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Bill Sniffin: I Drive Truck – Truckers Complain About Interstate 80 In Winter And Discuss Options

in Column/Bill Sniffin

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher emeritus

“My name is Bill Kardell. I drive truck.”

My new neighbor Bill reached out a giant hand as he introduced himself. The way he said “I drive truck” might have sounded odd to me back there in 1970, but I have heard it dozens of times since.

It was always odd to me that the guys telling me this did not say “I drive A truck.” It was simply “I drive truck.” 

Bill was a big guy, over 300 pounds, and drove those really big rigs down the highway.  He was a long-haul trucker and would sometimes be gone for a week at a time. He was a good neighbor and an all-around fine fellow. 

I was thinking of Bill recently with all the discussion of trucks and truck drivers both in this country and in Canada. 

He would have enjoyed the conversation that erupted on Facebook concerning my recent column about building an alternative Interstate 80 along U.S. Highway 30 through Medicine Bow and Bosler. 

On Facebook, that column generated 2,100 likes, 761 comments and 602 shares.

No doubt my column was shared far and wide, when you looked into where all these folks who commented were from. 

Here are a few of the comments:

Helena Linn wrote: My father, Philip Marincic was a State Highway Commissioner at the time Interstate 80 was built. He and the others commissioners tried to get it built on the US30 route. They were ignored so now everyone knows why they and the engineers knew what they were talking about.

Cody Fransen: “It’s always funny to see the tourists and travelers reaction when they realize they are stuck in Laramie or Rawlins or any of the other towns along 80. I when I worked at Flying J, I would always suggest that they budget an extra $300 at least when traveling through Wyoming in winter.”

Fransen also writes about the wrecks, “It’s NOT THE ROAD’S FAULT! Never had wrecks like this before! Before you had all these inexperienced drivers out here! We all had CB radios and drove a lot slower! Fix the drivers not the road.”

Randall Wiegel:  In Illinois it’s called I-88. You don’t have to get too much further west of Cedar Rapids in Iowa and US30 is four lanes. US20 also looks like an Interstate highway — 4 lanes, concrete.” He drives a semi for C. R. England. 

Nick Hancock who drives for UPS writes: “Take I-90, I-70, or I-40 when the weather is bad. They really don’t add a lot of time or miles really.”

Hancock says he has been doing truck driving a long time. “Yes 17 years of sleeper team runs. KC to Portland, Richmond, and LA mostly. We take 90 to Portland a lot and it adds 185 miles and is three hours  longer. We take 40 to Richmond and it adds 168 miles and three hours longer. We only take Interstate 70 if it’s not snowing, but Colorado does a much better job clearing the snow — just hate the slow mountain passes.

Mike Schmid of LaBarge wrote: “It (Interstate 80) should have followed US30 originally, but that idea was nixed. I-80 has been on this route since it was built. The problem is more about the 8-week wonders they put behind the wheel of these big rigs. Plus, there are probably more trucks. Maybe a more economical fix would be add another lane or two. It’s that ‘want’ attitude. We ‘want’ a pretty route rather than a safe and economical route. So here we are, decisions based on want rather than need are rarely the best decisions.”

One of those Facebook comments was Dan Hudson who wrote: “Well, let’s see. Just because the buffalo went where US30 is, because it was more out of the wind and snow, and the Indians went there on their trek to the Saratoga gateway because it was more out of the wind and snow, and the Union Pacific went there, uh . . .” 

Getting back to my big neighbor Bill Kardell. He and I had a sad ending. His wife Faye called me in the middle of the night and she said he had had a heart attack and could I come over quickly? I did and there was Bill, lying there sort of bloated, his face was blue, and he was not breathing. 

I rolled him over and tried to do CPR while Faye called the ambulance. I could not revive him. He was gone. He was just 37 years old.

Damn, that memory is from 52 years ago, but it seems like it happened just the other day. Safe travels, Big Bill, wherever you are. 

Godspeed to him and all the truckers driving these lonely highways. 

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Bill Sniffin Named Publisher of Cowboy State Daily

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Long-time Wyoming journalist Bill Sniffin was named publisher of Cowboy State Daily at a board meeting on January 6.  He succeeds the site’s founder, Annaliese Wiederspahn.

Sniffin, in his 50th year as a journalist and publisher in Wyoming, joined Cowboy State Daily in mid-2019. He and his wife Nancy live in Lander and owned newspapers there for 30 years.  

Over the course of his career, Sniffin was involved in the ownership of more than 20 

newspapers, magazines, print shops, ad agencies, internet companies, and book companies.

In recent years, he is best-known for publishing the most successful coffee table book trilogy in Wyoming’s history with more than 34,000 books sold. His weekly column is also published in more than 20 Wyoming newspapers and digital sites in the state.

“I welcome this challenge,” Sniffin said. “Annaliese has done an outstanding job of turning her dream into a reality. Cowboy State Daily has done a fantastic job up to now in covering stories around the state.” 

“Above all, the Cowboy State Daily is pro-Wyoming. Our stories will continue to reflect that,” he said.

Wiederspahn launched the statewide digital news site in the fall of 2018 and launched in January with full video coverage of the 2019 legislative session. 

Startup funding for Cowboy State Daily was provided by philanthropist and former gubernatorial candidate Foster Friess.  Friess felt Wyoming needed a “pro-Wyoming” statewide news source and joined up with Wiederspahn to launch the site. Friess has not played an active day-to-day role in the operation.

The news site has produced over 700 original news stories and more than 250 video news stories since inception. The publication reaches more than 100,000 Wyoming people each month.

As a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, the Cowboy State Daily is donor supported and Wyoming funded.

Looking ahead, Sniffin said he was focusing his efforts on advertising and acquiring sponsors.

“Foster Friess has been like a Johnny Appleseed in helping to get worthy projects like this one up and running,” he said. “But going forward, it will be up to us to generate our own income to keep the site viable.”

Cowboy State Daily will again be covering the legislative session, which begins in February.  Sniffin also says he plans to add an editorial section to the site and will be seeking additional columnists and guest editorials.

“There is a place for a comprehensive statewide digital news site like Cowboy State Daily in the lives of Wyoming people,” Sniffin says. “We just have to make sure we are providing readers and viewers with the type of news they want to see in fulfilling the needs of their daily lives.”

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