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Bill Sniffin: Masks, Social Distancing Define The Class Of 2020 Graduations

in Bill Sniffin/Column

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily

High school graduations are unique traditions and rites of passage in our America. 

This year, these events will be different than at any other time in our existence.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, just about every “normal” graduation in America has been canceled.  And in their places are some unique ways to celebrate. 

Social distancing will be encouraged.  Masks will be worn.  We have become a society of nervous, jittery bystanders.  Hopefully this will be a once in a lifetime event.  I am looking forward to 2021 when normalcy returns. But enough complaining, this column is about graduations here in 2020. 

Some places are doing drive-by graduations.  One school will reportedly allow a family to drive up to a stage. The student and the family will get out and walk across the stage and then get back into their cars. Sorry I cannot remember which one. 

In my hometown of Lander, a group of parents led by Tara Berg and Patty Massey put posters of all the seniors up on poles on Main Street.  On Friday, May 15, a parade of all the seniors will be held honoring these wonderful kids. 

Margie Hornecker says her grandson Elijah is graduating from Rock River. “The student will approach the platform with no more than 10 family members who can join them for photos. Then everyone returns to their vehicles to watch the next graduate. This will be held on the football field. Not ideal but making the best of everything,” she says.

John Davis says: “Since the traditional graduation ceremony was canceled, a Worland High School graduation parade has been set for 2 p. m. on Sunday, May 17 down Main Street (Big Horn Avenue) in Worland.  That’s the time when the commencement was otherwise to begin.  

“Speeches from the valedictorians, salutatorian and keynote speaker are to be broadcast on 96.1 FM.  People will be asked to maintain social distancing while watching the parade. Diploma covers are being presented to graduates, with videotapes and photos being taken; each student will receive a copy of the video,” he said.   

Chad Banks said in Rock Springs: “This is one thing our community is doing. Each senior is on a sign lining the major road through RS. We’re doing a cruise with seniors. The signs will be up until Graduation,” he said.

Some colleges are doing their graduations on TV or on computers with the application called Zoom, which has taken over the whole system of having meetings.

My own high school graduation was a modest affair with some family coming by in our little town of Wadena, Iowa. It is a town about the size of Hudson with 316 living there. It was such a small town I always said both resume speed signs were on the same post – just attached to opposite sides. 

Our four children graduated high school here in Lander. We also had a traditional gathering for family and friends afterward.  Relatives would travel hundreds of miles to get to our events.  The last one of these was in 1999 for our son Michael. 

We would then travel hundreds of miles to attend graduations for our grandchildren as far as Dallas, TX and Montrose, CO.  Again, wonderful parties would occur after some tedious graduation ceremonies.  

One time in Montrose we sat out in the sun at a football grandstand for two hours as a parade of speakers droned on.  A month later we were in Texas when there were 3,000 graduates.  Good grief, how are they going to get this done? The event was held in a giant basketball arena and there were over 10,000 people present.  Amazingly, those folks got it done in one hour.  Best one of those I ever attended!

This year, we have two grandchildren graduating from high school; Hayden Johnson here in Lander and Alexys Gibbons in Warden, WA. 

Doubt we can make it to Washington state in June because of travel restrictions but hate to miss it. Still unsure of how the Lander event will be handled but people are planning many events for a June 14 official production. 

I feel for these young people because they did not have a prom, a skip day, and most importantly the chance to spend their waning years of high school with their best friends. 

We all will remember 2020 because of this pandemic but it will be an especially bittersweet memory to those young people missing out on these events. Let’s hope 2021 will bring back more normal times. 

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Bill Sniffin: When God Created Mothers; Have A Wonderful Weekend!

in Bill Sniffin/Column

By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State daily

When Mother’s Day occurs, this column serves as a salute to all the mothers out there.

A special note to my own 96-year old mother, my wife Nancy and our daughters, Alicia, Shelli and Amber, who are also mothers plus daughter in law Lisa Sniffin and finally, granddaughter Mallory Barnett.

Also, a pat on the back to all our friends who are mothers and grandmothers and even great-grandmothers and one special great-great grandmother.  Have a great weekend! You deserve it.

Famous humorist Erma Bombeck wrote one of the finest pieces about mothers that I ever read and I want to reprint it here.

It certainly is true, in my opinion:

When the Lord was creating mothers . . . and way into the sixth day of overtime, an angel appeared and said:

“You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And the Lord said:

“Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic . . . have 180 movable parts — all replaceable . . . run on black coffee . . .have a lap that disappears when she stands up . . . a kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair . . . and six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook its head, “Six pairs of hands? No way.”

It’s not the hands that are causing problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

“That’s on the standard model?” the angel asked.

The Lord nodded and said:

“One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to. And of course, the ones in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ‘I understand, and I love you” without uttering a word.’ “

“Lord,” said the angel sympathetically, “go to bed. Tomorrow is another . . .”

“I can’t,” the Lord said, “I’m so close. Already I have one who heals herself when she’s sick, can feed a family of four on one pound of hamburger, and can get a six-year-old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother and sighed: “It’s too soft.”

“But tough,” said the Lord excitedly, “you cannot imagine what this mother can do and endure.”

“Can it think?”

“Not only think, but it can reason and compromise,” the Creator said. The angel bent over and ran a finger across the cheek: “There’s a leak!”

“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”

“What’s it for?”

It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness and pride.”

“You’re a genius,” the angel said.

The Lord looked somber. “I didn’t put it there.”

The above appeared in a Denver Post column by Trisha Flynn, who describes herself as: an Irish-Catholic, Republican, middle-class, middle-aged, married mother who writes from her Denver home.

When Flynn called her friend who gave her the above clipping, to ask who wrote “When God Created Mothers,” she said what Flynn felt: “Are you kidding? At this point, all I retain is water!”

Flynn wrapped up her column with:

“There’s an old joke that applies here: How can you prove God is a man?

“Who else would give a woman teenagers, menopause and a wedding to plan at the same time!”

Dave Simpson: It’s Almost Time To Get Out of Dodge

in Column/Dave Simpson

If ever there was a summer to head for the hills, this is it.

Where I go in the summer – way up in the mountains, just shy of 10,000 feet – folks prefer to stay six feet away from each other, if not more.  We’re not huggers. And you’d have to work hard to come up with a crowd of 10 people or more.

This will be my 39th year up there, in a small log cabin that an old college roommate and I built with our bare hands, lots of sweat, and the smallest chainsaw Homelite ever built. (At $79, it was all I could afford.)

The place is 14 feet by 14 feet, because a 14-foot log was the longest two young guys with more muscle than sense could lift. The place became a lifetime project, and still isn’t finished.

Pretty soon, when the snow up there melts (last time I looked there was still six feet of snow on the ground), I’ll be leaving my in-town problems behind and heading for the simpler life.

And when my cabin season is over come September, I’m hoping the picture down here in town will be clearer.

Some issues I hope will be resolved by then:

– My inalienable right to get a haircut has only this week been restored by our governor (just in time to avoid a Billy Ray Cyrus mullet). But I still can’t walk into our local McDonalds and enjoy a senior geezer discount cup of coffee.

 If someone told me a year ago that politicians could “close” an economy, I would have said, “no way!” We’re all scared of what this virus can do – especially to the over 65 crowd like me – but the notion of politicians forcing businesses (even churches!) to close would not have occurred to me. I didn’t think they had that much power.

– You can call people who want to get back to work impatient and ill-advised, I guess. But you’re wrong if you call them selfish, which I see in comments and social media posts. Getting back to work, earning a paycheck, taking care of your family and paying your bills can be called a lot of things, but selfish isn’t one of them. Being out of work now, after all, isn’t their fault.

If anyone is unreasonable in this equation, it’s those who demand that everyone see things the same, staying home, not making a living.

– Maybe by September we’ll know when you accumulate enough “anecdotes” that results aren’t “anecdotal” anymore. From what I can tell, the only way results aren’t anecdotal is if you set up a trial that takes months or years, hoodwink half the people into taking placebo sugar pills, and see if they don’t get better, while the people who took the actual pills do get better. (Sucks to be a placebo recipient.)

– As it stands now, that drug HCQ has it’s supporters, and some folks say it saved their lives. But it lost media favor when President You Know Who expressed optimism for it (an unpardonable sin). Then along came something called “Remdisivir,” which looks pretty good, except the president is hyping it now, so there must be something wrong with it, too. Drugs are partisan now, at least in the media, so the best advice is to be an Independent so you can take all the drugs.

– Could someone explain how “herd immunity” ever gets going if the herd is social distancing? If all the cows are six feet apart, or sheltering in place in their bovine basements, how does this herd immunity get any traction? Don’t we have to be a herd to get herd immunity?

– I’m betting we’ll have enough masks come September. I notice that “Shamwow Vince” – the funny, loud-talking guy who used to hawk car care sponges on TV – is back, selling some pretty nice looking face masks.

Is this a great country, or what?

– And finally, I notice that the governor of California has closed the beaches. If a governor can close the beaches, could a governor close the mountains?

I better get up there as soon as possible.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at

Joe Kenney: The Cure is Worse Than the Disease

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By Joe Kenney, Guest Column for Cowboy State Daily

It is time for our country, out state, county and city to go back to work.  Throughout this Covid 19 pandemic our leaders have listened to the scientists and doctors and our entire economy was shut down based on “expert’s” estimates that two and a half million Americans would die if our entire country didn’t shut down. 

Don’t get me wrong, any death from the Chinese Flu is one too many.  But, the current count is about 60,000 with those deaths largely in the heavily concentrated population centers on the East and West Coasts. 

Do you have any idea how many people are hospitalized in Wyoming with the Wuhan Flu?  A hundred? Fifty?  Twenty five?  No, the number is twelve.  12 out of 500,000 people.  And, there have been seven deaths.

In the coming weeks the number of reported cases will go up, maybe even skyrocket.  Not because there is a sudden surge in cases, no, because of a sudden increase in testing. 

Reservation health providers have received 6,000 test kits and they are testing as many people as they can.  It doesn’t mean the illness is surging, it just means the testing has identified cases that are already among us.

I think by now that we have figured out how to live with this flu.  Those of us who are the most vulnerable have figured out that we are not going to concerts anytime soon, we are careful about wearing masks and washing our hands and keeping our distance. 

We’re grownup and we can decide if there’s a risk and if it’s a risk we want to take when it comes to sports events.  We can decide if we want to brave the crowds in our National Parks or if we want to go to a movie or a play.

And, there’s the rub.  Our Governor and state doctor and our county medical folks have the state shut down.  Can somebody please tell me why 300 people can go to Walmart but not a single person can go and sit down and be served at a restaurant? 

Why can food trucks set up in a vacant lot and serve food to a waiting line of people while restaurants are forbidden from serving takeout meals to their customers at tables in their parking lots? 

Restaurants with drive-up windows can serve their patrons out the window and they can park and eat on nearby picnic tables.  Yet, county officials won’t even accept a request for a variance for a restaurant to open prior to May 15th, and those plans have to be approved by the county officials and the state before a restaurant can open. 

And, oh, yeah, there are no recommendations on what those plans should look like.

 The cure is worse than the disease.  Message to Governor Gordon and the doctors and scientists keeping our state from getting back to business as usual:  It’s time to let us make our own decisions, time to let every business re-open right now and for people to be able to make their own decisions about getting back to living the dream.

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Opinion: The USA Recovery Is Delayed By Bad Results Of Good Intentions

in Column

By Rusty Rogers

SARATOGA – To put it as succinctly as possible, good intentions will delay any recovery. Part of the second relief bill was additional unemployment. It’s $600 per week. If Wyoming is sending you a check for $415 a week and you get an additional $600, suddenly you are taking home over $1,000 per week. Why on earth would you go back to your $15-an-hour job?

At least until the end of July. That’s how long the extra cash lasts. Like I said– good intentions. All of the relief bills stem from the desire to help people. At least on the Republican side; the Dems just seem to want to change America into Venezuela and assume total power over we the people.

Good intentions pave the road to hell and that’s what we are going to have because of those good intentions. If you are an employer who had to lay off your people and can’t get them to come back, the only option you may have is to offer the job and stop their compensation if they refuse. The only thing this might cause is a certain amount of hatred from the returning employees.

The good doctors Fauci and Birx are scientists who have done their work, spent their bureaucratic careers in the darkness of obscurity. Then wham! The Chinese sent them a gift, the chance to be at the forefront of everything in the government.

It’s power they had only dreamed of. It’s out in front of the cameras and all of America.

And boy did they use that power. Oh, they didn’t try to take over or anything like that; in fact, they acted with only the best of intentions. They problem is, they didn’t spend a lot of time considering the risk of unintended consequences. We got a boat load of them.

Economic destruction on an epic scale. I find it interesting to watch Dr. Fauci when talking about the economy. It’s clear he has no understanding of the subject; in fact, he admits it. Problem is, beyond not understanding the economy, he really doesn’t care about it.

He and Dr. Birx have spent their adult lives in the warm embrace of Uncle Sam and the thought of that financial security fading simply has no meaning to them. It cannot be conceived of in their world; it just couldn’t happen. As a consequence, they seem incapable of realizing what a serious problem it is for all of the people who pay the taxes.

I’m going to slide sideways for a moment and explain why it is that government employees don’t pay taxes. Pretty simple, really. Their paycheck comes entirely from the pool of tax money paid by the private sector. So every dime withheld for taxes is not a payment but a refund; a repayment, maybe. Their sales tax, gas tax… all of it is just returning to the tax pool; some of what they were paid out of it.

Another person that doesn’t understand where money comes from and that the government doesn’t have any, is AOC. Now, if I were politically correct, I would either leave the subject alone or be kind, just like the southern “bless her heart.” Thankfully, I am not politically correct. AOC has only one excuse for her ignorance. She’s dumber than a sack of hammers. And she does not have good intentions.

That lack of knowledge and empathy on the part of the good doctors are going to end up costing America and the world trillions and set back the society about two years. I wonder also if they ever think about those people who were not allowed to get their chemo, their biopsies or their scans. They now avoid hospitals no matter how they feel, out of needless fear.

What bout the doctors, nurses, orderlies, technicians who are losing their jobs because the hospitals are empty? They acted on the information they had at the time but their advice was wrong on so many points. Staying indoors with only your family is bad, oh so bad.

We all know that President Trump suspended support of the World Health Organization. It was their advice we took; in fact, the world followed the advice except for Sweden. They did what a lot of people, including yours truly, thought we should have done. Well, now the WHO has turned 180 degrees and now says Sweden was right!

Did the WHO act in the beginning with good intentions? I would like to think so. That they, as well as our leaders, acted on false information spread by the CCP. (Chinese Communist Party). So why would they suddenly reverse their advice? Perhaps they are finally ready to admit they were wrong, or perhaps they have found a way to attack Trump.

It would not be surprising to see the left use this whole fiasco to try to stop Trump. Everything else failed, so why not, right?

I really don’t blame the president. He acted in good faith and with only the people and America in mind. The information he got and the advice with it were bad and wrong. The money we have borrowed from our great-great-grandchildren shames me but without it I doubt we would be able to restart the economy. It’s a bargain with the devil, in a way.

Rusty Rogers a Saratoga native and a lifetime conservative and Constitutional student.

Elation To Devastation: NFL Draft Produces Emotional Weekend For Pair Of Pokes

in Cody Tucker/Column

Logan Wilson Lands In Cincinnati While Alijah Halliburton Still Waits For The Call

By Cody Tucker, Cowboy State Daily

CHEYENNE — The tears flowed. So did the shots and champagne.

That best describes the scene at the east Casper home of Wyoming All-American linebacker, Logan Wilson, who was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the first pick of the third round of the NFL Draft.

It wasn’t a matter of if for the three-time captain, it was when. Things were different for his teammate, Alijah Halliburton.

Less than 24 hours later, inside a seventh-floor suite of a Denver hotel room, the Cowboy safety awaited the most important phone call of his young life.

In his one season as a starter, Halliburton racked up a Mountain West leading 130 tackles and claimed a Defensive MVP trophy in the Arizona Bowl. He sat calmly, quietly on a couch just feet away from a large flat screen television mounted on the wall. 

His cell never rang. The bottle of bubbly on his counter never got popped.

It’s in that moment one realizes playing in the NFL is not a right, it’s a privilege. One just a couple hundred players per season get. And there are no guarantees.

Cassh Maluia, another UW linebacker, was taken by New England in the fifth round. Atlanta, a team that was in contact with Halliburton for the better part of a month, snagged teammate Tyler Hall minutes after the draft as a free agent.

That was a bittersweet moment. 

Was Halliburton happy for his teammates? Of course. But did it add to the misery of the day? I’ll go with yes.

Halliburton wasn’t the only Cowboy feeling these emotions.

Placekicker, Cooper Rothe, Wyoming’s all-time leading scorer, still hasn’t received a call. Neither have wide receivers Raghib Ismail Jr. and John Okwoli. Punter Ryan Galovich, defensive end Josiah Hall  and Casper product, tight end Josh Harshman, are all still free agents, too.

Last Friday, Wilson was busy giving hugs and doing interviews with the Cincinnati media. 

“It’s hard to explain,” Wilson said of his emotions. “It’s overwhelming. My heart is still pounding.

“I’m just excited they picked me.”

Saturday, Halliburton, who was also supposed to be celebrating his 22nd birthday, said his goodbyes to family and friends, thanking them for waiting with him. He couldn’t leave that room fast enough.

“I’m pissed,” he said quietly inside the hotel hallway. “I’m sad. I can’t control any of it. That’s the worst part.”

It’s the pure, raw emotion that makes draft day can’t-miss television. Seeing it in person makes it all the more real. Dreams are validated and dashed in the matter of a weekend.

Some see professional athletes as no more than overpaid and overvalued in our society. Sometimes, that couldn’t be more true. In this case, however, it was about seeing a goal reached. For Wilson, a Wyoming native, it was the culmination of hard work, dedication and always doing the right thing.

The same can be said for Halliburton. The right people just didn’t take notice — yet. 

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Bill Sniffin: What Will You Remember About The Pandemic Of 2020?

in Bill Sniffin/Column

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher of the Cowboy State Daily

As a journalist, covering the pandemic has been possibly the biggest story of my life. That is the main thing I will remember about this crazy period. 

I reached out to some other interesting folks and asked them what they will remember: 

World traveler and bestselling author Mark Jenkins of Laramie says: “The world is suffering horribly, so much so that I feel guilty living in Wyoming. Due to our wide-open spaces and small population, we can still get outside without seeing a soul. I have cross country skied or rock climbed or mountain biked or hiked every single day since the beginning of the pandemic.”    

Down in Wheatland, Chuck Brown says: “Kate has cleaned every drawer, every closet, every other conceivable surface in the house, and my greatest fear is that she is going to start on me very soon! She also has been seen out scouting around the yard, just waiting for one or two weeds to surface so they can be demolished as well! Happy Covid 19.”

Helen LaRose of Lander: “We’ve gone back to basics. Both of us are over 60 years old and one of us is immunocompromised.  We drove back home from a winter retreat in Texas under the radar and quietly self-quarantined for two weeks.  

“No bread on the shelves? I restarted my sourdough. It’s never been so bubbly and well attended. Home cooking at its peak, the grill and smoker under my husband’s care is turning out delicious meat. And the seedlings for my victory garden are receiving close monitoring, moving by my hand to meet the sun all day long. Our retirement income and long walks continue. Occasional drives out to our Wyoming beauty have taken our breath away.  

“What do I miss? Being able to help. I fall into the elderly ‘be careful’ group.   I can’t volunteer to this community and it hurts my soul. Deeply.  Our kids in Houston FaceTime regularly but we miss them and worry about them as they maneuver through this new economic and health pandemic.” 

Former Green River resident Jack Pugh: “The Spanish Flu killed about 18 million people worldwide. We’re all too young to have lived through that. But we’ve got this one, this pandemic. We need to see the present through the lens of the past. This current pandemic will have to do us, I suppose, and the docs say it’s far from over.” 

Tom Cox: “The best part of this pandemic is speculating on how it’s going to change our culture. With the technology available today, I can see some big advances in the pharmaceutical industry. Maybe even, a better understanding of cancer or neurological maladies. It’s been a rough few weeks with some more to come before we develop immunity for everyone. The biggest disappointment, I think, is the pervasiveness of politics in dealing with this crisis.” 

Bill Schilling of Casper is hunkering down near Princeville on Kauai says: “Two standouts: first, how quickly Rotary at the club, district and international have adapted to zoom meetings without missing a beat in terms of congeniality; and second, how mindful citizens have become regarding social distancing. And how the vast majority are behaving with acceptance of the new normal 

Bill and Sue Lee of Lander: “In the last month drove twice to Bellingham, Washington, for the birth of our second grandson.  Driving straight through.  Clorox wipes, gloves and face mask.  Stopping only to get gas.  Taking food in cooler.  Potty breaks in the woods.  Now on to self-quarantine for two weeks now that we are home.”

Jerry Kendall of Hudson says: “We’re gonna make it through this. When we do, I hope that we will use what we have learned from it and not go back to the way it was before, but instead move forward in a decent, honorable way. Look out for one another instead of senseless bickering and refusing to even talk to someone who does not think the same way we do.” 

In my own case, as of this writing, we have been hunkering down at our home in Lander. We have been self-quarantined here since March 15, over six weeks. 

We have gotten along surprisingly well and on the health front, neither of us has had the flu, a cold, or even the sniffles.  This quarantine business has its positive effects.  If you are not exposed to anyone, especially, the grandkids, you are less likely to pick up some of those nasty spring diseases. 

So far, Zoom, Uber, and Go-to-meeting virtual meetings — have been over 30 so far.  Rarely did I ever do one of these before. Now some days can see as many as four such meetings. 

We are proud of those ordinary folks delivering food, stocking shelves, doing police and firefighter work, cooking in restaurants (for take-out), and a whole slew of folks we always took for granted. They are my new heroes and I will never look through them or take them for granted again. Ever. 

The medical folks and EMT folks deserve special consideration. All across the country, American citizens have a new appreciation for the dangerous work they are doing.

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Dave Simpson: Trump Column Unleashes the Beast

in Column/Dave Simpson

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By Dave Simpson, Columnist

We keep hearing that “we’re all in this together” in this crisis, (did you remember to wash your hands?), but that doesn’t mean we’re getting along very well.

First, an aside: About 30 years ago, an unhappy column reader invited me to take a dip in the local sewage lagoon. I taped that letter to the wall, a reminder that there are a lot of unhappy campers out there. I was also grudgingly amused by his creativity.

I was new to Illinois at the time, and another unhappy column customer dubbed me “the Big Wind from Wyoming.” One day a local business took $90,000 in annual advertising away from us, in the wake of our coverage of some controversial issues. Ouch. (It didn’t change our reporting.)

Another aside: A longtime friend who is liberal met me at a local bar in Casper, Wyo. – Frosties it was called, and it still exists – a few times back in the 1980s. We had a good time debating politics over pitchers of Coors. We liked each other – still do – even though he saw me as a money-grubbing Republican who would snatch porridge away from starving orphans, and I saw him as a wild-eyed Democrat who would pound hard-earned tax dollars down every crazy liberal rat hole he could find.

We laughed a lot on those occasions. I’m not sure that’s possible anymore. (Recently, when I asked for viewing suggestions, he came up with two Michael Moore movies, but did not include an “lol.” I did not respond with an “lol,” not wanting to press my luck in these contentious times. We do what we have to do to hang onto old friends.)

Which brings us to what I wrote last week in this space. I said that while I often wish Donald Trump would say things differently, avoiding his habit of walking into screaming buzz saw issues with the media and Democrats, I continue to support the job he has done as president. And I included the appraisal of my wife – a well-educated person – that Trump “has our back.”

She predicted, “You’re gonna get some flak over this one,” and once again she was right. (I hate it when she’s right.)

Most readers were supportive, saying they felt exactly the same way. Trump rambles, he blusters, he blowtorches reporters, and he sometimes gets carried away. But we support the results he has gotten, cutting regulations, appointing judges, and until recently, helping take the stock market all the way from 18,000 to almost 30,000. That’s good for our life savings.

The column reached a remarkable 2,549 people on Facebook [Simpson’s personal page], and was re-posted 34 times. Most were in agreement. I hope it’s taped to some refrigerator doors.

About a dozen didn’t like the column at all. While some were polite, asking what Trump had ever done to have my back, there was some amazing name calling. One dubbed me a “synaptic dendrite of the GOP” (smile when you call me that, mister), and called Dick Cheney “a war criminal.” He suggested I might drive one of those “coal roller” pickups that spew smoke. (Not true, Your Honor.)

Another person posted on Facebook that he would rather not respond to my “unbridled idiocy,” but wondered nonetheless why anyone could like Trump. He found my explanation lacking, and called Republicans “mouth breathers.” Another unhappy customer raised the ante, calling Republicans “booger eaters.” (This, from the folks who claim to have a corner on compassion, intellectual superiority, and articulate debate.)

Two called me both stupid and ignorant. I “disgusted” another.

One asked, “Isb you. a (blanking) idiot?” obviously so worked up that he botched the typing.

Answer: No, I isn’t.

Another unhappy column customer (hey, they’re FREE!) offered this: “If you can support him (Trump) and sleep at night, you have no moral compass.” To which my wife responded, “if you support the Democrats who murder full-term babies, I question YOUR moral compass.”

Feisty, ain’t she?

We may all be in this together, like everyone is saying. But don’t look for much love over there on the other side if you like the president.

The name calling is enough to blow your hat in the creek.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at

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Eli Bebout: Powder River Basin Resource Council’s Goal is to Kill Minerals Industry

in Column/Eli Bebout

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Guest column by State Sen. Eli Bebout (R-Riverton)

We want to teach our children to think critically and evaluate sources when reading “facts” on the internet or anywhere else. This is a response to the recent opinion piece written by Wayne Lax, a board member of the Powder River Basin Resource Council (PRBRC), published in two Wyoming newspapers.

The Powder River Basin Resource Council is an organization which loudly proclaims that it is a Wyoming grassroots advocacy group, yet most of its resources come from out-of-state organizations with one agenda: to eradicate extractive industries such as coal, oil and natural gas.

I urge readers to review the PRBRC filings with the Internal Revenue Service.

It does have members from Wyoming, and a largely Wyoming-based board, but approximately 95% of its funding comes from these out-of-state organizations:  Western Organization of Resources Councils (WORC), Montana; The New World Foundation, New York; The NEO Philanthropy, Inc., New York; The Bloomberg Family Foundation, New York; The JPB Foundation, New York, and the Proteus Fund, Amherst, Massachusetts.    

The PRBRC and its spokesman Lax see issues in Wyoming through that lens and represents the agenda of these organizations – to kill energy production and jobs in Wyoming.

Those of us in the Legislature are working to preserve and diversify our economy, and support Wyoming jobs in our energy sector, which contributes more than half of Wyoming’s biennial budget.

Meanwhile Michael Bloomberg and George Soros, who fund WORC and PRBRC, are seeking to reduce Wyoming’s mineral industry and its jobs.

As one of the legislators that the PRBRC charges with bias and giving away state resources to the oil and gas industry, let me hold a different lens to some of his statements.

First, Lax’s comment: “Wyomingites have long supported the oil and gas industry” – in fact, a truer statement is that the oil and gas industry has long supported the state of Wyoming through severance and property taxes and jobs.  

Another of the points of PRBRC’s editorial charges the Wyoming legislature with allowing oil and gas companies to “loot money from current and future Wyomingites” as well as dodge financial and regulatory obligations using the pandemic as an excuse.

This is a cruel assertion, given the effects of Covid-19 to our State, the nation, and our citizens, in serious illness, deaths, loss of jobs, and resulting disastrous effects on small businesses.  

Since the coronavirus wasn’t even recognized as a serious threat in Wyoming until mid-March, long after the legislature had adjourned, how could we have even considered something so ridiculous and awful? 

It is true that the Wyoming legislature approved a 2% severance tax reduction for new oil and gas wells, so long as the price of oil is below $50 per barrel for oil and below $2.95 per1,000 cubic feet of gas.

This tax reduction was approved, not to give a bigger break to oil and gas companies, but to encourage more drilling, more production and more jobs in Wyoming during tough times.

The Legislature is not alone in encouraging more activity, even amid this crisis and the financial uncertainty, Wyoming small businesses are offering discounts to oil and gas companies as a good faith effort to keep our economy going.  

In regard to PRBRC’s statement that many bankrupt oil and gas companies are giving golden parachutes to company executives and the Legislature is allowing them to leave obligations to the state unpaid.

Let me remind the PRBRC that the Wyoming Legislature has absolutely no control over how companies manage “exit strategies” and many companies, in an attempt to reduce their payroll and reorganize under bankruptcy filings, give early retirement incentives to employees.

While we think other unpaid expense should have priority, this is a common fiscal strategy to improve the bottom line. In many instances, Wyoming would be ahead if those companies could reduce payroll and reorganize rather than go out of business completely.  

Needless to say, this is a difficult time for all energy companies big and small as the oil and gas sell-off between Russia and OPEC created a huge glut with a resulting precipitous drop in the price of oil, and then the demand also dropped drastically because of the nationwide shutdown and travel restrictions.

All of our oil and gas producers are experiencing a critical decline in prices, profits and cash flow. Had the Wyoming Legislature known what was coming, we might have done more to encourage and stabilize oil and gas production in Wyoming.  

I can’t speak for all legislators, but from my point of view as a legislator, a lifetime resident of Wyoming, and a business person who is part-owner of an oil and gas drilling company, we need to develop our state’s resources responsibly, and with local jobs and our state’s economy top of mind.

Will the PRBRC pay the bill for education, correctional facilities and other state agencies? No.   

Even though they reap hundreds of thousands of dollars from out-of-state organizations every year, they are not taxed on their income, either by the State or our federal government and only mobilize their tax-free income to fight Wyoming jobs.

So, Lax is not considering a tax of any kind on PRBRC, just to be clear. But the PRBRC’s out-of-state funded, job-killing activities can take a toll on Wyoming’s economy and jobs.

Let’s stop the negative assertions about our Wyoming legislature and look for ways all of us can work together as Wyoming citizens to sustain our state’s industries – oil and gas, coal, minerals, agriculture, tourism, ranching, technology, and small businesses – in creative, responsible and productive ways. We are all ears, Mister Lax.

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Cat Urbigkit: Shedding Cabin Fever Amid COVID-19

in Cat Urbigkit/Column

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By Cat Urbigkit, Range Writing columnist

This national emergency has only compounded our normal cabin fever as we put winter behind us and we’re all chomping at the bit to get out and do something.

We are tired of having businesses closed down and being told to stay home. We’re tired of not having our children in school with their teachers. We are terrified by what has happened to our economy. We don’t want to wear face coverings. We don’t want to practice social distancing.

We’re nearing the end of President Trump’s “30-days to slow the spread” campaign, and as we near that mark, the pressure is on to reopen America and start the recovery process.

Every day of warmer weather leading us to May 1 has led to more complacency with the mitigation measures that were created to help us survive this pandemic, even as Wyoming’s case count continues to rise.

I get it. Everyone is unhappy and stressed, and either the government is doing too much, or the government isn’t doing enough. General complaints about government aren’t doing much to help anything, but let’s all take personal responsibility for what happens next.

Even before this national emergency, there tends to be an uptick in human injuries caused by the enthusiasm of getting outside in response to spring weather.

We all seem to engage in riskier activities like riding spring-kinked horses, getting on dirt-bikes and 4-wheelers, or going for long hikes regardless of our fitness levels.

What we end up with is wrecks and medical emergencies, and more heart attacks, strokes, and car accidents. We end up needing to call for help. And there – in every community – are the first responders willing to take their own risks to rescue us.

Unlike the majority of the population, these people are trained and highly skilled at getting victims found, stabilized, and transferred out of whatever predicament we’ve found ourselves in.

In this pandemic we are asking first responders to do even more. Right now, our reckless or thoughtless actions (or pure dumb luck) place our first responders in even more jeopardy.

We do that by exposing them to a threat that they can’t see, and that perhaps they won’t know they (or you) are carrying. They may be fine, but unknowingly transmit coronavirus to someone else. You or I may be doing the same.

I know that when you head out on a beautiful sunny day, you aren’t thinking that you will be doing anything dangerous, or that you may end up in a medical emergency before you can return home, but that’s how all accidents happen.

The May 1 opening of the shed antler season is expected to bring an influx of horn hunters to the public lands of western Wyoming even during this national emergency.

Switching the opening hour from midnight to noon has some shed hunters grumbling about cheaters and lack of enforcement, but hopefully the time change will help to tame the chaos of year’s past.

But each of those horn hunters will transport with them a heightened risk of transmitting COVID-19, even as they view their activity as low-risk since they’ll be in the great outdoors.

They’ll stop for gas or groceries, or to open a gate. Some will have overturned 4-wheelers or get thrown by a horse. They will add to the growing burden we’ve placed on our first responders, and the potential cost is significant.

We all need to take personal responsibility for our own actions, and to be aware of the burdens that we are placing on others as we engage in higher-risk activities.

Here on the ranch it’s shearing season, and any time we have to work animals in confinement heightens our risk of injury. The arrival of our shearing crew brings the same added threat as the traveling horn hunters, so we’ve had to make changes and added precautions to reduce both the risk of injuries and threat of disease transmission. Some of it seems unwelcoming or inhospitable.

But what is most unwelcome is COVID-19 transmission. If the series of small actions I take can reduce the threat I pose to others, I’m good with that.

Cat Urbigkit is an author and rancher who lives on the range in Sublette County, Wyoming. Her column, Range Writing, appears weekly in Cowboy State Daily. To request reprint permission or syndication of this column, email

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