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Bill Sniffin: It’s time to hit the road to travel around Wyoming again

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

In my business column called the “20 things I’ve learned in 50 years of business,” three rules seem to have dominated my life over the past three years. 

The first is that you sell to the customer what the customer wants to buy.

Second is that someone is looking for you as hard as you are looking for them – you just have to knock on enough doors.

Third is you make money when you travel.

Today I am focusing on the third rule – it is time for me to hit the road!

Readers of this column know that we travel a lot. What we do not write about is the fact that often, we are doing some business while we are traveling. 

This past year was pretty much the year of no travel. We made a quick one-day trip to Yellowstone, a trip to the Sheridan-Buffalo area (hosted by Jim Hicks, Bob Grammens, Pat Henderson, and Kim Love), and we took a longer trip  that saw us visit Las Vegas, Arizona and Colorado. 

The COVID was not so bad when we made these trips. Before and after, though, we were pretty much house-bound like everyone else. 

As I write this, both Nancy and I have gotten our Pfizer shots, the car is warmed up, and the highways are dry – let’s roll!

My favorite places to travel are all inside this wonderful state.  We have discovered amazing things, people, and places in diverse locales like Evanston, Newcastle, Worland, Rawlins, Rock Springs, and so many others.  

Right now, I am excited to re-visit Carbon County.  Folks who blast through Rawlins at 80 mph really are missing out on all the unique things to see and do in that wonderful place. Leslie Jefferson who heads up the Carbon County Visitor Council has lined up a number of places for me to visit. 

Vince Tomassi of Kemmerer-Diamondville is still frustrated that we have not really visited the Fossil Butte National Monument.  Vince, it’s on my list. Really it is!

Up north, Dave Peck, publisher of the Lovell Chronicle, is anxious to show us Big Horn Canyon and all the wonderful sites around it. 

In southeast Wyoming, Cheyenne is a wonderful place. But there are fabulous places in Goshen, Platte, and Niobrara counties as well. 

Cowboy State Daily is probably the fastest-growing news media in Wyoming.  We are adding 1,000 new subscribers each month.  It is my intention to meet a whole bunch of our loyal readers during 2021.

The plan is to go to an area and mingle with some folks, visit some current and future advertisers, reconnect with our many donors, and, in general, focus on all the good things about Wyoming’s amazing places. 

In 2012 to 2015, I produced three of the best-selling coffee table books ever done about Wyoming.  One of the main reasons Wyoming readers loved the books so much, or so they told me, was that the books did not focus on just Jackson and Yellowstone. 

In my half-century in the Cowboy State, I have been privileged to see the entire state. And this state is full of wonderful and unique places. 

Each year I write a column called my Wyoming Bucket List.  It lists the places that we have still not seen.  Hopefully, we can go see a bunch of the places this year that are still on my list.

Wyoming is unique because many of our residents live in areas where they can be easily lured to neighboring states to see the unique places in those states.

One of my goals all these years has been to get Wyoming people to go visit their own state – to have folks from Newcastle visit Evanston, for example. Or folks from Cody and Lovell visit Saratoga and Green River. I know some folks who still haven’t visited Yellowstone yet. 

Just last week, we heard from some folks who finally got to visit Devils Tower. They were flabbergasted by the magnificence of it. 

Back when my companies produced tourist magazines about Wyoming, we traveled the state learning about all these unique sites.  Then when we did the coffee table books, we worked with 54 Wyoming photographers and writers like Pat Schmidt, Jim Hicks, Phil Roberts, and others who are scattered all over.  What a joy it has been to travel from one end of the state to the other – and to get paid for doing it!

Thus, my motto about making money when I travel.  Now as publisher of Cowboy State Daily, our job is to “knit this very big state together” and that is my goal.

We will see you on the road. Happy Trails.  

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Lander Lil Sees Shadow – Wyoming Will Get Six More Weeks Of Winter

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

For the past 37 years, a prairie dog in Lander has been predicting the future of winter weather for Wyoming. This year on Tuesday, Feb. 2, she saw her shadow, which means six more weeks of winter.


Let’s see, in six weeks it will be March 15. Now that might be spring in most parts of America but here in Wyoming, that date often signifies our heaviest accumulations of snow. Sub-freezing temperatures can occur throughout the rest of March and even into April.

Famed Lander sculptor Bev Paddleford sculpted a larger than life bronze statue of Lander Lil, which stands lookout from her perch on the grounds of the local Post Office. This year, she is wearing a mask, due to the COVID pandemic.

Back in 1984, some Lander folks felt that too much attention was being paid to Punxsutawney Phil, a ground hog, in Pennsylvania. It seemed that the Rocky Mountains needed its own weather sentinel.

Local businesswoman Mary Ann Atwood and local economic developer Alan O’Hashi, came up with Lander Lil. There really was a real Lander Lil who lived in a prairie dog town located on the site of the Post Office, hence the bronze replica that now stands there.

The sun rose clear on Tuesday, Feb.2, in Lander and there were shadows everywhere.

The forecast, according to famed meteorologist Don Day, predicted the mercury might even hit 50 degrees on this day. As nice as the weather has been in Lander during this mid-winter thaw, Day’s forecast did include snow at various times during the rest of the week across Wyoming.

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Bill Sniffin: Relief Of Vaccination And The Ugliness Of ‘Mask Trash’

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

As a newly-vaccinated person, it’s easy to feel inspired to write another column about the coronavirus known as COVID-19. 

Perhaps the least important piece of news about the year-long pandemic (which we will now simply refer to as COVID) is the increase in litter of face masks.

My wife and I are walkers and during this mild winter, we have walked dozens of miles all over our little town of Lander.  Then, I started noticing all the used masks lying in the gutter or frozen to the ground

We often wear our masks so this is not an anti-mask column.  But we generally pick up trash that is laying around.  Over the past three months, especially, we have seen an abundance of masks strewn all over the place.  Some we can pick up but most are stuck to the ground.

It will be wonderful when masks are no longer needed and we also will not see them as litter.  

But on to more important topics. Back on Dec. 17, we had what seemed like a unique data point for Wyoming when it came to covid infections. On that day, we hit a milestone of 351 deaths in Wyoming and we also showed a marker of 35,113 laboratory-confirmed infections. That translates exactly to one death per 100 infections.

Since then, we surged to 596 deaths and 51,152 infections as I write this on Jan. 27. This means that slightly more than one out of 100 people who get infected have died since this virus arrived. It also means that less than one-tenth of 1% of Wyoming residents have died from the disease.  Here in Wyoming these numbers don’t sound like too big a deal, but the national death toll of 416,000 deaths is just intimidating. It is equal to 72% of the population of Wyoming.

During this past year I wrote a number of columns taking some bold stances and making some self-important statements. I was sure that COVID was over-blown.

With more than 416,000 people officially dying from COVID across the country, I now believe this truly is a disaster. 

The Spanish flu killed 675,000 people a century ago.  A while back, I argued that Spanish flu killed a whole lot of young healthy people where the current scourge seemed to kill mainly old people.  Well, these old people are people, too.  This death toll is just too high to not be as careful as possible.

Pat Schmidt of Cheyenne argued with me about the total number of deaths that would occur in the U.S. in 2020. I contended even with the COVID, the numbers would be similar to 2019.  I was wrong. There really were 300,000 more deaths in 2020 than in 2019.  I owe Pat a Big Mac for that one.  I also owe a burger to former Gov. Dave Freudenthal for the same bet.

My biggest concern was whether extreme efforts we saw to contain the virus were worth the destruction of our economy.  In places like California, which had the most restrictions of any state, about one in every 10 people are being infected with the virus. So, did all those restrictions mean nothing?  History will have to judge that. But for now, it is hard to tell.

First time we ever saw large groups of people wearing face masks was in 1989 on a trip to Taiwan.  Lots of folks riding motor scooters wore masks because of the pollution. But you also saw people walking around the streets and in the buildings wearing masks. Why? “Those people are sick,” we were told. “Our culture says you wear a mask to protect others.” 

Back in February and March of last year, you could see images on TV of people in South Korea and Vietnam. Everybody had a mask on. Every single person. Those countries came through the pandemic in spectacular fashion compared to the U.S. We’re told those countries had a terrible time with the SARS epidemic in 2003 and learned to wear masks then. That 17-year-old scare had little effect in our country.

Those countries already had a culture of people wearing masks when they are sick or to avoid getting sick.  Thus, being told to wear a mask was not viewed as denying personal rights. They also were veterans of social distancing and contact tracing because of the earlier SARS epidemic.   

In 2020, in the U.S., mask wearing was politicized.  Wearing one was a badge of honor for Democrats and not wearing one showed you had an independent spirit and were probably voting Republican.

A better system would have been to somehow make wearing or not wearing a mask not be a political statement.

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Bill Sniffin: Tired Of The Plague And Politics? How About Some Good News!

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

Enough already.  Enough about politics. Enough about the deadly virus. Enough about complaining. 

Today, folks, this column will be totally devoted to GOOD NEWS.  And there is plenty of it.

First of all, the days are getting longer. Our long winter of discontent is over in many ways.  And our dawns and sunsets are spectacular with brilliant reds.  Stop and take in these wonderful and colorful marvels.

The weather this winter has been relatively mild in most parts of the state.  Interstate 80 has not been closed as much as last year. This is great news for all of us.

As I write this on Jan. 21, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills have had an amazing run in the National Football League. Boy, is he fun to watch. Dang it, I wish the Broncos could have had him.  But keep in mind the only NFL team named after a Wyoming person (Buffalo Bill Cody) has our Wyoming Cowboy at the helm.

Charitable works across the Cowboy State have been at an all-time high.  Food banks are working overtime. I sincerely hope it is difficult to find a hungry person in Wyoming.  And thanks to First Lady Jennie Gordon for her efforts on this front.

It’s good news that the economy hasn’t cratered in the first days of a Joe Biden presidency. The stock market is actually going up.  Now that is good news!

Gasoline prices are low which is great news for folks across the land. Usually that is not good news for Wyomingites since low retail gasoline prices normally translate to sluggish employment in our energy sector. But Wyoming people drive more miles per-capita than any other state – so, on a personal level, we benefit.

And despite predictions to the contrary the Wyoming energy sector, in the form of oil and natural gas production, is steady.  Thanks to efforts by Sen. John Barrasso, uranium might be surging again.  He got a bill passed to increase the national stockpile of uranium. Wyoming produces more yellowcake (the byproduct of uranium mining) than any other state.

Longtime Powell publisher Dave Bonner loves libraries.  I do, too. He says during these COVID-19 times: “I wonder if there is some good news in libraries in the state? I had that thought after we did a story with our new Park County library director who talked about libraries becoming a place where even chatter is in.  A gathering place for kids.

‘Libraries aren’t silent any more,’ she said. Have libraries become something of a refuge in this COVID time in our life?”  Sounds good to me.

In Sheridan, Kim Love writes about a new business: “We have a new business starting here in Sheridan called Western Heritage Meat.   It is a new USDA approved packing plant.  As things stood, there wasn’t any USDA approved plant in the area, and the other packing plants had about a 6-month waiting period to get an animal processed.  Thanks to Taylor and Cathryn Kerns,” Love said.  Good news for folks hungry for local meats.

Mike Jones of Lander says he thinks it is good news that nobody got killed at the inauguration in Washington, D. C. on Jan. 20. He also said sales and use taxes are going up, which he appreciates, since he is a County Commissioner for Fremont County.

This year should be a big one for tourism, the state’s second largest industry.  In an industry-wide zoom meeting Wednesday, it appears that the record-busting visitation numbers that struck Wyoming from August through October of 2020 will continue. 

Like I wrote back during that surge: “Thanks to the plague, the people of America want out.  And out means Wyoming.  We are way out west.  We are the least populated place in the lower 48 and that has a big appeal to folks after what they have been through.” The most common refrain spoken by Wyoming folks this summer, I predict, will be “who the heck are all these people?  And where did they come from!”

It should be pointed out that we probably have fewer troops stationed around the world than in many years and we have no current wars. Boy, does that have a nice sound to it.

We are thankful for the strong housing market. If the value of everyone’s home goes up, it is a huge benefit for all people.

And finally, we have a vaccine for the plague. Thank God.

Yes, folks, it is all good news today.

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Bill Sniffin: Liz Cheney Puts Trump In Her Rear-View Mirror

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

The shocking announcement that Wyoming’s lone U. S. Representative voted to impeach President Donald Trump was devastating to thousands of Cowboy State residents.

Wyoming supported Trump to a larger extent than any other state, with more than 70% of its voters casting ballots for the incumbent president. 

When Cheney voted against Trump, it truly made national headlines and was the lead story on the nightly news. As the third-ranking Republican in the U. S. House, her vote was seismic.  It sent shock waves from one end of the country to the other. It was an earthquake back here in Wyoming.

The reaction to her announcement was swift and critical. Cowboy State Daily put its version of the Cheney announcement on Facebook, and it had 889 mostly negative comments, 67 shares, and 1,111 likes.

This is an amazing reaction when you assume that every other news organization in the state was also putting the same story out on social media. It goes to show the amount of interest in her decision.

She said her vote was a matter of conscience but others had more cynical views.

A lot of observers have always seen Liz as having higher national ambitions.  Like being the first Republican woman to run for president. Or to emulate her father Dick Cheney, who served eight years as vice-president to President George W. Bush. It was easy to be proud of her for her ranking as third-most powerful Republican in the House and she seemed perfectly set up to seek even higher national office. 

Interestingly, while her stock fell sharply here in Wyoming, her stock may have risen across the country.  Not every state has been as loyal to Trump as Wyoming. 

The media elite was almost unanimous in running the story as their lead, heaping high praise on her for her courage.

Back here in Wyoming, there was some support for her decision.  Most was from Democrats and Independents but there were also some from more moderate members of the Republican party, like former Gov. Jim Geringer, former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson and former U.S. House candidate Rod Miller. A group of prominent lawyers and judges also supported it including former Democrat governors Dave Freudenthal and Mike Sullivan.

As I write this on Jan. 17, there are 25,000 names on a petition to recall her.  This is futile, since Wyoming does not have a method to recall elected officials, but it shows the level of negative feeling out there about her decision.

Her biggest critics came directly from the state Republican Party.

The party condemned Cheney’s vote, stating that in recent memory, there has never been as much feedback from Wyoming Republicans as there has been against Trump’s impeachment and Cheney’s vote.

The  statement attributed to Wyoming Republican Party leadership listed a number of comments the party has received since the vote, none of which were supportive of Cheney’s position.

“The consensus is clear that those who are reaching out to the Party vehemently disagree with Representative Cheney’s decision and actions,” reads the statement.

“Representative Cheney has aligned herself with leftists who are screaming that what happened (Jan. 6) is the ‘worst thing ever in our history’ (or similar such claims). That is absurd and shows their lack of knowledge of history as well as their willingness to skew the facts to further their corrupt agenda,” reads another.

In an interview with media, Cheney addressed what she saw as the historical significance of the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, stating that this is a “very dangerous moment for our nation” and noting the presence of U.S. troops in the Capitol.

“Some of you have probably saw the pictures of the troops sleeping on the floor of the Capitol Visitor Center,” she said. “It was a scene reminiscent of the Civil War, when troops were housed in the Capitol.”

Cheney emphasized the gravity of the situation many times during the 15-minute phone call, mentioning that the vote to impeach was done with a “heavy heart” but adding that for her, there was no other option.

“This is a moment when it’s important for all of us to recognize that our Republic is very fragile, and that we all have an obligation to ensure we’re doing everything that we’re compelled to do by our oath to ensure the survival of that Republic,” Cheney said.

“There are times when those of us as elected officials are called on to act in a way that does not take politics into consideration,” she said. “Dealing with something as serious and as grave as the attack on the Capitol is one of those times.”

Cheney’s actions sure looked like she really was trying to put President Donald J. Trump in her rearview mirror.  But to thousands of Cowboy State voters, it looked like she was also putting Wyoming in her rearview mirror.

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Bill Sniffin: Darin Smith Fought To Protect D.C. Barricades From Invaders

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher 

Cheyenne’s Darin Smith said Wednesday’s riot in Washington, D.C, was caused by a “mob mentality” among a small minority of the 50,000 protesters attending a rally.

He said it was a situation that was poorly handled by security forces at the U.S. Capitol.

Smith, an attorney and former chair of the Laramie County Republican Party, was in Washington, D. C. with his friend Rob Statham, also of Cheyenne, in support of President Donald Trump’s protest of the outcome of the Nov. 3 presidential election. 

He said most of the more than 50,000 people attending the rally were peaceful one moment, and “then everything got weird.”

“We were in the front of the Capitol and some agitators headed for the barricades,” he said. “There was about a (quarter-mile) of barricades set up and not many Capitol police manning them.” 

Smith was in the Washington, D. C. airport getting ready to fly home when I chatted with him on Thursday afternoon.   

He said when the agitators starting pushing down the gates, he picked up a bullhorn and started the chant “back the blue” as a way to get folks to help the police keep the agitators back. 

“I tried to tell people not to go in but it was like trying to hold back water after the dam had burst,” he said. “Then I saw the Capitol police open the barricades and let these people in (and) I thought ‘What the heck am I doing trying to help them.’  I think a couple of rednecks with some bear spray could have held them back but there was little official resistance. Maybe they were just moving back to establish another perimeter, I don’t know. But it was weird.” 

He also thought it was odd that there were so few law enforcement officers.  What he said really bothered him, though, was the gravity of the situation.  

“Here we have the most important body in the world making the most important decision in the world and these people are disrupting them!”  

He was stunned. 

“It was insane,” he said. “It was a wild and crazy time. The mob mentality kicked in. Again, I was just shocked at the lack of resistance from Capitol police.”

He said among the giant crowd there was a group he called the “geriatric folks” who were huddling near the front of the capitol because it was so cold and windy.  

“Just before the riot, the agitators moved in front of them and suddenly they seemed to be running things,” he said. “These punks were dressed in outfits that seemed like they were ready for combat.” 

Smith still supports Trump and believes the Nov. 3 election was stolen from him by supporters of President-Elect Joe Biden. 

“I am not sure what else the president could do to stop the invasion of the Capitol once it started,” he said.  “But a much bigger issue is how all these different things came together: first, the impotent response by the Capitol police; second, the sudden appearance of these agitators who had not been that visible during the earlier rally; and third, the police opening up the gates so the agitators could rush on in. I saw these things with my own eyes.” 

Smith summed it up by saying the security forces were guilty of “massive incompetence.” 

And finally, he heaped praise on the 99.9% of the more than 50,000 people who protested peacefully. 

“Heck, we were outside singing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and ‘God Bless America’ when these punks were inside stopping the most important government business in the world,” he said.

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Bill Sniffin: Here’s How Good It Feels To Get The COVID-19 Shot

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

By some kind of stroke of luck and good timing, my wife Nancy and I received our COVID-19 vaccinations today (Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021).  We got the Pfizer shot, administered by the nice folks at the Lander Medical Clinic.

Over a month ago, I called the clinic and asked when we could be considered for a shot?  They did not know but said they would put us on a waiting list.

Then we got a call from the clinic saying that while they are giving shots to health care workers, sometimes there might be left over shots available.  Would we make ourselves available on a moment’s notice?  Yes, I said, we would.

Because we fit the age requirements and I had called early, when doses showed up, the staff at the clinic called us yesterday with good news. They said if we were available, could we show up today at a new clinic they were setting up?  Yes, we would.

Nurse Randi George gave us the shot (with assistance from Billie Martinez) and said when she got hers two weeks ago, she felt a little tired the next day. She suggested we take it easy the next day. She also said that unofficially it appeared that the first shot will give you 50 percent immunity against the virus while the second shot pushes it to 95 percent.

The staff took all our vitals before and, afterward, had us rest for 15 minutes. Then they took our vitals again.  We were given a card and also set up for the follow up shot in three weeks.

We are ecstatic.

The Lander Medical Clinic, according to CEO Ryan Hedges, has 3,100 patients over the age of 70 and they had been calling them setting up appointments.  On this day they planned to give 75 shots.  We felt very fortunate.

And yet despite us (and many others) now getting shots, there has been a glitch at some of the nursing homes in Fremont County. Because big national pharmacy chains were charged with this job, a lot of old folks in nursing homes still had not gotten their shots.  I must admit this made me feel a little guilty but I did not hear about this until after I got my shot. Hedges said they could not give the shots to the nursing home residents because of the rules they are working under.

Coincidentally, my younger brother in Broomfield, CO, also got his shot today. His was a Moderna shot.  He works part-time at a Thornton, CO golf course and the city were giving shots to all their employees. He never left his car as Thornton set up a drive-through operation.

As I write this Tuesday night, we are 12 hours into our shot experience. So far so good. It feels wonderful to have this protection.

Good luck to everyone out there in getting your shots. I can only hope that cities and towns around the state are being as efficient as our clinic in Lander was today.

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Bill Sniffin: New Year Prompts Reflections On Blessings From Years Passed

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

It is impossible to forget the way we celebrated the arrival of the Millennium Dec. 31, 1999.  At midnight, I was standing outside our home with our dog Shadow watching the fireworks over the golf course hill. I was sipping a glass of Spumante.  Our adult children had gone to a party with friends and I was babysitting my wife Nancy and our three-year old granddaughter Daylia, both of whom were sleeping.

My wife Nancy had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 1999 and had been very sick as a result of chemotherapy.  She ended up in the hospital with the flu and I had just gotten her home in time for New Year’s.

When midnight struck, I quietly sneaked into Nancy’s bedroom and gently awakened her.  She was groggy.  “Happy New Year, sweetie,” I said, and I gently let her take a sip of my bubbly wine.  Then she rolled over and went back to sleep.  I walked back to the center of our darkened house and rather ominously pondered what kind of year we were going to have in 2000?

Now, twenty years later, I can report it has been quite a journey. Let me tell you about it.

It was in the early fall of 1999 when we found out my then-52-year-old wife had a tumor in her left breast and cancer in one lymph node. Nancy’s oncologist, Dr Michael Parra, was a good man with an honest sense of irony.  “I’m going to use some terms with you today,” he said, at our first meeting, “that will sound strange to you. Believe me, by next year, they will become very common to you.”

And so, our journey started.

Thank God we had sold our newspapers in Fremont County and on Maui.  When we got the news, we also still owned interests in five businesses, but all had capable managers, which meant we could fight this thing with all the strength,  energy, and faith we could muster. And the Lander community was wonderful. 

Have you ever had someone cook dinner and bring it to your home?  At first, I really fought against this idea. After all, I was healthy and could either boil an egg or run to McDonalds with little problem.  But then you realize that your friends are reaching out and they want to help you out. So, we relented. And the food was great, by the way.

During the following year we learned a lot about those things the oncologist talked about, such as Cytoxan, Adriamycin, Taxotere, neutropenia, Leukopenia, Zophran, Neupagen, CBC, and thrombocytopenia, etc.  These are chemicals, medicines or medical conditions related to the effort to cure breast cancer.

As of today, we like to think that we’ve long put cancer in our rear-view mirror for a long time.  But there are no guarantees. We have been blessed.

Nancy had a breast cancer surgery procedure called a lumpectomy in October, 1999 and decades later still looks great.

Her oncologist said that after her chemotherapy, if she did the radiation her chances of getting breast cancer again is three percent.  Without the radiation, it is 30 percent. We chose to do the radiation with Dr. Robert Tobin of Casper. Back there in 2000, her upper torso was covered with black markings and three small tattoo dots, which direct the radiation technician, where to irradiate on her body.

After that first surgery, she had a port surgically installed into an area just below the shoulder. All of her blood testing and her chemotherapy were done directly through this port.

The chemotherapy was as bad as people said it would be.  There are now drugs, which prevent much of the nausea that occurred in the past. Plus, it wreaked havoc with her white blood cell counts. She lost all her hair.

She got through her chemo sessions by the following April but developed a bad infection in her leg, which was the result of the low blood count and accidentally bumping it on an open desk drawer.  This led to a quick trip to Casper to meet with an infectious disease specialist Dr. Mark Dowell and then a deep surgical procedure to drain and repair her thigh.  She didn’t walk for weeks.

Finally, we got the word from the oncologist that she could start radiation with Dr. Tobin. 

On Oct. 13, 2000, we got up at 4 a.m. and went to Casper for that first radiation treatment and then headed to Cheyenne where Gov. Jim Geringer and his wife Sherri were hosting a reception for breast cancer survivors.

It was fun and I enjoyed watching Nancy mix with the other women there. Gov. Geringer got the party started and then left. I ended up being the only man present and I quietly excused myself, saying, “I was a thorn amongst all these roses.”

As I departed, I looked back and while there were many lovely ladies at the function, for me, my rose stood out from the others.

And so here we are today. I am writing this on New Year’s Eve on Dec. 31, 2020.

This is a favorite column because of my vivid memories of standing there in the dark on New Year’s Eve pondering what our fates would be over the course of the next year.

Ever since, New Year’s is a somber time for me.  I always try to find a quiet place to reflect on all the blessings of the past year and look ahead to what might happen in the upcoming year.

We head into 2021 with our heads up and our spirits high.  Let’s make it a wonderful year.  We can only hope that readers of this column have been as blessed as my Nancy and I have been blessed. Happy New Year!

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Bill Sniffin: Predictions – Not All Doom But No Boom Either– But What Am I Missing?

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

Okay, now that we have 2020 in our rear-view mirror, what do we foresee for 2021? This is my annual prediction column.

First, we are not done with COVID-19. Not by a long shot.  A few thousand doses of vaccine have reached the state and it might take a lot longer to get our folks vaccinated than originally thought.

Meanwhile, news of a new strain of the virus that is even more contagious makes 2021 look even scarier. There are cases of this new strain already in Colorado.  So, folks, hang on to your hats.

The mandatory mask order is still in place in Wyoming along with some restrictions.  Financially, some more federal CARES money is on the way, which will help our ailing businesses.  And each Wyomingite adult will be getting $600 from the federal government.

But let’s move on to another depressing piece of news in looking at 2021 – the state’s economy.  With Joe Biden the new president things are going to be tougher for fossil fuel companies.  With Wyoming relying so much on fossil fuels, this bit of news will force the people of the Cowboy State to diversify if they are to grow and prosper.  This is long overdue.

Despite valiant efforts by the governors and the Wyoming Business Council in the past decades, the level of diversification will need to be ramped up. This is great news for the excellent economic development groups in our cities and towns.  So, get busy folks. Not since the horrible 1980s have the people of our state needed you like they need you now.

And finally, some good news in 2021 – tourism.  From July on last year, tourism exploded in Wyoming.  Well, the dam will truly burst in 2021. People in this country want to get out and “out there” will mean Wyoming.

Despite all their troubles of the past 12 months, folks in the motel and restaurant and attraction businesses should have a banner year. They deserve to have one, too.  Now this will be fun although we might find ourselves complaining about the crowds. Who are all these people and where did they come from?

With what the legislature has to deal with, you would have thought nobody would want that job?  Yet dozens of folks campaigned hard and spent a lot of money last year trying to get in. 

In a big shift, some pretty darned far-right conservatives knocked off some powerful Republicans that they perceived as moderates. This will mean cuts, cuts, and more cuts will be occurring whenever the Legislature meets in 2021.  I say “whenever” because there is some talk about postponing much of the session due to the COVID-19 virus.  It might be a good idea to have a delay so a clearer idea might emerge about how much money the legislature will be short.

Spending on education will be in the sights of these conservatives. Education has been a sacred cow in Wyoming for decades thanks to earlier court decisions, plenty of severance tax money, and pride in providing good educations for our children.  But all bets are now off.

It is easy to predict this is where the biggest fights will be occurring. The State Senate, especially, will be a minefield for folks wanting to avoid cuts or, heaven forbid, actually raise taxes.

I see 2021 as a big year for Gov. Mark Gordon, U. S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, and University of Wyoming president Ed Seidel.

Gordon has spent a hellish year dealing with the virus in 2020 and he can look forward to a breather as he deals with the worst financial crisis the state has faced in 30 years.

Lummis will be a conservative star in the Senate if the Republicans can hold their majority.  She will stir things up.

Seidel had a baptism by fire at UW with the plague in 2020.  Now all he has to do is somehow keep everything going while incomes have been cut drastically.

Biggest economic boost in Wyoming in decades hopefully will kick off at F.E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne as billions of dollars are scheduled to a big retro-fit for the missiles.

In the world of wildlife, the big news will be how bad is the infestation of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).  It is a serious issue and it will be getting worse.

As the windiest state, the proliferation of windmills in Wyoming will continue as these 60-story tall giants continue to dot the landscapes.

When it comes to high tech, telemedicine will continue to grow. The expansion of high-quality broadband in rural areas would be a boon for everyone.

So, have I missed predicting the biggest story?  Last year when I wrote a column predicting what was going to happen in 2020, there was no mention of a plague.  Hmmm?

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Bill Sniffin: What A Year 2020 Has Been! We Are Fired Up About Improving Cowboy State Daily In 2021 With Your Help

in Column/Bill Sniffin

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Dear Cowboy State Daily reader,

Wow, has 2020 been a year to remember or what?

We know you are tired of being bombarded this time of year for donations but in our case, the cause is real and we really need your help. 

We have big plans for Cowboy State Daily in 2021 but we need your help and your donations to improve this product that you already love. 

Please consider making one more tax-deductible donation in 2020 before we venture into the future – 2021.

And if you already made a donation, great!  Our small staff has been tied up with year-end projects.  Thank you notes will be sent soon. Thanks for your patience. 

Wyoming people have endured a helluva year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but you know a lot more about it now than you did before you started reading Cowboy State Daily. 

At last count, we have published 905 stories about the epidemic! That number just blows us away, too.  But this was the biggest story of this century and one of the biggest of our lifetimes.

It deserved this kind of coverage and our staff believes no other news media in Wyoming covered it as extensively as Cowboy State Daily did – and we did it for you!

The future of Wyoming is uncertain.  And having access to a FREE daily digital accurate news media is essential during these times.  

You can do your part in helping to ensure our good work continues on into 2021. 

Remember, Cowboy State Daily is owned by YOU.  It is a 501 (c ) (3) non-profit.  And with ownership comes responsibility.  Please do your part to help us do our job of keeping you informed. 

We think 2021 will be our greatest year yet. Don’t just watch us grow, join us!

Happy New Year from our staff Jimmy Orr, Jim Angell,  Ellen Fike, and yours truly. 

Please let us know what you like (or dislike) about Cowboy State Daily and ideas you would share with us about improving our product. Just email with your ideas. Thanks!

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