Drive-in movies, student adoptions and parades: Wyoming residents reach out to their neighbors
May 7, 2020
Even as the state slowly begins to return to normal conditions, Wyoming residents continue to reach out to their neighbors to provide support and encouragement.
The state’s newspapers are filled with stories about people’s efforts to cheer one another up, from the creation of a drive-in theater in Newcastle to parades for people who have been in isolation for one and one-half months and the creation of a “COVID mural.”
Here are a few examples:
Collaborative COVID mural emerges in Laramie
LARAMIE — The Laramie Free Wall, a downtown space that allows artists to hone their mural and graffiti skills, has been transformed into an impromptu collaborative mural in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Artist Meg Thompson Stanton started the project last week by painting a mask-wearing pronghorn on the wall, leaving room in the landscape for additional wildlife. Then she invited a handful of local artists to contribute their own images in coming days.
“I think artists are uniquely qualified to respond in all manner of ways and media to colossal and historical events — good and bad,” Thompson Stanton said.
She said artists create context around life experiences, allowing audiences to relate to them. They do some of their best work amid uncertainty.
“Most good creative work happens when the artist is taking risks and uncertain of the outcome,” she said.
In mulling the idea of a project for the Free Wall, she got stuck on the idea of delivering a message before she decided to trust the visual image that starts with the pronghorn.
“With additional artists adding their own take to the mural, there is a message of solidarity in it,” she said.
Artist Bethann Garramon Merkle is planning to contribute a wildlife image of her own, perhaps prairie dogs. Prairie dogs live in community, but with a deliberate design to their colonies.
“They all live together, but there’s also some really interesting research about how carefully spaced out their burrows are,” she said. — Laramie Boomerang
Weston County Fairgrounds transformed into drive-in theater
NEWCASTLE — Sponsored by Pinnacle Bank, and the brainchild of the Weston County Fairgrounds manager, Kara Fladstol, drive-in movies will now be held at the fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday nights.
These events will take place during the COVID-19 shutdown. This is not going to be in competition with the Dogie Theatre, Fladstol noted, but to help fill a void that exists since the theater is currently closed.
Weston County’s public health officer, Dr. Mike Jording, has also approved concessions during the events, but certain conditions must be maintained in order for this event to keep occurring for the duration of COVID-19 restrictions. The community is asked to keep all children under 12 years of age in their cars except for bathroom breaks. Only one person from a vehicle should buy the food items, and social distancing should still be maintained. Organizers also ask that people do not congregate in groups outside of their cars. Bathrooms will be available, but they also ask that you use them wisely, keeping social distancing standards in place, and maintaining good hygiene.
“If everything goes well, we should be able to show movies every weekend until the theater opens again,” Fladstol said.
KASL Radio’s Kevin Senger will also be collaborating to bring these events to the public by providing sound on AM1240. — Newcastle News Letter Journal
COVID-19 relief fund hands out $11,000, has more to give
CHEYENNE — After coronavirus led businesses to close their doors and cut employee hours, a number of groups and nonprofits teamed up to try to bring some financial relief to residents who are struggling.
The Greater Cheyenne COVID-19 Relief Fund was created in collaboration between the city, the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, Forward Greater Cheyenne and United Way of Laramie County. Since its creation at the end of March, they’ve distributed more than $11,000 to residents in need.
In total, residents and businesses have contributed $45,000 to the fund, with Jonah Bank making a $10,000 lead donation.
“These funds are here for this exact, crazy circumstance that we’re all trying to figure out together,” Aaron Courtney of Jonah Bank said.
Courtney has been working in tandem with United Way to review the applications and distribute the funds. The relief fund exists to help residents avoid financial hardships and evictions caused by coronavirus, and Courtney said they’ve been giving applications full reviews to make sure the funds go funds go where they’re most needed.
The top two requests for assistance from the fund have been for utility and rent payments. According to Courtney, the applicants are split fairly evenly between people who have been laid off or had their hours reduced.
Some people were waiting for their unemployment claims to go through, and others needed extra assistance with groceries and internet payments having their kids home from school.
“We’re trying to make sure we’re good stewards of those funds, getting them to as many people as possible. But the needs are pretty dang great,” Courtney said. — Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Seniors connect through tech
SHERIDAN — A few weeks ago, Lisa Wells texted her son a wish: “I wish seniors had better access to devices.”
Wells is The Hub on Smith’s Fun Department wellness coordinator and her son co-owns Design Your Tech. Some of Wells’ most avid exercise class attendees were looking for ways to continue their weekly meetings since The Hub closed.
Despite a willingness to connect through tech, many simply don’t have the equipment to benefit from video conferencing, Wells noted.
The Hub announced a new program April 24, Tech Connect, inspired by senior residents as a way to maintain connections with friends, family, health care providers, exercise classes and other community gatherings.
Seniors age 60 and older may enroll in Tech Connect over the phone if not already registered with the Hub.
After receiving a donation of outdated devices from Sheridan County School District 2, Design Your Tech cleaned, updated and loaded devices with useful apps. The Hub distributed them to seniors around the community, with individual training sessions for seniors to learn to use their new user accounts.
With her new iPad, Linda Dickson attends a 10 a.m. virtual exercise class three days per week from her home at Heritage Towers.
Using his new device, Bruce Scigliano looks forward to playing Bingo this Wednesday with family spread across four states.
On other days, they have family chat and beverage time. His wife, Connie, who has a neurological disease similar to Alzheimer’s, participates in the exercise classes via Zoom. — The Sheridan Press