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Albany County Extends Mask Mandate Until Jan. 4

in Coronavirus/News

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Albany County Public Health Officer is extending its mask mandate until Jan. 4, the office announced Tuesday morning.

The order was first enacted on Nov. 6 and has been extended at the request of county health officer Dr. Jean Allais. Wyoming Public Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist approved the extension.

This is the first example of a mask order being extended into the new year in any Wyoming counties.

There will be slight amendments to the order, such as requiring business employees to wear masks while working near each other, not just while working in public spaces.

The mask order will also now apply to children 12 and older.

The mandate will also be waived in situations where law enforcement officers request mask removal to aid in the identification of people.

“Continued high rates of transmission support a continued mask mandate in Albany County,” Allais said.

Albany County is seeing more than 30% of infection rates due to community spread. The University of Wyoming sent students home earlier than expected due to spikes in the county.

Mask orders have been implemented in numerous counties across Wyoming, although Gov. Mark Gordon has been hesitant to implement a statewide one. Gordon recently tested positive for the coronavirus and is recovering.

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Wyoming School Districts Struggle To Get Substitute Teachers

in Coronavirus/News

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily 

Because of the pandemic, school districts across Wyoming are having problems finding enough substitute teachers to keep classes going when regular teachers are ill, on leave, or quarantined.

“Many of our substitute teachers are also retired teachers,” explained Peg Monteith, superintendent for Park County School District No. 6 in Cody, “and we had a hunch that they weren’t going to want to come back into a pandemic environment. 

“I think the other piece of that was, we were going to have … teachers out potentially two weeks at a time should they have to quarantine,” she said.

The problem reaches beyond Park County, according to Grady Hutcherson, president of the Wyoming Education Association.

Hutcherson said most of Wyoming’s school districts are seeing shortages in available substitute teachers.

“Education employees are being forced to make impossible decisions,” he said. “They are being forced to put their health and safety and potentially that of their family on the line in the interest of serving students and society and continuing in their careers.“

Monteith said the problem caused the school administration – and the district’s board — to consider some changes.

“So we began looking at all of the situations that were making it difficult to fill our absenteeism, and what could we do to incentivize our sub pick-up jobs,” she said.

Monteith said the district was prompted to increase the pay for substitute teachers after its neighboring school district, Park County No. 1 in Powell, found success by doing just that. 

Powell Superintendent Jay Curtis said officials knew they had to make some changes as soon as the school year began.

“Last year we had something like, I think 20 total sub jobs that hadn’t been filled over the course of a month and a half — whereas this year that number was quadrupled,” he said. “At the beginning of the year, we were facing situations where we would have six, eight, 10, 13 sub jobs that would not be filled. So, when that occurs … some of my principals had to sub, we would rearrange paraprofessionals to go in to sub for a classroom.”

But Monteith said Cody schools are doing more than just increasing pay to entice substitute teachers — the district put a focus group together to determine the barriers to effective substitute teaching and then developed plans to remove those barriers.

“As they were coming into buildings, orientation to the buildings, having a go-to person, having a mentor teacher to go to so they don’t come in feeling like, ‘I don’t even know where the bathroom is, and I need to understand how to manage this classroom,’ things like that,” she said.

Both superintendents said that the changes they’ve made have had the desired effect.

“Right now, I feel like we are in a much better place,” Monteith said. “We may have had a fill rate of 40% to 50% in September, into early October. We’re closer to an 80% to 90% percent now, sometimes 100%.”

“As soon as it was out that we had raised our pay, we had a number of people – I can’t give you exact numbers, but it was more than 10 – came in and got their sub applications,” Curtis said. “And within a few weeks we were in a position where we weren’t having sub jobs go unfilled.”

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The Cowboy Bar in Meeteetse is Allegedly Haunted But We’d Like More Proof Please

in Wyoming ghosts

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Critics of the supernatural world might be more like the Craig T. Nelson character in the movie “Poltergeist.”

Normal guy who gets his life upended when he experiences the supernatural world first-hand.

And when he experiences it, he really experiences it.

Unlike the hapless ghostbusters who — until going to his California home — have lived in a world of theory.

No better scene differentiates the two worlds than when one of the ghostbusters brags about filming a toy car moving seven feet. It took the car seven hours to move.

“Of course, this would never register on the naked eye. But I have it recorded on a time-lapse camera. It’s fantastic,” the ‘scientist’ tells Nelson right before one of the greatest scenes in the movie.

A worn-out and barely patient Nelson opens the door to his child’s room where absolute chaos is erupting. The bed is spinning around by itself. Toys circle the room and one-by-one stop mid-air in front of the frightened spectators.  Except Nelson. He accepts it now.

We’re like Nelson.  We’ll accept that the famed Cowboy Bar in Meeteetse is haunted by cowboys of the past. We’d just like to have more proof.

Not that a cold bathroom or beeps on some machine isn’t interesting but it’s a lot like the Matchbox car. We want the spinning bedroom.

The Wyoming Area Spirit Posse on Tuesday uploaded a new video about their experiences in the Cowboy Bar and it’s fun to watch.

Don’t expect your mind to be blown, however. 

It’s somewhat typical of the onslaught of ghost detective shows out there.  Dimly lit rooms. Millennials. People asking for ghosts to say something. Lots of static. Beeps. Shaky cameras.

But — keeping the 80s theme going — as Clara Peller would say, “Where’s the Beef?”

Although there’s no beef really to be found, at least this group of ghostbusters didn’t take themselves too seriously.

They’re having fun.  They dressed-up like old-time cowboys. That includes fake mustaches.

What’s supposed to happen in the bar that’s haunted?

Bottles of booze are supposed to fall on the ground by themselves and not break. Ghosts are supposed to order steak (you can hear the order but no one is there). And there’s plenty of sounds like footsteps and voices.

It’s a fun idea and the behind-the-scenes coverage is located in this article from the Cody Enterprise.

Or you can check-out their new video here.

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Man Smashes Truck Into Cheyenne Church in Broad Daylight; Then, Thinking He’s Invisible, Drives Away

in Crime/News

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If there were a criminal handbook, you would think the chapter on the fallacy of getting away with a “hit and run” would be read more often.

Apparently a man who smashed into a Cheyenne church did not read that chapter nor did he read about the individual in Worland last week who smashed into a parked car and then took off — only to be caught immediately after the police department posted the video captured by a doorbell cam.

Instead the individual who ran his truck into a church in broad daylight at a busy intersection and then took off — must think he and his green truck were made out of the same material as Wonder Woman’s invisible plane.

The only glitch with his ingenious escape plan is that neither he nor his 20+ year-old green Dodge Durango were invisible and people in the area all had functioning eyes.

As a result, the Cheyenne Police Department knows the accident happened at 9:04am on Friday. They know the church he inexplicably hit was the Cheyenne Baptist Temple. They know the truck was a green Dodge Durango (a really poor color selection for criminals). They know his truck was made from 1996 – 2002.  They know the individual is a “young male adult wearing a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans.”

Now, while his description is fairly common, his dumb, damaged green truck is not.

That means if he’s from Cheyenne, some people know who he is. Other people have seen or will see the damaged green truck.

And yes, he can hide his green truck. And if he’s a body shop whiz, then he’s got that going for him.

And if he’s from out of town, perhaps he limped his green truck home to wherever he lives.

Our guess is it’s only a matter of days.  And what was once probably just one charge is now a multiple of charges.

He could face jail time, suspension of his license, financial penalties, and his car insurance (assuming he has insurance — which based on his apparent IQ is unlikely) will not pay for the damage.

Not to mention there will tons of lawyers who will very happily want to represent the church.

If you know who this idiot individual might be, just contact the Cheyenne Police Department.

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801 New Coronavirus Cases in Wyoming; 8,612 Active

in Coronavirus/News

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Despite an increase in new confirmed coronavirus cases of 801 in Wyoming on Monday, the number of the state’s active COVID-19 cases declined.

The Wyoming Department of Health said it had received new reports of 1,456 recoveries among those with confirmed or probable coronavirus cases, exceeding both the 801 new confirmed cases and 15 new probable cases.

The numbers left the state with 8,612 active cases, a decline of 640 from Sunday. The drop marked the fourth time in five days the number of active cases has declined.

Natrona County had 1892 confirmed cases; Laramie County had 1,322; Campbell had 869; Albany had 734; Fremont had 638; Sheridan had 587; Sweetwater had 473; Goshen had 349; Uinta had 272; Washakie had 203; Teton had 189; Lincoln had 175; Park had 173; Johnson had 138; Carbon had 115; Platte had 93; Sublette had 82; Hot Springs had 69; Converse had 63; Big Horn had 59; Weston had 56; Crook had 35, and Niobrara had 26.

Active cases are determined by adding the total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness first surfaced in Wyoming on March 12, subtracting the number of recoveries during the same period among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness.

The Health Department said new confirmed cases were reported in 21 of the state’s counties. Natrona County saw the highest number of new cases at 192. Laramie County had 153.

The increase in confirmed cases brought the total of such cases seen since the illness was first detected in Wyoming in mid-March to 29,053.

The increase of 15 brought the number of probable cases seen since the pandemic began to 4,252. A probable case is one where the patient has symptoms of coronavirus and has been exposed to someone with a confirmed case, but has not been tested for the illness.

With the new reports of recoveries on Monday, the total number of people to recover from confirmed or probable coronavirus cases since March stood at 24,478.

Editor’s Note: This is a map of the active coronavirus cases in each county across Wyoming. The number of active cases is determined by subtracting the total number of recoveries seen since the illness first reached Wyoming in mid-March from the total number of confirmed and probable cases diagnosed during the same time period and taking into account deaths related to the disease.

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Hospitalized Wyoming COVID Patients Ties Record

in Coronavirus/News

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Despite a decline in the number of active coronavirus cases in Wyoming over the last week, the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals around the state tied a record on Sunday.

The Wyoming Department of Health’s report said 235 coronavirus patients were in various hospitals on Sunday, the same number as were in hospitals on Nov. 21.

The number of active coronavirus cases around the state has dropped from a peak of 11,861 seen on Tuesday, Nov. 24, to 9,252 on Sunday, a decline of 2,609.

However, during the same period, the number of people being treated in hospitals for the illness grew by seven, from 228 to 235.

The highest number of coronavirus patients was found at the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, 64, while 63 were being treated at Casper’s Wyoming Medical Center.

A major concern throughout the pandemic has been the strain the illness might put on hospitals, particularly intensive care unit rooms.

As of Sunday, the Cheyenne hospital had three open ICU rooms and Casper’s had two. Several smaller hospitals, including SageWest Health Care in Lander and Community Hospital Torrington, had no ICU rooms left as of Sunday.

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Barrasso Spends Thanksgiving In Qatar With Wyoming Soldiers

in John Barrasso/News

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso spent his Thanksgiving overseas, celebrating with Wyoming soldiers who are helping defend the country.

Barrasso had dinner with Wyoming National Guard troops serving in Qatar on Thanksgiving day. He sat down with members of the 153rd Airlift Wing and 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, both of which are supporting airlift operations and medical evacuations in the Middle East.

The Wyoming senator makes it a tradition to spend time with Wyoming troops overseas every Thanksgiving, even in the pandemic.

“Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the people and things we’re most thankful for,” Barrasso said. “So much of our gratitude goes to the brave Wyoming men and women serving our country overseas. This year the holidays will look quite a bit different for most Americans. This is especially true for the members of the Wyoming Air National Guard deployed in Qatar.

“Despite the unique challenges this year brings, they continue to do a remarkable job keeping America and our allies safe,” he continued. “It was wonderful to share a meal with them and bring a little bit of home to them this holiday season.”

Barrasso was also briefed on military operations in the Middle East during his time in Qatar last week.

Qatar lies to the east of Saudi Arabia and to the west of Iran.

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514 New Coronavirus Cases in Wyoming; 9,252 Active

in Coronavirus/News

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The number of confirmed cases in Wyoming increased by 514 on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases reported since the virus first hit here in mid-March to 28,252.

The number of active cases also rose. An increase of 336 cases brought the number of Wyoming residents currently ill with the virus to 9,252.

As of Sunday, Natrona County had the highest number of active cases with 1,966; Laramie County had 1,408; Campbell County had 985; Albany County had 873; Fremont County had 660; Sheridan County had 579; Sweetwater County had 501; Goshen County had 348; Uinta County had 273; Washakie County had 207; Park County had 205; Lincoln County had 192; Teton County had 189; Johnson County had 137; Carbon County had 129; Platte County had 112; Sublette County had 96; Converse County had 85; Hot Springs County had 72; Niobrara County had 62; Big Horn and Weston counties both had 59; and Crook County had 55.

Active cases are determined by adding the total confirmed and probable coronavirus cases diagnosed since the illness first surfaced in Wyoming on March 12, subtracting the number of recoveries during the same period among patients with both confirmed and probable cases and taking into account the number of deaths attributed to the illness.

Probable cases increased slightly (46), while recoveries were also up by 224.

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Cowboys Ran Past UNLV, No Hangover from Three-Week Break Between Games

in News/wyoming cowboys football

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LAS VEGAS – The Cowboys (2-2 over, 2-2 MW) rushed for 399 yards in a 45-14 road win over UNLV (0-5 overall, 0-5 MW) on Friday afternoon in Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. It was the most rushing yards in a game since rushing for 424 yards against San Jose State on Nov. 3, 2018. Wyoming scored six touchdowns on the ground in the contest.

“We talked at halftime about our execution and UNLV good players and we had to make them work hard,” UW head coach Craig Bohl. “We reestablished the momentum on the fourth down play and went down and scored and that got thing rolling for us. Our point of attack on the defensive and offensive line were well up to par.”

Senior Trey Smith rushed for a career-high 156 yards with one touchdown. He recorded 6.8 yards per carry for the game with a long of 28 yards. Junior Xazavian Valladay added 94 yards and a touchdown from 78 yards a career high. He left the game in the first quarter.

“Our offensive line did a great job of opening up holes,” Bohl said. “Trey (Smith) kept his feet moving and made some great runs, it was very heartwarming to see him out there and execute at such a high level.”

Freshman quarterback Levi Williams had three rushing touchdowns for the most in a game by a Cowboy since Brian Hill had three against New Mexico on Nov. 26, 2016. He rushed for 44 yards and passed for 99 yards.

The Wyoming offense averaged seven yards per play and held onto the ball for over 35 minutes. Wyoming finished the game with 498 yards of total offense for a season-high.

The Pokes defense was stingy all night allowing only 290 yards. Wyoming recorded two turnovers and turned those into points. Wyoming recorded five sacks in the contest. Junior linebacker Chad Muma had three sacks in the game for the most in a contest since Carl Granderson had three against Boise State in 2017. Senior defensive end Garrett Crall made his return and added and sack and two tackles for loss.

“To have two veterans back out there in Garrett Crall and Logan Harris it adds stability and leadership,” Bohl said. “Their presence sent steadiness to some of our younger players.”

“We knew that UNLV had some weakness and the blitzes our coaches dialed up really allowed Chad (Muma) to make plays. “It is encouraging to see the development from our coaches with our defensive line.”

The Cowboys wasted little time getting on the board with Valladay finding paydirt on a 78-yard scamper for the longest rush of the season for the Cowboys and longest of his career. The rush came on the second play of the contest for the earliest score for the Pokes this season.

The Pokes added to their lead with a 36-yard field goal by John Hoyland with 6:52 left in the opening frame. It capped a 14-play 54 yard drive for the Brown and Gold. The drive was highlighted by a rush of 13 and 11 yards from senior running back Trey Smith.

Wyoming made it 17-0 contest with eight minutes remaining in the second quarter on a 15-yard scamper from Williams. It was a part of a nine-play, 75 yard drive that spanned four minutes. Williams rushed for 27 yards on the drive and hooked up with senior wide receiver Ayden Eberhardt on a 27-yard pass to highlight the third scoring drive for the Cowboys.

The Rebels got on the board in the final seconds of the first half on a two-yard touchdown run by Max Gillam. UNLV drove 98-yards on the drive, as it reached Cowboy territory for the first with 45 seconds left in the half, as the score made it a 17-7 game at the half.

Wyoming stopped UNLV on fourth down to open the second half on a big stop from Gandy. The Pokes turned it around on their first play with an 18 yard rush from Smith for the Cowboys. UW kept it on the ground and made it a 24-7 game on a one-yard rush from Williams with 8:27 left in the third quarter.

The Cowboy defense made another big play this time freshman defensive end Cameron Smith hopped on a fumble inside UNLV territory. Wyoming added to its lead with freshman fullback Parker Christensen with a 21-yard catch that led to Williams third touchdown run of the day this time from one-yard out for a 31-7 advantage with 5:27 left in the third period.

Yet another turnover by UNLV this time an interception from senior safety Braden Smith set up another score for the Pokes to build a 38-7 lead with 1:19 in the third quarter. The drive was highlighted by Trey Smith finding the endzone on a 28-yard rush to record a career-high for rushing in a game.

Wyoming added to its lead in the fourth quarter on a 19-yard run from Brett Brenton for his first career touchdown to make it 45-7. UNLV added a touchdown late with the Pokes taking the contest 45-17.

UNLV was led by Max Gillam with 65 yards passing and 63 yards rushing. UNLV was led defensively by Bryce Jackson with nine tackles.

Wyoming returns to action next week once again playing in Las Vegas this time against New Mexico at 8:30 p.m. MT on CBS Sports Network on Saturday, Dec. 5.

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Grizzly 399, Cubs Sighted Back In Grand Teton

in Bears/Grizzly Bears/News

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Although the most famous grizzly in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and her four cubs were recently seen farther south than they’d ever ventured, Grizzly 399 and her babies are now back in the Grand Teton National Park area.

Jackson-based adventure guide Matty Deehan took a video of the mother and her cubs, which have grown significantly since their debut earlier this year. He then posted it to his Instagram account, celebrating their return.

The video shows the five bears wandering through a backyard area, presumably Deehan’s, on their way back to their main home in the park.

“The family is less than a mile from returning back into Grand Teton National Park. Hopefully this time it’s for good,” Deehan wrote in the Instagram post.

The bears are preparing for hibernation, which will last around five months. Once they begin hibernating, grizzly 399 and the four cubs likely won’t be seen until late March or early April.

In October, one of the cubs was spotted limping, but all four appeared to be healthy in the video posted by Deehan.

Grand Teton National Park officials didn’t respond to a request for comment from Cowboy State Daily.

Grizzly 399 is considered the most famous bear in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. She has had around 16 cubs, including her latest four that were first seen this year.

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