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Rawlins Church Celebrates 140th Year This Week; One Of The Oldest Churches In Wyoming

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By Joshua Wood, Cowboy State Daily
josh@cowboystatedaily.com

Wyoming was still eight years from becoming the 44th state in the Union when the first cornerstone was laid at France Memorial United Presbyterian Church in Rawlins.

This past Monday, that cornerstone, now 140 years old, was commemorated.

Pam Thayer, director of the Rawlins Downtown Development Authority, told Cowboy State Daily that the church has served as a cornerstone of downtown Rawlins.

For over a century, France Memorial United Presbyterian Church has stood at the intersection of 3rd and Cedar streets. The original building, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, was constructed of native stone quarried from the mountains north of Rawlins. A church school was added in the 1950s.

“Stylistically, France Memorial is similar to other Gothic Revival churches constructed in Wyoming during the late 19th century,” reads the 1983 nomination form for the building. “Many ecclsiastical structures such as France Memorial constructed in mid to late 19th century America featured elements of Gothic Revival such as pointed arches, lancet windows, and steeply pitched roofs.”

“When you walk in, you’re just kind of in awe of the ceiling and the lighting. It’s very traditional but it’s very understated,” said Thayer. “Some churches you go into and they’re really ornate and this church has its own little feeling of understated elegance.” 

Back To 1869

Though the building itself was constructed in 1882, an older building housed a Presbyterian congregation dating back to 1869. This makes the congregation one of the oldest in Wyoming.

The first church—measuring 20 feet by 36 feet—was erected on March 13, 1870. Being the first, and only church, in Rawlins at the time it was open to all ministers and all congregations. About 10 years later, members of the church began discussing construction of a new church.

The first church was sold for $300 and moved off the lot. It spent three years as a school house, then as a home. For 20 years, it housed the Rawlins Republican before finally being sold to the Engstrom Motor Company and was torn down in 1926.

The total cost of the building was $7,800, or $226,200 in 2022 counting for inflation. The congregation didn’t have enough funds to cover the construction costs, so a mortgage was negotiated with James France. By 1885, enough money had been raised—the bulk of it from France—to pay off the mortgage. 

Due to France’s contribution to the construction of the church, it was renamed after his wife. The Mrs. Elizabeth France Presbyterian Church then became the France Memorial United Presbyterian Church.

It was built for a Presbyterian service, but the building is now home to Victory Baptist Church. 

Pastor White

Pastor Mark White returned to Rawlins earlier this year to lead the church.

“Back 10 or 20 years ago, we lived here. I was a part of another ministry organization in the area. We left to pursue other ministry opportunities and I was voted in as the new pastor in March,” said White. “Trying to make housing arrangements, I actually arrived in Rawlins about June 15.”

White, due to his previous time in Rawlins, had some familiarity with the building and was aware of its general age. The answer to exactly how old the building was, however, was literally carved in stone. The cornerstone of the church.

“I just started doing some online research into that and found that the cornerstone was laid on July 25, 1882,” said White.

White said he had reached out to the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office to determine if the church wasn’t just the oldest in the county, but the oldest in Wyoming.

“They did a real quick search of all the church buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places in Wyoming and this was the oldest that they found,” said White. “That doesn’t prove that it’s the oldest one in Wyoming.”

St. Mark’s

It is likely not the oldest church in Wyoming as St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Cheyenne holds that title. According to the Wyoming State Historical Preservation Office, however, the construction of St. Mark’s at 1908 Central Avenue was started in 1886 and completed in 1888. 

At an earlier time, however, St. Mark’s was elsewhere in Wyoming’s capital city. According to the Historical Marker Project, St. Mark’s Parish was dedicated at 18th and Carey Avenue in August 1868 and was the first church erected and dedicated in Wyoming.

Still, 140 years and counting is a good run. And, with the help of Victory Baptist Church and the Rawlins Downtown Development Authority, France Memorial United Presbyterian Church may be getting a facelift in the future.

“After 140 years, there’s definitely some wear and tear and some changes on the building,” said Thayer.

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Nethercott, Gray Square Off In Secretary Of State Race

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

Election security is a key fixture of the Wyoming Secretary of State race, possibly one of the most contentious and competitive at the state level.  

State Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, says the state’s elections are secure with no major changes needed, while Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, says election fraud has occurred in Wyoming and changes are desperately needed.  

Gray and Nethercott squared off in a forum Wednesday night in Casper that featured numerous moments of back and forth on the topic. 

“We need someone that is going to be vibrantly getting things done,” Gray said. “Not someone who says, ‘everything’s fine, let’s look away.’” 

Nethercott said she has worked with all 23 Wyoming county clerks to ensure election security. Natrona County Clerk Tracy Good attended the forum hosted by the Natrona County GOP and Natrona County Republican Women and said her counties’ elections are secure. 

“They’re as secure as they can be,” Good told Cowboy State Daily. “We work long, hard days to make sure they’re done right.”  

Ballot Boxes

Gray said if elected, he would immediately take action to remove all ballot drop boxes. He said these devices facilitate ballot harvesting, which he would make a felonious crime.  

As part of his campaign, Gray has been hosting free showings of “2000 Mules,” a movie that alleges ballot harvesting occurred through the use of ballot boxes during the 2020 election. Nethercott supports the use of these boxes. 

“They are secure,” she said. “There’s none of these ballot drop boxes that you see in the propaganda. Let’s be realistic here.” 

Gray also said he plans to outlaw large infusions of private funding going into elections, known as “Zuck bucks.” Zuck bucks are named after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who funneled money into charities that gave money to other charities that doled money out to government election offices at the state and local levels in the 2020 elections.  

“We need to have a candidate who is focused on these election integrity reforms and focused on conservative reforms in our state,” he said. 

Nethercott pushed back on these commitments, saying Wyoming has never received Zuck bucks, but said she would support legislation making this type of funding illegal.

SOS Cannot Make Law

She also reiterated multiple times the SOS cannot make law or turn anything into a felony, a dictation that requires legislative action.  

“If the Secretary of State thinks they want to make a felony, then they’re running for the wrong office and need to run for the Wyoming Legislature,” she said. “So, if you want to ban ballot boxes, you should run for the Wyoming Legislature.”  

Gray also criticized digital election machines that print out ballots and said he wants a hand count audit of each election. 

“The Secretary of State is not a lawmaker and that lies within our Wyoming Legislature,” she said. “You have given them the power of your vote to make those laws. The Secretary of State is a rule follower, following the laws set by the Wyoming Legislature in the wake of the judicial branch, and it’s important that your Secretary of State knows that role and honors it, it is the rule of law.” 

Casper resident Jim Anderson, who worked as a federal prosecutor as an assistant U.S. attorney was in attendance at the forum with his wife, who was a former director of elections for the State of Wyoming.

Anderson said the idea of using hand counting paper ballots is “silly,” mentioning the widespread fraud that occurred during the 1960 presidential election.

“It’s easier to commit fraud with paper than it is with the systems we have in place today,” he said. 

Gray brought up Wyoming law that gives the Secretary of State the authority to maintain uniform elections, which he believes would give him the discretion to ban ballot drop boxes.  

In an interview with Cowboy State Daily after the forum, he clarified that some of his election plans would have to take place through lobbying legislators, a move Nethercott said is appropriate only under certain circumstances. 

“Everybody has the option to make the law, whether it’s doing it themselves or going to the right people to do it,” said Gray supporter Billi Paris.  

Legislature 

Both veterans of the legislature, there was also much contention when it came to votes they made while in office. 

Nethercott voted for and co-sponsored Gray’s voter ID bill, but only after voting against it originally in committee. Gray said she only offered her support after it became clear that the bill had enough votes to pass.  

Nethercott criticized Gray for voting against a bill that would have enhanced reporting requirements associated with dark money in politics, but Gray said he only did so because of a provision contained inside it that would have let lawmakers simultaneously run for two different offices. 

“The reason I voted against that reporting bill, because they inserted an interesting provision in there that would have allowed (U.S. Rep.) Liz Cheney to run for president at the same time as running for re-election in Congress,” Gray said. 

Gray alluded to the “insiders” of the State Legislature on several occasions, grouping Nethercott in with that distinction even though they’ve both worked in the body for the same number of years. 

He also brought up Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, calling him an expletive on a hot mic during last year’s special session. 

“It’s just another example of how conservatives are accused of what the other side’s guilty on (being) a lot of issues,” he said. 

Gray, who opposes crossover voting, says he has a different stance than Nethercott on the issue. Nethercott both voted for and against the crossover voting bill in this year’s legislature but supported it in her last vote from the Senate floor. 

“I did in fact, vote to support the elimination of crossover voting,” she said. “So, you want to talk about integrity and transparency, let’s have an honest conversation about the role of the Secretary of State’s office.” 

Gray touted the passage of his ultrasound bill in 2017- what he claims was the first piece of pro-life legislation to pass in Wyoming in 30 years, and another piece of legislation that prevented the University of Wyoming from using funding to pay for abortions. He also brought a bill that that was vetoed by the governor to get coal exported from the state.  

“I believe my opponent has sponsored over 30 pieces of legislation, two of which have passed, one had my name on it,” Nethercott said, referring to the voter ID bill.  

Other Duties 

Nethercott provided more details than Gray as to how she would tackle the non-election duties of the Secretary of State role. The Secretary of State is responsible for all corporate formations and serves as a regulatory body for securities exchange, providing solutions to citizens who fall victim to financial fraud, the latter a sector Nethercott has about a dozen years of experience working in. 

“It’s important that that office has that expertise to protect you, Wyoming voters and Wyoming citizens from that financial fraud,” she said.  

The Secretary of State also serves on the State Board of Land Commissioners, State Building Commission and State Lands and Investments Board. Nethercott said the $25 billion the state has in investments has to be returned to the people and used for economic development. 

Gray said he defines economic development differently than “the insiders, the media and the Democrats” and that he will bring “real economic development.”  

“I’m not for picking winners and losers,” he said. “Picking an individual who’s politically connected is what often happens in Cheyenne and providing them a grant.” 

Gray committed to tightening Wyoming’s family trust and limited liability corporation laws, some of the most lenient in the nation. He said he would consider performing a “back of the house” audit on these departments. 

“We don’t want trust and LLC laws that are being taken advantage of by you know, Russian oligarchs, as sort of a tax haven,” he said.

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Wyoming Court Halts Abortion Ban Temporarily, Weighs Whether Law Is Constitutional

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
clair@cowboystatedaily.com

A Wyoming judge on Wednesday halted Wyoming’s imminent abortion ban for the next two weeks. She will consider in mid-August whether to prolong the pause while deciding whether the ban is constitutional.   

Wyoming in March passed a trigger ban, that is, a law banning nearly all abortions following a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court declaring that abortion is not a right under the U.S. Constitution.    

The trigger ban was scheduled to become law Wednesday, following the June 24 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court relegating abortion policy decisions to the states. It would have made it a felony punishable by up to 14 years in prison to perform an abortion in Wyoming, except in cases of rape, incest, or severe health or death risks.    

Citing a risk of irreparable harm to individuals if the abortion ban is allowed to function, and a probability that the ban will be declared unconstitutional under the Wyoming Constitution, Judge Melissa Owens on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction, or halt, against the ban. She also took up the case challenging its constitutionality, and will hear arguments for a longer injunction Aug. 9, tentatively.    

A trial on the law’s constitutionality to determine whether there can be a permanent injunction against it, will be set for a later date.    

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a defendant in the suit, appointed Owens to the Teton County District Court judgeship in December.   

‘Irreparable Injury’  

When she halted the anti-abortion law and banned all law enforcers and prosecutors in Wyoming from acting under it, Owens said the arguments presented by Dr. Giovannina Anthony, an obstetrician, and Danielle Johnson, the pregnant plaintiff, were the most compelling demonstrations that the law could cause “irreparable injury” if allowed to go into effect this week.    

Owens said she was concerned that the law didn’t give clear direction to doctors and patients on how to respond quickly in a life-threatening pregnancy situation.    

“The fact that someone currently pregnant (could) end up having a life-threatening complication and the new statute does not mention healthcare providers’ appropriate medical judgment, what the… statute did creates an ambiguity, not only for Dr. Anthony but for the patient,” she said.    

Irreparable injury is just one of the concepts the plaintiffs needed to prove to receive the injunction. They also had a burden to show the court that their case had a probability of success.   

Owens decided that it does, but clarified that a case’s need to be heard doesn’t dictate its final outcome at this early stage.    

Healthcare   

The crux of the argument foreshadowed Wednesday is whether abortion is a form of healthcare.    

In the Wyoming Constitution’s Article One, Section 38, Wyomingites are promised the right to make their own healthcare decisions.    

“This case does involve healthcare,” said John Robinson, the plaintiff’s attorney representing a pro-abortion group, abortion providers, a woman suing for a right to family planning and a woman who is 22-weeks pregnant and is concerned that the ban would frighten her doctor from performing a necessary abortion to save her life during a medical crisis.    

“As of the morning we filed, every woman in Wyoming had these fundamental rights (including) quality, uniform operation of the law, privacy, bodily integrity, conscience, healthcare decisions about intimate matters and the composition of her family,” Robinson said. “These rights will no longer exist absent action from this court.”    

Robinson argued further that the purpose of a temporary injunction is to preserve the status quo for the people affected by a law upsetting that status quo, while a legal issue is weighed in court. He said that because abortion has been protected as a right for so long, allowing it is the status quo.    

Created Equal   

Robinson quoted the Declaration of Independence in the final moments of his argument.    

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” Robinson said. “That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”    

Robinson then referenced the foundational statement’s role in a court case that evoked it to establish a right of parental autonomy over children.    

He said that parental autonomy, the right “to rear children” should also elevate the rights of mothers, husbands, children and other family members affected by a delay in securing an abortion when a pregnancy becomes harmful, because, he said, all those affected are someone’s child.    

“We are talking about family, and we are talking about imposing a moral view concerning protecting fetal life at the cost of not just prison, the cost of health, suffering,” he said.    

No Such Right   

In his rebuttal argument Jay Jerde, the state’s attorney in the case, said that the plaintiffs made lengthy anecdotal arguments about possible irreparable harms under the trigger ban, but failed to show a probability of success for their case going forward because, he argued, the Wyoming Constitution doesn’t confer an explicit or implicit right to abortion.    

Jerde noted that the document’s section on healthcare rights was ratified by voters to push back against the Obama-era Affordable Healthcare Act.   

Owens countered later that in looking at the state Constitution, judges are to deduce the effect of the language rather than the mindset of the voters who ratified it.    

“(The abortion ban) does not infringe upon any of the plaintiffs’ alleged state constitutional rights, or the right to abortion,” said Jerde, “because no such right exists. You can’t infringe what isn’t there.”   

Jerde said a second component the plaintiffs failed to show was demonstrating how the trigger ban, specifically, infringes on a constitutional right.     

The Wyoming Legislature passed its trigger ban in a lawful exercise of its elected power, Jerde continued, and therefore it serves the public’s interest.     

While still a territory in 1869, Wyoming banned abortions. For the next 100 years, roughly, the state kept abortion illegal until the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision compelled states to treat abortion as a federal right.  Jerde used these facts to argue that pro-life, not pro-abortion policies are Wyoming’s natural state, or status quo.    

Jerde refuted Robinson’s right-to-privacy and bodily autonomy arguments with respect to abortion, noting that those are federal concepts that were overturned in June by the high court.    

The Parties   

The temporary injunction comes following a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Teton County District Court, asking for a pause and eventual overturn of Wyoming’s trigger ban. The plaintiffs include Johnson and Anthony, as well as abortion-funding and support organization Chelsea’s Fund; abortion provider Circle of Hope Healthcare, which is attempting to open an abortion clinic in Casper; Dr. Renee Hinkle, an obstetrician and gynecologist; and Kathleen Dow, a law student at the University of Wyoming College of Law.    

Dow’s complaint in the suit is that she is a reproductive-age woman and a lifelong practicing and conservative Jew who “intends to continue practicing her faith,” which “requires her to consider abortion as an available health care alternative in the event of pregnancy conditions which threaten her health,” the suit alleges.    

Plaintiffs filed their suit against Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, Attorney General Bridget Hill, Teton County Sheriff Matthew Carr, and Jackson Police Chief Mechelle Weber.   

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Daily Wyoming Gas Map: Thursday July 28, 2022

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s average price per gallon $4.41, is down 3 cents from our last report of $4.44.

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price is down 23 cents from a week ago, and is up, 91 cents per gallon from one year ago.

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained above the national average of $4.24

High and Low Prices:

The highest reported gasoline price in Wyoming on Thursday was in Jackson Wyoming at $5.29 per gallon. The lowest price in Wyoming was at the M.G. Oil Co at 502 El Camino Rd, and Maverik at 1616 E Hwy 14-16 in Gillette, at $3.75 per gallon.

The highest county average is in Teton County, with an average of $5.01 per gallon. The county with the lowest average, is in Natrona county, with $3.75. These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed.

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county: 

Albany $4.43; Big Horn $4.73; Campbell $3.97; Carbon $4.57; Converse $4.55; Crook $4.41; Fremont $4.75; Goshen $4.63; Hot Springs $4.21; Johnson $4.69; Laramie $4.34; Lincoln $4.67; Natrona $3.75; Niobrara $4.41; Park $4.66; Platte $4.41; Sheridan $4.75; Sublette $4.38; Sweetwater $4.52; Teton $5.01; Uinta $4.67; Washakie $4.41; Weston: $4.48. 

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities:

Basin $4.77; Buffalo $4.47; Casper $3.57; Cheyenne $4.17; Cody $4.54; Douglas $4.34; Evanston $4.57; Gillette $3.75; Jackson $4.88; Kemmerer $4.58; Laramie $3.99; Lusk $4.09; Newcastle $4.41; Pinedale $4.29; Rawlins $4.45; Riverton $4.58; Rock Springs $4.29; Sheridan $4.55; Sundance $4.39; Thermopolis $4.14; Wheatland $4.75; Worland $4.71.   

Want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area. 

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted.

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State Of Wyoming Says Voter ID Lawsuit Lacks Merit, Asks For Dismissal

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

The State of Wyoming has asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit contesting its new voter ID law. 

The lawsuit says that by passing the state’s voter ID law, which was enacted in 2021, Wyoming’s legislators violated multiple sections of Wyoming’s Constitution.  

The voter ID law continued the requirement that was in place before the law was enacted for voters to show a government-issued ID when registering to vote.  It also added a requirement to show an ID when voting. The addition is what is being targeted by the lawsuit.  

The lawsuit filed in Albany County District Court by former legislator Charles Pelkey on behalf of Wyoming attorney Tim Newcomb, alleges the new law infringes on citizens’ ability to vote. 

In a filing submitted to the court, Wyoming Deputy Attorney General Brandi Monger accuses Newcomb of failing to “allege any factors to support his requested relief” aside from his argument that the state already has photos on file of every voter through driver’s licenses and other IDs.  

“All other statements are legal propositions, citing various statutes, court cases, constitutional provisions, or no authority at all,” Monger wrote in the July 5 filing asking the judge to dismiss the case. “Notably, the amended complaint contains no allegations concerning Newcomb, including any allegations that any state law has harmed him in any way or establishing jurisdiction and venue in this court.” 

Wyoming law requires a plea to state a basis for the court’s jurisdiction of a case, wrongs a claimant has suffered and what the claimant demands in relief. 

Monger mentioned three different Wyoming Supreme Court cases where the justices have distinguished between cases where litigants sought declaratory judgment for uncertain or speculative harm rather than present and existing controversy. 

“The Wyoming Supreme Court relied on the well-established principle that the courts should only act where there is an actual controversy to resolve,” Monger wrote. 

Wyoming is one of 35 states to have a voter ID law and one of 20 states to require a photo ID. The law went into effect last fall for local elections but will be tested on a much broader scale this year. 

This argument takes the line of logic that the plaintiffs need to provide an example of an individual who was prevented from voting that should have been legally allowed. Since there have been no major elections in Wyoming since the law was enacted in July 2021, harm would likely be difficult to prove at this juncture.  

“Newcomb simply has not pleaded facts that, if true, establish that he was harmed- or, indeed, affected in any way- by the statute at issue,” Monger wrote. “Neither has he pleaded facts plausibly alleging any non-speculative future harm he will sustain. He asks for an advisory opinion.” 

Detractors of the ID bill argued while it was being considered that voter fraud in Wyoming is a non-existent problem and the legislation would subdue voter turnout.  

Pelkey told Cowboy State Daily in April that the lawsuit was intended to show that there was no “fundamental” need for the law to be enacted.  

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Sugarloaf Fire Continues Burning Near Laramie, No Containment Yet

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A wildfire sparked earlier this week in northern Albany County has not grown in the last 24 hours, but it has not yet been contained, a fire command team spokesman told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.

Jonathan Ashford, a spokesman for Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team 3, said firefighters and other emergency management teams were working on Wednesday to create a direct fire line, which would keep the Sugarloaf Fire from growing.

The fire has burned about 400 acres, but does not appear to have grown since aerial teams checked the perimeter of the blaze from the skies on Tuesday.

“We think it’s stayed about the same size due to the weather and the significant amount of aircraft that was sent up yesterday [to drop water onto the wildfire],” Ashford said. “Our big challenge here is the terrain we’re operating on, because it’s really steep and rocky.”

Sugarloaf Fire is believed to have been started around noon on Monday. Investigators believe it is human caused, but Ashford could not speak to the reasons why they came to this conclusion.

The fire started near the Cow Creek Trailhead in the forest and is burning about seven miles southwest of Laramie Peak.

“The goal with the fire lines we’ve created is to allow the fire to burn vegetation and fuels in the direct path, but at a certain point, it won’t have anything to do or anywhere to go,” Ashford said.

Around 10 residences were evacuated in northern Albany County on Monday, but Ashford said none of the people who left their homes have utilized any of the Red Cross services that have been offered. He said the closest residence to the fire is still about a mile away.

Those in the evacuation area were told to gather their important belongings, family members and pets and to leave the area.

It was not clear when the evacuation order would be lifted.

Medicine Bow was the spot where the devastating Mullen Fire broke out in September 2020, burning for weeks until it was finally contained in mid-October 2020.

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Cheney, Hageman Release Latest Round Of Attack Ads In Wyoming

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

Mudslinging has moved into full gear in the U.S. House race between Harriet Hageman and Rep. Liz Cheney, with both campaigns releasing a new onslaught of campaign ads this week.  

The ads paid for by a Hageman super political action committee say Cheney has forgotten about Wyoming issues, while Cheney’s accuse Hageman of making statements just to get elected.

On Tuesday, Wyoming Values, a super political action committee working independently from but in support of Hageman, released an ad blitz that will run through the primary election.  

According to Fox News, Wyoming Values paid around $500,000 for the ads that will run over the next three weeks until the Aug. 16 primary.  

Wyoming Values’ ad “FedUp” harkens back to state roots, with the narrator claiming, “Liz Cheney left behind Wyoming and our conservative values a long time ago.” 

“It’s time for a change. Harriet Hageman is of Wyoming, from Wyoming, and for Wyoming,” said the gravelly-toned male narrator. 



Hageman is a native Wyoming resident and has spent most of her life in the state, aside from her regional and national-level work as a land and water attorney. She is still listed as senior counsel for the Washington, D.C.-based New Civil Liberties Alliance.  

A clip from Hageman’s “Fed Up” speech is shown during the ad, which she presented during a “Save Wyoming” rally she held with former President Donald Trump in Casper in May.  

Cheney has opposed Trump publicly since the 2020 election, for his attempt to overturn the results of that election and his alleged role in inciting the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot. 

“We’re fed up with (President) Joe Biden, (Speaker of the House Rep.) Nancy Pelosi,” Hageman says. “We’re fed up with inflation and we’re fed up with Liz Cheney.” 

Hageman gave a new iteration of this speech during a rally held in Lander last weekend.  

The Cheney team released an ad titled “Serious” on her behalf Wednesday morning, criticizing Hageman and other U.S. House opponents for comments they made about the 2020 election.  

The comments were taken from a debate held in Sheridan in May. 



“We have serious questions about the 2020 election,” Hageman says in the ad, followed by a loud buzzer noise. 

This buzzer was played for the comments Robyn Bellinskey and Anthony Bouchard also gave on the topic.  

The ad finishes out with Cheney’s perspective on the topic. 

“We’ve got to elect serious leaders, we’ve got to elect leaders who will take their oath of office seriously,” she said. “We’ve got to elect leaders who won’t simply say what people want to hear.” 

A chime plays after this comment, indicating she gave the correct answer. 

As of 11:05 a.m. Wednesday, the commercial had 1,709 views on Youtube. Hageman’s ad had 2,190 views on Youtube after being posted Monday.  

Jeremy Adler, a spokesman for Cheney, said the commercial will run statewide Wednesday. He would not say how much it cost for the ad-buy. Another anti-Hageman ad premiered over the weekend, paid for by a Washington, D.C.-based super PAC.

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National Poll: Barrasso, Lummis Are The Two Most Popular Senators In Country

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By Coy Knobel, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming is number one in the nation in terms of liking its governor, disliking President Joe Biden and now approving of its U.S. senators, according to state-by-state surveys conducted by a national research company.

Wyoming Republican U.S. Senator John Barrasso tops the list of the most popular senators in the country. Morning Consult Political Intelligence data shows 70% of Wyoming voters approve of the senator’s job performance and 23% disapprove. 

Wyoming U.S. Senator, Cynthia Lummis, also a Republican, came in at number two in the rating. She had 63% approval and 25% disapproval ratings in the poll.

“Polls are nice, but the great privilege is to work for the people of Wyoming,” Barrasso told Cowboy State Daily. “Right now too many people are suffering from high gas prices and record inflation. That is where we need to keep up the fight for cutting government spending and removing federal barriers to developing our American energy resources.” 


Morning Consult Political Intelligence, April 1 – June 30, 2022

Lummis’ office said the senator works hard to represent her Wyoming constituents’ values and she is honored to be one of the most popular senators in the country.

“The motto of the Lummis office is ‘all Wyoming all the time,’ and it appears that approach to serving in elected office is well-liked among the people of Wyoming,” said Lummis spokesperson Stacey Daniels. 

Other data from the company’s polls, which were conducted with registered voters in every state between April 1 and June 30, showed Wyoming GOP Governor Mark Gordon’s approval rating at 74%, which was tops in the nation. Wyoming voters gave President Biden a 23% approval score and 76% disapproval, the worst rating in the country, according to the survey.

South Dakota’s Republican U.S. Senators Mike Rounds and John Thune were next highest on the list with 60% approval ratings. 

The fifth most popular U.S. senator was Republican John Hoeven of North Dakota. His approval was 57%.  He was followed by number six and the first Democrat on the list, Patrick Leahy of Vermont who scored a 56% approval rating.   Fellow Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent, scored the same approval rating. 

Another Independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, Angus King of Maine, also had a 56% approval rating.  U.S. Senators John Kennedy, R-La.,  and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. round out the top 10. Each had a 54% approval rating.

The least popular senator in the poll was Kentucky Republican and Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell. He scored a 31% approval and a 62% disapproval rating.

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Denver To Get First In-And-Out Burger; Wyoming Not Even On Map 

in News/Food
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming fans of the popular hamburger joint In-N-Out Burger will soon have another location to choose from as the chain is opening its first restaurant in Denver. 

The popular restaurant, which has a cult-like following around the country, does have other locations in suburbs of the Mile High City but this one is the first in the actual city limits. 

This restaurant will be located a block north of Interstate 70 in Denver’s Central Park neighborhood.

With the addition of this location, there are seven In-N-Outs in Colorado and zero in Wyoming.

Unless you are a burger aficionado, you might think who cares? A burger is a burger is a burger.

Not to In-N-Out fans.

Cult-Like Following

Some followers of this chain make their travel plans around the restaurant. Others camp-out before a new restaurant is opened.

Is the food really that fantastic or is just pop-culture run amok and it’s cool because it’s cool? 

While that can be debated forever, fans say the difference of In-N-Out is the simplicity of the menu, the secret menu, and that the ingredients are always fresh.

That last point can give Wyomingites hope that one day an In-N-Out could open in the Cowboy State. 

What About Wyoming?

Denny Warnick, Chief Operating Officer for In-N-Out, made no promises but did tell Cowboy State Daily that a factor in the opening of a restaurant is the proximity to one of their distribution centers. 

“We deliver fresh product to each In-N-Out location at least every other day,” Warnick said. “Our hamburger patties are de-boned and ground from whole chucks by our own team of butchers, so we can never build and open a new restaurant that is too great a distance from one of our facilities.” 

How far is far? 

Warnick didn’t say. 

300 Miles

But the former vice president of planning and development at In-N-Out told Business Insider that the distance must be within 300 miles. 

“All the food delivered has to be within 300 miles of an official distribution facility so that it arrives fresh and stays that way, hence the most flavorful hamburger patty you’ll ever eat,” he said. 

The closest In-N-Out distribution center is in Colorado Springs, 188 miles from Cheyenne. So the capital city certainly qualifies. 

Laramie also makes the cut. Torrington and Wheatland too. Even Rock River and Medicine Bow qualify. And coming just under the wire is Rawlins at 296.5 miles from Colorado Springs. 

Likely? No. 

Warnick, nicely, dispelled any real chance of the restaurant opening in Wyoming soon. 

“We will likely focus our Colorado restaurant growth on the areas near Denver and Colorado Springs for some time before expanding much further,” he said.  

“We currently operate seven locations in Colorado and have felt very welcomed in each of the communities, and by the customers who have stopped in from near and far.” 

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Candidate Profile, Teton County House District 23: One Of Wyoming’s Few Blue Districts

in News/politics
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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

In one of Wyoming’s most progressive House districts, a race has emerged between an established policy mind and a younger, up-and-coming challenger looking to flip the status quo in Wyoming upside down. 

Democrats Liz Storer and Ryan Sedgeley are competing to represent Wyoming House District 23 in this year’s primary election.  The district covers the northern portion of the town of Jackson and Teton County, Grand Teton National Park and the southern half of Yellowstone National Park.  

For the last 14 years, Storer has led the George B. Storer Foundation, which invests in nonprofits and programs throughout the state. The foundation supports nonprofit journalism entities WyoFile, Wyoming Public Media and High Country News, University of Wyoming scholarships, and protecting sage grouse habitat and other projects.  

The Candidates

Storer, a Jackson resident, has been lobbying at the State Capitol since 1994 for various environmental causes, which she said has given her a strong understanding for policy issues affecting the state. 

“I have a deep love and respect for Wyoming,” Storer said. “I am concerned about its future.” 

Storer said she is the only candidate in the race with policy experience. Although Sedgeley said he has some recent policy experience, he admits he does not possess as much as Storer.  

“Every opportunity this state has to move into the 21st century, it keeps going back to the past and shooting itself in the foot,” he said. “This state has every opportunity to diversify. Republicans are strangling the state.” 

Sedgeley lives at Old Faithful within Yellowstone National Park and works for the Wyoming Outdoor Council. He is proud of his blue-collar roots, which taught him the need to work to put food on the table. After working as a valve mechanic at a nuclear power plant, Sedgeley went on to get a law degree from the University of Wyoming.  

“I’m tired of seeing things not getting done in my region,” he said. “There are things being done that are really harming people.” 

Both candidates are looking to replace Rep. Andy Schwartz, R-Jackson, who is not running for reelection. The winner of the Aug. 16 primary will take on Republican Paul Vogelheim in the general election, who is running unopposed in his primary. 

Anti-Fossil Fuels

Sedgeley, a Teton County Democratic Party committeeman, wants all coal production in Wyoming and plans to develop the nuclear plant in Kemmerer immediately stopped.

He said money could be used from the state’s permanent mineral trust fund to pay full salaries for the employees who would be laid off in these industries, who then could be trained to work green energy jobs.  

“We need to think big,” he said. “In Wyoming, we are in an unmatched position where we would be climate change heroes, heroes for ending carbon emissions.”  

Storer and Sedgeley want Wyoming to move away from its dependence on fossil fuel revenue with a new approach. Storer wants the state to adopt a new tax policy and study how climate change could affect the state’s wildlife and its farmers.  

“Wyoming is at a crossroads as it strives to build a new economy that does not rely on the extraction of fossil fuels but many in leadership today only want to look in the rearview mirror,” Storer said, adding making changes now will be much easier than waiting to do so at some point in the future.  

Market Solutions Not Enough

She said the state has become increasingly reliant on Teton County for revenue as a major tourism hub and would like the county to have more control over its future at the state level. 

Teton County has had a housing shortage for quite some time, but over the last few years many other parts of the state have started seeing a similar problem. Storer said she would like to see more public housing in Wyoming, where construction companies and communities could be rewarded for participating with an incentive-based program. 

“Market solutions alone cannot solve the housing crisis and protect our environment and community character,” Storer said. “Government and philanthropy must work with the private sector to help incentivize and or subsidize affordable housing.” 

Increase Taxes

To help address this and other economic-related problems, Storer wants Wyoming to establish a more equitable tax structure that initiates a higher tax burden on the state’s wealthiest residents and expands sources of revenue beyond a primary reliance on fossil fuels. 

“No one is paying their fair share of taxes, other than the energy industry,” she said, mentioning how Wyoming has the 10th most unequal tax policy according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, with the lowest 20% earners paying the highest taxes.  

“We have no real estate tax, no gift tax, a very low tobacco and alcohol tax, our sales tax rate is very low,”  Storer said. 

She said the state’s low tax rates have led to an influx of new residents looking to take advantage of the savings. 

“I don’t know if that was the case 10 years ago,” she said. “It doesn’t serve the state as well when the people moving to the state serve 10% of the services they demand.” 

Storer also wants to expand the state’s property tax rebate program to a wider range of constituents but does not want to lower the state’s property tax rate, which she considers “quite modest.”  

Sedgeley wants property tax rates increased on residents with multiple homes in the state, a budding trend with the growth of vacation rental companies like Airbnb. 

“If they’re not living here they probably can afford to pay higher taxes,” he said. “If they don’t want to do that- great, then we’ll have people who actually live here and want to be part of the community.” 

Curt Meier Criticism

Storer criticized State Treasurer Curt Meier’s handling of the state’s investment funds and said the state needs to look at new industries for better returns.  

“We have a portfolio that looks like 1968,” she said.  

Storer said with even a 2% growth to the state’s $29 billion in investments, Wyoming could bring in $580 million in additional revenue.  

Wyoming has some of the most private financial trust laws in the nation, a topic of particular importance in the highly affluent Teton County. Storer said these laws have been abused by bad actors for ill-gotten gains and she wants to study how they can be improved.  

Sedgeley wants to take more immediate action, saying all loopholes need to be closed on blind trusts. 

“It encourages money laundering,” he said. “We have billionaires who need to pay those taxes. If they want to pay they can stay, if they don’t they should leave.” 

Sedgeley said corner crossing should be legal in Wyoming and the State Legislature could address this issue by creating a constructive easement law. 

“We can’t have isolated pieces of public land,” he said. “The courts intended for these to be public lands. If the public doesn’t have access, the private landowner is the only one with access to them and that’s not what we’re paying (taxes) for.” 

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Cody’s Art Scene Named As One Of 10-Best In Country

in Cody/News
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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily 

Cody’s “vibrant arts community” was singled out last week as one of the ten best small town art “scenes” in the country. 

The list was voted on by USA Today readers, and put Cody alongside towns such as Tubac, Arizona; Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Eureka Springs, Arkansas; and Taos, New Mexico.

“The former home of Buffalo Bill now hosts a vibrant arts community, thanks to the Cody Country Art League, Big Horn Galleries, Simpson Gallagher Gallery and Mountain Valley Artistry,” the article reads. “Visit during the annual Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale to find pieces celebrating the American West.” 

Buffalo Bill Art Show And Sale

“The art show really revolves around the beauty and the grandeur of where we live, right here in the West,” said the director of the Buffalo Bill Art Show and Sale, Kathy Thompson. “They just love to come and get examples for them to paint and sculpt. And it’s all right here in this little beautiful corner of the world.” 

The sale is the keystone event for the town’s annual “Rendezvous Royale,” a week-long celebration of art and artisanship that’s held the third week of September. Western artists such as Chris Navarro, D. Michael Thomas, Ezra Tucker and Vic Payne have sold their paintings and sculptures at the annual sale, which last year brought almost $1.5 million to the artists and the community. 

Thompson, who has coordinated the show for the last 15 years, pointed out that many of the artists whose work brought them to Cody have found themselves at home in the town that was founded by one of the greatest showmen who ever lived. 

“We have artists from not only here, right in Park County, but we also have artists that have moved from Australia and are moving to Cody,” she told Cowboy State Daily. 

She said that besides the inspiring surroundings and the high dollar payouts, it’s the people of Cody that attract artists to the area every year. 

“We’ve attracted some very big names, and people that do very well in all of the art shows,” Thompson said. “But the other thing that, of course, really draws all these big names and great art is that Cody just takes care of their people when they come. They have a wonderful time being here, and Cody just rolls out a red carpet every time.” 

There are 104 artists who will be featured in this year’s art show and sale, said Thompson, and each one offers a different view of the American West. 

“There’s over 100 ways to see the west,” she said. “You could have five different buffalo pieces – sculptures and paintings – and it’s a different look at that animal every time.” 

Galleries

One of the reasons Cody landed on USA Today’s list is the surprising number of art galleries for a small town of around 10,000 residents. There are at least nine, in fact, featuring media ranging from handcrafted steel wall art, custom furniture, photographs, bronzes, ceramics – and of course, paintings. 

One of the galleries mentioned in the USA Today piece is the Simpson Gallagher Gallery, founded by Sue Simpson Gallagher and her husband, John, in 1994. Sue, the daughter of former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson and his wife, Ann, said her parents instilled in her a love for the arts from a young age. 

“My parents raised us with great art appreciation,” Gallagher told Cowboy State Daily. “They’re self trained art historians. We never went to a town where we didn’t visit a museum, and if there wasn’t an art museum, we went to history museums, and we went to concerts. It was essential in our education and upbringing in my family, and it totally took with me.” 

Gallagher was the original curator for the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, and also spent time in New York City’s art scene, before she and her husband decided they needed to move back to her hometown in Wyoming. 

Gallagher said she’s not an artist herself, but is an essential piece in the creative process – an “appreciator.” 

“Without the person to appreciate, it sort of falls flat,” she said. “It’s hard to get excited. And so I feel like my creative outlet is to support people who are.” 



Buffalo Bill Center Of The West

The cornerstone for the art scene in Cody is the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, founded in 1917 by Buffalo Bill’s niece, Mary Jester Allen. The Center features the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, named for a famous sculptor from New York City, Gertrude Whitney, whose massive “Scout” bronze anchors Cody’s main street at its west end. 

“The museum was the inspiration for my life and my vocation,” Simpson said. “I grew up going to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (as it was called then) all the time. I would take myself there if nobody took me. And I found that art could take me to different places. Art could take me outside myself. Art could take my imagination, could enhance my own story with someone else’s story.” 

The museum is the Art Show and Sale’s primary partner, hosting the auction and other events. It is also the number one attraction in the community that is otherwise primarily known as a gateway to Yellowstone National Park. 

“We are a tourist town with a wonderful year round community of people who care about each other, and look out for each other,” said Gallagher. “And I feel like when people come through here, they see it too. They feel it. And they love that Buffalo Bill wanted it to be in our community.” 

Cody’s Art Community

Gallagher said that the community of artists and art gallery proprietors within the larger community of Cody really comes together during the annual Rendezvous Royale. She pointed to the “Creative Guide to Cody and Powell,” which was created and distributed by Brian Timmer of the Timmer Gallery downtown. 

“They made it for all of us and distributed it to all of us,” Gallagher said, referring to the other gallery owners. “It gives a little bit of information about every gallery in the communities.”  

The building adjoining Gallagher’s business is another prominent gallery, the Big Horn Gallery, owned by Bob and Nancy Brown. Gallagher said that the two would-be competitors often join forces, hosting events. 

Gallagher pointed out that the Cody Country Art League, situated in the Chamber of Commerce building across the street from the museum, was the very first sales gallery in the community. Founded in 1964, the Art League is a space to promote local artists, many of whom haven’t quite reached professional status yet.  

“(The Art League has supported) amateur artists, including my grandmother,” Gallagher said. “The Art League is sort of a foundation that we’ve all built upon, and hopefully enhanced, with bringing artists from around the country.”  

Taking Home A Piece Of The West

Thompson pointed out that patrons of the art show come back year after year because they want to take home a little piece of this unique part of the country. 

“Our very best patrons bring new people every year, because they’re so excited about the art here, and meeting the artists themselves,” said Thompson. “They want to support the arts, and they want to support the artists.”  

And even though many who visit Cody don’t purchase art while they are in town, just the presence of so many galleries and organizations that support artists – like the non-profit “By Western Hands” museum and gallery just around the corner from the Simpson Gallagher and Big Horn galleries – enhances the community’s culture. 

“There are lots of people in this community who may not be art buyers, but build us up, feeling like it’s really important that art galleries and artists are here, contributing to the community,” Gallagher said. 

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Daily Wyoming Gas Map: Wednesday July 27, 2022

in Gas Map/News
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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s average price per gallon $4.44, is down 6 cents from our last report of $4.50.

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price is down 25 cents from a week ago, and is up, 96 cents per gallon from one year ago.

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained above the national average of $4.27

High and Low Prices:

The highest reported gasoline price in Wyoming on Wednesday was in Jackson Wyoming with $5.29 per gallon. The new lowest price in Wyoming is the M.G. Oil Co at 502 El Camino Rd, and Maverik at 1616 E Hwy 14-16 in Gillette, both posting $3.77 per gallon. The highest county average is in Teton County, with an average of $5.01 per gallon. The county with the lowest average, is in Natrona county, with $3.89. These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed.

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county: 

Albany $4.43; Big Horn $4.80; Campbell $3.98; Carbon $4.62; Converse $4.65; Crook $4.48; Fremont $4.73; Goshen $4.63; Hot Springs $4.52; Johnson $4.75; Laramie $4.35; Lincoln $4.48; Natrona $3.89; Niobrara $4.48; Park $4.71; Platte $4.48; Sheridan $4.79; Sublette $4.48; Sweetwater $4.55; Teton $5.01; Uinta $4.65; Washakie $4.79; Weston: $4.51. 

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities:

Basin $4.77; Buffalo $4.47; Casper $3.59; Cheyenne $4.17; Cody $4.55; Douglas $4.34; Evanston $4.58; Gillette $3.77; Jackson $4.89; Kemmerer $4.58; Laramie $4.14; Lusk $4.09; Newcastle $4.42; Pinedale $4.29; Rawlins $4.45; Riverton $4.58; Rock Springs $4.39; Sheridan $4.55; Sundance $4.39; Thermopolis $4.14; Wheatland $4.75; Worland $4.74.   

Want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area. 

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted.

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First Mental Health Urgent Care Clinic In State To Open In Cheyenne This Fall

in News/Business
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A mental health urgent care clinic, the first of its kind in Wyoming, will open sometime this fall in Cheyenne, its company’s president told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.

Emily Loos of LIV Health said the clinic will open on the northern side of Cheyenne likely around the end of October, but much work has to be done before she can give an official date.

“We’re going to offer both immediate psychiatric health care and then our goal is to later have aftercare,” Loos said. “We’re going to have a psychiatric nurse practitioner and mental health therapist for the immediate intervention. But we also want to follow up with people either for mental health or case management. We can bridge that gap between now and ongoing care.”

The team at LIV Health in Cheyenne will serve patients five years and older. The mental health needs treated at the clinic will be a wide range, from LGBTQ-related issues to substance use to sleep-related disorders.

The difference between a clinic such as LIV and a “typical” urgent care clinic is that if someone is suffering from a mental health crisis, they can speak with a counselor at LIV that day.

LIV has been in business in Colorado for about eight years, but Loos has had her eye on expanding to Wyoming for a while.

The need for mental health services has been growing over the last several years, but the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the problem, Loos said.

But after reading an article from a therapist who opened his office to patients without requiring an appointment beforehand, she got the idea to expand mental health urgent care clinics in the Front Range region.

“This has really been a labor of love for the last couple of years with the planning and trying to find the space in Cheyenne,” Loos said. “A big part of our planning is making sure our team has all the tools and education they need to be able to manage any type of crisis that may come through the door.”

Once the clinic opens, Loos intends for it to be open seven days a week, although the business’ hours will be shorter on the weekends.

“We’d really like to be able to open this up for everyone in Wyoming to be able to access us, at least through telehealth,” she said. “Suicide in Wyoming is a big issue and we want to have the biggest impact on our patients. We want our team to really be able to reduce the number of suicides in Wyoming.”

There are not many other mental health urgent care clinics in the nation. An internet search showed similar ones in Des Moines, Iowa, Sacramento, California and Bridgeton, Missouri.

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Don’t Milk The Snake: Wyoming Reptile Expert Busts Rattler & Other Snake Myths

in News/wildlife
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images
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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
clair@cowboystatedaily.com

If you see a rattlesnake this summer, don’t milk it for venom.  Also, be careful when hunting rattlesnakes for their meat.    

These are the warnings of Zack Walker, Wyoming Game and Fish non-game supervisor and reptile expert.     

Walker told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday he’s heard of many Wyomingites eating rattlesnakes, but hadn’t heard of people surviving on them.    

“I do talk to people who say they’ve had them before,” said Walker, who has not eaten a rattlesnake. “I’ve never met somebody who eats a lot of them, I guess.”    

Rattlesnakes, which taste slightly of chicken, are not legally protected from being hunted or killed.    

However, they are venomous and sometimes deadly snakes, with frontal fangs that can easily pierce human flesh.    

Walker said he hadn’t heard of Wyomingites trying to milk rattlesnakes for their venom, but he advises against that.    

“I would leave that to the professionals,” he said. “That makes me a little worried and hopefully people don’t do that.”    

Though deadly, rattlesnakes generally are not aggressive unless provoked, which is why most rattlesnake bites occur when people try to attack or handle the snakes without prior training, Walker noted.  

For that reason, he added, snake hunters should use caution.    

Eat This, Not That   

If you must eat a rattlesnake, note that the prairie rattlesnake population in Wyoming can handle it better than the midget faded rattlesnake, which is a different subspecies that, Walker said, is somewhat rare.    

“It’s a little bit more of a conservation concern than is the prairie rattlesnake,” said Walker, specifying again that he wasn’t encouraging snake-hunting for dinner.    

The midget faded rattlesnake in Wyoming is found only in the southwest corner of the state, “kind of near the Flaming Gorge area,” whereas the prairie rattlesnake is widespread.    

Walker, who earned a master’s degree in herpetology and has spent his career tracking and studying reptiles and amphibians, said he wasn’t sure if he’d eat a rattlesnake because he’s spent so much time studying them.    

“I’d feel a little guilty, but I might.”    

If bit by any kind of rattlesnake, remove constricting accessories such as rings and bracelets, and seek medical care immediately. Rattlers can dry bite, that is, bite a person without injecting venom, but it’s best not to gamble on that possibility, said Walker.   

Hog-Nosed   

Rattlesnakes aren’t the only venomous snakes in Wyoming, but they seem like it.    

There’s also the hog-nosed snake.  

“The hog-nosed snake does have a weak venom, but it’s rear-fanged,” said Walker. “You usually never hear about anybody getting bit by hog-nosed snakes. That’s difficult to do.”   

Besides having a weak, usually non-fatal venom and a mechanical disadvantage of attack due to its rear fangs, the hog-nosed snake has sweeter manners.    

“Their temperament is such that they don’t bite you anyway,” Walker added.    

A Job To Do   

Bull snakes have a job to do.   

These five-foot-long snakes are a common sight in Wyoming, and can be distinguished from rattlesnakes by their narrower heads and rounder pupils. They are not venomous  but can cause pain and bruising if they bite and latch on during an attack.     

Despite that, the clever bull snake will mimic a rattlesnake when threatened, by shaking its tail in debris to emulate a rattling, and by making a rattling hiss through its mouth.    

Bull snakes eat rodents and birds.    

“They’re out there doing a job. They keep the rodent population down,” said Walker. “If people are scared of them they can run them off, but (bull snakes) are doing their job.”    

Wyomingites often will tell one another to keep bull snakes around, because bull snakes eat rattlesnakes.

“The truth of it is, they don’t commonly eat rattlesnakes,” said Walker. “One might eat a small rattlesnake, but it’s not typically going to go out of its way to eat one.”   

Walker said the bull snake is more likely to shack up with the rattlesnake than eat it.    

“I’ve personally seen bull snakes and rattlesnakes in the same hibernacula (den),” he said, adding, however, that the two types of snakes are too far apart genetically to inter-breed.   

Giant Ball of Snakes   

Another Wyoming legend about snakes is that rattlesnakes crossing a lake will knot themselves into a huge ball, and can cause major water-skiing accidents in that form.    

“I have never seen that, and I wouldn’t expect that to happen, just by the sheer nature of a rattlesnake,” said Walker.    

Just like all snakes, rattlesnakes can swim, but they usually prefer to cross lakes and other water bodies alone.    

The knotted-snake legend may have its origins in facts, however, since garter snakes emerging from hibernation gather into a huge knot together to mate.    

A knot of garter snakes in the water might harm a person’s boat, said Walker, but not more than any other clump of debris of equal size.    

The Reek   

Water snakes make children stink on purpose.    

A final commonly-held belief about snakes in Wyoming is that children catching water snakes will have foul-smelling hands.   

Not only is this belief true, it’s completely intentional on the part of the water snake.   

“They produce a musk that comes, basically out of their cloaca, or their vent, and it’s designed to smell bad and dissuade predators,” Walker said.

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Cody Horticulturalist Worried Impact Of Monarch Butterflies Making Endangered Species List

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Last week, monarch butterflies were added to the endangered species list.

Despite Wyoming not being in Canada-to-Mexico annual migration flight path, a Park County horticulturalist hopes that the monarch butterfly species’ endangerment will bring awareness to all pollinators.

“I’m in Cody and I have a pollinator garden and I usually see a couple of monarchs every year,” Bobbie Holder said. “Their endangered status won’t make a difference in Wyoming to that specific butterfly, but I think by listing them as endangered, everybody is a little more aware of all butterfly species.”

Wyoming has more than 200 species of butterflies, according to data released by the University of Wyoming. These include Northern crescent, Eastern tiger swallowtail and mourning cloak.

And while the monarch is not one of the species commonly found in the state, Holder pointed out that butterflies of all types are at risk of endangerment or even extinction.

Much of this is due to habitat loss and the use of pesticides, but the journal “Science” published a study in 2021 that showed warming climates have also played a role in the decline of butterflies.

Over the last 40 years, more than 450 butterfly species across 11 states (including Wyoming) have declined at an average rate of nearly 2% a year, the study showed.

Holder said the plant/pollinator relationship is in distress.

“We want to get rid of any weed that’s the least bit annoying,” she said. “So they just douse it in chemicals and those just kill everything. Plus with climate change, we see plants maturing earlier than they normally do, so when a butterfly hatches and needs to find nectar, a lot of these plants are already past their time.”

When adult butterflies cannot find a proper food source, they become stressed and lay fewer eggs as a result.

“Then we get a decline in the population and there are less butterflies next year and it becomes a snowball effect,” Holder said.

She recommended that anyone who is looking to help the butterfly populations in the state avoid using as many pesticides in their yard and garden, if any at all, and to put some native plants in their yards.

“We can start becoming aware of the things around us and the role they play in our lives,” Holder said. “The big thing people should know is if you like food, you might want to pay attention to what’s going on with these pollinators. But if you don’t eat, then you don’t need to worry about it.”

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Massive Wind Project In Albany County Moves Closer To Completion

in News/wind
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By Joshua Wood, Cowboy State Daily
josh@cowboystatedaily.com

The Rail Tie Wind Project in southeastern Wyoming has cleared another major hurdle on its way to completion.

ConnectGen—the company behind the Rail Tie Wind Project—is proposing to construct 84 to 149 wind turbines on 26,000 acres of private and State land in Albany County. As part of the process, the company submitted two interconnection requests to the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA).

Last week, WAPA released a record of decision approving ConnectGen’s two interconnection requests. This will allow the company to connect to the already existing transmission line owned by WAPA, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, and the Platte River Power Authority.

According to Mark Wierenga, the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) document manager for WAPA, this decision closes out a three-stage process which had been put in place by WAPA and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“There’s a three stage process; a feasibility study, an impact study that looks at the power flows and models it all … and after that, the last stage is what they call a facilities study and that basically costs everything out,” said Wierenga. “The Record of Decision essentially closes out the process. It states what decision we made. In this case, our decision is limited to ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the interconnection request.”

Because the decision is guided by requirements for open access to transmission, WAPA would need a good reason to deny the connection requests, said Wierenga. 

While this decision brings the Rail Tie Wind Project one step closer to reality, Wierenga said there are still a number of other steps ConnectGen needs to follow before construction can begin. 

One process currently underway is the Historic Properties Treatment Plan, which addresses mitigation of impacts to cultural resources.

More Permits

In the document released by WAPA, cultural resources were just one of the significant impacts listed. Other significant impacts cited by WAPA were impacts on visual resources and impacts to eagles. For the latter, ConnectGen will need to go through the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for an eagle take permit. 

“There will be a number of other permits they’ll need to get,” said Wierenga.

These include permits related to the Clean Water Act and several local permits such as permits for road crossings.

“Now, on the state level, they are clear to construct. They have their permit from the Industrial Siting Committee and they also have their permit from Albany County,” said Wierenga. “Our decision is limited solely to letting them connect or not letting them connect.”

Though ConnectGen has permits to construct from both the state and county level authority, Wierenga said they still have conditions which need to be met.

“They’ve got a series of conditions on their permits, both state and county level. The controlling authority and the enforcement of those will come from the county and the state,” said Wierenga. “So, they pretty much have to get everything lined out before they go out and start blading their first road.”

Not A Surprise

Paul Montoya, a Laramie resident who with his wife has worked to block the development of the wind project, said the record of decision did not come as a surprise.

Montya said while he wasn’t shocked by the decision, it was unfortunate an agency tasked with looking at environmental impacts had more interest in approving sites based on trying to connect more people to their transmission line.

“WAPA has a task that they’ve been given to connect as many people as they can to the transmission lines that they oversee. So, it’s in their best interest to approve most of these applications,” said Montoya. “We don’t know of an application that WAPA has reviewed in regards to turbines that they’ve ever turned down.”

Montoya told Cowboy State Daily an appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court regarding the Rail Tie wind project was progressing. Two appellate briefs, one for the residents opposed to the project and another for Monahan Ranch, had been filled this month. Oral arguments could be heard by the Wyoming Supreme Court by October or November, said Montoya.

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Passed-Out Man Sleeps Through Moose Encounter

in News/wildlife
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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s probably a good thing that a sleeping man in Breckenridge didn’t wake up when two moose came within a foot of him on Monday.

The unknown man was passed out on a lawn when two moose came up behind him to investigate.

According to the Summit Daily in Colorado, witnesses said the man was in “deep sleep” when the moose sauntered by The Crown, a popular restaurant in the area.

The owner and a friend told the newspaper they didn’t know what to do. They eventually tried to wake him up but to no avail.

“Should we try to wake this guy up?” one of the bystanders said to the other.

“There’s a moose behind you dude!” the other yelled. “There’s moose behind you.”

“No, no, no, no, no, no no,” said the first bystander as the first moose got within a foot of the slumbering man.



But both moose didn’t seem to care as they walked on by.

As for the man, he eventually woke up.

The Summit Daily reports that he never moved during the ordeal, which lasted about five minutes.

One of them eventually went to talk to the man. He told them that he had been wearing earbuds so missed the cautionary advice.

“At first, she said the man laughed sat the encounter but that when she showed him the video, he turned serious,” the newspaper wrote.

Much Better Results

The sleeping guy fared much better than a snowmobiler in Canada earlier this year who was stomped repeatedly for trying to pet a moose.

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Green River Man Who Saved Family In Burning House Receives Hero’s Welcome At Cheyenne Frontier Days

in Hero/News/Good news
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Green River man who risked his life earlier this year by entering a burning house to save the lives of a woman and her youngest child was honored on Tuesday by Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Ryan Pasborg, an oilworker in Sweetwater County, received a standing ovation for his heroic efforts by more than 20,000 people who attended the rodeo.

Pasborg was driving to work early in the morning last February when he saw flames shooting from a house. He pulled into the driveway and saw three children, still wearing their pajamas, running out of the house in sub-zero temperatures.

When they told him their mother and four-year-old brother were still inside, Pasborg bolted inside and found the boy and took him outside. He then returned to the burning structure and located the mother, who was unconscious and carried her to safety.  



Pasborg administered CPR on the woman until she was able to breathe on her own and then transported the whole family away from the house to where he was met by emergency officials.

“Thank God that today everyone from that house is safe and sound,” the PA announcer said to the standing crowd.

“Here is a selfless human being who is a modern-day hero,” he said. “A stranger passing by that saved a family when they needed him the most. Tell that man that he’s a hero.”

Pasborg was the special guest of Wyoming-based company “Cowboy Skill.”

“I am honored to meet Ryan today,” said Paul Goldean, president of Pace-O-Matic, which creates Cowboy Skill games. “What an incredible feat of bravery, running into a burning building and saving two people’s lives. Cowboy Skill is thrilled to host him.”  



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Barrasso, Lummis Try To Pro-Actively Block Biden Executive Order Forgiving Student Loans

in News/Education
Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for We, The 45 Million
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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

Officials in President Joe Biden’s administration say he is considering forgiving student loan debt for millions of Americans, according to media reports

According to the Education Data Initiative, average student loan balances have nearly tripled since 1980. The country’s total balance for all borrowers is more than $1.7 trillion. During his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden pledged to support $10,000 in student loan forgiveness for every borrower.  

Barrasso, Lummis

 “At a time when families are feeling the pain of high prices, the president’s proposal will only make inflation worse,” U.S. Sen. John Barrasso said. “Our bill will hold the administration accountable and make sure taxpayers are not stuck paying other people’s student loan debt.”  

Barrasso, U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis and other Republican lawmakers have attempted to get ahead of the issue, introducing The Debt Cancellation Accountability Act, which would require the U.S. Department of Education to obtain an express appropriation from Congress to pay for any federal student loan debts the Department proposes to waive, discharge, or reduce on a mass amount of loans with a total sum greater than $1 million.  

Since taking office, Biden has been reluctant to use his authority to issue an executive order that would allow him to proceed with forgiving student loans without supporting legislation passed by Congress.   

Presidential executive orders are mandates from a head of state that carry a similar weight to federal law, but can be instantly revoked by a future president. 

Many of those advocating for student loan forgiveness say shoring up debt will allow people to buy homes and start small businesses.

Executive Authority?

Those who say Biden does have the authority to dictate a loan forgiveness order, point to the Higher Education Act (HEA), which says the President, via the Secretary of Education, can “compromise, waive, or release any right, title, claim, lien, or demand” associated with federal student loans. 

According to Forbes Magazine, in 2021 Biden directed federal attorneys to draft a legal analysis to determine whether the HEA or other laws give him the authority to enact student loan forgiveness without Congress. 

In a recent federal court filing, the Biden administration signaled a view that it does have some legal authority to enact a forgiveness order, mentioning the Secretary of Education’s “considerable discretion under the HEA to compromise and settle claims.”  

According to Forbes, Biden said he would make a decision on this matter by the end of August. A 2021 Morning Consult poll shows that 62% of voters support student loan forgiveness.  

Misguided

“Our country is facing a serious economic crisis and we need to cut government spending to stop out-of-control inflation, not drastically increase our national debt through misguided executive orders like this,” said Lummis. 

“Not only is the United States drowning in more than $30 trillion of debt, but the Biden Administration keeps coming up with ideas to put us further in the hole,” Lummis said in a June press release for the Accountability Act. “A bailout of student loan debt would make skyrocketing inflation worse while only helping mostly upper-middle class Americans instead of lower income earners like progressives claim.”  

A move to forgive student debt could help Biden and other Democrats score points with younger voters, the most prevalent demographic saddled with student loan debt. The president’s approval ratings have plummeted in recent months, at one point last week dipping below Donald Trump’s lowest approval mark. 

“President Biden’s attempts to unilaterally waive millions of dollars in student loans is another appeal to the radical left wing of his party,” Barrasso said. “This move undercuts Americans who have worked hard to responsibly pay off their student debt.” 

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Trump instituted a temporary freeze on student loan repayments. The freezes have been extended six times with the most recent pause set to expire Aug. 31. Biden is currently considering whether he will initiate a seventh pause.

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Rawlins Residents Asked To Report Water Overuse By Neighbors

in Rawlins/News
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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
clair@cowboystatedaily.com

Facing yet another shortfall of usable water, the City of Rawlins is done warning people to conserve and now will charge a $250 fine for water over-usage.    

Dispatched Monday evening, the announcement comes nearly five months after the city experienced a severe water systems failure in early March.    

“If you are aware of places that are not following water restrictions, you can report them” to city staff, reads a social media posting by the city. 

A few citizens were not thrilled with the directive.   

“WHAT!!” Pam Smith, Rawlins resident, commented on the post. “Turning your neighbor in for a water violation!!”   

Smith did not respond to a message requesting additional comment by publication time.    

Other commenters suggested that the city should monitor water usage itself and check for leaks.    

A city official warned via Facebook post Monday evening that the town has been consuming about three million gallons per day, up from two million this spring.    

“If use does not go down, ‘Limited Water Use’ will likely be declared, and all outdoor irrigation will cease,” the statement reads.    

Let It Die   

To repair the water system fully could take three to five years, the city announced this spring.    

Town residents have been content with mediocrity too long, according to lifelong Rawlins resident Mike Sisneros.    

“I love Rawlins,” said Sisneros. “I was born and raised there. But we’ve seen it settle for mediocrity, and it’s getting old; the city as a whole, its citizens, its government – it seems like all we do is settle.”    

Sisneros said there have been signs of serious water issues for more than a decade.    

Following the warnings and restrictions, Sisneros has decided to let his yard die, and said a lot of residents have made the same decision.    

Home Values At Stake   

As many residents let their lawns die to avoid shower limits and other last-ditch conservation orders, Mike Teal told Cowboy State Daily he’s growing concerned about future home values in Rawlins.    

“There are some people that think we shouldn’t be watering (at all),” said Teal. “I call them the water police.”    

He said that if he put his home up for sale, he’d like a good lawn to market it.    

Teal’s home is not for sale, but he tried a couple years ago to sell it. Teal changed his mind when he started a relationship with someone in Rawlins.    

“What if I did want to put my house on the market and the lawn is just brown?” he said. “This is going to have impacts on property values I’m sure.”    

Property values in Rawlins, as with elsewhere, are still inflated for now.    

Teal said he’s disappointed the city didn’t address its system weaknesses earlier. He also said he’s not sure if there’s an actual legal ordinance allowing the city to fine people $250 for water overuse.   

“They’re not taking care of the customers,” said Teal, referring to town residents as the city’s customers. “Nobody’s blaming anybody; just work on fixing it.”   

Mira Miller, communications coordinator for the City of Rawlins, could not be reached by phone Tuesday and will reportedly return Thursday to her office to give an interview on residents’ concerns.    

Miller told local radio station Bigfoot99 on Friday that the water usage hit its highest point of the summer one week earlier, during the depleted freshwater supply typical of summer weather. She also said the water storage tanks dropped from 93 percent of their capacity in early July to less than 50 percent in mid-July. 

‘Band Together’   

Mary Oaks, of Rawlins, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday she didn’t know how long the town would have to endure the water shortage, but she hoped people would be kind to one another in the meantime.    

She recommended conserving water as much as possible and helping each other with tips on how to be water-thrifty.    

“Just band together,” said Oaks. “There’s a real problem. Let’s see what we can do to help the city get through this.”    

The Rules   

Still making major, system-wide repairs following a March blowout of its water infrastructure, Rawlins in May ordered residents to water their lawns no more than once a week, for up to one hour total during early morning, twilight, or nighttime hours.   

People also have been ordered not to let water flow into the gutters, not to wash parking lots, sidewalks or driveways; and to wash vehicles with a manual hose, only when “absolutely necessary.”    

Gardens and potted plants still may be watered as needed, with manual hoses during morning, evening or night.    

The city is pausing its own park and cemetery irrigation “until further notice,” but will water parks every other week in the near future. City staff also are “preparing” to hire an engineering firm to finish off the valves of a new pipeline, finalizing a $7.5 million American Rescue Plan Act grant for new system components, and is ordering new parts for its water treatment plant, according to its Facebook announcement.    

Perfect Storm   

The town in March suffered water systems failures that shut down schools and businesses and caused a temporary “boil water” warning.    

The city had been repairing a 32-mile spring water transmission line since December.  It was also replacing its freshwater collection system, made of 108-year-old wood pipes, with PVC.    

During those repairs, the city’s water supply tanks were deprived of their usual freshwater influx. When the time finally came to turn the 32-mile spring line back on, a water line in Rawlins suffered a breakage in many different points. Water escaped the system from three points for more than seven hours, draining the freshwater tanks even more.    

At the same time, an integral part of the city’s water-pumping system stopped working, prompting officials on March 3 to recommend that residents boil their water before consuming it. The boil order was lifted March 8.  

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Hageman Endorsed By Texas Senator Ted Cruz

in News/politics
22553

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By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com

U.S. House candidate Harriet Hageman won official support from a significant player in the national Republican Party. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas endorsed her Tuesday morning. 

“Harriet will be a rock-ribbed conservative congresswoman who will always defend the Constitution,” Cruz told Fox News Digital Tuesday morning. “She knows the importance of standing up for individual constitutional rights and fighting back against the federal government, which wants to seize more land and prevent people from being able to provide for their families.” 

Cruz’s is the second U.S. senator to endorse Hageman. Also giving her support in the Senate is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. 

Hageman has received more endorsements in the U.S. House, the body she will work in if elected. Most significant of these endorsements has been the support of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Minority Speaker of the House. McCarthy has been at odds with Hageman’s opponent, incumbent Rep. Liz Cheney, due to her unwavering criticism of former President Donald Trump, who has also endorsed Hageman. 

McCarthy stripped Cheney from her leadership position in the House in May 2021, replacing her with Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who has also endorsed Hageman. Stefanik and McCarthy have both contributed to Hageman’s campaign. Cruz has not donated funds directly to Hageman’s campaign or any related supporting political action committee as of June 30.

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. has not endorsed Hageman. 

Hageman supported Cruz in his run for president in 2016 against Trump and worked with fellow delegates in a failed effort to force a vote on the Republican National Convention floor between Trump and Cruz. 

Hageman has since said she was manipulated and tricked into taking these actions against Trump. 

The mistake that I made was in not recognizing the lengths to which the Democrats and the press would go in trying to destroy him,” Hageman said in a June interview with Cowboy State Daily. 

“We had never seen anything like it before, and I did not fully appreciate that many of the allegations against him were just part of what has been an ongoing and long-term concerted effort to block his candidacy, his Presidency, and his success,” she said.

“A mistake I made was not pushing back harder against the corporate news media in their coverage of the 2016 Republican presidential primary – believe me, I don’t make that mistake anymore,” Hageman said.

Hageman said she came around to support Trump after being initially skeptical that he would understand Wyoming issues.  

In a Tuesday press release, Hageman described Cruz as an important ally for Wyoming because of the similar culture and industries it shares with Texas. 

“In many ways, Texas and Wyoming face the same struggles against the relentless onslaught of the federal government, and it will be nice to know that I have another ally in the other chamber when I get to Congress,” Hageman said. “Liz Cheney has forgotten all about us here in Wyoming as she readies for a presidential run or a commentator’s seat at CNN or MSNBC.” 

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Lummis Sponsors Legislation Raising Retirement Age of Pilots To Deal With Pilot Shortage 

in News/Cynthia Lummis
Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images
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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

With pilot shortages affecting rural states disproportionately, U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis on Tuesday announced she is sponsoring legislation designed to help mitigate the problem. 

Her bill, the Let Experienced Pilots Fly Act, would increase the maximum age that commercial pilots can fly from 65 to 67. 

Industry experts say the mandatory retirement age is the number one reason for the shortage. 

“Raising the mandatory retirement age to allow pilots to fly for an additional two years would mitigate some of these shortages and help restore rural air service, while ensuring we still have qualified and capable pilots manning our aircraft,” Lummis told Cowboy State Daily. 

More than 5,700 pilots retire each year because they hit the mandatory retirement age of 65, Mark Baier, CEO at Aviation Manuals, told FastCompany. 

He said by 2029, no baby boomers, under the current age restriction, will be able to fly commercial aircraft. 

Another big reason for the shortage is due to early retirement of pilots because of the pandemic. Many airlines offered packages to senior pilots in cost-cutting moves when the pandemic struck. 

Pilots don’t usually come out of retirement to fly again. Union rules would not recognize prior seniority which means they would have to start all over again at much lower wages. 

SkyWest 

Some airlines have taken their own measures to try to solve the problem. 

SkyWest, the regional airline that services most of the airports in Wyoming, has plans to remove seats from its aircraft to allow them to fly with fewer passengers.  

With a lower seating capacity, the airline can operate the aircraft with pilots who have logged fewer flight hours. 

“It is our full intent to hold this new entity to the same high standards of safety, reliability, and service that the SkyWest name has come to represent,” SkyWest’s spokesperson said in a statement last month. 

Medically Insignificant 

As for Lummis’ legislation, this modifies an earlier law that raised the mandatory retirement age from 60 – 65 back in 2007. 

Medical reports concluded age had an ‘insignificant impact’ on performance in the cockpit and there were safety precautions already in place to prevent accidents in case of incapacitation, Lummis said in a statement.  

Nothing in this legislation changes current safety and proficiency procedures for commercial pilots. Pilots will continue to be held to an incredibly high standard to ensure passenger safety, she said. 

Lummis is co-sponsoring the legislation with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).  

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Daily Wyoming Gas Map: Tuesday July 26, 2022

in Gas Map/News
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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s average price per gallon $4.50, is down 2 cents from our last report of $4.52.

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price is down 19 cents from a week ago, and is up, $1.06 per gallon from one year ago.

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained above the national average of $4.30

High and Low Prices:

The highest reported gasoline price in Wyoming on Tuesday was in Moose Wyoming with $5.79 per gallon. The new lowest price in Wyoming is the M.G. Oil Co at 502 El Camino Rd in Gillette, posting $3.79 per gallon. The highest county average is in Teton County, with an average of $4.93 per gallon. The county with the lowest average, is in Natrona county, with $4.00. These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed..

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county: 

Albany $4.35; Big Horn $4.80; Campbell $4.02; Carbon $4.60; Converse $4.51; Crook $4.53; Fremont $4.71; Goshen $4.63; Hot Springs $4.51; Johnson $4.75; Laramie $4.33; Lincoln $4.51; Natrona $4.00; Niobrara $4.51; Park $4.72; Platte $4.51; Sheridan $4.76; Sublette $4.51; Sweetwater $4.59; Teton $4.93; Uinta $4.84; Washakie $4.51; Weston: $4.51. 

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities:

Basin $4.77; Buffalo $4.49; Casper $3.77; Cheyenne $4.17; Cody $4.61; Douglas $4.53; Evanston $4.59; Gillette $3.79; Jackson $4.89; Kemmerer $4.59; Laramie $4.14; Lusk $4.29; Newcastle $4.43; Pinedale $4.39; Rawlins $4.45; Riverton $4.58; Rock Springs $4.39; Sheridan $4.55; Sundance $4.39; Thermopolis $4.72; Wheatland $4.76; Worland $4.74.   

Tim’s Observations:

Average prices today dropped sharply, with the average being down 12 cents per gallon for our list of surveyed cities. The most common price across the state is $4.51 cents. Natrona county almost dropped below $4.00 per gallon today but is currently holding just above the $3.99 point. No county reported an average above $4.93 per gallon.

Want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area. 

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted.

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John Mayer, Dave Chappelle, Bob Weir To Hold Yellowstone Benefit Concerts

in Yellowstone/News/Good news
22535

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Musician John Mayer plans to host concerts next month to benefit the Yellowstone area that was devastated by flooding earlier this summer, the Grammy winning singer-songwriter announced on Tuesday.

Mayer has scheduled three nights of shows on Aug. 8, Aug. 14 and Aug. 21.

One night, Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir plans to join Mayer. Another night, it’s comedian Dave Chappelle. Mayer also plans a solo performance one night.

The Pine Creek Lodge in Livingston, Montana will host the shows.

All of the tickets sold out just moments after Mayer made the announcement. However, a waitlist was still available for people who hope to see Mayer, Weir or Chappelle in an intimate, open-air setting.

“I’m blown away by the generosity of my friends Bob Weir and Dave Chappelle and can’t wait to celebrate this awesome community with those who share my love for it,” Mayer said on Tuesday.

Mayer has been vocal about the flood that destroyed much of the surrounding areas of Yellowstone National Park. He has been living in Park County, Montana for more than a decade.

He has encouraged fans to donate to flood relief efforts or even to visit the surrounding communities.

The main stage area at the Pine Creek Lodge can hold a maximum of 1,000 people. It was not clear how many seats would be available for the Mayer concerts.

Mayer has had a longtime friendship with Chappelle, even showing off his guitar skills in an episode of “Chappelle’s Show.”

Weir and Mayer are bandmates, performing together in the supergroup Dead and Company.

According to Billboard, general admission tickets were available for $150. It additionally reported that proceeds from the concerts would benefit the SW MT Flood Relief Fund in Park County, Montana, with funds earmarked for immediate needs including emergency shelter, drinking water, food, clothing, food replacement from lost freezers and refrigerators, as well as clean-up and rebuilding efforts.

The flooding in Yellowstone National Park closed the park for more than a week. This then led to many people postponing or outright canceling their trips to the area, which then meant less business for the entrance communities, particularly in Montana.

Ninety-three percent of the park is again open to visitors, but it will take years for the park to fully recover from the effects, Superintendent Cam Sholly said earlier this month.

Chris Conway, Silver Gate Lodging manager, said after the flood, their bookings dropped 95%.

“We’ve been booked up for six months in advance,” he said. “We would have probably, approximately, just in our cabins, not the whole community, about 100 people staying in Silver Gate tonight. Tonight we probably have five, because of the closure of the roads into Yellowstone National Park.”

Businesses like Silver Gate Lodging rely on those tourists in the summer to pay the bills year-round. So when the flood occurred on June 13, the damage was done to more than just buildings and roads.

The Pine Creek Lodge owners did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Tuesday.

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Laramie Restaurant Up For Sale After Appearing On Diners, Drive-Ins, And Dives

in News/wyoming economy
22547

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By Joshua Wood, Cowboy State Daily
josh@cowboystatedaily.com

Just a few months after getting its time to shine on the Food Network series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, a Laramie restaurant is officially on the market.

Andy Glines, owner of Crowbar and Grill, has put his business up for sale. The Laramie restaurant was one of three featured on the March 25 “From Italian to Asian” episode.

Two of the dishes from the restaurant highlighted by Fieri were the bulgogi (Asian seasoned steak) fries and billhook pizza. Crowbar and Grill is one of four Laramie restaurants to be featured on the most recent season of the show.

J’s Prairie Rose, a breakfast and lunch spot; Born in A Barn, a sports bar specializing in creative burgers and wings and Sweet Melissa’s, a vegetarian restaurant, were all featured on the show prior to Crowbar and Grill. 

Since then, Alibi Wood Fire Pizzeria and Bakery and Weitzels Wings aka Double Dubs have also been featured on the show.



Part Of The Plan

Glines told the Cowboy State Daily his plan was to put a few years in the business then decide how to continue.

“I guess I had this 10 year mark in my head of ‘I’ll do this for 10 years and then re-evalute and see what else I want to do’,” said Glines. “We’re just kind of coming up to that.”

Glines said when Crowbar and Grill had reached the eight-year mark, the onset of COVID had pushed back any thoughts on selling the business. Last fall, Glines began thinking again about listing the restaurant. Then they were approached to be on Fieri’s show.

“We got selected to be on ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ and we’re like ‘Okay, let’s wait it out through this and see what it looks like’,” said Glines. “Now we’re just ready to pass the torch to somebody else.”

Glines said if being on a national television show played any part in helping the decision to sell along, it was minimal.

“The plan was in motion before we got selected. When that came up, obviously that was huge for us and a big moment for me and (I) was super proud of being able to get on that show and have the reputation,” said Glines. “Going forward, it was just a selling point but it didn’t really affect what our numbers looked like for the past 10 years.”

Still Open For Business

Though Crowbar and Grill is officially on the market, Glines has no plans of shutting the doors anytime soon.

“There’s no reason to shut down. I’m still making money, the place is doing just fine so there’s no reason to shut the doors,” said Glines. “It’s literally just that I would like to go do something else.”

Glines said it may take a while to find a buyer, or even the right buyer, for Crowbar and Grill. He wants to find somebody who would uphold the values of “the Crow.”

“Since I opened the place, it was always very important to me that this space would always be a safe and inclusive space for everybody. I will never treat employees as dispensable,” said Glines. “We’ll always be understanding of them and treat them with respect.”

Another value Glines would like any potential new owners to uphold would be giving back to Laramie “as much as they give to us.”

It’s All About Branding

It’s possible Glines may not be waiting as long as he thinks for someone to show interest in the business.

According to Dominic Valdez, a Laramie County-based realtor, being featured on a popular Food Network show could help in marketing the business.

“If I were doing some of the marketing for it, I would definitely play that up in a big way,” said Valdez. “It’s a recognizable brand.”

When it comes to any property, differentiation is key, said Valdez. Being featured on the show may make Crowbar and Grill a higher profile but there’s no guarantee it will bring a higher sale price.

“It would seem like any investor or buyer would look at the hard numbers sales wise and the costs involved,” said Valdez. “Probably analyze it from that direction.” 

Until the right buyer comes along, Glines will still keep things at Crowbar Bar and Grill business as usual.

“We’re just going to keep operating in the same exact way until that happens,” said Glines. “We’ve had a great time. We feel (it’s) time to move on and let somebody else take it over and hopefully it stays there for many more years to come.”

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Wildfire Breaks Out In Medicine Bow, Likely To Have Been Human-Caused

in News/wildfire
22546

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A wildfire broke out in Medicine Bow National Forest near Laramie on Monday and forest officials believe that it was likely caused by humans.

The Sugarloaf Fire started around noon on Monday and had spread to around 400 acres as of Tuesday morning, according to Medicine Bow National Forest officials. Additional fire crews and helicopters arrived onto the scene Tuesday to help with firefighting efforts.

The fire started near the Cow Creek Trailhead in the forest and is burning about seven miles southwest of Laramie Peak.

It was not clear why fire officials believed that Sugarloaf was human caused.

A portion of northern Albany County was evacuated on Monday evening, but it was not immediately clear how many people were asked to leave their homes. Those in the evacuation area were told to gather their important belongings, family members and pets and to leave the area.

It was also not clear when the evacuation order would be lifted.

The Red Cross of Wyoming opened an emergency shelter in Rock River to help those displaced by the fire.

The fire is currently burning timber in a rocky, inaccessible terrain. Firefighting efforts for this particular wildfire include fire jumpers and heavy tankers filled with water.

A new incident command team will assume management of the fire on Wednesday morning, fire officials said. The intent is to fully suppress the fire.

Wyoming has seen an average fire season this year, according to previous reporting by Cowboy State Daily.

Medicine Bow National Forest officials did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Tuesday.

For the Medicine Bow National Forest and Thunder Basin Wilderness Area, U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Aaron Voos previously said his agency is optimistic about the current wildfire season. 

“This year, we’ve got some additional out-of-area resources stationed in Colorado,” Voos said. “And, we have (fire) engines and personnel that work for our unit, doing a wide variety of fire prevention tasks.”

Medicine Bow was the spot where the devastating Mullen Fire broke out in September 2020, burning for weeks until it was finally contained in mid-October 2020.

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Air Force Thunderbirds Ready To Roar Over Cheyenne (Weather Permitting)

in News/Good news
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
22536

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

The world’s largest outdoor rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days, is in full swing this week and the Air Force Thunderbirds are slated to perform, weather permitting, on Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.

The “weather permitting” is a big deal. The annual show with the Thunderbirds has been canceled before. That’s why Cheyenne residents approach the show cautiously and don’t get their hopes too far up.

Assuming skies stay clear enough for the F-16s to perform their acrobatics on Wednesday, attendees of the annual air show can expect the thrills that accompany the reputation of America’s premier air demonstration squadron.

Looking Good

Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day said he is a bit concerned with the low-lying clouds but is optimistic the show will go on. 

“There is a risk of early morning clouds and maybe some fog,” Day said while walking to the rodeo grounds in Cheyenne. 

“People may wake-up tomorrow and be worried when they see the fog but I’m pretty sure that by 10am, it should all burn off and the show will happen,” he said. 

Assuming Day is correct and his office is not surrounded by a pitchforking-wielding crowd, then people can expect to see between 20 – 30 maneuvers during the 45 minute aerial demonstration.

According to the U.S. Air Force, most of the performance features alternating maneuvers performed by its signature diamond formation and the solos.

There are a total of eight different formations featuring 4-6 jets flying in close proximity to each other. The jets come the closest to each other in the Arrowhead formation with as little as 18 inches between aircraft. All formation maneuvers are performed at speeds exceeding 400 mph.



Ride Along 

Although it is thrilling to watch from the ground, actually participating in the routines is even better, according to Jim Wilkinson, a former media personality in Wyoming and now the head of corporate relations for Cheyenne Frontier Days. 

Back in the mid-1990s, he was a guest rider in an F-16 Thunderbird and described the ride as “indescribable.” 

“It was the absolute coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Wilkinson told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. 

Wilkinson flew with the Thunderbirds for 45 minutes and during that time he said he flew over 700mph and as low as 100 feet from the ground. 

“It was the most exciting thing I ever did,” he said. “I didn’t want it to end.” 

Wilkinson, who broadcast his experience on the radio station he was working for said, unlike many participants who were fortunate enough to experience the Thunderbirds from the aircraft itself, he didn’t get ill.  

Mixed Results 

Performers at Cheyenne Frontier Days, he said, are sometimes invited to participate, with mixed results. 

“George Strait had a little bit of a hard time as did Kathy Matea,” Wilkinson said. “But Mark Chestnut got his ‘9G’ pin and he thought it was the coolest roller coaster he’d ever been on.” 

Wilkinson was referring to a “G-force” or gravity force which is a measure of acceleration.  

For most people, the peak G-force they will experience is between 3 – 4Gs, which is what they would feel on a rollercoaster.  

A fighter pilot told a scientific magazine that pulling 9Gs is like having 2,000 pounds pressed up against your body. 

“Under 9G’s, the world appears to shrink until it looks like you’re viewing it through a toilet paper roll,” Hasard Lee told Sandboxx.  “Blood is being pulled out of your head towards your legs and arms, resulting in the loss of peripheral vision. If too much blood is pulled out, you’ll pass out, resulting in incapacitation for around half a minute.” 



Not For Everyone  

Riding along with the Thunderbirds isn’t for everyone. 

Dave Lerner, a former TV anchor in Cheyenne, said he was scheduled to ride along with the Thunderbirds but the weather postponed the ride for a full year. 

When that time came a year later, he passed. 

“I decided as a guy who doesn’t like roller coasters that I would defer and let someone else do it,” Lerner said. 

He doesn’t regret it. 

“I chickened out and I’m proud to say I chickened out,” he said. 

That doesn’t mean he’s given up Cheyenne Frontier Days, he just enjoys it from the ground as the announcer for the parades. 

The show is expected to begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning and will last for two hours.

More information is available here

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Pinedale Woman To Be Extradited To Michigan For 25 Year Cold Case Involving Baby’s Death

in News/Crime
22533

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A Pinedale woman will be back in Michigan within the next month to face charges in a 25-year-old cold case involving a baby’s death, the Mackinac County, Michigan sheriff told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.

Mackinac County Sheriff Edward Wilk said the suspect in the case waived her right to an extradition hearing in Sublette County late last week.

“We have 30 days to get her transported back here to Michigan, where she will then be arraigned,” Wilk said. “Right now, we’re trying to work out how that will be done, whether it’s us coming out to Wyoming to bring her back or hiring a company that does prisoner transports like this.”

The 58-year-old woman was arrested July 12 after she was interviewed by Mackinac County investigators in Pinedale and confirmed she was the mother of “Baby Garnet,” who was found June 26, 1997 by a worker in a Garnet Lake Campground septic pit in Michigan, according to sheriff’s officials.

It was not clear if the baby girl was dead prior to being placed in the septic pit. The Detroit News reported that the baby’s body was too decomposed to be identified or to reveal details such as the child’s race. 

Wilk has not revealed the suspect’s identity, but the only 58-year-old woman being held at the Sublette County Detention Center as of Tuesday was Nancy Ann Gerwatowski, who was listed as being a “fugitive from justice.”

Gerwatowski was arrested on July 12 and has been held at the detention center ever since, according to jail records.

25 Years of Investigation

Investigators attempted to solve the case when Baby Garnet was first discovered, but they could not confirm her identity and the case went cold, Cowboy State Daily previously reported.

However, in 2017, county and state police reopened the case and ultimately decided to use forensic genetic genealogy in hopes of identifying the girl.

A genealogist traced the baby’s blood lines and found the name of the woman who was likely her mother, who had since moved from the Garnet area to Wyoming in the 25 years that had passed.

Wilk said earlier this month that he did not know when exactly the woman moved to the Pinedale area, but he said he believed she left the Garnet community not long after the baby’s death.

He also noted at the time that the girl’s father, siblings and other family members have been identified. He hopes the family will receive closure from knowing what happened to Baby Garnet.

Probable Cause

According to sheriff’s officials, the woman provided additional comments that provided probable cause for police to arrest her for murder.

News outlet MLive reported that forensics tests conducted on the baby showed that she had gestated for between 38 and 40 weeks, indicating the mother carried her to full term.

The outlet also reported that police at the time believed the girl was placed in the outhouse as early as June 1, 1997, and that her parents likely lived in the region.

The community raised nearly $1,000 to bury the girl in a white casket at Hudson Township, Michigan Cemetery. About 40 people attended Baby Garnet’s funeral, bringing flowers to the memorial service.

“We’re a county of about 11,000 people and that township has a couple hundred people, so when something like that happens around here, people take notice,” Wilk said earlier this month. “Even though the case isn’t closed, we’re a step closer to bringing the community closure.”

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Pro-Choice Groups Sue Wyoming, Ask Judge To Halt Ban That Starts Wednesday

in abortion/News
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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

A contingent of abortion providers and abortion-funding groups on Monday asked Wyoming’s court system to halt the state’s imminent ban on abortion and furthermore, to declare it unconstitutional.   

If the court doesn’t grant the injunction, performing an abortion in Wyoming will, by this Wednesday, be a felony punishable by up to 14 years in prison, except in cases of rape, incest, and severe health or death risks to the mother.   

“Some women may be forced to forego educational opportunities, face decrease opportunities to fulfill their economic potential, and may be more likely to experience economic insecurity and raise their children in poverty due to the Wyoming Criminal Abortion Ban,” reads the complaint filed Monday in Teton County District Court.  

The complaint alleges further that the abortion ban will hinder doctors from helping women with dangerous pregnancy complications for fear of being prosecuted, and that it will harm women’s health and financial stability.  

Constitutional Claim 

The lawsuit states that the Wyoming Constitution provides for abortion access because of a 2012 measure passed by voters to combat Obamacare, or Affordable Health Care Act provisions.  

“Each competent adult shall have the right to make his or her own health care decisions,” reads Section 38 of the Wyoming Constitution.  

However, subsection c of the section states that “The Legislature may determine reasonable and necessary restrictions on the rights granted under this section to protect the health and general welfare of the people or to accomplish the other purposes set forth in the Wyoming Constitution.”  

The caveat in subsection c could give pro-life groups a counter-battle in lawsuits surrounding abortion, according to Marti Halverson, president of Wyoming Right to Life. Halverson had spoken at length of the clause and its facets during a speech Friday at the Save Wyoming political rally featuring Republican political candidates in Lander.  

Wyoming statute does not define abortion as a type of “health care.” In other states with permissive abortion statutes such as Colorado, however, abortion is defined as a type of “reproductive health care.” 

Those filing suit include: 

  • Danielle Johnson, who is 22 weeks pregnant, and, the document states, is concerned she wouldn’t be able to get an abortion in Wyoming if her baby has lethal complications;  
  • Kathleen Dow, who had an abortion previously “to protect herself after becoming pregnant in an abusive relationship;”  
  • Obstetrics specialist Dr. Giovannina Anthony, of Jackson, Wyoming, who last year performed “dozens” of Wyoming’s nearly 100 abortions; 
  • Obstetrics specialist Dr. Rene Hinkle, who, the pleading states, would “have to stop offering elective second trimester terminations for pregnancies that are found to have lethal fetal complications; 
  • Chelsea’s Fund, which is a funding and information assistance group that seeks to enable Wyoming and Idaho women to access abortion services; 
  • And Circle of Hope, the abortion provider led by Julie Burkhart, who this year has been working to open an abortion clinic in Casper.  

The lawsuit is intended to halt and reshape the actions of Wyoming, where the Legislature in March passed a law making abortion illegal in the event of any overturn of landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade, which had treated abortion as a constitutional right for nearly 50 years.  

When the high court did overturn Roe vs. Wade on June 24, Wyoming’s trigger ban, or law reacting to the court action to outlaw abortion, fell under a verification process that is now nearly complete.  

The Wyoming Secretary of State should have the ban codified no later than Wednesday.  

Those listed as defendants in the suit include: 

  • Gov. Mark Gordon 
  • Attorney General Bridget Hill 
  • Teton County Sheriff Matthew Carr 
  • And Jackson chief of police Michelle Weber 

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Opponents Continue Attacks On Hageman’s Water Pipeline Deal

in News/politics
22529

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily
Leo@cowboystatedaily.com

Harriet Hageman’s opponents in Wyoming’s U.S. House race continue to focus criticism on Hageman’s involvement in a Flaming Gorge water pipeline project initiated more than a decade ago.   

Last week, Hageman put out a press release and an op-ed explaining her role in the project that would have, if completed, connected a pipeline from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir to municipalities in Eastern Wyoming and the Denver Metro area.

That project was initiated by the water district manager of a major Colorado municipality, Frank Jaegar of the Parker Water and Sanitation District.

Hageman was an attorney on the project and spoke on its behalf at numerous public meetings.  

Over the weekend, anti-Hageman TV commercials played in the Cheyenne market, bringing up her involvement in the project.  



“Harriet Hageman backed a scheme to send water from Wyoming to Colorado,” the female narrator says. “And when Wyomingites opposed the plan Hageman ignored us like a typical politician.”  

The commercial was paid for by Americans Keeping Country First, a Washington, D.C. based super political action committee that paid $150,000 for the ads.   

The facts Whether Hageman “ignored” Wyoming residents is questionable. Certain people have confused Hageman’s project with a strikingly similar but separate project proposed by Colorado entrepreneur Aaron Million that was publicly unveiled at the same time, around 2009-2010.  

Hageman’s project was run by a collaboration of public water entities known as the “Coalition.”

In comparison to Million’s project, the Coalition placed a slightly larger focus on providing water to Wyoming through their project but was similarly initiated by Colorado stakeholders for a majority share of the Flaming Gorge water given to go to Colorado consumers.   

“I’m a capitalist, but at the same time, when talking about public water supplies, especially a water supply of this magnitude, it’s better situated in the public venue,” Hageman said during a 2010 Casper City Council meeting for the Coalition project.  

Since there was no official project application ever submitted on the Coalition project, complaints are not readily available on this project.

What may be telling however, is the hundreds of complaints submitted opposing Million’s project, roughly a half year before Hageman came to the Casper City Council, asking for a $20,000 commitment from the municipality to join in a feasibility analysis.  

“Instead of listening to people of WY, and yes, many of the letters of opposition were from her friends and colleagues,” one of Hageman’s opponents, State Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne said in a Sunday Facebook post. “But Hageman chose to listen to Colorado interests that wanted billions of gallons of water from the Green River to feed the rapid growth of Colorado’s Front Range.”  

There is no evidence that Hageman ever worked on Million’s project.

During the 2010 meeting, Hageman spoke against Million’s project, but did say that some of her associates had met with Million about two years prior and that she had worked with Million’s attorney at the time, on a number of projects.  

Wyoming water strategy  Million’s project is still active and in the preliminary permitting stage.

In May he announced finding new investors for the pipeline that would take 55,000 acre-feet of water from the Green River, through 338 miles of pipe east across southern Wyoming and south to Colorado’s Front Range.

According to the Colorado Sun, an acre-foot is roughly the amount needed to cover a football field in 12 inches of water, or about 325,000 gallons. 

At the 2010 meeting, Hageman said it would be advantageous for Wyoming municipalities to be owners of a portion of the water rather than end-users paying Million for their use.  

“If it falls into private hands with entrepreneurship, government won’t have control of the cost of the water if it may need it in the future,” Hageman told the council.  

In her op-ed, Hageman defended her role in the Coalition project, describing Colorado as an ally when it comes to partnering on water issues as a fellow Upper Basin state in the Compact.   

“Lower Basin states are taking advantage (of the Compact). The Upper Basin not taking advantage of the compact entitlement,” she said during the 2010 meeting.  

She said Colorado was simply fulfilling its 51.75% interest stake in the Colorado River system as part of the 1922 Colorado River Compact, when pursuing the Compact project. Hageman also said during the council meeting, the project wouldn’t be economically feasible without Colorado’s participation.   

“I have NEVER worked on any project to give, transfer, sell, or bargain away Wyoming’s water to Colorado (or any other state),” she said in a press release.  “Any person who claims that I have done so, or that I would do so, is either not telling the truth, they do not understand Wyoming water law, they do not understand interstate water law, they do not understand the Colorado River Compact, or some combination of all four.”  

Hageman and other members of the Coalition held a series of public meetings with stakeholders throughout Wyoming around 2009-2010.

Bryan Seppie, general manager of the Sweetwater County Water Users Coalition joint powers board, said these meetings and meetings hosted by Millions were met with large outcry from the public at the time.  

A Communities Protecting the Green Committee was formed in 2009 to take legal action if water ever was to be diverted from the Green River.

The organization became the Sweetwater County Water Users Coalition in 2021.

Seppie said the organization exists today to advocate for the public on local water issues and laws.  

Hageman said another difference between her project and Million’s was that the Coalition pulled water directly from the Flaming Gorge, while Million’s pulled water from the Upper Green River Basin.

Original iterations of Million’s project did propose pulling some water from Flaming Gorge but later versions relied solely on the Upper Green River for sourcing.  

“They purposely had different parameters from the get-go,” Seppie said. “I don’t remember it as being collaborative.”  

To many residents who attended stakeholder meetings for these projects, this level of nuance may have been a matter of semantics compared to the bigger picture.  

“Obviously, the region in the Western Slope and Southwest Wyoming view the (Green) River and supply to the river as being potentially threatened,” Seppie said.  

The Green River and Colorado River system have been in a drought since the early 2000s. Seppie said even by 2010, the effects of this drought were becoming obvious in the effect to the local ecology.  

It’s unclear what exactly happened in the immediate months and years following the 2010 meeting, but Deirdre Mueller, head of communications for Parker Water, said the Coalition project has been defunct “for more than a decade.”

Seppie said he hadn’t heard about the project in “many years.”  

“Both projects had large hurdles to overcome,” Seppie said, adding no feasibility analysis was ever produced on the Coalition project.  

But in September of 2017, Hageman wrote a new memorandum on the prospect of diverting Green River water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir to Lower Basin states and the Front range of Colorado.

During a May 2018 meeting held in Green River as part of gubernatorial campaign, Hageman continued to separate herself from Million’s project, promoting her belief that water for municipality use should not be owned by private water owners, according to a Sweetwater Now story at the time. 

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King Of The Governors! National Poll Shows Gordon Tied For Most Popular Governor In Nation

in News/Mark Gordon
22511

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By Coy Knobel, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming Republican Governor Mark Gordon is popular among Wyoming voters.  In fact, he’s tied for being the most popular governor in the nation, according to a recent poll.   

Between April 1 and June 30, Morning Consult Political Intelligence asked 519 registered voters in Wyoming whether they approved or disapproved of the job Gordon was doing.  The vast majority, 74%, approved.  

Gordon’s office said, “…he is honored that the poll finds registered voters approve of the work he is doing as Governor of the great state of Wyoming.”  

“As a majority Republican state, Wyoming voters seem to recognize the Governor’s commitment to conservative values,” Gordon Communication Director Michael Pearlman wrote in an email to Cowboy State Daily. “Governor Gordon’s policies and priorities – support for Wyoming’s energy and ag industries, his efforts to keep Wyoming on a stable fiscal path, and his belief in efficient, effective and accountable government – are a reflection of what he believes best serves the state’s people.”   

Gordon’s 74% approval is the same percentage of Vermont voters who approved of the job their governor, Republican Phil Scott, was doing.  But Scott had a slightly higher disapproval rating than Gordon did, coming in at 18% to Gordon’s 17%.    

Scott’s electorate is decidedly different than Gordon’s. Gordon is a popular Republican governor in a state where registered Republican voters make up about 70 percent of that population.  

There is no party registration in Vermont, according to the Green Mountain State’s secretary of state’s office.  All registered voters can vote in the primary election, but must choose which party’s ballot to fill out.  However Vermont’s U.S. Rep., Peter Welch, is a Democrat.  One of its U.S. senators, Patrick Leahy, who has been serving the state since 1975, is a Democrat.  The other U.S. Senator, Bernie Sanders, is an Independent who has positioned himself to the left of many Democrats.  He’s been referred to as a Democratic Socialist.  

In addition to Scott, some of the other top-10 governors in the poll are Republicans from left-leaning or blue states.  This includes the third most popular governor, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts.  His approval rating is 73%, one percentage point behind Gordon and Scott. His disapproval percentage is 20%.   

Number four is Republican Governor Larry Hogan of solidly blue Maryland.  He had a 70% approval and 22% disapproval rating, according to the poll.    

Jim Justice, the Republican Governor of West Virginia is ranked fifth in the poll with 66% approval and 28% disapproval.   

Chris Sununu, R-N.H., was the sixth most popular governor, according to the poll.  Kristi Noem, R-S.D., was seventh. Asa Hutchinson, R-Ark., was eighth.  

But Democratic or Republican, popular or unpopular, governors as a group are still generally more popular than President Joe Biden, according to a Morning Consult poll.   

More than anywhere in the country, Wyoming voters disapprove of the job the president is doing.  According to the poll, 76% of the voters in Wyoming disapprove of Biden’s job performance.  West Virginia’s 75% disapproval of the president is close to Wyoming’s.

That poll showed Biden’s approval rating underwater in 44 states, but Senior Morning Consult reporter, Eli Yokley wrote, “Democratic incumbent governors up for re-election are “resisting Biden’s drag effect.”  

While most Democratic governors facing competitive re-election bids have seen their popularity decline since President Joe Biden took office, Morning Consult Political Intelligence surveys show most of this movement is marginal, and all of these incumbents remain more popular in their states than the beleaguered commander-in-chief,” Yokely wrote.  

The most popular Democrat governor is Ned Lamont of Connecticut.  He is ninth on the Morning Consult list. His 58% approval rating is 11% higher than President Biden’s in Connecticut.   

Democrat governor of Colorado, Jared Polis’ approval rating, according to the survey, is 57%.  This puts Polis in the top 10 most popular governors.  He is tied with three others in that position- Republicans Doug Burgum of North Dakota, Kay Ivey of Alabama and Mike DeWine of Ohio.   

Democrat Governor Dan McKee of Rhode Island was the least popular governor according to the Morning Consult.  His approval rating was 38% with a disapproval rating of 43%. 

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Ranger Celebrates 50th Year In Yellowstone; Longest-Serving In Yellowstone History

in Yellowstone/News
22483

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily 

Yellowstone National Park Ranger Harlan Kredit just got back from leading a group of 27 people up to Avalanche Peak, a 4.7 mile round trip hike that climbs an impressive 2,100 feet to the top. 

Leading hikes up Avalanche Peak is just one of Kredit’s duties as a Park Ranger, something he’s done every summer for the past 50 years. 

Yes, 50 years. Kredit is 82 years old, and likely the longest-serving Park Ranger in Yellowstone’s 150 year history. 

“Cam Sholly, the superintendent, he said, ‘I think you are the longest serving ranger in Yellowstone,’” Kredit told Cowboy State Daily.  

Kredit was recently honored for his longevity with a party at Yellowstone Lake. Close to 250 people attended. 

“About 70 of those were relatives of mine,” Kredit said. 

All In the Family 

Kredit has been working as a park ranger in Yellowstone every summer – with the exception of two, when he moved to his home in Washington state – since 1971.  

“For the first couple of years I just worked like everybody else did,” he said. “I gave two evening talks, and worked in the visitor center, and so on.” 

After a couple of years, Kredit said he was appointed the supervisor of the Fishing Bridge area, which he did for about 10 years.  

“They wanted that to be a permanent position, and I wasn’t interested in a permanent position, because I still wanted to do my teaching for the rest of the year,” he said. “So I’m just one of the regular interpreters. And in that sense, my job hasn’t changed in 50 years, in terms of what I’m asked to do.”  

When he first started, Kredit said his wife and children spent summers with him in a little cabin next to the visitor center. Their three children themselves worked in the Park for a few years when they grew old enough, and are following in their dad’s footsteps. 

“My daughter is still working for the park service in the summers,” Kredit said, “and her husband’s a law enforcement ranger at Canyon during the summer.” 

His daughter’s three children are now growing up in Yellowstone, just as she was raised.  

“So now I have three grandchildren here,” Kredit said. “And so it’s kind of the neat part for me.   On my days off I go hiking with my grandkids, or take ing them fishing to Yellowstone Lake. So we’re into the third generation here now.” 

Kredit’s 15-year-old grandson is just starting to volunteer for the park service, working with his mother at one of the ranger stations.  

“So it’s kind of fun to see my grandson in a volunteer uniform like that,” he said. “And who knows, maybe he’ll work for the park someday. I don’t know about that.” 



You Can’t Take the Teacher Out Of the Ranger 

In earlier years, when the summers were over, Kredit would go back to his “regular” job as a science teacher in Washington state. But there have been times when his two worlds collided, as they did on a summer night years ago, when he got called out with the volunteer fire crew, which he served on for 35 years. 

“I’d say it was about two o’clock in the morning, and it was a false alarm sort of thing,” Kredit said. “I’m driving the fire truck, I’m going past the Lake area, and I said, ‘Look, guys, we’ve got to do this.’ I got on the intercom, I pulled the fire truck off the road – nobody else was around – and I said, ‘Everyone get out of the truck.’” 

Kredit led his fellow firefighters to the middle of a meadow and had them all sit down, then proceeded to spend the next 15 minutes presenting a program about the night sky, which he usually reserved for visitors. 

“Last week, Tuesday, two of the guys who were on the fire department then, they said they never forgot that 2:30 In the morning, standing out there in their fire gear in the middle of this meadow, and I’m doing a night sky program, because I teach astronomy,” Kredit said.  

Staying On Top Of the Science 

Kredit has learned quite a bit about the science of Yellowstone National Park in his 50 years here. 

“I’ve always tried to stay up with the latest science that’s going on,” he said. “A lot of my good friends are working for the U.S. Geological Survey, and also, the people that are diving in Yellowstone Lake who have ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) units and are studying those events? I’ve had a lot to do with them.” 

Kredit considers himself a lifelong learner. 

“We have so much more to figure out,” he said. “The whole microbiology world, what’s underneath Yellowstone Lake, the archaeology stuff, and Native American usage around the park. I was a science guy, and I liked the science part.” 

Big Changes In 50 Years 

Visitation has certainly changed since Kredit first worked in Yellowstone. 

“If you look at the visitation records in 1971 compared to, like last year, it’s at least doubled the visitation,” Kredit observed, but he said fewer families are visiting the park. Also, he said he sees more animals than he used to. 

“I see a lot more bison and bears, and wolves, obviously, introduced in ‘95 and ‘96,” he said. “But a lot more of those animals are visible.” 

Technology has also made coming to Yellowstone a more modern experience, with phone apps changing how visitors interact with nature.  But some things, Kredit said, remain the same. 

“When you get people out on a trail,” he said, “and you talk to them about how important these parks are, and try to get them to use all their senses, that has not changed. I love the curiosity of the kids, and they’re still as curious as they always were.”  

Doing the Job Right 

Kredit has been involved in some dramatic situations during his years as a Yellowstone park ranger. 

“I was involved in a search for a little 15-month old toddler in the area down at Lewis Lake,” he said, recalling an incident that happened in the 1980s, when a small child had crawled out of his tent while his parents and grandparents were sitting at a nearby campfire.   

“I was fortunate enough to find him at three o’clock in the morning,” Kredit said, “huddled under a couple of trees, kind of cold.” 

Kredit counts his search for the child as a life-changing experience, one of many he’s had in his career. 

“In a case like that, it would have been really easy for me to just walk past those trees, because I’d kicked my way through hundreds and hundreds of them for the past five hours,” Kredit said. “But that small voice said, ‘Go back and do it right.’ So I just turned around and came back and kicked my way into those three trees. And there’s that baby laying there looking up at me.” 

Kredit said the experience really changed the way he looked at things, and reminded him to take care to do a job right, and to the best of his ability. 

“I never forgot that,” Kredit said. “Every time I drive past that Lewis Lake Campground, I think of that experience.” 

A Word of Advice 

Kredit said in his 50 years, he’s witnessed quite a few wrong steps by visitors. 

“It amazes me that so many visitors do not understand that it’s not a good idea to walk up and try to pet a bison,” Kredit said, acknowledging that people aren’t used to the idea that these animals are wild animals, which means they should not be approached.  

“In Yellowstone, it just seems like a lot of people are so excited,” he said. “They’ve never seen this before, that they do things on the roads that put themselves and the animals in jeopardy.” 

Kredit recalled a particular instance in which a bystander reported a dangerous situation. 

“I was working at the Visitor Center and a very angry lady came in there with her camera and says, ‘Ranger, you’ve got to do something about this,’” he recalled. “And she put her camera down in front of me and showed me a few pictures. And there were about three pictures that showed a family of about six people taking their child out, I guess about four or five years old, and sitting that child on the back of a bison.” 

Kredit said he still uses those photographs in his educational programs as an example for other visitors.  

“This is such a big, dynamic place,” he said, “with maybe 35 or 40,000 new people coming in a day, and all of them bring their own special concerns and joys and questions, and it’s always a challenge to try to help them as much as you can and some days we do a better job than others. But that’s what we do every day, we’ve got to give it our best shot, and life goes on.”  

The Importance of National Parks 

“All over the country, people (still) gravitate towards national parks,” Kredit said. “And we need that for a whole lot of different reasons. It makes for a healthier generation of people, and we need these badly. So I’m a real strong advocate of public lands no matter where they are, because our nation is going to be stronger for it.”  

“Yesterday I was out at Mud Volcano and I talked to a couple of hundred people out there,” Kredit said. “And they all were just as curious as they were 50 years ago.” 

Kredit said it’s an honor and a challenge to explain what’s happening, and why these parks are so important for people – and how they have to be protected for the next generations. 

“I’m old,” he said, “and my grandkids now, they’re going to be the new leaders of the park system.”  

Going Strong At 82 

Kredit said that his recent hike up Avalanche Peak was one of dozens over his career in Yellowstone, and is his favorite place to go in the Park. 

“I’ve probably done it 150 times,” he said. “You stand on the top of that mountain, and you look around, and it is just a marvelous, liberating feeling… it’s just kind of the best of the best. It’s an aggressive hike, a pretty strenuous hike, but once you’re up there it’s really worth it.” 

Kredit acknowledged that the Avalanche Peak hike isn’t as easy to do at age 82 as it was for him at age 22. 

“But you know, you just kind of believe you can do it, and go at a steady rate, and it’s fun,” he said. “And I intend to do it a couple more times this summer.” 

Will he be back next year, at age 83?  

“I would like, I think, to come back next summer,” Kredit said. “You know, I have to decide what I want to do when I grow up.” 

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Wyo Cattle Prices Up; Inflation Means Expenses Also Up

in News/Agriculture
22530

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By Joshua Wood, Cowboy State Daily
Josh@cowboystatedaily.com

There’s been some good news in the cattle market for producers recently as prices have gone up. This slight silver lining, however, is found around a dark cloud of drought and inflation.

First the good news

On July 15, an analysis from an agricultural news publication provided a somewhat positive outlook for ranchers with calf and yearling prices continuing to trend higher. 

According to Cattlefax, 550-pound steer prices had increased $8 per hundredweight since the end of May. Calf prices averaged $25 per hundredweight higher than they were year-to-date.

“The factors that’s driving the prices up are the drought and demand for beef,” said Dennis Sun of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. “Everybody wants American beef these days, and that’s a big part of it there. Also, the cattle numbers are going down. I think beef cattle numbers were down 30.4 million from last year, and that’s 2.4% from last year.”

According to Sun, the trend of rising cattle prices has gone beyond calves and yearlings. Cull bulls and cull cows are also seeing the price increase. Where, last year, producers were getting $400 per cow they are now getting $1,000, said Sun.

An extra $600 per head over last year might look good at face value until one sees what’s behind the increase.

Low supply, high demand

“What’s driving this market now, and long term it could be detrimental to us, is half the United States or better is in extreme drought still,” said Wyoming State Senator Ogden Driskill (R – Devils Tower). “We’re literally killing our beef supply. We’re killing cows and heifers daily because they don’t have feed to feed them.”

According to a July 25 report by CNN Business, ranchers throughout the American West are selling their cattle at a level not seen in more than a decade. 

A 2021 study from the American Farm Bureau Agency Federation showed a link between selling off portions of their herd and drought driving up local feed costs. 

While this may mean increased prices at the market due to a lower supply this year, it also means ranchers have to rebuild those herds. Driskill used his ranch as an example.

“We sold half of our cows last year and you don’t just sell half and then come back the next year and say ‘Well, I’m whole, again,’” said Driskill. “So, the impact on our ranch will be multiple years rebuilding.”

High cost, low yield

Though the rising cattle prices appear like a respite from selling herds last year. According to Cheryl Munroe, who owns a ranch outside Encampment, the current struggle with inflation appears to reduce any gains.

“When you look at the inflation, the cattle prices have increased, yes, but our fuel prices, the cost of machinery, the cost of equipment has doubled more than what the cattle prices are getting,” said Munroe. “You’ve got to look at the whole picture.”

According to Munroe, while people at gas stations throughout the country may be wincing as they fill up, the pain is more acute for those in agriculture. The same goes for electric bills.

“I just paid $7,000 for dyed diesel for the tractors, clear diesel and unleaded for the side-by-sides and the fourwheelers,” said Munroe. “I have four center pivots and last month my electric bill was $8,160.”

And while cattle prices may be rising, inflation on the part of feedlots may lead to less in the pocket of producers.

Especially when more cattle go to market later this year, said Sun.

“The thing that’s really hurting is these calves, a lot of them will go to feedlots, both heifers and steers,” said Sun. “(If) The price of corn or your feedstuffs keeps raising up (sic), that means it’s gotta be less for that feeder to buy your calves.”

With inflation, even getting the calves to the point of being sold to feedlots is getting more expensive.

“Last year I spent $23,000 fertilizing three center pivots and a native hay field. This year, I spent the same amount and I fertilized one pivot and a native hay field,” said Munroe. “That’s it.”

“Just like everybody else, ranches are feeling the pain of inflation,” said Sun. “That would be the negative of all the supplies that we get.”

Rising tides

Though nearly 80% of the American West has been in a drought, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, portions of Wyoming have been lucky this year. Driskill counts himself among those lucky few.

“This was a linchpin year for ranches like mine. If it had been one more year of drought, you’d have been faced with numbers of ranches going out of business,” said Driskill. “Hopefully these markets continue to strengthen and bailout some of these outfits that have been hit really hard by drought.” 

The unfortunate thing, said Driskill, is that benefit comes at the cost of other segments of the industry. 

“The truth is, I need corn farmers to do good, I need for feeders to do good, I need for the cow/calf guys to do good and I need people to buy our products,” said Driskill. “Really, rising tides raise all ships and if you’ve got a hole in one of them you’re not going to get there. We need all the segments to operate independently and to all be profitable for this to really be a good thing for everybody.”

Times may still be tough but, according to Sun, there’s improvement over last year.

“We’ll take any silver linings because at least you start out better than you did last year,” said Sun.

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Court Finds Northern Arapaho Tribe’s Former Lawyers Didn’t Steal Tribal Funds

in Wind River Reservation/News
22528

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

A jury on Friday ruled that the Northern Arapaho Tribe’s former lawyers didn’t steal tribal funds through improper billing.     

The verdict following a civil trial held in Fremont County District Court last week concludes a three-year lawsuit. The tribe had accused Lander-based law firm Baldwin, Crocker and Rudd (BCR) of billing wrongfully for $5.5 million in legal services in their 30-year tenure with the tribe.  

But the jury, which reviewed documents and testimony for nearly five days, disagreed with the tribe’s claim and dismissed it late Friday.    

There were more accusations when the lawsuit was filed in 2019, namely, the Northern Arapaho Tribe claimed that BCR withheld $1 million in tribal trust funding and refused to return the tribe’s documents when the tribe chose to switch to a different law firm.    

In the summer of 2019 the tribe fired BCR and hired attorneys from Atlanta-based firm Kilpatrick, Townsend and Stockton. When the tribe made the switch, a faction of its executive governing panel, the Northern Arapaho Business Council (NABC), voted to file suit over what it claimed were missing funds and documents.    

Those voting for the lawsuit at the time were Business Council members Kim Harjo, Clarinda Calling Thunder, Stephen Fasthorse, and Chairman Lee Spoonhunter. Those who didn’t sign onto the lawsuit were former members Sam Dresser and Anthony “Al” Addison. Calling Thunder also no longer serves on the council.   

Judge Thomas Campbell in 2020 dismissed the claim that the $1 million trust funds were missing, saying there was no way that accusation could have been true when it was made.    

BCR had wired the money back to the tribe June 12, 2019, five days after the firm was told to do so. The tribe filed the lawsuit over the “missing” funds 47 days later, according to court filings.    

Campbell ruled in July 2020 that BCR could not countersue the tribe because it had not waived its sovereignty, and was therefore immune from being sued.   

Campbell on June 24 dismissed the tribe’s claim that BCR was still withholding tribal documents, but he allowed the allegation of civil theft – essentially, the claim that BCR overcharged the tribe – go on to the trial, saying there were still “genuine issues” that needed weighed by a jury.    

‘Knew What They Were Paying For’   

The one remaining civil allegation against BCR was “conversion,” or civil theft.    

“Conversion means you did not have the authority to take something,” said BCR’s trial attorney Scott Ortiz during his closing statement Friday. “But everything was reviewed, approved, discussed with the (Business) Council. They knew what they were paying for.”    

There had been testimony throughout the week that BCR dipped into the tribe’s trust funds as much as the law firm wanted to – a claim that Ortiz countered by establishing that the Business Council had to sign off on the tribe’s expenditures.    

“I subpoenaed employees of the Northern Arapaho Tribe,” continued Ortiz. “I put them in a tough spot, because I was told they’re honest people, they’re going to tell the truth about what went on.”    

One of the witnesses was Dave Clark, former chief financial officer for the Northern Arapaho Tribe.    

When pressed by Ortiz, Clark admitted on the stand he had personal knowledge of the money being transferred back to the tribe. Clark was “surprised and saddened” when he learned that the Business Council had sued BCR for the $1 million in funds.    

“I could see a big mushroom cloud on the horizon because of the allegations,” Clark said. “It was my personal and professional belief that there are better ways to get out of a situation than to carry out a public trial on somebody’s reputation.” 

The tribe’s new attorneys at Kilpatrick, Townsend and Stockton, who have since gotten new jobs at Jenner and Block but still serve the tribe, charge, often, more than triple per hour what BCR had charged the tribe during its employment, Ortiz noted.    

Ortiz in his closing statements conceded that BCR could have been “more clear” about numerous legal services for which they’d billed the tribe about $5.5 million.    

“Lawyers can always be more clear about what they write down,” said Ortiz, who then asked the jury to consider the ramifications of a civil theft liability finding.   

“(The tribe is) asking you to bankrupt and obliterate a local law firm because somebody from Chicago told you they don’t like the forms of the bill.”    

The witness from Chicago was Daniel Costello, who called into question what appeared to him as excess billing by BCR.    

Matt Benson, spokesman for the Northern Arapaho Business Council, did not return a Monday morning voicemail requesting comment by publication time.    

‘More Likely Than Unlikely’   

Lucas Buckley, the tribe’s attorney in the trial, argued during his closing statement that the evidence of civil theft tipped slightly in the tribe’s favor, which in civil court is enough to find a defendant liable for the charge.    

“The tribe has shown that it is more likely than unlikely that the tribe is due these funds back,” said Buckley, adding “The tribe had possession of the funds, a right to possess them at the time of this conversion.”   

Buckley insisted that BCR took liberties with their position as long-term legal counsel and transferred funds from the tribe’s trust account despite inadequate explanations of bills.    

“These trust funds were transferred – and the trust fund belonged to the tribe,” he said.    

The jury returned its verdict acquitting BCR of the civil accusation about two hours after closing statements.    

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Cheney Says She Will Always Choose Protection Of Constitution Over Politics

in News/Liz Cheney/politics
22507

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

In a CNN interview on Sunday morning, Wyoming U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said she will always choose standing up for her principles over making politically-driven decisions to help her get reelected. 

“If I have to choose between maintaining a seat in the House of Representatives or protecting the Constitutional Republic and ensuring the American people know the truth about Donald Trump, I’m going to choose the Constitution and the truth every single day,” she said. 

This answer came in response to her being asked about the many Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, who are openly opposing her reelection bid against frontrunner challenger Harriet Hageman.

For the last 18 months, no other figure has served a more polarizing role in Wyoming politics than Cheney.  

Cheney has never wavered from speaking out against former President Donald Trump since he started making claims the 2020 election was rigged, and she subsequently voted for his impeachment after the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

That decision sits poorly with many Wyoming Republicans, as does her prominent involvement in the Jan. 6 Committee, charged with investigating Trump’s alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election and incite the Jan. 6 riot. 

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the President of the United States is unfit for further office, that any man who would conduct themselves – or woman who would conduct themselves in the way that he did in attempting to overturn an election and stay in power must never again be anywhere close to the Oval Office,” Cheney said. 

Trump won Wyoming in the 2020 election by a larger margin than any other state. Cheney’s decision comes at a time when American politics has likely never been more partisan. 

Hageman has continuously supported Trump during her campaign and has earned his endorsement. In May, Trump held a rally in Casper with Hageman featured as one of the keynote speakers. 

“Having President Trump come to Wyoming to support my campaign has been a massive boost and I still hear from people every day how excited they were to be able to be there with us (in person or watching on TV),” Hageman said during a June interview. “People miss President Trump’s policies more than ever today because they can see the mess (President) Joe Biden has made.” 

Although Hageman has avoided taking a stance regarding what happened on Jan. 6, she has described the Jan. 6 Committee as a “partisan witch hunt.” During a debate in June, she has also mentioned the movie “2000 Mules,” as evidence of why the 2020 elections were faulty.  

A recent Casper Star Tribune poll showed Cheney trailing Hageman by 22 points. 

In a recent forum held in Evanston, Hageman said if she found out she was trailing Cheney significantly in the polls a week before election day, she would drop out. 

Due to possible crossover voting from Democrats and an unquantified but present support base of ‘Never Trumpers’ in the state, the final vote margin could easily be closer than the Casper Star Tribune poll suggests or even swing to Cheney’s favor, but it’s not a good sign for her chances.  

According to Cheney on Sunday, none of that matters. 

“I’m not going to lie. I’m not going to say things that aren’t true about the election,” Cheney said. “My opponents are doing that certainly simply for the purpose of getting elected.” 

Two Hageman advisors, Bill Stepien and Tim Murtaugh, have both spoken before the Jan. 6 Committee. Stepien expressed negative remarks about Trump’s attempt to overturn the election while private text messages were shown of Murtaugh expressing the belief that the riot participants were Trump supporters and that Trump played a role in inciting the riot.  

During the interview, Cheney also talked about her experience working on the Jan. 6 Committee and continued to avoid ruling out a possible 2024 presidential run. 

“I’ll make a decision about 2024 down the road,” she said. “But I do think, as we look towards the next presidential election, as I said, I believe that our nation stands on the edge of an abyss, and I do believe that we all have to really think very seriously about the dangers we face and the threats we face, and we have to elect serious candidates and we’ve got to elect people who will take their obligations and their oaths seriously and who will deal with issues of substance with respect for people who have disagreements.” 

Hageman has outraised Cheney in Wyoming by a significant margin for campaign donations, but Cheney has pulled in a large swath of her campaign backing from out-of-state supporters, including $1.2 million from California and $828,537 from Virginia. These states may give her confidence in her ability to pull delegates from key states nationwide in a potential presidential run, whether or not she wins the current Wyoming House race.  

“I’m fighting hard. No matter what happens on August 16th, I’m going to wake up on August 17th and continue to fight hard to ensure Donald Trump is never anywhere close to the Oval Office ever again,” Cheney said.

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Woman Found Dead In Morton Lake In Fremont County

in News
Photo by Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
22501

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily  

A 22-year-old woman was found deceased in Morton lake in Fremont County on Friday evening. The fatality is at least the third discovered in the lake in the past decade.  

Someone called the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office at about 6 p.m. Friday, saying they’d found a dead body in the lake and had pulled her to shore. The woman was “beyond resuscitation,” according to call reports.   

The reporting party made arrangements to meet a sheriff’s deputy at the highway intersection near the lake, presumably to guide law enforcement agents to the site.    

“The cause and manner of death are currently unknown, and under investigation by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office and the Fremont County Coroner’s Office,” reads a press release dispatched Monday.   

The woman is unidentified.  Coroner’s deputy Tony Simmers declined to give further information, except to note that the woman’s body is being transported to Colorado on Tuesday for an autopsy.    

The Third, At Least   

The woman’s death is at least the third fatality that has occurred in the lake in the past 10 years. All three occurred in the month of July.    

In 2012, Dawn Day was found deceased, floating in Morton lake. Investigators still have not found the cause of her death, and the case remains open today.    

Dagon McWhorter, a 15-year-old boy found in the lake last July, died during a tubing accident with his peers. Law enforcement agents searched for McWhorter’s body for two days starting July 25, 2021. Fremont County Sheriff Ryan Lee pulled the deceased McWhorter from the lake while on a search boat July 27, 2021.    

Scanner traffic on July 25, 2021, indicated that McWhorter had been a resident of the Riverton Group Home for Boys at the time of his death.   

Though known to locals as Morton Lake, the site’s official name is Pilot-Butte Reservoir.   

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Judge Dismisses Cody Magazine’s “UFO” Trademark Lawsuit Against Showtime

in News
22512

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A U.S. District Court judge in Wyoming on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Cody UFO-themed magazine against Showtime, calling the magazine owners’ claims “meritless.”

Judge Nancy Freudenthal wrote in her dismissal last week that the Showtime series “UFO” was protected under the First Amendment. She also said that the owners of UFO Magazine did not sufficiently prove how the series infringed on its trademark.

The UFO Series presents interviews, videos and images, together with suspenseful music, to explore various historical, cultural and political aspects of the UFO topic,” Freudenthal wrote in her analysis. “Thus, the UFO Series is a documentary protected by the First Amendment.”

The magazine trademarked “UFO” in 2007 for entertainment purposes and renewed the trademark in 2017, the initial lawsuit said. The owners of the magazine were not individually identified in any of the lawsuit filings.

The lawsuit stems from Showtime’s 2021 docu-series “UFO,” which dealt with unidentified flying objects. According to the Showtime website, the series “explores our fascination with UFOs and the influence government, private companies and the military may have in shielding the truth.”

Freudenthal also pointed out in her judgment that the Showtime series never displayed any images or articles produced by UFO Magazine, another reason that led her to dismiss the suit.

“UFO Magazine uses the mark for text products including books, magazines, and electronic publications, while Showtime uses the mark for a streaming television series,” she wrote. “UFO Magazine does not allege any facts indicating that it has made a movie or television series. This factor weighs in favor of Showtime.”

In May, Showtime officials asked Freudenthal to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing the company and series were protected by the First Amendment.

“Despite the relevance of the ‘UFO’ title to the content of the series, despite the fact that the title uses ‘UFO’ in its commonly understood descriptive sense and despite the fact that UFO Magazine Inc. does not assert that it has released any television series with a ‘UFO’ title or that Showtime explicitly misled viewers about the source of the series, [the magazine owners] claims its ‘UFO’ trademark prevents Showtime from using ‘UFO’ as the title of its series,” Showtime’s attorneys wrote in court filings at the time.

According to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office, the magazine’s president is Peter Kuyper of Cody. Its legal representative or “registered agent” is Lisa M. Price of Jackson.

The magazine’s initial filing to be registered as a business in Wyoming was done in 2018. It was founded in California in the 1990s.

The term “U.F.O.” first appeared in military accounts about unidentified flying objects in the 1950s, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

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Wyoming Obituary: Leonard “Pete” Simon Pedersen

in Wyoming Obituary/News
22517

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Pete Pedersen, 82, of Cheyenne, passed away on July 19, 2022 at home in Cheyenne, WY.

Pete was born in Minneapolis, MN on May 6, 1940 to Danish parents Alfred and Harriet Pedersen. He grew up with two younger sisters Eileen and Joyce in Medicine Lake MT, working with his dad at their wheat farm. After graduating from high school, he attended Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. This sparked his interest in business and accounting. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps  Reserves.

Pete moved to Denver in 1966 and started his career as a Financial Advisor with Bosworth, Sullivan Co. Although the company changed names five times he continued to work for the same company for 48 years. He and his son, Bryan, joined together to form the Pedersen Investment Group of RBC Wealth Management.

In his late 20’s he met Sandy Aleksich. They fell in love in Denver CO at a “Montana Party” and two years later, they married in 1969. They moved to Cheyenne in 1971 and started a family, complete with Bryan and Valerie. As a family, they loved travel, musicals/plays, museums, skiing, camping, back packing and he loved salmon fishing with his buddies in Alaska. 

Community service was important to Pete. He was active in Young Republicans, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Cheyenne Soccer Association Board, Kiwanis, Old West Museum Board, Goodwill Board, Cowboy Joe Club member and was on the CFD Security Committee for over 40 years. 

In addition to his wife Sandy Pedersen and son Bryan Pedersen (wife Sara), daughter Valerie Martin (husband Tobias), Pete is survived by his sisters Eileen Klisis (husband George) of Great Falls, MT and Joyce Eck (husband Ed) of Missoula, MT, and his grandchildren Brock, Dane, Ea and Brant Pedersen.

He was preceded in passing by his parents Alfred and Harriet Pedersen.

The funeral service will be held at Ascension Lutheran Church on Tuesday, July 26 at 1:30 pm. Following will be a gathering at Pete’s, “home away home”, Uncle Charlie’s.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to  Wyoming Children’s Society, Cheyenne Frontier Days Scholarship Fund, or a charity of your choice in Pete’s name.

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Biden Trying To Avoid Railroad Strike Which Would Be Disastrous For Wyoming’s Energy Industry

in News/wyoming economy
Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images
22497

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By Joshua Wood, Cowboy State Daily

If railroad workers go on strike, it would be disastrous for Wyoming and bring the state’s energy industry grinding to a halt, said former railroad worker and Wyoming legislator Stan Blake.

On July 15, Biden selected the three members of a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), a near final step to prevent railroad workers from striking. The National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC), which represents railroads in labor negotiations, praised the selection of Ira Jaffe, Barbara C. Deinhardt and David Twomey in a statement.

“All three are experienced, respected labor arbitrators with significant experience resolving labor disputes,” the committee said.

The PEB has a history going back nearly a century to 1926 with the passage of the Railway Labor Act, which governs labor issues in the railroad and airline industries. With Biden’s executive order forming the 250th PEB, the clock is ticking. It has 30 days to solve the labor dispute. After that, a 30-day cooling-off period will follow in which the two sides will try to come to a conclusion. 

“If either party doesn’t agree to that, then we could go out on strike, again,” said Blake, who worked for Union Pacific for 31 years before his retirement. 

According to the company, Union Pacific currently employs 730 Wyoming residents.

If neither side can come to an agreement, Congress will have to pass a law settling the labor dispute by September 15. If they don’t, the railroad workers will be free to strike the railroads on September 16. This would shut them down according to the ENO Center for Transportation, a non-profit, independent organization based in Washington, D.C. 

Grinding Halt

According to Blake, if a resolution isn’t reached by the PEB and a strike occurs, “it would be a mess.”

The impacted industries listed by Blake included coal from Gillette, soda ash from Green River, bentonite from Casper, renewable diesel from Cheyenne and oil from Fort Laramie.

“The soda ash industry would be way harmed,” said Blake. “When you can haul 130 cars up to Portland and then they offload that onto the ship to go to Korea or Japan. How many trucks would that take?” 

Soda ash—or disodium carbonate—was Wyoming’s largest export in 2021 with a total value of $929,439,834 according to data from the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division. Wyoming’s exports totaled $1.4 billion last year.

Bituminous, or black, coal was the third highest export with a value of $37,616,200. Bentonite was the fourth highest with a value of $36,926,177. Petrol oil had a value of $25,416,534 and biodiesel had a value of $20,610,921 making them 5th and 7th, respectively.

Coal and soda ash were the top two commodities shipped by Union Pacific in 2021 according to information made available from the company.

“It would be disastrous for Wyoming. And, right now, trying to recover you would have stuff start stacking up at the ports now,” said Blake. “The ports would shut down because trains haul more stuff out of those ports than trucks do.”

“Dragging Their Feet”

The selection of the PEB is just the latest in a nearly three year back-and-forth between major railroad companies and railway labor unions. According to the ENO Center for Transportation, initial talks between the companies and the unions began in November 2019 but were stalled by the pandemic.

By June 2021, two rail unions—the Brotherhood of Maintenance Way Employes Division (BMWED) and the Sheet Metal Air Rail Transportation-Mechanical Department (SMART-MD)—requested mediation from the National Mediation Board. In January, the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition (CBC), which is composed of 12 railway labor unions, announced talks had stalled and also requested mediation.

In February, BMWED and SMART-MD requested the end of mediation and that the National Mediation Board move onto arbitration. By May, the unions and the railroads exchanged offers on salaries, going back retroactively to 2020. 

An NCCC FAQ reported carriers were proposing “significant increases”  to employee salaries effective July 1, 2022 along with full retroactive pay for 2020 and 2021. Additionally, salary increases were proposed for 2023 and 2024.

According to the ENO Center for Transportation, the railroads proposed a two percent salary increase for 2020 and 2021, 4% percent for 2022 and 3% percent for 2023 and 2024. The offer made by the unions was a 6% increase for 2020, 10% for 2021, 6% for 2022, 8% percent for 2023 and 4& percent for 2024.

“Most of the railroaders don’t make a ton of money. We’re not being greedy. It’s been over three years since we’ve had a contract,” said Blake. “Both sides have been dragging their feet.”

Profits And Losses

Stagnant pay and a reduced workforce while railroad companies report record profits is a point of frustration for railroad workers, said Blake.

“They just came out with another profit for this last quarter. Profit after profit after profit. The railroad is going to be in a bad place real soon,” said Blake. “They started laying off employees even before COVID because they want to reduce the workforce and it’s all from the whims of hedge fund managers (and) shareholders.”

The last contract negotiated between the railroad companies and their employees was 2017, according to a July 15 report from CNN Business. The same report said employment at the major railroads is down by 30,000, or about 20% of the workforce, since the last contract.

This labor shortage has especially impacted Rawlins, said Blake.

“The bad part is, the railroads are making record profits. The CEO of Union Pacific just got $14 million in bonuses,” said Blake. “That’s not all of it. CSX, that guy got $21 million, (the) NorthFork Southern CEO got $14 million. Record profits for shareholders because they cut everything to the bone and now they don’t want to give us a little raise?” 

According to information from AFL-CIO, the CEO of Union Pacific had a 2021 salary of $14.2 million. The CEO of CSX had a 2021 salary of $20 million and the CEO of Norfolk Southern Corporation received a salary of $14 million.

One Man Show

“The big sticking point right now is the railroads want the option to go to one person on a train,” said Blake. “Right now, it’s two persons on a train on Class 1 railroads.”

According to the NCCC FAQ page, carriers have proposed to redeploy conductors from the cab of locomotives to ground positions in PTC (Positive Train Control) enabled areas.

“They spent billions of dollars installing PTC, Positive Train Control. Not of their own volition, the Congress forced them to install Positive Train Control. It’s kind of like on your newer cars, if it sees something wrong it will slow you down automatically,” said Blake. “So, if an engineer has a heart attack and the conductor doesn’t know what to do, the conductor can throw the train into emergency and stop the train.”

Not only do longer trains worry the railroad veteran, so does the possibility of railroads going to one person on a train. An example he used was if a train were to strike a vehicle between two towns.

“You’re 50 miles from anybody. The conductor and the engineer are okay, they stayed on the track,” said Blake. “Who’s going to be the first one to go back and check on the car, see if anybody’s alive? The conductor’s going to hop out and run back to see if everybody’s okay. The engineer’s not supposed to get off the train unless it’s tied down.”

Strike Averted For Now

For the time being, railroad employees will not be striking while the PEB attempts to resolve the issue. While a PEB, historically, hasn’t failed to broker an agreement between companies and labor unions, Blake admits he doesn’t know what will happen in the event it does fail.

“If this all goes through they’ll probably force us back to work, then I don’t know after that who says what the contract’s going to be,” said Blake.” I don’t know what happens after a failed PEB.”

Wyoming Schools Aren’t Requiring Clear Backpacks Even As Shootings Increase

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

As school shootings continue to dominate headlines, more and more schools across the nation have begun to implement a new strategy: clear backpacks.

Wyoming’s schools have not yet started to follow this trend, according to Wyoming Department of Education spokeswoman Linda Finnerty.

“I have not found any [schools using clear backpacks] that we know of,” Finnerty told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “It would be a decision at the district level.”

The second largest school district in Texas announced last week that it would require students to wear clear or mesh backpacks. The requirement follows the Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting in May that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

But the Texas district is just one of many across the nation that have already had the clear backpack requirement implemented or will be doing so for the upcoming school year.

Schools in Missouri, Georgia, Illinois and more have told its students that clear or mesh backpacks will be the only type of bag they can carry inside of the building, according to Bloomberg.

The executive director of school safety nonprofit group Safe Havens International, Michael Dorn, has been skeptical of the efficacy of clear backpacks, though, according to Bloomberg.

“Gun safety experts tend to be similarly skeptical of backpack rules. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re useless,” Dorn said. “But generally speaking, it’s very easy to conceal weapons in them.”

Students in Parkland, Florida were told to use clear backpacks following their campus being the site of the deadliest school shooting in history and its students were none too pleased about it, CNN reported in 2018.

Some students said the clear backpacks were an invasion of privacy and would do small acts of protest against them, such as writing messages telling school administrators how they felt about the bags.

Wyoming schools, at each district’s discretion, will also allow teachers to carry guns on campus. At least two districts in the state have allowed it: Park County School District No. 6 and Fremont County School District No. 1.

Fremont’s carrying policy has been in place for about three years, while Park’s was adopted in August 2020.

Other states that allow school employees to carry guns include Idaho, Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota.

2019 study by researchers at the University of Toledo and Ball State University reviewed 18 years of school security measures, including placing more armed teachers in schools, and found no evidence of reduced gun violence, according to Vox.

According to the K-12 School Shooting database, Wyoming has had only two gun-related incidents in the last 40 years: an adult couple held 150 students and a teacher hostage and detonated a firebomb in the cafeteria in Cokeville in 1986, although no one was killed, and a person who died by suicide on the football field in Sheridan in 1993.

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Heroes! WYDOT Workers Save Ducklings From Certain Death After Falling Through Cattle Guard

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Tiny animal rescues usually include cats being stuck in trees or a raccoon making a home inside of someone’s roof.

But on July 14, a crew of three Wyoming Department of Transportation employees became heroes for a group of eight ducklings when they rescued the tiny birds from a cattle guard near Wapiti.

Jim Berry was one of the three employees who rescued the birds and told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that this is one of the more rare calls he has been on.

“We hear about broken fences and cattle, sheep or goats getting out and you have to wrangle them back in and fix the fence,” Berry said. “But very rarely do you hear of anything getting trapped in a cattle guard.”



WYDOT was brought in after other ways to save the baby mallards did not pan out, according to Susan Ahalt, the owner of Ironside Bird Rescue in Cody.

Ahalt was called early that morning of July 14 by a woman in Wapiti, who heard the ducklings cheeping under her cattle guard. Ahalt attempted to rescue the birds, but due to the weeds and depths of the cattle guard, she could not reach them.

About an hour later, WYDOT was contacted to see if any of its employees could aid in the ducklings’ rescue.

Berry, Shaun Emmett and Joe Klein arrived on scene about an hour later with a front-end loader to raise the cattle guard out of the ground enough to get the ducklings out.



“There’s a pond across the street from where they were in the cattle guard and ducks hang out over there, so I figure their mother was around there,” Berry said.

Berry believes that the ducklings walked away from their mother and when one fell into the cattle guard, the rest of them followed.

In addition to using the front-end loader to reach the ducklings, the WYDOT crew also had to use a blow torch to open the guard and get the ducklings out.

One by one, the men lifted the (likely, according to Ahalt) two-day old ducklings out of the guard and up to the ground above, where they ran around, slipping through everyone’s fingers.



Ahalt and the WYDOT crew finally gathered the baby mallards up and Ahalt took them to her bird rescue, where they have been getting regular food and water.

Once they are older, Ahalt will release them into a friend’s pond, Berry said.

“They seemed happy and healthy when we got to the ducks,” Berry said. “This is one of those times where you get a call and you might have other things to do, but there are eight little ducklings and people are concerned about them. So you get out there and help them and everybody’s happy.

Life is good at the end of the day.”



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Daily Wyoming Gas Map: Monday July 25, 2022

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s average price per gallon $4.52, is down 2 cents from our last report of $4.54.

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price is down 21 cents from a week ago, and is up, $1.06 per gallon from one year ago.

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained above the national average of $4.33

High and Low Prices:

The highest reported gasoline price in Wyoming on Sunday was in Moose Wyoming at $5.79 per gallon. The new lowest price in Wyoming is the M.G. Oil Co at 502 El Camino Rd in Gillette at $3.89 per gallon.

The highest county average is in Platte County, with an average of $5.07 per gallon. The county with the lowest average, is in Campbell county, with $4.07. These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed.

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county: 

Albany $4.43; Big Horn $4.80; Campbell $4.07; Carbon $4.62; Converse $4.67; Crook $4.55; Fremont $4.55; Goshen $4.64; Hot Springs $4.75; Johnson $4.55; Laramie $4.40; Lincoln $4.55; Natrona $4.12; Niobrara $4.55; Park $4.75; Platte $5.07; Sheridan $4.79; Sublette $4.43; Sweetwater $4.60; Teton $5.06; Uinta $4.84; Washakie $4.79; Weston: $4.52. 

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities:

Basin $4.77; Buffalo $4.49; Casper $3.79; Cheyenne $4.19; Cody $4.61; Douglas $4.54; Evanston $4.59; Gillette $3.89; Jackson $4.91; Kemmerer $4.59; Laramie $4.14; Lusk $4.39; Newcastle $4.44; Pinedale $4.39; Rawlins $4.51; Riverton $4.58; Rock Springs $4.49; Sheridan $4.55; Sundance $4.39; Thermopolis $4.72; Wheatland $4.78; Worland $4.74.   

Tim’s Observations:

According to GasBuddy.com, the nation’s average gas price has dropped for the sixth straight week, falling 17.4 cents from a week ago to $4.33 per gallon today. The national average is down 57 cents from a month ago and $1.19 per gallon higher than a year ago.

Even though the national average has fallen, the Wyoming average of $4.52 per gallon is 20 cents higher. The average price in the Cowboy State has dropped 30 cents per gallon since last month. 

Want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area. 

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted.

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California Woman Scared Grizzly Before It Dragged Her From Sleeping Bag & Killed Her

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The executive director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates said information recently released on a fatal bear attack in Montana could help prevent death and injury in Wyoming and the region.

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) released a report detailing what occurred the night of the fatal attack on 65-year-old Leah Davis Lokan, of California, in July 2021. The attack took place in Ovando, Montana, a town with a population of fewer than 100 people.

According to the report, Lokan, her sister and some friends frightened a grizzly bear away from their campsite one night last July, before it returned just a short time later and fatally attacked her.

If it could happen there, it can happen here, Kristin Combs, executive director of Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.  She formed a program in Teton County to prevent bear and human encounters.

“This is why we started Jackson Hole Bear Solutions: to prevent situations like this from occurring,” Combs said Friday. “Bears that associate people with food lead to negative consequences for both bears and people. It’s up to us to change what we do because bears will always try to get their needs met in order to survive. We have to be the ones to do something differently.”

Jackson Hole Bear Solutions was launched earlier this year with a drive to provide everyone in Teton County with a bear-proof trash can.

According to the report, the 400-lb. male grizzly bear was attracted to food in Lokan and her friends’ campground area. Lokan had packaged food and dried lentils in her tent when the bear first came into the camp around 3 a.m. on July 6, 2021.

She removed the food after the bear was scared off and took a can of bear spray to bed.

About an hour later, Lokan’s campmates awoke and realized she was being attacked by a bear. She died from her injuries. The bear was tracked down and killed just days after the attack on Lokan.

The autopsy report found that Lokan was killed instantly, as the bear severed her spine and broke her neck.

DNA tests also showed the same four- to seven-year-old grizzly bear also raided a chicken coop hours after the attack.

Previous reporting by CBS said Lokan was an experienced outdoorswoman and cyclist who was on a mountain biking trip when she was killed in the small Montana town. The outlet also said that her fiends described Lokan as a free spirit, competitive and adventuresome who was aware of the dangers she faced on the trip.

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Cheyenne Frontier Days Honors Lakewood Police Officer Who Stopped Mass Shooting

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

As they had done last year, Cheyenne Frontier Days and Cowboy Skill of Wyoming have teamed-up to pay tribute to heroes in the Rocky Mountain region.

The first hero, which was announced on Saturday during the inaugural rodeo, was Agent Ashley Ferris of the Lakewood, Colorado police department, who stopped a mass shooter last December.

The gunman had already shot five people at the Bel Mar shopping center in Lakewood when Ferris rushed the shooter and in the process was shot. Despite a bullet hitting her abdomen, while on the ground Ferris shot and killed the shooter.

Authorities say she saved countless lives.



More than 20,000 attendees of Cheyenne’s rodeo roared their approval when CFD announcer  Garrett Yerigan broke-in during the action to recognize her heroism.

“That great agent who saved numerous lives is with us today at Cheyenne Frontier Days,” Yerigan announced. 

Ferris rose from her seat and waved to the spectators from the sponsor box of Cowboy Skill of Wyoming.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you of the Lakewood Police Department, agent Ashley Ferris.  She is a true hero among us. Cheyenne, give her the thank you that she deserves,” he said.

Behind her Cowboy Skill founder Michael Pace and his wife Karmin, were on their feet applauding the hero.

Paul Goldean, president of Pace-O-Matic — the company which develops and distributes Cowboy Skill games, said Ferris deserved all the praise she received on Saturday.

“She is an incredible testament to law enforcement, and without her fast thinking, more people would have lost their lives that day in December. We are honored to host her,” Goldean said.

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Harriet Hageman Lights Up Crowd At “Save Wyoming” Rally In Lander

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By Bill Sniffin, Cowboy State Daily 

Out of a list of more than 50 speakers, U. S. Congressional candidate Harriet Hageman drew the loudest ovations during a rally featuring the most conservative members of the Wyoming Republican Party.

State Chairman Frank Eathorne, who is frequently criticized as being divisive rather than embracing a bigger tent of Republican candidates said, attendees of the rally are the “grassroots” of the Party.

“We have to remember, these are the people we work for,” he said.

The rally was organized by Jeff Martin, a conservative Lander businessman, who announced during his opening speech that he will be challenging state Rep. Lloyd Larsen, Lander’s Republican incumbent in the state House of Representatives.

Martin had invited a long list of state and local candidates, who all reflected what might be called the most conservative members of the state GOP. 

However, conservative Robyn Bellinskey, candidate in the same Republican Primary election for the U.S. House in which big-name contenders Harriet Hageman and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney are vying, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that she had not been invited to the event


Photo by Bill Sniffin

 Hageman was the featured speaker of the event.

The Hageman-Cheney race is being viewed all across the country as one of the most widely-watched races.  Cheney this year drew the ire of former president Donald Trump, whom she voted to impeach in January. She also served as vice-chair of the Congressional committee seeking to implicate Trump as a major actor in a Jan. 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol. 

Trump endorsed Hageman for the Aug. 16 Republican primary election.  

Early in the nine-hour rally it seemed candidates outnumbered spectators, but soon the crowd picked up. More than 300 people arrived to hear Hageman in the cavernous Lander Community Center.  

Hageman, gave her  “We’re Fed Up” talk during her 7 p.m. time slot. This was similar to the talk she gave during a rally May 28 in Casper when Trump showed up to promote her candidacy. Some 10,000 people attended that event. 

On this night, Hageman recited all the things she was displeased with including open borders, inflation, the retreat in Afghanistan, lax police protection, high gas prices, plus a long list of actions by President Joe Biden. She’s also fed up with Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hageman said.  

“And we are fed up with Liz Cheney,” she said, which brought the crowd to its feet. 

Earlier Speakers

Brian Schroeder, Wyoming’s appointed Superintendent of Public Instruction, blasted President Joe Biden’s federal government for its demands that schools change how they treat gender identification.

Earlier news reports indicated the possibility that the federal government might withhold $40 million in annual school lunch funds to Wyoming schools if the state did not alter how it identifies restroom use and treats students with gender issues.  

The highly-emotional Schroeder railed against the feds and his talk was well-received. His animated remarks generated loud applause and several standing ovations.  

The long list of speakers included state candidates like incumbent State Treasurer Curt Meier, Schroeder, and Hageman. Chuck Gray, one of two candidates for Secretary of State, was at the event campaigning. 

Groups like Right-to-Life were represented with President Marti Halverson going through all the ramifications of the recently overturned Roe vs Wade abortion decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. She laughed about when a reporter asked if Wyoming Right To Life was going to shut down now “that they won.”  Halverson said her group still has an awful lot of work to do, especially working to remove exemptions for rape and incest in Wyoming’s imminent ban on abortion. 

During the pledge of allegiance, the crowd expanded the sentence at the end “and justice for all, both the born and unborn.” 

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Wyoming Delegation Blasts Biden’s Likely Climate Emergency Executive Order

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By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming’s U.S senators and representative have come out strongly against President Joe Biden declaring a climate emergency.  

In a speech Wednesday, Biden said he would “act with urgency and resolve when our nation faces clear and present danger. And that’s what climate change is about. It is literally, not figuratively, a clear and present danger.”  

Although Biden has not pulled any triggers on this order yet, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reported on Tuesday this option is currently “on the table.” 

“President Biden is out of touch with the American people. Families need energy that is affordable and reliable,” said U.S. Sen. John Barrasso. “Instead of taking action to ease the pain at the pump, the president doubled down today on his extreme climate agenda.” 

In the speech, Biden announced, through an executive order, $2.3 billion for FEMA to help protect communities from extreme heat and other disasters, $385 million to pay for air conditioners in homes and community spaces and wind projects.  

“This will only push energy prices higher,” Barrasso said. “American families are being crushed by President Biden’s historic inflation and high energy prices.” 

Potential Emergency

A potential emergency or executive order would allow Biden to achieve his unfulfilled environmental campaign promises that included taking sweeping actions on restraining greenhouse gas production, banning U.S. crude oil exports, ending offshore drilling and speeding up the manufacturing of electric vehicles.

Nearly all of Biden’s climate efforts have been thwarted since taking office by the courts and Congress.  

Although taking executive action might deliver results he desires, it could come with an explosive response from the Supreme Court, American public and gas prices, which may cause harm to his presidency and future ambitions of the Democratic Party.   

Still, many of his supporters and members of his party are encouraging him to pursue his agenda.  

“This is the time when people want their expectations raised and they want something delivered,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, in a Wednesday Politico story. 

A group of Democratic senators recently wrote a letter to furthering this sentiment. 

Climate and environmental activists say the stakes have never been higher when it comes to cutting carbon emissions to fight climate change.

Record heat waves are currently ravaging Europe, historic wildfires have decimated the West over the last decade and average worldwide temperatures have risen by more than two degrees since 1880.

Many scientists have connected this change to carbon output, while a smaller group of detractors have denied it happening at all or said there are different reasons for it occurring, like the growth of cities and natural pressures.   

Some have questioned Biden’s Constitutional authority to declare a climate emergency. 

“If Congress declines to pass some sweeping initiative, it should be cause for members of Congress on the losing side to keep up their advocacy and seek to persuade more members to agree with them or elect different members of Congress,” said Rich Lowry, editor in chief of the National Review, in a Thursday Politico opinion piece. “It shouldn’t become warrant to short-circuit the process and get the president to issue edicts in lieu of legislation.” 

Not Unprecedented

An emergency declaration from the president would not be an unprecedented move.

Former President Donald Trump invoked this authority when steering money to his border wall. 

The National Emergencies Act of 1976 gives a president the right to to regulate international trade in the event of an “unusual and extraordinary threat.”

Former President George W. Bush utilized this in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Presidential executive actions are often undone by the following administrations.

This occurred in 2020 when Biden removed many Trump-era orders. Biden’s energy policies have caused grave concerns among Wyoming lawmakers and energy producers. 

“Joe Biden’s energy policies have been disastrous. Instead of allowing America to be an energy arsenal for the world, he has stifled domestic production and forced us to rely on our adversaries and other foreign sources for energy,” U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney said. 

Any offshore or export cuts that Biden could make on oil and gas drilling would likely cause an increase in prices and further decrease in supply. 

“President Biden should be more focused on inflation and reducing gas prices, as opposed to actions that will continue to drive the price of gas up,” U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis said. “We should hold China responsible for its role in global emissions and prioritize our own innovation to continue to solve climate issues.”

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Abortion Illegal In Wyoming: Governor Gordon Certifies Abortion Ban

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday certified Wyoming’s abortion ban, one day after the new law was verified by the state’s attorney general.  

“I have certified (abortion ban) House Bill 92 following the Attorney General’s analysis,” Gordon said. “I believe that the decision to regulate abortion is properly left to the states.” 

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 overturned Roe vs. Wade, a U.S. Supreme Court case that had treated abortion access as a constitutional right since 1973.

The move relegated abortion policy decisions back to the states for the first time in nearly 50 years.  

Wyoming was one of 13 states with a trigger ban, or bill outlawing abortion after a high court overturn, in place at the time.  

But Wyoming’s trigger ban required a review by the attorney general of no more than 30 days, then a review of up to five days by the governor prior to his certification, then a five-day processing period by the secretary of state, to codify the law.  

Hill completed her legal review in 27 days.  

Gordon certified the law in about one day and sent his decision to Secretary of State Ed Buchanan.  

“As a pro-life Governor, my focus will continue to be on ensuring we are doing all we can to support Wyoming mothers, children and families,” said Gordon. 

In five days or less, performing an abortion in Wyoming will be a felony punishable by up to 14 years in prison, except in cases of rape, incest, or severe health or death risks.  

When Hill’s office verified the law change Thursday, Gordon indicated that it wouldn’t take him long to certify it, saying he’d review it “overnight.” 

The Secretary of State had five days from Governor’s certification to codify the law.

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University Of Wyoming Requested 33 Of Former Professor’s Papers Be Retracted

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A day after the University of Wyoming confirmed that it investigated one of its former professors’ work for “data irregularities,” a UW spokesman said top university officials requested 33 of the professor’s papers be retracted.

UW spokesman Chad Baldwin told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that from 2015 to 2021, the university investigated allegations of “data irregularities” made against professor Jun Ren, who left UW in 2020.

“The university has been following all applicable processes and procedures in reviewing the claims at issue,” Baldwin said. “Following its review, the university requested retractions of 33 publications co-authored by Dr. Ren, most of which are in editorial review by publishers.”

Baldwin said that considering the ongoing review of the data irregularities claims and certain state and federal laws protecting Ren’s privacy, the university has not made “public disclosures” related to the claims against Ren.

“The university takes any allegations of data irregularities seriously and has policies and training in place addressing research ethics that are available to students and faculty,” Baldwin said.

According to Retraction Watch, a group that reports on the retraction of scientific publications, Ren has already had at least two papers retracted due to “data irregularities” and “image reuse.”

One of the papers has been cited more than 100 times, while the other had been cited around 25 times.

Ren specializes in the heart and diabetes. During his time at UW, he served as the director of a biomedical program and an associate dean.

It is not clear if the “data irregularities” contributed to the professor leaving the university.

Retraction Watch reported that an investigation into Ren’s work between 2013 and 2015 showed “reckless mistakes” and “no intention to obtain specific results.” He was removed from his position as director of the university’s INBRE program, which focuses on biomedical research following the investigation at the time.

Ren addressed the investigation into his work in a May letter to American Heart Association’s head of scientific publications Eldrin Lewis.

“I regret these mistakes from my lab, although I truly believe that these are correctable issues (some of them may reflect ‘difference of opinion),’” Ren said in the letter. “All these mistakes or ‘difference in opinion’ deal with loading controls and none had any impact on the bar graphs or study conclusion.”

He added he “overcommitted” to administrative work and failed to stay on top of his research lab more closely, but that he took responsibility for his team’s mistakes.

Ren did not agree to the retractions, according to Retraction Watch.

Ren’s letter also said that the new investigation into his work was not legitimate “since it is only based on publication figures with some vague terms (image manipulation).”

Ren was hailed last year as one of the most highly-cited researchers by analytics company Clarivate.

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Daily Wyoming Gas Map: Friday July 22, 2022

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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

The price of gasoline fell by 6 cents per gallon on Friday from the previous 24 hours to average $4.60.

The website GasBuddy.com, which tracks national gas prices, reported Wyoming’s average gas price is down 4 cents from a week ago and is up $1.13 per gallon from one year ago.

Wyoming’s average price for gasoline remained above the national average of $4.39.

High and Low Prices:

The highest reported gasoline price in Wyoming on Friday was in Moose, near Jackson, at $5.79 per gallon. The lowest price, $3.93, was found in Gillette at the Conoco station at 302 W. Lakeway Road, and at the Loaf ’N Jug in Evansville at 59 S. Curtis.

The highest average price of gas on Friday was in Platte County, at $5.02 per gallon. The county with the lowest average was Campbell at $4.18. 

These are the highest and lowest reported prices among those stationed surveyed.

*The average price per gallon of regular in each Wyoming county: 

Albany $4.52; Big Horn $4.85; Campbell $4.18; Carbon $4.78; Converse $4.60; Crook $4.64; Fremont $4.85; Goshen $4.68; Hot Springs $4.64; Johnson $4.89; Laramie $4.48; Lincoln $4.64; Natrona $4.28; Niobrara $4.43; Park $4.79; Platte $4.64; Sheridan $4.83; Sublette $4.80; Sweetwater $4.78; Teton $5.02; Uinta $4.78; Washakie $4.83; Weston: $4.52. 

*The lowest price per gallon, reported in major Wyoming cities:

Basin $4.77; Buffalo $4.58; Casper $3.93; Cheyenne $4.24; Cody $4.61; Douglas $4.54; Evanston $4.59; Gillette $3.93; Jackson $4.93; Kemmerer $4.71; Laramie $4.14; Lusk $4.39; Newcastle $4.47; Pinedale $4.72; Rawlins $4.54; Riverton $4.58; Rock Springs $4.69; Sheridan $4.79; Sundance $4.65; Thermopolis $4.72; Wheatland $4.78; Worland $4.77.   

Want to help us gather the most accurate gas prices for this report? Consider downloading the GasBuddy app and submit the gas prices in your area. 

*Note: Prices in this report are for reference only. They are gathered just prior to posting, and may not reflect prices that have changed since last posted.

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Wyoming Obituaries: Week of July 16 – 22, 2022

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Here’s a list of recent deaths of Wyoming residents and those with close affiliations to the state for the week of July 16 – 22, 2022. Our condolences to family and friends:

July 16:

July 17:

July 18:

July 19:

July 20:

July 21:

July 22:

Obituaries Pending:

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