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Wyoming Taxes: Minerals Industry Can No Longer Pay For Everything

in Column/Don Thorson
5034

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By Don Thorson, Guest Columnist

My knowledge of the Wyoming tax system began 40 years ago when I was elected to the state legislature and was appointed to the revenue committee. Taxes in Wyoming were based on a three-legged stool principle.

The three legs were sales tax, tourism, and property taxes, of which mineral taxes was a large component.

Wyoming, because of its physical nature, does not lend itself to an organized community as most other states do. It is rather a group of widely separated communities tied together by the railroads and agriculture interests.

Larger populations were in the southern tier along the UP railroad and a few communities in the central portion. These generally prospered along with some others where oil and gas were discovered. 

Oil became a major contributor to the property tax portion and soon became a dominant portion of the property tax component. This caused large disparities of wealth within counties and especially in the school systems.

The discrepancy has been mostly corrected by an equalization of the school portion of the tax. There is a problem with the way the property taxes on minerals were collected, because the taxes were not paid until about 18 months after the oil was sold.

The operators were then able to use that lag for payment of their operations and to pay the taxes out of next year’s production. This process worked fairly well because of growth and stable prices.

Problems could arise if an operator failed and could not pay last year’s taxes. This problem did make itself known in recent times because of the drastic increase in prices and also in the coal industry, which is subject to the same accounting.

I have spent my life in the oil industry and could see a problem arise. I have tried for some 30 years to get the legislature to make a change in the way property taxes are collected on mineral production.

This lack of change caused the loss of over $100 million in recent years, most of which would have gone to schools. The revenue committee finally did it recently with thanks to efforts of Mike Madden and Cale Case.

There are major changes which still need to be addressed though. The people of Wyoming are beneficiaries of a welfare system from which they receive about $6,000 worth of service but only pay less than $2,000 in taxes.

The people and the government are going to have to learn to live with a reduction of this 60% subsidy to their taxes. 

This discrepancy occurred because of the high prices for energy and the coal bonus prices, which are in a steep decline.

We have built some of the finest schools in the nation but are starting to have trouble maintaining them.

There is a need for value-added industry, but the basic nature of the state does not lend itself to that type of industry. The state spends large sums of money to entice companies to locate here, but the state receives no revenue from these companies other than a little property tax because of the way our system works.

There is only one other source for increased funds, and that is from the people. We could start with a business income tax. Many of the businesses in Wyoming are owned by out-of-state firms.

Most of these firms are domiciled in states that have a business tax, so they wind up paying tax on the money they earn in Wyoming to their home state. Mineral extraction companies would be exempt because they pay about 25% tax on their gross income without any exemptions.

The other main source could be a personal income tax starting at $100,000. An amendment in the Constitution requires that lower income people would not pay income tax because their sales and property taxes would be a credit against any income tax.

Taxes are always unpleasant to discuss, but they are a necessary part of the world in which we live. The legislature could return the power and duty of personal taxation to the city councils and county commissioners where it really belongs.

The property valuation factor could be raised either in increments or all at once. The mandatory school levies would need to be adjusted for this to happen.

The people of Wyoming have long been fortunate to have many of their services paid for by the mineral industry, but our needs and desires have outgrown the ability of that industry to carry us.

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The Humpty Dumpty Court

in Column/Jonathan Lange
5032

By Jonathan Lange. Columnist, Cowboy State Daily

Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court’s latest adventure in legislating, has already seen enough compelling analysis to raise some troubling questions. Here’s a quick overview.

Justice Kavanaugh’s dissent showed that the majority did not interpret Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Rather the Court rewrote Title VII, inserting language that multiple previous congresses decidedly rejected. This is a “transgression of the Constitution’s separation of powers,” he wrote.

The dissenting opinion of Justices Alito and Thomas was stronger still. “There is only one word for what the Court has done today: legislation.” It emphasizes that our elected representatives are currently considering H.R. 5, the so-called “Equality Act,” which would amend the very law that Bostock rewrote. But rather than let the elected legislators vote, six unelected justices disenfranchised 360 million votes cast in three separate elections.

The majority not only arrogated this task to itself, but did it in the laziest way possible. It rewrote a single line of the U.S. Code that would affect 167 different provisions of federal law—but refused to reconcile the contradictions it created.

Among the 167 questions left unanswered are whether men’s access to women’s dressing rooms and sports leagues will be mandated. Whether female students and women escaping from domestic violence will be forced to share dorm rooms and living quarters with men, it didn’t say.

Patients will sue doctors both for removing healthy sex organs and for refusing to remove healthy sex organs. The majority could not be bothered to tell doctors which side will win. These, “are questions for future cases,” it said.

The evasive majority thus refused to commit itself to the logic of its own opinion—for good reason. The opinion’s fatal flaw is an equivocation in the opening paragraph.

Gorsuch wrote, “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

This framing of the question assumes that a man’s right to present as a woman is hindered by the unalterable fact of his sex—he can’t help it if he’s a man. Therefore, the Court must come to the rescue and forbid an employer from taking his sex into account.

Gorsuch’s foundational claim that sex is unalterable is heretical to gender theorists. When J.K. Rowling recently said that, “sex is determined by biology,” the outrage mob wanted her canceled.

How Justices Kagan, Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor could have signed onto this opinion without incurring the wrath of the same mob should be puzzling.

But, of course, no one is surprised. In our brave, new world, logical inconsistencies are par for the course. In fact, Gorsuch is not the first to opine that “sex discrimination” includes any legal recognition of the unalterable fact of sex.

The theory has been around since 1975, when he was in third grade. Moreover, his fellow Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has spent 45 years arguing against it!

Gorsuch asserts that this self-contradictory opinion is driven by strict and principled “textualism.” But he never once uses the word, “originalism.” It would be better described as “pre-textualism,” because he has no intention of determining the original meaning of the text.

First, neither “homosexual,” nor “transsexual” is, in fact, in the text. Second, multiple legislators over the course of 45 years have proposed changes in the text precisely because the text does not address homosexuality and transsexuality. Third, his concurring justices, Kagan, Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor, have a long and proud history of defying textualism at every turn.

I am not pointing out anything that the majority didn’t already know. They are extremely smart and capable lawyers. Doubtless, Alito, Thomas and Kavanaugh have been reminding them of the logical, constitutional and legal problems for the past several months.

They knew full well that their opinion would require decades of litigation costing millions. They knew that countless doctors, churches, businesses and charities would be sued into oblivion.

They also could have explicitly limited Gorsuch’s theory to Title VII alone. But the majority both refused to rule out any of the 167 new applications, while also refusing to admit that they would all logically follow.

This is now a Humpty Dumpty court. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

The Bostock majority is now that master. That is all.

Dave Simpson: Don’t Paint All Cops With Same Brush

in Column/Dave Simpson
5007

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By Dave Simpson. Columnist, Cowboy State Daily

Years ago, a beefy police dispatcher not so patiently explained to me the difference between a robbery and a burglary.

I was a beginning reporter, and had mistakenly called a burglary a robbery. In print.

A robbery, he explained, is when you threaten someone to steal something. A burglary is when you take something when they aren’t around. Big difference.

I never made that mistake again.

As a newsman, I’ve had plenty of dealings with police officers and deputies over the years.

– A quiet, sincere deputy I spoke to many times – as I recall he grew up on a local ranch – died in a small plane crash, searching for a snowmobiler lost in the mountains. The snowmobiler was later found unhurt, but the deputy and the pilot died in the search.

– In another town, a police chief took a dislike to our paper, and started calling everyone arrested John Doe, Mary Doe, Bob Doe, to be difficult. So we put the “Doe Report” on the front page of the paper each day, reporting on the ongoing woes of the Doe family. After a week of ridicule, the chief went back to releasing real names.

– Also in that town, a police officer who was on the school board, tired of what he considered unfair coverage in the newspaper, wore his bulletproof vest, on the outside of his shirt, to a meeting. To make a point. (Sensitive guy.)

– At the crash of a private airplane up in the mountains, I saw Highway Patrol officers and sheriff’s deputies loading body parts into body bags. Imagine your job including that task.

– A justice of the peace in one town had an ongoing feud with the sheriff, accusing the sheriff of making faces at him from the back of the courtroom. The sheriff said I should sit in on some court sessions to see the best show in town.

So I did. And one day, that justice of the peace allowed a state legislator to plead guilty, in private, to drunk driving. In the hallway afterwards, I repeatedly asked the justice of the peace why the plea was taken behind closed doors.

“Arrest that man!” the JP said to a a sheriff’s deputy, pointing at me. “I don’t see anybody,” replied the smiling deputy. Word that the JP tried to arrest a reporter quickly spread around the courthouse. When I got upstairs to the district court, the District Judge laughed and said if they had arrested me, he would have put me “on work release.”

– Once, when my brother was overdue getting to our house in Illinois from Ohio in a snowstorm, a friend who was the former police chief offered to get in his car and help search for him. (Turned out my brother was OK.) When I moved away, that former chief gave me a framed copy of Voltaire’s quote, “I may disagree with what you say, but shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.”

– A veteran police officer in Illinois was part of my coffee group at a place called “Common Grounds.” He liked the fact that I referred to him as “a friend who is a cop,” instead of “a cop friend.”

A talented woodworker, he had a beautifully restored 1950s-era pickup truck, and he loved to ride his Harley. When I moved from Illinois to Nebraska, he pulled a trailer loaded with my stuff, then helped me unload.

He told me once that he never had to draw his sidearm in all his years on the job.

I’ve seen plenty of law enforcement folks over the years – some great guys, some ornery, a whiner or two, a couple heroes, and one who drove 1,600 miles round trip to help me move.

Point is, making sweeping generalizations about “all cops” is just as wrong as lumping peaceful demonstrators with looters.

I’d bet that every officer mentioned in this column is appalled by that calmly homicidal cop in Minneapolis who choked the life out of George Floyd.

Some guys just shouldn’t be cops, but it’s my experience that those cases are exceedingly rare.

I know I never ran into one.

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Rod Miller: Anonymous Political Organization WyoRINO is a Coward That Acts Like Antifa

in Column/Rod Miller
5010

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By Rod Miller. Guest columnist, Cowboy State Daily

Acting as a self-appointed arbiter of conservative political correctness, WyoRINO is riding herd over Wyoming’s elected leadership, making sure everyone toes their line.

WyoRINO is an anonymous political organization registered with the Wyoming Secretary of State through a P.O. box in a little town in western Wyoming. He/she/they publish scorecards of legislative voting based upon a narrow slice of our collective political life. Those that don’t meet their muster, they term RINOs…Republicans in Name Only.

But there are no names of actual human beings associated with WyoRINO. None. Let me repeat that: they will not tell us who they are, but they want us to listen to them.

WyoRINO is an exercise in political cowardice. To hide behind the mother’s apron of anonymity when discussing politics in Wyoming requires only an opinion and a forum, but is lacking the most important ingredient of politics….courage. Until WyoRINO emerges into the bright sunlight of Wyoming and lays personal claim to his/her/their rhetoric, they remain political cowards.

You might be able to get away with that childish behavior on either coast, but here in the Cowboy State, we aren’t afraid to show our faces when we talk. WyoRINO is behaving like some self-appointed star chamber or political inquisitor, blathering about political purity without any basis for accountability. They are acting like Antifa.

Debates over doctrine and platforms within a political party are very healthy and necessary. WyoRINO seems to disagree. They would rather that our entire legislature be composed solely of politicians for whom the future of mankind is decided by the question of guns, abortion and taxes. Nothing else seems important to them.

And they are certainly welcome to that position. There is a narrow wedge of voters in Wyoming who respond to that argument and agree. But for an anonymous organization to try to force-feed that dogma to an entire state is laughable. And to do so from behind mom’s apron is cowardly.

Both our western myth and our reality require that we show our faces when calling someone out. The gunfights in all those old western movies occurred at high noon for a reason. I can’t remember a single western that featured a sheriff or a cowboy hero hiding in some dark corner and sending snarky notes to the bad buy without signing his name. WyoRINO is trying to write a new script, and this cowboy ain’t buyin’ it.

I’ve already had Alexander Hamilton thrown in my face, so don’t try it here. Hamilton used the nom de plume “Publius” in his commentaries in “The Federalist Papers”, and someone recently told me that his example justifies political anonymity. Horseshit!! Hamilton was no cowboy, but rather an east coast elite. He would have been tarred, feathered and run out of any Wyoming town on rails because he lacked the courage to stand on his own two feet and show his face.

If the Wyoming GOP leadership permits WyoRINO to speak for them, then they are complicit in cowardice. If they do not strongly condemn political anonymity, then they have relinquished their right to call themselves “cowboy”.

My name is Rod Miller. I live at 2803 Central Ave. in Cheyenne. My phone number is 307-343-5527, and my email is rodsmillerwyo@yahoo.com. I wrote the above, and if you, WyoRINO, disagree with it, tell me to my face and give me your name. That’s how we do things in Wyoming.

Rod Miller is an author, poet, and longtime Wyoming political operative.

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Bill Sniffin: Covid Be Damned, We Sneaked Off On A Sin City Road Trip

in Bill Sniffin/Column
4976

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher Cowboy State Daily

We blew this popsicle stand. We skedaddled.  We flew out of our nest. We ventured cautiously out in to the world.  Hell, folks, last week, Nancy and I went on a real road trip, ha!

After being confined for exactly three months, we decided it was time to go rescue our 15-year old motorhome, which had been held hostage in 100-degree heat at a Las Vegas RV park. 

The poor thing, which we have named “Follow My Nose,” was in disarray as we left in a hurry on March 19 at the request of our children. We had been attending a Rod Stewart concert at Caesar’s Palace when we were told, under no uncertain terms, “get out of there and get your butts home!”

Our middle daughter Shelli Johnson, who lives in Lander with her husband and three boys, keeps a pretty good eye on us. But she says it’s challenging. 

Like many folks her age, she could be described as being in a “sandwich generation.” This means being responsible for their own kids and their parents.  She says the kids are much easier to manage!

Back then on March 17, I thought it would be fun to email some photos of a Rod Stewart concert in Las Vegas to our kids. Instead of them being thrilled, they told us to pack up and get home to Lander.  Now.

We dutifully complied and left our motorhome there, thinking we would return and get it in 30 days.

It was too cold to bring it home in March, as Lander usually gets two or three big snowstorms with freezing temperatures in April.  As time passed, we seriously wondered when we could go down and fetch the big rig.

As an aside, the only casinos in Wyoming are here in Fremont County. All four of them are still shuttered.  We heard that Vegas was going to be opening last week so we wondered what we would run into down there.

Our motorhome is 40 feet long and weighs 34,000 pounds.  It is also 13 feet high and that stretch of Interstate 15 from Vegas to Salt Lake City is notorious for terrible cross winds. 

Ace Weatherman Don Day from the Cowboy State Daily said the weather on Saturday, June 20, should be nice along that route. “Don’t you want to know about Wyoming’s weather?” he asked.  I told him that all I cared about was getting past that north-south stretch.

Wyoming’s South Pass, which is notorious for winds, was mild on June 18 when we left Lander. We always take the La Barge highway, which goes through the largest solar array in the state. It is huge and going to get bigger.

We stopped for gas at Little America.  This frontier outpost is amazing. I went inside wearing my mask and noticed about a third of the travelers had their masks on, too. 

There were several families and a bunch of truck drivers.  We didn’t linger. We were trying to make it all the way to Vegas in one long day, some 700 miles.

Interstate 80 was busy.  There were lots of cars, campers, and motorhomes. It seemed tourism counts were normal.  And semi-trailer trucks were everywhere. The Interstate 80 Railroad, which is what I call it, was operating at full-strength. Seemed like two semis for every car.

We stopped again in one of my favorite towns, Evanston. I was scouting for places I could park our motorhome on the way back, in case of high winds or even mechanical issues. We had not driven the coach since last October when we took it to Vegas and left it there in storage.

It was a beautiful summer day and we loafed along, getting to Las Vegas about 5 p.m.  We put on our masks and ventured to Sam’s Town, a nearby casino, and ate some dinner. 

It was at 20 percent its normal capacity and all the help were wearing masks. Every other employee was scrubbing things down with sanitizer.  We felt uneasy and left early. 

We were going to spend a couple of days but Nancy says, heck let’s go home. We hooked up the car to the back of the motorhome (now, we were 60 feet long) and started home. It was 99 degrees. 

Before doing that, I insisted we take one quick spin around Vegas. We checked out the new shiny Las Vegas Raiders stadium. It is a huge black dome just off Interstate 15 near the south end of the Strip. It looks magnificent. Locals call it the Death Star.

The strip was almost empty.  It was actually eerie on a Friday afternoon. Normally, it would be wall-to-wall with people and bumper-to-bumper for cars.  Not on this day.

We headed north and Don Day was right. No wind.  We got through Virgin River Gorge and made it to a rest area near Cedar City. Temperatures were 105 going through St. George and we discovered our air conditioning was not working.  Whew! 

We like the Heber City bypass around Salt Lake City through Provo Canyon. The road goes by a couple of lakes that were jammed with people. No masks or social distancing in sight.

Also drove by Coalville Reservoir and Jordanelle Reservoir by Park City – lots of folks on the lakes having fun. We were sweltering in our big, ponderous motorhome slowly working our way home back to cool Wyoming.

Then in Wyoming the wind hit us.  Uh-oh, what was Don trying to tell me a few days ago?

It is easy to appreciate those informational signs that WYDOT uses to let you know if bad weather is ahead. The sign leading up to South Pass in Lander had been reading “40 mph gusts on South Pass” every day for two weeks prior to our trip. That was on my mind at this point.

When we got to Farson, the informational sign was blank.  Blank? Was it out of order?  Forty miles closer to home, at the South Pass rest area, another informational sign was blank? The wind was howling. What the heck?

Luckily, just over South Pass the winds calmed and we headed down the pass for home. It was the longest day of the year so we rolled in at 8:30 p.m. with plenty of sunlight left.  The weather was wondrously cool.

We were home. We were back in jail. We plan to self-quarantine for a while, just in case we somehow got exposed in Las Vegas or at a rest area along the way.

It sure felt fantastic to be free again even if it only lasted 65 hours. 

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Dave Simpson: Digital News: We’re Losing Plenty In This Process

in Column/Dave Simpson
4933

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Imagine a digital news source that would tell you what happened at your city council’s Tuesday evening meeting first thing Wednesday morning.

Every time they met, not just when some big issue comes up.

Imagine 800, maybe 1,000 words letting you know what the most important action taken was, then going down the list of lesser items on their agenda. What council members had to say, how they voted, and who missed the meeting would all be right there in the story.

Imagine a digital news source that would include a list of calls answered by your police department and sheriff’s office, and what the problem was.

Imagine that this news source would take the time, every day, to go to the courthouse, and prepare a long list of property exchanges, marriage licenses issued, charges filed by the prosecutor, and court actions. Over at city hall, a list of calls answered by the fire department and city ambulances would be jotted down, and listed in this digital news source.

Then, this news source would also have a list of people (if they chose to be listed) admitted to the hospital, and births at the hospital. If you spotted a friend’s name, you could send flowers, or call and ask if they would like you to check on their house while they are in the hospital.

Now, let’s say your school board wants to raise property taxes, but your tax bill is so full of incomprehensible words like “mils” and “multipliers” and “extensions” that you don’t know what the ding-dong heck is going on. Let’s say your digital news source had a person on staff who could write a story explaining it, so you know what effect this would have on your house payment. 

Let’s say the local Weed and Pest Board wants to add your favorite plant to the list of noxious weeds that you’re responsible for eradicating. You don’t even know where that board meets, but you want to protect your beloved Russian olives. Let’s say that handy news source gets wind of the change, and does a story all about it.

Let’s say that local college kids propose a “pub crawl” from bar to bar for next weekend, and the city manager figures that a 100-pound coed will be dead halfway through the crawl if she drinks a drink at every stop. The manager gets a reporter to do a story, and the pub crawl is canceled. And you knew all about it, because you read about it right on your cell phone or other device.

Let’s say your kids finished college and left boxes of junk from their old dorm rooms in your garage, and you’ve been stumbling over them for years. You decide to have a garage sale and sell their futons, beer signs and lava lamps, and a little ad in this news source, for not much money, ensures a nice crowd on Saturday morning. Simple. Easy.

Now, here’s the hard part. This digital local news source attracts young people fresh out of college, willing to work for minimum wage if necessary, with grand hopes of moving up in the news business. They are motivated to do some good stories to show prospective employers at the next step up on the career ladder. They work hard, then move on.

Imagine all that stuff, plus a nice write-up when your daughter has a big wedding in town with all your friends and neighbors in attendance.

Back to the real world.

Our local paper canceled its Tuesday edition last month, cutting costs to survive dwindling revenues and the national move from the printed page to digital news sources. A couple years ago they canceled their Monday edition. It has never been tougher to run a local newspaper.

Your coverage of local issues has never been more threatened.

I’m not suggesting that buggy whip companies should have survived Henry Ford’s mass production of automobiles. How we get our news has changed dramatically. New digital sources are showing up, and that’s reason for optimism.

They’ve got a long way to go, however, in providing the gritty local stuff we’ve been receiving from our local papers for decades.

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Bill Sniffin: Lots To Do In Goshen County, The Welcome Mat Is Out For State Visitors

in Bill Sniffin/Column
4937

By Bill Sniffin, publisher Cowboy State Daily

TORRINGTON — Not long ago, I made a tour of eastern Wyoming was among the most fun experiences of a near half-century in the state.

Nestled between Devils Tower on the north end and Laramie Peak on the south end and the rugged hills and buttes of western South Dakota and Nebraska, is a very special place, stretching from up north to Hulett down to Pine Bluffs on the south.

One of our recent trips involved three wonderful towns, Torrington, Lingle, LaGrange, and Fort Laramie.

It is hard to find a small city in Wyoming that is more diversified that Torrington.

It has a thriving Ag community including the region’s largest sale barn Torrington Livestock Market plus a community college plus a large home for children and the state’s medium security prison. 

One the town’s biggest annual events is the 2-Shot Goose Hunt and we were there for the annual victory banquet Saturday, Dec. 9, 2018.

Then-Gov. Matt Mead was the biggest celebrity at the event, which he told me he enjoys very much.  Former Gov. Dave Freudenthal also competed that year.  And current governor Mark Gordon also competed. 

Hunters compete in teams of two. One year, Gov. Mead and his wife Carol were a team.  They camped out in their blind and saw nary a bird. Mead later quipped at the banquet that night that they had nothing else to do, so they repeated their marriage vows.

During my stay in Torrington in 2019, Director Bob Mayor gave us a tour of the St. Joseph’s Children’s Home, which was started as an orphanage some 89 years ago. Today, they serve young boys and girls who usually are sent to the home by the courts. They usually stay about six months.

The home is impressive.  Its grounds are beautiful and it has a solemn, beautiful chapel.  Its museum is one of the more distinctive in the state.  The home was founded by Bishop Patrick McGovern of Cheyenne.

Our friends Bryan and Donna Cay Heinz showed us around the area, including some fantastic historic homes.  These old homes had crow’s nests on the roofs where presumably you could watch for hostile Indians or just check on things for quite a distance.

It was fun visiting the Torrington Telegram and meeting publisher Rob Mortimore and then-Editor Andrew Brosig.  I have too much ink in my blood not to just love the smells and sounds of the local newspaper.  And the Telegram is a darned good one. 

The 2-Shot and other events were held in some of the impressive Goshen County Fair buildings.  Hard to imagine a town as small as Torrington having an indoor arena of such size. They host national roping events and you can see why. It is both enormous and impressive.

Another big thing in this small town is the Torrington Livestock Market. It is one of three biggest livestock auction barns in the country.  Hard to imagine the number of cows that go through that place each year.

While I was in Torrington, I gave a talk to the local Rotary Club about my trilogy of Wyoming Coffee Table Books. What an outstanding club.  And the meeting was at the clubhouse of one of the prettiest golf courses in the state. 

Eastern Wyoming College is going through a building boom, which we saw courtesy of one of the students.  President Leslie Lanham Travers is a Lander native, whom I had watched growing up in my town.  John Hansen, the director of institutional development, has a number of impressive projects underway.

The college is all-in when it comes to the trades with a massive welding teaching complex and an ample cosmetology facility.

As a student of Wyoming history, it has always been easy for me to assume that the only major railroad in the state is the Union Pacific, which runs across the southern tier of counties.

But the eastern side of the state was literally also built of towns nestled next to the railroad, which includes Torrington, Lusk, Newcastle, and onward north.

And it is important to note that for 50 years, Goshen County was the center of the entire west because it was home to Fort Laramie. Today it has been restored and is an amazing site to visit.  It is a national monument.  Watch your schedule because it closes at 4:30p.m. even though the sun doesn’t go down until 9 p.m. in June.

For a quarter of a century, my wife Nancy and I owned a newspaper in Winner, S. D. and often drove through eastern Wyoming on our way there from Lander.  Also, since we had relatives in Iowa, we often drove through Goshen County on our drives back and forth. The people were always incredibly friendly, the food was great, and the fields were lush.

During one of my stops in eastern Wyoming we also visited Jeff Rose at the Rose Brothers Implement Store in Lingle.  Last time I saw him, he was climbing Devils Tower with his daughter.  Now he is talking about climbing Gannett Peak.  Good luck on that!

Often the sites and sights of Goshen County are viewed more by out of state tourists than in-state tourists.  We would strongly recommend that this is a great time for Wyoming folks to visit other Wyoming folks.  A trip to Goshen County should be high on your list. I highly recommend it.

The Goshen County Economic Development agency put together a list of things to do:

Explore Goshen County’s Historical Markers

Ash Point Trading Post

California National Historic Trail

Cheyenne Deadwood Stage Route

Cold Springs Emigrant Camp

County Line Grave

Dickens Site

Fort Bernard Trading Post

Government Farm & State Station

Grattan Massacre Historical Monument

Griffin-Gardner House

Harvard Fossil Beds

Horse Creek Treaty

Indian Grave, Quarry, and Camp

Jay Em Bison Kill Site

John Henry Museum

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail

Pony Express National Historic Trail

Rawhide Stage Station

Rawhide Wildlife Habitat Nature Trail 

Red Cloud Indian Agency

Sod House

Stuart Party Camp

Table Mountain Wildlife Habitat

Texas Trail

Texas Trail Marker

The Pioneer Community Center

Three Mile Hog Ranch

United States Postal Service

United States Postal Service

Whalen Diversion Dam

Woodworth Springs

Yoder Home Site

Torrington-Things to Do

Adam Walter Memorial Botanical Park

Basketball Courts

Bird Watching

Bounce City

City Park

Cottonwood Country Club 

Cottonwood Golf Course

Cross the state line

Dale Jones Municipal Swimming Pool

Fishing (90 bodies of water throughout the county)

Frisbee Golf

Geocaching (locations around the county)

Go Goshen Visitor Center

GoGoshen Visitor Center

Goshen County Fair Grounds

Goshen County Library

Goshen County Sportsman’s Club

Grass Roots Walking Trail

Gravity Rail Park

Hiking

Homesteader’s Museum

Jirdon Park

Nebraska State Line

North Platte River

Oregon Trail Historic Trail’

Packer Lake

Picnicking

Pioneer Park

Pleasant Valley Greenhouse & Recreation

Rendezvous Center & Indoor Arena

Stargazing

Table Mountain Vineyards

Tennis Courts

Torrington Cruise Night,  June-September

Torrington Livestock Markets

Torrington Rock Shop

Torrington Skate Park

Torrington Sports Complex

TravelStorys Tour

Walk your Dog

Wyoming Theatre Two

Standing Events

2 Shot Goose Hunt

3rd Thursdays

Ag Breakfast

Car Show

Christmas Festivities

Christmas Parade

Comedy Night

Easter Egg Hunt

Forks Corks & Kegs

Goshen County Fair

Holiday Bazaar

Lions Club Summer Arts and Crafts Festival

National Circuit Finals Steer Roping

Parade of Tables

Pictures with Santa

Prairie Rose Vintage Garden

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Rooster Booster

Rotary Wine Tasting

Sagebrush and Roses

The Polar Express at the Museum

Torrington Farmers Market every Thursday from June until October

Torrington Fire Department Fireworks Show

Trunk-or-Treat

Yeehaw Daze

Enjoy a Bite at our Family-owned Restaurants

The 307 Bar & Grill

1500 E Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-8164

Family Variety, Bar & Grill

AJ’s Soda Shop

918 W Valley Rd, Torrington

307-575-7632

Family Variety, Ice Cream, Coffee, Soda

Arby’s

128 W Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-8900

Fast Food

Bee Chilled

Torrington

307-575-3295

Mobile Ice Cream Truck

The Bread Doctor

2017 Main St, Torrington

307-534-2253

Bakery

Broncho Bar

1924 Main St, Torrington

307-532-8660

Bar

Broncho Grill House

1918 Main St, Torrington

307-532-2950

Family Variety, Bar & Grill

Bucking Horse Steakhouse

Hwy 85, Torrington

307-532-8500

Family Variety, Fine Dining

Burger King

1020 E Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-4505

Fast Food

Canton Dragon

2126 Main St, Torrington

307-532-3888

Chinese

Cottonwood Country Club

2101 W 15th St, Torrington

307-532-4347

Family Variety, Bar & Grill

The Corner Bar

202 Main St, Lingle

307-837-2673

Bar & Grill

Cowboy Cafe

626 W Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-3333

Coffee/Cafe, Family Variety

Cowboy up Coffee

2702 W C St., Torrington

307-575-1392

Coffee/food to go

Deacon’s Restaurant

1558 S Main St, Torrington

307-532-4766

Family Variety

Domino’s Pizza

2741 W C St, Torrington

307-532-0330

Family Variety

Garcia’s

1915 Main Street

307-532-0852

Mexican

J & B Liquor

120 E Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-2521

Bar

The Java Jar

1940 Main St, Torrington

307-532-8541

Coffee/Café

La Familia Prado

1250 S Main St, Torrington

307-534-1975

Mexican

The Mint

1914 Main St

307-532-7421

Bar

McDonald’s

800 E Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-0120

Fast Food

Open Barrel Brewing Company

1930 Main St

307-401-0107

Bar/Snack food

Pizza Hut

1120 E Valley Rd, Torrington

307-532-7007

Pizza/Italian

Prairie Creek Books

and Tea

4392 US-26, Torrington 

307-532-3495

Tea

San Pedros

2113 Main Street, Torrington

Mexican

Scott’s Hiway Bar

1202 Main St, Torrington

307-532-3777

Bar & Grill

Subway

1934 W A St, Torrington

307-532-8444

Fast Food

Sweet Lou’s Bakery Café

120 W 20th Ave, Torrington

307-534-6984

Coffee/Café, Bakery

Table Mountain Vineyards

5933 Rd 48, Huntley

307-459-0233

Wine Tasting/Catering/Food Events

Taco Johns

224 W 20th Ave, Torrington

307-532-3711

Fast Food

Lingle-Things To Do

Bird Watching

Ellis Harvest Home

Fishing 

Haven on the Rock

Hiking

Historic Ban Shell 

Historic Jay Em

Jay Em Historic District Tours

Lingle Pool

Newcomb’s Arcade

North Platte River

Oregon Trail Historic Trail

Picnicking

Rawhide Wildlife Habitat Nature Trail

Stargazing

TravelStorys Tour

Walk your Dog

Whipple Park

Wyoming History Center

Standing Events

Car Show

Christmas Lighting Contest

Church in the Park

Fireman’s Ball

Fireman’s Burger Feed

Lingle Volunteer Fire Department – Easter Egg Hunt

Lingle, Mingle, Jingle

Movies in the Park

SAREC Tours

Trunk or Treat

Enjoy a Bite at our Family-owned Restaurants

The Corner Bar

202 Main St, Lingle

307-837-2673

Bar & Grill

Lira’s Restaurant

E Hwy 26, Lingle

307-837-2826

Mexican

Fort Laramie-Things To Do 

1875 Iron Bridge

B.A. Cave

Bird Watching

Dr. Brownrigg House & Hospital

Fishing 

Fort Laramie Community Center

Fort Laramie Frontier Trading Post

Fort Laramie National Historic Site Audio Tour

Fort Laramie National Historical Site

Fort Laramie Visitor Center

Hell Gap National Historic Landmark

Hiking

Interpretive Programs at the Fort

Mormon Initials Carved on Rock

North Platte River

Oregon Trail Historic Trail

Picnicking

Splash Park

Stargazing

Tracs and Traces

TravelStorys Tour

Walk your dog

Standing Events

4th Fridays (street fair and farmers market] from July through October)

Annual New Year’s Eve Dance

Halloween Party

Easter Breakfast

Easter Egg Hunt

4th of July Fireworks

Old fashion 4th of July activities at the Fort Laramie National Historic site

Christmas with Santa

Summer Street Dance

Enjoy a Bite at our Family-owned Restaurants

Ft. Laramie American Grill

302 Pioneer Ct, Ft. Laramie

307-837-2324

Family Variety

The Gathering Place

101 Lawton Ave, Ft. Laramie

307-837-3082

Tearoom

Vickie’s Saloon

115 N Laramie, Ft. Laramie

307-587-2288

Bar & Grill

Yoder-Things To Do

Bump Sullivan 

Downer Bird Farm

Fishing

Hawk Springs Easter Egg Hunt

Hawk Springs State Recreation

Hunting

Oregon Trail Historic Trail

Picnicking

Springer Reservoir

Springer Wildlife Management

Stargazing

TravelStorys Tour

Walk your dog

Water Sports

Yoder Abandoned Jail

Yoder Park

Standing Events

Pheasant Dinner [women’s club]

Roster-Booster [Springer bird farm]

Trunk-or-Treat

Enjoy a Bite at our Family-owned Restaurants

The Emporium

Hwy 85, Hawk Springs

307-532-3442

Bar & Grill

Longbranch Saloon & Steakhouse

525 Hwy 85, Hawk Springs

307-532-4266

Bar & Grill

LaGrange-Things To Do

Basketball court

Bill Ward Memorial Playground

Cookout in Local Park

Cross the State Line

Disc Golf

Enjoy fresh pie at the diner

Fishing

Hiking

Hunting

Library

Picnic

RC race track

Silver Wing Sporting Club

Take a tour of the Historic Heritage Center

Tennis court

Three parks

Walk your Dog

Walking Trail

Standing Events

June Mini Fair [includes pancake breakfast, foot races, lunch, 5k run, car show, garage sale, bands, games, and rodeo]

Annual Fireworks and Ice Cream Social

Community building fund raising through silent auction [soup and desserts auction

Easter Egg Hunt

Halloween Party

Christmas Lightning Contest

Enjoy a Bite at our Family-owned Restaurants

Bear Mountain Stage Stop

1252 Hwy 85, LaGrange

307-834-0105

Bar & Grill

Longhorn Café

5th Ave, LaGrange

307-834-2432

Family Variety

For more information, contact:

Sandy Hoehn 

Community Development Director

Goshen County Economic Development

Home of Goshen County Economic Development, Chamber and Visitor’s Center

2042 Main Street  | Torrington, WY  82240

Phone  307.532.3879 | Cell 307.575.5919

Jonathan Lange: The Seattle Disaster and How it Applies to Wyoming

in Column/Jonathan Lange
4934

By Jonathan Lange. Columnist, Cowboy State Daily

CHOP, formerly known as CHAZ, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, surrounds the vacant and boarded up East Precinct headquarters of the Seattle Police Department. It is six square blocks of banana republic planted in the middle of an American city.

On June 8, 2020 after several continuous days of turmoil, a mob began to throw bricks, bottles and homemade bombs at the men and women who were there to protect and serve. Many were hospitalized. Still more were injured. The mob’s threats to torch the precinct headquarters prompted police to abandon the area.

Thriving communities are the product of building, not tearing down. For families to live together in peace and harmony, hundreds of institutions and millions of moving parts need to be painstakingly and lovingly cultivated. It is possible for a community to survive the sudden collapse of an important institution. But that is an injury it must work to heal. It cannot be the constituting principle of the community.

By emptying the East Precinct, CHOP did not rid themselves of the police, they simply established a new, untrained and ununiformed police department. In so doing, they erected barricades that disrupted commerce with the outside world.

Of course, the armed men manning the barricades will be quick to assure us that all the vehicles of community and commerce are free to enter the zone. But will the utilities themselves and trucks supplying commerce be willing to risk equipment and personnel in an area controlled by an untested and unlawful police force?

The buildings and businesses that support a community are only made possible by trusting relationships forged over decades. No father or mother wants to raise children in a community where neighbors corrupt their children. No shop owner wants to do business where his shop may be picked clean at the whim of a mob.  No police officer will be willing to risk life and limb to protect and serve neighbors and shop owners if he is targeted by revolutionaries and abandoned by city government.

That is why education, not law enforcement, remains the backbone of every community. Education is not simply the imparting of a body of knowledge. Properly speaking, it is the raising of good citizens. Technological know-how and the ability to spout the latest politically correct mantra are worthless in themselves.

Unless children are raised up to be virtuous, community is not possible. When these foundations are eroded, a community may survive for a while, but there will come a tipping point. Communities that fail to inculcate prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope and love will inevitably collapse into chaos.

The occupiers of Seattle are staring into this abyss today. They seem, instinctively, to know the value of education. The two most visible activities of the occupiers are digging up the park for “guerilla gardens,” and setting up “teach-in tables.” These teaching stations offer crash courses in transformative justice and other progressive values.

Whether hasty indoctrination into social justice theory can replace the virtue that built Seattle is doubtful. But at least someone is recognizing the truth that community starts by inculcating the virtues.

That raises questions about our own communities. Are we still teaching the virtues that built Wyoming? Or, is progressive indoctrination stripping our children of the education needed to thrive? Institutions, buildings and businesses built by past generations may survive by pure inertia. But if we do not constantly renew freedom’s foundations, they will not survive for long.

Good intentions cannot redeem bad ideas. Central planning cannot make up for the suppression of common sense. The sudden appearance of a banana republic in Seattle ought to put every American citizen on alert. President Ronald Reagan famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

Wyoming’s people know this instinctively and work hard to raise their own children with the virtues that support freedom. What they must learn from events in Seattle is that the transmission of freedom to the next generation is a cooperative endeavor. It cannot be done alone in a bunker.

It involves not only the home, but the school; not only the school, but the library; not only the library, but Main Street. Lawyers, doctors, ranchers, rough necks, miners, mothers, teachers and preachers all have a unique and vital contribution to make in the education of a free society.

Hard work and self-sufficiency are the necessary foundation of freedom. But unless free citizens work together to build communities, they will be overwhelmed by the mob when a “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” comes to Cheyenne. Now is the time to come together. Now is the time to build.

Bill Sniffin: My COVID Bucket List Of Things To See In Wyoming

in Bill Sniffin/Column
4869

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Bill Sniffin

Today, in the face of COVID-19, what advice can I give to people about getting out there and seeing Wyoming?

It is prudent to pack the face masks, hand sanitizers, and to practice social distancing.  Wyoming has proven to be a very safe place but we are now being invaded by 5 million tourists from around the world, so be aware of the dangers out there.

Because of the virus, this is a time to enjoy the wide-open spaces in the Cowboy State. I am emphasizing outdoor sights and sites. 

With that said, here is my COVID-era bucket list for Wyoming.

Lake Marie, Hobo Hot Spring, and the Wolf Hotel are among my favorite places in Saratoga. The fishing there is spectacular, too.

The Boar’s Tusk, Killpecker Sand Dunes, and the petroglyphs north of Rock Springs are among my favorite spots.  Hope to see them again soon.

Did you know that Fort Laramie in Goshen County was the preeminent place in the northern Rocky Mountains for 50 years, from 1830 to 1880? It is a fantastic site with restored buildings. It is a national site and closes at 4:30 p.m., so do not get there late.

In Cheyenne, a tour of the newly-refurbished State Capitol building is on my list.  Be sure to practice the necessary precautions, though.

The Red Desert, nestled between Lander, Rawlins, and Rock Springs has so much to see and do.  From the Oregon Buttes to Adobe Town and everything in-between, it is sight to behold. And the roads are decent. A family car should work for most of it, although I would leave the sports car home.

Fossil Butte near Kemmerer is on my list again, thanks for Vince Tomassi, who is a big advocate of this national historical site.

Ogden Driskill is the un-elected emperor of Devils Tower.  It was the country’s first national monument. I love everything about Northeast Wyoming.  The Gore Buffalo Jump is incredibly impressive, as is Ranch A. Little Hulett has one of the nicest golf courses in the state, too.

One of the more unique small parks is Ayer’s Natural Bridge in Converse County.  A cool spot that is truly cool on a hot summer day.

This could be a great summer to follow the Oregon Trail. More than 350,000 people traveled this route 180 years ago.  The Wyoming portion starts in Goshen County and ends in Uinta County. A great way to explore national history right here in the Cowboy State. There are visitor centers all along the way and some great museums, including the Trails Center in Casper and terrific restored forts at Fort Laramie and Fort Bridger.

The town of Evanston is full of things to see.  Folks there have created a great River Walk and pond complex on the Bear River.

Afton-Star Valley is an often-ignored valley by many Wyomingites because it is so remote. But the trip is worth it. Wonderful dining and wonderful, friendly people.  A giant new Mormon Temple is a tourist site in its own right.

Our mountain ranges are spectacular. My favorite mountain roads will give you goose bumps. Highway 14A out of Lovell (which leads to the amazing Bighorn Medicine Wheel), the Beartooth Highway north of Cody, the Loop Road outside of Lander are some of the most scenic.  Shell Canyon out of Greybull and Tensleep Canyon out of Worland are terrific mountain passes with good roads.

The Big Horn Basin is this huge area in NW Wyoming surrounded by Thermopolis, Worland, Greybull, Basin, Lovell, Powell, and Cody. There is so much to see ranging from the world’s largest hot spring in Thermopolis to wild horses and all the events that Cody has to offer, including rodeos.

Here is my county you have the wondrous Sinks Canyon and towering Wind River Mountain Range. The Wind River Indian Reservation has curtailed some of their powwows but there is still a lot to see.

Wyoming’s next great museum is the National Museum of Military Vehicles just south of Dubois. This will be a game-changer when it comes to tourist patterns.  Dan Starks’ creation is magnificent. The multi-million-dollar facility will have soft opening in August, due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Oops, it seems I forgot a couple of icons.  Yes, Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks are worth a visit, too. These are our crown jewels. Be sure to see them if you get the chance. 

There is so much to see and do here in our home state. The above is a partial list of places I intend to see this summer.  Why don’t you join me?

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Q&A With Wyoming Athletic Director Tom Burman

in Cody Tucker/Column
4866

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

LARAMIE — Tom Burman is busy addressing a disaster.

What else is new?

The latest one was a wet, unexpected snow storm that hit Laramie two days ago, taking out numerous tress, shutting down highways in and out of the city and power for several hours late Monday night through Tuesday afternoon.

“It looks like a tornado hit Laramie,” Wyoming’s athletics director said Wednesday to begin a 21-minute phone conversation. “Trees on Ivinson will probably have to come down. They are split right down the middle.

We will get through this. It’s just another 2020 issue.”

Those 2020 issues were front and center for Burman during our talk Wednesday.

We spoke about the latest on the COVID-19 front, financial issues and civil unrest around the nation. Mostly, how all of those things will impact the athletic programs at UW. It wasn’t all bad news. We also touched on optimism, actual football and men’s hoops news and what this season might look like from a fans’ perspective.

7220 sports: So, first and foremost, I think the fans want to know — what’s the latest on football starting on time? 

Tom Burman: I would say, as of June 10, we are planning on playing football Sept. 5 versus Weber State and again the next week against Utah. All indications and the direction things are going in college football, we are planning on playing. Will that mean a full stadium? Very unlikely. There will be games and we will have fans.

7220 sports: Some athletes returned to campus June 1. They have all been tested for COVID-19 and are quarantined for 14 days. Has anyone tested positive? Any idea how many players have been tested?

Tom Burman: We’ve tested 166 people. We will release something probably today. Until legal people go over the results, I can’t say how it went. All

I can say is it went well.

7220 sports: Did you get the giant Q-tip test? How did that feel?

Tom Burman: It was miserable, but were going to have to have to get used to it. It’s a part of our life now. Is it painful? No. It’s uncomfortable. I’m hoping we are making progress on saliva tests. The issues are the cost and accuracy of a saliva test … The end game and goal is to switch from a nasal swab to a saliva test … They’re less invasive.

7220 sports: With recent protests sweeping the nation, including in Laramie, will players who are engaged in the protests have to start over when it comes to quarantine?

Tom Burman: No. We gave them some flexibility … They were all wearing masks, and for the most part, stayed six feet apart from those they didn’t know. They went there with a group and tried not to intermingle. We are not naive enough to say they didn’t do it, but we feel good about it. We think it’s important they participate in something they are passionate about.

7220 sports: On Monday, the Division-I Football Oversight Committee drafted a six-week practice plan, allowing coaches to work with players as early as July 6. It is still awaiting approval from the NCAA. Wyoming players would begin workouts July 13, “enhanced training” that is set to begin July 24, and a normal preseason start date of Aug. 7. Are you in favor of that?

Tom Burman: Yeah, I think that model has a lot of merrit … We’ll be getting freshmen here in the next few weeks. We need to get them through quarantine and in a position for a structured, mandatory workout program in early July.

7220 sports: The California State University system announced in May that its campuses would be closed to in-person classes this fall. Three Mountain West teams — San Diego State, San Jose State and Fresno State — are in that system. The Cowboys host the Aztecs Oct. 17. In April, MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said there wouldn’t be football unless students return to campus. What is the latest on that?

Tom Burman: It looks like all three are planning to play and have fall sports. Most classes will be online, but some students will be on campus … All states and institutions have autonomy and how they want to do it. It’s possible those schools play in front of no fans. I don’t know how they make that work — that’s their issue. They are hoping to loosen up regulations and have some level of fans.

7220 sports: Has the pandemic effected season ticket sales?

Tom Burman: Were about 750 to 800 below this same time last year. Most people are taking a wait-and-see approach. In the fall, I can see where we are at last year’s numbers and maybe even a bit ahead of it. The first game could be very limited with possibly no single-game tickets available. We will have season-ticket holders and possibly 1,500 students (in the stadium), along with players’ families. We hope to move (the number of fans) up each week as the season progresses. Depends on the results and analysis and whether (COVID-19) spikes or doesn’t spike in Wyoming.

7220 sports: You’ve said the stadium needs to be at least 30 percent filled when the season rolls around. Have you even begun to think of how you would iron that out? Season ticket holders get first dibs? Will students get in?

Tom Burman: We’ve got multiple plans and have had conversations with the state department of health, the governor’s office, our board of trustees, our doctors and the NCAA doctors … As long as there is not a vaccine, we have to be comfortable with some level of risk. The only way to be absolutely safe is to not play.

At present, we are planning to play and have access for all season-ticket holders. We are going to try to move some of them. A couple of sections are very crowded. We are going to ask them to move to spread them out a little bit.

They can go back to that seat the following year. They will be displaced for a season, and we will start that process immediately. We will have about 5,000 seats set as socially distanced and safe as possibly. If you want to go sit in this section, there is approx six feet between fans and everyone will wear masks.

There will be security. If anyone is nervous, they can feel comfortable there. We average roughly 3,000 students per game. We will reduce that and the rest of the stadium 50 percent.

We are hoping to grow it every week. Keep in mind, this is all as of June 10. Things could change dramatically. But that’s kind of what we are thinking. It will be very restricted. We aren’t giving many tickets to visiting fans and they aren’t going to give us many, I would suspect.

7220 sports: OK, enough of the doom and gloom. Let’s pretend the season is a go and Weber State is inside War Memorial Stadium Sept. 5. In your 14 years as the AD in Laramie, have you seen this much excitement surrounding the football program?

Tom Burman: No. I’d say there’s more optimism and belief that we have a quality football program and are one of the top teams in our conference. I’m not going to say we are Boise State or San Diego State. I’m not going to say that we are worse, either. It’s great knowing that every time teams come to The War, they are going to get a first-class effort from a team that plays cowboy tough football. That’s why, selfishly — and there are a lot bigger issues in the world than University of Wyoming athletics — Covid-19 and the crash of energy prices could not have hit at a worse time. We were looking at historic attendance with the schedule we have. It is what it is. If things go well, in the country and in Wyoming, if we can have crowds for Boise State and San Diego State, we would be thrilled. (The Cowboys host SDSU Oct. 17 and Boise State Nov. 21)

7220 sports: Craig Bohl returns a pair of young, exciting quarterbacks, one of the top running backs in the nation in Xazavian Valladay, a wealth of experience and talent on both lines of scrimmage and one of the best home schedules in recent memory. What are you looking forward to most?

Tom Burman: Winning. I just like to win. What I’m looking forward to most is we all have to come together to help each other. We will not be able to operate like normal, but at the end of the day, we are coming together to celebrate the university and the state of Wyoming. We see friends from Cody, Powell, Green River and Denver. Maybe you don’t hug, but elbow bump. There’s still the opportunity to do what we love in the state of Wyoming. If we can pull that off, we will have a great time celebrating the Cowboys. We are getting through this.

7220 sports: Want to jump on a grenade? Who starts under center against Weber State? Sean Chambers or Levi Williams?

Tom Burman: I don’t want to touch that grenade. Whoever starts, it will be excellent. They are both great players and I love both as people. It will be exciting to watch them compete and lead Wyoming football.

7220 sports: Let’s move on to men’s hoops. Last year was rough. The last two years have been rough. Despite all of that, firing coaches, especially one with the character and values of Allen Edwards, has to be the worst part of this job, right?

Tom Burman: Correct. No-brainer. He’s a good man with a great family. He tried everything in his power to get Wyoming basketball to where it needed to be. He’ll be better for it and someday will get another chance. It is hard, but you’ve got to remember to separate personal feelings from business. You have to do what you have to do

7220 sports: You bring in Jeff Linder on St. Patrick’s Day. Right around the time the world came to a halt. How impressive has it been for you to watch this guy land the top recruiting class in the conference without even stepping foot in a living room or meeting mom and dad — or the players — face to face?

Tom Burman: I give a great deal of credit to him and his staff. His plan and what they’ve accomplished, is amazing. More than just recruiting, the decision making process. You can’t hold coaches hands. You can guide them at times, but to micromanage a coach creates an atmosphere where eventually you can’t work together.

With him, it was what do you do first? Go see Hunter Maldonado in Colorado Springs. Go see Kenny Foster and Kwane Marble in Denver. Go meet up with Hunter Thompson. It’s not like, I’ll get to it tomorrow. It’s, I’m leaving in 15 minutes to go to Colorado Springs. Immediate stuff like that. His decision on staff, keeping Sean Vandiver here. He brings continuity to the old players and gives comfort to all of us in athletics. We love Coach V. He’s easy to work with.

Then he goes out and finds a Wyoming guy who dreamed of playing for the Cowboys. That didn’t work out, he left and become a head coach. He goes out and hires Sundance Wicks. You can’t just rely on recruiting Wyoming and Colorado to be successful, so he brings in coach (Ken) DeWeese, who has contacts in Texas …

There’s a value of being a head coach. Every time I miss on a coach, 9 out of 10, I should’ve hired someone who is a head coach. He was at Northern Colorado for four years and that prepared him to do a great job at UW. I’m fired up for hoops.

l hoop we can get through football without a flare of COVID and start hoops on time. The players are fired up to be here and get going.

7220 sports: You told me last season, around this time, that you are loving your job more than you ever have. In just a few months you have had to let a coach go, hire a new one, try and secure state funding, see COVID-19 take hold of the world, come up with plan after plan and sit in on virtual meeting after meeting, speak up in the face of nationwide protests, reschedule games last minute, get a giant swab jabbed into your brain and it snowed six inches in Laramie on June 8. Still love it that much?

Tom Burman: This has been the hardest three months of my career, no doubt about it. Do I still love it? Yes. But it’s been rough. One thing you failed to mention is one of the biggest single threats to us — the crash in energy prices. We can’t continue to build, watch and develop without state support. I’m concerned about that. I wouldn’t say it’s gone, but it took a huge hit. I hope and pray we get it back.

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