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2020: A Year in Photos

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2020: A Year in Photos

2020 was a year of change. A year of COVID-19. A year like no other and, in a few lucky ways, a year like every other. A year that began much like most in Johnson County, quickly made a turn in March as COVID-19 took hold internationally and domestically. What was hoped to last for a few months turned into the rest of the year as we learned to live with masks, hand sanitizer and even more personal space than Wyoming already offers. 

The images included in this edit were selected to offer a brief visual history of the year in Johnson county. These images range from birthday parties and school projects to wildfires and the pandemic. By presenting both the changes and the normalcies we were privileged to observe first hand, we hope you join us in remembering this year in photos. 

Gary Senier leaps into a frozen Lake Desmet on New Years Day

Gary Senier leaps into a frozen Lake Desmet on New Years Day as a part of the annual Polar Bear Plunge. Senier estimated he hasn't missed a plunge for the last 18 years.

Dovelynn Martinson, Kate Ramirez and Brooklyn Schultz race

Dovelynn Martinson, Kate Ramirez and Brooklyn Schultz race down the Pole Creek Sledding Hill during the box sled challenge on March 4. Eighty six Clear Creek sixth-graders created the sleds over the course of a week before racing.

Gene Baehler takes a break from his fish-frying duties

Gene Baehler takes a break from his fish-frying duties on Fat Tuesday. The Knights of Columbus Fish Fry fed hundreds at the fairgrounds.

Kindergartener Mercedes Rios poses for a celebratory 100th Day of School photograph

Kindergartener Mercedes Rios poses for a celebratory 100th Day of School photograph in front of Mrs. Jessica Kavitz's classroom. Kavitz's classroom welcomed third graders on the 100th day of school, January 31, to help them meet their classroom goal of reading 100 books.

Easton Hill leads Meadowlark Elementary first graders in a rendition

Easton Hill leads Meadowlark Elementary first graders - and the audience - in a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” during a President’s Day concert.

Mike Curuchet checks the health of a days-old lamb on his ranch

Mike Curuchet checks the health of a days-old lamb on his ranch southwest of Kaycee. Curuchet serves on the Wyoming Wool Growers Association Board of Directors, and said the board has joined other industry groups seeking financial relief for the sheep industry which was hit hard this year. 

Dawson Hatch goes to the rim against a Douglas opponent

Dawson Hatch goes to the rim against a Douglas opponent during the Buffalo High School Bison’s 3A East regional tournament win over the Bearcats. Hatch was one of three Buffalo players to earn all-conference recognition this week.

Buffalo fans yell in support of BHS wrestlers Clay Reiner and Hunter Pope

Buffalo fans yell in support of BHS wrestlers Clay Reiner and Hunter Pope at the state wrestling tournament in late February. Both Clay and Hunter earned all state honors and finished in second place in their weight classes.

Melodie Gross greets her students

Third grade teacher Melodie Gross greets her students during the Twas the Night Before May Day event held by Meadowlark and Cloud Peak Elementary schools last week. The drive by parade was organized so that students could see their teachers and their teachers could see them. Hundreds of cars streamed past the schools that evening, horns honking, as students and teachers called out to each other.

Kate Norman hangs a banner celebrating BHS Seniors on Main Street

Buffalo High School senior Kate Norman hangs a banner celebrating BHS Seniors on Main Street. The banners, along with an adopt-a-senior effort, are creative ways to acknowledge that this is not the senior year anyone could have imagined. BHS’s prom was to be held the Saturday prior.

Timber Smith, 4, kicks her feet up in the air

Timber Smith, 4, kicks her feet up in the air while Avery Mayland, 6, spreads out her arms on the concrete on June 13 in Kaycee. The two were drying off in the sun from the pickup truck pool that was part of the car show. The event was the first of three Summer community events in Kaycee. 

Kevin Thomas hugs his daughter Karma, 12, as speakers talked to the crowd

Kevin Thomas hugs his daughter Karma, 12, as speakers talked to the crowd on June 15 during the Black Lives Matter protest that was organized by local high school students from Buffalo High School. “I want (my kids) to know that what I’m doing is for their future in order for them to grow and for them to be a better people in society. Justice has to be taken care of,” Thomas said. The protest was met with a Pro-Trump protest by fellow high school students 

James Miller walks through the hanging cooler after moving scraps

James Miller walks between dozens of carcasses in the hanging cooler after dumping scraps at the end of a long day on June 10 at Purcella’s Meat Processing. Because of COVID-19 shutdowns, local meat processors saw a large increase in business that led to fuller coolers and longer days. As of June, Purcella’s was already fully booked through Feb. 2021 even with extended work weeks.

Thinning timber in the national forest

Thinning timber in the national forest is one preventative way in which the Forest Service is able to protect the ecosystem and hopefully prevent wildfires from spreading quickly if one were to start. They trees are cleared with roughly a 15 ft. distance between each tree on June 20 and the cut trees are piled together for later burning. This helps to protect against crown fires where the fire would hop between the crowns, or tops, of the trees in the canopy.

Ethan Frasier leans his weight back before nodding to open the chute

Ethan Frasier leans his weight back before nodding to open the chute during one of the Wednesday night summer rodeos on July 15. Frasier did not make it the full eight seconds on his re-ride.

Elsa Freise clicks and waves her arms

Elsa Freise clicks and waves her arms to help Grady Alger bring his horse up to a jog during his practice showmanship pattern on July 6. Elsa taught the showmanship section of the Monday night horse classes this year. In her final fair, Elsa participated in a large variety of projects and leadership positions including her work with the 4-H horse project. The day before horse showmanship, Elsa said she was not only nervous for herself but for everyone since she helped coach them all. During the award ceremony at fair, Elsa was recognized for her work and dedication to the horse project, specifically for her teaching at horse nights.

Clay reiner dismounts his horse during practice

With many rodeos canceled, Clay Reiner practices as often as he can. He is one of three local high schoolers qualified for the National High School Finals Rodeo. He finished 24th in tie-down roping and 93rd in steer wrestling.

Chase Gosney sprays water on a small fire line

Chase Gosney sprays water on a small fire line as John Hanson follows along in the tanker on July 16. The line was surrounded by burnt out grass so the pair decided to quickly put it out before continuing to the front of the fire on to fill up firetrucks rather than call someone backwards. Gooney said the start of the fire was on his property near the interstate, but didn’t know how it started. The pair were volunteers hauling water from larger tankers to the firefighters working directly with the fire. 

Details from the I-25 fire

Details from the I-25 grass fire that started north of Reno Rd. and along I-25. The fire stayed between the interstate and Old Highway 87 and crossed several ranches before being contained. 

A fire burned southeast of UCross

A fire burned southeast of Ucross on a combination of public and private lands on July 23. The cause of the fire was unknown by workers on the scene but suspicions suggested a lightning strike. Support to fight the fire came from a number of agencies including BLM, State Forestry, Clearmont and Johnson County Fire Departments, the Sheriffs department and state road and bridge as well as local blade operators called in to create firelines.

Marcia Gaines holds up a white board

Marcia Gaines holds up a white board with a note for her mom Bobbie Gaines to read during Marcia’s visit to Amie Holt Care Center. Marcia would write questions and comments for her mom to answer back to her including this note talking about her grass at home. Marcia visited her mom on July 1, only the second week during which visitors were allowed to come see residents outside the nursing home.

Henry Shoup shows off his Turkin named Vulture

Henry Shoup shows off his Turkin named Vulture to his friends on Thursday morning. Shoup was washing Vulture in preparation for the poultry show on Thursday of fair week. The fair went on despite COVID-19 with a handful of modifications to promote safety. 

Addison Baker cries while selling her steer

Tears fall from Addison Baker's eyes as she presents her steer during the Junior Livestock Auction on Aug. 1. The auction sold a total of 162 animals for more than $422K, barely shy of last year's record $427K. 

Rowan, 6, and Donnie Terzich, 7, pose for a first day of school photo

From left, Rowan, 6, and Donnie Terzich, 7, pose for a first day of school photo for their mom on Aug. 24. The welcome back lawn display as well as the Meadowlark Elementary sign were popular with parents for first day photos while the kids waited for the day to start.

Carol Ruby’s first grade class lines up before going inside

Carol Ruby’s first grade class lines up before going inside for the first day of school on Aug. 24. Ruby had her students line up one full arm’s length apart so as to keep some distance before moving inside to their classroom. 

The first group of groundbreakers uses the military entrenchment tools

The first group of groundbreakers uses the military entrenchment tools to turn dirt for the Veterans Skilled Nursing Facility on Aug. 26 outside the Buffalo Veterans Home. This facility will be the first of its kind in the state of Wyoming and has been years in the making. 

Lane O'Neil laughs in excitement

Lane O’Neil laughs in excitement in front of his mom Tiffany while being hugged by his brother Van Thorson on Sept. 5. As a surprise for Lane’s eighth birthday, his mom made a Facebook post asking for anyone with old cars to drive by his party as a surprise since Lane loves cars. The Model A Pioneer Car Club joined in bringing about a dozen cars by for a parade, including a few gifts and lots of honking and birthday wishes. Lane was given an honorary junior membership to the club and a ride in one of the old cars with Dan Wasserburger. Because of COVID-19, Lane has been switched to school at home this year and so his mom wanted to especially make sure he could have a fun birthday this year.

Buffalo received it's first snowfall

Buffalo received it’s first snowfall late Sept. 7 in celebration of Labor Day. The early snow is set to quickly melt with higher temperatures expected to return later in this week.

Kevin Thomas facetimes himself

Kevin Thomas facetimes himself with the newly caught Minny, the runaway ewe, on Sept. 17. Minny started on the far side of Prosinski and made it all the way to the back of the carousel before being captured by Thomas, Jason McIntosh, and Buffalo’s animal control officer Dani Guyton.

Gracee Graves cuts the grand opening ribbon being held by kids

Gracee Graves cuts the grand opening ribbon being held by kids who attend the Buffalo Boys and Girls Club on Sept. 17, for the new club building. The new space is a standalone building rather than the previous location inside the Bomber Mountain Civic Center.

Bill Walter looks up at wife Erin

Bill Walter looks up at his wife Erin as they decided which song to play next on Oct. 2, on the front porch of the Kaycee General Store. The Walters join their daughter Sadie Cohee and her kids to play music every Friday they can while they await the arrival of the grocery delivery truck at the general store.

Laurel Rozema warms up with the band

Mellophone Laurel Rozema joins in the warm up scales with the rest of the band on Oct. 8. Buffalo’s show featured four different movements that depict conspiracy symbols in classified files, the “song and dance” of government spin, a realization that something more exists, and finally the takeover by “Big Brother.” The marching band competed virtually in the state tournament ultimately earning the programs 14th consecutive 'Superior' rating. 

Keesee Bennett, center, wears her mask during the pre-meet cheer

Keesee Bennett, center, wears her mask during the pre-meet cheer with the rest of the team on Oct. 9. Masks are supposed to be worn on the pool decks by athletes, coaches and spectators.

Braelyn Kozisek screams in excitement

Kaycee High School junior Braelyn Kozisek screams in excitement as Kaycee ties the fourth set 16-16 on Oct. 31, 2020 during the East region championship match in Kaycee. Kaycee won the match to win the regional championship and to continue on to the state tournament where they placed third overall. 

Kennedy McCoy is all smiles as she carries her pumpkin

Kennedy McCoy is all smiles as she carries her hand-picked pumpkin to her classroom at Meadowlark Elementary in early October. Meadowlark’s first graders traditionally take an early fall field trip to Koltiska’s pumpking patch in Sheridan for a morning of pumpkin picking. With field trips impossible due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the school’s first grade team hauled 100 pumpkins from Sheridan to Buffalo and spread them out behind the school for students to select.

Trigg Taylor, 6, helps feed his mom’s ballot through the machine

Trigg Taylor, 6, helps feed his mom’s ballot through the machine on Nov. 3 at the Bomber Mountain Civic Center. “It’s important that they know it’s their civic duty and that it’s important,” said Samantha Taylor, Triggs mom, about why they brought their kids with them to vote.

John Thorburn helped with a number of different jobs

John Thorburn helped with a number of different jobs on election day including sorting the voter cards that were turned in with ballots on Nov. 3 at the Bomber Mountain Civic Center. Thorburn is retired and has been volunteering as an election judge since 2012. The general election drew out more than 100% of voters according to election night statistics. 

Mary Gammon, right, joins in a prayer

Mary Gammon, right, joins in a prayer with the other service attendees at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Nov. 8. In order to keep in person services and to prevent COVID-19 spread, attendees of in-person services are required to wear masks and distance themselves around the eight available rows to sit in. Guests can also join in virtually through a livestream that runs during each service.

Jerry Tift plays taps to conclude the Veterans’ Day Parade

Jerry Tift plays taps to conclude the Veterans’ Day Parade in Buffalo on Wednesday. The celebration also featured speeches, a laying of a wreath and a flag folding ceremony presented by Boy Scouts.

Carter Zink plans a new route with his dad

Carter Zink, 14, looks over to his dad as they plan which direction to go, ultimately deciding to start moving down the hill and up the draw on Nov. 21 at Bud Love Wildlife Management Area. Zink had just bagged a pheasant with a long shot that his dad guessed was about 75 yards. The birds were released by Wyoming Game and Fish early that morning in preparation for the annual youth pheasant hunt. 

Danica Boyce dives to steal a ball from Powell senior Rylynn Valdez

Buffalo High School junior Danica Boyce dives to steal a ball from Powell senior Rylynn Valdez on Dec. 11 at BHS. Danica recovered the ball and Buffalo scored on the possession. BHS won the game to kick off the season with a win. 

Will Briscoe locks arms with Jace Dees

Buffalo High School junior Will Briscoe locks arms with Jace Dees after starting in the neutral position on Friday in the gym. As part of COVID-19 safety measures, attendance numbers are limited and wrestlers are spread out in social-distanced chairs along the edges of the mats. Masks are expected to be worn when not wrestling on the mat by everyone in attendance.

Drought in Johnson County

Through October, 2020 was the seventh driest year on record for Johnson County. Despite the early snow in September, the final months of the year remained somewhat dry, as seen with snow-free ground in mid-December. 

Helicopter crew member Brian Krol poor new glycol

Helicopter crew member Brian Krol poor new glycol into the dragon egg dispenser with the assistance of helicopter manager Nick Shaw on Dec. 13 in Bighorn National Forest. The Forest Service collaborated with the helicopter crew in an attempted controlled burn in the national forest in what was unexpectedly good weather conditions so late in the year. They were unable to get the fire to catch and had to quit the burn early. The machine has two chambers, one holding the glycol and one holding water. The water is held in case of emergency as a immediate fire extinguisher within the dispenser device.

June Taylor reflects on her favorite nutcracker

June Taylor reflects on her favorite nutcracker in the entire collection who she has fondly named “slim.” “I’ve just never seen another like him,” she laughs as she justifies her love for Slim.

JoAnn Kay receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

“This is my Christmas present,” said JoAnn Kay, Infection Preventionist at the Amie Holt Care Center, while she received her vaccine on Monday. Kay was unable to see her mom for Christmas, only singing carols with her from the yard because of COVID-19 precautions. Kay talked about how hard the last few months have been on residents at Amie Holt especially and how exciting it was to finally have vaccines arriving.

Jamie Straessler watches the fireworks with kids

Jamie Straessler watches the fireworks with kids, from left, George, Eleanor and Henry on Dec. 5 on Prosinski Field. The group huddled together in the back of the truck to watch the show after first watching the annual lighted Christmas parade through downtown Buffalo. 

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