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Jimmy Orr Wyoming

Four-Year-Old Sets World Fishing Record in Wind River Mountains

in Fishing/News
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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Move over Josh Allen. You’re not the only person with Wyoming ties to make the big time.

Four-year-old Caroline May Evans recently set the world record for golden trout in the International Game Fish Association’s “female smallfry” category — the category for anglers under the age of 10.

The association, in the latest edition of its book listing world record fish catches, said Caroline caught the 2-pound golden trout in the Wind River Mountains in July.

“Caroline caught this beautiful trout on a worm while fishing the mouth of a creek entering a lake,” the IGFA wrote. “With the guidance of her father, she was able to successfully land this amazing fish.”

Where she was specifically?  True anglers won’t tell you. 

The Wind River Mountains is all the association is giving up.

The IGFA reports that Evans’ family weighed the fish, took some photos of the catch, and then released it to live another day.

“Congratulations to Caroline and her family for a spectacular catch-and-release and an unforgettable day,” the association wrote.

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Jimmy Orr: Bear Obliterates Truck. I Mean REALLY Obliterates Truck

in Jimmy Orr/Column
Jimmy Orr on bear destruction
Jimmy Orr writes: If there was a bear Hall of Fame, this one should get inducted.
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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Locking the car doors may seem like a simple task to many of us, but to others it’s an insurmountable burden. A Sisyphean job so onerous that it can’t be done.

That’s why there are so many reminders from the police that hitting that daunting button after exiting a vehicle is a good strategy.

Wildlife officials issue that same call endlessly.

But some dopes individuals don’t get it.

Vehicles are stolen, goods inside vehicles are stolen and bears sometimes turn into Tasmanian Devils and destroy cars.

Happened again on Monday.

A bear opened up a door of a truck in South Park, Colorado, and absolutely obliterated the truck’s interior.

If there was a Hall of Fame for destruction caused by bears, this is a sure-fire nominee.

Now, the animal looked quite content with its surroundings in the first photo shared by Colorado Park & Wildlife (below).

Sure, the rear view mirror was dangling from the ceiling. But outside of that, it looked like he was in the driver’s seat just hanging out. Perhaps smoking a doobie (it is Colorado) and listening to Classic Vinyl on Sirius-XM.

Maybe “Wooden Ships” by Crosby, Stills, & Nash is just fading and that’s when he realizes he can’t get out. Or there’s no beer in the vehicle. Making it much less desirable than the truck in Larkspur, Colorado, that was broken into in June by a bear that drank the beer inside it before stumbling away.

Regardless, bears seem to break in just fine. Exiting? That’s a struggle.

So what to do?

Rip the crap out of the car.

And it did.

In the second photo, the truck isn’t even recognizable.

It looks like a living room on the TV show Hoarders.

Door panel ruined. Cushions ripped to shreds. Things dangling which aren’t meant to dangle. Absolute annihilation.

Holy cow! We want video.

But there is good news. The bear was released and happily bounded away (photo below).

And the Colorado Parks and Wildlife department was left to issue that same old warning:

  1. Remove anything with a scent from your vehicle.
  2. Make sure to always keep your car doors locked.

See you next time.

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Cheyenne Starts Work on New 80-Acre “Hitching Post Plaza”

in News/hitching post
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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

They said it wouldn’t happen. But, it’s happening.

Cheyenne’s Hitching Post Inn, once the second-seat of government in Wyoming behind only the state Capitol and currently a burned out shell following a decade of neglect, is coming back.

The City of Cheyenne was joined by Banner Capital Bank and Swagger Construction at a press conference Wednesday afternoon to announce a joint collaboration that will result in a new 80-acre development called the “Hitching Post Plaza”.

The development, which includes a hotel, restaurants, retail outlets, and even a residential area, is already underway with demolition and environmental remediation happening now. 

Work on the demolition of the blighted existing property began last week when Cheyenne Mayor Patrick Collins, Banner Bank CEO and President Richard Petersen and Swagger Construction President Robert Chamberlin broke some of the bricks marking what remains of the old Hitching Post.

Cheyenne City Council President Jeff White, who represents Ward One — home to the remaining shell of the landmark — was emotional when discussing the weight of Wednesday’s announcement.

“We didn’t just lose a building when the Hitching Post burned, we lost a part of our identity,” White said. “To see this literally rise from the ashes, I’m really happy about it.”

“We all have a story about the Hitching Post when we were kids,” Ward One council member Scott Roybal said. “It’s just exciting to see we are going forward with this.”

The property was first developed in 1927 and shortly thereafter became the place to be during Wyoming’s legislative sessions and Cheyenne Frontier Days.

It fell into disrepair after the longtime owners sold the property in 2006 and then became the target of several fires — at least one of those the result of arson. The city finally condemned the area in early 2021.

“There have been many redevelopment efforts but nothing resulted from any of them,” White said.

How It All Happened

White said what made the difference this time was that all the city council members and new Mayor Patrick Collins identified rehabilitation of the area as one of the city’s top priorities.

Sharing that desire to clean up the property was Swagger Construction’s Chamberlin.

Chamberlin had an idea how to redevelop the site and took it to Banner Bank President Petersen.  

After sharing the plan with his banking colleague Richard Braithwaite, Braithwaite told Petersen how Banner could do it.

“He took one look at it and said ‘This thing screams for TIF (Tax Increment Financing),’” he said, referring to a public financing method that cities use for redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects.

“We went up and talked to the mayor and the response and the support from the city council was amazing,” Petersen said.

The council approved an ordinance creating a TIF District and the wheels were set in motion.

“I’m thoroughly convinced that without this public/private partnership, problems of this magnitude would not be solved,” White said.  “It’s a great day for Cheyenne and the only day that’s going to beat it is when we are back together in the spring putting shovels in the ground.”

Council member Pete Laybourn said the details of financing the project were “daunting.”

“This was extremely complex,” he said. “I compliment everyone involved. It took a long time and a lot of effort and we’ve come a long way.”

The Hitching Post Plaza

Chamberlin said it was important to him to honor the site by keeping the name “Hitching Post” because so many people in the community felt close to the original hotel.

“Everyone I talk to has some sort of connection to the Hitching Post,” he said, noting that many people told him they went to prom there.

White raised his hand as did Councilman Brian Cook. Later, Dr. Michelle Aldridge, a Ward Three councilperson said she also attended prom at the Hitching Post — and is still married to her prom date.

To that end, Chamberlin said he was going to save the existing Hitching Post sign.

“The goal is to renovate the sign and get it back to its glory days,” he said. “So that is still the staple of going into the development.

“That’s great news,” White said.

Timeline

Chamberlin said there are multiple phases to the redevelopment. Right now, work is being done on asbestos abatement and demolition. If weather holds up, he said, that could be done in two months.

“The biggest goal now is to knock those buildings down and getting them disposed of before we get too deep into the fall,” he said.  “Then we’re going to go vertical in the spring.”

Petersen pointed out that a hotel is already being built in the TIF boundaries where the old Atlas Motel once stood.

He said there has been a lot of interest in the site already.  

“I don’t think there’s going to be a shortage of demand,” he said.

As for the long-term benefit to the area, Petersen said the economic impact would be in the neighborhood of $40 – $50 million. 

Councilman Cook said there are many examples of a blighted property being turned around, followed by an immediate positive impact in the surrounding area. He pointed to the investment made by “Warehouse 21” — an advertising and marketing company in the West Edge — and the subsequent uptick in the area.

Roybal agreed, saying the redevelopment will open the western edge of town — an area hit hard in recent years — for economic growth.

“It’s really exciting,” Roybal said. “This is going to clean up this end of Lincolnway and bring in other businesses.”

Momentum

Laybourn said Wednesday’s announcement is another victory for Ward One constituents.

The “father of the Greenway,” as he has been called for championing the 40 mile pathway that connects neighborhoods throughout the community, said this project, along with the West Edge revitalization plan, the Reed Avenue corridor project and the Crow Creek restoration plan is proof that good government is possible.

“This is huge for Cheyenne and huge for Ward One and I couldn’t be more pleased,” Laybourn said.  

Roybal was already looking ahead.

“This one’s in the books,” Roybal said. “So now we just have to find someone to buy ‘the hole’ and the Hynds building.”

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Jimmy Orr: “A Plane Just Hit the Pentagon!” – A Wyomingite’s Memories From the White House on 9/11

in Jimmy Orr/Column
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By Jimmy Orr, Executive Editor

There was nothing spectacular about the Denver Broncos – New York Giants game on September 10.

Just a Monday Night Football game. The Broncos were trying to stay relevant following the departure of John Elway a few years beforehand. We had steaks and martinis and watched it from my friend Rob Wallace’s house in Northern Virginia.

I remember it because of the next day. The events on September 11, 2001 make everything traceable.  What I was doing the night before, the weekend before, the day of, the next day. It’s not just the memory. I can still feel the dread. I can still smell my smoke-filled apartment. Some images are as clear as if they happened last week.

Working in the White House on September 11 doesn’t change the tragedy of the event but makes it surreal.

Not a replay

Going to Starbucks on 17th street following the communications meeting was a daily ritual. Colleagues Mercy Viana (Schlapp) and Wendy Nipper (Homeyer) and I walked back to our offices talking about the day ahead as we always had.

The image on the TV screen stopped us. The Today Show host said she heard the plane lodged in the World Trade Center was a Cessna. They were speculating it was a fluke.

Because of that when Mercy’s phone rang, she picked it up. We had no idea of the enormity facing us or the country. I stood next to the TV, more perplexed than anything.

With absolute terror, I watched as another plane careened into the second World Trade Center building.

“No, no, no, no, no, no” I said to the screen as the images appeared to happen in slow motion.

I remember gasping and not believing what I had just seen. I feel it now. I can feel that same dread. I walked over to my boss’ office and told him what I saw.

“You saw a replay,” he said, cupping his phone.

“I saw a second plane,” I insisted.

“You saw a replay,” he said, waving me off.

Moments later he came into my office and apologized. “Gather the team, we need to have an emergency meeting.”

Emergency

We grouped together at the table in his office. We all worked in the Old Executive Office Building — the giant, grey battleship of a structure on the White House Grounds right next to the West Wing.

I had forgotten my pager (remember it was 2001). I got up mid-meeting to grab it and picked up the ringing phone on my desk.

“Dude, a plane just hit the Pentagon,” said my friend Rob Jennings, a fellow Wyoming friend who worked as a fundraiser in DC.

“Are you sure,” I asked him.

“I just saw it. I’m looking at the burning Pentagon now.”

Rushing back to my boss’ office to let him know, the sirens went off. Moments later, the Secret Service began banging on every office door and yelling for us to evacuate.

“A plane is headed for the White House,” screamed one secret service agent.

The sight and sound of dozens of shaken White House staffers running – literally running — toward the north entrance of the White House is crystal.

As is the memory of being among more than 100 staffers standing in Lafayette Park stunned and wondering what we should do next. I wanted to call my family. I couldn’t. My flip phone fell off while running for the gate.

“A bomb just went off at the State Department,” someone said.

That rumor kept circulating throughout the rest of the day.

Scramble for answers

We all went to the Chrysler Building blocks away to regroup. The most senior of the White House staffers were picked off by the secret service and taken to the Situation Room or other locations.

As a White House spokesman and the Digital Director, my only goal was to get the White House website online again.

It was bad enough from a communications perspective that we couldn’t get the president’s statements up on the website. But it paled in comparison to the enormity of the message we sent the country and the world that the White House site was down. Or missing. Or removed.

Optics are important. And the site going back online (thanks to my friend George Lewis) was every bit as important and comforting as the president flying back to DC after stops at Air Force bases in Louisiana and Nebraska.

The next few hours were a blur – not nearly as vivid as the preceding time. We were told to research anything associated with the morning’s events – the date, the time, the locations, etc. Anything that might give us a clue as to why this happened.

When I arrived home that evening, I was struck by how much smoke there was in my apartment. I lived less than a mile away from the Pentagon but my windows and doors were closed. There was no escaping the day.

Haunting images

Like many of my colleagues I didn’t sleep that night and the next few days, weeks, and months were hard as they were for all Americans. But nothing like it was for the families of the victims.

The two images that haunt me the most were not from that day. Instead, the first happened that weekend when we spotted my friend Rob Wallace’s 3-year-old daughter building towers out of wooden blocks and then knocking them down with her toy plane. It was very hard not to cry.

It was impossible not to cry when family members of those lost in Flight 93 came to the White House for a memorial service two weeks later. As all the White House staffers lined up to shake their hands and express our condolences, I still remember that little boy in his little suit who jumped up to me to get a hug. I was told his father was on that plane. I never felt less worthy.

These memories have not faded. As painful as they are, it’s important that they don’t.

Jimmy Orr, a native of Cheyenne, was a White House spokesman and Director of Digital Strategy for President George W. Bush from 2001 – 2005.

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