Wyoming residents continue helping each other with food, fireworks

Free food, face masks and fireworks were among the things Wyoming residents gave one another in the past week as reports of people reaching out to help their neighbors continued to make headlines.

Fireworks show opened to the public

POWELL — Western Pyro Enterprise lit up the sky with fireworks Friday night, thrilling hundreds of area residents who made the trek to the company’s warehouse east of Garland. The spring display, usually reserved for wholesale clients of the company, was opened up for folks going stir-crazy under state COVID-19 recommendations. 

“We thought it would be a good idea for those in the community who are bored in their homes,” said Chris Good, co-owner of the company. 

Those in attendance were asked to stay in their vehicles and observe social distancing during the 90-minute display of new fireworks available to consumers this year as well as a professional level finale. 

The demonstration led off with a class-C display set to the national anthem, setting a patriotic tone for the evening. It was the only time during the event that those in attendance were asked to get out of their vehicles to stand at attention. After the tribute, some in attendance waved American flags, while others settled in their cars, in lawn chairs or in the beds of their trucks for the remainder of the show. 

With every exciting burst, onlookers hit their horns to show their approval. Hundreds of vehicles filled the parking lot and lined both sides of U.S. Highway 14-A for the show. When the grand finale ended, people cheered and blared their horns in approval. 

And, after the success of Friday’s show, the company decided to try a public demonstration again in the future. 

“Everyone enjoyed the show so we’re planning to make this an annual event,” said Ashley Good. — Powell Tribune


Businesses team up to offer free meals 

EVANSTON — Businesses and relief groups keep stepping up during the current health crisis that has left many residents out of work and in financial trouble over the past couple of months. 

On April 22, Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse, with help from a local car dealership, gave away more than 100 free meals to local citizens. The meals consisted of a choice of steak, chicken, or shrimp meal with soup, rice and vegetables. 

Manager Jerry Zhang said he is pleased to be able to help the community during this stressful time of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he plans on having a big party and inviting the community when the virus is contained and he can fully reopen to the public.

Zhang has been in the U.S. for 13 years and worked as a hibachi chef in New Jersey for most of those years until he moved to Rock Springs, where he opened the restaurant Sapporo there. He said when he would drive through Evanston on his way to Salt Lake City, he fell in love with the town and had a dream to open a restaurant here. 

AutoFarm Castle Rock Chevrolet general manager Dennis Lynch participated in the giveaway, donating half of the cost for the meals. Lynch, who was enjoying a meal at Ichiban after helping to distribute the free meals, told the Herald he is happy to have helped with the donation. Lynch said he has rotated donating through two other restaurants, Jody’s Diner and Suds Bros. Brewery, which provided meals to first responders and medical personnel at Evanston Regional Hospital. — Uinta County Herald


Stores give shoppers a taste of normalcy

TORRINGTON – After a month of social distancing, staying home and avoiding stores, many people are looking for ways to escape the monotony – and a group of downtown businesses have come up with what they believe is a safe way to partially rekindle their businesses and provide a welcome distraction for shoppers. 

The Downtown COVID Escape, a joint venture between downtown retail stores and the Goshen County Economic Development Corporation, is a soft re-opening of businesses that voluntarily shuttered their doors as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. While some businesses, like bars and gyms, were ordered to close by Governor Mark Gordon, retail stores weren’t included in those orders. 

And so, with safety as their first priority, Farm Girls Boutique, Home on the Range, Heartland Embroidery and Sunshine Photography will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Those businesses, along with Torrington Office Supply – which has been open for its regular hours – will donate 10 percent of their proceeds during the month of April to Goshen HELP. Celsie Sussex, of Home on the Range, said the Downtown COVID Escape is important to both shoppers and merchants. 

“It’s really important,” she said. “The main thing is that people around here, not just us, need to see that there’s hope that the normal is coming back and that we are wanting to give back to the community that’s done so much for us. Just having our doors open and giving people a safe place to come and relax and do something different for a while is really important to us.” — Torrington Telegram


Taiwan sends Wyoming face masks

CASPER — Wyoming has received approximately 50,000 protective face masks from the Taiwanese government to help protect frontline workers against the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Mark Gordon announced. 

“I want to thank Director General Alex Fan of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) for the donation of 50,000 medical face masks from Taiwan to Wyoming,” the governor wrote in a Facebook post announcing the delivery. “We will be distributing those masks soon to where they are needed most. We thank the people of Taiwan for their support of Wyoming as we respond to COVID-19 and protect lives while easing restrictions on businesses.” 

The shipment provides the state with a much-needed influx of personal protective equipment as federal officials have largely left states to procure their own supplies. While Wyoming has had some limited success in obtaining the equipment from a variety of sources, anecdotal evidence from many in the health care community suggest the state’s supply has so far been insufficient to meet the needs of health care workers and other first responders around the state. 

Taiwan has maintained a close relationship with Wyoming in recent years, culminating with Wyoming’s opening of a foreign trade office in the country in 2018. Earlier this year, an ambassador for the Taiwanese government addressed state lawmakers at the state Capitol, recounting the country’s experience responding to the SARS pandemic of 2009, noting similar lessons could be learned in combating COVID-19. — Casper Star-Tribune


Cheyenne educator provides supplies for city’s homeless students

CHEYENNE — Tables topped with soap, laundry detergent and other household items stand in the lobby of Cheyenne’s East High School.

Denise Ryden, a student support liaison who works with Laramie County School District 1’s homeless students, put them there for students in need.

She did that after the schools shut down in March, which district officials did in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Ryden, who is accustomed to helping students without stable living situations, keeps a stash of toiletries in her office at East all year long. The abrupt shutdown of many businesses in Cheyenne, however, has left some families without enough money to pay rent, let alone restock shampoo.

Part of Ryden’s job is connecting homeless students and their families with necessities not offered by the district, like clothes and shoes. She’s helped families get everything from gas to school supplies.

“A lot of my families are more stuck at home and don’t have money to get out to buy things,” said Ryden, who estimates there are between 250 and 300 students in transitional living situations enrolled in the district.

“Right now, I have several families living in motel rooms – three, four and five people in there all at the same time,” she said. “That’s difficult in the best of situations. It’s really tough right now.”

She’s also been part of a home delivery effort in collaboration with PEEPS, which stands for Parent Engagement and Educational Partnership with Schools. — Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Cool cars cruise to counter coronavirus blues

GILLETTE — The rumble of American muscle echoed off the storefronts of Gillette Avenue as lines of cool, classic cars and modern-day marvels cruised around the downtown district during the early evening hours Friday.

It was an effort to get cars cruising around to entertain vehicle owners and spectators alike. The throwback to the past was initially sparked by Gillette Main Street. 

Eight-year-old Lyndsey McDiarmid was one of those enjoying the spectacle on the sidewalk. With every car that went by, she could barely contain her excitement, hooting and hollering with her family by her side.

The Johnson family had no idea the event was happening until they heard the rumbles of cars from their downtown home just up the street. With that, Mary and Jim Johnson brought their daughter Annie, 2, and dog Nissa out to see the show at the last second.

"This is awesome for her," Mary said about her daughter's enjoyment of the spectacle.

"We were very pleased," Gillette Main Street program coordinator Stefanie Crawford said. "We counted 70-plus individual vehicles. We're hoping this Friday will improve in numbers."

Last Friday was just the beginning for the Friday-night cruises. Crawford said Gillette Main Street's intent is for this to continue as a way for folks to get out of the house and entertain themselves with during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Crawford also hopes more businesses will get involved, just like EK Jewelers owner Erica Kissack, who was joined by Brad Hepper with signs promoting their store along the Gillette Avenue sidewalk.

"It brings people downtown and reminds them we are here," Crawford said. — Gillette News Record


Park County residents make thousands of face masks

POWELL — Personal protective equipment remains in short supply across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, an army of local residents has stepped up to sew literally thousands of masks for hospitals, nursing homes, senior citizen centers, jails, first responders and other people in need around the Big Horn Basin. 

Marla Isbell is helping coordinate the gathering of supplies for and the distribution of homemade PPE in Park County. 

By joining forces, Isbell indicated that masks and other homemade materials can be directed to the places that need them the most and resources pooled. 

“Elastic is in really short supply; some women have already exhausted their fabric stashes,” Isbell said. “So by doing it together we’re able to trade, share resources, different ideas ... but also we all know of the needs.” 

She gets emotional when talking about the massive effort now underway. 

“People are taking care of people,” Isbell said. 

The Cody resident only recently took on the task of coordinating the homemade PPE effort, doing so at the request of Park County Public Health, but women around the Basin have been hard at work for roughly a month now. 

“The more I reach out and hear their stories, it’s wonderful,” Isbell said last week.

A Cody-based sewing group called the Rosies of the Sewing World boasts roughly 80 members who have pooled their labor and materials to craft masks. 

“The teamwork and camaraderie is motivating,” Isbell said, adding that there are “so many others sewing independently.” — Powell Tribune


Lusk restaurant gives away cookies

LUSK – Subway is giving away free cookies on Fridays for Niobrara County School District students, staff and now parents too.

While schools are not holding in-person classes during the social-distancing mandates surrounding COVID-19, Subway owners Tyler and Kim Schiele are still showing Tiger pride.

“I wanted to be able to help the school and just kind of show that ‘hey, we’re not just a large corporate franchise – these are your local folks,’” Schiele said.

As an event that began in February, the Schieles and their staff were giving out free Subway cookies to students and staff and extended it out to the parents.