GUERNSEY--The past year’s Top 10 stories that made our pages have been selected.
In a year that seemed to be less dramatic than some in recent memory, the top story for 2018 was the early morning house fire that occurred in November at the home of Andy McGannon. The fire was suspected to have been caused by an electrical issue in a wall near a back bedroom. Beyond the obvious significance of enduring a house fire, it took on even more meaning when it was revealed that but for an unusual change in work schedule for McGannon’s daughter Shelby, she may very well have been home and sleeping in that bedroom when the fire began. A shift trade to help out a co-worker put Shelby at work several hours earlier than normal could very well have saved her life that day, something for which Andy and Shelby will be forever grateful. As McGannon and his daughter watched while fire crews knocked out the remaining hot spots, he reflected upon the fact that despite extensive damage and loss of possessions, his daughter was safe and sound, prompting his comment that summed up what many were feeling that day. “I think I’m probably the luckiest guy in the world right now.”
With an focus on drawing more visitors to the area, Economic Development and the Town of Guernsey revealed The Guernsey Historic Sites and Trails Master Plan. A major purpose of the plan is to find ways for residents and visitors to reach area historic sites by foot, bicycle or wheelchair, on paths that are safely separate from motorized traffic. Community leaders expect the trail network will be enjoyed by local residents for many decades to come, and also become part of the Guernsey visitor experience - increasing tourism revenue and providing local employment. The project manager for the plan is Ed Waddell from Western Research and Development of Cheyenne. Waddell, said it is the most exciting project he has worked on in his career. He has a vested interest in the local history as he is a descendent of one of the founders of the original Pony Express that operated in the area in the 1860s.
Several local businesses and institutions began or completed substantial changes to their physical locations expected to have an impact on residents and visitors. Work was completed and the doors opened on a full renovation of a historic building in the downtown area. Guernsey welcomed their first bed and breakfast in a historic building formerly known by a number of names, most notably the Culver Hotel. Funding came from a Downtown Development grant from the Wyoming Business Council and Guernsey’s Economic and Tourism Development group to completely renovate the building, add a kitchen and dining room and connect to the established restaurant Twisters, owned and operated by Dave and Cris Lycan, The Lycans will operate both establishments.
The community’s only full grocery store, The Guernsey Marketplace, began an extensive renovation project that should see completion sometime in 2019. A substantial addition to the front of the store will provide an entirely new look as well as much-needed space for the business to help with more efficiency in unloading supplier’s rucks, inventory storage, additional product inventory and much more. In addition, new coolers and freezers, ceilings and flooring will be added to improve the interior of the facility.
The Wyoming National Guard Camp has an extensive project underway to provide more classroom and office space as well as a new dining facility. With year-round use of Camp Guernsey for training all branches of the military as well as private or other government entities, the needs and demands have grown substantially over the past 20 years.
Guernsey-Sunrise Schools have also done some substantial remodeling to accommodate a higher security level for students and staff in response to the national school safety issues raised by the increased number of school shootings in the past decade.
The community saw many of their residents recognized or honored in a variety of ways through competitions and the fulfillment of duties in organizations and groups.
Troy Reichert was a national finalist in hardware and tools company Harbor Freight’s competition that offered several large monetary prizes for skilled-trades teachers and their programs within their schools. Reichert won a Home Depot grant in 2017 to purchase tools and supplies for a project that assisted the local VFW to do some upgrades in the post building.
Reichert is also a 2017 winner of the Arch Coal Company teaching excellence awards, and finished in the top five nationally recognized teachers for his work with his students at the VFW, and won an expenses paid trip to Pennsylvania that summer.
Guernsey-Sunrise Family and Consumer Science instructor Val Mills was honored as the Wyoming Association of Career and Technical Education Teacher of the Year. Judged on work with students in the classroom as well as extra-curricular activities, Val also competed at the national level of competition. She has been an instrumental part of the development of a strong culinary program at Guernsey-Sunrise Schools.
Greta Ayers, Kindergarten teacher at Guernsey-Sunrise Elementary School in Guernsey, was named the Department/State winner of this year’s Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award from the VFW organization. The award moved her on to compete at the national level later in the year.
Another Guernsey-Sunrise Schools employee was also noted for her efforts on behalf of the students the district serves. Food Service Coordinator Dawndrea Daly secured a pair of fully funded grants that provide fresh fruit on a daily basis for the school year. She was also chosen as one of four Wyoming food service directors that was awarded an all-expense paid trip to Produce University, a week-long educational opportunity to focus on food safety related to produce in California.
Lakin Reichert won first place with her art work in the Western Governor’s Art competition and as a result, her winning entry was displayed in the Wyoming Governor’s Mansion for a month last summer.
Mickayla VanNatter, 15, of Guernsey was named a semi-finalist in the Military Child of the Year sponsored by Operation Homefront. The award is based on their scholastic achievements, volunteerism, leadership, extracurricular involvement and additional criteria.
Local EMT Sharon Holloway, a longtime volunteer with the Guernsey Volunteer Fire Department and EMS services moved on to the national competition after being named the state winner in the VFW Department of Wyoming Public Servant Award competition for 2018.
A number of Guernsey athletes were named to the All-Conference and All-State teams in sports from last winter, spring and fall.
The girls’ basketball team managed to earn their first trip to the state basketball tournament in six years.
Local Veteran Richard Ibarra was selected as a recipient for a Quilt of Honor for his military service. The quilt is one of thousands made by volunteers in a national program to recognize Veterans.
Camp Guernsey celebrated its 80th year as part of the local community. The camp has become one of the premier training centers in the nation and welcomes troops from not only the United States but other countries as well. With millions of dollars already invested in the camp and the surrounding ranges used for large and small weapons training, it continues to grow and is destined to be an influential piece of the Guernsey and Platte County areas for many more years to come.