Patrol provides life-saving service with ‘blood runs’ (posted 2/16/17)
Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Tim Romig holds the door for Trooper Dave Redding at the Albany County line as Redding pulls platelets from the back of Romig's patrol car near Cheyenne, Wyoming, Feb. 3. The platelets were needed at the hospital in Rock Springs. Photo courtesy Wyoming Department of Transportation.
Wyoming Highway Patrol
Snow blows across the roadway, creating areas of ice even where the sun shines.
"11 degrees … there’s a potential for black ice." He scans the roadway for gravel and dry pavement before pointing out a dry line. "Do you see that gray area? I’m keeping my tires on that line." Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Tim Romig is always reassessing the road to determine how he can make his delivery safely, even while traveling more than 110 mph in his Dodge Charger on a day on which the forecast calls for winds between 55 and 75 mph in areas of Southeast Wyoming.
Romig raced west on Interstate 80 on Feb. 3 not to pursue a speeding driver but to deliver platelets.
Troopers call the service a "blood run."
When a hospital in Wyoming runs out of blood or platelets, it puts a call in to the WHP. If the event meets WHP requirements, several troopers are organized to make a relay run from Cheyenne to wherever the blood may be needed. The first available trooper is sent once the call is made.
"It must be an emergency," Romig said. "We run ‘lights on.’ But it’s a life-saving service we provide."
Regardless of the conditions – even if roads are closed because of weather – the troopers answer the call.
"Someone’s life hangs in the balance," he said. "The hospital can save someone’s life with (the blood)."
Blood runs are needed several times a month. And, sometimes, there may be more than one run in a day.
"Sometimes hospitals run completely out of blood, and they have someone in surgery," Romig said. "Sometimes the need can be because of a bad crash."
Troopers can complete the run faster as a relay. The Feb. 3 run from Cheyenne to Rock Springs would call for four-five troopers, Romig said. Because each trooper knows the region and drives a portion of the section they run twice, they know what the conditions will be. Additionally, he said the troopers are more attentive than if they had to drive two-three hours by themselves.
"We try to do these as quick as we can," he said. But safety is always paramount, he adds. He tries not to surprise drivers. He doesn’t want them to change lanes too quickly or anything else that could present a danger. He’s careful not to pull too close to vehicles. He wants a clear path but doesn’t want them to think they themselves are being pulled over.
"People can’t always hear the siren or see the lights until the patrol car is close," Romig said. He calls it outrunning your siren.
"These people don’t know how important what we’re carrying is," he said.
Romig met Trooper Dave Redding at the Albany County line. The 26-mile trip from United Blood Services in Cheyenne to the county line took around 18 minutes. Romig estimates the average speed of the trip was around 90 mph.
Romig said there are more people than just the troopers who are involved.
"Without the plows and sanders, we wouldn’t be able to drive through on these roads," he said. "Without the mechanics we wouldn’t have serviceable vehicles. And without dispatch and the (Transportation Management Center), we wouldn’t have the information we need to make the trip. All of this ties together and saves someone’s life."
All of this effort is made despite that everyone involved will never even know who they helped.
Always vigilant and working to keep the roads safe, Romig spots a vehicle parked on the side of the road on the return trip to Cheyenne and radios in to check to see if another trooper has already made a welfare check on it. After confirming that they have, he drives on, ready for the next life-saving call.
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Cache Creek Road temporarily closed due to conditions (posted 2/16/17)
Bridger-Teton National Forest
JACKSON, WYOMING, FEBRUARY 16, 2017 – The Cache Creek road on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Jackson Ranger District, is temporarily closed to vehicle traffic from the edge of town to the trailhead. People are still welcome to recreate in the drainage but no parking is allowed in front of the road barrier or along Upper Cache Creek Drive. There are small parking areas available at May Park which is approximately 1 mile from the trailhead and at Mike Yokel Park which is a little over a mile from the trailhead. Due to icy, narrow roads, and wildlife in the area, people walking with dogs are advised to leash their dog while on the town roads and leashes are required on the Cache road through the trailhead area.
The Cache Creek road was temporarily closed on Thursday February 9th when conditions significantly deteriorated and the snow base turned to slush. These conditions exceeded the capability of the Forest Service pick-up plow to move the slush and no other equipment was available. Despite the road closure, people attempted to drive up to the trailhead over the weekend and many vehicles became stuck. The subsequent cold temperatures have now created a one-way, frozen lane on the hill leading to the trailhead. The one lane is VERY icy and narrow and does not allow safe passage for both incoming and outgoing vehicle traffic. Forest Service personnel attempted to plow the road on Monday February 13th but found that it could not be accomplished without damaging the small plow or potentially tearing up the road. Thus, the decision was made to keep the road closed until temperatures warm enough to soften the ice and enable widening the road. Similar conditions exist at Nelson Drive. The trailhead is not plowed and people driving should plan to park along Broadway Ave and walk to the trailhead.
Teton County Parks and Recreation Department will continue grooming the Cache Creek trail on Friday. District Ranger Dale Deiter said that he recognizes that the longer walk is inconvenient but hopes that people will still visit the drainage and take advantage of the chance to experience Cache Creek with fewer people around. The area will continue to be patrolled with conditions checked daily. Warmer temperatures are forecasted, increasing the hope that the road can be opened early next week. In the meantime, recreationists may also want to explore the many alternative areas available to ski, walk, bike, or exercise your dog.
Check out the Jackson Hole Nordic Report at www.jhnordic.com for ideas or contact the Bridger-Teton National Forest at 307-739-5500 for suggestions.
Yellowstone recruiting for 2017 Youth Conservation Corps program (posted 2/16/17)
Work-based park education program for youth ages 15-18, deadline to apply is March 1, 2017
National Park Service
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WYOMING - How would you like to help Yellowstone while you work, learn, play, and serve in the world’s first national park? Yellowstone National Park is currently recruiting for the 2017 Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program, a residential work-based education program for young men and women between the ages of 15 and 18. Visit the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) Program (https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/management/yccjobs.htm) for application materials.
Completed application materials must be received no later than March 1, 2017.
YCC is designed to develop an appreciation for the nation's natural resources and heritage through unique educational, recreational, and work experiences. Yellowstone recruits youth from all social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds for the program. Corps members work together with National Park Service staff to complete conservation projects such as rehabilitation of trails, campground restoration, and a wide variety of resource management, visitor support services, and maintenance projects.
Participants and staff develop their job and leadership skills while further exploring personal values, gaining self-esteem, expanding their awareness of work ethics, and learning firsthand about environmental and conservation issues. Corps members will also participate in evening and weekend recreational activities and discover the many options for careers in the National Park Service and other land management agencies.
Yellowstone will offer two, month-long YCC sessions, June 11 to July 12, and July 16 to August 16. Sixty youth will be selected from across the country to participate in the program.
No previous wilderness experience is required, but a willingness and ability to work in a physically active outdoor program, getting along well with others, and maintaining a positive attitude are essential for success.
Participants will be required to live on location, and room and board will be provided at a minimal cost. Wages will be set at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Applicants must be citizens of the United States and be 15 years of age by June 11, but not over 18 years of age by August 16.
Questions may be directed to YELL_YCC_Office@nps.gov.
The Yellowstone YCC Program is funded by park entrance fees and Yellowstone Forever.
U.S. Senate pages wanted for summer 2017 (posted 2/16/17)
Deadline to apply is March 1, 2017
U.S. Senator Mike Enzi
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, is encouraging Wyoming high school students to apply to be a Senate page for the summer sessions in Washington, D.C.
There are a total of 30 page positions in the United States Senate each session and Enzi is fortunate to have the opportunity to sponsor a young adult from Wyoming to serve in one of these positions.
The deadline for summer applications is March 1, 2017.
"The page program allows students to have a front row seat during debates in the U.S. Senate," said Enzi. "The program will provide experiences that participants will carry with them forever."
Page duties consist primarily of delivering correspondence and legislative material at the Capitol. Other duties include preparing the Senate chamber for sessions and carrying bills and amendments to the appropriate people on the Senate floor.
Summer page eligibility is limited to rising high school juniors and seniors this summer who will be 16 or 17 years old on or before the date of the appointment. Applicants must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0.
Pages live in Webster Hall located near the Capitol and receive a stipend to cover the cost of the residence. Breakfast and dinner are provided each day.
The first summer session runs from June 12 to June 30, and the second summer session runs from July 10 to July 28. The application and additional information can be found by going to www.enzi.senate.gov. Further questions can be directed to Dianne Kirkbride in Senator Enzi’s Cheyenne office at 307-772-2477 or Dianne_Kirkbride@enzi.senate.gov.
Skier fatality in Couloir on South Teton (posted 2/16/17)
Grand Teton National Park
MOOSE, WYOMING - Park rangers recovered the body of a backcountry ski mountaineer at the bottom of a couloir on the south aspect of the South Teton Wednesday, February 15, at approximately 6 p.m. The skier is identified as John "Jack" Fields Jr., age 26, a current resident of Jackson, Wyoming.
Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a call for assistance at approximately 11a.m. Wednesday with a report of a backcountry skier who fell in the area of the Amore Vida Couloir and was not responding via his radio. The three other members of the party remained above the couloir and made the call for help.
Park rangers requested the Teton County Search and Rescue helicopter and conducted an aerial reconnaissance of the area. The victim was visually located. The three park rangers on board the helicopter were flown to Snowdrift Lake, and skied and hiked to the scene. Upon arrival at approximately 1:45 p.m. Fields was determined to be deceased. It is believed he died from injuries sustained in the fall. His body was removed via a helicopter long-line operation and transported to the Sawmill Ponds Overlook near the north end of the Moose-Wilson Road. The body was turned over to the Teton County Coroner's Office.
Fields was in a party of four that had summited the South Teton and planned to ski down via the Amore Vida Couloir. On the approach to the Amore Vida Couloir, Fields fell and slid out of sight from the other individuals. He fell approximately 1,400 vertical feet in an unnamed couloir between Amore Vida Couloir and the southeast face of the South Teton.
As the body was being recovered, the other three individuals in the party waited at a location approximately 1,300 feet below the summit of the South Teton. They waited for snow conditions to improve before ascending back to the summit of the South Teton and making their descent down Garnet Canyon. The party arrived safely at the Taggart Lake Trailhead at 10:30 p.m.
Park rangers report highly variable conditions in the backcountry at this time. Snow can vary from soft and wet surfaces to rock-hard wind slab or breakable crusts with subtle changes in aspect and elevation.
Winter Carnival Registration is OPEN! (posted 2/15/17)
February 17 – 20, 2017
Main Street Pinedale
Main Street Pinedale is pleased to announce registration is open for the Pinedale Winter Carnival!
We are encouraging participants to pre-register by downloading registration forms at www.mainstreetpinedale.com completing them and returning them to the event host indicated on the form. Pre-registration will assist all event hosts, by reducing registrants the day of and helping to run us to smoother events with limited volunteers!
Full schedule at www.mainstreetpinedale.com
Event updates are also available on Facebook at Pinedale Winter Carnival.
A run-down of events:
Outdoor events kick off with the Snow sculpture building contest in American Legion Park. You can get as fancy as you want or build a simple snowman. This event is open to teams of up to 6 people of ALL AGES, so bring your family, friends, business team or whoever! Building begins Weds at 3pm with judging Friday at 4pm. Registration is free, and prizes will be given.
Thursday at 7:30pm Pub Sessions at the Wind River Brewing, features local musicians jamming in a reincarnation of hootenanny.
Ski-joring pre-registration is Friday night 6pm at Boondocks Pizza, so grab some refreshments, fill out your paperwork and get ready! If you are a skier or rider looking for a partner, please post in the Pinedale Winter Carnival facebook page, or show up to the Boondocks Party.
Live Music with the Jason Tyler Burton Band starts at 8:30pm at Wind River Brewing.
Saturday morning kicks off with a delicious pancake breakfast at Our Lady of the Peace Catholic Church starting at 7:30am. You don’t have to be Catholic, but you do need an appetite! Donations for the breakfast will be accepted.
Ski-joring kicks off at about 9am on Saturday at the Field west of JAK’s Salon. The course will be longer this year, with roller jumps and gates. We have added a family/youth division, so children under 15 years of age can team up with a parent, sibling, or friend. Those over 15 years of age must enter an adult division. After the match team divisions, and depending on time, weather, and course conditions, we will run a draw Jackpot. You can enter as an individual skier or rider, be matched with a partner and run once. It will be a great opportunity to give ski-joring a try! This year we have a $4000 added pot for prizes! We hope to run a Calcutta after the first runs, but that is to be determined. Contestants should park on the street just west of JAKS, Spectators enter from Garrision Ave. east of WYDOT. Spectators are $10/a car. Food and beverages will be available onsite.
Starting at 1pm the Pinedale Snow Explorers and Altitude off-road will be taking sign-ups for the Snowmobile speeds runs on Fremont Lake. This will be a casual event, so show up whenever and run. Spectators should park at Lakeside Lodge, which is offering specials. Because there is so much snow there is limited parking at Lakeside, please carpool if you can! Participants should park at the lower boat ramp.
5-7pm Saturday Cardboard classic participants can bring their sleds to Wind River Brewery Parking lot to display their breathtaking craftsmanship and creativity.
8:30pm the Band Fists of Funk plays at the Wind River Brewery and the Winter Carnival King and Queen will be crowned.
Sunday morning kicks off with the Famous Sunny Korfanta GS race hosted by the Sublette County Ski and Snowboard Association. Registration is at 9am at White Pine. This is great opportunity to try ski racing, hone your skills, and take some fun runs! All ages welcomed. Registration is $5.
The popular Cardboard Classic kicks off at White Pine at 11am. You can register on-site from 8:30am to 10am. The rules have changed! Please check before putting too much work into your ride. Pre-registration forms and rules are available to download at www.mainstreetpinedale.com. We hope to run a Calcutta at 10am but that is TBD. White Pine will have music and refreshments at the base of the tubing hill. Please no pets or glass bottles.
Continue the after-party at 4pm at the World Famous Corral Bar Yukon Cornhole Tournament! There will be 3 sets of cornhole games, registration is $5, with Winners receiving cash and awesome bar swag! Look out for ice and remarkable drink specials.
Monday 10am to 1pm will be the 1st annual Snow Plane Expo/Rally at Lakeside Lodge. This is a chance for snow plane owners to bring their snow plane, show it off, talk about it, meet other snow plane enthusiasts and ride it around the lake. It is a chance for spectators to view a piece of history unique to this region, and a historic mode of transportation. Spectators should park at Lakeside Lodge, which is offering food and drink specials. Because there is so much snow there is limited parking at Lakeside, please carpool if you can! Planes should park at the lower boat ramp and meet on the Lake in front of Lakeside. Rides will be available to the public. Registration will be available onsite and free.
Main Street Pinedale is grateful for our event co-hosts: Wind River Brewing Co., Sublette County Ski and Snowboard Association, Family Tree a Pregnancy Resource Center, Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, Pinedale Snow Explorers and Altitude Offroad, Lakeside Lodge, The World Famous Corral Bar, White Ski Resort, and Boondocks Pizza.
We are especially thankful for generous event sponsorships/funding from Tesoro Logistics, Town of Pinedale, Castlerock Dodge, Ultra Petroleum, Sublette County Recreation Board, Pinedale Travel and Tourism, 1st Bank, Jorgensen Associates, Savvy Confidantes, LLC, Jensen Feed, and Green River Valley Program.
Scam Alert - Swindlers are calling, claiming to be with Sweetwater County government (posted 2/15/17)
Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office
ROCK SPRINGS, WYO. - February 14, 2017 A telephone scam that was in circulation in Sweetwater County several years ago has now resurfaced, though with a new twist.
Sweetwater County Sheriff Mike Lowell said that swindlers are calling people and identifying themselves as either law enforcement officers or officials of a bogus "Sweetwater Civil Processing Unit." The caller, who often has a thick accent, tells his intended victims that someone will be coming by with a warrant or other official paperwork.
The callers are rude - even threatening - and eventually ask for a credit card or debit card number to settle the phony "legal matter." They may also direct that the person purchase a reloadable debit card and forward funds.
In the past, the caller identification systems many people have on their phones showed the caller’s number to be from another state, often on the east coast, but in these recent instances the caller’s number is falsified to appear that it’s coming from a local number listed to the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office.
"It’s all part of the scam, to make it look more convincing," said Lowell. "These con artists are often quite proficient when it comes to technology. They use techniques and systems that make it appear that the calls are local, when in fact they are not."
Officials point out that, first of all, no agency of the criminal justice system is going to call to demand money or payment for fines, missed jury duty, overdue traffic tickets, etc. If you receive a call like this, make a note of the agency or department that the caller claims to be with and also note the number that appears on your caller ID.
Next, hang up, then follow up, using the information you’ve noted. Check with the organization the caller claimed to be with. And most important of all, NEVER provide such a caller with any personal or financial information.
For more information on this and many other fraud schemes, law enforcement officials recommend the FBI website at http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud
Bison on roads in Park, motorists warned to be alert and slow down (posted 2/13/17)
Bison on road north of Jackson. Photo by Larry McCullough.
National Park Service – Grand Teton National Park
MOOSE, WYOMING - Due to snow accumulations and above normal winter conditions, bison within Grand Teton National Park are moving to find food and recently have been using U.S. Highway 89 as their travel pathway. Grand Teton National Park Superintendent David Vela said, "It is imperative that motorists traveling Highway 89 between Moose and Moran Junction remain alert and slow down due to migrating bison in and along the roadway."
Due to deep and dense snowpack, and to conserve energy, several groups of bison have been traveling roadways in the past week. Vela said park rangers, wildlife biologists and road crew members have been helping the bison navigate safely and to provide plowed areas for them to move about.
A bull bison was killed early Saturday morning north of Deadmans Bar. Due to evidence at the scene, park rangers believe the animal was hit by a semi-truck.
On Saturday, park road crews plowed the Antelope Flats Road to facilitate safe movement of bison. The road remains closed to vehicle travel, other than a one-mile section that is routinely plowed from U.S. Highway 89. Variable message signs have been placed along U.S. Highway 89 alerting drivers to be alert to bison on the road and drive with caution. If motorists meet bison on a roadway, please reduce speed and when safe, pass animals slowly to avoid further stress on the wildlife.
Bison move to lower elevations in the winter to find food, especially when snow depths increase and it becomes difficult to access food. They have large shoulder and neck muscles that allow them to swing their heads from side to side and clear snow to find vegetation. They have thick skin and underfur, long guard hairs and layers of fat that help to keep them warn throughout the winter. They tend to be social animals and form herds, or travel with other bison. On average, a male bison may weigh up to 2,000 pounds, while a female will weigh approximately 1,000 pounds. The Jackson bison herd is estimated at approximately 670 animals that reside throughout the year in the park, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and National Elk Refuge.
Always be on the lookout for wildlife on and near roadways and observe posted speed limits, including a 45 mile-per-hour night time speed limit on U.S. Highway 89. When winter road conditions exist, please drive accordingly. Any collision with wildlife must be reported as soon as possible to Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307-739-3301.
Visitors are required to maintain a safe distance when viewing bison, 25 yards at a minimum. The safe viewing distance for bears and wolves is 100 yards, while all other wildlife should be given at least 25 yards of space. Please use a pullout or parking lot to view wildlife, and use binoculars and telephoto lens. It is important to not disturb or create excess depletion of an animal's energy during the winter.
Upper Green River Basin ahead on snowpack (posted 2/11/17)
Mountain snowpack across Wyoming is 115-125% of median. Graphic from National Weather Service / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Mountain snowpack across Wyoming is 115-125% of median. In January, Wyoming precipitation was 170-180% of average. Above normal snowmelt streamflow volumes are expected across most major basins in Wyoming once things begin to melt, which usually begins about mid-April. Mountain snowpack is usually all gone by about the 1st of July.
Thank you to Bill and Mike Boender for their contribution to this report