2022: Year in Review

Andrew Towne/Torrington Telegram File Photo A winter storm is forecast to move through the area Wednesday and Thursday, bringing 4-8 inches of snow and wind chills dropping to -20 to -30.

A collection of Telegram news briefs from January through June

JANUARY

Snow and cold to move in Wednesday

TORRINGTON (Jan. 5) – The National Weather Service in Cheyenne is forecasting a shot of snow and extremely cold air for Torrington and all of Goshen County Wednesday into Thursday.

A winter storm watch is in effect from Wednesday morning, beginning at 8 a.m., through Thursday morning.

After dealing with high winds all day Tuesday, Cheyenne meteorologist Tim Trudel said an arctic front will pass over the area Wednesday morning, quickly dropping temperatures and accumulating snowfall.

“Those wind will die off (Tuesday evening), and by the time you enter (Wednesday) morning, you’ll start seeing evidence of the cold air pushing in,” Trudel said. “It will be one of those cases where the temperatures (Tuesday night) will be warmer than they will be after sunrise.”

Temperatures are expected to drop into the teens quickly Wednesday morning between 7 a.m. and noon. Then drop into the single digits in the afternoon, Trudel explained.

“As that happens, snow will develop from West to East in the morning,” he added. “My guess is 5-9 a.m. It might be moderate to heavy at times through the day into (Wednesday) evening.”

Winds will be gusty out of the north as the front moves through before dying off in the evening hours.

“We aren’t looking at a blowing snow threat,” Trudel said. “It will be more like a drifting snow initially along the area roadways.”

The Cheyenne National Weather Service office is forecasting 4-8 inches for Goshen County.

Behind the snow, the arctic front will escort in extremely cold air. Forecasted lows for the area Wednesday evening into Thursday are expected to drop between -10 to -15 with wind chills in the -20 to -30 range.

“In this type of pattern, it’s best to have, what I like to call my arctic gear, my heavy jackets, heavy gloves, hats that cover most of the face, head and ears if you are going to be out for prolonged periods of time,” Trudel said.

WyoHelp hosts comedy show

TORRINGTON (Jan. 26) – WYO Help hosted a comedy show and auction on Saturday in the Eastern Wyoming College auditorium to raise funds for several projects to combat poverty. 

The night began with guests bidding on various items from gift cards to a custom rocking lawn chair. 

As the auction ended, guests filed into the auditorium for the WYO LAFFS show featuring “Poor Don” Haines and the hunting comedian Daren Bulow. Before the show began, WYO Help Executive Director Kyle Borger thanked everyone for coming and explained what it means to be a community action agency.  

“It’s essentially a non-profit that works on behalf of its community,” Borger said. “The things that we do are based on the things you tell us we should be doing. 

Borger said the main goal is to not only help people in poverty but also to break the cycle and stay above the poverty line. 

Since poverty is such broad topic, WYO Help’s support ranges from induvial help such as assistance to purchase educational materials for school to more community-based projects such as the food pantry of the new youth alternatives program. 

The show started with Haines who appealed to the audience with stories about his life with three kids and gave examples of why he goes by “Poor Don” such as getting cancer on his 41st birthday and getting dumped at the prom. 

Haines also featured plenty of jokes about his multitude of tattoos and how he often gets negative comments about them. 

After a few dad jokes, Haines ended his routine by removing his shirt to show all of his tattoos and “dad bod” then left the audience with a dance.

February

Another year, another Pinewood Derby

TORRINGTON (Feb. 2) – Cub Scout Troop 26 was off to the races at its annual Pinewood Derby on Jan. 29, where boys and girls raced the cars they worked so hard to build.

The cars came in all shapes, colors and themes. From a Pikachu-themed car to Mario-inspired, from the Golden Snitch from Harry Potter (which came in first place overall) to little Lego men glued on top, the kids showed their creativity and imaginations are just as unique as they are.

The kids raced their cars to see whose was the fastest in each den—or age group—and then raced to see whose was fastest overall. The top three overall winners will have the chance to race their cars in an upcoming district competition. Scouts from Gering came to help operate the track and set the cars at the beginning of each heat. As judges tallied final scores, kids enjoyed chili dogs and juice, eagerly anticipating the results of the race.

“It’s just the getting together and seeing everybody having fun,” Cubmaster Billy Norton said. “I really love watching the kids grow and watching them change from how they behave and what they learn.”

Troop 26 meets every Monday at 6:15 p.m. at the First Wyoming United Presbyterian Church on Main Street. Meetings are open to anyone from age five to ten and their parents who might be interested in joining. Since 2017, girls are also allowed to join cub scouts.

“It’s no longer just a boys’ thing,” Norton said. “Everybody gets to join.”

Since its inception in 1953, millions of Cub Scouts have participated in the Pinewood Derby. According to the Pinewood Derby website, participants have built nearly 100 million cars since the beginning. Cubmaster Donald Murphy started the race as a way to foster father-son relationships as well as provide a way for kids to express their creativity and sportsmanship.

Wagginí Tails newest addition

TORRINGTON (Feb. 16) – After months of hard work and investments, the new cattery at Waggin’ Tails Animal Shelter is finally open.

The building doubles as a housing unit and quarantine space for incoming feral cats. With completely separate ventilation and air conditioning and heating, any diseases incoming cats might carry are less likely to spread throughout the facility. The cages are also specially designed to limit the amount of time volunteers need to be in close contact with the cats as they give them food, water and other necessities.

“This expansion is a critical resource for us to safely and humanely manage the feral cat population in our community,” a Torrington Police Department Facebook post on the project reads.”

For years, Torrington and other Goshen County residents have called asking for something to be done about the feral cats roaming their neighborhoods. These cats have become a nuisance for the people who have to deal with their spraying and feces near their homes. The Torrington City Council approved the new cattery in May 2021, granting $75,000 of city funds for the project.

The cats taken in are spayed or neutered and vaccinated before becoming available for adoption as barn cats. Volunteers do their best to socialize young kittens to put them up for adoption as house cats.

Animal Control Officer Teri Shinost has put in hours of her own time to see this project through to completion. She is also the only full-time employee at the shelter. All the others are volunteers.

Shinost has overseen the entire project and done much of the work herself. Through donated supplies and labor along with Shinost’s “thrifty spending,” the project has come together.

March

Boy Scouts celebrate with Blue and Gold Banquet

TORRINGTON (March 2) – With balloons, sloppy joes and paper airplanes, Cub Scout Troop 26 celebrated the Blue and Gold Banquet on Saturday, Feb. 26.

The kids, their families and their leaders gathered together

The Blue and Gold Banquet is an annual Cub Scout tradition to celebrate the anniversary of the organization. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded on Feb. 8, 1910, making this year the 112th Blue and Gold Banquet.

The scouts kicked off the banquet with the flag ceremony, carrying the American flag and the pack flag with respect to the front of the room. The caller (a sixth-grade scout) led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Scout Law and Oath.

The kids ran through a practice ceremony before the real thing, taking direction from leaders on holding hands at their sides instead of in their pockets and keeping the flag off the ground, all signs of the kids’ determination to perfect the ceremony.

Before presenting any awards or achievements, leaders led the kids in building paper airplanes and lifting a small wooden house off the ground using balloons. Although the house struggled to lift off the ground — at least until they pulled out the leaf blower — the kids’ paper airplanes flew across the room, all aimed for hitting Webelos Leader Howard Sinclair on the other side.

In recent years, BSA has changed its rules to allow young girls meeting all other requirements to join their local troops. Troop 26 in Torrington has seen several young girls eagerly sign up to join, so much so that troop leaders hope to be able to form an all-girls troop soon. Troop leaders presented the bobcat badge to three girls at Saturday’s banquet.

Leaders presented other scouts with the belt loops and achievements they had earned. They also presented each other with certificates, recognizing each other’s work in leading the kids’ scouting efforts.

Mobile pet grooming opens in Torrington

TORRINGTON (March 30) – Community members congregated in the parking lot of J&B Liquor on Friday to celebrate the opening of Bubbles and Biscuits Mobile Grooming and to also schedule appointments for their pets. 

For Shyanne Peterson, she came up with the idea because her daughter had issues trying to find availability for local groomers to book reasonable times for her dog as she competed in 4-H competitions. 

“We tried from Wheatland to Gering to Scottsbluff… and couldn’t get her in until December. from June until December that’s a long time,” Peterson said.

She decided to do the grooming herself, and after seeing someone else doing a mobile pet grooming service Peterson decided to get her certificate online to be able to groom other people’s dogs as well. 

After Peterson got her trailer, her and her boyfriend learned about all the things needed to transform an empty trailer into a fully functional pet grooming facility on wheels. 

“At times it was stressful but at times it was so much fun because I love hands on stuff, so I love learning that kind of stuff,” Peterson said. 

With four dogs of her own, Peterson said she has had plenty of practice and added grooming dogs is a calming activity for her. 

The focus of the mobile pet grooming service is to allow people in the community to get their pet pets groomed without having to book appointments months in advance. Peterson said she will be open Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will go to most homes in about a five-mile radius of Torrington which includes some dirt roads if her trailer allows it. 

Peterson also said the first few times she meets a dog the owner will need to be present, but she is open to doing appointments with just the pet in the future.  

Peterson said opening the mobile service is a way she is able to help in an area which is much needed in the community. 

“I love to help people,” Peterson said. “I know that it’s hard to get pets in and pets are our companions and they’re our babies and it’s hard when you can’t take care of them so if I can help people help their loved ones then it makes me feel good too.”

April

FFA events hosted in Torrington

TORRINGTON (April 1) – The Goshen County School District Central Office was host to the Future Farmers of America (FFA) state conduct of chapter meetings semi-finals and speech state qualifiers on Tuesday. 

The first half of the day featured 10 FFA chapters consisting of seven students each for the conduct of chapter meetings competition. The chapters featured a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, advisor, reporter and sentinel. 

The teams were divided into rooms based on their positions and took a test before reconvening for team presentations. 

For the meeting presentations, there were two groups of five teams each which were determined by the teams’ overall test scores. 

The meetings consisted of a one-minute prep time for the team to go over the meeting prompt and then were given 13 minutes to conduct a meeting featuring an action item regarding whether or not to organize a school blood draw. Any second over the time allotted resulted in a points deduction. 

The meetings were conducted in front of five judges who kept score and one who judged based on the accuracy of each member on stating their role on the board. Each member was required to make a specific motion as guided by the prompt and to provide discussion on the topic. 

After each meeting concluded, each member was asked a question by the judges pertaining to the conduct and rules of meetings. 

The six teams to qualify for the finals from the two groups were Torrington/Lingle, Thermopolis, Snowy Range, Casper, High Plains and Paintrock. 

After the lunch break, the speech qualifiers for state began with the scripted speeches. Five students picked topics related to agriculture from fake news about agriculture to US land ownership by international companies and then had five minutes to respond to questions from the five judges. Alie Van Why from Chugwater FFA’s speech on the importance of clothing material won her a spot in the next round along with Larkin Williams from Lusk who spoke about strategies to limit food supplementation for cattle.

The second speech competition was extemporaneous as six students gave shorter unscripted speeches while also answering questions after. 

Tess Palen from Glendo earned a spot in the next round with her speech about farm to school programs along with Bree Coxbill from Southeast FFA for her speech on the benefits of vertical farming and hoop houses.

Officer suits up for beat down

Self-defense class teaches empowerment

TORRINGTON (April 27) – Self-defense. It’s something most hope to never have to utilize. But it’s also something that, if the occasion does arise, having the appropriate tools to navigate a such a situation could potentially be lifesaving.

The Torrington Police Department (TPD) held a self-defense class in partnership with Eastern Wyoming College Community Education on Saturday. TPD Chief Matt Johnson and officer Matt Maestas taught the class offering an emphasis on safety.

Attendees also participated in a physical skills simulation, learning to find pressure points and how to best utilize those as a defense mechanism if needed, how and where to strike an attacker and how to also use their voice.

Officer Maestas, suited up to take part in the physical attack simulation, offered constructive feedback as students took to the mat to practice self-defense moves learned earlier in the day. 

Chief Johnson said the most important take-away from the class is the focus on awareness, decision making and recognizing when something triggers a need to respond and protect oneself.

“I feel like that’s really the most important part. Because the physical skills perish. The physical skills change…the physical skills are not always going to be as good as you want them to be. But what matters the most is that sense of confident awareness and the ability to know how to make decisions,” Chief Johnson said. “When someone exceeds a social distance and tries to press into you towards more of an intimate distance, you can’t afford as really anybody, but especially as a lady in our in our society, to not respond to that,” he said. “And knowing what the standards are for your response, knowing what the legal justification is for your response, knowing how you can make decisions, knowing how your brain works when you make decisions were really some of the things that we felt like were super important to talk with the ladies about so that they can be safe as they’re living their daily lives. Because nobody wants to live in fear. We all want to live, feeling like we’re empowered to be safe in the world around us and do the things that we’re here to do.”

May

Special Olympics brings home hardware

TORRINGTON (May 6) – The Goshen County School District (GCSD) Special Olympics team took the court this past weekend to participate in the 2022 Spring Area III Games in Cheyenne. 

Participating against teams from Cheyenne, Laramie, Platte County, Carbon County, Goshen County Masters and Saratoga, the GCSD team brought home multiple gold and silver medals.

Special Olympics Coach Craig Schadwinkel said the team chose basketball skills as their event in which to compete for the spring games. Other events included swimming, track and field events and team basketball. 

Special Olympics requires each athlete to participate in around eight to ten hours of practice prior to competing. Schadwinkel said he and coach Sage Munoz typically begin their practices six weeks before competitions start, with athletes practicing two times per week. 

“In our practices, we work on the fundamental skills of the sport we will be competing in as well as over-all fitness and endurance skills with our athletes,” Schadwinkel said.

The team numbers vary season to season, but typically consists of anywhere from four to seven athletes competing in soccer in the fall and basketball in the spring/summer. 

“Being a school-based program, our parents are also directly involved when we travel to any competition. They serve as their child’s chaperone, as well as their biggest fan,” he said. “We couldn’t be as successful as we are without their awesome support. The parents also help us with our fundraising efforts that we have to do for our program.”

TMS Trout in the Classroom a success

TORRINGTON (May 20) – Torrington Middle School sixth grade science teacher, Jenna Krul brought the Trout in the Classroom program into her science curriculum again this year. 

Krul began her Trout in the Classroom lesson six years ago while teaching in Nebraska. She said because of a lack of trout fishing in this area, there was no Trout in the Classroom program in Wyoming, so she reached out to coordinator Mike Jensen to help her get it started here.

“Local Game and Fish Commissioner Mark Jolovich donated some tags for us to be able to fund the program,” she said.

The young scientists receive their trout eggs in January and are able to follow the life cycle of the trout the rest of the school year. However, the lesson comes with great responsibility for students as well.

“It’s just a really great program to show a living lifecycle inside the classroom but also there’s a lot of duties with it, like we had to have the kids take care of the water, and the quality of the water was so important for their survival,” Krul said. “This is the first year that I’ve had so many fish survive like this. It was a really successful year.”

Krul’s “Trout Techs,” or students that were hands-on helpers with this project, were a huge part of the success of this year’s lesson. 

“These students were a part of my Extension Class where they were trained to become Trout Techs. They checked the water quality of the tank daily and performed water changes when water quality was poor,” Krul said. “They worked so hard, they documented water quality, taught other students about water quality. We owe the success of our tank to their dedication.”

June

Varney receives EWC service award

TORRINGTON (June 3) – Longtime teacher and trustee Mike Varney received the Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) Albert C. Conger Distinguished Service Award for 2022. 

Varney, who started at EWC in 1968, is known for his work as an instructor as he started the school’s geography program. Varney taught world history, American history and political science along with serving as the athletic director, student activities director, financial aid officer and director of housing and food services. 

Varney witnessed the start of men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, track and field, golf, and rodeo programs at EWC. He also started the first student senate and livestock judging team at EWC. 

According to the college’s press release on Wednesday, Varney was involved in approving the construction of the first student dormitory on the EWC Torrington campus and led in the development of a mascot and new colors for the school. 

“With the help of colleagues and the student senate, they settled on black and gold and EWC became known as the Lancers,” the release stated. 

Varney spent 13 years as a trustee for EWC’s Board before retiring in March. He also represented the college on the Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees.

Along with the EWC service award, Varney won the Trustee Leadership-of-the-Year award for the Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees in 2020. 

“He played an important role in the construction of a multi-million-dollar classroom facility at EWC’s Torrington campus and the opening of a branch campus in Douglas, Wyoming,” the release stated. “Varney was also involved in numerous decisions regarding the planning, funding, design, and construction of the Career and Technical Education Center and the planning for the Agricultural Technology Education Center on the Torrington campus.” 

Varney also served as a councilmember and mayor for the city of Torrington for more than 40 years. 

Varney was honored with the award at the EWC graduation ceremony held May 14, in Torrington.

Flying into Pinpoint Success

A look at the Precision Ag program at EWC

TORRINGTON (June 22) – Raised on a farm north of Henry, Nebraska, agriculture has always played a major role in Matt Scott’s life.

“We raised alfalfa, pinto beans, corn and operated a hog finishing operation of about 1000 hogs,” Scott said. “That farm has since been in possession of my brother.”

Today, he is an assistant professor of agriculture at Eastern Wyoming College, heading up the new precision agriculture program on the Torrington campus. He also teaches electrical and hydraulic classes, and a UAV license preparation class at EWC, but his main focus is precision agriculture.

Precision agriculture is “more than just pretty straight rows,” Scott said. “It’s about saving money. Margins are so thin, if you can make an extra five dollars an acre you want it.”

The savings and increase in profit can justify buying the expensive new equipment. It can be the difference between profit and loss. However, with any management tool, it must be used properly.

Precision agriculture is an approach to farm management using information technology to make sure crops and soil receive what they need for the best health and productivity. This includes using drones, GPS, yield maps, soil sampling, and more to create a management system of crops down to a square yard precision or even individual plants. Variable rate application technologies allow farmers to change the seed rate, depth, amount of fertilizer, and soil firming pressure during a single pass over a field.

“You are looking at inputs and decision making for all your crops and your land to that (square yard) level,” Scott said. “Looking at one specific spot in a field you can tell how much it costs to grow the crop on that square yard.”

Goshen County trap shooters fourth at state

TORRINGTON (June 29) – The Goshen County High School Shooting Team hosted the Wyoming State High School Clay Target League State Championships on Saturday.

It was the second consecutive year the team has held state at the Goshen County Sportsman Club.

As a team, Goshen County finished fourth with a score of 428. Cheyenne East won the state title with 454, while Thunder Basin was second with 433. Wheatland was a close third with 431.

Brett Gara led the team with 95 in the varsity high gun division. His score was good for third out of 46 shooters in the division.

Brayden Frazier was the only other Goshen County team member to place in the top three in his respective division. His score of 86 in the junior varsity division was good for third place.

Gara, along with Lucas Gara and Wyler Fisher made the 2022 Trap All-State team.

Up next for the team is the National Championships which will be held July 6-10 in Mason, Michigan which will feature a maximum of 1,800 of the best shooters from the USA High School Clay Target League. 

Shooting sports is the fastest growing sport in the US. They boast zero safety violation since it began. There are more than 30,000 students and 1,400 schools participating this year.


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