2021: a year of comebacks and unpredictability
December 30, 2021
If 2020 was the year of the pandemic then 2021 was the year of the comeback, at least here in Washakie County and the surrounding area.
I know what you are thinking – what comeback. You are thinking we are still dealing with COVID-19, vaccines and vaccine mandates (with the Supreme Court to hear a case next week).
But let us take a look at 2021 and you will see what I mean.
Both Worland and Ten Sleep schools finished the 2020-21 school year in person. There were actual proms and regular graduation ceremonies. The start of this year came with no mask mandates for students or teachers.
Athletics are getting back to normal scheduling.
While it is true that not all high school activities are back to the “norm” but for the most part here in Wyoming we are getting back to the usual.
Looking at the community, many events returned stronger than ever — CultureFest, Nowoodstock, Pepsi Wyoming State BBQ Championship & Bluegrass Festival, Brewfest in Thermopolis and Worland, the PRCA rodeo in Thermopolis, demolition derby in Thermopolis.
County fairs here and in surrounding communities did not have to worry about getting exemptions to allow more people. Anyone and everyone was allowed to come.
In 2020 and even early 2021 a lot of meetings were held via Zoom or other online meeting programs. In the rest of 2021 some groups, like the Wyoming Legislature, the Ten Sleep Council and Washakie County Youth Alternatives are providing Zoom links not because they have to but because they can and it allows more people to attend.
As we suspected at the start of the year the COVID-19 global pandemic dominated the news even locally, from those comeback events mentioned earlier to vaccines, vaccine mandates and protests over the mandates. The mandates will play a role in the news in 2022 early with the Supreme Court hearing looming. Many local businesses are working on dealing with the federal mandates.
But COVID-19 was not the only news.
Perhaps the biggest news in the area was renovation and construction with so many projects happening this year and many set to finish in 2022. Unique Precisions of California moved its manufacturing company from California and recently completed its renovation of property on Fourth Street.
Bailey Enterprises has been working on renovating the old Reese & Ray’s IGA store into a travel center and owner Mike Baily hopes to have nearly everything open and operational in a few weeks.
Big Horn Cooperative is in the midst of constructing it’s travel center with the Worland center going to be the showcase for all other Big Horn Coop Travel Centers yet to come. Chris Gross said they are hoping to be open sometime in March.
Both travel center projects have been delayed by regulations, inspections, supply and equipment delays and other factors.
The Sunlight Federal Credit Union new building project began in late spring this year and should be completed next year.
Amish Origins expanded from its original location on Lane 14 to South Flat Road and Ten Sleep Brewery is expanding its brewery from Ten Sleep to a renovated location in Worland at 420 Lawson.
There have been changes at both Ten Sleep and Worland schools. Worland Superintendent David Nicholas announced his retirement at the end of the current year and Ten Sleep Supt. Jimmy Phelps announced he would not seek an extension to his contract that ends in 2023.
Ten Sleep has begun the preliminary stages of designing their new school and added an eighth-hour period.
Worland moved to an early release on Fridays and is in the beginning stages of looking at a conceal carry policy for staff.
There has been a lot of other important news throughout 2021 but perhaps the largest story of the year lasted only about a month and that was the return of 1st Lt. Ray Krogman’s remains from Vietnam. After 54 years his remains were located (2019), identified (2020) and he was returned home (2021).
Bringing Lt. Krogman home was not just a major story here in Worland where Krogman graduated from but it captured the hearts of Vietnam veterans around the area and captured the hearts and created a sense of patriotism not seen since 9/11 from Billings, Montana, and down throughout the entire Big Horn Basin.
We could not have predicted most of the stories we covered in 2021 and that’s what makes chronicling the stories in Washakie County and the Big Horn Basin such an adventure. We never know what story is around the corner or a phone call away. We can’t wait to write about all of the new adventures that await in 2022.
Happy New Year.