Kemmerer Gazette: 2018 Year in Review

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January 11 — Sundberg new CEO at South Lincoln Medical Center

Karl Sundberg, a former Air Force medic with extensive experience in health care administration, said he’s excited to work for a rural healthcare system.

January 25 — Wilson charged with sexual abuse

Green River Councilman Allan Wilson has been charged with first degree sexual abuse of a minor in Lincoln County and second degree sexual abuse of a minor in Sweetwater County. The cases were combined into one Sweetwater County case, and Wilson ultimately pled guilty to one count of second degree sexual abuse.

January 25 - Pedigree Stage Stop Race brings dogsledding to town

Bruce Magnusson took first place in the Kemmerer leg of the 23rd annual Pedigree Stage Stop and Monica Magnusson won first place in the Eukanuba Classic.

Ben, a handler for Stage Stop racer Austin Forney, cares for the sled dogs at the Kemmerer leg of the Pedigree Stage Stop Race on Jan. 28.

February 15 - Mine hosts breast cancer awareness event

Community members gathered at the Westmoreland mine to learn the facts about breast cancer, support local breast cancer survivors and see the mine’s new bright pink haul truck that was purchased in support of breast cancer awareness.

Attendees at the Feb. 8 unveiling of the new pink truck bed at the Westmoreland Kemmerer Coal Mine enjoyed refreshments and visiting with friends and family. 

February 22 - KHS robotics team at state competition in Evanston

Students Brayden Dearden, Trenton Skidmore, Matthew Garver, Coy Taylor, Joseph McRoberts and Ray Haslam took second in the state robotics competition.

February 22 - Lions Club hosts annual Ice Fishing Derby

Angie Jackson won big at the annual Lions Club Ice Fishing Derby on Lake Viva Naughton. Jackson’s catch of 21 3/4” was the winner of the women’s biggest fish, the hourly winner, and the overall biggest fish caught at the derby. The derby raised more than $17,000 for the Lions Club community projects.

March 1 - Truck crashes into Diamondville home

A truck drove off the road into a garage in Diamondville just past the intersection of West Hillcrest and Spring Valley Drive. Two children and an adult female were in the home at the time of the accident, but were not injured. The driver sustained minor injuries.

A truck crashed into a Diamondville garage on Friday, Feb. 23. No one in the home was injured.Chief Mike Thompson said the driver had minor injuries, and that no alcohol was involved.

March 8 - Exchange students host mock trial

Third Judicial District Court Judge Joseph Bluemel hosted exchange students attending school in southwest Wyoming for a mock trial at the Lincoln County Courthouse. The diverse group of students hailed from Vietnam, Thailand, Spain, Mongolia, Brazil, Slovakia, Tajikistan, China, Indonesia, India, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Ukraine.

Exchange students who are attending a year of high school in schools all over southwest Wyoming held a mock trial at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Kemmerer on Friday, March 2, under the direction of Judge Joseph Bluemel.

March 22 - Quilters give back to community

Members of the Wyoming State Quilt Guild and volunteers from the community brought their sewing supplies and gathered at the Kemmerer Senior Center to make “fidget” quilts for elderly members of the community.

March 29 - Sen. Barrasso visits annual health fair

Senator John Barrasso attended the community health fair at the Event Center, where residents could have blood work done and receive information about local health care options. “It’s a good chance for me to listen to what people have on their minds,” Barrasso said. “For a small community to have a turnout like this is incredible.”

Senator John Barrasso visits with residents at the Community Health Fair on Saturday, March 24, at the South Lincoln Training and Event Center in Kemmerer. 

March 29 - City of Kemmerer, high school observe Autism Awareness Day

KJSHS students and teachers joined Kemmerer mayor Tony Tomassi to sign a proclamation declaring April 2 as Autism Awareness Day in Kemmerer. “I feel that every child can learn, but they learn in different ways,” said Kemmerer special education teacher Jody Ball. “We need to understand as a community that (autistic children) have talents and abilities as well.”

April 5 - WYDOT receives state funding for Hwy 30 move to access coal

State funding for the move and mine expansion was included in this legislative session’s State-Funded Capital Construction Bill, HB0194, which was passed and signed by Gov. Matt Mead in March. “It’s a huge project,” said state senator Dan Dockstader. “Over 19 years it will bring 300 jobs and $305 million in tax revenue to the county.”

April 12 - Community hosts fundraiser for family of painting teacher

Locals gathered at the Eagles for a painting class as a special fundraiser for the family of Jessee Siegel, who taught Booze ‘n’ Brushes classes in the area. Siegel, age 32, died from complications of the flu.

The Eagles hall was packed with attendees on April 14, eager to raise money for Jessee Siegel’s family. Siegel, who had hosted Booze ‘n’ Brushes parties and fundraisers in Kemmerer for several years, died from the flu in February. Local artist Kristin Crosland led the painting session.

April 26 - UMWA negotiates contract with Westmoreland

Money, working conditions and the future of coal in Wyoming were all at the forefront when coal miners and union leaders packed into the South Lincoln Event Center on April 20, to witness collective bargaining contract negotiations between Westmoreland Coal Co. and the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) union.

Kemmerer coal miners and United Mine Workers of America members packed the Event Center on Friday, April 20, to hear contract negotiations between UMWA and Westmoreland leadership.

Canyon Elementary students got to throw whipped cream pies at their teachers on April 13, as part of the Read-A-Thon for National Library Week. For every book, the kids read, they entered for the chance to throw a pie during the annual celebration hosted by librarian Rhonda Stewart.

May 10 - Public votes to raise hospital mill levy

Voting closed with 255 votes for and 150 votes against raising the mill levy for the South Lincoln Hospital District. The increase will create an expected $467,000 of revenue for the hospital for maintenance projects.

May 17 - Local fossil headed to Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

More than 15 years after its discovery, the famous three-toed “Dawn Horse” found by local fossil hunter Jim Tynsky will greet millions of visitors in a new exhibit projected to open in 2020 at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. “It’s the best place it could be at,” said Jim Tynsky, fossil hunter and owner of Tynsky’s Fossils.

The rare three-toed Dawn Horse fossil discovered by Jim Tynsky in his quarry in the Green River Formation near Kemmerer. Tynsky’s rare fossil is prepared and packed for delivery to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in D.C.

June 7 - WWII planes touch down at Kemmerer airport

Pilots of WWII planes used in the movie “Tora! Tora! Tora!” landed at the Kemmerer airport as a pitstop on their way to an air show in Mountain Home, Idaho. The planes are used in the Commemorative Air Force’s recreation of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

WWII planes used in the movie “Tora! Tora! Tora!” landed at the Kemmerer airport in June. The pilots (pictured: Doug Derr and Patrick Hutchins) stopped in Kemmerer on their way to an air show in Mountain Home, Idaho. The planes are used in the Commemorative Air Force’s recreation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

July 5 - Community celebrates Fossilfest

Locals enjoyed a parade, concerts, shows and a special lantern lighting event at the annual family-friendly celebration.

Locals lit up the sky with floating lanterns for Fossilfest on Friday, June 29.

July 19 - SVI buys local radio stations

SVI Media, owned by Dan Dockstader, bought KDWY (FM), 105.3 and KMER (AM) 940. “I have a passion for both newspapers and radio,” said SVI owner Dan Dockstader. “The community deserves both a radio station and a newspaper. They’re a part of life.”

July 23 - Hometown Floral opens for business

Hometown Floral in downtown Kemmerer officially opened its doors on July 23. Mother and daughter team Cheryl Long and Nicole Anderson are now the owners of the shop, which used to be Petals and Treasures.“We saw the potential for what this place could be,” Long said. “It’s a good opportunity and a dream come true to run it." 

Mother and daughter team Nicole Anderson and Cheryl Long just opened Hometown Floral in downtown Kemmerer. The store sells floral arrangements and a variety of gifts.

Farmhouse-style decor is a staple at the Hometown Floral shop in downtown Kemmerer, which opened in July.

August 2 - Remembering our Roots at Oyster Ridge

Triangle Park came alive with the sounds of bluegrass, folk and rock music for the 24th annual Oyster Ridge Music Festival.Visitors came from all across Wyoming and even the nation to attend the free festival, turning Kemmerer into one big party. The lineup included Mike Mangione and the Kin and Grammy-winning act The Steeldrivers.

Mike Mangione and the Kin perform at the 24th annual Oyster Ridge Music Festival.

August 9 - Diamondville police chief, town clerk resign

“I really have enjoyed serving the community,” said former town clerk Alyssa Hartmann. “I love the people of this town. I’ve lived here most of my life, and I’ve enjoyed helping other people out.” Markus Ramsperger and Jeff Kolata took over the town clerk and police chief positions, respectively.

August 30 - Algae blooms in local reservoirs

This summer, the Wyoming Department of Health has issued an advisory for Kemmerer Reservoir and Lake Viva Naughton due to higher than normal levels of cyanobacteria — harmful algae blooms. Highly visible algae blooms are not unusual occurrences in still waters this time of year, especially when water temperatures have been high.

September 6 - Urgent care center opens in Kemmerer

“I’m really excited about the urgent care,” said South Lincoln Medical CEO Karl Sundberg. “I hope that the increased access makes the public feel comfortable and feel like they have excellent care.”

South Lincoln Medical Center CEO Karl Sundberg is joined by new Urgent Care physician assistants Trevor Steiner and Matthew Thompson and Chamber of Commerce representative Ellen Potter at the Urgent Care grand opening celebration on Friday, Sept. 21.

September 6 - Oyster Ridge Fire burns over Labor Day weekend

Several wildfires are raging across the western states, but the Oyster Ridge Fire that burned over Labor Day weekend was a little too close for comfort for Kemmerer and Diamondville residents. Public and private lands were damaged by the fire, which was contained by firefighting crews on Sunday, Sept. 2.

Kemmerer and BLM firefighters work to extinguish a hotspot on the Oyster Ridge fire on Sept. 1.

September 13 - Indoor pool renovations hit roadblocks

The indoor pool renovations hit a snag when several voids were discovered underneath the pool deck. Superintendent Chaulk is still working on a timetable for when the planned renovations will resume.

September 27 - Commissioners enact fire restrictions for Lincoln County

Several wildfires in Lincoln County and Sublette County prompted the Lincoln County Commissioners to sign a resolution to enact fire restrictions for the county.The Marten Firen in Lincoln County and the Roosevelt Fire in Sublette County burned thousands of acres and damaged dozens of homes.

October 4 - Lincoln County, Game and Fish discuss chronic wasting disease

Scott Talbot, director of Wyoming Game and Fish, joined commissioners from Lincoln and Teton counties to discuss the fatal disease of the central nervous system that is found in mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. The disease has been confirmed in Lincoln and Teton counties.

Wyoming Game and Fish director Scott Talbot presented at a special discussion about Chronic Wasting Disease with the Lincoln County Commissioners on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

October 11 - Westmoreland Coal files Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Westmoreland, which owns the Kemmerer mine, entered into a restructuring support agreement (RSA) with members of an ad hoc group of lenders.The bankruptcy proceedings are currently in court in Houston, Texas.

October 11 - Homecoming celebrations in Kemmerer

The 2018 KHS homecoming royalty was queen Alexis Krall, king Hayden Walker, senior 1st attendant Sierra Rogers, senior 1st attendant Carson Carlson, junior 1st attendants Teryn Thatcher and Ben Wergin, sophomore 1st attendants Aspen Pollard and AQ Martinez and freshman first attendants Quentin Rosas and Olivia Nielson.

October 18 - Hunt takes over as director of Kemmerer Senior Center

“I love being around these seniors,” said Marchane Hunt. “They’re happy every day. I want them to have fun and enjoy this part of their lives. It’s their senior center, so we want them to be happy and comfortable.” 

October 25 - City administrator Nelson resigns

Andrew Nelson resigned as Kemmerer City Administrator. He had held the position since August 2016. “In the two years I’ve worked with Andrew, I’ve seen a vast change in the city’s attitude and how we get things done,” said Mayor Tony Tomassi. “We’ll pick his brain these last few weeks and see what he can leave for us. He’s as good a city administrator as we’ve ever had.”

It’s the Incredibles! Amanda and Ben Head donned their best superhero getups for the Community Fall Festival on Oct. 20 at the Events Center with kids Olson, Natalie and David.

November 8 - Lincoln County votes in midterm elections

Lincoln County elected a new County Clerk, April Brunski, and new County Coroner, Dain Schwab. The public also voted not to pass the sixth penny tax, and voted overwhelmingly to elect Mark Gordon for Wyoming governor.

November 15 - City introduces Kickstart Kemmerer

The new 20-year comprehensive plan will strive to achieve “an attractive community with a diversified economic base where people take pride in their homes, businesses and environment,” through five different categories: Community Appearance, Land Use and Housing, Economic Development, Recreation and Open Spaces, and Public Infrastructure.

Rosie’s Pizzeria and Sports Bar owner Phillip Viviano prepares a pizza as part of the restaurant’s Pizza Forward campaign. The idea to surprise community members with free pizza originated with the KHS Class of 1978 at their 40th reunion.

December 13 - Parade of Trees benefits Turning Point

The community celebrated the return of Turning Point's annual Parade of Trees on Dec. 6. Locals visited area homes that were decorated for the holidays, then gathered at the Best Western for cookies and hot cocoa, raffle drawings, and a performance by the Kemmerer High School choir. Proceeds from the event go to support Turning Point's efforts to help local victims of domestic violence. 

December 20 - Local coal miners protest at Westmoreland headquarters

A group of local coal miners are seeking to make their voices heard though a peaceful protest at Westmoreland Coal Company's corporate headquarters in Englewood, Colo. "We're here to protest (Westmoreland) trying to take away pensioner healthcare, said UMWA Local 1307 chapter president and Westmoreland Kemmerer mine employee Martin Argyle. "This would be devastating for those miners who have retired."