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Wyoming residents continue to help neighbors through outbreak


April 9, 2020

From free ice cream and sack lunches to parades and scavenger hunts, Wyoming residents made the best of their self-isolation in the last week by helping others.

Here are just a few stories from around the state:

Cheyenne realtor spreads smiles with free ice cream

CHEYENNE – With the circumstances surrounding coronavirus in Wyoming, local Realtor Asha Bean wanted to do something to help spark joy in the community.

Even in the midst of everything that’s going on, “Everybody loves ice cream,” Bean said.

With the help of her employer, Century 21 Bell Real Estate, and National Property Inspections, and with the Ice Cream Island truck, Bean orchestrated free ice cream for five neighborhoods in the Cheyenne area.

“We’ve spread so many smiles, and it’s just awesome to see how happy it made people yesterday,” Bean said.

On March 30, the truck hit the Saddle Ridge and Buffalo Ridge neighborhoods, handing out around 300 sweet treats. The Monterey Heights area, West Winds and Big Country Estates were all on the list for free ice cream Tuesday.

“It started off just being for kids, just trying to put smiles back on kids’ faces, since everything is so confusing for them right now,” Bean said. “Then it just kind of turned into free ice cream for everybody.” — Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Restaurant owners make sack lunches for truck drivers

TORRINGTON – Driving a semi-truck, hauling everything from live cattle to machine parts to paper products from one end of the country to the other, is arguably one of the most solitary pursuits.

Even though they work alone, behind the wheel for hours a day, truck drivers still require personal contact – from places to park and rest their weary bones to cafes and truck stops to refuel their vehicles and their bodies. But, with the current nationwide shutdown of most of the places they rely on, truckers are facing challenges even finding a bite to eat.

Jim McKenzie and his wife, Jody, of Torrington decided to do something about that. The owners of Cowboy Up Coffee on West C Street and the Cowboy Up Café, housed in the Torrington Livestock Auction building, reached out March 28 from the parking lot of the Wyoming Port of Entry facility on U.S. Hwy. 26/85 west of town.

“We wanted to thank all these hard-working truckers,” Jim said.

Jim’s idea was simple – they own a restaurant, one of many closed now by government edict and truckers need a square meal.

It seemed almost a match made in the stars.

“I was having a beer on the couch the other night,” Jim said. “I just said to myself, ‘Let’s feed those truckers out there.’”

So, Saturday morning, that’s just what they did. Jim and Jody, assisted by family friends Evan and Michelle Brooks, opened the Cowboy Café kitchen and started making sack lunches. By shortly after 10 a.m., the quartet had produced about 80 club sandwiches, adding chips and a snack for later.

They loaded everything into their vehicles, grabbed a few cases of bottled water, and headed out to do their good deed.

The group handed out about a dozen meals in the first 45 minutes – each in its own separate brown paper sack with the words “Thank You” written on the front.

To a person, each of the truck drivers who was surprised by a kind face and food as they pulled onto the Port of Entry scales broke into smiles, thanking Jody and Michelle as they reached up to deliver their tasty gifts.— Torrington Telegram

Powell residents make masks, gowns for doctors and nurses

POWELL — Paper products, cleaning materials and some food items have been in short supply in the Powell area amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but at Cut & Sew Fabrics, there’s been a recent run on a different material.

“The elastic is like the toilet paper,” Cut & Sew owner Donna Reile said Tuesday, with a laugh.

However, unlike the national toilet paper shortage, her store’s dwindling supply of elastic isn’t due to selfish hoarding, but rather from people looking to help others.

Reile said elastic — along with fabric — is being bought up by a large number of local residents who are crafting surgical masks and gowns for the doctors and nurses battling the new coronavirus. Those kinds of personal protective equipment (PPE) have been in high demand across the country.

Ginger Morrow is among the Powell area residents now stitching together masks. On Tuesday, Morrow was finishing up her first batch of 20 cloth masks — and she purchased enough materials at Cut & Sew for roughly 40-60 more. She also plans to make isolation gowns for medical personnel and patients.

Morrow got involved after learning the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper was asking seamstresses to make PPE.

“I saw that and I said, ‘Hey, I can do that,’” Morrow said.

She explained that creating one of the homemade surgical masks involves cutting out a square piece of fabric, folding it in half, finishing the edges, putting in pleats, then attaching a ribbon or piece of elastic so the mask can be worn and tightened.

“It’s actually a fairly simple process,” said Morrow, who has years of sewing experience performing alterations. “It just takes a little bit of time.” —Powell Tribune

McMurry Companies donates $25,000 for coronavirus battle

CASPER — McMurry Companies, which oversees 45 different corporations, on Thursday announced the donation of $25,000 to five nonprofits in Casper on the front lines of dealing with ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Timm Smith, president and CEO of McMurry Companies since July, said the nonprofits chosen by the management group are United Way of Natrona County, Natrona County Meals on Wheels, Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies, Wyoming Rescue Mission and the Wyoming Medical Center Foundation.

“Management thought it was the right thing to do at this time,” Smith said Thursday. “I do want to say that we didn’t do it to get publicity, but we do want to try to encourage other businesses and foundations to step up and really help some of the nonprofits right now.”

In choosing which nonprofits to help, Smith said management went through and talked about the needs they thought might be important right now.

While five received money Thursday, the amounts differed.

United Way of Natrona County, which last week started the Natrona County COVID-19 Community Relief Fund, received $10,000. The fund started with $10,000 seed money from Jonah Bank.

Natrona County Meals on Wheels and Wyoming Medical Center Foundation each received $5,000, while Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies, which is hosting a series of mobile food pantries through the state in April, and Wyoming Rescue Mission each received $2,500. — Casper Star-Tribune

Scavenger hunt keeps Lingle youth occupied

LINGLE – A woman has created a scavenger hunt around the town of Lingle during the COVID-19 influence of social-distancing.

The town-wide scavenger hunt is open to all residents and students of Lingle schools to give kids a chance to have some fun while spending time with their families.

Families who are not a member of the Lingle community or school are welcome to participate in the hunt but are ineligible to win prizes.

“It gives me something to do also,” the organizer, who has asked to remain anonymous, said. “I think it’s important to be involved with your children and do different activities with them and this gets you out talking to them and looking for different things.”

The activities are done just by driving around because all sponsor houses are easily seen from the streets, but if people are wanting to walk around to do it, take precautions.

“Our sponsors would only put stuff in their windows. I have prize sponsors also, which can be a business or individuals.”

New and changing information and the weekly scavenger hunt list can be found on Facebook by searching for “Lingle Scavenger.” New messages will be checked several times daily.

The event will continue throughout the same timeframe of the recommended social distancing. — Lingle Guide

Cody golf course opens for free rounds

CODY — Olive Glenn Golf Course has struggled the last few seasons, but the course’s new golf professional Matt Gibbens has a drive to restore it to its former glory.

Gibbens and the Olive Glenn board’s first initiative was opening the course free to the public April 3. It’s a marketing move that may have paid off.

“We thought it would be a good way to get back on track,” Gibbens said. “Create a little stir in the local community.”

A “tremendous” turnout of around 200 golfers visited the course over the weekend, Gibbens said, numbers that haven’t been seen at the course since the middle of last summer. On Sunday, the course had two hours of back-to-back tee times booked.

Gibbens said a major inspiration for the free opening was to encourage people to get outside and exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We thought it would be in the best interest for the public,” he said. “Everyone has been all cooped up and getting cabin fever from the long winter here in Wyoming.”

On March 19, Park County Public Health put out a health order that prohibited golf clubs from operating. Gibbens said he was able to work with the department to find a solution that was equitable to the public as a whole, emphasizing social distancing on the course, and closing the bathrooms, ball washers, pro shop and clubhouse to all customers.

Club staff still made tee times and even ran a curbside food and beverage cart with premade items, and had porta-potties on site. — Cody Enterprise

Rawlins restaurants team up to reward customers

RAWLINS – In the spirit of giving back, more than a handful of local restaurateurs have recently flipped “business as usual” on the back burner.

Forming the Rawlins Restaurant Group, this coalition of bartenders, chefs, servers and owners have set out to provide cash giveaways to the public.

According to Buck’s Sports Grill owner Shawn Dahl, who helped spearhead the effort, not only is the joint promotion a way to say thank you to loyal customers, it’s a way for area businesses to stay afloat amid the spread of COVID-19.

So in comes the cash giveaway – a way for businesses to get creative and combat an impending economic downturn.

It’s simple.

Each week, a customer who orders from three of the eight participating restaurants is eligible to receive a $100 cash prize, donated by the Bank of Commerce. Customers picking up curbside food and drink orders fill out a card with their information, which is then marked and recorded by the catering restaurant.

Every Wednesday around 10 a.m., members of the RRG, as well as various community leaders and other business owners meet at Depot Park, where they hold a raffle.

Dahl said, so far, he’s seen an outpouring of community support. Every day patrons pull up curbside to enjoy specials on drinks and burgers. More importantly, Dahl said, customers sometimes make personal donations to help with the effort.

“I think (coronavirus) made us realize that the group of people out there that are supporting us and our town… how much they actually do support us,” he said. — Rawlins Times

Man plans 24-hour run to raise money for coronavirus battle

CASPER — Distance runs in the open Wyoming air have always helped Justin Kinner clear his head. He’s said that long runs have served as his “idea factory.”

A recent run spawned his upcoming fundraising idea: a 24-hour run to support those working the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.

On Saturday he established a GoFundMe page for his “Casper Frontline 24-Hour Run.” He surpassed $1,000 in the fundraiser’s first day, and on Monday he announced a partnership with Cory Poulos of Occasions by Cory to support Feed The Front Line, a donation-based cause that feeds hospital workers and first responders. It’s a cause close to Kinner’s heart, as two of his sisters work in the medical field — including one who serves as a nurse at Wyoming Medical Center.

Kinner’s plan, as he’s kept a watchful eye on the weather, is to start running at 7:30 a.m. Friday and go through 7:30 a.m. Saturday. He’s planning on making his route a 10-mile loop that runs through his neighborhood with a makeshift medical tent in his front yard. He won’t determine his exact course until later in the week.

This feat isn’t novel to the outdoorsy hobbyist, who has run ultra-marathons that last more than 24 hours. He stated in his campaign description that he hopes the run encourages people to exercise outdoors and to safely follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s social distancing guidelines.

His $7,500 goal on the GoFundMe page is an arbitrary number.

“Just a blind throw of a dart at the dart board,” he said. — Casper Star-Tribune

Evanston theater opens for curbside concession service

EVANSTON — The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we do things, at least in the short term, with residents encouraged (and in some states, required) to stay home unless absolutely necessary. With non-essential businesses like movie houses shuttered and folks turning to streaming services and other stay-at-home options for their entertainment, Aspen Cinemas in Evanston is offering movie buffs a treat.

April 4 marked the rollout of Aspen Cinema’s curbside pickup, giving those in need of a popcorn an opportunity to swing by and grab their favorite snacks. If microwave popcorn just isn’t cutting it any longer, popcorn aficionados can finally rejoice: You can pull right up to the curb, order snacks and pay for it all, without ever leaving your vehicle.

Just about everything on the menu board was available for purchase on Saturday — from popcorn and candy to hot food combos and meals.

“The first night went really well — we had a lot of support,” said Emily Huggins, who owns Aspen Cinemas with her husband David. “We even got a cute little thank you note from one of the kids. It was fun to see just the families and kids excited to get their favorite things. It was fun.”

Huggins said she and her staff began brainstorming the idea of curbside popcorn sales after Aspen Cinemas was forced to shut down in mid-March, a casualty of the state’s proactive approach at slowing the spread of COVID-19. — Uinta County Herald


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