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Search For Missing Indiana Man In Cody Called Off Due To Flooding

in Missing people/News/weather

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The search for a missing Indiana man whose vehicle was last seen in Park County has been suspended due to the unprecedented flooding in the area, the sheriff’s department announced late Monday.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office suspended the search for Lance Daghy on Saturday out of concern for the searchers’ safety because of high water levels in the Sunlight Bridge area, where Daghy’s vehicle was found last week.

The sheriff’s office said that the situation would be monitored and re-evaluated until the area was again safe for search attempts to continue.

Historic floods have hit northwestern Wyoming this week, with Yellowstone National Park even closing to all visitors until at least Wednesday due to rockslides, road damage and other flood-related issues.

Rain had been falling on the area for several consecutive days, speeding the melt of snow left by a weekend blizzard and boosting river levels to depths not seen for decades.

Daghy was reported missing from Hobart, Indiana, last week. On Thursday afternoon, the Park County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a 2018 red Jeep Wrangler with an Indiana registration being parked near the Sunlight Creek Bridge for a couple of days with no one around.

Investigators determined that the vehicle, which is registered to Daghy, had been in the area since June 5.

Daghy is described as a white man standing 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 130 pounds. He has blue eyes and sandy blonde hair.

According to a social media post by Ashlyn Daghy, Lance Daghy’s daughter, the man has been missing from Hobart since June 2.

“He left with no cell phone, any belongings, or mention of where he was going – this is completely out of his character,” she wrote. “He has no social media. We are unsure if he is still in the area. He is unarmed and not dangerous.”

Ashlyn Daghy declined an interview with Cowboy State Daily on Friday, saying it was not an appropriate time to make a lengthy comment.

“We are just hoping for a safe return at this point,” she said.

It was not known whether the missing man had the appropriate equipment and supplies for a multi-day wilderness excursion.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office reported Daghy has no real backpacking or camping experience and no known ties to the area.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with knowledge about Daghy to call 307-527-8700 or 307-754-8700.

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Missing Indiana Man’s Car Spotted Deserted In Park County

in Missing people/News

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Park County authorities launched a search for a missing Indiana man on Thursday after finding his jeep parked in an area northwest of Cody.

Lance Daghy was reported missing from Hobart, Indiana, earlier this week. On Thursday afternoon, the Park County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a 2018 red Jeep Wrangler with an Indiana registration being parked near the Sunlight Creek Bridge for a couple of days with no one around.

Investigators determined that the vehicle, which is registered to Daghy, had been in the area since Sunday.

Daghy is described as a white man standing 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 130 pounds. He has blue eyes and sandy blonde hair.

According to a social media post by Ashlyn Daghy, Lance Daghy’s daughter, the man has been missing from Hobart since June 2.

“He left with no cell phone, any belongings, or mention of where he was going – this is completely out of his character,” she wrote. “He has no social media. We are unsure if he is still in the area. He is unarmed and not dangerous.”

Ashlyn Daghy declined an interview with Cowboy State Daily on Friday, saying it was not an appropriate time to make a lengthy comment.

“We are just hoping for a safe return at this point,” she said.

Park County Search and Rescue is searching in the area with ground teams to locate Daghy. It was not known whether the missing man had the appropriate equipment and supplies for a multi-day wilderness excursion.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office reported Daghy has no real backpacking or camping experience and no known ties to the area.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with knowledge about Daghy to call 307-527-8700 or 307-754-8700.

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Park County Republican Party Condemns Legislature For Not Investigating Zwonitzer

in News/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Members of the Park County Republican Party earlier this month passed a resolution condemning the Wyoming Legislature for refusing to investigate a Cheyenne representative accused of living outside of his district.

Party members, meeting for their convention on March 12, also called on legislative leaders to resign from their positions because of what the resolution called the Legislature’s disregard of its own rules and state law.

The resolution, was one of eight approved during the Park County GOP convention, did not specify exactly what the Legislature did to earn the party’s admonition.

Bob Ferguson, the party’s vice chair, said the resolution stems from the Legislature’s refusal to investigate allegations that Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, was living outside of the district he was elected to represent.

“We thought that was absolutely ridiculous that they refused to investigate,” Ferguson told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday. “It’s one thing if they investigate, take in all the evidence and decided there was no wrongdoing. But it’s another to refuse to investigate when there are maps and evidence.”

In February, the Wyoming House of Representatives rejected a proposal to form a special committee to investigate the allegations against Zwonitzer.

The resolution also called on House Speaker Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, and Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, to resign from their positions. Following the legislative session that ended earlier this month, Barlow announced his intent to leave the house, but indicated he would still be pursuing a political career.

The resolution received much support from party members, with Ferguson being unable to recall much, if any, opposition to it.

However, this was not the only issue the party had with the Legislature.

Ferguson said that during the special session last October that focused on COVID vaccine mandates, Barlow and Dockstader did everything they could to “thwart” the efforts of the legislators who were fighting these directives.

“It’s really our problem with the Legislature as a whole, not addressing what the citizens of Wyoming want them to address,” Ferguson said.

He added that now the resolution will be forwarded to the Wyoming Republican Party, which will likely take up discussion on it at the state party convention in Sheridan in May.

Ferguson believes that more Wyoming Republican parties will follow suit and condemn their legislature for its actions, or lack thereof.

Dockstader declined to comment for this article. Barlow did not return a request for comment.

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Park County GOP Accuses Sen. R.J. Kost Of Vaccine Mandate ‘Conflict’

in News/Legislature

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By CJ Baker, Powell Tribune

Leaders of the Park County Republican Party contend state Sen. R.J. Kost, R-Powell, has a conflict of interest — his concurrent service on the Powell hospital board — that should have prevented him from voting in October’s special session on vaccine mandates. However, Kost says he’s been assured by counsel that his dual roles do not present a legal problem.

The county party’s central committee voted unanimously this month to send a letter to Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill and Secretary of State Ed Buchanan that accuses Kost of violating state rules and laws related to conflicts of interest. It asks Hill and Buchanan to “investigate this situation and take the most serious action warranted under the authority of the Wyoming Constitution, the Senate rules and Wyoming State Statute, up to and including criminal prosecution.”

“It asks for — if there is criminal liability — that criminal prosecution,” precinct committeeman and letter author Troy Bray of Powell explained at the Dec. 2 meeting.

However, Powell Hospital District attorney Tracy Copenhaver told Kost in a written analysis last month that there is no conflict of interest from serving in the two capacities.

If the Park County Republican Party wants to make a big deal out of the issue, that’s their business, Kost said when the party first drafted the letter in November.

“I did what I needed to do to make sure I was still legal; I was legal,” he said. “From there, so be it.”

Kost has served on the Powell Hospital District Board and the related Powell Valley Healthcare board since 2011. He was reelected to the district board in 2018 — the same year he won a four-year term in the state Senate.

Wyoming law allows people to hold more than one elected office, so long as the entities they represent do not provide funding to each other. In this case, the Legislature does not directly appropriate money to the Powell hospital, Kost said. For instance, any state grants are awarded by the State Loan and Investment Board, which is controlled by the five statewide officials rather than the Legislature.

“There’s nothing that I could do that could influence the amount of money that our hospital would receive,” Kost said. He said the hospital’s attorney, Copenhaver, assured him in 2018 that holding the two positions did not run afoul of the state’s restrictions on holding more than one elected office.

However, the issue was raised amid the recent special session, called in response to the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccination mandates.

Declaring a conflict

Kost drew scrutiny from some local conservatives after proposing an amendment to Senate File 1003, a bill that aimed to prevent businesses and other entities from discriminating on the basis of a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status. Kost took issue with the entire concept, feeling it would pit employers against employees and force businesses to choose between violating state law or federal law.

Looking to get hospitals “out of the middle of that bill,” Kost sought to amend the legislation to allow health care providers like Powell Valley Healthcare to “refuse, withhold from or deny employment opportunities based on a person’s COVID-19 vaccinations status or on whether the person has a COVID-19 immunity passport if necessary to protect the health and safety of patients or of employees who are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19.” It also allowed providers to “exercise reasonable measures imposed through the least restrictive means” based on a person’s vaccination status.

After learning of the amendment, Vince Vanata of Cody, who is the Park County Republican Party’s state committeeman, issued a personal “call to action,” saying Kost might have a conflict of interest because of his role on the hospital board.

After receiving pushback, Kost ultimately withdrew his amendment and recused himself from the vote on SF 1003.

“Due to concerns from certain people, I am going to declare a conflict and not vote on this,” he announced on the Senate floor.

Vanata sent another email saying a “battle” had been won, saying Kost recused himself “because people became aware of his ties to the healthcare industry, and voiced their concerns to him.”

“Moreover, the senator may have realized his positions put him [in] direct conflict with his ability to vote and serve the people of the State of Wyoming,” Vanata wrote.

The letter approved by the Park County Republican Party’s Central Committee this month says Kost’s dual roles created “a substantial Conflict of Interest in matters concerning the vaccine mandates” and that he should have removed himself from voting due to a “significant financial or personal interest.”

The rules of the House and Senate define a “personal or private interest” as being when a lawmaker will receive “a direct personal or financial gain or loss if the measure or bill is enacted.” It must also be “a greater benefit or a lesser detriment” than the general public or another large group of people.

The party’s letter does not say what they believe that Kost stands to personally gain or lose from the vaccination mandates.

“In case somebody didn’t check, you don’t get paid for being on the hospital district and so there’s no financial gain for me in that,” he said.

Although Kost briefly recused himself, he went on to vote on other legislation in the session after being reassured by Copenhaver that he did not have a conflict.

“They said there’s not any problem,” he said, “and so that’s where it ended.”

But the Park County Republican Party is hoping for an investigation into Kost’s actions, with enthusiastic support for the letter approved this month. When Bray finished reading the document, it was met with an “amen” and a round of applause.

The 26 precinct committeemen and women present at the Heart Mountain Clubhouse — representing 30 of the committee’s 78 members — voted unanimously to approve the letter, followed by another round of applause. One of Sen. Kost’s legislative colleagues, state Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, was among the committee members present for the vote.

Bigger battle

Kost has been at odds with more conservative members of the local party for some time, saying at a September panel discussion that they are “looking for somebody to be their puppet, not to think on their own and look for what’s best for Wyoming.”

“I’m not here to fight with them,” he said this month. “I’m just here to keep doing what I think is right for the people.”

While the letter only complains of a conflict of interest, more conservative Republicans in the state have expressed unhappiness that the special session ended without a more forceful push against the Biden administration’s mandates.

Last month, the state party passed a resolution strongly condemning Republican lawmakers who voted against some of the bills, saying they failed to protect the people of Wyoming. The measure was among 11 resolutions passed by the state party — including one saying they would no longer recognize U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney as a Republican and others opposing mask and vaccine mandates and critical race theory.

Vanata said some of the measures incorporated text from Park County Republicans.

“What we are saying and what we are doing here in Park County is making a difference,” he told the body on Dec. 2.

Vanata also discussed a resolution the Laramie County Republican Party brought to November’s state party meeting, which called for action against Bray. The Powell precinct committeeman had sent a profane email to state Sen. Tara Nethercott, R-Cheyenne, in September, which took issue with the way she handled an earlier bill on coerced vaccinations. Bray told Nethercott in part that, “if I were as despicable a person as you, I would kill myself to rid the world of myself” and closed with “F— YOU C—.” 

Speaker of the House Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, and Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, asked the Park County Republican Party and Wyoming Republican Party to join them in calling for Bray to resign his post.

The two GOP organizations did denounce Bray’s language, but the county party declined to discipline him and the state party rejected Laramie County’s proposed resolution. Wyoming GOP leaders modified the resolution to condemn two state lawmakers, Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, and Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, rather than Bray.

“It went beautifully,” Vanata said of that result.

As the meeting came to a close, Park County Republican Party Chairman Martin Kimmet told members to continue to be tenacious.

“They try to wear us down and they try to beat us up, and in Park County we haven’t let that happen,” he said. “We’ve stood up to them, we’ve been strong.”

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Off-Duty Park County Deputy Saves Life Of ATV Driver Trapped Underwater

in News/Good news

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

There’s no such thing as “off-duty” for some Wyoming law enforcement officers.

On Sunday, an off-duty Park County Deputy Sheriff saved the life of a young person who was trapped underwater in a canal by an overturned off-road vehicle.

According to the Park County Sheriff’s Office, the off-duty officer, who was not named, was flagged down shortly after 11 a.m. by someone signaling for help on a county road near Powell. An ATV had crashed into the canal, and two juveniles were involved in the accident – with one still trapped underwater.

The deputy discovered the vehicle in the water with the passenger still seat belted in and trapped with just their mouth and nose above water. He jumped into the canal, went under the UTV to release the seat belt, and got the young person to shore. 

An investigation revealed that the vehicle had been traveling east on the canal road at a “rate of speed too high to safely complete a right-hand turn.” The Sheriff’s office reported that the vehicle entered the canal, collided with the bottom and flipped over its front end, causing it to rest on its top side. The entire cab portion of the UTV was underwater when the deputy arrived. 

The officer was treated on scene by EMS for gasoline in his eyes from the leaking UTV; the juveniles were cold, but uninjured.

“This Deputy’s decision to react quickly and save the juvenile from possibly drowning showed outstanding courage and decisiveness,” stated Undersheriff Andy Varian in a department wide email. “Although he was off duty, his decision to move into action exemplifies the standards of the Sheriff’s Office and the duty to protect citizens in Park County.”

The Deputy’s actions are currently under review for possible commendation by the Park County Sheriff’s Office.

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Woman Rescued By Helicopter After Horse “Ejected” Her Down Park County Canyon

in News/Search and Rescue

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A woman was rescued and airlifted to a hospital in Park County when a horse bucked her off into a steep and rocky canyon.

The woman has been horseback riding with her family on June 23 when she was “ejected” from her horse in a steep and rocky canyon. She appeared to have a closed head injury and a possibly broken pelvis.

The Big Horn County and Park County search and rescue teams, along with Cody Regional Health, assisted with the retrieval of the woman.

Once team reached her, she was treated at the scene Cody Regional Health employees, then she was placed on a wheeled bed and transported out of the canyon.

Due to an area of the trail that was exceedingly rocky and steep the Search and Rescue Teams used a rope belay system to ensure a safe decent.

A rope belay system acts as a brake on the rope by using friction. The tension on the rope helps protect the climbers, and if someone falls, they won’t fall very far.

Once the woman was successfully removed from the canyon, she was transported via helicopter to Billings. No further information on her condition is known at this time.

“The ability for so many agencies to come together and work as one team provides for a much safer environment for everyone,” search and rescue coordinator Bill Brown said.

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Park County Search and Rescue Save Officer From Snowmobile Crash

in News

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Park County’s search and rescue team helped get a U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer to safety on Friday after her snowmobile crashed near Cooke City, Montana.

Members of the team were called into help Friday because other area search and rescue teams were busy saving skiers from an avalanche in the same area.

On Friday afternoon, the Park County Sheriff’s office dispatch center received a report of a snowmobile crash on Lulu Pass, which is north of Cooke City, Montana. The crash involved Forest Service law enforcement officer Katrina Haworth, 40, of Cody, who was in the Absaroka-Bearthtooth Wilderness boundary when the accident occurred.

According to reports from the sheriff’s office, Haworth was snowmobiling northeast of Lulu Pass when she tried to navigate around a large snow cornice.

At some point, Haworth lost control of her snowmobile and rolled an estimated 40 feet down a steep embankment. During the fall, her snowmobile rolled over her right leg, causing what was believed to be a complex fracture below the knee.

At the time, Park County, Montana, search and rescue teams were working to save several skiers caught by an avalanche south of Cooke City near the Wyoming border, so the Park County, Wyoming, search and rescue team was asked to assist with Haworth’s rescue.

The Wyoming search and rescue team deployed two ground groups with snowmobiles and a led rescue vehicle to the area.

At the time of the crash, Haworth riding with a member of the Wyoming’s search and rescue team, who was assisting her with signage. After the accident, he provided aid to Haworth and got her snowmobile back into an upright position.

He then helped her get back on the snowmobile.

Haworth, a former U.S. Marine, was beginning to show signs of exposure, but insisted on riding her snowmobile down the mountain to the highway rather than pull resources from the avalanche rescue.

On the way down the mountain, Haworth and her partner were met by several Forest Service employees who further assisted in her evacuation.

After the group made it to Highway 212, they were met by members of a Montana search and rescue team, which transported Haworth via sled to a waiting ambulance at the Pilot Creek parking area.

She was then taken to Cody Regional Hospital, where her condition is unknown at this time.

Park County, Wyoming, Sheriff Scott Steward praised the inter-agency cooperation which brought the incidents to a safe resolution.

“At the time of the crash, Montana SAR was in the process of evacuating several avalanche victims in Wyoming, assisted by a short haul helicopter team from Teton County SAR,” Steward said. “Then our SAR personnel responded to assist with the evacuation of the snowmobile crash victim in Montana. Three counties, three search and rescue teams all working together resulting in a successful outcome given the severity of the incidents. We are lucky to have such dedicated volunteers.”

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Park County GOP Ratifies Resolution Against Face Mask Order

in News/Coronavirus

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A resolution calling for a public health order requiring the use of face masks in public settings in Park County to be rescinded has been ratified by the county party’s central committee.

Party members, during a meeting Thursday, unanimously ratified the resolution calling the order unconstitutional, according to a news release issued by Vincent Vanata, the party’s secretary.

Dr. Aaron Billin, the county’s health officer, was one of more than a dozen health officers in November to seek orders from the state Department of Health requiring the use of face masks in their counties.

The step was seen as a way to stem the rapid rise in coronavirus cases seen in October and November.

An unofficial copy of the resolution, signed by the party’s executive committee, was delivered to county commissioners in late November. At the time, party Chairman Martin Kimmet said the resolution would not become official until it could be reviewed and voted on by the central committee.

The resolution said county commissioners were not given a chance to review or approve the resolution and asked Billin to rescind the order. If Billin does not rescind the order, then Park County Commissioners should do so, the resolution said.

The resolution criticized Billin for seeking state approval for the order without first approaching elected officials.

“Obviously, this was an end run around our elected officials at the state level, our county commissioners, our mayors and city/town councils,” it said.

As a result, the order is unconstitutional and unacceptable, the resolution said.

“We believe this mandate is unacceptable, outrageous and most importantly unconstitutional in a Constitutional Representative Republic,” it said.

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Park County GOP Says Mask Order is Unconstitutional; Wants it Rescinded

in News/Coronavirus
Cody Stampede Rodeo

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Members of Park County’s Republican Party are studying a resolution calling for the county’s health officer to rescind the mandatory face mask order that took effect last week.

The resolution to be voted on by the county’s central committee during a Dec. 3 meeting alleges the order is unconstitutional because it was put into place without the input of elected officials.

“Obviously, this was an end run around our elected officials at the sate level, our county commissioners and our mayors and city/town council,” the proposed resolution said. “Furthermore, input from the public was never solicited!”

A copy of the proposed resolution has been delivered to Park County commissioners, but Martin Kimmet, chairman of the Park County Republican Party, said it would remain an unofficial document until it could be reviewed and adopted by the party’s central committee.

The document was signed by Kimmet and other members of the party’s executive committee.

Dr. Aaron Billin, Park County’s public health officer, was one of more than a dozen county health officers to seek state approval for public health orders mandating the use of face masks in public settings.

In a posting to the Park County Health Department’s Facebook page, Billin cited studies concluding that the use of face masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing are powerful tools in preventing the spread of the coronavirus as the reasoning behind his order.

However, Billin sought approval for his health order from Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s public health officer, without consulting elected officials, the proposed resolution said.

The resolution said the party is challenging Billin’s authority to issue the order and asks that he rescind it.

“Should he not, we urge our elected Park County Commissioners to nullify this unconstitutional order, in haste, at their earliest opportunity,” the document said.

Commissioners in several counties, including Uinta, Carbon and Washakie, have said mask mandates requested by their county health officials were submitted for state approval before the commissioners were alerted to the orders.

State law does not appear to require county commissioners to approve public health orders and it specifies that county health officers are under the “direction and supervision” of the state Department of Health.

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Park County Sheriff’s Office Saves Man From Shoshone River Drainage

in News/Good news

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Shoshone Plateau SOS Cody – On Friday October 9th, 2020 at 3:41 P.M. the Park County Sheriff’s Office Communications…

Posted by Park County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A man left stranded by a broken leg in a ravine near the Shoshone River was rescued by search and rescue personnel from the Park County Sheriff’s Office last week.

The sheriff’s office said its communications division received an SOS signal Friday from 38-year-old male hunter who had broken his leg.

The hunter was located in the South Fork of the Shoshone River Drainage on the Shoshone Plateau. He slid down a ravine, broke his leg and was unable to climb out, he told authorities.

A number of search and rescue personnel (including Park County Search and Rescue, Guardian Medical Helicopter and Sublette County’s Tip-Top helicopter) were able to reach the hunter and stabilize his injury. They then stayed with him overnight until a helicopter could be flown into the area Saturday morning.

On Saturday, Tip-Top “short-hauled” the hunter out of the area to a waiting Cody Regional Health Ambulance that was staged at the Majo Ranch. The man was then transported to Cody Regional Health.

A short haul rescue involves securing an injured person to a rope affixed to the underside of a helicopter. The rope and an attendant are lowered to extract the injured person using a full-body harness, also called a “screamer suit.”

The person is then transported, attached to the rope, to a more suitable landing zone.

Park County Sheriff Scott Steward expressed his gratitude for the search and rescue personnel.

“Being able to get to the victim and then staying overnight with him is a resource that is invaluable to the residents and visitors of Park County,” he said.

The six rescue members that stayed overnight were able to hike out to a landing zone the next morning after the victim was extracted and all made it home safely.

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COVID Spike Puts Strain On Park County Medical Facilities

in News/Coronavirus

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

In about two weeks, the number of active coronavirus cases in Park County has spiked from 52 to 154. And that surge has put a strain on the services that Cody and Powell medical facilities can offer.

Lab services in both communities have been curtailed to allow staff to keep up with the resulting increases in coronavirus testing demands, according to officials.

Ashley Trudo, public relations director for Cody Regional Health, said as of last week, the services of the Health Check lab, which allows people to get their blood work done without a doctor’s order, have been closed to the public.

“Just due to the demand in testing on our team, and the infection rate, we cannot keep up with what we’ve got going on,” Trudo said.

Cody Regional Health is combining all of its resources at one location — West Park Hospital — to boost the efficiency of its lab techs, Trudo said. However, hospital officials also decided to limit available services only those that are essential.

“If you’re going in to see your provider, and you need labs done, absolutely, we’re going to get your labs for you,” she said.  “But if you’re just going in for yourself, which is very nice to be able to do, we’re not able to provide that at this time.”

Trudo said drive-thru COVID testing – which has been moved from the hospital to Cody’s rodeo grounds – has been a huge benefit to the community, and the lab will continue to offer that service three times a week, with a limit of 50 tests per day, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Jeanine Brus, director of Cody Regional Health’s laboratory, reported that more than 3,500 tests have been performed here since July, with the number of tests coming back positive increasing in the last two weeks to total 1.54%.

At Powell Valley Healthcare, outpatient wellness lab services have been suspended for the last two weeks due to the surge, said Nicole Ostermiller, the chief operating officer for PVH.

Ostermiller said the facility hoped to resume those services later this week.With the increase in cases in Park County, Cody Regional Health has opened a respiratory clinic that’s available to people who suffering from coronavirus symptoms.

“We have double staffed our team during those respiratory times,” Brus said, “so we can see respiratory patients on top of regular walk-in clinic patients.”

Trudo stressed that despite the strain on Cody Regional Health’s services, at this time, the facility is still able to help people who become ill.

“We’re doing our very best to make sure that you get seen in a very timely manner, but please don’t hesitate to come.”

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‘Squaw Teats’ Should Remain On The Map, Park County Commissioners Say

in News/Government

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By CJ Baker, Powell Tribune

A pair of summits in southeastern Park County should continue to be known as “Squaw Teats,” county commissioners say.

On Tuesday, the commission voted unanimously to oppose a proposal that would rename the formation Crow Woman Buttes.

“I do not believe that we need to go around renaming monuments, statues, rivers, mountains” and changing history, Commissioner Lloyd Thiel said before Tuesday’s vote, saying he “strongly” opposed a new name.

A Powell resident, Tyler Kerr, made the suggestion to change the name of Squaw Teats in June.

In a submission to the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, Kerr contended that the current moniker “is derogatory, both to women and to Native Americans.” Crow Woman Buttes, he said, would carry “a similar meaning, but less offensive wording.”

“The proposed name acknowledges the feature’s supposed resemblance to human anatomy, but omits the racially charged (and arguably misogynistic) language of the existing name,” he wrote in the submission.

As for why he picked the Crow tribe, Kerr explained that they were active in the region and that it “would be an easier name to use in conversation than ‘Shoshone Woman,’ ‘Blackfeet Woman,’ etc.”

“The more general ‘Indian Woman’ would be likely to come across as an awkward euphemism for ‘squaw,’ somewhat defeating the purpose of a name change,” he added.

The Board of Geographical Names is now seeking input on Kerr’s proposal from various entities.

In a Wednesday message to the board opposing the change, county commissioners said they feel “the history and heritage of Park County is important and must remain the same today and tomorrow.”

The federal board will also poll federally recognized tribes, the Wyoming Board of Geographic Names and the Bureau of Land Management, as the summits sit on acreage managed by the agency.

Squaw Teats are located in badlands in Park County’s very southeast corner. The peaks are about 15 miles east of Meeteetse as the crow flies, with the taller of the two reaching an elevation of 6,173 feet (the other tops out at 6,110 feet).

The area was originally referred to as “Squaw Buttes” in a 1906 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) publication and other records located by Matt O’Donnell, a contractor for the U.S. Board of Geographic Names. However, in his report on the proposal, O’Donnell indicates that “Squaw Teats” became more common from 1938 on; that’s what the feature has been called on official USGS maps since 1951, he found.

Early Western explorers were apparently not bashful about naming mountains after breasts. For instance, Wyoming’s iconic Tetons draw their name from the French word for “teat” or “nipple.”

There’s also a Squaw Teat Butte in Hot Springs County and a Squaw Teat in Sublette County, according to O’Donnell’s research. Then there’s Katys Nipple, located on the southwestern edge of Bighorn Lake — and Mitchells, Dans and Clara Birds Nipple can be found in other parts of Wyoming, Powell mountaineer Tim Schoessler wrote for the website SummitPost.

In a 2009 writeup about Squaw Teats, Schoessler said the peaks “are steep scrambles,” and offer expansive views of the surrounding badlands and the Absaroka Mountains. But he’s not a fan of the moniker.

“That name has bothered me since I first ran across it, and I would love to see it changed,” Schoessler said Wednesday.

Some similar names have fallen out of favor in more recent years, O’Donnell’s report says. In 2008, Squaw Teat Butte and Squaw Teat Creek in South Dakota became Peaked Butte and East Rattlesnake Creek, respectively, while similar features in Montana became Mil-mil-teh Hill and Choo-heh-meen Hills; the Montana Legislature passed a bill in 1999 that called for the word “squaw” to be removed from all maps, signs and markers.

For their part, though, Park County commissioners want to stick with “Squaw Teats.”

“I don’t necessarily like it, personally,” Commission Chairman Joe Tilden said, “but it’s a part of Park County’s history — and I have no desire to rewrite history.”

During Tuesday’s brief discussion on the subject, Tilden said the commissioners “have never supported any name changes.”

In 2017, the commission voted against a proposal to christen an unnamed peak Mount Grinnell. Then in 2018, commissioners opposed a pending proposal from multiple tribes to change Yellowstone National Park’s Hayden Valley to Buffalo Nations Valley and to change Mount Doane to First Peoples Mountain.

Prior commissioners did agree to rename County Road 6FU in 2004, after some residents objected that, when read aloud, the route name was profane and offensive.

“That just wasn’t verbally proper,” said Park County Clerk Colleen Renner. (Commissioner Lee Livingston, who like his colleagues was not on the commission at the time, offered that, “I had no problem leaving it [the road] as it was.”) The route, which connects the North and South fork areas, is now known as Stagecoach Trail.

Squaw Teats isn’t the only eyebrow-raising name found on local maps.

“Asking for directions in northwestern Wyoming can be downright obscene,” former Powell Tribune News Editor Justin Lessman wrote in 2006. He gave examples like Negrohead Fork, Bitch Creek (a corruption of the French word for “deer” rather than an insult) and, most egregiously, waterways that included the N-word.

Some of the terms, such as “squaw,” were not offensive at the time they were placed on maps, historians told Lessman in 2006, but they confirmed some words had the same meaning as today.

“The first people out here named things what they thought they looked like,” then-Shoshone National Forest District Ranger Dave Myers told the Tribune at the time. “And if sheepherders were involved, it’s a good bet the names somehow involved female anatomy.”

The U.S Board of Geographic Names says its guiding principle is to use the place names used by local residents. However, exceptions can be made “when a name is derogatory or is shown to be offensive to a particular racial or ethnic group, gender, or religious group,” the board’s policies say. “Because geographic names are part of the historical record of the United States, the [board] prefers to proceed cautiously … as attitudes and perceptions of words considered to be offensive can vary among individuals and communities and can change connotation over time.”

There is no timeline for the board to make a decision on whether to name the summits Crow Woman Buttes. For example, the proposed renaming of Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley and Mount Doane have been pending since 2017, as the board continues to await a recommendation from the National Park Service.

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Park County Public Health Officer Warns Coronavirus is Likely in Low-Reporting Counties

in News/Coronavirus

UPDATE FROM THE PARK COUNTY, WYOMING HEALTH OFFICER – As of 8:32 am 210 positive tests of 3928 tests done in 17 Wyoming…

Posted by Aaron Billin on Monday, April 6, 2020

Park County Health Officer Aaron Billin warned citizens on Monday that coronavirus has spread further than might be indicated by the county’s low number of infections.

Citing a University of Texas at Austin study, Billin said citizens should expect higher cases than what is reported.

Thus far, only one COVID-19 case has been confirmed in Park County. That individual has now recovered.

“These numbers do not mean that we don’t have COVID-19 in Park County,” Billin said. “The study authors estimated that for every diagnosed case, there were 10 cases undiagnosed. Aggressive social distancing is as important as ever.”

The study, entitled “Probability of Current COVID-19 Outbreaks in All US Counties” said the virus is spreading undetected because of the “high proportion of asymptomatic and mild infections and limited laboratory testing capacity.”

“If a county has detected only one case of COVID-19, there is a 51% chance that there is already a growing outbreak underway,” the study reads.

“For counties that have not yet reported a confirmed case, the chance that there is an undetected outbreak underway is 9%. A single detected case of COVID-19 increases that risk to 51%.”

The authors of the study said they put the analysis together to help lawmakers.

“Public health officials are making grave decisions amidst overwhelming uncertainty, and are often waiting for compelling evidence of local transmission prior to issuing social distancing orders,” they said.

As of Monday afternoon, there were five counties in Wyoming where the virus has not been detected: Hot Springs, Big Horn, Platte, Niobrara, and Weston.

Park County: More Testing Could Save Lives And The Economy

in Column

By Kevin Killough, Powell Tribune (column)

To control the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Park County has shut down non-essential businesses, which include dine-in restaurants, gyms, barbershops, and gift shops. The restrictions were initially to be in effect until April 3, but some public health officials are hinting at more extensive closures for longer periods of time.

Almost all these businesses have one thing in common. They’re small businesses, which nationally provide nearly half of all private-sector employment. These businesses may weather a two-week hit to their finances, but add more weeks to that, and the loss of revenue will likely be a death blow for many of them.

While doctors and public health officials are correct when they say complacency with the virus is incredibly unwise, the “shelter in place” response is not without an enormous and lasting cost that will be felt long after this virus is under control. 

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment in the past week. This is a staggering figure. The most initial claims the department ever recorded in a single week since it began tracking the metric in 1967 was 695,000 — a record set in October 1982. While it is a single metric, it signals an enormously painful economic collapse ahead of the nation and Powell. 

If a local restaurant goes bankrupt, it won’t come back — and another will not likely come to take its place anytime soon. It takes a lot of capital and a long time for a small business to establish and become profitable. Anyone who has worked in economic development will tell you how incredibly difficult business recruitment is, and fewer local amenities as a result of business failures will grow that difficulty exponentially.

There’s a ripple effect when businesses fail, especially in smaller communities that have less flexible economies than large cities. With a small labor pool and small pool of consumers, few in Powell will be untouched by these negative impacts. When a business closes, it takes jobs with it. Those are people who are no longer shopping in stores, getting their haircut, or buying gym memberships.

I rent an apartment from a nice woman whose retirement depends on her rentals. While the Powell Tribune isn’t among the businesses being ordered to close, it’s facing financial stress due to these closures. Should my employer need to lay me off, I will need to leave Powell to find work. My landlord will lose an important piece of her retirement, and that will likely impact other businesses in the area long after I’m gone. Every lost job threatens many more jobs in the community.

Businesses that depend on skilled labor, like our Powell Tribune, will find it especially hard to bounce back when the restrictions are lifted. In a small labor pool, recruitment for higher skilled positions requires a nationwide search. Recruiting employees to a town with fewer restaurants and places to shop becomes even harder.

With that economic decline comes an overall degradation to the quality of life. Rising unemployment will bring increases in suicides, domestic abuse, drug and alcohol abuse and child hunger, among a host of other problems. As we try to flatten a coronavirus curve, we exponentially increase other demand curves that will exhaust mental health, addiction treatment, and law enforcement resources.

Park County Health Officer: “No Hospital Visits is Encouraging Sign”

in News/Coronavirus

UPDATE FROM THE PARK COUNTY WY HEALTH OFFICER – Tonight there are 29 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wyoming and 1 case…

Posted by Aaron Billin on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Public Health Officer for Park County on Tuesday offered up some good news.

Aaron Billin, Public Health Officer for Park County, said that Park County is the only infected county in the state to go seven days without the first case turning into a “cluster.”

Park County has one confirmed case of COVID-19, as of Tuesday morning, and that individual is quarantined at home — another good sign according to Billin.

“The fact that we have no confirmed cases sick enough to be in the hospital is encouraging,” he wrote.

Billin’s optimism was tempered, however. He said inadequate testing doesn’t present a full picture.

“This doesn’t mean we don’t have other unidentified cases in the County,” he said. “We believe we do, we just haven’t diagnosed them yet. We wish testing was not as limited as it is. The Wyoming Department of Health is working on this.”

Park County Joins Laramie, Teton In Closing Businesses

in News/Coronavirus

Park County on Thursday became the third county in the state to order the closure of businesses likely to attract more than 10 people.

The county joined Teton and Laramie in closing bars, theaters, museums and fitness clubs in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“It has been determined that a method to control the community spread of the coronavirus is to limit large gatherings of people,” said the order issued by Dr. Aaron Billin, Park County’s public health officer. 

“This order may reduce the likelihood that individuals that may have been exposed to the COVID-19 will spread the virus to others.”

In all three counties, restaurants were allowed to remain open, but only for curbside takeout or drive-through service.

The Park County order said the businesses that remain open should make an attempt to keep customers separated from each other and from employees by at least six feet.

The Park County order also closed child care centers.

Wyoming Tourism: Travel Back In Time Through The Ghost Town Of Kirwin

in News/Travel/Tourism

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Hop back in time to the era of stage coaches and mining camps through a visit to the abandoned mining town of Kirwin, Wyoming.

In the 19th century the bustling mining town of Kirwin, Wyoming featured a general store, mining office, and sawmill.

After an avalanche hit the town, killing three people and destroying property, the town slowly died out.

Visitors can make the trek to Kirwin, tucked high up in the Absaroka Mountains outside of Meeteetse, Wyoming, with the help of a good four-wheel drive vehicle.

The beauty of the area draws visitors each year.

Prior to her disappearance, famed aviator Amelia Earhart and her husband were captivated by the natural beauty of Kirwin and its surroundings. The couple began building a cabin just a mile from Kirwin but the project was never completed.

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