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Men Planning to Climb Devils Tower to Raise Awareness for ALS

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

More than five years after the ALS “ice bucket” challenge took over the Internet, two men are planning to climb Devils Tower to continue raising awareness about the disease.

Eric Gamble of New Orleans and his friend Chris Nolan are planning to climb Devils Tower in mid-July to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function.

Gamble wants to climb the monument as a part of his “bucket list,” a concept taken from the film of the same name in which the main characters make a list of things to do before they die. But he also wants to use the opportunity to raise money for an ALS charity.

“We have chosen to support 2 organizations that help people living with ALS and countless others through advocacy, support and ultimately bringing an end to the disease,” Gamble wrote on the GoFundMe page he launched to raise $2,500 for two ALS charities.

The two chose the cause of fighting ALS due to the diagnosis of a relative with the disease in 2016.

“Of course this could have crushed him. But it didn’t,” Gamble wrote about the relative, Sean Nolan, on his website. “Instead, the United States Army Veteran took control by becoming an ALS Research Ambassador so he could educate others with ALS. Plus he wanted to teach the public about the importance of clinical trials and ALS research.”

Gamble and Nolan have raised $1,000 toward their goal.

Chris Nolan has climbed the tower before, but this will be Gamble’s first attempt. None of the money raised will go toward their climb, just the charities they designated.

Their climb will take place on July 17.

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“The Revenant” Author to Release Novel On Wyoming Massacre

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The author of famous revenge tale “The Revenant” is preparing to release a novel regarding a little-known massacre that took place in Wyoming in the 1800s.

Michael Punke’s latest book “Ridgeline,” expected to hit shelves June 1, focuses on a clash between Native Americans and white settlers in the Powder River Valley in 1866. While the book is technically fictional, it is based on real people and events, much like “The Revenant.”

The book revolves around Col. Henry Carrington’s arrival in Wyoming to lead the U.S. Army in defending the opening of a new road for gold miners and settlers.

Carrington also intended to build a fort in the middle of critical hunting grounds for the Lakota, a plan that propelled the Native Americans and Carrington’s soldiers into a battle that lasted over the fall and winter.

Reviews for the book so far have praised it for its vivid descriptions and fast-paced narrative. If you’re curious, the book is just under 390 pages in length.

Punke, now a Montana resident, is a Torrington native who spent many summers as a teenager working as a “living history interpreter” at the Fort Laramie National Historic Site.

Punke also formerly served as the U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization in Switzerland under President Barack Obama.

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Casper Couple Has Gender Reveal Party With No Catastrophic Ending

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Gender reveal parties are all the rage these days despite some getting out of control ending up with explosions, fatalities, and other carnage.

The goal, of course, is to have a good time without losing limbs. And the more creative, the better.

Credit one couple in Casper for not only being creative but not having to call an ambulance.

Tyler Muckley and Amber Owens wanted to do something out of the ordinary because, as Muckley told Cowboy State Daily, this was the only such event they are likely to have.

“We only are planning one kiddo,” Muckley said. “So why not go out with a bang?”

Muckley said his girlfriend was the mastermind behind the idea of having two people dressed up as inflatable creatures bashing each other senseless until one fell over. The color of the creature left standing identified the gender.

The boxing match lasted over 90 seconds, music from the Rocky soundtrack blaring and mixing with the cheers of friends rooting the blue shark and the pink unicorn on.

“My girlfriend knew the gender but I didn’t,” Muckley said. “I wanted to be surprised.”

Toward the end of the match, the blue shark looked winded as the pink unicorn kept landing punch after punch.

Then in a stunning turnaround perhaps only rivaled by Rocky Balboa’s comeback in Rocky II, the blue shark rallied and landed a staggering haymaker that knocked the pink unicorn cold (plus the shark pushed him over).

Blue smoke bombs went off and a carnival atmosphere erupted. 

“I was going for the shark,” Muckley said. “I wanted a boy. So I was definitely going for the shark.”

The future father said he was worried when the pink unicorn had the shark cornered but didn’t give up hope.

“It was the perfect ending,” Muckley said.

The couple said they’ve had great reactions to the celebration and many of their friends are planning similar gender reveal parties — also without the loss of limbs.

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Powell’s Drive-in Was Wyoming’s First – And Is Its Last – Outdoor Movie Theater

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By Mark Davis

Pokey Heny always gets opening night jitters.

She never knows what surprises are in store as she prepares to open the doors to customers each spring. After dealing with running a business during the pandemic last year, Heny was hoping for an easy start for the 2021 season’s soft opening.

It wasn’t to be. 

Yet finding her business burglarized and vandalized — and facing dark clouds and a coming storm — still seemed mild somehow, especially compared to the panic the world felt this time last year. Many businesses were shut down, residents and workers remained locked in their homes and many worried about the deadly virus spreading through communities. For Heny, though, 2020 was a different experience.

Customers quickly lined up to reserve Heny’s American Dream Drive-in — Wyoming’s only outdoor movie theater. The spacious venue was one of the few businesses with the ability to remain open and, at the same time, socially distanced. It wasn’t popular just for the chance to get out and see a movie. Heny was approached by a wide variety of businesses, groups and churches — all hoping to use the large space equipped with communication equipment to reach students, clients or their flock as they struggled to deal with the virus.

“Business was gangbusters,” Heny said. “Everyone found out we’re a safe outdoor facility with sound and video. It just took off.”

The Lutheran church in Cody was the first to book the venue. Two more churches followed. Then nonprofit organizations started reserving space, followed by three different high school graduations and school parties. Business was booming and The American Dream hadn’t even opened to show movies yet.

When Heny and her crew opened the season with a showing of Trolls World Tour, “we were slammed,” she said. “We had a line of cars all the way to town.”

To get permission to open, Heny had to make changes. The snack bar couldn’t open and the movie industry was closed with no plan in place to release new movies. No studios wanted to release a movie while indoor theaters were closed.

“Their numbers would have tanked. It would’ve looked like that movie was a failure,” she said. “So they didn’t really release anything. Trolls was the last release before it all hit. Then we had to go back into the archives.”

“I would’ve loved to show something new,” Heny said. “But there wasn’t anything.”

Despite showing nothing but “classics,” people kept coming. The chance to safely get out of the house was more important than what was showing on the large screen.

It wasn’t just locals. People traveled for hours to come to Wyoming’s first and last outdoor movie theater. By the time the drive-in closed for the season, Heny had her busiest year ever. Profits would have been higher if she wasn’t so generous; she went out of her way to help new customers, sometimes charging less than the cost of electricity to run the facility.

When the lights went out and the movie finally started Saturday night, the smell of burgers and freshly popped corn wafted through open car windows and past those finding comfort in truck beds and on lawn furniture. The several dogs in the audience settled in, wrapped in blankets close to their packs for the start of “School of Rock.”

The movie was free, sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance. They weren’t there to raise money. Instead, the idea was to simply showcase groups like the Boy Scouts, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, the Park County Library and other youth groups, said Tiffany Wutzke, Youth Clubs of Park County’s director of programming and training and ambassador for the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance.

Wutzke chose the movie for the event from the archives. 

“We’re an after-school program. It’s not sitting in your desk and learning. It’s outside the box learning — like making music,” she explained.

Many in attendance dressed in their pajamas for the event. It brought back memories of moms making a big, greasy paper sack of popcorn and all the kids playing catch or tag before the movies, Heny said.

“I always remember wanting the theater popcorn instead. And the pickle on a stick,” she said. “I’ve kind of kept that memory [of frugal mom] alive and I tried to keep everything affordable. And I brought back pickles on a stick.”

Some folks park out front of the theater, opting to buy dinner but passing on the movie. Locals occasionally will stop by just to buy popcorn, she said.

“They’re busy and it’s hard for them to get to the movie. They just swing by — sometimes with their own bowl,” she said. “I fill their bowl and off they go.”

Jake and Melissa Craft bring their two children, Kaden and Kaison, to the drive-in often. The couple remembers when there was a drive-in theater in Cody and enjoy sharing the experience with their family. 

“To see our kids experience the same thing is pretty cool,” Jake said.

“What’s not to love?” Melissa said. “They get to stay up late and have candy to eat.”

Later this month, the American Dream Drive-in will open to the general public and new movies will once again be shown. Heny replaced the stereo equipment that was stolen over the winter, invested in new security equipment and as she looked out over the small crowd settling in for Saturday’s main feature, she discussed the many new titles arriving soon.

“Isn’t it everyone’s American dream to own a drive-in?” she said. “Not very many people can own a piece of Americana; movies, cars, station wagons, kids in jammies, popcorn. Come on!”

Heny bought the theater on a whim — to ensure the tradition lived on in Powell. She had no experience, only learning the lessons of the business the hard way. She’s constantly worried the screen will blow over in a storm, but said after enduring last year, she’s just happy to be able to open her doors again.

Then, almost on cue, dark clouds once again formed in the west. Strong gusts of wind sent dust flying and those enjoying the outdoors experience, scrambling for cover before the rain came.

“You never know when you get here what the weather’s gonna be like,” Jake Craft said. “Regardless, we couldn’t have asked for a better day.”

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C.J. Box’s “Big Sky” Renewed For Second Season at ABC

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

“Big Sky,” the series adapted from C.J. Box’s Cassie Dewell novels, has officially been renewed for a second season at ABC.

The Wyoming author shared the news on Tuesday, along with an article from Deadline that confirmed the renewal.

#BigSky will be back to solve more crimes! ABC has renewed the drama for a second season,” Box wrote on social media.

The first season of the series will wrap up sometime this month, ending with 16 episodes. It was not announced how many episodes will be produced for the second season.

The series has been a hit for ABC since it premiered in the fall, raking in millions of viewers, including horror author Stephen King.

Screenwriter and producer Elwood Reid will be showrunner for the second season of “Big Sky,” taking over for David E. Kelley, who also worked on hit series such as “Big Little Lies.”

Reid has worked on other shows such as “The Chi” and “The Bridge.”

The first season follows private detective Cassie Dewell, played by Kylie Bunbury, and ex-cop Jenny Hoyt, played by Katheryn Winnick, who join forces to search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana.

When they discover that these are not the only girls who have disappeared in the area, they must race against the clock to stop the killer before another woman is taken.

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Cheyenne Dog Wins Pine Bluffs Third Annual Corgi Derby

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A 2-year-old Corgi named Enzo claimed top honors Saturday at Pine Bluffs Distilling’s third annual Corgi Derby.

Enzo defeated dozens of other Corgis to place first in the contest, which is held every year to raise money for the Cheyenne Animal Shelter

Enzo is owned by Loree Sanchez and her wife Michelle and is named for Loree’s brother, a veteran of four tours of duty in Iraq and Iran who now raises Corgis as a way to combat his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Enzo competed in last year’s contest, Loree said, but did not do well.

This year, the secret to success was for Loree to wait for Enzo at the end of the 40-yard track, she said.

“I just know he loves his mom,” she said.

About 200 people stayed at the distillery to watch the championship match, some dressed in their best “derby” attire.

Cutline: A 2-year-old Corgi named “Enzo” takes the lead Saturday in the championship heat at Pine Bluffs Distilling’s third annual “Corgi Derby.” The derby, which coincides with the Kentucky Derby, is held every year to raise money for the Cheyenne Animal Shelter. (Photo by Mary Angell)

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Wyoming Tourism: Pine Bluffs’ Corgi Derby Happening This Weekend

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A mint julep in hand, a wide-brimmed hat topping the head and a good seat for viewing the big race are all important elements to one of the biggest sporting events of the year: Pine Bluffs Distilling’s annual Corgi Derby.

The third annual race to benefit the Cheyenne Animal Shelter will be held at Pine Bluffs Distilling on Saturday to coincide with the running of that other race, the Kentucky Derby.

The Corgi Derby was the brainchild of the distillery’s co-owners, who decided a race similar to the “Run for the Roses” might be fun to stage in Pine Bluffs.

“We want to be a distillery that makes bourbon and that is pretty synonymous the Kentucky Derby,” said Chad Brown, one of the distillery’s founders. “Obviously we can’t race horses here, so we thought it would be fun if we raced dogs and all the proceeds went to a local charity. We had to pick a breed of dog and what’s more fun than Corgis?”

Competitors run a 40-yard straight track in heats of four to five Corgis, with the winners from each heat facing off in the main event.

Over the years Brown said he has seen some interesting techniques to make the Corgis run.

“I’ve seen people throw balls, I’ve seen husbands and wives separate and call the dogs,” he said.

And, of course, someone last year provided the punchline to the old joke about where dog tracks find the tiny jockeys.

“Last year somebody strapped a ‘Woody’ doll from ‘Toy Story’ to their dog,” Brown said.

The day will also feature a “mutt round” race open to dogs of any breed, and a contest for the best Kentucky Derby outfit, as well as specially crafted cocktails drawing on the distillery’s own products.

Brown said 45 spots are available for Corgis and as of Tuesday morning, 20 remained open. Registration for a competing dog is $25, with all proceeds going to the Cheyenne Animal Shelter. Registrations will be accepted during race day, he added.

There is no charge to watch the races, but for those who want the real “Derby” experience, including seats in the shade of the distillery’s new covered patio and a free cocktail, a $30 donation to the Animal Shelter will let them watch the race from the distillery’s “Millionaire’s Row.”

Unlike the Kentucky Derby, no one should confuse the Corgi Derby with a serious racing event, Brown said.

“It is absolutely hilarious,” he said. “It’s just an excuse to have fun and raise money for a good cause.”

Other events on tap this weekend include:

The Old West Invitational Turkey Shoot, Friday through Sunday in Hulett. About 100 hunters are expected to take part in the contest. Other activities will include shooting competitions and golfing at Devils Tower.

The Casper Antique and Collectors Club “Super Flea,” Saturday and Sunday at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds in Casper. Billed as Wyoming’s “oldest quality show.”

Cowboy State Marketing Indoor 2-Day Flea Market, Saturday and Sunday at the Fremont County Fairgrounds.

The Dubois Gun Show and Weapons Collections, Saturday and Sunday at the Headwaters Arts and Conference Center.

Seminoe Star Party, 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Seminoe Reservoir. Casper College astronomy experts will be at Sunshine Beach Campground campsite 101 with telescopes to talk about planets, starts and other celestial objects.

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Gillette Family Creates Giant 23-Foot COVID Effigy, Burns It

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Unsurprisingly, no one has taken well to the pandemic.

But Sandy Daly and her husband at the Daly Ranch in Gillette have especially struggled.

Both are older and are considered to be at higher risk for complications from the illness, meaning it could be dangerous if they caught it. So they have essentially been in quarantine for a year.

“I haven’t hugged my grandkids in a year,” Daly told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “I haven’t been to a grocery store or gotten my hair or nails done.”

So over the weekend, to celebrate the Dalys receiving their COVID vaccines about a month ago, the family and a number of their friends (all of whom had been vaccinated) gathered on the ranch to let off a little steam.

Well, maybe smoke would be a better word.

Either way, the family held a bonfire and the guest of honor was a 23-foot effigy to the coronavirus. The effigy looked like a man wearing a blue shirt that said “COVID” and a belt buckle reading “19.”

The man’s head looked like a COVID cell and was made from chicken wire and cloth.

Wilson Restrepo, who works on the Daly Ranch, made the effigy, but the idea itself came from Sandy Daly and stemmed from a time she visited Santa Fe, New Mexico, and saw a similar effigy burning.

Everyone at the bonfire received a card on which to write all of their frustrations from the last year. The cards were then burned with the effigy, providing a cathartic ending to such a crummy year.

“It’s been a long year and we needed some closure,” Daly said. “One of my friends said we needed more cards.”

The weekend party was made even better by the fact that the Dalys’ grandchildren got to spend the night, one of the first times they have gotten to do so in a year.

“I feel like we’re rejoining normality,” Daly said. “We just really hope to prevent anything like COVID from happening again.”

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Two Casper Officers to Receive Congressional Award For Bravery Shown During 2018 Shootout

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Two Casper police officers involved in a 2018 shootout that resulted in one of them being critically wounded will receive Congressional Badges of Bravery this weekend from U.S. Sen. John Barrasso.

Retired Officer Jacob Carlson, who survived being shot seven times in the incident, and Officer Randi Garrett will be given the awards during a ceremony Saturday at David Street Station in Casper.

The two are receiving the badges due to bravery they showed during an incident that occurred in May 2018.

At that time, Carlson served as as backup to Garrett, who was responding to a complaint about two small children being allowed to drive a car in a vacant lot.

Following Garrett’s initial contact, David Wolosin, the adult supervising the two children, (who were ages nine and five, at the time) was uncooperative.

When Carlson arrived, Wolosin acted erratically, made alarming statements and appeared to turn in an attempt to flee the area on foot, according to reports from the incident.

Carlson reached toward the man, who suddenly drew a concealed firearm and fired point blank at the officer, striking him multiple times. One of the shots to strike Carlson destroyed nearly 4 inches of an artery.

Carlson managed to return fire, temporarily stopping the suspect’s assault.

His actions gave Garrett the opportunity to reach cover and avoid the gunfire. Carlson was ultimately struck seven times during the encounter, but he continued firing upon the suspect while providing information to Garrett.

During the gunfire exchange, Carlson’s service weapon was struck, permanently disabling it. Although Carlson was losing significant amounts of blood, he worked to fix his gun.

Garrett managed to shoot the assailant, mortally wounding him. Carlson was taken to the Wyoming Medical Center and ultimately recovered from his injuries.

“The Congressional Badge of Bravery is not simply bestowed upon its recipients; it is earned at great hazard through exceptional bravery and professionalism in the face of extreme danger. Retired Police Officer Jacob Carlson and Officer Randi Garrett, by their actions, dedication, and bravery, earned the right to be counted among the select few law enforcement professionals that have been honored with this distinction,” said Casper Police Department Chief Keith McPheeters. “Their actions on that day reflect great credit upon themselves, our community, and the law enforcement profession.”

“Along with the rest of the hard-working men and women of the Casper Police Department, this City is fortunate to claim these two heroes as their own. I could not be more proud of these two officers and I am grateful to see them recognized for their selfless service to #ourcommunity,” McPheeters added

Congress passed a law in 2008 creating the badges to honor those in law enforcement who show exemplary bravery in the face of danger.

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More of “Joe Pickett” TV Show Cast Announced

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

More of the cast for the new “Joe Pickett” television series, based on the C.J. Box character and book series, was announced on Monday.

The cast will include David Alan Grier, Julianna Guill, Sharon Lawrence, Mustafa Speaks, Paul Sparks, Skywalker Hughes and Kamryn Pliva, according to Deadline.

These actors will all be series regulars in “Joe Pickett,” the new hour-long drama based on Box’s bestselling novels.

Grier, a veteran of the Fox Television series “In Living Color” and a number of movies including the 1995 version of “Jumanji,” will play Vern, a gregarious, larger-than-life former game warden.

Guill will portray Marybeth Pickett, wife to Joe and mother to two young daughters. Lawrence will play Missy, the mother of Marybeth.

Speaks will portray Nate, a former Special Ops solider. Sparks will play Wacey, an ex-rodeo cowboy with a slick charm who is about to begin his campaign for sheriff.

Hughes will portray Sheridan and Pliva will play Lucy, the Pickett children.

They will join New Zealand actor Michael Dorman, best known for his roles “The Invisible Man” remake and the Apple TV+ series “For All Mankind,” who has been cast as Pickett.

The series will follow Pickett and his family as they navigate the changing political and socio-economic climate in small town Wyoming while also investigating the schemes and secrets hidden in the area.

The series will air for a nine-month exclusive run on Spectrum.

Box is serving as an executive producer to the series, the second show produced from his works. The other, “Big Sky,” is currently airing on ABC.

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