Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

2017 Year in Review


January 4, 2018

Photo courtesy of Hot Springs County Sheriff's office

The Hot Springs County Sheriff's Office teamed up with Search and Rescue and Guardian Flight to search for James Michael Pigott, who was found alive after having gone missing for a couple days.

Rock slides in the canyon, plenty of awards, changes to school staff and local businesses and a total solar eclipse were among the Thermopolis activities that made the news in 2017.


January 5: Florence "Toots" Daughtery reflects on her time in Thermopolis. The 95-year-old resident has lived here since she was 68, and helped at the Hot Springs County Senior Center for more than 20 years.

Daugherty is also a masterful music player, able to play a tune quite easily after hearing it or seeing it played only once. She spoke about her time here, working at the senior center and the musical performances she gives at the Pioneer Home and Thermopolis Rehabilitation and Wellness.

"This is about the best place to live, in my notion," she said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything."

January 12: Thermopolis Middle School Principal Breez Longwell Daniels has been selected as Wyoming's 2017 National Distinguished Principal (NDP).

Kenny Jones, Wyoming Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals (WAEMSP) executive director, and Mitch Craft, Wyoming's 2016 NDP, made the announcement Monday morning in the commons in front of TMS staff and students.

"This award is possible because of all of us," said Daniels as she accepted the honor. She reminded staff and students that their hard work made it all possible.

January 19: A wide variety of agencies are gearing up for what promises to be a major event for Thermopolis and Hot Springs County – the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21.

Monthly meetings are being held to prepare for the influx of 6,000 or more people, many of whom are going to be from foreign countries, into the county to view the total solar eclipse, more people than actually live in Hot Springs County.

Every hotel and RV space available is already booked for that weekend since Thermopolis has been touted as an excellent place to view the celestial event due to our elevation.

January 26: The Thermopolis Independent Record staff brought home several awards from the annual Wyoming Press Association (WPA) Convention Jan. 20-21 in Cheyenne. The IR competes in the small weekly category along with 24 other Wyoming newspapers.

The IR won first place for Photographic Excellence and second place for Best Use of Photographs. With a total of 14 individual Pacemaker Awards, the IR also earned the WPA Foundation's Sweepstakes award.


February 2: In the United States District Court of Wyoming, Darrel Demas and Justin Dvorak, formerly of Thermopolis, were sentenced to prison terms for providing heroin which resulted in the death of Alexander Herdt.

According to court documents, Demas was sentenced to 48 months and Dvorak was sentenced to 24 months on individual charges of distribution of heroin resulting in death. The two were also charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin resulting in death, though the charges were dismissed as part of their plea agreements - Dvorak pled guilty on Oct. 26, 2016, while Demas pled guilty nine days later, Nov. 4.

According to documents, on or about June 25 and 27, 2014, Dvorak and Demas knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully distributed a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, the use of which resulted in Herdt's death.

February 9: Each of the elected officials for Hot Springs County met with the county commissioners on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming budget and what it may mean to each of their divisions.

"We all know what it was like last year," commission chairman John Lumley said. "We had to cut more than a million dollars. Where's it going this year? It's not looking good."

Lumley told the group a lot is going to depend on what the county assessor's numbers are for the year, but right now there is a possibility of funds being 30 percent less than they were last year because of the downturn in minerals.

February 16: Thermopolis resident Randy Baker spoke about his journey to Nepal in 2016. Along the way, he learned of the need for medical and other basic services in the area he was visiting.

Baker spent the next several years working with people and organizations around the world to help bring medical services, clean water and electricity to the Kumari region of Nepal. Though the hospital was completed in 2013, it was destroyed in an earthquake in 2015. Baker again sought help worldwide to rebuild the hospital, and he was honored at the formal re-opening in 2017.

February 23: The Hot Springs County Commissioners considered a draft resolution that would be in effect from Aug. 15 to Aug. 31, 2017 only, covering the timeline for the upcoming solar eclipse.

The draft, which may be amended before approval in March, would allow for short-term rentals, such as private homes, apartments, bedrooms and similar residential units during the listed time frame.

In addition it would allow for short-term rental of recreational vehicle sites for self contained RV's and allow for overflow areas for tent camping as long as access to toilet facilities is provided.

County Planner, Bo Bowman, created the draft, noting there is nothing in the county's land use plan at this time that covers short-term rentals, something the planning commission will be addressing over the next few months.


March 2: According to the 2016 report from the Wyoming Division of State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails, Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources, Hot Springs State Park saw the most visitors among the sites listed for the calendar year, Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2016.

The park saw a total 1,928,083 visitors for the year; the next closest was Glendo State Park at 343,453. Though HSSP's visitation was actually down compared to 2015 - which had five percent more, or 2,022,365 - it's up compared to the 2011-15 average of 1,660,031.

As for other popular sites in the area, Boysen had 114,608 visitors for 2016, up slightly from 2015's 114,314 and 11 percent over the five-year average of 103,366. Legend Rock saw 14,177, up 10 percent from 12,913 in 2015 and 32 percent over the five-year average of 10,741.

March 9: Mary McGillivray, music educator at Ralph Witters Elementary (RWE) and high school drama director, was recently awarded the Outstanding Young Music Educator for the North Big Horn Basin.

Nominated by her colleagues, McGillivray has spent a lifetime in music and theatre, attending Casper College where she was deeply involved in the music and theatre departments before moving on to Black Hills State University where she received a Bachelors in Vocal Music Performance, a Bachelors in Music Education and a minor in Speech Communication. She also holds a Masters Degree from the University of Wyoming in Music Education.

March 16: The Thermopolis Volunteer Fire Department is working with the American Red Cross to help ensure homes have working smoke detectors and people know what to do in case of a fire.

Jayson Zimmerman with the Red Cross explained the Home Fire campaign through Red Cross, and the intent is to use donations earmarked for specifically for smoke detectors and purchase the devices, then form lasting partnerships with local entities such as the Thermopolis Volunteer Fire Department. These partnerships provide a resource in the community for people to learn about the need for smoke detectors.

From there, Zimmerman said, "we'll actually go in and do the installation, and we'll do some home education." Among the educational components is making sure people know what to do when a smoke detector goes off and what the escape routes from their home are.

March 23: It was an emotional time for friends and family of Matthew and Reilly Schwan, after a jury found Matthew guilty of aggravated homicide by vehicle. The verdict capped off an already emotional three-day trial which involved testimony to Reilly's being struck by a vehicle driven by Matthew in the early hours of May 14, 2016, the injuries she received and her subsequent passing after being taken off life support June 4.

Though originally charged with driving under the influence with serious bodily injury, the charge against Matthew was updated after Reilly's death.

During the trial, it was revealed the Schwans had gone out drinking with friends, and later got into an argument. Later the same night is when the accident happened, and responders to the scene had to lift the vehicle off Reilly. Evidence provided at the trial showed she died due to lack of oxygen.

March 30: The Hot Springs County High School track season got underway this last weekend, with the Yellowstone Sports Medicine Invite at Cody, and several of the Bobcats had strong showings with 10 personal records and many qualifying for state.

Among the girls making personal records were Chandra Maddock, with an eighth place time of 13.56 in the 100 Meters, Makayla George with the third place distance of 31'4" in the Triple Jump and Elizabeth Rhodes with an 18th place time of 13.93 in the 100 Meters.

For the boys, Chandler Maddock had three personal records - a third place time of 51.70 in the 400 Meters, a fifth place height of 10'6" in the Pole Vault and a 10th place time of 11.47 in the 100 Meters. His 100 Meters and 400 Meters times are automatic qualifiers for state.

Kolby George had two personal records with a fifth place time of 2:17.67 in the 800 Meters and a ninth place time of 5:08.06 in the 1600 Meters.

Logan Meier had a personal record with a 31st place time of 12.36 in the 100 Meters, and Jared Little had one with a 51st place time of 13.01 in the same event.


April 6: Parents, students and boosters have been very concerned about the future status of various activities at both the middle school and high school. A meeting with the entire coaching staff from both schools, activities director Brandon Deromedi and superintendent Dustin Hunt outlined cuts that will go into effect for the coming school year.

Five coaching positions have been eliminated including freshman volleyball, freshman boys and girls basketball, an assistant cheer coach and an assistant activities director. These programs have not been eliminated nor have the coaches' regular teaching positions, but the freshman teams will be absorbed into the JV and varsity programs with those coaches taking on the additional responsibility of coaching the freshman teams as well. The hours will also be adjusted for the athletic trainer.

The school will no longer be paying for meals on any road trips for athletics or activities. Instead, "T" account funds will have to be used for meals if their balance allows. In addition, overnight trips for athletics and activities are being eliminated with the exception of two. Regional and state overnight trips are not being cut and will remain paid for by the school.

April 13: Hot Springs County High School's FFA program attended their State Convention in Casper.

One of the highlights of the trip was the "booth contest" which the team won through a combination of excellent presentation and a little help from hand-held technology. FFA member Jeffrey VanAntwerp created a program with an interactive quiz game that was then plugged into a TV in the booth. Those passing by could access the program via their smart phones and play along. By winning, the team now gets to take their booth to the National FFA competition in Indianapolis in October.

Another highlight was Jessie Pennoyer winning the Gold Proficiency Award for Beef Production Entrepreneurship. By winning on the state level, Pennoyer will move on to the Regional event with the possibility of going to the National competition as well.

April 20: Jayson Zimmerman opened the American Red Cross office serving Hot Springs and Washakie counties. Zimmerman, a Red Cross volunteer and member of the disaster action team, said the office will operated on an "as needed" basis with no set hours. The office is located south of the main offices at Central Bank and Trust, and Zimmerman pointed out there is handicap accessibility during the bank's normal hours.

Kent Cordingly, branch president of the bank, said Zimmerman approached him about using the space, and Cordingly let him use it free of charge. Cordingly further added Red Cross is a great organization and Zimmerman's work is commendable, and he's "tickled pink" to do anything to help.

April 27: Saturday, April 22, was a big day, for human and dinosaur alike, at the Red Rock Business Park south of town for the official groundbreaking at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center's new planned location. Following the ceremony, Thermopolis Middle School was the site for a casual luncheon followed by a workshop led by project architects to seek community input.

Center Executive Director Angie Guyon said the project is still six months out from developing a plan and determining what kind of contractors, subcontractors and consultants will be needed, and it will be another year before any hiring is done.

As the center will be a Leadership in Energy an Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum building, meaning it is more energy-efficient, the process can take some time, and contractors and others hired should be familiar with LEED specifications.


May 4: It was a wild few days in Wind River Canyon as Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) crews fought rain, snow and falling rock last week.

WYDOT Maintenance Engineer Lyle Lamb of Basin said last Wednesday that quite a few big rocks had fallen in one particular area due to increased moisture and asked that folks not stop in the Windy Curve area. When asked about the possibility of closing the road at that time, Lamb said, "If it gets too western tonight, we're going to pull out of there and close the road. It could become a safety issue for travelers and our personnel."

By Thursday morning, a WYDOT geologist arrived on scene to assess the situation and found a slope fill area below the highway was unstable and they were hoping it wouldn't take out the road. Wilson Brothers Construction out of Cowley was working on a rock removal project and were addressing the flooding and mud slides from the Memorial Day weekend event from two years ago. They agreed to help WYDOT with clean up of the current issues.

More rain and snow was on the way. Friday morning saw a closure of the canyon with rain and snow creating blizzard conditions inside the canyon while in town, we were just getting constant rain. Maintenance workers kept busy on Friday using plow trucks and a loader to get the rocks off the roadway, but pulled out by dark for safety reasons.

Lamb indicated the areas adjacent to the road shoulder in the canyon is designed to collect fallen rocks before they enter the highway, but there had been so many dropping the areas had filled in and rocks were rolling onto the highway anyway.

WYDOT Chief Engineer Gregg Fredrick said after rain and snow end in Wind River Canyon, the area tends to stabilize after a couple of hours. At that time, WYDOT geologists will determine if any unstable rock needs to be removed to enhance the safety of the traveling public before the roadway through Wind River Canyon is reopened. Around 6:45 Saturday morning, the decision was made to allow traffic back through the canyon.

May 11: According to information from Hot Springs County Deputy Sheriff Jerimie Kraushaar, a call was received about 11 p.m. Saturday, May 6, from a business owner, who was concerned she had not seen a regular customer, 50-year-old James Michael Pigott of Texas, for a couple days. She also noted his vehicle was located by Anchor Dam. The hotel Pigott was staying at had not heard from him either for a few days.

Pigott's vehicle was located in the parking lot by the gates at Anchor Dam, Kraushaar said, and its location prompted a call to Hot Springs County Search and Rescue as well as Guardian Flight out of Riverton. Due to the initial call about Pigott coming in at night, those involved with the search did not begin until around 7 a.m. Sunday. Both agencies and Kraushaar first searched the east side of Anchor Dam, along the spillway. The deputy noted the area is rocky, with loose flagstone and shale.

After Guardian flew over the area for about an hour with no success, and men on the ground had not found him, a search began along the river and ended when they located Pigott - exhausted, dehydrated and hungry, but alive - about halfway through the canyon.

May 18: The 3A East Regionals track meet, hosted here Friday and Saturday, saw the 4x800 relay team of Chandra Maddock, McKenna Bomengen, Haley McDermott and Jules Ward shatter a 31 year school record. The team finished with a time of 10:04.19, compared to the previous record of 10:09.00 set in 1986.

Another feat for the Lady Cats was nailing the top three spots in the 3200 meters, with Ward in first at 11:55.09, Tahja Hunt in second with 12:45.56 and Bomengen in third at 12:55.63.

A number of students came away from the meet with All Conference honors, including those on the 4x800 team and Makayla George. True to the trend they've been setting this whole season, the Bobcats continued to break their own personal records – 17 for the girls team, and 15 for the boys.

May 25: Two contractors began cleaning up May rockfall inside Wind River Canyon on Monday, including stability and rockfall emergency repairs of existing canyon walls about 10 miles south of Thermopolis in the area of Big Windy Curve.

The estimated cost of the cleanup effort by Wilson Brothers Construction of Cowley and GeoStabilization International of Grand Junction, Colo., is $653,000.

Wilson and GSI are scheduled to begin work on the rockslide cleanup effort and slope stabilization beginning Monday between mileposts 121.7 and 122.2 – also known as Big Windy Curve – about 10 miles south of Thermopolis.

"The work at Big Windy Curve will include scaling, breaking up large rocks and cleaning the ditches," according to Wyoming Department of Transportation resident engineer Kaia Tharp of Thermopolis. "Rocks and other debris will be hauled south about 13 miles to WYDOT's Birdseye Pit between Wind River Canyon and Shoshoni, and also south seven miles to the Upper Wind River Campground."


June 1: Main Street Thermopolis began working on a few things for this summer, including a celebration for the downtown buildings slated to turn 100 this year.

At their May meeting, the committee discussed getting the building inventory completed by July 1. The inventory will include current owners, size of the building and any history they can gather.

Octobrewfest will be coming this fall, with a beer garden, vendors of all sorts and fun and games for the entire family. With so many buildings celebrating their 100th birthday, the group thought a great theme for this year's event could be a birthday party.

Main Street Thermopolis is checking in to getting a section of highway coming into town that they can be responsible for. That means they would be out periodically cleaning along the sides of the road and the sign would indicate Thermopolis is a Main Street town.

June 8: The Hot Springs County School District's Board of Directors met last Wednesday evening and accepted the resignation of high school principal, Scott Shoop.

"I regretfully inform you that I have decided to resign as Principal at Hot Springs County High School, effective June 30, 2017," Shoop said in an email to students and staff. "I have accepted a job in Laramie for 2017-2018. This decision was extremely difficult, because I believe we are building something special here. I hope that I have demonstrated my core value of "family coming first," by my actions and support the last three years, and you will understand and support this decision."

Following the acceptance of his resignation, the board appointed middle school principal Breez Daniels, as the grade 5-12 principal. Caitlin Deromedi was also named as the 5-12 Dean of Students.

June 15: The Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame (WCHF) Board of Directors conducted annual business meetings May 20 and 21 in Casper. All current WCHF officers were voted in for another four-year term.

Plans were outlined for the fourth annual WCHF Honoree Induction and associated events, and the Class of 2017 WCHF Honorees was selected. Among those chosen from Region 8, which includes Hot Springs County, are Carl Obe Dockery and Ernest Nathan "Nate" Brown.

The process of selection was begun by committees in ten geographic regions across the state soon after nominations closed. The WCHF sends each nomination to the county from which it was submitted, where regional honorees are chosen by their respective committees. Nominees ranked at the top in each county are again reviewed during the state board meeting.

June 22: The past couple weeks have seen some pretty astounding images from Owl Creek and Anchor Dam, with water going up on nearby roads and extremely high flows from the dam. According to Hot Springs County Emergency Management Coordinator Bill Gordon, there is still some snowmelt to feed into that area, but it is in a much better place regarding the melt and the lake level so it's off the radar for now.

The Wind River and Bighorn River, however, are another story. Gordon said with what was left of the snowmelt runoff, it was fair to say the Bureau of Reclamation was in a good position to continue flows from Boysen Reservoir into the Wind River at 8,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). This would create enough room for the majority of the coming runoff. It was thought that, if the flow were to increase, it would only go to 9,000 cfs for a short time.

However, last Friday saw about 1.5 to two inches of rain across the drainages that feed the Wind River. It came down quickly, Gordon said, and caused some more flooding in Fremont County, and also took away the storage at Boysen for the snowmelt runoff. Now that it's warming up, the flow was increased to 9,000 cfs to accommodate the runoff.

June 29: Hot Springs County School District #1 held a public informational meeting on Monday evening to explain recent cuts the district has had to make and what we may be looking at for the future.

Superintendent Dustin Hunt began the public meeting by explaining the district had created a budget task force that met throughout the course of the spring to come up with ideas and solutions because of the downturn in Wyoming's revenues that are affecting districts across the state.

In some ways, Hunt said, we have been fortunate in that our student numbers have remained relatively even over the last 10 or so years. Larger schools are suffering larger cuts. Unfortunately, with smaller schools, a single cut can mean the loss of a program entirely, whereas larger schools have the flexibility to cut, say, a single coach from a program and the program will continue with the remaining coaches.


July 6: The athletes have been chosen for the 2017 class of the Bobcat Hall of Fame.

For 2017, there are two male athletes, Cody Sinclair and Colin Herold. The female athlete is Kelsy (Redland) Tobin, the coach selected is Serol Stauffenberg, and the 2002 Girls Basketball team has been chosen as the Hall of Fame team.

July 13: Last Wednesday, the Tri-County Telephone Association, Inc. (TCT) filed a response to a motion to disqualify counsel and a motion to dismiss filed by Joe and Barbara Campbell.

The motion filed by the Campbells is the latest request for action in a case that began in December of 2015, after the couple filed a suit against the company claiming board members, as well as the purchaser of TCT, robbed owners of the TCT co-operative of the value of their ownership after the co-op was sold.

July 20: Earlier this year, increased runoff resulted in higher flows from Boysen Reservoir, reaching 9,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). Though the runoff and flows have since gone down, the river can still be hazardous for those attempting to float it, evidenced by several needing rescue the past couple weekends.

Hot Springs County Emergency Management Coordinator Bill Gordon said he would not recommend anyone float the river until it reaches around 3,000 cfs, and when floating it's important for all people to wear life vests, not have them attached to the float or stowed somewhere. Any kids should also be under adult supervision.

July 27: The group organizing everything for the upcoming eclipse in August held their monthly meeting last week, going over a few details.

The IT Department for the county has created a hotline number that will be available during the period just before, during and just after the eclipse.

The hotline will allow people to call with non-emergent questions such as where to get a tire repaired or what time a particular event begins. Of course, emergencies will be forwarded to 9-1-1, but having the hotline will free up dispatch to answer emergency calls rather than questions about where things may be going on.

A list of possible questions visitors may ask is being put together so the volunteers answering the hotline will be able to have the right answers at their fingertips.


August 3: The rock slides in Wind River Canyon this spring and into part of summer are one of the top priorities for the Wyoming Department of Transportation according to the state director, Bill Panos, who met with the county commissioners on Tuesday.

Panos said this was the first year they had brought in the state's geology department to take a look at the canyon walls, even before the slides started happening, to get a better idea of where they may occur.

Fortunately, they were already in the area with equipment, scaling some of those potentially dangerous rocks when the first slides started happening. Since they were already there, it was very easy to get to each of the corresponding slides.

Panos said the canyon is one area he worries about the most and had many discussions with Governor Mead about it.

August 10: When talking about Hot Springs County Memorial Hospital, it's hard not to mention or think about the planned renovation and expansion of the facility.

According to Shawn Warner, president of Sletten construction, the preliminary design and coordination activities are taking place for the project. On July 13, the hospital Board of Trustees approved Sletten as the design/build team for the project, and that team has begun preliminary measures for the design process.

August 17: Monday afternoon in District Court, Darren Dumas was sentenced to a total five to 10 years in the state penitentiary. Dumas was sentenced on three charges, including failure to register as a sex offender, strangulation of a household member and domestic violence-battery.

The strangulation and domestic violence charges state he beat Christy Dumas from Sept. 23-26 and impeded her breathing on Sept. 26. As to the failure to register, Dumas was charged and convicted of the crime in 2015 and given five years supervised probation, though he later admitted to violating the probation on Feb. 16, 2017.

August 24: It was pretty hard not to notice the increase in traffic through Hot Springs County during eclipse time, but the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) has released numbers that will give an accurate accounting of just how many vehicles there were.

The state, overall, experienced historic traffic volumes on Monday, Aug. 21, the day of the eclipse – 494,000 vehicles, a 63 percent increase.

In Hot Springs County, on WY 120W (Thermop to Cody), the five-year average on Wednesday, Aug. 16 is 2,225 cars. This last Wednesday, there were 2,199.

Numbers started creeping up on Thursday when they went from an average of 2,221 to 2,564; Friday went from an average of 2,277 to 2,682. Saturday saw a big jump in traffic with the average being 1,849, jumping to 2,560. Sunday went from 2,076 to 3,115.

The big day, was, of course Monday, when traffic went from an average of 2,089 cars headed our way to 7,350 – a 251 percent increase.

August 31: Boaters, fishermen and those who swim in Boysen Reservoir are asked to be aware the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has discovered a potentially harmful blue-green algae bloom on the northeast portion of the reservoir.

On August 24, the DEQ visited the area to investigate and collect samples to determine whether the bloom exceeded the cell density and/or toxin concentrations identified in the Wyoming DEQ's action plan.

Using an Abraxis test strip, a sample was collected at the northeast corner of swimming beach. The sample results showed microcystil levels exceeded the 10 microgram per liter threshold.


September 7: Haire will go to trial again Oct. 23 in Washakie County, on charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.

Sentenced in early May, 2016 to 8-10 years with the Wyoming Department of Corrections, as well as a year of probation, Haire appealed the case on May 27, 2016. On May 8, 2017, the verdict was reversed and the case remanded for new trial.

The charges stem from an April 13, 2015 incident, during which Haire shot and killed his stepfather-in-law Jamye Don Sorelle, following an argument. He was found guilty on Dec. 10 of the same year.

September 14: At 1:04 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Hot Springs County Sheriff's Office received a report from Billie Jo Norsworthy, of a 2014 white Ford truck stolen in Thermopolis. The vehicle was later stopped in Riverton, and it was discovered the driver, 43-year-old Christopher Mitchell of Cody, was involved in a chase leading across several counties.

It is believed Mitchell had a separate vehicle that he abandoned prior to taking the truck, and the pursuit originated in Park County before going into Washakie, Hot Springs and Fremont counties before he was finally stopped.

September 21: Larry Bentley was recently selected to receive the Wyoming Department of Agriculture's (WDA) Friend of Agriculture Award. The award is given to a person or group who has gone above and beyond to promote sustainable agriculture in Wyoming. The recipient has work with the Department of Agriculture, particularly the Natural Resources & Policy Division (NR&P), and demonstrated expertise and passion for agricultural values.

According to a letter from WDA Director Doug Miyamoto, staff chose to recognize Bentley for going above and beyond these standards in his many years of service to the NR&P. His influence on ag related issues and on ground knowledge has been felt across the state, though his influence on the department will be felt forever.

September 28: Last week the Hot Springs County Commissioners approved the transfer of a liquor license from Stones Throw Restaurant back to the Legion Town and Country Club, dba Thermopolis Golf Course. Since then, lots of folks in town have wondered what the plan is for the building.

According to Jason Ciz, chairman of the golf course board, the tentative plan at this time is to move the current pro shop into the restaurant area and continue to sell beer and liquor out of the bar area.


October 5: Dusty Spomer and Wade Werbelow with GDA Associates out of Cody held a second airport re-use meeting at the county annex on Monday night to present three possible options for re-puposing the area based on public comment from the first meeting in the spring.

The main objectives for the committee were to investigate public and private uses for the area and maintain or improve harmony and compatibility with the surrounding lands. The best use of the property should involve an option that has a positive economic impact, is financially viable, supports community needs and is compatible with surrounding uses.

October 12: Seven Special Olympics 'Olympians' traveled to the fall Area 1 games in Lander the end of September and came home with plenty of medals.

During the games, Xander Getzfried and Spencer Luce brought home gold, David Hansen, Ruth Litizzette and Shaylynn Luce picked up silver, and Allen Harsha and Allyssa Simmons came home with bronze medals.

The team then went on to the Wyoming State Fall Games in Casper, coached by Lauri Olsen and advised by Tom Olsen.

At the state games, Hansen brought home the gold while Getzfried and Spencer Luce picked up silver medals. Simmons, Harsha and Litizzette were bronze winners and Shaylynn Luce took fourth place.

October 19: The Hot Springs County Commissioners have a big decision ahead of them in regards to what to do about the roof on the Hot Springs County Fairground's multi-purpose building.

Thane Magelky with Malone Belton Abel, P.C. provided a draft report on the condition of the roof and presented a few options to the commissioners for repair or replacement.

Magelky has done a thorough inspection of the entire building, along with the metal roof, specifically looking at the source and cause of moisture damage to the inside insulation.

His conclusion is the damage has been caused by condensation from the interior of the building due to a lack of continuous vapor retardant across the entire surface of the roof. In addition, a secondary source of the moisture is the unsealed ridge cap.

October 26: Last week, members of the Hot Springs County 4-H Fishing Club set out on the Bighorn River with staff from Wyoming Game and Fish to gather information on the fish population.

Using electrofishing, a process which involves dropping electrodes in the water to create a mild electric field and cause involuntary muscle contractions in the fish so they are easier to net, the fish are then weighed and measured.


November 2: A decades-old mystery that captured the attention of Hot Springs County as well as the entire country has finally come to a close with the identification of skeletal remains found in a trunk in 1992.

Through advances in DNA research, the remains were finally identified last week as belonging to  Joseph J. Mulvaney, born January 3, 1923 in Illinois.

November 9: Last Friday at about 5:11 p.m., there was a 4.2 magnitude earthquake about 39 miles east-southeast of Thermopolis. Around town people might have felt a slight tremor, heard a strange noise or didn't even know the quake had enough force to be felt here until they saw something on the news or social media.

One of the more prominent, but false, reports that spread was that the quake had damaged or destroyed Boysen Dam.

Hot Springs County Emergency Management Coordinator Bill Gordon heard an unconfirmed report that someone had a crack in their ceiling, but it was unknown if that was quake-related. Checking with dispatch on Monday afternoon, he said they had no reports of damage.

November 16: At some point during the last year, nearly everyone has heard about the water issues in Flint, Michigan. The contamination levels in their water has rendered it undrinkable by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.

Hot Springs County residents receiving their water through the South Thermopolis Water and Sewer District (STWSD) were recently appraised of a situation with their drinking water that, while not undrinkable, it is above EPA standards for levels of disinfection byproducts.

November 23: The Thermopolis Police Department recently received a report from a local bank regarding fake $100 bills circulating in the area. The bills have been found in other locations as well.

The bills are easily identified through Chinese characters located on the front and back sides of the bills, as well as pattern of black double lines in the corner. There may also be previous counterfeiting check marks on the bills.

November 30: This past Thursday brought with it many reasons to be thankful, and one of those was the unusually high temperatures seen in the area for the day and leading into the weekend.

Tim Troutman, the warning coordination meteorologist from the national Weather Service office in Riverton, said there was no data directly from Thermopolis, but readings from nine miles northeast of town showed a high temperature of 69 degrees, a record high and a temperature that's 23 degrees above the norm. There was also a 48-degree spread from the high to the low of 21 degrees.


December 7: A Bighorn Sheep wandered into Hot Springs State Park Friday morning. A motorist reported the sheep came off the end of T-Hill, went across Highway 20 and then dropped over an embankment to the railroad tracks. He headed south along the tracks and came out near the Swinging Bridge, then headed back north along the railroad tracks.

December 14: Hot Springs County Memorial Hospital has announced that on December 7 Red Rock Family Practice (RRFP) joined Hot Springs County Memorial Hospital. This is the culmination of several months of discussion and consideration on how best to provide healthcare to Hot Springs County.

A press release from the hospital states, "In order to strengthen our healthcare foundation and protect the future of healthcare in Hot Springs County, it was important that we partner with primary care physicians. As healthcare regulations increase, independent physicians are being pulled away from the bedside. To mitigate this concern, the trend is for physicians to find partners who will ease their administrative role so they can spend more time providing patient care. This was a strong determinant for RRFP physicians Travis Bomengen, MD, Jason Weyer, DO, FAAFP, Kevin Mahoney, MD and Hallie Bischoff, DO.

December 21: GDA Engineers met with the Hot Springs County Commissioners on Tuesday to talk about the short term and long term plans for the former airport.

Dusty Spomer with GDA said the short term items are mostly demolition and improvements whereas many of the long term items should be included in a prospectus that could be offered to potential developers.

Spomer suggested a 3D rendering or conceptual drawing of what could be done with the area would be something to visually catch a potential developer's eye.

He has begun researching various companies across the country that do this kind of development in communities and the the 3D rendering could give the county a leg-up, sparking interest in the area.

Mark Dykes

Safety markers are set alongside one of the larger chunks of cliff face the fell close to the Wind River Canyon Highway in May.

December 28: At their regular meeting on Dec. 19, Thermopolis Town Council approved the audit of the financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, with much appreciation for the time and work Koerwitz, Michel, Wright and Associates put into preparing it.

Among the financial highlights listed in the audit, the assets of the town exceeded the liabilities at June 30 by $27,705,536 (net position), compared to $27,233,636 in 2016. Of this, $6,806,518 (unrestricted) may be used to meet the government's ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors.

The total assets are $32,247,973, including current and other assets of $10,269,407 and capital assets of $21,978,566.

Current and other liabilities total $2,665,813, and long-term liabilities total $2,288,803, for a total $4,954,616 in liabilities. There were also $463,324 in deferred outflows and $51,145 in deferred inflows, resulting in the over $27 million in assets over liabilities.


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