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Bill Sniffin: Life And Death In Time Of Coronavirus

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher of the Cowboy State Daily

The coronavirus is one everybody’s mind. Here are four recent things concerning this plague that are on my mind:

First, so there we were, 19 days ago, sitting with 2,000 other fans watching my favorite singer, Rod Stewart, perform at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. We were with our good friends Dan and Cindy Whetstone of Libby, MT.

Seeing Stewart had been on my bucket list, and it was fun to cross that goal off. The concert was terrific.  What was not so terrific were the 15 text messages I received from our children telling us to “get out of there” and “pack up and come home” from our quick trip to Sin City.

We did just that and have been in self-quarantine at our home in Lander ever since. 

Second, we recently phoned our friends, the Whetstones, and they told about a person they knew who had just died from the coronavirus in Kalispell.  He was Jim Tomlin, 77, from Libby.  Our friends live on Crystal Lake south of Libby.

This man was the first coronavirus death in Montana. They did not know Tomlin well but had heard the sirens of the ambulance when it went by their home on its way from Libby to the bigger city hospital in Kalispell.

Tomlin’s son told a horrible story in the Missoula newspaper about how his father had just returned from a vacation to the California desert and started hacking and coughing. He was confused and not well, the son said.

The son described the “crushing loneliness” his father felt in the hospital as his conditions worsened. No one was allowed to see him because of his diagnosis. Hospital staff set up a phone so the family could say their final good-byes in his ear. “If you think this virus is not going to affect you, well, you will know someone who dies from this,” the son concluded.

Although not mentioned in the story, hundreds of people in the Libby area have lung issues from a former asbestos plant that operated there for years. 

As I write this, Wyoming still has not had its first coronavirus death. 

Third, the first coronavirus death in South Dakota had a Wyoming connection. Fr. Robert Fox of Glenrock is from Rapid City, and he writes about his best friend: 

“Greg Weiland, 69, Rapid City was a good man and a great friend (and he had a heart condition). I’ll just share one story here. Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s it was not unusual for a couple of guys to spend Friday nights cruising 8th Street in Rapid City. It was a way to socialize 

“Everybody knew which parking lot was best for hookups or finding someone to enter a drag racing challenge. So, one beautiful summer evening Greg called and asked me if I wanted to cruise 8th with him?

“He came and picked me up and said, ‘Bob, let’s do something different tonight. How about we spend the evening looking for people we can help.’ 

“’Let’s do it,’ I said. So, we started driving and talking about what we were looking for – people who were walking we could offer a ride, people with car trouble, fights we might be able to break up. We drove around late into the night talking about how different the world would be if people spent more time looking to help others and less time seeking selfish pleasures and thrills. 

“We did find one guy who needed help. We helped him change a flat tire. That conversation we had strengthened our friendship and our resolve to spend time like this, just cruising through life looking to help others.” 

And fourth, I should mention my terrible dream last night too.  We were shopping in the dream, and I suddenly started coughing and choking. I turned to Nancy and said: “We gotta go home.  I am sick!”  Then I woke up. I was convinced I was sick, but luckily, I was fine.  Crazy.  This coronavirus is even invading our dreams!

In the end, we are all soldiers in this world-wide battle against one of the world’s greatest plagues. Few people alive have experienced what we are going through.

Please follow the rules. Be careful. Reach out in a safe way to stranded or lonely people. We will emerge from this as a possibly much different people than we were before this all started.  

We are a resilient people and we will be stronger in the end. 

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.

Bill Sniffin: Keeping News Outlets Alive During This Coronavirus Era

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher of the Cowboy State Daily

The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated – famous quote by Mark Twain concerning American press reports of his demise while on a speaking tour in Europe in 1897.

And like Mark Twain, reports of the death of media are also wildly exaggerated.

Media, especially here in Wyoming, consists of a hardy lot of men and women who, although taking some blows, are still reporting the news and are nowhere near expiring.

They have been pricked, pickled, and pummeled, but the newspaper people, broadcast people, digital media people, and others are working harder than ever.  Despite the loss of advertising revenue during this difficult time, these media outlets are performing better than ever in reporting the biggest news story most of them have ever dealt with.

They are doing this for two reasons: First, this is what they do. Second, we are dealing with the biggest story of the century.

The public just cannot get enough of this Coronavirus COVID-19 news story.  It started in China and has been marching across the world. Today, the USA is the epicenter. The next two weeks will be unbelievable. Most medical experts say it could be beyond deadly.

Due to efforts by the federal, state, and local governments, people are doing something we never heard of a few weeks ago – social distancing.  This simply means we are not mingling. We are staying at home.  Many of us older folks are in what is called self-quarantine.  We are washing our hands, applying sanitizers, and paying attention.

So, while we applaud the job being done, we empathize with the dire straits of the media business right now.

Business is tough and the news business has always been tough. But publishers, broadcasters, digital outlet sources, and others that I know say they have never seen a time like this.

Never has news been more important – yet, budgets are being cut, employees being laid off, furloughed, or cut back, and it is becoming more difficult than ever to keep readers, viewers, and listeners informed.

In some locked down states, media has had to even fight to be considered an essential business.  Essential!  Now more than ever.

On the business front, here in Wyoming there are several examples among daily and weekly newspapers where cuts have been made and jobs have been eliminated. We give everyone involved credit as the workers try to keep themselves above water, their bosses try to keep the doors open, and together they try to keep people informed.

Some operations which are well-funded will ride this out without cuts but many of them are highly-leveraged, which means they can’t function without that stream of steady advertising revenue coming in. Many will struggle and the quantity of their outputs might diminish, but I’ll bet the quality will be better than ever.

My hat goes off to all my media colleagues during this difficult time.

One of favorite media slogans was by famous muckraker H. L. Mencken, who said our job is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” 

Well folks, today our job is to comfort the afflicted. The media folks I know are doing a damn fine job of doing just that.

Welcome Carbon County Visitor Council: ‘Folks, it’s time to get your West on!”

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher of Cowboy State Daily

Today we welcome the Carbon County Visitors Council as a new sponsor for Cowboy State Daily. 

Carbon County is one of my favorite places. Here is a story that I wrote last fall about one of the more unique places in their county: Battle Mountain, small towns, and Edison’s favorite fishing hole

If you blast through Carbon County on Interstate 80, you begin to think that all there is to see is high desert and the towering Elk Mountain.

But that part of Wyoming offers so much more.

Last fall, I fulfilled a bucket list item by driving State Highway 70 over Battle Mountain Pass for the first time.  Wow, what a gorgeous trip!

Near the top of the pass, almost 10,000 feet, is a prominent plaque placed where the famous inventor Thomas Edison went fishing and reportedly came up with the idea for filament to use in the invention of the light bulb. It occurred while he was messing with flies during a wonderful fishing trip. That very impressive plaque was mounted on a big brick podium back in 1949 by a statewide historical group.  More on that later.

There are massive groves of mature Aspen trees all along the way and I kept looking for the famous Aspen Alley.  This is a narrow road cut through a mighty grove of Aspens that shimmers like gold in the fall. Famed Wyoming photographer Randy Wagner of Cheyenne has the best image I have ever seen of that site.

On this day, I missed it because it is a few miles down WYO 71, which goes north from Battle Mountain Pass all the way to Rawlins. Hopefully next time.

The name Battle Mountain Pass came from a famous fight between Indians and some trappers on Aug 21, 1841. Mountain Man Jim Baker, just 21 at the time, had to lead his men after Captain Henry Frapp was killed. After a six-day fight, the trappers left. However, the formerly named Bastion Mountain has been re-named Battle Mountain for the past 178 years. Baker went on to become one of the more famous mountain men exploring Wyoming mountain ranges.

To get to this famous pass, we drove south from Interstate 80 to Saratoga and briefly visited with Joe Glode. He is an extraordinary community leader for that area. We were going to eat some of the best prime rib in Wyoming at Doug and Kathleen Campbell’s Wolf Hotel, but they were not open yet. We had to get to our granddaughter’s wedding celebration in Montrose, CO, so we soldiered on.

After passing through the beautiful towns of Encampment and Riverside, we climbed up the Sierra Madre Mountains.  I can only imagine how that area must look in the fall.  All those Aspen trees must make the place look like it is on fire.

Cody’s Rev. Warren Murphy’s first assignment was Dixon and Baggs.  He writes about the area: “Route 70 is indeed one of the most amazing and unknown highways in the state. Especially in mid- September when the golden aspen leaves fall. They cover the highway and when driving along you are riding on a carpet of gold. There is so little traffic. Aspen Alley is a unique piece of ground but sadly the alley trees are aging out. However, the young ones are growing fast.”

John Davis of Worland tells this story about his early experience on Battle Pass: “When I was first married, Celia and traveled to the Sierra Madres to hunt deer.  We didn’t get any deer, but proceeded toward Baggs and Savery.  Celia got worried about the amount of gas we had, but I wasn’t worried, because most Chevrolet vehicles (we were traveling in a 1955 Chevrolet sedan) still had 5 gallons when showing empty. 

“Well, this one didn’t, and just before the pass, it coughed and died.  We caught a ride down the mountain, got some gas, returned to the vehicle, and proceeded home. 

“But this incident had long term consequences.  Ever since, Celia gets nervous whenever the gas gauge in one of our cars is just a little past half full.  We never again ran out of gas as we did on Battle Mountain Pass, but I’ve heard complaints about getting gas about a hundred times since.”

After enjoying the beauty of the Aspen-covered Pass, Nancy and I started our way down the mountain. We drove through Savery and Dixon, two pleasant little towns.

My friend radio station owner Joe Kenney said his dad grew up in Encampment and his mom, Maudie Lake, grew up in Savery. He recalls visiting those towns as a little kid and marveling at how high the snow was.  When I asked him how his dad and mom got together, since the highway was closed all winter, he said, “they always met up in Rawlins.” 

In my case, I grew up in a very small town and these small Carbon County towns reminded me of home. My wife calls these little towns “peek and plumb towns.” She says, “you peek around the corner and you’re plumb out of town!”

I always said my hometown was so small that both “resume speed” signs are on the same post — just on opposite sides.

Growing up in my little town, we had a public restroom, which was an outhouse.  The toilet tissue consisted of the town’s yellow pages. Unfortunately, the yellow pages only consisted of one page.

In Carbon County, we always like getting to Baggs. This is a pretty little town with a great museum along the Little Snake River. Again, the roads north and south of Baggs go through high desert country, which lack scenery. But Baggs area residents have a lot of fun places to visit in their little bit of heaven, especially over Battle Mountain.

Rocky’s Quick Stop is a wonderful convenience store which has a fine restaurant attached to it at the north edge of Baggs.

This is just one story about how unique Carbon County is when a person thinks about visiting interesting places in Wyoming.

Bill Sniffin: Is It Possible To Lighten Up A Bit? Cabin Fever Is Killing Some Of Us

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily publisher

Wyoming folks love the outdoors. Just about all of us do.

In the face of the self-quarantining that most of us have been enduring, it is just too hard to resist the opportunity to go outside.

My home town is Ground Zero right now in Wyoming for cases of the Coronavirus.  Lander has 10 of the state’s 26 cases as I am writing this Sunday night.

It’s a scary time and a situation that makes you want to stay secluded in your home.  There is a big But here . . . it has been so beautiful outside.

Nancy and I are stuck in our home but we feel we can safely go for walks along the city’s walking paths. We also feel safe getting into our car and heading out around town or up to Sinks Canyon, or around the Squaw Creek-Baldwin Creek Loop or up to South Pass. Lots of nice places to see from inside your car.

Saw some young folks with kids walking their dogs this past week.  Brad and Cree Neuendorf, their son Andrew, and dog Boo were enjoying the nice weather. 

We also visited with Jason Hunter from the Lander Game and Fish Office.  He was away from his locked down office and was walking with his daughter Ava and son Griffin. He was worried that he had been exposed to the virus, but was not showing any signs yet.

On a lighter note, my newspaper colleague from South Dakota, Larry Atkinson, predicts we will see an abundance of babies born across the globe in about nine months.  What does he think we should call this generation?  How about Coronials!

A friend of his, Marisa Wollman, said that when this group becomes teenagers, they will be called “Quaranteens.”  Pretty clever these Dakotans. They are also really, really bored.

Also, on the subject of a couple being stuck together, reminds me of the story about the late Rev. Billy Graham, who always had his wife with him. They were always together.

A reporter asked him, because of the stress of constant togetherness, did he ever consider divorce?

Billy Graham replied: “Divorce: No, Never. Murder? Occasionally.”

Our daughter Shelli Johnson has used a Fitbit to count her steps, which are considerable.  During the last 10 years, she has walked 59,000,000 steps or about 26,000 miles.  That is equal to walking around the earth one time.

She thinks right now someone should invent the “Sitbit,” to keep track of the time we spend sitting in front of the TV or just reading.

Mike Moser of Cheyenne is a funny guy. He says: “I have found one of the positive things about this social distancing thing is I can stay at home, read, and play video games and consider it being responsible!”

He also said that if those folks freaking out about toilet paper run out, they might find a use for all those unmatched socks.

Moser’s new favorite drink is the Quarantini – it’s just a regular martini but you drink it alone in your house.

And with just six people per square mile, I saw a poster that read: “Wyoming – celebrating social distancing since 1890.

And finally, there was a cartoon circulating which showed a mom bitterly complaining that she “was tired of babysitting my mom’s grandchildren!”

Casper native and best-selling author Ron Franscell writes: “Quarantine Log Day #5: We’ve eaten the dog. Cat is armed and considered dangerous. Saving water by drinking NyQuil. No coughing but sleeping all day. Toilet paper running perilously low, only 7,439 rolls left. If you find us dead, we must have eaten some . . .  bad dog.

Franscell’s friend Hal Smarkola responded: “I found after day five, dog tastes better with ketchup; cat needs more mustard, and a few sweet pickles— very salty!!” 

Hope Ron writes a book about this crazy time in our history.  Call it Love in the time of Coronavirus.  Note: There is a famous book published decades ago called Love in the time of Cholera.

Our famous Lander coffee group the Fox News All-Stars met by phone Monday morning.  We are all self-quarantined and well.  Interesting, none of us are sick (yet?) and more importantly, among this group of eight, we did not know personally of any person anywhere sick with the disease. Hope it stays that way!

Bill Sniffin: We Are In A Medical And Economic Twilight Zone

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily publisher

Worried? Heartsick? Scared to death?

How do you go from prosperity to the poorhouse in one week?

How do you go from assumed great health to a targeted walking petri dish in one week?

The above describes my feelings about a real-life modern version of the Ides of March. Nobody alive today will ever forget March of 2020. These are not the Roarin’ 20s. They might end up being the Whimperin’ 20s.

The worldwide menace of the Coronavirus COVID-19 has done something that we have not seen since World War II. It has united the world against a common foe. But this foe is sneaky and snarky. It creeps up on the unprepared and the unhealthy.

Americans like to get things over in a hurry.  World War II took a little over four years once the USA put its total effort into solving it.

Most of my friends have been involved in small business.  I have never seen them so worried.  I spent my life in small business and I still remember the sleepless nights when things just were not going well. When you were scrambling just to make payroll and make the bank payments. But at least I had a fighting chance back then.


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Luckily, Wyoming has the highest percentage of people in the country who working for some sort of government, about 12 percent. This is good. Those paychecks are safe.  Another big group work for non-profits, which can be secure.

But those folks in the private sector, wow, they are really in for it. For much of my 50 years of doing business in Wyoming, I worked in the hospitality industry. Most of my clients were hotels, restaurants, attractions, resorts, tourism promotion groups, and just about everything else to do with hospitality.

These folks have taken it right on the chin. How could you plan in advance for something like this? Most of them were gearing up, not prepping for shutting down.

One of the companies I helped found in 1990 was and international tourism marketing company for the Rocky Mountain region.  I sold out my interest in the company in 1996. The company thrived up to now. It was going to celebrate its 30th anniversary in April.  That event has been cancelled. I have to wonder how you keep going when almost all international tourism has been cancelled? This is just one example of literally thousands of similar situations around Wyoming in the hospitality industry.

To their credit, members of Congress are passing bills authorizing almost $1 trillion to aid everybody. Good work.  A band aid, but good work.

Some medical authorities reported today that there may be more than one wave of this disease. If we do too good a job of protecting our population from it, it could re-appear in four months and on and on through additional cycles, until a vaccine is produced. The idea being that folks become immune to it if they catch it and survive.  I am not very excited about this logic.

President Trump appears confident a vaccine will be ready soon. Let’s hope so.


***Stay on top of the Coronavirus in Wyoming on our live news blog***


Meanwhile, most of the people of my generation are hunkered down in their homes. They are binge-watching TV shows. They are cleaning up parts of their homes they barely remembered having. 

I have been a member of the Lander Rotary Club for 50 years. It is a very social club with 90 members. I enjoy it and miss it right now. Today, we tried a “virtual” meeting with a computer application called Zoom and it was amazingly pleasant.  I wished I had bought some stock in Zoom!

And so, we all try to keep busy. In my case, I am the publisher of Cowboy State Daily, a digital news site at CowboyStateDaily.com, and we are working 24/7 to keep folks informed about the Coronavirus and everything else about Wyoming, too.

Wyoming is normally so danged busy this time of year as we endure mud season, gear up for the huge tourism seasons, and bask in the occasional nice weather (between spring storms) as we look at winter in our rear-view mirror. 

But damn, this year, the quiet is deafening.

(An earlier version of this column was a draft)

Bill Sniffin: Report From Lander Ground Zero, Showboat Retirement Center

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher, Cowboy State Daily

LANDER — Ron Foote looks around and says he is now not only the owner, but occasionally the cook, the janitor, the care giver, and anything else he needs to be at his Showboat Retirement Center.

The Showboat has become Ground Zero in Wyoming’s struggle with the coronavirus pandemic, with eight of the state’s 10 cases occurring in that facility.

Foote was in Montana caring for his 90-year old mother when he got the word that one of his 27 residents tested positive for the coronavirus. He got back to Lander on Monday, one day after state officials tested other employees and residents for the illness.


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Two key employees and five residents tested positive after the initial patient was diagnosed on March 13.  

Showboat, which once was the Lander hospital, is on a total lockdown, according to Foote, with no visitors allowed. 

He said he has no idea where the original infection came from, but he believes “it is everywhere.” He thinks once enough people get tested, a lot more cases will be announced.

The initial patient, a 68-year old man, is still hospitalized.  A second patient, a 62-year old male, has also been hospitalized.  The other three residents are still residing under quarantine in their rooms at the center and doing well, Foote said.

His manager of the facility, which has six employees, tested positive and is quarantined in his apartment on the premises.  An assistant who also tested positive is also quarantined in an apartment on the grounds.  

Foote has owned and operated the facility for 28 years and has not had any issues up to now.  

He said there is usually a pretty free flow of visitors to the facility, with people just signing in at the front desk to visit their loved ones.  

That policy has ended.

Check Cowboy State Daily’s Live News Blog On Wyoming Coronavirus

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher of the Cowboy State Daily

Cowboy State Daily is offering our readers the most comprehensive information concerning the Coronavirus available in Wyoming with its Wyoming Coronavirus news blog.

Items for the blog are compiled by News Editor Jim Angell, reporter Ellen Fike, this writer, plus a series of correspondents from all corners of the state.

The blog debuted on Monday and included information about task forces formed by Gov. Mark Gordon, news that three Indian casinos were shutting down in Fremont County, news that Frontier Days is still a “go,” news that the Catholic Church suspended all Masses in the state, information about how Jackson Hole saw all three of its ski areas closing, and lots of news about cities and towns across the state reacting to the pandemic.

The blog will be updated 24/7 to give our readers the best and most current information available.

Cowboy State Daily has been in operation for a little more than a year and is the fastest growing statewide digital news site in the state. You can sign up your friends to the site at cowboystatedaily.com.

Bill Sniffin: Coronavirus Is Once-in-a-lifetime Event For Most Residents Of Wyoming

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher of Cowboy State Daily

These are possibly the most unusual times of our lives, both globally and locally.

In my hometown of Lander, the state’s second presumptive case of Coronavirus was named. A 68-year old wheelchair-bound man is in the Lander hospital being treated. He is a stroke victim and had been hospitalized for two weeks back in December for pneumonia, which is typical of the type of people expected to suffer the most from this disease.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, an epidemiologist for the Wyoming Department of Health said the man had not traveled, meaning someone else may have exposed him.

The victim is from Riverton but had been a resident of the Showboat Retirement Center in Lander for some time. That center has about 27 residents right now.

Showboat owner Ron Foote said that this is a terrible season for colds and ailments. He said two of his key employees were down with an ear infection and a bad cold. He said they strive to keep their facility clean and disinfect everything.

Even as I write this on Sunday evening, the Wyoming coronavirus story and the world story is changing rapidly.

If this pandemic goes poorly, could it cost Donald Trump reelection for president? His main pandemic spokesman said on Meet the Press Sunday morning that worst case could see a million deaths. How could that be?

Another media pundit pointed out that Trump, former Vice-President Joe Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders all fit the profile of the folks who would get sickest from this bug. Trump is 73, Biden is 77, and Sanders is 78. What would happen if all three got sick, she asked on CNN Sunday afternoon?

All three on Sunday claimed to be free of the virus and have cut back on all personal appearances.

Because of our age and health issues, my wife Nancy and I are maintaining a self-quarantine in our home in Lander. Sure, seems odd to be “in jail,” but then again, the alternative could be so much worse.

Incredible that there are no church services, even.

Coincidentally, the state legislature has just wrapped up its budget session. Its members must feel like victims of a drive-by shooting. The entire world changed. The stock market crashed, crushing the state’s ability to generate revenue from its investments. Oil prices tanked thanks to a price war between the Russians and the Saudi’s. The whole world changed over a 72-hour period.

It appears inevitable that the Legislature will be convening sometime after the April CREG income report comes through. They may meet in some kind of virtual fashion. My local legislator Rep. Lloyd Larsen was really proud of the budget they had passed. “It was the best I’ve seen,” he said. Now what do they do?

Wyoming’s schools are now closed. Just about every event from the State Basketball Tournament to a local Rotary Club meeting has been cancelled.

Literally, thousands of small business people are scrambling, as they try to figure out a way to stay open, serve customers, and keep their workers busy.

This whole pandemic is like a bad science fiction movie. I have lived on this planet for seven decades and have truly never seen anything like this. It is unprecedented. You can’t make this up. And we do not know what the ending will be. Let’s hope it is a happy one.

In the meantime, folks, practice good habits and stay healthy.

Bill Sniffin: Coronavirus is Grim Reaper to New Wyoming State Budget

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily publisher

These are the times that try men’s souls is a lament from an early American patriot. And: May you live in interesting times is an ancient Chinese lament.

It is oh-so-true that we have never seen times like these coronavirus times. A worldwide panic has set in as something called the coronavirus has wreaked havoc around the world.  

And Wyoming appeared to be luckily lagging behind the rest of the world but then first reports of infected people starting popping up, first in Sheridan. 

To see the state basketball tournaments cancelled was just awful. Then you saw the March Madness cancelled on the collegiate level.  And the pro NBA started it all by cancelling its season.

I wrote a column last week speculating that this might be the world’s biggest over-reaction?  I can now eat those words.  This thing is real and we all better hunker down and prepare for the worst.

Coincidentally, the state legislature has just wrapped up its budget session.  Its members must feel like victims of a drive-by shooting.  The entire world changed. The stock market crashed, crushing the state’s ability to generate revenue from its investments.  Oil prices tanked thanks to a price war between the Russians and the Saudi’s. The whole world changed over a 72-hour period.

Even as I write this on Thursday evening, the Wyoming coronavirus story and the world story is changing rapidly.

I am just repeating some wild news here. Because this disease is so mysterious, there are more questions than answers.  It supposedly does better in a cold environment instead of heat?  How can that be? China hints there is a second strain out there. Why is Italy being hit so hard?  Rush Limbaugh says the Chinese have invested heavily in Italy and there have been tremendous back and forth traffic between the two countries, which caused the Italians to be hit so hard. Really?

In Cheyenne, Dave Simpson reports: “We were right in the middle of moving my 95-year-old mother-in-law from assisted living to a nursing home, both here in Cheyenne, when the coronavirus panic hit. We were going to move her into the nursing home this coming Monday.

“The assisted living place has limited visits to two hours in the morning and two hours in the late afternoon. The nursing home she was to have moved to is now completely locked down. No visits at all. My wife went over there this afternoon and had to talk to an administrator through a closed door, with a big sign that said STOP posted on the door. Turns out we would not have been able to visit my mother-in-law at all, for who knows how long, at the nursing home.

“My wife made the decision to bring her mother back home to our house, where she lived for six years. You’d be amazed how much help you can hire for far less than the cost of a nursing home. And, out here east of town, on five acres, what they call ‘extreme social distancing’ isn’t hard to maintain at all. It’s a way of life.

“I was at Walmart today, and they’ve been out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer for going on a week now. And I noticed that pinto beans and diced tomatoes are getting scarce as well. I guess people want to make soup in a crisis. And the store was crowded with people stocking up.

“The afternoon of 9/11 I witnessed panic when people in Illinois waited in long lines to get a tank of gas. This is pretty much like that. Panic, once again. And, let’s not even talk about the stock market.”

Steve Mossbrook of Riverton winters in California. Here is his report: “The Coachella Valley has not been hit too badly (by diseased people), but the economic effects are enormous. Many Canadians have had to return home once the WHO declared a pandemic.  Their travel medical insurance just became invalid.  The tennis and golf tournaments are postponed along with Coachella and Stagecoach, taking several million out of the local economy.”

Former Worland resident Debbie Hammons now lives in Colorado. Her report: “We just flew in from Tucson. Plane was half full. Thought we’d drop by grocery store to pick up a few things on way home. Nine at night at big store —parking lot completely full. Sold out of bananas, potatoes, bread. Frozen vegetables gone, most meat, most apples, lettuce (they have iceberg lettuce!) No broccoli.”

Wyoming can count on a minimum of 60 more days of cold weather plus some of the biggest snowstorms of the year. You would think this would keep the outbreak of this nasty bug to a limited extent.

Let’s hope so and maybe we can weather this amazing event. 

I have lived on this planet for seven decades and have truly never seen anything like this. It is unprecedented.  You can’t make this up. It sounds like a science fiction movie. And we do not know what the ending will be.  Let’s hope it is a happy one.

In the meantime, folks, practice good habits and stay healthy. 

Bill Sniffin: Today Brings Back Memories of the Great Wyoming Native Son Chris LeDoux

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher of Cowboy State Daily

“Take me back to old Wyoming, I’ve been away too long. I want to hear the meadowlark singing this cowboy’s favorite song. I want to saddle up old paint and just ride him out across the hills. I belong in old Wyoming and I reckon that I always will.” – Lyrics by the late Chris LeDoux.

       On March 9, 2005, Wyoming lost one of its favorite sons when singer and rodeo star Chris LeDoux died from complications of liver cancer at the age of 56.

         Gov. Dave Freudenthal proclaimed the next Saturday as “Chris LeDoux Day,” as a way for Wyomingites to celebrate his life and honor his achievements. “Chris LeDoux has meant a lot to Wyoming, from his earliest days of riding bareback to his later days of making music,” Gov. Freudenthal said. “Cheyenne Frontier Days, when fans of both would gather, seems like an appropriate time to honor his memory.” His proclamation also contains the line: “Whereas, Chris LeDoux was a cowboy in the truest and best sense of the word.” Couldn’t say it much better than that.

         LeDoux had a love of Wyoming that came through his singing and his actions.  A champion rodeo cowboy, he worked just as hard becoming an entertainer as he did to be a champion rodeo athlete.

       Former Wyoming Tourism Director Gene Bryan has fond memories of Chris from his many years of involvement with Cheyenne Frontier Days:

       “I first remember Chris when he played defensive end for the

Cheyenne Central football teams, coached by former coach Jim McLeod. I first met Chris when I was exec for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Committee and he was pedaling his 8-track tapes out of a booth at Frontier Park. 

       “He would call me and the question was always the same, ‘Gene, what do I have to do to perform at the Night Show?’ and my response was always the same: ‘Get famous.’ Well, he did (boy, howdy, did he!). I think another Acts Chairman John Tabor, who was a close friend of Chris’, would echo the statement that he was the most popular entertainer to perform at the CFD concerts, even more than the star who helped launch him, Garth Brooks.

       “He was a cowboy’s cowboy–always polite, always a gentleman.  He never forgot his roots.  He’s gone, but I can guarantee he won’t be forgotten. Terrible loss to the Cowboy State without question.”

        LeDoux personified the “Wyoming way,” in both his actions and his lifestyle.  He lived by a handshake and felt a commitment was a commitment.

      Bill Lewkowitz of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort recalls the late singer fondly.  “Many people at our resort learned what many cowboys across the country and many people in Wyoming already knew — that Chris was a great musician, performer and just a really nice guy!  We invited him back to play a concert to help celebrate our 30th anniversary of the resort and he played to a very enthusiastic audience. 

       “Chris played both of these concerts for much less money than he was being paid at the time, but did the concerts for less to help a Wyoming neighbor with their events.  Chris brought his family back to ski several times.  He never wore a fancy ski suit, just a Carhartt one-piece work suit, that as he told me was suited for any winter chore from birthing calves to skiing in Jackson Hole.

       “After struggling along with his record label in Nashville to get permission to use Chris’s music for a promotional video, we finally got hold of him directly and he granted us permission to several of his songs.  As long as we were working on a project that helped promote the great state of Wyoming, using his music was fine by him.

       “I also worked with Chris at the Teton County Fair.  A concert that Chris was scheduled to perform one July was rained out due to a powerful thunderstorm, but Chris did everything in his power to get the show complete. The weather never did cooperate, but Chris let us know he wanted to come back to play again.  Our entire local rodeo crowd, of course, loves his music and people travel from all over the state to listen to him.  Interestingly, Chris’ band played the Rancher Bar in Jackson back in the early 1980s.”

       Chris LeDoux loved Wyoming and had a great way of writing about and singing about his home state. Here are some lyrics from one of his songs:

 “You ain’t lived until you’ve watched those Northern Lights, sat around the campfire and hear the coyotes call at night. Makes you feel alright, so guess I’ll stay right where I’m at, wear my boots and my cowboy hat. But I’ll come and see ya once in a while. I gotta be where I can see those Rocky Mountains, ride my horse and watch an eagle fly. I gotta live my life and write my songs beneath these Western Skies. When I die you can bury me beneath these Western Skies, Yippee.”

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