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2018: Year in Review

Fifteen elk fell through the ice on the Palisades Reservoir Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at 8:30 a.m.

The incident, just across from the Alpine area elk feedgrounds, drew the attention of passing motorists on U.S. Highway 89 who stopped to help. They were soon joined by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Elk falling through the ice and the subsequent rescue efforts made headlines around the nation and ushered in 2018.

Here’s a look at the ups and downs of the last year.


• The owners of Rustlers Restaurant and Saloon  filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Town of Thayne in federal court on Tuesday, Jan. 9.

The business owners requested the lawsuit be dismissed by the court in November.

• Star Valley Medical Center  announced its new CEO. The medical center extended an offer for the Chief Executive Officer position  to Bren Lowe of Livingston, Mont.  Bren accepted the offer and began working with Star Valley Medical Center on April 16, 2018.

• Commuters returning to Star Valley after work on Monday, Jan. 15, faced some delays in Snake River Canyon. U.S. Highway 89 was closed at 6 p.m. due to a single vehicle accident. Two men were southbound on the roadway  when the 2000 Toyota Tacoma they were traveling in slid into the northbound lane. The vehicle slid across the road and off the edge of the highway.

At that point the vehicle became airborne eventually coming to rest in some trees above the Snake River.

One passenger was able to climb up the embankment and flag down help. Both men were transported to area hospitals.

U.S. Highway 89 was closed in order to allow for two wreckers to retrieve the vehicle.

• It was pups on parade  in Alpine for the third annual Coney Classic Skijor and Dog Party. The Alpine event featured three skijor race classes.

• Star Valley skies experienced a total lunar eclipse during the early morning hours of Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018.

What is more the lunar eclipse was a Super Blue Moon Total Lunar Eclipse, something that has not happened in the United States for 150 years.


• A pattern of freezing and thawing, as well as unstable soil and steep terrain were contributing factors in a landslide in the Greys River Area. A small earthquake in the region was also believed to have contributed.

Debris from the hillside gave way and began shifting and flowing downhill during the first part of February. By Tuesday, Feb. 12 the Greys River Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National implemented a temporary closure order.

• The Afton Food Pantry will host a mobile food pantry on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at the Lincoln County Fair Grounds. The event was open to all area individuals and families and provided basic food items.

• Former State Representative Robert McKim died on Monday, Feb. 19. McKim served as a state legislator from January 2009 to September 2017.

• The Town of Alpine moved forward with plans to annex the Alpine Meadows Subdivision. Resolution 428, certifying “compliance with conditions and procedures for annexation” was offically adopted by the town during the Feb. 20 meeting of the Alpine Town Council.

• Students and staff at Star Valley High School experienced a lockdown Monday morning, Feb. 26 following reports of a threat being made to the school on social media.

The district also initiated lockout protocols as a safety precaution for schools in LCSD2. Investigation revealed the threat pertained to another school district.


• The Lincoln County School District No. 2 Board of Trustees named Matt Erickson as the district’s new Superintendent of Schools. The board action took place during a special meeting on Thursday, March 1. Erickson  officially began his duties as superintendent in July. He replaced retiring Superintendent Alan Allred.

• A car accident in the Snake River Canyon claimed the life of Shane Moulton, 33, of Star Valley Ranch. The accident occurred Friday, March 2 near Milepost 127 on U.S. Highway 89 at approximately 6:14 p.m. Roads in Snake River Canyon were slick and snow covered at the time.

A plow truck driver witnessed Moulton’s vehicle go over the guardrail. From there, the vehicle dropped 20 feet off the retaining wall to the ground. The vehicle then “rolled an additional 300 feet down the cliff into Snake River.

• Star Valley High School  presented “Fiddler on the Roof” in March. The production featured a cast of 80 students and a stage crew of nearly 20.

• First responders walked around dressed in bulky HAZMAT suits on Wednesday, March 21. The Wyoming National Guard’s 84th Civil Support team conducted HAZMAT/Decontamination training with Star Valley Medical Center  staff and members of the Afton Volunteer Fire Department.


• Sunday, April 15, local musicians and vocalists of the Salt River Symphony Chorus  were joined on the SVHS stage by critically-acclaimed pianist Marvin Goldstein and international singer Vanessa Joy.

• During the April meeting of the Star Valley Ranch Town Council, the town passed Ordinance 2018-03, relating to dog park rules, on first reading. The town would go on to create the first designated dog park in Star Valley.

• The Lincoln County Fair Board announced that country music chart topper Joe Nichols would kick off the 2018 Lincoln County Fair. Months later, the concert took place on Saturday, Aug. 4.

• The scientific world was abuzz  after the discovery of a fossilized mammal near Kemmerer. The fossilized tapiromorph specimen was found on a state leased quarry and surrendered to state custody due to its “distinction as a rare specimen.”

According to the Wyoming State Geological Survey, the fossil “may be the first of its kind and is the largest mammal found to date in the 50-million-year-old Green River Formation.”

• The Forest Service hosted a public information meeting on the Porcupine Slide at the Alpine Civic Center on Monday, April 30. The Forest Service reported the slide was still moving and the area was unstable.


• Star Valley High School’s Treble Tones earned serious bragging rights. Saturday, May 5 the group took part in the Music in the Parks competition held in Layton Utah. Treble tones won the best women’s choir and the  grand prize of best overall choir.

• Thayne Elementary School Third Grade Teacher Tracey Sorenson was named as the LCSD2 Teacher of the Year. Sorenson was recognized in her new role on Thursday, May 10 at the school board meeting.

• The Caribou-Targhee National Forest welcomed their new forest supervisor, Mel Bolling, Monday, May 14. He came from Fishlake National Forest, where he has been the forest supervisor since 2015.

• Simplot Smoky Canyon Mine Rescue Team members traveled to Idaho to participate in a mine rescue team competition. Teams from across the Western United States were in attendance. When the days of competition were over, the Smoky Canyon Mine Team was in first place.

• As May came to a close, two familiar faces at the Veteran’s Clinic in Star Valley said their goodbyes after more than 30 years of combined service. Licensed practical nurse Sue Harrison and nurse practitioner Ed Henry retired on May 26, 2018.


• Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Kyle Thomson was named as the VFW Police Officer of the Year. The award was presented in Cheyenne on Friday, June 8.

• Tuesday, June 12 the Bridger-Teton National Forest announced that a temporary route around the Porcupine Slide in Greys River was open to traffic.

In order to create the temporary roadway, hazardous trees were removed and directional signage put in place.

The access allowed vehicles to travel around the landslide.

• An automotive shop facility and program at Star Valley High School found some support during the June 14 meeting of the school board.

Community members stepped up to donate nearly $200,000 toward an automotive shop for the students.

During the June 14 meeting of the Lincoln County School District No. 2 Board of Trustees, the school board voted unanimously to support the expansion of an automotive shop at SVHS.

The district approved a dollar-for-dollar match of funds raised through the education foundation and the community toward this project.

• Thursday, June 21 Governor Matt Mead approved rules put forth by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission that allow hunting grizzly bears. The hunt never took place due to lawsuits and court rulings prior to the hunt start date.

• The Wyoming State Construction School Facilities Division has toured two of Star Valley elementary schools as the two facilities are now meeting or exceeding student capacity.

Officials met with Lincoln County School District No. 2 administrators and school trustees for the meeting at the end of June.

• The Star Valley Community rallied to help the Robinson Family with the Tuff like Teagen event held June 29-30 as part of the Freedom Festival in Afton.


• Lloyd B. Baker turned 107 years old on May 17. He passed away on Monday, July 9, 2018.

• Getting through the Town of Afton became something of a traffic nightmare the first week of July as U.S. Highway 89 closed. The temporary closure of the road came on the recommendation of the Afton Volunteer Fire Department after a gas line was hit during some excavation work in front of State Farm. The road was closed for approximately one hour while safety concerns were resolved.

• Wyoming was looking for places to house it’s inmates. And, Lincoln County’s Justice Center was one facility  reaping the rewards of overcrowding at the state prison level.

“Over the last six months we have had some state inmates from the Department of Corrections,” said Captain Brian Andrews of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. “It was a short term contract for six months. We recently did another contract for six months with the Wyoming Department of Corrections.”

• The Star Valley Ranch Town Council officially adopted an annexation moratorium during the July 11 meeting. The moratorium will be in place for the next year.

As part of the moratorium resolution the town council set specific work that will take place over the next year. That work includes adopting annexation regulations; adopting a comprehensive set of regulations for land development; updating existing regulations; and looking at committing water service outside of the town boundary.


• The Lincoln County Fair took place Aug. 4-11 with the theme of “Footloose.” The event drew crowds to participate in a wide range of events and activities.

Friday, Aug. 10 was the  Swift Idol contest at the Lincoln County Fair. EJ Pauni, of Cokeville, was selected as the winner.

Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018 during the  Junior Livestock Sale emotions ran high as the county rallied to help Whytney Murdock of Cokeville. Recently diagnosed with cancer, Whytney’s lamb sold for over $41,000. With the money donated by fellow 4-H members, over $61,000 was raised to help her with her cancer battle.

• Crews worked to supress a wildfire burning near the Squaw Creek Drainage of Greys River. The fire was reported in the afternoon on Saturday, Aug. 11.

The Fire Trail Fire had grown to 50-acres as of Sunday, Aug. 12 and was burning approximately five miles from Alpine.

• Evan Hathaway, Tristan Smith and John Koehler were injured on Monday, Aug. 13 when the plane they were riding in went down. The crash occurred early in the day in the Caribou National Forest west of Star Valley.

The men in the plane were  involved with survey work in the Smoky Canyon Mine region at the time of the accident.


• The Roosevelt Fire was discovered on Saturday, Sept. 15. The blaze was burning in a north northeast direction and located three miles west of the Upper Hoback Trailhead near Roosevelt Meadows.

• The Martin Fire was discovered Sunday, September 16, on the Greys River Ranger District south of Corral Creek.

• Funeral services for Ryder Haderlie were held on Thursday, Sept. 20. Haderlie died in the early morning hours of Thursday, Sept 13 of injuries sustained in an accident the previous evening.

• The Star Valley Medical Center Auxiliary held the first annual Positive Living Community Conference on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018 at the Star Valley High School Auditorium. Elizabeth Smart was the keynote speaker.

• The Bank of Star Valley presented the Education Foudation with a $50,000 check toward the new automotive shop at Star Valley High School.


• Westmoreland Coal Company, with a mining operation that employs nearly 280 people in southwest Wyoming announced a filing for bankruptcy and restructuring on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018.

• Thursday, Oct. 11 the garage at the Afton Food Pantry was buzzing with students and school staff as well as community volunteers and business owners. The goal of the day was simple, organize and load a trailer of supplies destined for families in the Pinedale area.

After two weeks of gathering, over 3,554 items were donated for Pinedale’s Community Food Basket which was assisting families effected by the Roosevelt Fire.

• Star Valley Medical Center teamed up with Fossil Butte, in order to x-ray a box of fossils. The goal of the partnership was to determine which fossils were worth sandblasting and prepping for display.

• The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reported  the discovery of New Zealand Mudsnails in both the North Platte River near Casper and the Salt River south of Alpine.

According to the Game and Fish, mudsnails can alter water chemistry through filter feeding and reproduce at rapid rates. They crowd out habitat suited for stoneflies, caddisflies and other insects that are important food for trout.

• Ron Stoltenberg was inducted into the 2018 Wyoming Cowboy Hall of Fame recently. The Wyoming Cowbody Hall of Fame recognizes real Wyoming Cowboys and the contributions they make to their communities.


• A two vehicle accident Friday, Nov. 2 claimed the lives of three Star Valley men.

Michael Petrosine, 43, of Thayne; Tyler Keehn, 25, of Afton; and Kelley Robin Lish, 43, of Afton died when their vehicles met head on.

• Saturday, Nov. 10 the Star Valley community gathered at the Lincoln County Fair Grounds for a fundraiser to benefit the Tristan Smith Family.

• Silver Star Communications has formally announced they are launching 10 gigabit capable speeds at the Jackson Hole Airport. The annoucement took place on Monday, Nov. 12, making Silver Star  the first broadband provider in Wyoming and third in the nation to announce 10 gigabit speeds delivered over NG-PON2 technology.

• The Greys River Ranger District of the Bridger Teton National Forest reopened the Blind Bull Road to vehicle traffic on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. The road was initially closed in June 2017 due to a large spring landslide that removed a section of the road.

• Senator Dan Dockstader  accepted a position to serve as the Majority Floor Leader for the 65th Wyoming Legislature.


• The 2018 Community Christmas took place on Sunday, Dec. 2. The event drew  well over 1,000 participants and included music, refreshments and over 100 nativity displays.

• Tuesday, Dec. 4, just prior to 8 a.m. the Wyoming Highway Patrol made a traffic stop on a vehicle traveling on U.S. Highway 89 just north of Afton. When the trooper made contact with the driver, the driver fled, traveling south on U.S. Highway 89.

The vehicle continued into Afton and the vehicle parked behind a residence and the driver fled inside.

When notified of the incident, Afton Elementary School took internal safety precautions due to the standoff.

After speaking with the suspect driver, he did give himself up and was taken into custody without incident.

• The Star Valley Arts Council held a “Stars in the Valley” Christmas Concert. The event took place on Friday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Star Valley High School Auditorium and featured local musicians, dancers and artists.

• Sadie Lewis Durrant was selected to be part of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.

• Las Vegas paid tribute to Officer Alyn Beck with a new park bearing his name. The ground breaking for the new  Officer Alyn Beck Memorial Park took place on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

Officer Beck was killed in the line of duty on June 8, 2014. He was the son-in-law of Terry and Angela Hastings (formerly of Afton); and older brother of Scott Beck of Fairview.

• A couple of car enthusiasts announced plans to take their 1935 Auburn Coupe to visit        towns that share its name. The Auburn Across America Journey is set to kick off in May – and Auburn Wyoming is among the planned stops.

Dave and Monika Yancey, will launch from the Courthouse in Auburn, California on May 5, 2019 in their 1935 Auburn 851 coupe. Plans are to arrive in Auburn, Wyoming by late May.

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