearing also showed that Manlove declined to take responsibility for problems in her office, the document said.

“The panel’s findings and recommendations are supported by clear and convincing evidence of pervasive failure in all areas of Manlove’s work,” it said. “She acted as if an elected official was beyond censure or restraint and chaos was the result. She wanted a new staff, but because of the chaos, lawyers rotated in and out. The work did not get done and the cases piled up. Then the budget cuts arrived with a timely excuse to simply refuse to do the job she was elected to do.”

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Tire-Sized Fossil Discovered Last Week Was Big But 1/3rd The Size Of Giant Big Horn County Fossil

in Wyoming Fossil
20020

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Rockhounding was a way of life for Carol Cheatham and her five siblings as they grew up in the Big Horn Basin in the 1950s and 1960s.

Their childhood pastime has been commemorated forever in textbooks and museums – because their father, Ray Cheatham, was the man who discovered what was at the time the largest ammonite fossil ever found in North America.

“(There’s a) college Geology textbook in which my picture appeared with the ammonite,” Cheatham told Cowboy State Daily. “It was actually used in classes taken at (Brigham Young University) by (brother) Bob and my older sister, Barbara.”

The Parpuzosia bradyi was found in Big Horn County by Raymond Cheatham in the early 1960s, and excavated piece-by-piece by the Greybull Rock Club. The giant fossil, at 55 inches high, was taller than 5-year-old Carol was at the time the artifact was found. 



“The ammonite was found in what’s called the Cody shale formation,” said Carol’s brother Bob, who pursued a geology degree at BYU because of the love for rocks instilled in him by his parents. “It’s Cretaceous in age, it’s (about) 100 million years old.”

Ammonite fossils have a distinctive coil shape. Between 66 million and 450 million years ago, they were the shells that protected ocean-dwelling squids. 

Ammonites are not uncommon in Wyoming. Earlier in May, amateur rockhounds scouting in Powder River in Natrona County found a fossilized ammonite 19 inches across and 16 inches high.

Carol said the huge artifact her family found was possibly the most impressive find that she, her parents and her siblings were ever a part of collecting – but then again, for the Cheatham family in the 1950s and 1960s, rockhounding was a part of their life.

“It was an adventure every weekend going looking for fossils, and going up to the mountains and learning about the land we were living on,” she said. “I thought it was a very important way to grow up.” 

Cheatham said the entire family would go on to become members of the Greybull Rock Club, which her parents helped found.

“The Greybull Rock Club (would) five times a year go out on field trips and bring things in,” said Bob. “And they also went to see Indian petroglyphs and things like that.” 

Bob and Carol recalled fondly how their father, who was a surveyor for the company which operated the bentonite plant in Greybull, learned about geology while on the job.

“His job was to survey the plot for the open pit mines, where they withdraw the bentonite,” said Bob. “So the geologist and him became very close friends. And they would survey their plot, then they would go out and hunt for other areas where bentonite might be – but this geologist taught dad about different geological formations, and he knew what was there as far as fossils or other things.”

According to Carol, her father was out surveying when he made the monumental discovery.

“He was on the job when he found it,” she said. “And he actually couldn’t do anything about it. He knew where it was, and then he went back to town and told another person interested in geology about it, and that person went out and retrieved it.”



Carol said the huge ammonite was taken out of the ground in pieces, and the rock club put the fossil together in the display case it currently rests in at the Greybull museum.

“Dad built the frame that goes around it,” Bob added. “It took them a while to get that ammonite from where it was, it might have taken a year.”

Carol noted that in part because of their parents’ love for science, every one of the Cheatham siblings went on to get college degrees, two of them earning their PhD’s. Carol herself is a developmental cognitive neuroscientist on the faculty at the psychology and neuroscience department at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

“Mom and dad only had high school educations,” Carol said. “But all six of us went to college. I think their love of science, and all things education and all things books – we had a house full of books.” 

The Cheatham family’s rockhounding legacy can still be found at the Greybull Museum, proudly displayed as an example of the rich fossil record that lies under the sands of the Big Horn Basin.

“Wyoming is a great place to study geology,” said Bob. “In fact, the Big Horn basin is so great that (colleges bring students) into the area to study the geology. And it’s because, in the Big Horn basin, you can actually see the geology.”

“With every heavy rain, more fossils wash up,” Carol pointed out.

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Dave Simpson: A Time When Every Day Is Saturday

in Dave Simpson/Column
20045

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Two guys turning 80 this year were featured on the “CBS Sunday Morning” program in recent weeks, and both had interesting things to say about being old.

Political consultant David Gergen’s piece aired on May 8, and famed storyteller Garrison Keillor was featured May 15. Gergen turned 80 this month. Keillor will be 80 in August.

I was interested because I respect my elders, and these days there aren’t many elders left.

(I’ve watched CBS Sunday Morning for 40 years, since the good old days of host Charles Kuralt, those wonderful nature segments at the end of the show, and “Postcards from Nebraska” from Roger Welsch. The show today – knee-jerk liberal, with the nature segment throttled down to about a minute – can’t hold a candle to the past. But I keep watching.)

I don’t trust Gergen much, because he worked for four different presidents in Washington – three Republicans and one Democrat. You have to keep an eye on a guy who can work for both the Hatfields and the McCoys.

He had something interesting to say, however, about turning 80, and the need for the powers that be to hand over the reins to younger politicians.

“It’s time for the torch to pass,” he said. President Joe Biden’s time in the White House “should end with this term,” because there have been “too many leadership failures, and not too many successes.”

You can make a good case for torch passing. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is 82. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer turns 83 next month. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is 80. Senator Diane Feinstein is 88. Senator Chuck Grassley is 88, and he’s running for another six-year term.

Haven’t these folks heard that normal people retire at 65? What is so intoxicating about a job in Washington that they want to hang around long after the bloom is off the rose?

For some, addiction to politics is like a dog that gets into killing chickens or sheep. You can’t train it out of them.

We’re lucky in Wyoming, where most who head off to Washington stay for a few terms, then come home to the state they’ve professed to love for years. Most don’t go native in Washington, and that’s a good thing. (Sadly, Mike Enzi didn’t get much time to enjoy life back home before his tragic accident.)

Garrison Keillor – who packed them in at a recent Prairie Home Companion reunion in Denver – is at peace with his age.

“It’s a great age,” he said, “because you lose your ambition, but you still have your work. And this is such a blessing.” His latest book is titled, “Serenity at 70, Gaiety at 80: Why You Should Keep on Getting Older.”

Moving on to something better in life than a working career shouldn’t be so hard. An old college friend worked on Wall Street for years, but says today – at around 70 – there’s no way he could handle the incredible stress he endured in his 40s and 50s. At 71, in my case, I can’t imagine handling the pressure of daily deadlines, corporate expectations, budgets, and finding reporters willing to work and capable of writing coherent sentences – headaches I put up with for decades.

And yet we have a leader of the free world who is about to turn 80. His diminished state is increasingly obvious.

Hearing gets tougher, and recalling names becomes a challenge as you age. And it’s so random. I have to think hard to remember who Jimmy Carter’s vice president was. (Wait! Wait! Walter Mondale!). And yet “Love Boat” character “Gopher” came up in conversation the other night (he would later serve in Congress) and his name popped readily to mind: Fred Grandy.

Gopher? Go figure.

It’s good to see David Gergen and Garrison Keillor at peace with their age. These politicians who want to hang around into their dotage should take note.

It’s a wonderful thing to wake up with nothing much on the agenda other than coffee with your pals, work on things you love to do, and precious time bouncing grand kids on arthritic knees.

These neo-octogenarians should give it a try.

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First Lady’s Hunger Initiative Helping Wyoming Children With Food Insecurity

in News/Jennie Gordon
20017

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Before Jennie Gordon became Wyoming’s First Lady, she had a transformative experience during a conversation with a friend while grocery shopping.

“About seven years ago, I ran into a friend who was shopping in Albertsons, and she had two carts full,” Gordon said, explaining that she was curious the abnormally large amount of food her friend was buying.

“Well, I’m doing Friday Food Bags,” Gordon’s friend told her. “‘We pack up food for kids that can’t quite get through the weekend because there’s no food in their home.’” 

“And I said, ‘Oh, how many kids are you doing?’ She said, ‘500,’ Gordon said. “And my jaw just hit the floor. And I said, ‘How can I help?’”

A few years later, Jennie Gordon was able to make good on that offer, when her husband, Mark, was elected governor of Wyoming. Once she became the state’s First Lady, Gordon launched the Wyoming Hunger Initiative, a program that allows for increased collaboration and community participation in the fight against childhood hunger.

According to the project’s website, one in five children in the state struggles with food insecurity – the uncertainty of where and when they might get their next meal. That’s 23,500 children right here in Wyoming.

“We are in all 23 counties,” Gordon told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. “We really just support programs that are already in existence around the state that fight food insecurity. We are working with children’s groups, with veterans groups, seniors groups and just families and pantries that are serving folks that are struggling during this time.” 

Gordon was in Cody on Friday to meet with representatives of Park County food banks and checking in with organizations that have either benefited from grants facilitated by the Hunger Initiative or which collaborate with the agency to feed Wyoming families in need.

Gordon said that just last week, the Hunger Initiative distributed $110,000 to food banks around Wyoming – money that does not come from state coffers, but from private donations.

“We accept no state or federal funding, but we have individual donors, corporate donors, and then there are some family foundations that have donated to the Hunger Initiative,” she said, “because they’re not sure which organizations to support, and they know we support the entire state.”

Audrey Schein and her husband, Dan, lead the crew of volunteers that runs the Cody Cupboard, which provides food to around 120 needy families and individuals in Park County each month, around 400 people, according to Schein. 

“They can come into the cupboard and shop from the items that we have here, proteins, vegetables when they’re in season, and other non-perishable items that they can take home for their family,” she said.

Schein added that in addition to allowing families and individuals to stock up from the Cupboard’s shelves, funding from the Initiative allows clients to purchase items that they don’t keep on-site.

“We received a donation from the Initiative for breakfast items,” Schein noted. “And we provide vouchers for our clients to obtain bread, milk and eggs, and things like that.”

For food pantries like the Cody Cupboard, the funding from the Hunger Initiative allows them to make capital purchases which local donations just wouldn’t cover.

“We were able to secure grants to obtain new refrigeration and freezer equipment to keep our perishable items fresh for all of our clients who come to visit the cupboard,” Schein said. “Plus, we’ve also received other grants from the Hunger Initiative that allowed us to provide food to our clients.” 

Schein said without the services provided by the Cody Cupboard, many people in Cody would go hungry.

“It’s the difference between making it to the end of the month for seniors, for young families,” she said. “With prices increasing, the choice between rent and utilities and health care expenses and food, make some families and seniors have to make some difficult choices.” 

Gordon said that funding is the number one resource that the Hunger Initiative provides to food pantries – from there, the individual organizations can secure the needed items from a variety of sources, including the Food Bank of the Rockies, local grocery stores, and some meat-processing facilities. But donations from local citizens help to fill the gaps.

“If you have any non-perishable foods that are easy to store and not expired, they are happy to take them,” Gordon said, “As well as farmers or ranchers that may have an animal that they want to donate. And the Hunger Initiative can help by paying for the processing, if it’s state or USDA inspected.”

Gordon said that supply chain issues and other COVID-related difficulties have made it harder for food banks to keep up with demand.

“At first, there were a lot of people who wanted to donate,” Gordon said, regarding the onset of the pandemic. “But now what we’re seeing is people, they’re back to work. But maybe they’re stretched now because they don’t have any extra.”

Gordon said that donations have declined all over the state in recent months, while the need remains high. 

“We just wrote another grant, actually, we’re hoping to get it today,” she said. “And then we’ll do some more replenishment money throughout the state (to purchase food for the pantries).”

Gordon stressed, however, that it’s neighbors helping neighbors that makes the biggest difference.

“Every county and every community knows how to serve their people best,” she said. “Some people do feedings where they cook for the community, some people have pantries, Boys and Girls Clubs feed some people, grow gardens, and feed with the produce. So it’s just really, all hands on deck, and different ways to approach the problem.”

Gordon said, from her perspective, the Hunger Initiative has created an opportunity for Wyoming people to help one another.

“Get on the website, nohungerwyo.org and click on your county so you can see which organizations are feeding people. Call them up, see if you can either volunteer or donate to them and just get involved because you know, Wyoming has great neighbors and we all want to help people in need.”

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Daily Wyoming Gas Map: Monday, May 23, 2022

in Gas Map/News
20035

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s gasoline prices declined by 0.9 cents per gallon on Monday over the previous 24 hours to average $4.27 per gallon.

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price was up 4.4 cents per gallon from one week ago and was up $1.26 per gallon from one year ago.

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained below the national average of $4.59 for a gallon of regular, which was down 1 cent from Sunday.

High and Low Prices:

The highest gasoline price in Wyoming on Monday was in Jackson at $5.18 per gallon. The lowest price was at the Maverik station at 1301 Third St. in Laramie, $3.98.

The county with the highest average gas price was Teton at $4.68 per gallon. The county with the lowest average was Albany at $4.01. These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed.

Monday’s Big Movers:

Converse County was up 8 cents per gallon; Platte County was down 5 cents; Goshen and Hot Springs counties were down 6 cents; Big Horn County was down 8 cents; Lincoln County was down 23 cents, and Uinta County was down 41 cents.

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county: 

Albany $4.01; Big Horn $4.28; Campbell $4.20; Carbon $4.23; Converse $4.28; Crook $4.28; Fremont $4.28; Goshen $4.11; Hot Springs $4.28; Johnson $4.25; Laramie $4.18; Lincoln $4.28; Natrona $4.11; Niobrara $4.28; Park $4.35; Platte $4.30; Sheridan $4.28; Sublette $4.28; Sweetwater $4.38; Teton $4.68; Uinta $4.28; Washakie $4.28; Weston: $4.16. 

Most Common County Average:

$4.28 per gallon, with 11 counties reporting this price. 

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities:

Basin $4.29; Buffalo $4.19; Casper $3.99; Cheyenne $3.99; Cody $4.29; Douglas $4.12; Evanston $4.38; Gillette $4.11; Jackson $4.48; Kemmerer $4.33; Laramie $3.98; Lusk $4.19; Newcastle $4.12; Pinedale $4.42; Rawlins $4.09; Riverton $4.22; Rock Springs $4.29; Sheridan $4.17; Sundance $4.25; Thermopolis $4.31; Wheatland $4.08; Worland $4.27.  

Want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area. 

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted.

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Letter to the Editor: Civility Matters

in Letter to the Editor
20037

Dear Editor:

Civility matters. The internal and external voices of Wyoming’s  Republican Central Committee test what it means to be civil.

If you were a business leader thinking about expansion to Wyoming would you be having second thoughts given the front page ruckus? If you are a graduating student, whether high school or college, would your interests in politics, or Wyoming’s future, be waning? If you are a Democrat, Independent, or Republican are you tiring of the on-going unease?

Students of history know that America harbors tensions of opposites. Today’s world of the internet and social media lessens opportunities for sitting across a table to thrash things out and leave with a handshake. 

A Governors’s Business Forum in November, 2013 featured David McCullough, arguably one of America’s preeminent historians. He spoke of civility as the pathway to compromise and progress. 

The next Governor’s Business Forum will likely be in November, after the elections. Perhaps presentations, round table discussions, and inclusive representation of conservatives, moderates, and liberals could be the focus.

Bill Schilling
Former President/Founder, Wyoming Business Alliance

Your Wyoming Sunrise: Monday, May 23, 2022

in Wyoming Sunrise
20000

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Today’s Wyoming sunrise featuring the Green River was taken by Dave Bell of Pinedale, Wyoming.

Dave writes: “Reflections. The beautiful morning light and a former active Green River river bend allowed for perfect reflection of morning crepuscular rays and a lone tree at Seven Mile. Some mornings are like this–perfectly calm with beautiful things going on all around you.”

To submit yours, email us at: News@CowboyStateDaily.com

NOTE: Please send us the highest-quality version of your photo. The larger the file, the better.

NOTE #2: Please include where you are from and where the photo was taken.

NOTE #3: Tell us about your sunrise. What do you like about it?

Note #4: We prefer horizontal (not vertical) photos. Thanks!

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Sentenced For Life, Wyoming Inmates Are Able To Make Positive Impacts On World By Training Rescue Dogs

in News/Good news
19972

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

In the weak nighttime light of a prison cell, a puppy wakes James Boulé every two hours and asks to go to the bathroom.  

Boulé, who is serving a life sentence in the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution in Torrington, alerts a guard and is escorted with his 9-week-old yellow lab, Atlas, to an outdoor potty area just for dogs.  

Boulé is one of three master dog handlers at the prison promoted recently to launch its new program of training service dogs for use by the hearing impaired.

Boulé, with the other master dog handlers Russell Henderson and Ken Nicodemus, had worked since 2014 to train rescue dogs with behavioral issues as part of a collaborative program between the prison and Black Dog Rescue, of Cheyenne.  

Henderson and Nicodemus, like Boulé, also are serving life sentences.  

Hearing Dogs 

This month, the prison announced its joint effort with International Hearing Dog Inc., of Colorado, which will entrust puppies to the three men for about a year.  

During that time, the master handlers are to take the pups almost everywhere. They’ll be expected to potty train, socialize and care for their puppies and to teach them some of the basic commands and auditory sound responses they’ll need to serve their future owners.   

After that, the dogs will return to IDHI for their final training phases. 

Henderson, Nicodemus and Boulé have been trained by and still face weekly training sessions from IHDI. They also are held to high standards for complying with and respecting the rules of the prison in order to keep their jobs as trainers.  

And they’re carrying the lessons they’ve learned from working with rescue dogs into their new specialty as service dog handlers.   



‘We Put Up So Many Walls’ 

In the rescue dog program, the men had about nine weeks per dog to turn a vicious, suspicious, fearful or rejected creature into a model canine citizen ready for adoption outside the prison’s walls.  

They discovered that even troubled dogs can change.  

“Russ (Henderson) had one dog that was on death’s doorstep” when she arrived, Nicodemus told Cowboy State Daily while his 12-week-old golden-doodle Augie slept nearby. “And he held that little dog, and she became a super awesome little dog.”  

Henderson’s rescue dog, Rylee, didn’t have health issues, but she was violent.  

“When she came in, she was wanting to kill other dogs on sight,” Nicodemus continued. “When (Henderson) was done with her, she was playing with other dogs in the play area and stuff. It was really great to see that transition – that transformation.” 

Henderson, who doesn’t have a puppy yet because he’s still training a rescue dog, countered that the dogs aren’t the only ones transforming.  

A lot of men inside the prison system have “put up walls,” preferring to be alone or to appear tough and unapproachable, he said, adding that he, too, was angry and withdrawn before he became a trainer.  

“And you see these dogs go up to (inmates), then you’ll see them making goo-goo noises, and kissy noises,” said Henderson with a laugh. “(The dogs) really humanize us in ways that, in here, you don’t really see, because we put up so many walls.”  

Touch Lives Outside of Here 

For Boulé, training rescue dogs and now his new puppy Atlas is a rare chance after the nearly 26 years he’s served so far to have a positive impact on the world on both sides of the prison’s walls.  

“There’s so little opportunities for us to make up for the things that we have done,” said Boulé, adding that training the dogs gives him a chance to help others and to improve his own character. 

“That’s a big thing for those of us that really want to try to make amends and to better ourselves as people,” Boulé said.  

Nicodemus agreed, saying that the dogs teach him while he teaches them. Because dogs are intuitive to people’s needs, he said, he’s reminded to consider the needs of others as well.  

And there are a lot of needs inside a prison.  

“You’ll have people who are sad, they’re down and out, people who are awkward socially; people with mental health issues and can’t really communicate,” said Nicodemus. “So those types of people have a tendency to be overlooked, to be neglected. And to watch these dogs go up to them when they’re in need, really has changed my life.”  

Nicodemus recalled one instance when his rescue dog went to another inmate and nudged his head under the man’s hand.  

Some time afterward, the man told Nicodemus that he’d learned by phone of his mother’s death earlier that day.  

‘Haven’t Seen It Do Anything Bad’ 

The master trainers credited WMCI Officer Bethany Sanders with organizing the two dog programs for them, along with Deputy Warden Marlena McManis.   

Sanders said she’s only seen good from the programs so far, and has watched multiple men go through their own training, then train their dogs, and emerge from that experience as different people.  

The staff are delighted by the dogs too, added Sanders with a chuckle.  

“It’s a good program, and I haven’t seen it do anything bad,” she said.  

Say Goodbye 

Henderson said it’s been difficult to say goodbye to the rescue dogs when their nine weeks of training ends, and it never got easier. 

“It breaks your heart every single time,” he said.  

Boulé and Nicodemus agreed.  

Nicodemus said he’s bonded more with some dogs than others, but he loves them all.  

Boulé likes the tough cases.  

“My favorite ones are the ones that are real fearful and they won’t let nobody touch them when they first get here – but (by the time) they leave, they’re going up to people and allowing affection,” said Boulé.  

“I really enjoy working with those.”  

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“Romeo” Bouchard, “Oral” Eathorne and Big Table Politics OR There Ain’t Enough Democrats in Wyo for a Decent Orgy

in Column/Rod Miller
19997

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By Rod Miller, columnist

When you play for high stakes at the Big Table, the chips get a lot heavier and the competition a lot less friendly. Frank Eathorne, the Ayatollah and Chief Cleric of the Wyoming Republican Party is learning that painful lesson very publicly.

Sen. Anthony “Romeo” Bouchard found that out when he challenged Liz Cheney for her seat in Congress. His previous elections for the Wyoming Legislature were characterized by his bellicosity, bluster and bluff as he used personal attacks on opponents as his campaign tactic.

He was good at dishing it out.

Then all of a sudden, he challenged a very astute and well-financed opponent in Cheney and was given a dose of his own medicine. Cheney – or her supporters – spent some money and time digging into Romeo’s past and uncovered his impregnation of a 14 year old girl.

In his ‘splaining of this news, Bouchard claimed that it was just “…like the story of Romeo and Juliet”. He gave that nickname to himself.

This inconvenient news knocked the legs out from under Bouchard’s campaign, reduced his fundraising to the level of a Kool-Aid stand and flattened all the tires on his honey wagon. His candidacy plummeted from that of a serious challenge to the Swamp to a laughingstock almost overnight.

Losing a high stakes hand at the Big Table will do that to a politician. And Frank Eathorne just blew a HUUUGE hand of stud poker in a very pubic game. His rapid rise up the political ladder finally got him high enough to have some sunshine thrown his way.

An investigative article by WyoFile and the Casper Star Tribune uncovered proof of several past sexual indiscretions by Eathorne. In one instance, he was busted several years ago while a law enforcement officer in Worland for engaging in oral sex in his squad car with someone other than his wife.

Ouch!

In another instance, last December he stood in front of his congregation on Sunday and confessed that he had cheated on his wife. Not with the blowjob lady, but with some as yet unnamed “other woman”. Sort of a turquoise mystery.

There has been speculation for months about exactly who that Jezebel is. I’m sure that when the final credits roll on this soap opera, all the characters will be named.

Readers will recall that I have referred to Eathorne in past columns as “Oath Keepin’” Frank, because of his association with the Oath Keepers, a loose assortment of right wing, evangelical knuckle draggers.

But these new revelations convince me that Frank is VERY selective about which oaths he keeps. And the marriage oath didn’t make that list.

He doesn’t deserve to be called an oath keeper of any sort. So, from henceforth I shall refer to him as “Oral” Eathorne, itself a very evangelical moniker. And I trust we will all know of whom I speak.

The cautionary tale that Oral and Romeo tell us is that things get rough when you play with the big kids. Don’t bet what you can’t afford to lose. Secrets are bound to come out into the light of day. Bluffs never work. There is always a blue (or turquoise) dress.

As of this writing, Oral hasn’t responded to this revelation. Let me clue him right now that claiming, “hey, at least they were all of legal age” probably won’t work.

Anybody who wants to play for high stakes at the Big Table of American politics needs to memorize the lessons that Bouchard and Eathorne are trying to teach them through their pubic embarrassments. That table doesn’t suffer fools lightly.

For the Park County Men’s Full Gospel Gun & Glee Club who will attack this column using the stones and glass houses metaphor, I’ll confess right now that I am a professional, and my private life makes lightweights like Romeo and Oral look like choirboys.

And for their ilk who wanna gripe ‘cuz I only write about Republican zipper-fails, I’ll remind them that there aren’t enough Democrats in Wyoming to have a decent orgy.


Rod Miller is a life-long Republican and Wyoming native. Born into a ranching family that has been in the Cowboy State since 1867, he ran against incumbent Liz Cheney for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat in 2018.


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Daily Wyoming Gas Map: Sunday, May 22, 2022

in Gas Map/News
20011

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

The price of gas in Wyoming on Sunday increased by 0.4 cents over the previous 24 hours to average $4.27 per gallon.

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price was up 6.2 cents per gallon from one week ago and was up $1.24 per gallon from one year ago.

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained below the national average of $4.58 for a gallon of regular down 0.9 cents from Saturday.

High and Low Prices:

The highest gasoline price in Wyoming on Sunday was in Jackson at $5.18 per gallon. The lowest price was $3.98 per gallon at the Maverik station at 1301 Third St. in Laramie.

The county with the highest average price was Uinta at $4.69 per gallon. The county with the lowest average was Albany at $4.04. 

These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed.

Sunday’s Big Movers:

Uinta County was up 22 cents; Teton County was up 15 cents; Sheridan County was up 11 cents; Lusk was up 7 cents, and Platte County was down 6 cents.

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county: 

Albany $4.04; Big Horn $4.36; Campbell $4.18; Carbon $4.19; Converse $4.20; Crook $4.27; Fremont $4.27; Goshen $4.17; Hot Springs $4.33; Johnson $4.23; Laramie $4.19; Lincoln $4.51; Natrona $4.11; Niobrara $4.27; Park $4.32; Platte $4.35; Sheridan $4.29; Sublette $4.27; Sweetwater $4.35; Teton $4.65; Uinta $4.69; Washakie $4.27; Weston: $4.16. 

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities:

Basin $4.29; Buffalo $4.19; Casper $3.99; Cheyenne $3.99; Cody $4.29; Douglas $4.12; Evanston $4.38; Gillette $4.11; Jackson $4.48; Kemmerer $4.33; Laramie $3.98; Lusk $4.19; Newcastle $4.12; Pinedale $4.42; Rawlins $4.09; Riverton $4.22; Rock Springs $4.29; Sheridan $4.17; Sundance $4.24; Thermopolis $4.29; Wheatland $4.08; Worland $4.27.  

Want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area. 

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted.

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Clair McFarland: Fear The Biker Gangs!

in Clair McFarland/Column
19942

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Biker gangs are scary.  

The bikers rattle up the hill in a cloud of dust, baring their remaining teeth, hunkering their heads between their shoulders and whooping savagely at the indifferent sun.  

The livestock whine, roadside saplings quake at the thundering chains and whirring spokes. Blue-bellied lizards scatter before the bikers’ crunching tires. 

I can see them from here: 

Six bikers, four of them caused by me. Two of them donated by neighbors.
A bicycle for each.
12 sneakers, shoelaces flapping.
Average speed: also 12.
Average age: 9.
Wrecks today: three.

Lemonade stands held at gunpoint: none so far, but there’s NERF ammo in the house.  

As I check the cupboard to make sure I’ve got enough Gatorade to slake their furious thirst, I cram the last of the peanut butter into my mouth so they can’t steal it.  

“Mom!” yells a biker gang member, “We’ve got a hunger!” 

I set out six cups of trail mix, smile nervously and hide behind the bar – er, the counter.  

The bikers slam the trail mix like a fluid.  

“Golly,” curses their second-in-command, red with exertion and heat, “I am one roasted marshmallow.”  

“YOU might be,” bellows the kingpin, also red-hot, “but I’M a baked potato.”  

They waddle bow-legged back out to their trusty old hogs, nod at one another and peel out of my driveway, their skinny legs plastered with dried blood and Pikachu band-aids.  

Window curtains snap shut throughout the neighborhood.  

Will the reign of terror never end? 

The longer the gang rambles down the road, the more members it snags. And you can’t just join a gang with no questions asked. You’ve got to prove yourself.  

“OK. You gotta sing ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno,’” says Kingpin.  

“Nah,” counters a biker. “Make him do a headstand.”  

Then the dreadful chanting begins: those with 24-inch wheels bellowing “BRU-NO! BRU-NO!” and those with 20-inch wheels barking “HEAD-STAND! HEAD-STAND!” Finally, they let the initiate join their gang after one “Bruno” chorus, then they careen down the canal road. 

If they sing out in one continuous monotone, the bikers realize, the ruts on the road will translate their droning into operatic vibrato: 

“Uh-yayayayayayayayaaaaa.” 

Once they’re out of sight, I try to work off the trauma by gardening, even though I never manage to grow anything in this atmosphere of terror.  

Still, I plant raspberry roots. They remind me of the warm evenings of my childhood, when I would ease ripe berries from the vine with a gentle tug while the light around me dampened and brimmed with pollen.  

A car rushes up my driveway.  

“Hey we found your little guy,” says a neighbor in a panic, “and he’s just about in tears down the road. Something happened to his bike.”  

Different scenarios crash through my brain at once, and they’re all scary.  

Was he hit by a car? Did the bikers get into a rumble?  

The neighbor and her husband gesture for me to get into their car, and we trundle over the bridge to where a stranded biker – the little, feisty twin – mourns his useless set of wheels, his poor judgment and whatever foolish impulse drove him to be in this gang in the first place.  

Thanking the neighbor, I run to my biker and cradle his soft brown face in my hands. He tries not to cry.  

The moments just before a child weeps are sacred. His trembling composure lasts only until he realizes he’s safe and loved; then he loses it. His roguish independence crumbles in the arms of the person eager to absorb his tears and shoulder his woes.   

“He wrecked,” explains the kingpin, his eyes still wide with shock and awe. “He tried to go BETWEEN the dumpsters.”  

Little-Feisty’s brakes are so cinched up, the bike will neither ride nor coast, and I have to carry it up the dirt road. Little-Feisty trudges along next to me, vowing never to join a biker gang again.  

But later that evening, The Husband fixes the brakes and offers the cruiser back to the boy.  

Little-Feisty straddles his bike and sets off, timidly at first. He hovers above the seat and presses the pedals down in slow syncopated arcs, until the momentum sweeps his legs back into the circular whirl of fearless bikers everywhere.   

The other boys join him, easing gently down the road as the light around them dampens and brims with pollen.   

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Eating Wyoming: Classic Cafe & Pizza In Glenrock

in Eating Wyoming/Column
19978

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A Story of Discovery, Change, And Not Judging A Book By Its Cover

By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Sometimes it takes a lot of hard work to bring you these stories of food exploration. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. 

Today, it was “one of those days.” At one point, I almost threw in the towel and took up the trombone. Don’t worry, it all worked out in the end, and I walked away fatter and happier for the experience.

As you might have noticed, restaurants and cafes all across Wyoming are undergoing a profound change. Hit hard by the covid pandemic of 2020 through 2021, many places are changing ownership, or they have just closed all together.

It takes a special kind of person, and a special kind of drive, to run your own business, to be the master of one’s own ship. Sadly it doesn’t take much to run aground, as the pandemic has brought to light. 

Sometimes it just takes that special person to grab the rudder, and chart a new course.

Recently, looking for someplace to sink my fork, I thought about Glenrock. A half hour east of Casper by back road, Glenrock is much like many towns I’ve told you about. Small, tight-knit communities with quiet streets. A place where everyone knows you, and you just can’t keep a secret if you wanted to. Towns like this, and Glenrock is no exception, normally hold a gem at their center. Finding a gem like that would be my quest today.

I had planned on checking out a place that a friend found online that he said has good reviews, if you were to believe Tripadvisor. So my friend and I headed towards Glenrock.

While on the way, I looked up directions to the restaurant, and right there on Google maps, in bold red letters, was “Closed permanently!” Strike one. 

Ok, now what? I know, I know! I should have checked before leaving, but it was too late now, we were halfway there.

A quick online scroll through nearby eateries showed another restaurant with great reviews and nice photos. Choosing that one, Google quickly rerouted me, and we were back on track.

Now I’m going to withhold the name of this second candidate as well, because I’m not here to tell you where not to eat, but rather help you find someplace you would enjoy. 

As we get closer, Google Maps speaks up and says “Your destination is on the right,” but where? I don’t see it. Oh, NOW I see it. I wasn’t impressed from the outside, but the photos online painted another picture. What the heck. I’ve already come this far so why not?

As I opened the door to this replacement destination, the cigarette smoke slapped me so hard that I immediately released the door handle, letting the door slowly close, taking the stench with it. This isn’t the place for me, and probably not for you either. Strike two.

Back to Google Maps.

This time, I found a possible third place worth writing about. The Higgins Hotel and Paisley Shawl Restaurant had a rating of 4.5 to 5 online with 59 reviews. Sounds promising. We’ll see.

I notice this is an old hotel, but I didn’t think that had anything to do with the restaurant, especially after the good feedback online. I walk into the main lobby and I can see straight through to the dining room. Well-set tables with folded white linen napkins were neatly stood at each place setting. Now we’re talking!

There was just one problem. There were no people in the dining room. No servers, and it was then I noticed, no smell of food. Was I too early for service?

It was just then a clerk mysteriously popped up at the front desk, and I do mean mysteriously, like someone rubbed a lamp and he was there to grant me three food wishes, so I asked if the restaurant was open. 

“Not yet,” he replied. 

“When does it open?” I asked. 

“Summer” said the clerk. 

I turned to my friend, while hiding my inner frustration and growing hunger, and jokingly said, “I’ll have a seat in the lobby and wait!” 

Turning back to the clerk, he explained that the hotel was in the middle of being bought out. See? There’s that trend again. Plans are to resume dining service later this summer. 

Ok, that explains it, however, that means swing and a miss! STRIKE THREE!

Soldiered On

It was then that I thought about throwing in the towel and calling the day a wash, but being your culinary champion, I soldiered on. Asking the clerk if there was any place in town to get a good meal, and he suggested Classic Cafe & Pizza right across the street. I looked at my friend and back at the clerk, but he had vanished as suddenly as he appeared. I later found out that this hotel was haunted, but that’s another story.

To be honest, I was looking for something a little more than a diner to tell you about this time, yet I was really hungry, so I thought I would just get some food and try again another day.

As I walked up to the front of the cafe, it seemed like many other establishments I’ve visited before. Kinda simple, kinda unassuming, just a diner. But when I opened the door, instead of being greeted by smoke and gloom or a disappearing clerk, this time it was the smell of food coming from a kitchen, and diners! I mean people! Customers! Was this where the town was hiding its gem?



As I took a seat in a sparkly red upholstered booth. The waitress came over and introduced herself as Wendy and, as is custom, she took our drink orders while I browsed the menu.



I saw a great selection of starters and one choice stood out, “Rattlesnake Bites.” I knew this wasn’t real snake, but rather a jalapeno popper, as they are sometimes called. Split jalapeno peppers filled with cream cheese and then breaded, but in this case, wrapped in bacon before being sent for a swim in the fryer. This is one of my all time favorite starters, so there’s that part decided.

Looking further, I noticed the other items I could have chosen, like potato skins, chili cheese fries, and even a pound of wings, with my choice of sauces. 

There were lots of sandwiches, like the crispy chicken club that sounded good, as well a steak and cheddar dip. Below that was a Philly Steak sandwich, served with peppers, onions and in this case a side of au jus. This would be my friend’s choice, but I was still looking.

There was a good selection of salads, but remember, this quest left me hungry, and my hunger was getting worse, so I looked on. 

A burger sounded good, but then I’m always telling you about those, although the blackened cajun burger made me pause and think. The next section below the burgers was the “South of The Border” fare.

Rolled enchiladas, tacos, burritos and chicken quesadillas all competing for my fork’s attention. Not being one to disappoint, I’m going to order the combination platter, which is a smothered burrito, an enchilada and a taco, served with rice and beans. Can’t go wrong with combinations, huh?

Wendy returned with our drinks and shortly after, the Rattlesnake Bites. As she was taking our order, we chatted a bit, and she told me that soon she is going to be taking over as owner of the restaurant, hopefully by the end of the year, and that the current owners are ready to retire.

As I’ve written before and as mentioned above, many restaurants in Wyoming are doing this very same thing. The Chugwater Soda Fountain just changed ownership, as has the the Winchester Steakhouse in Buffalo — which is now The Cattleguard Steakhouse — so it was no surprise that this diner is going through such a change. 

With owners Doug and Michelle Dohetry planning to retire by year’s end, Wyoming native and the cafe’s 8-year veteran server Wendy Sinske already has plans to continue it as a family-run establishment. 

Sinske is not just a server at Classic Cafe & Pizza, she’s a budding entrepreneur. 

“I have been ready to buy, for three years now, and this is my chance,” said Sinske, adding “My husband and I don’t want to work for anyone else. We want to work for ourselves.” 

That screams Wyoming, doesn’t it?

With plans to pick up the baton, or wooden spoon, and continue the cafe, there aren’t many plans to change much else. 

“Glenrock residents don’t like a lot of change. They don’t mind new things, but they want the flavors they currently enjoy.” says Sinske. 

It appears the cafe and its fresh-made pizza dough, the house-made dressings and other Glenrick favorites are safe from the trend that’s closing so many Wyoming eateries.

Now let me tell you about those Rattlesnake Bites. These jalapenos were a few notches above others that I’d had before. I’ve had some that were just battered and breaded imposters, masquerading as a pepper. Some that were just a breaded, pepper shaped, blob of cheese that sat briefly sat next to a jalapeno. Thankfully, these emerald beauties were the real deal!



The bacon on the outside was crispy and in return for its crispiness, it protected the cream cheese and the pepper beneath. Not a spicy pepper, these had just a hint of heat on the back of the tongue that slowly built with each passing bite. Several times I contemplated not eating them all, because I wanted to save room for the main course. 

It was a fleeting thought, as the peppers were quickly consumed. If this was an indication of what was to come, I was ready for it.

After a short wait, Wendy and her friendly smile returned with our lunch.

Now a burrito is often just as burrito, but sometimes, it’s A BURRRRITO! Yes, that was typed with an accent. This “burrrrito” was a real plate filler! And how they stuffed the enchilada and taco on that plate, along with the rice, beans and a copious amount of cheese, was nothing short of diner sorcery! Go on! Have a look at this photo, as taken from the international space station. Huge, right?



Next down on the table was the Philly Steak sandwich. As cheesesteaks go, this one had it all. And it had one thing that most places forego, the au jus! I mean what’s a cheesesteak if you can’t dip it into that liquid gold siphoned off from the roasting pan?

Ok, raise your hand if you’ve had a bun so hard that it was probably used to tenderize the meat, or one so soggy that it was like it was never baked? Yeah, me too! This Philly had neither. A perfectly soft bun filled with tender steak, cheese, and loaded with grilled peppers and onion. 

The bowl of au jus should have been served with a diving board attached, because if there’s any left after dipping, you’ll want to go for a swim.



Don’t worry. I didn’t forget about the burrito. After a perfect bite with some of the rice and beans on the side, I could see it was filled to overflowing with moist flavorful beef. The tortilla was soft and tender and the red chili smothering it all kept it that way. This was a burrito worthy of note.

The taco was equally as good, with a crispy shell protecting well seasoned beef, topped with cheese and all the fixings, but I was half way through the burrito when I remembered the enchilada was down there somewhere. 

I mounted a fork expedition and dug my way down to it and there, hiding beneath the taco, was a beefy cheesy treat that made the whole plate worth it.

Sorry mom! I’ll have to be honest, I didn’t eat everything on my plate. I mean, how could I? It was huge to begin with, and the Rattlesnake Bites got me halfway to full. Gleefully, this was a take out box meal.

You can see that what started out as a trip with a specific destination turned into a three strike disappointment, but ended with a meal worth writing about after all. Had I given up after the third strike, or dismissed the Classic Cafe & Pizza as just another diner and had I not opened the door, my day would have been wasted. 

Sometimes, the good things in life are like geodes, you have to crack them open to find the hidden gems inside. Glenrock and the Classic Cafe & Pizza are just waiting for you to crack them open too.

The Classic Cafe & Pizza is located at 201 S 4th Street in Glenrock

Their hours are Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until 8:30 p.m., closed Sundays.

They can be reached at 307-436-2244 or check out their Facebook page. 

Wendy says not to be confused by another restaurant elsewhere in the country, with the same name. There’s only one in Glenrock.

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Dave Walsh: Big Game, Big Crowd, Great Venue? 2002 MWC Basketball Championship Had It All

in Dave Walsh/Column
19962

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By Dave Walsh, Cowboy State Daily

There’s nothing quite like a big event, staged in front of a big crowd. And if that big event is staged in front of that big crowd at a great venue? Well, all the bigger and better.

There have certainly been some events that fill the bill quite nicely staged right here in Wyoming over the years. Many of those events have been games played in Laramie, in the beautiful Arena-Auditorium and in historic War Memorial Stadium. These two venues have played host to Wyoming’s largest football and basketball crowds in state history.

Now, that makes sense in so many ways, but for two very good reasons. War Memorial Stadium happens to be the biggest football stadium in Wyoming, and there is no basketball venue in Wyoming that seats as many as the Double A. And the Wyoming Cowboys and Cowgirls get statewide attention. The venues are outstanding, recognized as such on a national level. And they welcome active and avid fan bases.

There have been so many big games played in War Memorial Stadium over the past 72 seasons. The list of important games played in front of large crowds is long. Maybe it was a game that would gain post-season eligibility, or better yet, it could be a match-up to crown a regular season champion. It’s a very special place when War Memorial hosts events like that.

The same can be said for the Arena-Auditorium. When there is a big basketball game to be played, there is no better place to play it than the “Double A.” There may be bigger arenas that can accommodate more people, but the experience that is created in the “Dome of Doom” is as impressive as anywhere.

A packed “Palace on the Plains,” filled with loyal Cowboy and Cowgirl fans and spearheaded by a very-involved student section, is very special. And really, only special places have so many special monikers, so many descriptive nicknames.

I was fortunate enough to take in 36 years’ worth of Cowboy Basketball games played in the Arena Auditorium, working the radio broadcasts. And I was lucky enough to witness, close up and personal, almost 600 Cowboy games in the Double A. And really, they were all special to me. But there were some games that took it to another level of “special.”

This Cowboy Basketball game, this special game, took place a little more than 20 years ago. Wyoming was to play its Mountain West Conference rival, Utah, in the Arena-Auditorium. Great league match-up on the Cowboy’s home court! That’s special right there.

But there’s more!

This game, played on March 2, 2002, was the final game of the regular season, the last conference game of the year.

And there’s more!

The Cowboys and Utes came into the game with identical league-leading 10-3 records. This game was for an outright Mountain West Conference regular season title!

Ironically, the Cowboys and Utes were both coming off a league championship season. Wyoming and Utah, along with BYU, would be regular season tri-champions, with 10-4 records in 2001. A regular season championship is the common and consistent pre-season goal of every team. Winning a league title, shared or otherwise, is big. Winning a conference championship outright, no sharing, is special. Cowboy Basketball has won or shared 16 regular season conference championships over its 129-year history, about a handful of those were outright titles.

So, a very big stage was set for a very big game. The 2002 regular season finale tipped off that Saturday afternoon, and would feature the beloved Cowboys, in their beloved home, the Arena Auditorium.

It had been a popular place all season long, as the Pokes would average over 10,000 fans a game. That’s still the second-best per game average ever. The Cowboys had gone 11-1 overall that season in the Double-A, and an Arena-Auditorium record-crowd of 16,089 would show up for this game.

This conference championship game was a tough, physical struggle from the start. Every shot was contested, it was very intense, and low-scoring.

Utah’s Karl Bankowski would lead all scorers with 24 points in the game, and he would help Utah to a 2-point lead at halftime, 24-22.

The second half belonged to the Cowboys. Two future Hall of Famers, Marcus Bailey and Josh Davis, led the way offensively, while teammates Uche Nsonwu-Amadi, Donta Richardson and Jayson Straight filled out the starting lineup that dug in defensively to create 15 Utah turnovers. Cowboy guard Paris Corner came off the bench to score 7 points in 21 minutes.

The Cowboys would get a number of free-throws down the stretch when Utah was forced to foul, and the Cowboys would hit them all. Bailey nailed many of them, but the Cowboy team would make 10 out of 10 free throws in the second half, they would make 16 of 18, 89%, in the game. Bankowski would throw in a three-pointer from near mid-court as time expired and the Cowboys had won, 57-56.

Wyoming had won their first outright Mountain West Conference championship. The Pokes had picked up their first outright regular season league title since winning the Western Athletic Conference Championship in 1982, 20 years prior. The Cowboys did all that on their now-legendary home court, in the presence of the largest crowd to ever attend a Wyoming home game. And some 20 years later, it is still the biggest Wyoming home crowd ever.

It was one of the biggest wins ever, played in front of the biggest home crowd ever.

Now that’s special!

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Wyoming Obituaries: Week Of May 14 – 20, 2022

in Wyoming Obituary/News
20003

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Here’s a list of recent deaths of Wyoming residents and those with close affiliations to the state for the week of May 14 – 20, 2022. Our condolences to family and friends:

May 14:

May 15:

May 16:

May 17:

May 18:

May 19:

May 20:

Obituaries Pending:

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Your Wyoming Sunrise: Sunday, May 22, 2022

in Wyoming Sunrise
19998

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Today’s Wyoming sunrise at Fremont Lake was taken by Brian Gray.

To submit yours, email us at: News@CowboyStateDaily.com

NOTE: Please send us the highest-quality version of your photo. The larger the file, the better.

NOTE #2: Please include where you are from and where the photo was taken.

NOTE #3: Tell us about your sunrise. What do you like about it?

Note #4: We prefer horizontal (not vertical) photos. Thanks!

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Park County Commissioners To Consider Hand-Count Of 2020 Ballots To Prove Voting Machine Accuracy

in News/politics
19992

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

More than 18 months after the 2020 elections, election security and integrity continue to be topics of concern for certain Wyoming residents. On Tuesday, those questioning the security of voting machines scored a small victory.

Park County Commissioners said at their meeting on Tuesday they will consider allowing a group of local citizens to hand count the more than 17,000 ballots cast in the 2020 election in that county to determine the accuracy of the results presented by the machines. 

Bryan Skoric, Park County prosecuting attorney, said he will seek guidance from the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office on the matter.

“We’re trying to produce a piece of evidence that will satisfy people’s anxieties,” Boone Tidwell, a Cody resident pushing for the hand count, said at the meeting.

The proposal submitted by Tidwell and the Park County Republican Men’s Club, which later changed its name to The Sons of Freedom, was to test the accuracy of voting machines by hand counting every single ballot cast in this year’s county primary and general elections. 

Skoric rejected the proposal as illegal, but he and the commissioners left open the possibility of a count of the 2020 primary and general election ballots, as this election has already been certified. This count would take place before the upcoming August primary.

“It’s not a recount, they’re just verifying what they find for a count,” said Commissioner Chairman Dossie Overfield.

Under this proposal, Tidwell’s estimated 300-400 volunteers would receive election judge training so they could be considered official election officials. They would be instructed to not cash their mandatory payment for these services.

Skoric warned the group that some differences between the hand counted and machine counted ballots will occur.

“You’re going to get a different count than what the machine-count,” Skoric said. “Machines do what they’re told to do, in terms of if you don’t fill in the circle or if you only put a mark beside the circle, it’s not going to count that. Are 10 of your 300 (volunteers) going to count that or 299? That’s the subjectivity we’re talking about. The counts will absolutely be different and it would be in any count.”

Secretary of State Ed Buhanan addressed the idea of hand counted ballots at a county commission meeting in April, when he said he does not believe election officials or volunteers have the legal right to hand count. ballots.

Tidwell cited the Wyoming Constitution in defense of the proposal, which requires that “The legislature shall pass laws to secure the purity of elections, and guard against abuses of the elective franchise.”

But Buchanan and Skoric have argued that state statute governs the counting of ballots.

“Ballots designed to be counted by machines, each individual vote shall be determined by the voting equipment and shall not be determined subjectively by human tabulation” unless a ballot is received so soiled that it cannot be read by a voting machine, the state law said.

“The statute defines the law and the law simply cannot be ignored by local officials,” Skoric wrote in his decision letter.

State statute, crafted by the Wyoming legislature, does not override the Constitution and must be followed unless it is determined to be unconstitutional, leaving a gray area the attorney general’s office will be asked to address. Skoric also said the privacy of voting guaranteed in the Constitution would be violated with a hand count, but Tidwell stressed there would be no forms of identification included on the ballots counted.

“Based on Wyoming statute, the federal statute and that Wyoming constitutional provision, I don’t believe it can be done specifically,” Skoric said. 

Skoric said following election procedures is critical as it ensures uniformity across the state and voter confidence.

“Manual tabulation of the ballots could also elicit the natural subjectivity of persons counting the ballots, the very thing the Legislature intended to eliminate,” Skoric wrote in his letter.

Tidwell and the Men’s Club initiated mock elections at Park County schools to test out how long it would take to count the ballots, determining it would take about three hours to count 11,000 ballots. 

The topic of hand counting ballots has not been limited to Wyoming. Some  of those who claimed the presidential election of 2020 was “rigged” have been pushing for hand-counted paper ballots.

For some, eradicating voting machines harkens back to a time of perceived purer elections. In 1957, the Wyoming State Legislature permitted the use of automated voting machines in the Cowboy State for the first time, according to the State Archives.

“A hand count of those ballots is simply pure, physical evidence,” Tidwell said. “There’s a phenomenal amount of people in this county who have told me they won’t vote on the machines.”

Detractors of hand counting ballots argue the process would significantly delay the reporting of results and introdue human error and bias to the counting equation. 

All voting machines are tested before an election and post-election audits have consistently found that although it is technically possible for a voting machine to be hacked, it is also incredibly unlikely. These audits will be performed after the election this fall as part of a program being instituted by Buchanan. 

But hand counting ballots is not a totally unheard-of practice, with many rural jurisdictions in New Hampshire, Maine and Wisconsin hand counting ballots rather than using machines.

Crook County Clerk Linda Fritz has said that to increase election security in her sparsely populated county, polling places would need to be shut down to allow for increased supervision. 

This was an effort considered in Park County out of COVID-19 concerns, but then scrapped due to public outcry on the matter, with opponetns saying the move would have reduced voter turnout. 

Even though many of the people pushing to keep the polling places open vowed to volunteer to staff it, Park County Commissioner Joe Tilden said the volunteers did not turn out.

“Any group or individual concerned with election integrity should volunteer as an election judge,” Skoric wrote.

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Riverton Man Convicted Of Sexually Abusing Young Girl Faces 200 Years

in News/Crime
19994

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

A man convicted of sexually molesting a female child for several years and soliciting sex acts from another now faces a possible sentence of more than 200 years in prison.

Riverton resident David Wayne Munda, 43, was convicted by a Fremont County jury on Friday of multiple charges of sexual abuse, along with battery for punching his molestation victim in the head while she was still a child.

Four charges of first-degree sexual abuse, three lesser sex charges and one battery charge were filed against Munda in August, when one of his victims, now a grown woman, confided to a friend that he had molested her nearly 80 times.  

The woman’s secret soon reached the Riverton Police Department, which contacted her and asked her to tell her story.  

As the investigation into Munda proceeded, another victim came forward, saying Munda had wrestled her onto his groin while he was in a state of erection and informed her he could “make her feel good.”  

In his closing statements Friday morning, Munda’s defense attorney Jeff Stanbury attacked the women’s accounts against Munda by calling their character into question.  

“When someone shows you who they are,” said Stanbury, “believe them the first time.” 

He then listed the various misdeeds the women committed as teens and as children, calling the molestation victim “defiant” and repeatedly calling the victim of lesser sexual contact a liar.  

He emphasized that the second victim’s story grew more intense as the prosecution waged on – a point the prosecutor would counter by noting the early police attempts to get her to speak of the incidents were relatively impersonal, compared to a jury trial.

Stanbury urged the jury to consider that the women may have fabricated portions of their accounts in an attempt at revenge against Munda, with whom they’d had conflicts for years.  

He also pointed to timeline glitches in the main victim’s account and implied that her memory was faulty.

Seth Griswold, Fremont County deputy attorney and one of two prosecutors in the case, countered in his closing statement and rebuttal that the women would have no reason now to upset their lives and schedules, expose themselves to painful public scrutiny and endure the difficulties of a week-long criminal trial just to take a vengeful jab at a former childhood aggressor.  

According to court documents, Munda began grooming his main victim when she was 5 years old.  

“This case,” said Griswold, “is about who you believe. If you believe (the victims), there is no doubt.”  

Indeed, the trial that began with jury selection Monday and ended Friday evening depended heavily upon contrasting accounts.  

Physical evidence, such as an examination taken of the main victim seven months after Munda’s most recent sexual act against her, was inconclusive.  

Munda will be sentenced at a later date.  

Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun also prosecuted the case. Lander defender Kate Strike also defended Munda.

Munda also faces charges of child abuse against two boys in a separate case that is still being adjudicated.

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Air Force Sergeants At F.E. Warren Sue Defense Department Over Vaccine Mandate

in News/Coronavirus
19977

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Two members of the U.S. Air Force stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne are suing the U.S. Defense Department, challenging the constitutionality of its coronavirus vaccine mandate.

Nicholas Miller and Levi Lindskog, both technical sergeants, claim their rights to religious freedom have been violated by enforcement of the mandate and are asking the U.S. District Court in Cheyenne to stop its enforcement for all Air Force personnel who have asked for a religious exemption.

“(The Defense Department’s) actions, as described herein, including but not limited to, the hostility towards religious beliefs, as well as the creation of secular exemptions from its policies, while refusing to accommodate religious exemptions, constitute a violation of the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause,” said the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday.

The lawsuit stems from President Joe Biden’s executive order issued in September of 2021 ordering all federal employees to obtain the coronavirus vaccine. The Defense Department handed the order down to the armed forces.

According to the lawsuit, Miller and Lindskog both applied for a religious exemption from the requirement, two of more than 3,700 such requests filed by Air Force personnel.

“Astoundingly, the Air Force — at the direction of the (Defense Department) — has approved approximately 13,” the lawsuit said. “At the same time … the Air Force has approved thousands of administrative or medical exemptions to the same requirement.”

According to the lawsuit, Miller and Lindskog both asked for religious exemptions to the mandate because, according to their court filing, Johnson and Johnson used a “fetal cell line” to produce and manufacture its vaccine. 

According to a Michigan Department of Health statement filed with the lawsuit, the cells used were grown in a lab using the cells from “two elective pregnancy terminations that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s.”

The cells were not used in the production of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but the cells were used in the vary early testing of those vaccines, the statement said.

Both men believe abortion is murder, the lawsuit said, and believe that taking the vaccine would be a sin as a result.

Miller has received several letters of reprimand for his refusal to get the vaccine and now faces discharge from the Air Force after more than 17 years of service.

The lawsuit did not specify if any action has been taken against Lindskog, a 19-year member of the Air Force.

The two challenged the denial of their religious exemption requests and the lawsuit noted that many other members of the Air Force have been granted exemptions for other reasons.

“To be clear and without limitation, the Air Force has accommodated numerous airmen’s requests to be exempt from the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for medical or administrative reasons, belying any claim that COVID-19 vaccination is a must for mission accomplishment,” the lawsuit said

The lawsuit accuses the Defense Department of violating the men’s constitutional rights to the free exercise of religion and the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” a 1993 law prohibiting the government from placing burdens on a person’s ability to practice their religion.

The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction barring enforcement of the vaccine mandate not only against Miller and Lindskog, but against “others similarly situated” while the court case is being argued.

It also asks the court to declare the Defense Department’s mandate unconstitutional and illegal.

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Lummis Co-Sponsors Resolution Calling For Feds To Recognize Only Male, Female

in News/Cynthia Lummis
19991

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

U.S.  Sen. Cynthia Lummis is co-sponsoring a resolution urging federal agencies to recognize only males and females in what is described as an effort to “reaffirm legal protections” for women.

“Male and female individuals possess unique and immutable biological differences that manifest prior to birth and increase with age and puberty,” the resolution said. “(Recent) misguided court rulings relating to the definition of ‘sex’ have led to the endangerment of spaces and resources dedicated to women.”

The Women’s Bill of Rights, also known as Senate Resolution 644, said it is important to clearly define men and women in certain situations.

“There are important reasons to distinguish between the sexes with respect to athletics, prisons, domestic violence shelters, restrooms, and with respect to other areas, particularly where biology, safety and privacy are implicated,” it said.

The resolution called for a person’s sex to be determined by his or her biological sex at birth.

The Woman’s Bill of Rights surfaced less than a week after Lummis’ remarks on the topic of sex at the University of Wyoming graduation ceremony resulted in her being booed by some in the crowd.

“Even fundamental scientific truths such as the existence of two sexes, male and female, are subject to challenge these days,” she said.

Lummis issued an apology after the event and said she acknowledged “there are biological differences and circumstances in which these differences need to be recognized.” 

However, the resolution mentions only the sexes of male and female.

A Lummis spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment about the senator’s intent with the resolution or reason for co-sponsoring it.

Senate resolutions are not binding law. They are used to express a collective sentiment from the Senate on a particular topic, although their passage can lead to the creation of Senate committees to examine the issue raised.

Lummis’ co-sponsorship of the resolution was criticized by Sara Burlingame, executive director of Wyoming Equality, a nonprofit LGBTQ advocacy group.

“It just makes me feel sad,” Burlingame said. “I have a sense for who Sen. Lummis is. She is someone who cares about making people feel welcome and this resolution does not do that.”

Transgender advocates argue that an individual’s biological sex at birth does not represent what sex or gender they might choose to identify with later in life.

Burlingame said it is important to recognize sex and gender as two different things, the former being biological and the latter a social construct.

“Just because they have been conflated in the past doesn’t make them so,” she said. 

Burlingame also said she is disappointed the resolution also does not recognize intersex people, individuals born with both male and female reproductive organs and an ambigious sexual identity.

The resolution does not go into how the designations of male and female, man and woman or boy and girl should be enforced.

The issue of transgender students competing in women’s sports has surfaced in Wyoming in recent years, with legislation drafted this year to ban people born as males from competing on women’s sports team. The bill was approved by the Senate but the House did not consider it.

The Transgender Law Center gives Wyoming a “low” ranking for its LGBTQ-related laws, while Colorado to the south was given a rating of “high.”

In Feburary, Alabama lawmakers passed legislation that would bar transgender students from using school bathrooms and locker rooms that match their current gender identity and on Thursday, Oklahoma adopted similar legislation requiring students at public schools to use restrooms and locker rooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificates. 

But in Tennessee earlier this week, a federal judge struck down a law that required businesses to alert patrons if they allow transgender use of their bathrooms.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi, is the lead sponsor on the resolution. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is a co-sponsor with Lummis. The resolution was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

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Your Wyoming Sunrise: Saturday, May 21, 2022

in Wyoming Sunrise
19995

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Today’s Wyoming sunrise was taken by Robin Grant of Cody, Wyoming.

Robin writes: “Looking out my front door. Another beautiful day.”

To submit yours, email us at: News@CowboyStateDaily.com

NOTE: Please send us the highest-quality version of your photo. The larger the file, the better.

NOTE #2: Please include where you are from and where the photo was taken.

NOTE #3: Tell us about your sunrise. What do you like about it?

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Vomiting, Diarrhea (And Both Concurrently) Increasing In Wyoming; Caution Urged

in News/Health care
Wyoming sign
20007

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By staff reports

If you are experiencing bouts of vomiting and diarrhea (or both concurrently), you aren’t alone. Stomach-related illnesses are on the increase in Wyoming, the Department of Health announced on Friday.

The Wyoming Department of Health put out a notice on Friday letting citizens know of the uptick but had no explanation for it.

The department did note that areas in the northern part of the state, including the town of Sheridan and Park County, and the southern part of the state including Laramie County, seemed to be hit the hardest.

If there’s any good news, there’s no mask mandate that comes with it, the words “explosive” or “projectile” are not included in the notice, and it’s relatively easy to prevent by the washing of hands.

But the department is recommending not attending graduation parties or weddings while vomiting or experiencing diarrhea.

In fact, if vomiting or experiencing diarrhea — or both for that matter concurrently — one should wait 48 hours before attending events.

That’s because it’s so easy to spread.

“We’re usually talking about extremely tiny amounts of poop or vomit we can’t see,” Department of Health surveillance epidemiologist Matt Peterson said.

Although it may be difficult to cancel a wedding or graduation ceremonies, it should be attempted rather than attending either and vomiting on other patrons — or worse.

The best way not to spread it or get sick yourself to wash your hands.

“Gastroenteritis illnesses can be prevented,” Peterson said. “It sounds too simple, but, truly, good hand washing is critical.”

However, if exposed it can take between 12 to 48 hours before experiencing sickness. Hopefully symptoms will alleviate quickly but vomiting and diarrhea — or both — could last for up to10 days.

Commonly described as “stomach flu” or “food poisoning,” gastroenteritis can spread easily when people eat or drink contaminated food and beverages, touch contaminated surfaces or through close contact with someone already sick.

 Recommended steps to help prevent illness include:

·         Frequently wash hands, especially after using the restroom or changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food.

·         If ill, stay home from work and school, especially if employed in food-handling, healthcare or child care.

·         Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of vomiting or diarrhea with a solution of 1 cup household bleach per 1 gallon of water and letting the solution sit for one minute.  Always follow manufacturers’ safety precautions.

·         Immediately remove and wash contaminated clothing or linens after an episode of illness (use hot water and soap).

·         Flush or discard any vomit and/or poop in the toilet and keep the surrounding area clean.

·         Ill persons should take extra care to avoid spreading the virus by minimizing contact with other persons while ill and practicing good hygiene.

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Letter to the Editor: Wyo GOP Leadership Is Very Strong

in Letter to the Editor
20008

Dear Editor:

I just read Dr. McGinley’s letter about terrible GOP leadership in Wyoming.  While most of his letter was filled with emotion, it was devoid of facts.  I was a delegate from Sublette County to the State Convention, and after reading his letter I am wondering if I was at the same Convention as Dr. McGinley claims to have been.

He said that at the convention, “…countless hours were spent excluding the most populous county (Laramie) from participating after excluding most of Natrona County.”  What are the facts?  Natrona County had not paid their dues to the State Party, hence they only had their three automatic delegates. 

Laramie County did not certify the election of their delegates, and they admitted that they had not even followed their own bylaws in selecting their delegates.  And the reason it took so long…the so-called “countless hours”…was because the State GOP leadership allowed the debate to go on for a very long time. 

Dani Olsen went to the microphone many times and defended her indefensible position.  But Laramie County was allowed to keep their three automatic delegates in place.  The only thing that any county has to do is follow the rules.  That seems like a good Republican value to follow.

Dr. McGinley said that, “…the current leadership in no way represents Republican values or principles…We believe in inclusion, open debate,…” etc.  Following rules (unlike Laramie County and Democrats) represents my Republican Values and the values of the VAST MAJORITY of the delegates at the Convention who voted to remove Laramie County except for the three automatic delegates.

He went on to say, “The Wyoming Republican Party has been hijacked by a small group of extremists.  These individuals only care about themselves and their petty agendas.”  That is an extremely emotional argument for which Dr. McGinley presents no facts about the “hijacking” of the party.  He shows nothing about their so-called petty agendas. 

Did the leaders have 2000 mules dropping off ballots for the election of these “extremists”?  What makes up the “petty agendas”?  Dr. McGinley saying these things does not make them true.  Democrats use this tactic all the time…just because they say something, then it must be true even though they do not present facts to back it up.

The vast majority of the votes of all delegates were in agreement with one another on the vast majority of the votes…to include removal of Laramie County delegates.  Very few were contrary to the will of the majority.  

I agree with Dr. McGinley on one point…”Now is the time to act.”  But I see that we need to continue to act by pressing forward to regain our State and our Nation from those who are rolling over to the terrible agendas from those who seek to give everything to non-US parties and their interests…the UN is driving the 30-30 rule; China has committed an horrific act of biological warfare on this nation, yet many people (including Liz Cheney’s husband) continue to do their best to keep the doors open to China’s imperialism; our own US government has opened up our southern border to criminals, terrorists, drugs, and human trafficking while being so concerned about Ukraine’s sovereign border; and our energy development has been shoved down a dry hole by the Feds. 

These are the things that we need to act on.  And if Dr. McGinley were to tell the WHOLE story then he would also admit that the overwhelming majority of the Convention supported numerous resolutions to ACT on these very points.  And those actions show our Party’s great respect, transparency, and civility to help our State and our Nation.

There was no uncivilized debate on the issues at the Convention.  But Dr. McGinley’s letter truly is not civil as he has cast innuendoes and untruths about the conduct of the Convention and our Wyoming GOP leadership.

Most sincerely,

Steven Kahne, Pinedale

Daily Wyoming Gas Map: Friday, May 20, 2022

in Gas Map/News
19988

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

The price of gasoline increased by 0.8 cents per gallon on Friday over the previous 24 hours to average $4.27 per gallon.

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price is up by 6.1 cents per gallon from one week ago, and by $1.26 per gallon from one year ago.

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained below the national average of $4.59 for a gallon of regular, which is a U.S. record and is up 1.2 cents from Thursday.

High and Low Prices:

The highest gasoline price in Wyoming on Friday was in Jackson at $4.82 per gallon. The lowest price, $3.96, was found at the Gasamat station at 709 S. Third St. in Laramie.

The county with the highest average price was Teton at $4.50 per gallon. The county with the lowest average was Albany at $4.00. 

These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed. All 23 of Wyoming’s counties had average prices of more than $4.00 per gallon.

Friday’s Big Movers:

Platte County was up 30 cents; Lincoln County was up 28 cents; Buffalo was up 26 cents; Niobrara County was up 17 cents; Basin was up 16 cents; Lusk was up 13 cents; Sheridan was up 12 cents; Pinedale and Converse County were up 10 cents; Worland and Hot Springs County were up 8 cents; Kemmerer was up 7 cents; Big Horn County was up 6 cents; Teton County was down 19 cents; Casper was down 16 cents, and Subette County was down 13 cents.

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county: 

Albany $4.00; Big Horn $4.36; Campbell $4.19; Carbon $4.16; Converse $4.21; Crook $4.27; Fremont $4.26; Goshen $4.13; Hot Springs $4.33; Johnson $4.25; Laramie $4.20; Lincoln $4.53; Natrona $4.12; Niobrara $4.27; Park $4.32; Platte $4.40; Sheridan $4.18; Sublette $4.27; Sweetwater $4.38; Teton $4.50; Uinta $4.47; Washakie $4.30; Weston: $4.16. 

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities:

Basin $4.29; Buffalo $4.19; Casper $3.99; Cheyenne $3.99; Cody $4.29; Douglas $4.12; Evanston $4.35; Gillette $4.13; Jackson $4.48; Kemmerer $4.38; Laramie $3.96; Lusk $4.12; Newcastle $4.13; Pinedale $4.44; Rawlins $4.09; Riverton $4.19; Rock Springs $4.32; Sheridan $4.17; Sundance $4.24; Thermopolis $4.29; Wheatland $4.08; Worland $4.27.  

Tim’s Observation:

On this past Tuesday, I postulated that by Tuesday of next week, Wyoming could see an average gas price of $4.30 per gallon. After flirting briefly with the $4.30 average, today’s average price retreated slightly $4.27 per gallon. Yet prices are expected to climb again as the national average increases. 

GasBuddy forecasts are now suggesting that the U.S. average could reach $5.00 per gallon by August. With Wyoming averaging 25 to 30 cents below the national average, that would be $4.70 to $4.75 per gallon at your local pump. Every state in the U.S. now averages above the $4.00 mark. 

Normally, gas prices bottom out during the first week of February and then begin to rise again, typically topping out just before Memorial Day. In 2021, higher oil prices pushed gas prices up and prices continued to climb at a time when they traditionally decline. Pump prices this year have climbed since Jan. 1 and they haven’t looked back. 

2022 looks to echo the trend in 2021, and rise during a period of normal relief. 

Want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area. 

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted.

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Your Wyoming Sunrise: Friday, May 20, 2022

in Wyoming Sunrise
19963

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Today’s Wyoming sunrise was taken by Jennifer Pierson of Moorcroft, Wyoming.

Jennifer writes: “This was taken in my back pasture in Moorcroft. That’s my horse Major in the foreground.”

To submit yours, email us at: News@CowboyStateDaily.com

NOTE: Please send us the highest-quality version of your photo. The larger the file, the better.

NOTE #2: Please include where you are from and where the photo was taken.

NOTE #3: Tell us about your sunrise. What do you like about it?

Note #4: We prefer horizontal (not vertical) photos. Thanks!

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Sen. Ogden Driskill Recalls Filming of “Close Encounters” On His Family’s Ranch At Devils Tower

in News/Tourism
19944

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Now that the U.S. government is finally releasing decades-long secrets regarding military encounters with unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, there has been a resurgence of interest in alien encounters around the country.

Here in Wyoming, one very “monumental” incident more than 45 years ago put one of the state’s most recognizable landmarks on the map.

But this incident didn’t involve true alien contact. Instead, it involved the filming of one of the classic films that kicked off a global renewal of fascination with science fiction movies.

In 1976, film crews descended on Devils Tower in northeast Wyoming to begin production of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” Steven Spielberg’s hugely successful tale of ordinary people confronting intelligent life from other planets.

And Wyoming Sen. Ogden Driskill was there.

National Park Service Said No

“Steven Spielberg came out personally, a year ahead of the movie,” Driskill told Cowboy State Daily. “And the (National) Park Service would not let him do the main part of the filming inside (Devils Tower National) Monument. And so Steven Spielberg met with my mother and father, and I got to go along, and he paid them $20,000 to provide the film site for ‘Close Encounters.’”

Driskill – who was a junior in high school at the time – said his parents owned land adjacent to the unique formation that can only be glimpsed from Interstate 90. He recalled vividly the summer that his family’s land became a film set. 

“They came with two or three people, I kind of want to say in June, but I’m not positive, and they were done by August,” Driskill said.

Devils Tower featured prominently in the plot of the 1977 movie as the location that characters who had “close encounters” with UFOs are drawn to. It is also where the movie’s final scenes are set.

“The film site of ‘Close Encounters’ was an irrigated hay meadow that they graveled and turned into the helicopter pad and all the prep for ‘Close Encounters,’” Driskill recalled, adding that he and a friend worked with the crew during filming.

“I worked for the movie company, Columbia Pictures, the whole time up in what is now Devils Tower Gulch, they had set up a catering den, and fed several hundred people a day,” he said. “The kid that I ran around was Scott Robinson, his dad was superintendent in the park. We did grunt stuff, but Scott actually made it into the movie.”

Perks To Being There

There were perks, however, to hanging around the film crew every day.

“If you watch the movie, there’s a lot of helicopters,” Driskill said. “They had a whole fleet of old military helicopters there, and they had pilots on contract so that they were ready when they did the scenes. Well, they had to fly so many hours a day per the contract.”

Driskill said he had made friends with the pilots, who would fly him around the ranch or into Hulett to rope. And when Driskill had to leave the filming for a week to attend the Boys State conference in Douglas in June, the pilots were more than happy to give him a lift.

“When it came time to go to Boys State, they checked the schedule, and they didn’t have anything going, and so the entire fleet of 19 helicopters took me down,” Driskill said, smiling. “One of them lit on the ground at the state fairgrounds in Douglas, I got off, the rest of them hovered around, and then they turned around and headed back to Devil’s Tower.”

The special treatment didn’t do him any favors at Boys State, however.

“I ran for governor and did not get elected,” Driskill said.

Devils Tower KOA

Once the filming was over, Driskill said, his parents decided to put the $20,000 they were paid by Spielberg to good use.

“My mother talked my dad into using that money to build what is now the Devils Tower KOA,” said Driskill. “And when it finished, rather than reclaiming all the gravel and turning it into a hay field again, my mother built a building there, added on to it – there was an old A-frame restaurant there that a cousin had built – and opened a campground the year that the movie premiered.”

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was a huge hit when it was released in late 1977, eventually grossing over $300 million worldwide. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning just one for cinematography.

And although not all of the film was shot in Wyoming — California and Alabama were other primary filming locations — Driskill said the movie has had a lasting effect on the state.

“Well, obviously, 40 years later now, it still has an economic impact on the state of Wyoming, because people still come here,” he said. 

But Driskill, the Legislature’s Senate majority floor leader, hasn’t let his family’s work on “Close Encounters” result in unqualified support for proposed legislation that would create an incentive program for film companies working in the state.

“Does the economic impact outweigh the cost?” he asked. “It’s obviously very important that we continue to find ways to promote our tourism, because every dollar of tax that’s paid by an out of state person is a dollar that doesn’t need to be paid by an in-state person.

“I’m generally supportive,” Driskill continued, “but only if it works economically. You know, we’re to the point in Wyoming where we’re trying to be very careful about where we spend our dollars.”

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Passion And Mayhem — Scooters On Their Second Year In Wyoming Cities

in News/wyoming economy
Photo by Horacio Villalobos - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
19953

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Loved by some and hated by others, electric scooters are entering their second year in some Wyoming cities.  

Cheyenne, Casper, and Laramie last summer all changed their ordinances to allow for shared electric scooters on downtown streets. The solar-powered machines zip along roadways at about 15 miles per hour. They charge users’ credit cards per minute via a phone application that activates the scooter upon scanning a QR code on its body.  

The rental ends when the rider, who must be 18 or older, uses the app to take a photograph of the scooter where it was left.  

The scooters’ manufacturer, California-based Bird, touts the machines as an emissions-free and readily available transport system for urban areas.  

When it welcomed the company’s services last August, the City of Laramie likewise promoted the scooters as a way to help reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion, as well as a way to encourage social distancing.

Cheyenne had already changed its ordinance to allow for scooters on downtown streets just in time for last year’s Cheyenne Frontier Days in July. Casper signed on by the end of August.  

And how the complaints have started rolling in.  

No Sad Faces 

Though he was instrumental in bringing shared bicycles to Cheyenne in 2016, Cheyenne City Councilman Richard Johnson was a “No” vote on the scooters last July. 

Johnson told Cowboy State Daily that primarily, he disagreed with the way the vote on the scooter ordinance was rushed to get the scooters on the streets ahead of Cheyenne Frontier Days.  

People riding them look happy though, said Johnson.  

“I see tons of people riding them, especially young people,” he said. “And I don’t see sad faces when I see people riding them all over town.” But as a city councilman, all Johnson hears are complaints, mostly that riders tend to abandon the scooters on sidewalks.  

Johnson estimated there are now hundreds of scooters in Cheyenne. The Cheyenne City Attorney’s office did not have an exact figure on Thursday afternoon.  

Bird did not return an email requesting comment.  

Kyle Gamroth, Casper City Councilman, also has been hearing some complaints, but as a scooter proponent, he believes the city can work around them.  

“We got the same anecdotes (as elsewhere),” said Gamroth. 

He cited issues such as riders not obeying traffic laws, not parking the scooters in the right places, not yielding space for wheelchairs and so on.  

Gamroth said he’s been visiting with business owners from Casper’s downtown area about potential solutions, such as creating mandatory docking areas for the scooters.  

That solution is not without its issues, though, said Gamroth.  

“The primary selling point is that it’s a flexible motor transportation to get from point A to point B, and if you have very specific areas around town (in which you must leave them), I guess it reduces that flexibility to get around.”  

The Casper City Clerk’s office estimated there are about 80 Bird scooters in the city.  

Gamroth said that, unlike Johnson, he has heard from many people who “really enjoy” the scooters.  

“I have a Facebook friend that just asked their buddies for this weekend to do a pub crawl” with the scooters, said Gamroth.  

Harsh, Icy, Windy 

Laramie Mayor Paul Weaver had not returned a voicemail requesting comment by Thursday afternoon. 

In the city’s announcement of its new scooter-friendly ordinance last August, Weaver said the city was “happy” to welcome the scooters.  

Jackson does not have e-scooters, but Councilman Arne Jorgensen told Cowboy State Daily that some community members have embraced a seasonal bike-sharing system, which seems to generate fewer parking problems than those reported with scooters.  

“I think there’s a different mindset with these scooters,” said Jorgensen. “They don’t feel as substantive, so people don’t think about them as much, maybe.”  

Jorgensen noted that he’s traveled to several U.S. cities and seen the scooters in action – and dormant.  

“I’m not sure if the benefit of that additional transportation system is outweighing the negative of having these items kind of scattered about the public realm,” he said. 

Gillette doesn’t have e-scooters either.  

Angela Williams, assistant communications director for the city, said the idea has been floated, but hasn’t taken off in the past, probably due to Gillette’s “harsh, icy, windy winters.”  

Johnson had noted that in Cheyenne, the scooters stayed out until about October or November of last year, then, he recalled, Bird subcontracted with a local person or entity to store them. 

But Williams noted that Gillette’s foul-weather phase can last as long as eight months. 

Sheridan, Riverton, and Cody likewise do not have shared e-scooters.  

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Corner Crossing Lawsuit Will Stay In Federal Court, Judge Says

in News/public land
19957

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The lawsuit filed against four Missouri hunters because they allegedly violated the airspace of private land in Carbon County will stay in federal court, a judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled against an attempt by Iron Bar Ranch to return the lawsuit to a state court, finding the claims of damages suffered by the private landowner put the lawsuit under the jurisdiction of U.S. District Court.

“Based on (Iron Bar’s) claim that it has suffered more than $50,000 in damages, (Iron Bar’s) claim that (the hunters’) corner crossing has clouded title to its lands, and … the cost to (the hunters) if the requested declaratory and injunctive relief is granted, the Court has little difficulty finding by a preponderance of the evidence that the monetary amount that will be put at issue in the course of this litigation exceeds $75,000,” Skavdahl’s order said.

The lawsuit is the last remaining legal action stemming from allegations that hunters Bradley Cape, Zachary Smith, Phillip Yeomans and John Slowensky trespassed when they used a ladder-like device in September 2021 to move between two pieces of public property without touching neighboring private property.

The four were charged with criminal trespass in state court and a jury found them innocent of all charges.

Separately, Iron Bar filed a lawsuit against the four in state district court, seeking damages on claims the four violated Iron Bar’s airspace when they crossed from one piece of public property to another.

The hunters successfully moved the lawsuit to federal court, arguing it has to do with federal laws that prohibit private landowners from blocking access to public lands.

Iron Bar asked that the case be returned to state district court, saying it was seeking damages against the hunters based on alleged violations of Wyoming’s trespass laws, not federal laws.

Several conditions must be met to file a case in federal court, among them that the parties in the lawsuit come from different states and that damages being sought in the case exceed $75,000.

Skavdahl, quoting from Iron Bar’s lawsuit, said Iron Bar claimed the corner crossing caused it damages in an amount “exceeding the minimal jurisdictional limit of” Wyoming courts, which is $50,000.

In addition, Iron Bar asked that the hunters pay the ranch’s legal fees. 

Finally, since Iron Bar asked for a declaratory judgment in its favor and an injunction against similar activity in the future, the court has to add in what those requests would cost the hunters, Skavdahl said.

“If (Iron Bar) prevails, (the hunters) would be effectively barred from accessing the landlocked public lands on which they enjoy hunting,” his order said. “Such access to public lands has value to (the hunters), who traveled from Missouri to Wyoming to engage in recreation on public lands, and that value must be included when determining the amount in controversy for this case.”

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Rod Miller: Rex Rammell And The Sagebrush Rebellion Redux, Version 2.0 — The Sequel

in Column/Rod Miller
19960

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By Rod Miller, columnist

Rex Rammell tells us that, if he’s elected Governor of Wyoming, we’ll see a dust cloud on the horizon as his minions drive the feds from public lands within our borders. On “Day One”, no less.

First off he’ll have Meal Team Six and the Gravy Seals clear all BLM lands of those pesky bureaucrats. Next, Rex will direct the Park County Full Gospel Gun & Glee Club to rid us of the annoying presence of all those tree huggin’ federal rangers on our “National Forests”.

It’s unclear exactly whom he will employ to drive the U.S. Air Force from F. E. Warren Air Force Base, but I bet he has a plan. He’ll probably proclaim, “Those idiots didn’t even build a runway on that air force base! The State of Wyoming could do a better job managing that land. We can turn it into a big shootin’ range, and use it for monster truck shows.”

Rex Rammell will contort himself like a pretzel to establish his Sagebrush Rebel bona fides in his quest to be Governor of Wyoming. And it will all be in vain, except for its humor, because what he proposes is not gonna happen.

If Sagebrush Rebel is a new term for you young ‘uns, here’s the Cliff Notes. The Sagebrush Rebellion arose in Nevada during the Reagan era as a means to reduce the influence of the federal government on public lands in the West.

The doctrine holds that states can simply take over federal lands within their borders and manage them as they see fit. It was a backlash against the federal government telling the states that every acre of public land cannot be mined for coal or drilled for oil….that every tree cannot be logged…that every blade of grass cannot be cow food and nothing more.

At the bottom of every Sagebrush Rebel’s Stetson is a legal rabbit they can pull out to justify their delusion. That rabbit is always some sort of skewed, wishful thinking misreading of the U.S. Constitution. In Rammel’s case, he claims authority for his land grab comes from his creative interpretation of the Tenth Amendment.

Over the decades since it was Morning in America, the Sagebrush Rebels’ legal fantasies have been tested in courts of law and shot down every damned time. Yet they persist!

The Sagebrush Rebellion is like a case of political herpes, and it just keeps coming back. Each new generation of rebel tries some new angle to prove that federal ownership of land within a state’s borders is against the Laws of God.

Yet that notion has no basis in law, and has become nothing more than a fairy tale told to the Bundy kids at bedtime.

Rammell, a self-described “constitutional conservative” should spend a bit more time reading the constitution of the state that he wants to govern. It wouldn’t hurt him a bit to browse through Wyoming’s Act of Admission to the Union, either.

Both documents clearly state that, upon admission to the Union, the State of Wyoming forsook and forswore any claim to federal land within its borders not specifically granted. Maybe Rex is in touch with a higher power that is giving him better advice than his own state’s constitution.

But it’s probably a moot point. Rex scheduled a press conference on the capitol steps to announce his candidacy for governor, and to trot out his agenda for this season’s Sagebrush Rebellion. Nobody showed up.

Thus, the real world expresses its opinion on Rammell’s strange doctrine and on his chances to be our next governor.

Don’t fret, Rex. If the governor thing doesn’t pan out for you, the Bundy kids still need someone to tell them bedtime stories.

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WYDOT Cancels Prestige License Plates Because of Aluminum Shortage

in News/Transportation
19949

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s a sad day for drivers who want to add some bling to their license plates. Because of a national aluminum shortage, the availability of new prestige plates in Wyoming has been paused.

A prestige plate is one that is personalized to show off one’s profession, a hobby, a name or whatever is preferred. In the popular TV shows “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” for example, attorney Saul Goodman had a license plate noting his profession: LWYRUP (Lawyer Up).

But it’s all on hold in Wyoming.  Because of the shortage, plates are just going to be produced in a sequential order. No specialization allowed.

It’s not because it takes more aluminum to create personalized plates. Rather, it’s because a personalized plate is a luxury whereas a regular license plate is a necessity. It’s a matter of prioritization said a Wyoming Department of Transportation official.

“The primary function of a license plate is really for vehicle identification,” WYDOT Support Services Administrator Taylor Rossetti told Cowboy State Daily.

“The idea of a prestige plate is really a ‘nice to have’ type of thing rather than a ‘need to have,’” Rossetti said.  “We need to make sure folks who need to have a license plate get the license plate they need.”

It’s not going to have a big effect on most drivers, Rossetti said.

That’s because the suspension would only apply to requests for new personalized plates. Orders to renew personalized plates won’t be affected because license plates are renewed every eight years — and Wyoming is in the middle of that cycle right now.

So, like everyone else, people who already have personalized plates would just receive a sticky tab with the year on it which is placed on the license plate to show it has been renewed.

Rossetti thinks the suspension will be short-lived and could be canceled as soon as July.

So far no one has reached out to complain, he said.

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Yellowstone’s ‘Mount Doane’ Likely To Be Renamed ‘First Peoples Mountain’

in Yellowstone/News
19947

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

A push to rename a mountain in Yellowstone National Park now named after a U.S. Cavalry officer who led an attack on Native Americans in Montana has received a significant boost.

The National Park Service gave its approval to a plan to change the name of the 10,551-foot Mount Doane to First Peoples Mountain, the Wyoming Board of Geographic Names was told during its meeting on Wednesday.

The name change will be given official consideration in the U.S. Board of Geographic Names meeting on June 9. 

Shelley Messer, executive director of the State Board of Geographic Names, said in a Thursday phone interview that a recommendation from the Park Service typically “weighs pretty heavily” for the U.S. Board in its decision making. 

Namesake History

Mount Doane is named after Lt. Gustavus Cheyney Doane, a Cavalry officer in the U.S. Army who escorted the historic Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition into Yellowstone in 1870, one of the first missions to explore the Park region. 

However, earlier that same year, Doane led an attack, in response to the alleged murder of a white fur trader, on a tribe of Blackfeet Native American people in Montana. During what is now known as the Marias Massacre, at least 173 were killed, including many women, elderly tribal members and children suffering from smallpox. 

Doane wrote fondly about this attack more than 20 years later and was said to have bragged about it for the rest of his life.

The effort to rename Mount Doane is part of an ongoing campaign nationally to replace what are seen as derogatory or inappropriate names for geographic features with more acceptable names.

One of the latest efforts stems from U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s 2021 order to rename all American landmarks containing the word “squaw.”

“It seems to be kind of a sign of the times,” Messer said. “People are becoming more aware, more socially conscious, kind of questioning what values are accepted.” 

Less Contentious

The effort to rename Mount Doane may be a little less contentious than others, as Musser said Doane was even criticized by his peers while still alive. 

According to Yellowstone Insider, in 2014 the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council voted to pursue a name change for the mountain and in 2017 a protest for this effort was held outside the North Entrance of the Park by the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Great Sioux Nation tribes. 

“We’re not against certain names,” William Snell, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, told the Guardian in a 2018 story. “But we’re not for names where individuals have been involved with genocide, where elders and children have been killed and there have been some traumatic events in our history that don’t meet standards of honor.”

Members from Rocky Mountain group and the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association submitted a petition for a name change to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names around this time, prompting the state board to begin studying the issue. 

“We are a very deliberate board,” Messer said. “When considering a name change, we always take the view of history at the time. It’s not an easy process to recognize a new name.”

Two years later, the State Board recommended, on a vote of 6-2, that the name be changed to First Peoples Mountain.

Opposition To Change

Despite Doane’s sordid past, in 2018 Park County commissioners voted against recommending this name change, along with a proposal to rename Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley as Buffalo Nations Valley, citing a need to keep history intact and recognize local heritage. 

The change in the Hayden Valley name involves Ferdinand Hayden, an explorer and geologist who support naming the mountain for Doane and also allegedly advocated for the genocide and extermination of Native Americans. He is also credited with convincing Congress to make Yellowstone a national park. 

In 2019, the state Board of Geographic Names voted 7-2 to oppose renaming Hayden Valley.

Jennifer Runyon, a geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey and advisor to the Wyoming Board of Geographic Names, said the U.S. Board of Geographical Names is still considering comments and communicating with tribal leaders on that matter.

“Words Matter”

However, the process to rename Mount Doane may be nearing an end, eight years after the campaign began, five years after the state Board of Geographic Names started addressing the matter and three years after its members voted on the change. 

Although this may seem a long time, it is nowhere near as long as it took to rename Mount Denali in Alaska. After the Alaska Legislature requested a name change from the federal government in 1975, the effort was blocked until 2015, when former President Barack Obama officially renamed the mountain.

With all of these recent considerations, the State Board of Geographic Names, a body made up of local surveyors, historians and artists, may have gained a higher profile than in years past.

“Words matter — that’s the bottom line,” Messer said.

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Daily Wyoming Gas Map: Thursday May 19, 2022

in Gas Map/News
19958

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

The price of gasoline in Wyoming increased by 2.5 cents per gallon on Thursday over the previous 24 hours to average  $4.30 per gallon.

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price was up 8.3 cents per gallon from one week ago and by $1.30 per gallon from one year ago.

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained below the national average of $4.62 for a gallon of regular, which is a U.S. record and up 3.3 cents from Wednesday.

High and Low Prices:

The highest gasoline price in Wyoming on Thursday was in Jackson at $4.93 per gallon. The lowest price $3.99, was found in Casper at the Conoco station at 1001 E. 2nd St. and the Sinclair station at 1232 E. 12th St.

The county with the highest average price was Teton at $4.58 per gallon. The county with the lowest average was Albany at $4.07. These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed. 

The average gas price in all 23 of Wyoming’s counties remained above $4 per gallon.

Today’s Big Movers:

Lincoln County was up 28 cents a gallon; Buffalo was up 25 cents; Platte County was up 20 cents; Niobrara County was up 17 cents; Basin was up 16 cents; Hot Springs County was up 8 cents; Carbon County was up 6 cents; Uinta County was down 18 cents, and Casper was down 16 cents.

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county: 

Albany $4.07; Big Horn $4.35; Campbell $4.20; Carbon $4.27; Converse $4.13; Crook $4.27; Fremont $4.27; Goshen $4.18; Hot Springs $4.33; Johnson $4.25; Laramie $4.20; Lincoln $4.53; Natrona $4.13; Niobrara $4.27; Park $4.32; Platte $4.50; Sheridan $4.14; Sublette $4.43; Sweetwater $4.34; Teton $4.58; Uinta $4.27; Washakie $4.27; Weston: $4.15. 

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities:

Basin $4.29; Buffalo $4.19; Casper $3.99; Cheyenne $3.99; Cody $4.29; Douglas $4.09; Evanston $4.31; Gillette $4.17; Jackson $4.49; Kemmerer $4.31; Laramie $3.96; Lusk $3.99; Newcastle $4.14; Pinedale $4.34; Rawlins $4.09; Riverton $4.19; Rock Springs $4.32; Sheridan $4.05; Sundance $4.25; Thermopolis $4.26; Wheatland $4.08; Worland $4.19. 

Tim’s Observations:

A quick note for today. On this past Tuesday’s observations, I predicted a Wyoming average of $4.30 cents per gallon by next week. It didn’t take three days, because Wyoming current average is already there. More on the summer outlook tomorrow.  

Want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area. 

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted.

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Oil Field Company Owner James Quick Pledges Focus On Fossil Fuels If Elected Governor

in News/politics
19955

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Douglas resident James Quick has been working in energy his whole life. As a result, the Republican said he plans to bring a renewed focus to traditional fossil fuel industries if elected Wyoming governor this fall.

Fourteen years ago, Quick, 56, purchased an oil field company, giving him the confidence he needed to take up the challenge of serving as an effective governor, despite never having worked in politics before.

“I know it’s not easy but it’s not rocket science,” he said. “I can learn and adapt.”

Quick is opposed to the nuclear plant proposed near Kemmerer, saying there are many details about the project that have not been shared with the public. He is opposed to the plant to be built by Natrium despite claims that it will employ coal workers from a nearby mine that is scheduled to close soon.

“I’m not on board with that at all,” he said. 

He also said there is “false education” being promoted about fossil fuels and green energy, adding he believes it is impossible to achieve carbon neutrality.

“I’m not opposed to wind and solar, but I do question whether those producers would be doing it without government subsidies,” he said.

Quick is also opposed to a pilot program being implemented to study hydrogen production in Wyoming, saying it will eat up valuable water rights and hurts farmers through the use around 1 million gallons of water a day. In 2021, Black Hills Energy was named a finalist by the Wyoming Energy Authority to receive funding for a hydrogen demonstration pilot project in Cheyenne.

“We’re selling out to the corporations and billionaires,” he said. “We need to keep Wyoming Wyoming.”

A study from energypost.eu found water costs under hydrogen production amount to less than 2% of the total hydrogen production costs, while the energy consumed for water desalination amounts to only about 1% of the total energy needed for the hydrogen production.

Quick said he would also try to support Wyoming’s farmers by serving more local beef in the state’s schools.

In many ways, Quick said, he has lived the American dream. After graduating from Douglas High School, he joined the Marines in 1984 and was honorably discharged. 

Quick started his career in energy working in uranium, which was followed by coal, pipeline work, and eventually running his own business. Although he admitted he may not always have all the answers, he said he is always willing to listen and learn.

“I’m open for suggestions from anybody,” he said. “It takes more than one person to do this.”

One of his biggest goals if elected, he said, would be to safeguard Wyoming from federal overreach. He pointed specifically to President Joe Biden’s “30×30” plan to conserve at least 30% of U.S. land and waters as an example of this problem. 

Although he does not agree with fellow gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell that Wyoming has the authority to seize back all 30 million acres of federal land within the state, he said he would support such a measure if it was possible.

“I would love to see control of the land returned to Wyoming because we could open up a lot more drilling in the state,” he said.

Quick criticized Gordon’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying he would not have issued any restrictions that resulted in the temporary closures of businesses. He vowed not to take similar action if elected if a public health emergency occurred.

“We declared a state of emergency even though Wyoming had very few cases,” he said. “We gave the power away.”

Quick, who is an adamant supporter of the Second Amendment but is not pro-choice, said he loved the freedoms he enjoyed growing up in Douglas and Casper and wants to be able to offer those same liberties to his grandchildren. 

“As the governor, you work for the people, I think a lot of politicians have forgotten about that,” he said.

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Program Will Provide ‘Some Relief’ From Rising Property Taxes, Gov. Gordon Says

in Mark Gordon
19965

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By Robert Davis, The Center Square For Cowboy State Daily

A new property tax refund program that was created by legislation signed into law in March will provide relief to some Wyoming taxpayers, according to Gov. Mark Gordon. 

Enrolled Act No. 26 allows counties in the state to create refund programs wherein taxpayers can request a refund of some of their property taxes that were paid last year. The program applies to residents who have lived in the state for at least five years, owned their property for at least nine months, and have paid their 2021 property taxes in full. 

The deadline for applying for the program is Monday, June 6. 

“Wyoming has not raised tax rates, and yet Wyoming citizens are feeling the pinch as their home values have risen,” Gordon said in a statement. 

According to data from Zillow, Wyoming home prices have seen steady growth over the last two years. The average home price in the Cowboy State is now over $315,000, representing a 14.6% climb from last year and a 20.6% increase from May 2020. 

In turn, rising home prices often result in higher property taxes for homeowners. This is just one reason why the administration supported creating the property tax refund program, the governor said. 

“[Wyoming residents] are seeing it in their assessed valuations on their property,” Gordon said. “Homeowners need some relief, and this program offers some.”

Taxpayers interested in applying for the program can get more information from their county treasurer or Wyoming’s Department of Revenue. Applications may be submitted online or sent to the Department of Revenue via mail.  

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State Board Frustrated That Wyoming Has No Say In Renaming Any Location With Word “Squaw” In It

in News
19939

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Members of the state group that makes recommendations on the naming of geographic features in Wyoming are expressing frustration over federal plans to eliminate the word “squaw” from locations across the country.

Members of the Wyoming Board of Geographic names, during their meeting Wednesday, said they wished they had been given a chance to offer input on the plan of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to eliminate the word “squaw” from geologic feature names across the country.

The board also used its meeting Tuesday to vote against a proposal to name a Cody mountain after artist Jackson Pollock.

The discussion about the word “squaw” stems from a “secretarial order” issued in November by Haaland to remove the word from the names of some 660 features nationally, including 43 in 17 Wyoming counties.

A final decision on the proposal is to be made by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names in September.

The decision will be made without input from the Wyoming Board of Geographic Names because of a special process established by Haaland, said Jennifer Runyon, a geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey and advisor to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names.

“I guess the secretary thought that was particularly OK,” she said during the meeting.

The only way for Wyoming to offer input on the proposal would have been to submit public comment and the time period for submitting comment has already ended.

Geographic naming boards from Washington and Colorado did respond through this process, Runyon said.

Of the 6,650 public comments received, Runyon said about 4,000 were in support of the idea of changing the names of features whose names currently contain the word “squaw,” which Haaland declared derogatory to Native American women.

Although no member of the Wyoming board supported the change during the Wednesday meeting, some members have done so in the past.

Board Vice Chair Jack Studley said he does not believe the term is derogatory, based on his research.

“It very clearly states it stood for female or younger woman,” he said.

Studley also speculated that if the word “squaw” is in fact offensive, the word “peninsula” could also be deemed so because of its similarity to the word for male genitalia.

Runyon mentioned that there is  pending legislation addressing the use of the word “squaw” in geographic landmarks, and Studley said the new law might pre-empt Haaland’s order. Runyon said this is possible, but added Haaland may also have the authority as head of the DOI to override any rule changes.

A special task force has been created by the Department of Interior to examine the removal of the word “squaw” from place names and official communications.

The board also voted unanimously during its meeting to oppose a suggestion to name the Cody mountain off of the Chief Joseph Highway after Pollock.

The board voted 11-0 to reject the name for the red sandstone butte on private land.

“The simple fact of birth here really doesn’t make any kind of connection at all,” Studley said. “Historical or established use should have a direct connection to a geographic feature.”

The mountain or large hill, unofficially known as “Red Hill,” “Red Butte” or “Red Cliffs,” is located on Two Dot Ranch property. The ranch’s general manager Mark McCarty told Park County Commissioner Lee Livingston that the ranch’s owner Fayez Sarofim does not support the proposal.

The Pollock suggestion was submitted by Michigan artist Gregory Constantine to the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Board of Geographic Names first before it was sent to the local level for consideration. 

In his application, Constantine referred to the butte as “my mountain” multiple times and said he had a personal connection to the peak, having created around 35 paintings of it.

Although Pollock only spent the first 10 months of his life in Cody, he was friends with and influenced famous Western artist and Cody resident Harry Jackson. Pollock did not make Western art himself and it is unknown whether he ever returned to Cody during his life.

“Jackson Pollock had no personal affinity for that peak,” board member Dan White said. “He wasn’t there. He left in 10 months. It’s a non-starter.”

The state board received 12 comments opposed to the naming, and only one supporting it, that one coming from Constantine himself.

“The reason to do it given is, ‘just because,’” said R.J. Pieper, a member of the board who is an artist himself. “The opposition from the local community is screaming loud and clear about what needs to happen.”

The board did approve a motion to encourage the Sarofim to propose a name with local ties for the mountain.

The Pollock issue is still not a done deal however. The Wyoming Board of Geographic Names will only be considered by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, which meets monthly and publishes quarterly lists of new or changed names of geographic features.

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Man Improperly Charged As Adult With Sex Assault Asks Supreme Court To Dismiss Case

in News/Wyoming Supreme Court
19940

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A man improperly charged as an adult for actions he allegedly committed as a minor is asking the Wyoming Supreme Court to determine whether the case against him should be dismissed.

Robert Charles Rosen, who the court ruled in January should not have been charged as an adult on allegations he improperly touched a woman, is arguing there is no way for the harm done to him by the improper charging to be reversed with new court proceedings.

“Mr. Rosen has suffered irreparable harm due to the state’s violation of (charging laws),” said a petition he filed with the court on Wednesday. “His name is forever associated with the allegations in this case, which any member of of the public can easily see simply by looking his name up on the internet.”

In January, the court ruled that Rosen was improperly charged as an adult with third degree sexual assault and false imprisonment over an incident that occurred when he was 17. 

According to court documents, Rosen was accused of touching a female friend’s breasts and buttocks without her permission.

However, he was not charged in the incident until more than a year later, when he was 18. Because he was 18, he was charged as an adult.

Justices unanimously agreed that the decision of whether Rosen should be charged as an adult or juvenile should have been determined by the date of the alleged incident, not the date of his arrest.

The Supreme Court ordered a lower court to hold a hearing to determine whether Rosen’s case should be sent to juvenile court. Proceedings in juvenile court are blocked from public review.

But Rosen argued the improper actions of prosecutors had an irreversible impact on his life.

“For the rest of his life, Mr. Rosen will have to live with the charges against him in this case for conduct that is alleged to have occurred while he was a minor,” his petition said. “The damage cannot be undone.”

If the Supreme Court decides the proper remedy for Rosen is to dismiss the charges against him, it should make that decision before the transfer hearing is held, his petition said.

“The ends of justice require review of this issue prior to a transfer hearing and prior to a trial, as neither a transfer hearing nor a trial would provide the relief sought in this petition,” it said. “Further, neither party should have to incur the emotional and financial costs of those proceedings if the appropriate remedy is dismissal …”

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Your Wyoming Sunrise: Thursday, May 19, 2022

in Wyoming Sunrise
19929

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Today’s Wyoming sunrise was taken at Trapper’s Route in Natrona County by Rose Fry.

To submit yours, email us at: News@CowboyStateDaily.com

NOTE: Please send us the highest-quality version of your photo. The larger the file, the better.

NOTE #2: Please include where you are from and where the photo was taken.

NOTE #3: Tell us about your sunrise. What do you like about it?

Note #4: We prefer horizontal (not vertical) photos. Thanks!

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Letter To Editor: Current GOP Leadership Does Not Represent Republican Values or Principles

in Letter to the Editor
19933

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By Dr. Joe McGinley, Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor: Time for Action!

Most Wyoming residents align their political viewpoints with the Republican Party.  However, for those who followed the actions of the Wyoming Republican Party for the past two years, you may be having second thoughts. 

The repeated headlines of fights, name calling, censures, personal attacks on women, referencing seceding from the union, multiple lawsuits, past and current individual criminal cases, membership in the Oath Keepers and exclusion of thought would cause any reasonable person to question their association. 

You are not alone, as past chairman of the Natrona County Republican Party and current Natrona County State Committeeman, I am utterly embarrassed by the behavior of our Wyoming Republican Party leadership and most of the county party leadership across the state. 

I want to stress the current leadership in no way represents Republican values or principles.  We are the party of Lincoln and Reagan.  We believe in inclusion, open debate, community support, freedom of speech, protection of life, and the defense of liberty.  

The current Wyoming Republican Party leadership has thoroughly embarrassed anyone who considers themselves a Republican.  They take pride in demeaning others even to the extent of harassment and intimidation. 

The Wyoming Republican Party has been hijacked by a small group of extremists.  These individuals only care about themselves and their petty agendas.  Earlier this month at the WRP state convention, countless hours were spent excluding the most populous county (Laramie) from participating after already excluding most of Natrona County. 

At the last convention 2 years ago, Natrona County was the target of similar petty attacks, all to silence to voice of fellow Republicans.  The goal of the current leadership is to consolidate power among a few individuals, silence any and all dissenting voices, and use propaganda to claim superiority. 

Fortunately, there are still many true Republicans in Wyoming willing to speak up and fight for our values.  These individuals do not have personal agendas, they are not looking for revenge, they are not trying to silence dissenting options.  These true Republicans are fighting to protect our principles, and party reputation. 

Now is the time to act.  We need your help to bring respect, transparency, and civility back to the Wyoming Republican Party.  Only with diverse viewpoints and community focused goals will our party grow and prosper. 

We should welcome all perspectives and debate differences in a civil and meaningful manner.  Only through unimpeded speech will new ideas be cultivated.  The future of our towns, cities and state depends on it.  Let’s set WY apart as a state leading the way in true political discourse and productive problem-solving agendas.

You are the solution to this problem!   I ask each of you to consider running for a local precinct position in your community.  The time commitment is minimal, typically one meeting per quarter.  You are the grassroots which will define the leadership and voice of our party. 

The application (https://sos.wyo.gov/Forms/Elections/Apps/Precinct_Person_Application_by_Party_Primary.pdf) needs to be filed at your county clerk’s office by May 27th.  The deadline is approaching quickly.  Please also reach out and share your contact information.

We are organizing community members to take action and change the direction of OUR Wyoming Republican Party.  If you would like updates, please send your contact information to rightwayGOP@gmail.com.

Join us and be part of the solution.  Your voice matters, your opinion matters, your involvement matters. Now is the time to stand up and say enough is enough.  Defend our great Republican Party and demonstrate true conservative principles though action.  Let’s bring pride and respect back to our party!

Joseph C. McGinley, MD, PhD

Concerned Wyoming Republican

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Gov Candidate Says He Will Take Over Federal Lands If Elected; Former AG Says “That’s Idiotic”

in News/politics
19920

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

If a Rock Springs veterinarian is successful in his bid for the governor’s office, he will have federal lands within Wyoming’s border turned over to the state, he said Wednesday.

In comments prepared — but not delivered — for a news conference to announce his one of his campaign issues, Dr. Rex Rammell said he wants to see 30 million acres of federal land owned and managed by the state.

“Will [Wyoming voters] elect a governor who will make a state’s right stand that will result in 30 million acres of public lands being taken over by the state and giving the fossil fuel industry the green light to produce?” he asked.

Rammell was to have delivered the comments during a news conference at 1 p.m. Wednesday on the steps of the Capitol.

However, no one was on the Capitol steps at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Rammell said he was at the Capitol, but a reporter for Cowboy State Daily saw no sign of the candidate on the Capitol steps or inside the Capitol itself. 

Rammell said he showed up for the event early and talked to one person, but when no one else turned up, he sat on a bench for a few minutes and then left.

Rammell ran for the governor’s office in 2018 and for the state’s lone U.S. House seat in 2016.

In his prepared statements, Rammell said on day one of his administration as governor, he would order the Wyoming Highway Patrol to walk all federal land managers out of their offices.

“The BLM, The Forest Service, The Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and others… GONE!” his prepared remarks said.

However, former Attorney General Pat Crank told Cowboy State Daily that the likelihood of this happening, even if Rammell did win the election, was zero.

“That’s an idiotic claim,” Crank said. “No state, which has membership in the United States, has the power to seize federal assets, nor order federal officials to depart the state. Mr. Rammell’s claims have no basis in law or fact.” 

Rammell based his land seizure plan on the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” 

Rammell said he decided the amendment offers an avenue for the states to take their powers back and solve many of the country’s problems. He said the founding fathers never intended for one-third of the nation’s lands to be run by the federal government.

But ultimately, Crank said, “every scrap” of U.S. land belongs to the federal government. 

Crank said the 10th Amendment has been argued as a justification for many smaller land use claims in the past, with the states never winning out against the federal government. 

He said a transfer of even as little as 1,000 acres of federal land to private or state ownership usually takes about 10-12 years, so he has a hard time envisioning Rammell’s plans.

“This is comparable to creating a civil war between Wyoming and the United States,” Crank said. “Is the federal government really going to stand back, with all that tax revenue generated from fed lands, and say ‘We’re just going to let you keep all that. Yellowstone (National Park) is not a national treasurer, it’s a treasure for just Wyoming.’ It’s absurd.”

Rammell acknowledged the government probably won’t take the seizure of 30 million acres lightly and said the matter would probably end up in federal court. 

But even then, he said Wyoming would still have the upper hand by refusing to recognize the government’s jurisdiction by not showing up for court. He said inevitably, other Western states will join in on the fight.

“After all the dust settles, the Western states will have their land back,” he said.

As far as management of the new lands, Rammell said the state would simply alter all the signs on the land to reflect Wyoming ownership and use the government’s share of mineral royalties, which would be turned over to the state, to pay for management of the 30 million acres.

“We’re taking our land back, we’re taking it and there’s not a thing they could do to stop it,” he said.

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Rep. Chuck Gray Announces Run For Secretary Of State

in News/politics
Photo by Matt Idler
19927

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

State Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, became the second person to file as a candidate for the secretary of state’s office on Wednesday.

Gray, a former candidate for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat, is one of the most conservative legislators in the state, being ranked by WyoVote as having the most conservative voting record in the Legislature.

“Serving the public as our next Secretary of State is the best way I can fight for election integrity and put the people of Wyoming first in our fight to reign in out of control government,” Gray said in a Wednesday press release.  “We need more genuine, limited government, constitutional conservatives who don’t say one thing during an election then govern the opposite way.  My proven record of conservative leadership shows I walk the walk.”

Gray, a representative since 2017, was the lead sponsor of a bill that would require voters to present identification when casting ballots. The bill was approved during the Legislature’s 2021 general session and is now the subject of a lawsuit questioning its constitutionality in Albany County District Court. 

Gray last year announced he would challenge U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in the Republican primary for Wyoming’s House seat, but withdrew from the race when Harriet Hageman, backed with an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, entered the race.

Gray has won a Conservative Political Action Conference award each year he has been in office.

In his press release, Gray accused President Joe Biden and the “radical left” of trying to steal elections and said he will “fight them tooth and nail” to protect elections and his voter ID law.

Gray said he will campaign across the state for the race. 

Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, on Tuesday filed as a candidate for the secretary of state’s office.

Ed Buchanan, current secretary of state, announced on Tuesday he would not seek a second full term in the office and would instead apply to be a district court judge in Goshen County.

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Bill Sniffin’s Advice To Grads: Follow Your Dreams But Keep Your Day Job

in Column/Bill Sniffin
19932

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher emeritus

Holy cow, where do I start?

I have been writing these “advice to graduate” columns for almost four decades and each year some of the main points remain constant.

For example, go find some mentors.

Also, if you fail, move on.

You are young – that can be your advantage. And so on.

But this year? It has taken me a few weeks to put this message together. We are living in the strangest times.

At my current age, I could never have imagined living through a worldwide pandemic that killed 1 million Americans. Or watch as Russia pounds a perfectly innocent country into submission while threatening the rest of the world with nuclear annihilation. Or watch our federal government fumble and bumble on every conceivable serious issue.

Yes, these are strange times, indeed.

I worry a lot about this generation of graduates, that is, until I spend some time with them. The ones I hang around with are just wonderful. But these young people are way different from their parents and grandparents. They are among the first of the digital generation to graduate from high school and college.

It has been widely speculated that because of social media, these human beings are wired differently from previous generations. Their attention spans are smaller compared to the rest of us. Their faces are buried in their phones for countless hours of the day. A great many of them are paranoid because they have spent their whole lives barely avoiding being ruined socially by social media.

All of us, when we were in junior high and high school, walked through our days worried that someone would start some awful gossip about us. But that was child’s play compared to what the internet can do to a reputation of this generation.

My advice to grads today is to do what you love. I have long promised to write a booklet of advice to my grandkids called: “Follow Your Dreams – but keep your day job.” It is a work in progress.

In 1964 when I graduated from high school, the last thing we worried about was finding a job. Good-paying jobs were everywhere. It has taken 58 years for a similar time to come along. It appears that today’s grads have it made when it comes to finding a job.

Lots of jobs – but there is a catch

A young Cowboy State Daily reporter Leo Wolfson begged to differ with my above conclusion about the easy job market today. When I sent him a draft of this column he responded: “When I graduated college, it took me four months to get my foot in the door in journalism and another four months after that to find a halfway decent full-time job.

“There are lots of jobs out there no doubt, but due to the skyrocketing inflation and housing shortages, there are many jobs people aren’t taking because they simply don’t pay enough. A lot of employers are firmly against giving out overtime as well, which is self-detrimental, because those who are willing to work it are some of the best employees.

“I completely see eye-to-eye with your ‘do what you love’ argument and I think young people are taking it more seriously than ever before these days to chase their dreams. I’ve got a friend who is basically living out of his car and staying with friends to pursue his dream of working in the film industry. He works every chance he gets and doesn’t want to be tied down to a high-priced rental that cuts away from his financial freedom to pursue those job opportunities. I’ve heard of a lot of people doing similar things.”

My grandson-in-law Taylor Barnett, who has a degree in history but most recently managed a very nice pizza restaurant said: “As someone who has hired, managed, and worked alongside many from this younger generation I can tell you it’s hard to generalize. I knew kids who were lazy, but also plenty who were some of the most dedicated and hard-working people you will ever meet, and still more somewhere in the middle. Today’s grads are just like any other group. 

“The mainstream thinking is that America is in desperate need of labor. There’s a plethora of think pieces from corporate media that has proclaimed a ‘worker shortage.’ As if labor was just another broken link in the massive supply chain destruction witnessed over the last few years.

“Certainly, there is ample data to back up this theory, however, I think the better way to look at this situation is that while jobs are plenty, good jobs are scarce. How many stores, gyms, restaurants, daycares, movie theaters are now hiring? A lot.

“How many of them are offering a wage that keeps pace with inflation, benefits, a clear path to advance one’s career? A sparse few. A job is certainly a noble and just thing, but not all of them are made equal. This is not necessarily a dig at small businesses, rather Americans’ collective experience with the pandemic has changed everything.

“I think this is abundantly clear with the recent announcement from Airbnb. Their CEO just came out and said his company will stay remote ‘forever.’ As a result, over 800,000 people visited the company’s career page.

“The labor landscape has been disrupted and young people are leading this charge. I think the days of accepting less-than-ideal working conditions are long gone. Heck, it would not surprise me one bit if many of these grads first major interview is held over Zoom from their bedroom for a company thousands of miles away. 

Young people learned to be nimble

“Ultimately, I think the best advice I could give a young person is that they need to stay nimble and adaptable. After spending their formative years witnessing one major earth-shattering event after another (school shootings, global pandemic, toxic politics, Afghanistan withdrawal, etc.)  they are used to rolling with the punches. They will need that spunk and spirit going forward more than ever. The world is a tumultuous place, and the only constant is change.

“In addition, I would also say if you are going to go to college, please for your own sanity, pursue a degree with a job in the title. Nursing, engineering, teaching, criminal justice, etc. After spending a ludicrous amount of money on a post-high school education it will make the transition from student to professional much easier.”

Up in Sheridan, Pat Henderson, who manages the fabulous Whitney Benefits, offers this advice for grads: “Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. If you believe in your idea – stick it out. Exhaust every opportunity to finish what you have dreamed. Remember that your words always matter. 

“These students have seen so much in their short lives. They should treasure and hold close the things that count – Family, God, Country, Friends, and Community. Be gracious and grateful. Have courage – ‘You can choose courage or you can choose comfort. You cannot have both,’ is one of my favorite quotes from Brene’ Brown.  

“Go to church. God is a good listener. Really, really value, appreciate, and love your future spouse. Say you are sorry when you need to. You will know when that is. My last item – as my kids say – ‘Don’t sweat the petty stuff and don’t pet the sweaty stuff.’” 

Retired Miliary Leader Bob Tipton of Lander still advises young military men and women. He offers up these observations: “I am afraid we have young people who lack the skills or tools to deal with failure. They fail to understand that through failure you have the opportunity to get stronger.

“As someone that still mentors young Army Officers entering the work force (or Army), I don’t believe this generation is as well prepared to handle failure. I believe we, as the generation who raised them failed them in this area out of love. We protected them in such a way that their opportunities to fail in the formative years means they may be less equipped to handle disappointment or failure as they enter the workforce.

“Failures we can’t protect them from and failures that will happen are a part of life. I believe that when a failure occurs there is an opportunity to not only learn from that failure but it makes us stronger and more resilient to handle future adversity. I believe there is a connection here to our increased suicide rates in recent years of our younger population and while certainly not the sole cause, I strongly believe it is a contributing factor.

Fear of failure

“Instead of being able to recognize that we can not only recover from our failures but become better and stronger, many who are not exposed to failure when they are younger and experience such a blow that they truly believe they cannot recover and instead of getting stronger they tailspin into destructive behavior with some even taking their life. 

“I have grappled with trying to understand why this is happening for some time (of course traumatic events such as we see in the Army further drive this issue).

“So when I speak to young people about life skills when entering the work force, I speak at length about the significance and opportunity that failure brings and the importance of how we view failure as we cannot and should not always win . . . and as young parents they need to raise their children to not fear failure and not over protect them to shelter them from an acceptable level of failure.”

Thanks Leo, Taylor, Pat, and Bob for that additional advice.

To wrap up, my last piece of advice concerns seeking a job. It is important to follow the latest trends – will this job be necessary in the next 10 years? Today’s employers know that these young people have strong social values and they will cater to them. Many of today’s young people are not willing to put in the extra time like most of my generation. I loved my work and couldn’t get enough of it.

Just remember this when you go to an interview. Look your future employer in the eye. Be prepared. Answer questions truthfully. Dress appropriately. And for God’s sake, leave that damn cell phone in your pocket.

Good luck and Godspeed.

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Buffalo Bill’s Grave, Part 2: National Guard Called Out To Protect Buffalo Bill’s Body

in Cody/News
19916

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This is the second part of a two-part series about Buffalo Bill Cody’s gravesite. Part one can be found here.

By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

In January of 1917, the citizens of Cody, Wyoming, were devastated to find out that their town’s founder, namesake and hero, Col. William F. Cody, had died of kidney failure while visiting his sister in Denver, Colorado.

But in the weeks following his death, their grief turned to anger as details emerged about how Cody’s wife, Louisa, had “sold” Bill’s body to the publishers of the Denver Post so the famous showman could be laid to rest in Colorado… capitalizing on the Western showman’s fame.

Bob Richard, noted Cody historian and author, told Cowboy State Daily that Louisa met with the mayor of Denver, along with the two owners of the Denver Post, Harry Tammen and Frederick Bonfils, shortly after her husband passed.

“After much discussion, and she has to catch the train at 11 o’clock, the mayor said, ‘I’ll give you $10,000,’” Richard said. “And that’s when the publisher said, ‘And here’s another $10,000, that’s $20,000 – if we can have his body and find a place and have a proper burial here.’ She says, ‘He’s all yours,’ and took the money and put it in her big bag. And then they hurried her very quickly to Union Station and got her on the train. 

“And she came back to Cody,” Richard continued, “and all of Cody – or a big portion – met the train across the way at the Burlington Cody Inn, and they waited for the baggage door to open, and it didn’t open. And they said, ‘Where’s Bill?’ She says, ‘I sold him,’ and got in the carriage. But the $20,000 in today’s dollars would be about $490,000 in value.” 

Switched Bodies

That’s when – according to the tale told to Richard by his grandfather, Fred, Fred’s brother-in-law Ned Frost and the Cody mortician John Vogel – a plan was hatched to go to Denver and switch bodies — Bill’s for a dead ranch hand who bore a striking resemblance to Bill.

According to legend, the plan was a success, and the three men buried Col. Cody where his 1906 will had requested, atop Cedar Mountain overlooking the town that he founded.

But, Richard said, in an effort to throw anyone off the trail, Vogel, Fred Richard and Frost created a very elaborate diversion as soon as they returned from burying Cody.

“They turned the horses in, and then went and showered, and then Ned, Fred and John hit every bar and club in Cody, commenting how Cody folks should go down to Denver and bring back Bill’s body,” Richard said, “never mentioning that he was already here.”

Richard said for three nights the men riled up their fellow townspeople, urging them to caravan to Denver to reclaim their beloved Buffalo Bill.

“On Friday, everybody in Cody got in a bunch of cars,” he said. “And I’ve heard 400, I’ve heard 100 – with three or four armed men. And as soon as they left town, Vogel got on the phone and called (Denver mortician John) Olinger and said, ‘Cody people armed to the teeth are coming down to steal Bill’s body.’”

Richard said the Denver mortician notified Denver’s mayor and the publishers of the Denver Post, asking for direction.

“And the mayor said, ‘Well, we’re negotiating on Lookout Mountain’ (for a burial location),” Richard said. “‘We’ll get it dug and get him buried today.’ So Olinger took the cadaver up there and they announced that there was going to be a burial, and notified Louisa and all the powers that be, and they quickly laid him to rest.”

Call Out The National Guard

But there was the matter of the mob that was at that moment driving to Colorado. So Richard said the powerful Denver contingent made a decision.

“They knew the Cody people were coming, so they sent the National Guard up to the Colorado/Wyoming border and repelled everybody,” Richard said. “So (the Cody caravan) went back to Cheyenne, and they called John Vogel and said, ‘John, the Army stopped us. We can’t even get into Colorado.’ And Vogel says, ‘Men, you’ve done your job well, come back, and we’re going to have a big party at the Irma.’”

While the historical record doesn’t quite match up to the tale Richard’s grandfather and uncle told him, a similar scenario actually did play out in 1948.

According to an article posted on the Denver Public Library’s website, that was the year that the Colorado National Guard was called to stand guard over the Lookout Mountain grave site after American Legion members in Cody offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who could steal Cody’s body. 

The article also reported that in 2006, Wyoming legislators debated (jokingly) about mounting a “clandestine” effort to retrieve Buffalo Bill’s body.

No matter where the frontiersman, investor, entertainer and visionary is actually buried, the legacy of Col. William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody remains as vibrant today as it was 100 years ago, as even years after his death and burial, he continued to make headlines.

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Daily Wyoming Gas Map: Wednesday, May 18, 2022

in Gas Map/News
19925

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s gasoline price increased by 0.5 cents per gallon on Wednesday over the previous 24 hours to average $4.255 per gallon.

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price was up 5.8 cents per gallon from one week ago, and was up by $1.27 per gallon from one year ago.

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained below the national average of $4.57 for a gallon of regular, which is a U.S. record, and up 3.4 cents from Tuesday.

High and Low Prices:

The highest gasoline price in Wyoming on Tuesday was $4.78 per gallon in Jackson, while the lowest was $3.91 at the Maverik station at 500 W. Main St. in Newcastle.

The county with the highest average gas price was Teton at $4.69 and the lowest average was found in Albany County at $4.02.

These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed. All Wyoming counties had an average price of more than $4.00 per gallon.

Today’s Big Movers:

Newcastle was up 23 cents; Sublette County was up 20 cents; Teton County was up 16 cents; Casper was up 15 cents; Jackson was up 12 cents; Douglas was up 11 cents; Uinta County was up 10 cents; Gillette was up 9 cents; Big Horn, Carbon and Crook counties were up 7 cents; Rock Springs and Weston County were up 6 cents; Hot Springs County was down 5 cents; Converse County was down 11 cents; Niobrara County was down 13 cents; Albany County was down 20 cents, and Lincoln County was down 32 cents.

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county: 

Albany $4.02; Big Horn $4.30; Campbell $4.20; Carbon $4.22; Converse $4.11; Crook $4.30; Fremont $4.26; Goshen $4.18; Hot Springs $4.25; Johnson $4.24; Laramie $4.18; Lincoln $4.25; Natrona $4.14; Niobrara $4.10; Park $4.32; Platte $4.30; Sheridan $4.18; Sublette $4.43; Sweetwater $4.38; Teton $4.69; Uinta $4.45; Washakie $4.25; Weston: $4.15. 

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities:

Basin $4.13; Buffalo $3.94; Casper $4.15; Cheyenne $3.99; Cody $4.29; Douglas $4.09; Evanston $4.31; Gillette $4.17; Jackson $4.49; Kemmerer $4.31; Laramie $3.96; Lusk $3.99; Newcastle $4.14; Pinedale $4.34; Rawlins $4.09; Riverton $4.19; Rock Springs $4.32; Sheridan $4.05; Sundance $4.25; Thermopolis $4.26; Wheatland $4.08; Worland $4.19.  

Want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area. 

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted.

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Process Set For People Who Were Conned By Wyo Catholic College Official To Get Money Back

in Wyoming Catholic College/News
Former Wyo Catholic College CFO Paul McCown
19905

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Anyone bilked out of money by the former chief financial officer of the Wyoming Catholic College will have 30 days to claim part of the $13 million seized from his personal accounts, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl on Monday granted a request from prosecutors to seize the money from 12 accounts held by Paul McCown and use it to repay the people from whom he stole the money. 

Paul McCown, of Lander, pleaded guilty in March to three counts of wire fraud in connection with allegations he exaggerated his own worth to obtain a $14.7 million loan from lending company Ria R Squared.

He also pleaded guilty to allegations he transmitted false information about a home-based gin-distillilng business to the Wyoming Business Council to obtain $841,863 in federal coronavirus relief funds. The coronavirus funds were returned.

As part of a plea agreement, McCown agreed to forfeit about $13.3 million in available funds to the federal government.  

Neither the plea agreement nor the pre-sentence investigation being consulted to craft a felony sentence for McCown are publicly accessible. Skavdahl approved the request of prosecutors to seize McCown’s money and advertise its availability to defrauded parties on www.forfeiture.gov.

The notice has not yet been posted to the website, but once it is posted, the defrauded entities will have 30 days to petition for their legal interest in the property. The federal government also is contacting known victims of the fraud. 

If any money is not claimed within 30 days, the U.S. government “shall have clear title to the subject property” remaining, court documents state. 

Following a petition, a hearing may be held to test the validity of the petitioner’s claim, with false claims punishable by perjury.  

McCown has not yet been sentenced in the case.

McCown faces another legal action, a lawsuit filed against him by Ria R Squared, which is asking the federal court to enter a judgement in its favor in its claims against McCown.  

In documents filed in April, Ria R Squared said since McCown had pleaded guilty to the criminal charges against him, “there is no just reason for delaying the entry of judgement against (McCown).”

The court has not yet ruled on the request.

Catholic College, Top Official Face Trial

In yet another legal action stemming from the case, Ria R Squared is suing the Wyoming Catholic College and Jonathan Tonkowich, the college’s executive vice president, claiming they have yet to return all the money gifted to them by McCown from the loan.

The firm accused both Tonkowich and the college of “conversion and civil theft” and of violating the Uniform Transfers Act by accepting the funds willingly from McCown.

Ria R Squared accused the college of a third count, negligence, claiming the college has “ratified” McCown’s conduct by “refusing to return” a remaining balance. 

McCown had transferred $375,000 to Tonkowich and $10 million to the college, according to court documents. Most of this money has been seized by the FBI.  

But the firm claims that WCC still holds about $239,000 of the balance, and that Tonkowich withheld about $73,870. But the firm claims that WCC still holds about $239,000 of the balance, and that Tonkowich withheld about $73,870. WCC denied the allegation in a January court filing, saying it had spent more than that amount from the $10 million before it found out about McCown’s “conduct.”

Tonkowich denied in February that he’d withheld the $73,870. 

WCC is slated for a jury trial next March; Tonkowich has a bench trial in his civil case slated for next January. 

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Wyoming Senate President Dan Dockstader Announces Run For Secretary Of State

in News/politics
Photo by Matthew Idler.
19880

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

The president of Wyoming’s Senate on Tuesday filed as a candidate for the secretary of state’s office, less than 12 hours after current Secretary of State Ed Buchanan announced he would not seek re-election.

Sen. Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, filed as a candidate for the office late Tuesday, becoming the only person to announce as a candidate so far during the filing period, which ends May 27.

Dockstader said after he finished up his term as Senate president this year, he began studying the secretary of state’s office.

“I still have work to do in the Senate and I wondered if I could do that at a different level,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “Then Ed made his announcement today. I texted my wife and said ‘Well?’ and she texted back one word — ‘File!'”

Buchanan had announced in April he would run for a second term as secretary of state but announced Tuesday that he would seek a state district judge’s seat in Goshen County instead.

Dockstader, the publisher of the Star Valley Independent newspaper and owner of radio station KRSV, both in Afton, has served in the Senate since 2009 after serving for two years in the state House of Representatives.

Dockstader said he realized he could address many of the same issues in the secretary of state’s office he could in his last two years in the Senate, including looking at ways to bolster the state’s energy industry.

“I want to keep growing the economy,” he said. “I don’t want to abandon mineral industry, that’s what takes us to the bank. I think there’s a lot of room in the secretary of state’s office to do that.”

Dockstader said he was also looking forward to working with the Elections Division within the secretary of state’s office to guarantee election integrity. He noted that the Legislature this year approved a voter identification law.

“We were hearing people wanted us to get involved in that and we got some legislation out, but there’s more coming,” he said. “We want to make people feel secure about the election process.”

If elected, Dockstader said he will make a point of traveling the state to determine the needs and wants of state residents which are addressed by boards such as the State Loan and Investment Board.

“Being out in the far west, we don’t get the representation of other areas,” he said. “I want to head out of Cheyenne, take the office and responsibility and head across the state and get people out and talk to them. You can’t do it all from Cheyenne.”

This past legislative session, Dockstader co-sponsored a bill to outlaw the collection of absentee ballots by third parties, unless given prior permission to do so by the voter. The bill was not considered in the Senate. 

He co-sponsored another bill requiring employers to grant exemptions to employees for COVID vaccination mandates. This bill died in committee.

He was also the sponsor of a proposed constitutional amendment that would provide property tax exemptions for the elderly and infirm. While approved in the Senate, the measure died in the House.

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Wyoming Water In Demand In Efforts To Save Lake Powell But 51% Of Wyo In Severe Drought

in Environment/News
19901

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Water levels on the Colorado River are at their lowest point in 1,200 years and the water in the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Southwest Wyoming is being used to help replenish the parched river and Lake Powell downstream.

“It just keeps getting worse,” Chris Brown, legal counsel for the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office told the Legislature’s Water Committee at its May 11 meeting. “We’ve been incredibly active trying to prop up critical elevations at Lake Powell so we don’t lose hydropower … so we don’t risk the infrastructure at Lake Powell.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced it is releasing an extra 500,000 acre-feet of water from Flaming Gorge to help maintain hydroelectric operations at Lake Powell. 

A separate, seven-state agreement was also arranged to reduce outflows from Lake Powell to 7 million acre-feet, an “unprecedented” level, Brown said.

“A lot of work is taking place to rescue Lake Powell,” Brown said. 

Releases from Flaming Gorge were boosted to 1,800 cubic feet per second — an increase of 850 cfs — on May 5 and will continue until further notice.

Lake Powell’s water content is currently at 24% of capacity and 35 feet below where it sat one year ago. 

The lake’s decline is triggering a potential energy crisis for millions of people who rely on its Glen Canyon Dam as a power source, and who may see rising energy costs and water shortages if drought conditions persist. 

Wyoming itself is in a period of extremely dry conditions. According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, 100% of Wyoming is abnormally dry right now and 51.3% of the state is facing a severe drought.

Although Flaming Gorge is doing much better than Lake Powell, the amount of water it holds is also well below capacity. As of May 5, the water level in Flaming Gorge Reservoir sat at 6,018.85 feet, approximately 78% of its overall capacity. Unregulated water flows into the reservior in April were 52% of average.

Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, vice chair of the water committee, said Gov. Mark Gordon’s Colorado River Working Group is discussing development of a pilot water conservation program to store water for the future in Wyoming.

The Colorado River Basin includes the Upper Green and Snake River basins in Wyoming.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is predicting that by 2026 there may be a federal drawback of water on the Colorado. Hicks said the working group has been exploring alternate solutions to reduce water consumption or institute a demand management program to avoid this scenario.

Brandon Gebhart, Wyoming state engineer, said there are other options being examined involving two-year limited use agreements on water from the river system. 

Fated Long Ago

Brown said Wyoming’s obligation to help the Southwest meet its water demands stems back to the 100-year old Colorado River Compact, established in 1922. 

The agreement divides states along the Colorado River System into upper and lower basins. Wyoming is a member of the upper basin.

Under the agreement, each basin is allocated 7.5 million acre-feet of water annually out from the Colorado River. 

An acre-foot of water is the amount of water needed to cover 1 acre of land with 1 foot of water, about 326,000 gallons.

A later agreement developed in 1948 established water allotments among the upper basin states based on the percentage of water available. 

Brown said under a 1944 agreement with Mexico, in the event of a deficiency to that country’s portion of Colorado River water, it is the upper basin’s responsibility to provide it with 750,000 acre-feet of water.

But Brown said if the upper basin runs the risk of violating the 1922 obligation, Wyoming and the rest of the upper basin states may be forced to curtail their use of water. 

This decision, he said, would be enacted by the Upper Colorado River Commission, an interstate agency made up by representatives from Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico and an agent from the federal government. Brown said a reduction in allowed water use might even be put in place ahead of a shortage so the 1922 agreement is not violated.

“We might have to curtail those uses to make sure that we comply,” he said.

Hicks said the biggest question moving forward is whether Wyoming could develop a system to store its water forward for years, if not decades, into the future. Colorado is a state that has already developed a number of water banking programs to do just that.

“Do we have the regulatory framework to go ahead and establish a water bank?” Hicks said.

Brown said a pilot conservation program run from 2015 to 2018 showed that some Wyoming residents are willing to give up water in exchange for payment. Hicks said a system similar to this could theoretically be deployed in the future.

“There very well could be adequate statutory and regulatory mechanisms to address any of these hypothetical programs that are being discussed,” Hicks said. “This issue is out there. It’s going to loom even greater in the coming years.”

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