Jul 3, 2015

Game and Fish offering free photo workshop

Would you like to learn how to take better photos of landscapes and wildlife?

If so, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is inviting you to join them for a free photography workshop on Tuesday, July 7, at their Cody office.

Jessica Grant, a photography intern with the Game and Fish, will teach attendees how to capture compelling stories through photography, create dynamic compositions and control the technical aspects of images. The two-hour session, from 2 to 4 p.m., will include a presentation and an opportunity to shoot under Grant's guidance.

“After the workshop, participants will be better prepared to take stunning images of Wyoming's wild places and animals,” Grant said in a department news release.

Participants should bring a camera and RSVP to Jessica Grant at jessica.grant@wyo.gov.

The Game and Fish Cody Regional office is located at 2820 State Hwy 120.

Energy West becomes Black Hills Energy for local gas customers

Thousands of people around Cody, Ralston and Meeteetse have a new company providing their natural gas service.

As of the start of this month, Energy West's roughly 6,700 customers became customers of Black Hills Energy. They'll begin seeing the Black Hills Energy name and logo on company vehicles and correspondence in the coming months.

The change comes because Black Hills Corporation bought Energy West Wyoming and 72 miles of pipeline assets from Energy West Development. The $17 million deal was announced last October and finalized on Wednesday.

“We are pleased to welcome our new customers into the Black Hills family,” Justin Jones, Black Hills Energy’s manager of operations for northwest Wyoming, said in a news release. “We look forward to providing safe, reliable natural gas service to our customers through the immediate support of our entire gas utility team, along with a full menu of convenient services, including electronic billing and payment.”

Based in Rapid City, South Dakota, Black Hills Corp. serves 792,000 natural gas and electric utility customers in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. (One of its subsidiaries is Cheyenne Light, Fuel and Power.) The corporation also generates wholesale electricity and produces natural gas, oil and coal.

Jones said Black Hill Energy will provide its new customers with updates and information.

“We like to hear from our customers,” he said. “We’re strong advocates for energy efficiency, so we provide tips for saving energy along with information on our other products and services.”

For more information, visit www.blackhillsenergy.com or call 888-890-5554.

Jul 2, 2015

Two more injured after approaching Yellowstone bison

It's getting to be a familiar story out of Yellowstone National Park this summer: a person disobeys park regulations, gets too close to a buffalo and gets hurt.

Park officials said two more people were injured by bison in recent days, meaning there's been four such incidents since mid-May.

In an encounter last week, an off-duty concession employee was attacked after happening upon a bison during a nighttime walk. Then on Wednesday, a hiker was gored after walking past a buffalo that was alongside a trail.

A bison is pictured in Norris Campground in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy Diane Renkin, National Park Service
In the wake of the incidents, Yellowstone officials are again reminding visitors to be responsible for their safety, including by staying at least 25 yards away from bison.

The concession employee, a 19-year-old woman from Georgia, had gone swimming in the Firehole River with some friends after dark on June 23, park officials said in a news release. She'd been walking back to the group's car with one of the friends when they happened within about 10 feet of a bison that had been lying down.

The employee's companion turned and ran, but before she could react, the animal charged and tossed her in the air. The group members returned to Canyon Village, where they all live and work, but the 19-year-old later felt ill and called for medical help. Park rangers took her by ambulance to a hospital outside the park. The woman was released with minor injuries later that day.

"Visitors should remember that while many of the bison and elk in the park may appear tame, they are wild animals and should never be approached," the park service says.

In Wednesday's incident, a 68-year-old woman from Georgia was hiking on the Storm Point trail, approximately 300 yards from the trailhead, when she encountered a bison near the trail. The woman kept walking on the trail, and the bison charged and gored her as she passed it.

Due to serious injuries, the woman was transported to Lake Clinic by ground ambulance and then by airlifted to a hospital outside the park.

They were the third and fourth bison encounters in Yellowstone this summer.

On May 15, a 16-year-old Taiwanese girl was gored in the Old Faithful area. On June 2, a 62-year-old Australian man got repeatedly tossed in the air near the Old Faithful Lodge.

In both of those instances, the visitors had gotten within about five feet of the bison.

If you encounter a large animal along a trail, either find a way to safely go around it or consider turning around.

"Visitors should remember that while many of the bison and elk in the park may appear tame, they are wild animals and should never be approached," the Park Service said in the news release. "Bison can sprint three times faster than humans can run and are unpredictable and dangerous."

Park regulations require visitors stay at least 25 yards away from all large animals (bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose and coyotes) and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves.
If a visitor comes upon a bison or elk along a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in developed areas, they must give the animal at least 25 yards by either safely going around the animal or turning around, altering their plans and not approaching the animal.

Budweiser Clydesdales an immediate hit in Cody

Budweiser's famed Clydesdale horses are in Cody, and although they have yet to make their first "official" public appearance, they've already proven a big hit.

The horses have been staying at the Riley Arena and Community Events Center since Tuesday, gearing up for a public viewing party at the arena (4 to 7 p.m. today, Thursday) and showings in the Stampede Parade on Friday and Saturday.

However, folks have been welcome to informally stop by and check out the Clydesdales at the Riley Arena over the past couple days. By arena manager David Koch's estimation, hundreds of people have dropped in.

“A lot of people are excited to the see the horses,” Koch said Thursday morning. “A lot of smiles around here.”

He expected even more people to take a look at the horses on Thursday. Folks are welcome to come by anytime while the arena's open, though the official viewing party doesn't start until 4 p.m.

Budweiser's Clydesdales have already drawn many people at the Riley Arena. Cody News Co. photos by John Wetzel
During the party, there will some food and drinks and “the horses will actually be outside of their stalls,” giving attendees the opportunity to take photos with “and possibly pet the Clydesdales,” Koch said.

A good-sized team is taking care of the Budweiser Clydesdales in Cody, constantly freshening their hay and cleaning their stalls, Koch said. All of the animals' feed was shipped last week.

“These animals are superstars,” Koch said.

Park County Sheriff's deputies have been providing security for the Clydesdales when they're not on display or otherwise out and about. The sheriff's office said it's being reimbursed for the cost of the security services. 

The horses may be at the Riley Arena until Monday, he said. They're scheduled for a private reception on Sunday following Friday and Saturday's parades.

Cody man injured in Wednesday motorcycle crash

A Cody motorcyclist was injured Wednesday evening after swerving to miss a vehicle that had turned in front of him.

William O. Kuhnle, 65, was taken to West Park Hospital with an apparent head injury after the 6:30 p.m. crash, the Park County Sheriff's Office said in a Thursday news release. It took place at the intersection of Beacon Hill Road (Road 3CX) and Road 2DAW, just east of Yellowstone Regional Airport.

The driver of a 2009 Ford pickup, 71-year-old Susan T. Ahalt of Cody, told responding Park County Sheriff's deputies that she'd been driving south on Beacon Hill Road.

Ahalt began making a left-hand turn (to the east) onto Road 2DAW, but then saw Kuhnle approaching in the opposite, northbound lane, said the news release. Ahalt tried to abort the turn and straighten out her truck, but by that time, Kunhle had already swerved to miss her and fallen from his motorcycle, the release said.

When sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene, Kuhnle was lying in the middle of Beacon Hill Road with his 2010 Harley Davidson motorcycle nearby on its side. Kuhnle was bleeding from the right side of his head and had no memory of what had just happened, the release said.

The sheriff's office did not know Kuhnle's condition on Thursday.

Ahalt, who was not injured, received a citation for failure to yield the right of way on a left turn at an intersection.

The sheriff's office said it's continuing to investigate the crash.

City of Cody seeking participants for first-ever citizen academy

Want to learn how Cody's city government actually works?

Coordinators of the City of Cody Citizen Academy are currently seeking folks who want to participate in the city's first-ever academy.

The academy is intended to let participants experience the “inner‐workings” of city departments and get a better understanding of city management, operations and procedures. City employees, meanwhile, will get a chance to learn from the citizens participating in the academy. City leaders hope the whole process will strengthen the ties between the Cody community and the city government.

Academy participants will interact with employees in city administration, parks and recreation, public works, electric, water, wastewater and police departments.  Sessions will be taught by city employees and run on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m., beginning on Sept. 16. Meals will be provided.

“We are exploring interesting exercises and topics that participants will learn,” the city said in a letter announcing the academy. “Potential sessions include city customer service responsibilities, city finances, parks and recreation activities, building security searches, crime scene investigations, firearms handling, utility bucket truck, trencher, city council proceedings, legal, and the city budget process.”

The academy is free for participants. The city will spend up to $2,000 on the program, with an additional $2,000 coming from a Wyoming Business Council grant.

Academy coordinators will be screening applicants to ensure they represent a cross‐section of the community.

“We are seeking academy participants of all ages, and that are from all walks of life – retirees, laborers, business owners and administrative professionals,” said the city's letter, calling it a “unique activity based learning opportunity.”

Applications are due by July 29. They can be downloaded by clicking here or can be requested from Rick Manchester at the Paul Stock Aquatic & Recreation Center (307‐527‐3484 or RickM@cityofcody.com).

Jul 1, 2015

Rider with Cody ties wins Xtreme Bulls event for third time

Northwest College alum Shane Proctor hung on to claim the title at Tuesday night's Cody/Yellowstone Xtreme Bulls event.

The bulls found plenty of success they bucked off every single rider in the competition's second round — but Proctor earned the win with a 86.5-point score in the opening round. That bested seven other qualified rides. Proctor nearly held on for another eight seconds in round two, but got bucked off just 0.4 seconds before the buzzer.

Proctor also won the event in 2011. Cody News Co. file photo by Randal Horobik
As a news release from the event organizers put it, the win didn't come the way Proctor would have liked, but was a win nonetheless. He pocketed $4,355 as the champ of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event.

“It means the world to me to win in Cody,” the 30-year-old Proctor said in the release. “I rode in this arena a lot when I was at school in Powell. I have good luck here and it seems to get my summer off to a good start.”

His winning ride came on Frontier Rodeo's bull, The Whistle.

Proctor hails from Grand Coulee, Washington, and has another place in North Carolina, but he's also proud of his Wyoming ties, the news release said. He attended Northwest College in 2004-2005 and became a fixture at the Cody Nite Rodeo, competing in every event except steer wrestling. He also built log homes while in Cody country and did some substitute teaching.

“It means the world to me to win in Cody,” Shane Proctor said.

Proctor still has many friends and fans in the area and many cheered him on Tuesday night at Cody Stampede Park, the release said.

It was Proctor's third time winning Cody's Xtreme Bulls event, the other two coming in 2011 (when he went on to be world champion bull rider) and 2012.

Cody's Stampede Week continues through Saturday with other rodeo action. More information is available at www.codystampederodeo.com or on Facebook

Full results are below.

First Round:
1. Shane Proctor, Grand Coulee, Wash., 86.5 points, $1,648
2. Tag Elliott, 84, $1,245
3. Jeff Askey, Martin, Tenn., 83, $920
4. Caleb Sanderson, Hallettsville, Texas, 81, $596
5. Dallee Mason, Weiser, Idaho, 75.5, $379
6. (tie) Trevor Kastner, Ardmore, Okla., and Tyler Smith, Fruita, Colo., 75 and $244 each

Final Round: 
No qualified rides

Overall Winners:
1. Proctor, 86.5, $2,707
2. Elliott, 84, $2,076
3. Askey, $1,534
4. Sanderson, 81, $993
5. Mason, 75.5, $532
6. (tie) Smith and Kastner, 75, $408 each

Jun 30, 2015

Reminder: Fireworks not allowed in city of Cody

Cody police are asking folks to celebrate the Fourth of July safely and legally including by not shooting off fireworks within city limits.

Cody ordinance prohibits the use of fireworks in the city and Police Chief Perry Rockvam asks residents to obey the law.

"This is an especially busy time for us already and when we receive calls of fireworks, we're constantly responding to other things at the same time of trying to deal with fireworks calls," Rockvam said in a Tuesday video message posted to YouTube.

The chief also wished everyone a happy Fourth of July.

"Have a great time, drink responsibly, party responsibly and enjoy our great city," Rockvam said.

Century-old rifle mysteriously abandoned in Nevada now on display in Cody

A 132-year-old rifle left up against a tree and mysteriously abandoned for years in the Nevada desert is now in a far more prominent position in Cody.

The Winchester Model 1873 lever-action rifle, discovered in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park last year, is now on display in the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West Security Manager Mike Brown and Cody Firearms Museum Curator Ashley Hlebinsky take a closer look at the Model 1873 Winchester. Photo courtesy Buffalo Bill Center of the West
How the ancient Winchester came to be abandoned has been the subject of much speculation across the Internet, and Firearms Museum Curator Ashley Hlebinsky is encouraging amateur sleuths to weigh in with their theories on the Buffalo Bill Center of the West website.

“Who owned the firearm and why it was there may remain a mystery, but that allure is what’s so cool about this 'forgotten' rifle,” Hlebinsky wrote in a blog post for Outdoor Life

Archaeologists at Great Basin just happened to spot the artifact in November 2014.

The gun's cracked wood stock, now weathered to gray, and its brown rusted barrel blended in with the old juniper tree it was left leaning against, helping camouflage the rifle for who knows how many years.

Great Basin National Park employees posted a photograph of the leaning rifle on the park’s Facebook page in January and asked, “Can you find the man-made object in this image?” That and follow-up posts helped spur the “Forgotten Winchester” to become a viral sensation online.

The old Winchester, in the spot where it was found. Photo courtesy Great Basin National Park
After the rifle's discovery, Great Basin National Park officials took it to the Center of the West’s Cody Firearms Museum for conservation and identification. Staff at the center, which holds the manufacturing records for Winchester firearms, determined the forgotten gun had been manufactured in 1883. They also applied an adhesive to stop the rifle's flaking wood from degrading further and, with the help of West Park Hospital, took a look inside the weapon.

“After exhausting conventional methods to see if the gun was loaded, we literally walked across the street, gun in hand, to have it x-rayed at a neighboring hospital,” Hlebinsky explained in the Outdoor Life post. “And only in a cowboy town like Cody would no one give us a second look.”

The x-ray images provided reassurance that the gun wasn't loaded, but revealed a cartridge in the trap of the butt stock. The round was ultimately identified as a Union Metallic Cartridge Company .44 WCF cartridge, made sometime between 1887 and 1911.

One of the images from the x-ray session at West Park Hospital.
Hlebinsky said the mysteries around the Winchester 1873 have fueled its popularity and interest.

“Why would you leave your rifle and not come back for it?” Hlebinsky asked in a center news release. “How many years was it hidden? Why was it left leaning against a tree? We here at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the staff at Great Basin are both asking the same questions.”

Many people across the country have asked those questions and offered their guesses, too.

“In a gravelly voice, it may recite a yarn of weary settlers swaying on horses' backs in the parched, rocky Nevada wilderness,” suggested a CNN piece on the firearm's discovery.

“That part of Nevada, there was tons of silver mines around there. It was most likely a prospector," offered Pawn Stars star Rick Harrison, in in an interview with Fox News. “And the only thing I can imagine is he was not far from the gun and something happened to the owner. I mean, back then people did not leave a gun behind.”

“Whatever the actual story, it has the makings of a great campfire tale,” writer Scott Engen posted on the Winchester website.

“Perhaps it belonged to a lone cowboy riding the high range. Perhaps it was set aside by a sourdough prospector in his search for a vein of rich ore,” wrote Winchester writer Scott Engen, in a posting on the company's website. “Whatever the actual story, it has the makings of a great campfire tale.”

The rifle will remain on display in the Cody Firearms Museum until this fall, when it will be returned to Great Basin.

~By CJ Baker, cj@codynewscompany.com

Jun 29, 2015

Alpha female and cow elk square off in new Yellowstone video

Trying to take down an elk can be a difficult, dangerous proposition for a wolf, says a new educational video from Yellowstone National Park.

Of the wolves collared by researchers, 15 percent of the animals who've died in Yellowstone have died at the hands of their would-be prey, according to Yellowstone Wolf Project research cited in the park's Monday video. 

“In fact, healthy elk of prime age could be considered nearly invulnerable to wolves,” says wolf project research associate Kira Cassidy in narrating the clip. “The successful hunts (elk killed by wolves) have something wrong with them that we maybe had no idea just by looking at the animal while it's alive.”

The difference between an elk dying or surviving could something as small as a broken bone that didn’t heal quite right, overgrown hooves or tooth problems, Cassidy says.

Her narration is laid over a dramatic video of an alpha female from the Lamar Canyon wolf pack hunting a cow elk in and around Soda Butte Creek, in Yellowstone's northeastern corner.

At the time the video picks up the action, the elk is already missing a chunk from one of its hind legs.

“That’s a typical spot for a wolf to grab on to an elk to try and not only slow down the elk, but control one of the back legs so they can avoid being kicked,” Cassidy explains. “It can be incredibly dangerous to try and take down an animal that, in the case of a cow elk, may be five to seven times larger than a pretty large wolf.”

She says in the video that it's important to remember wolves and elk have evolved together for thousands of years with wolves working to keep up with strong, fast and aggressive elk, and elk trying to outpace the wolves nipping at their heels.

SPOILER: Things don't end well for the elk.
“It's really an incredible partnership between elk and wolves,” Cassidy says.

A postscript to the park service-produced video says that while the wolf ultimately won this battle, only 5 to 10 percent of wolf hunts are successful, on average.

Friday ceremony to honor veterans

The men and women of America’s armed forces will be honored in a Friday ceremony at the State of Wyoming Veterans Memorial Park in Cody.

The annual Freedom Celebration, hosted by the Park County Republican Party, begins at 1 p.m.

The 2012 edition of the annual Freedom Celebration. Cody News Co. file photo by CJ Baker
“We will honor all veterans and pay special tribute to those who served in the Vietnam War,” said Republican party chairman Colin Simpson.

Simpson said several high-ranking military officials are expected as honored guests, with the Cody VFW Honor Guard and the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard of Barstow, Calif., scheduled to participate.

The veterans memorial park is located just off the Greybull Highway (U.S. Highway 14-16-20 east), about one mile west of Yellowstone Regional Airport.

Cody Country Art League picks top artists in 50th annual show

More than 150 works of local art were recently judged at the Cody Country Art League, with two artists earning top honors.

In the art league's 50th annual art show, Colleen Drury won Best of Show for her oil painting "Aspens Aflame.”
Colleen Drury's winning painting, "Aspens Aflame." Courtesy photo
Eight-year-old Teak Barhaug won Best of Show Youth for his pastel titled "Wolf."
Teak Barhaug's "Wolf." Courtesy photo
Both Drury and Barhaug received multiple awards.

The Cody Country Art League’s June 19 reception and open house featured a display of entries and award presentations. The entries were judged by Northwest College art educator Anne Toner, who selected first, second and honorable mention winners for each category.

Cash awards from the art league were presented to first and second place winners, as well as "Best of Show" for both adult and youth entrants. Showing strong community support for the art show, individuals and businesses selected and handed out another 15 cash prizes known as Sponsor Awards.

The show remains on display at the Cody Country Art League, 836 Sheridan Avenue in Cody, through July 24. Most entries are available for purchase.

For more information, visit www.codycountryartleague.com or call 587-3597.

Famous Clydesdales coming to Cody for July 4

Budweiser's world-famous Clydesdales have appeared in events ranging from television broadcasts, to Presidential inaugurations and this week, they'll appear in Cody to help celebrate the Fourth of July.

The Clydesdales will arrive at the Riley Arena on Tuesday; the public is welcome to visit the horses throughout the day on Wednesday.

Budweiser Clydesdales will be on display in Cody this week. Courtesy photo
Folks can get a closer look at a Clydesdale beginning at 4 p.m. Thursday, during a public viewing party at the Riley Arena. The full hitch will then be on display during the Cody Stampede parade on Friday and Saturday (July 4).

The annual parade begins at 9:30 a.m. both days in downtown Cody.

Budweiser Clydesdales have served as icons for the company and America since their introduction in 1933, after the repeal of Prohibition.

For more information, visit http://www.budweiser.com/clydesdales/codystampede.html

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