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1849 - Winter, Jim Hicks honored, Joe Brandl issues

Today’s topics are winter weather, a good honor for one man and a bad one for another plus a discussion of a new way to spend time in lodging. 

       In Buffalo, Jim Hicks quotes a local columnist named Sagebrush Sven with the following:

       “One very cold morning Nancy Schiffer of Kaycee had agreed to drive to Buffalo for an early breakfast event.  She was on the program and is the kind of person who never fails to do her part.

“A suicidal antelope had crashed into the front of her car, so Nancy’s only transportation was a four-wheel drive ranch pickup she does not usually drive.

“She got it started in the 16-degree weather and was pushing buttons to get the defrosters and heater going when the sun roof suddenly opened. ‘I don’t know why they would put a sunroof in a pickup!’ says Nancy.  ‘Nobody ever uses it.’

“Try as she might, the roof would not close.  Nancy drove to Buffalo with the roof open. 

“Who says Wyoming ranch gals can’t handle a little adversity.”

       Hicks, the long-time former publisher of the Buffalo Bulletin, was honored during a big soiree at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Big Horns recently in Buffalo. More than 300 people showed up at 6:30 a.m. to celebrate all he has done for that part of Wyoming and for helping the clubs.

       Governors Mead, Freudenthal, and Sullivan showed up along with Sen. John Barrasso.

       As a publisher, Hicks had always supported the clubs and when financing was threatened, he stepped up in his role as a County Commissioner to fight for continued funding.

While Hicks had long supported the efforts of Boys & Girls Club, he gained a new appreciation for the work of the club in October 2009.

Hicks recalls: “At that time, the local club was still starting out. They were doing a fundraising and Gov. Freudenthal was the keynote speaker. I was so impressed that he would take the time to support the Buffalo club. He obviously thought it was important, and that motivated me to come and learn more.

       “Freudenthal was talking about one young man in particular who had every reason to be in trouble,” Hicks said. “But now here he was going to college. That night, it became clear to me that this was a program making a difference in the community, and it was catching some kids that might go through the cracks otherwise. From then on, the Boys & Girls Club was added to the list of organizations that I support.”

Youth organizations are a big deal in Wyoming. Great things are happening all over the state with them.

In Dubois, though, the Boy Scouts of America have taken away their association with one of the most famous scoutmasters in Wyoming.

Silver Beaver honoree Joe Brandl is a pioneer and a tremendous outdoorsman. He made all of Wyoming proud last year when he competed on the Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid and was superb, surviving all 21 days and keeping his partner alive and safe.

Brandl’s prowess in the outdoors is unsurpassed.

But he apparently has his own ideas of how Scouts should learn to behave in the outdoors and thus got crossways with authorities. 

He plans to continue to work with youth but doing it without being under his long-time banner of the Boy Scouts.

Meanwhile, switching subjects to tourism, the international travel outfit AirBnB announced that Wyoming generated $1.1 million in lodging tax revenues from the 1,600 host sites in the Cowboy State in the last year.

For a while AirBnb did not collect lodging taxes, which gave it an advantage over conventional hotels and motels. There were 56,000 visits to Wyoming AirBnB sites last year, which was a 130 percent increase over the previous year.

When I was on the Lander Planning Commission, we occasionally would get some kind of request for a homeowner to become an AirBnb site.

Neighbors would get upset over noise and unusual traffic when a house zoned in the best residential area in town suddenly became a bustling locale, much like a bed and breakfast, humming and buzzing all day and all night long.

There are more than 50 places in the Lander area, alone, that are on the AirBnB web site seeking visitors. These are ordinary homeowners and citizens competing against traditional lodging properties to rent space to travelers.

It was an eye-opener and typical of the some of new trends popping up across America.