The 2020 year in review

Rafael Nelson and his dog team start off their third stage at the Kemmerer stop. // By Nathanael Himes

Jan. 15 and 23- Exxon plant community asks

Both Kemmerer and Diamondville councils discussed what they would be asking Exxon for during construction that was set to start in August 2020. Both councils said additional funding for police officers as well as other funds it would take to upkeep everything while the construction was happening.

Jan. 30- PCS hearing comments from public concerning plant

The Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC) held an open hearing at the Kemmerer Training and Events Center on Jan. 28, 2020. with nearly 200 people in attendance. The PSC was looking at many factors such as reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, the time period and customer impact. According to RMP’s Integrated Resource Plan, Naughton Unit 3 was to change over to a 247-megawatt natural gas unit in 2020, and be used at high energy times.

Units 1 and 2 will retire by 2025, four years before their established life. When those two units retire, it could cause reliability of RMP to the consumer to drop until Units 1 and 2 can be changed over.

Feb. 6- Pedigree Stage Stop Race lands in Kemmerer

The Pedigree Stage Stop Race made its appearance in Kemmerer on Feb. 3, 2020, for the third leg of the race. The race featured 18 mushers from the United States and Canada, with some rookies and younger ones joining in the race.

Feb. 6- Police officer Bill Thek retires

Kemmerer police officer Bill Thek retired on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, after 34 years of service. Thek started working for the Wyoming Highway Patrol in 1986, and from there he moved to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. Following his service with the Sheriff’s Office, he accepted a position with the Kemmerer Police Department.

Feb. 27- Opal Ammo locked and loaded, now open for business

Father and son team, Daniel Whiteford Sr. Daniel Whiteford Jr. officially opened Opal Ammo for business in February 2020. “Everything is right on track,” said Whiteford Sr. “It took us two to three years to get ready, but we did it.”

March 12- Robotics team takes state

On March 7, 2020, Kemmerer Junior/Senior High School hosted a total of 16 high school and middle school teams at the Vex Robotics Wyoming State Tournament. Kemmerer won the tournament for the second year in a row and also earned the Excellence Award — the top honor given at the tournament.

March 19- Coronavirus forces local closures as number of Wyo. cases climbs

The state’s first case was reported on the night of Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Sheridan County. As of the following Wednesday afternoon, the Wyoming Department of Health said there were 16 total cases: eight in Fremont County, four in Sheridan County, three in Laramie County and one in Park County. Fremont County remained the hardest hit in the state, with eight cases stemming from one infection at a retirement center.

Apr. 16- Wyoming records second coronavirus death

Wyoming reported its second death attributed to coronavirus on Wednesday, Apr. 15, 2020.

The state Department of Health, in a news release, announced that the victim was an older Laramie County man who had been hospitalized for the treatment of coronavirus.

Apr. 16- Local grocers retire

Darrell Alder, the produce department manager of Ridley’s, and his wife, Janie Alder, the general merchandise department manager of Ridley’s, retired after over 30 years in the grocery business.

Apr. 30- Kemmerer abandons ward system for city council elections

Historically, Kemmerer has been divided into three ward seats on the Kemmerer City Council. A proposal was made to eliminate the ward system and go to an “at-large” system. In an at-large system, every other year three council positions become available. Residents from any part of town can run, and the top three vote-counts get the job. Changing to an at-large vote in a city the size of Kemmerer is not unheard of. The important thing is to fill those council seats, the reason for the proposed change in the first place.

Apr. 30- Ace is the place — time and time again

Scott and Jill Tharp bought Kemmerer’s Ace Hardware store from Jill’s mom in 2018. The great news is the store stayed in the family for a third generation. Pamela, Jill’s mom, wanted to retire. Pamela’s parents owned it previously. Certainly, things have changed in three generations, and the coronavirus is changing some things up.

Apr. 30- Students won’t return to classrooms until fall

The following message was sent by Lincoln County School District No. 2 on Friday, April 17, 2020: To ensure students and staff health and safety, Lincoln County School District No. 2 approved Adapted Learning Plan will continue through May 29, 2020. Students in LCSD No. 2 will not be returning to classrooms for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

May 7- Search and Rescue move annual fundraiser online amid pandemic

The first online raffle on Friday, April 24, by the Lincoln County Search and Rescue (LCSR) took exactly 37 minutes. They had planned on several hours for the 47 items to be sold, then up to two more hours for all payments to come in, with the raffle possibly being held on Saturday. To call the event a success is an understatement. But to have a successful event is a definite win in the time of coronavirus.

May 21- Wyoming National Guard flyover offers gratitude to frontline workers

Scheduled to arrive at 1:05 p.m. over South Lincoln Medical Center (SLMC) in Kemmerer on Friday, May 15, two C-130 cargo planes from the Wyoming National Guard made their appearance for a flyover from the north four minutes early. And in less than 20 seconds, they were out of sight.

June 4- Graduates spotlighted in unprecedented ceremony

June 25- Kemmerer teens to participate in Afton singing competition

Two Kemmerer students participated in a singing competition in Afton. Janelle Sawaya and Angel Sadler were selected to participate in Teen Vocalist.

June 18- Legion retires over 100 flags

On Flag Day, Sunday, June 14, over 100 flags of the United States of America were collected to be retired in Kemmerer by American Legion Post No. 55. The ceremony was well supported by people of all ages.

July 2- Gazette has new editor

As of last week, Mysti Willmon is the new editor for the Kemmerer Gazette. Willmon has bachelor’s degrees in Journalism News/Editorial and English Creative Writing from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

July 23- The fair is on and bigger than ever

The Lincoln County Fair featured a carnival, sea lions and lots of sanitizer to comply with COVID-19 regulations. “In addition to our usual tasks, our completely volunteer board is having to address regulations and concerns related to COVID-19,” said Del Cunningham, vice chairman of the fair board. “It really has been a monumental undertaking.”

July 23- Five things: School District No. 1 board meeting

Schools in Lincoln County School District No. 1 have been approved for both in-person and synchronous classes via computer. This means that those who choose to keep their children home because of safety reasons with COVID-19 will have access to the classes online.

Aug. 6- Propane fire at Lincoln County Fair, three injured

At 8:29 a.m. on Aug. 3, Cowboy Cookin’ Kitchen and Catering truck burst into flames. Three employees were injured in the fire. Investigations found the source of the fire to be from propane in the food truck.

Aug. 13- City Council talks about saving J.C. Penney mother store

During latest Kemmerer City Council meeting on Monday, Aug. 10, the council looked at many different ways to keep the J.C. Penney mother store alive. Muir has talked with the broker in charge of the property and found that the property will be sold, not auctioned. Muir also found out from the broker that whoever buys the store will get the J.C. Penney Homestead as well.

Sept. 10- Lincoln County Library turns the page on the book sale

The Lincoln County Library book sale, held by the Lincoln County Library Foundation, sold around 80%-90% of the stock available.

Sept. 10- Turning Point turns to the community

Budget cuts have affected everyone this year. Lincoln County Turning Point hasn’t escaped the cuts. Bobbie Orcutt, Lincoln County Turning Point director, said their loss is at nearly $43,000.

Nov. 5- Results are in, Thek for mayor, but who’s president

In the 2020 election, Bill Thek defeated Robert Bowen for Kemmerer mayor by 69 votes.

Nov. 19- Working on Kemmerer: what’s going on

In September and October, Downtown Redevelopment Services came to Kemmerer and studied the downtown area. A survey was published online as well as in the Kemmerer Gazette. A total of 174 surveys were completed by Kemmerer residents. The residents of Kemmerer want a coffee shop and family-friendly dining most of all. Most residents visit the downtown daily and said that improved retail or service establishments and improved programming would make the downtown more vibrant.

Nov. 25- Public health order for Lincoln County

On Nov. 18, Lincoln County Public Health Officer Dr. G. Christopher Krell, M.D., issued a public health order requiring all adults within Lincoln County to wear face coverings in certain places open to the public until Dec. 4. The health order was later extended until Jan. 4, 2021 through a statewide mask mandate.

Nov. 25- Gazette changes days, Wednesday paper now

Three papers in southwest Wyoming, including the Kemmerer Gazette, will see some changes. The Gazette will move from a Thursday paper to a Wednesday paper.

These changes are beyond our control, as there have been changes made with printing presses.

Dec. 30- First COVID-19 vaccine

On Dec. 28, 2020, the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered at South Lincoln Medical Center in Kemmerer.

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