Goats provide happiness to many

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By Steva Dooley

When Dale and Maxine Ruppert of Basin decided to fully retire a few years ago they knew they were not cut out for traveling or spending their time sitting and watching TV. They started looking around for a project that would keep them active and out with people socially.

When they first started tossing ideas around, goats weren’t really part of the equation, but they noticed how much Maxine’s dad, who is an elder care center in Thermopolis, enjoyed talking about the farm and the animals there and one day Maxine started looking at goats.

“We were looking for something that was smaller, something that we could easily handle and something that people would enjoy,” Maxine said. “We wanted something that would be easy to transport to elder care facilities around the area so the residents could enjoy them.” Goats seemed to fit that bill for what she wanted. When she discussed it with Dale, he agreed.

And so the research began. Maxine and Dale were both raised on farms in Minnesota, but neither one had ever had anything to do with goats. Maxine started researching goat breeds, goat care, what they can eat, what they can’t eat, what kind of housing they would need and anything else they needed to know about goats. The research took nearly a year, but soon they had a house set up, an area fenced for the goats and a few “toys” for them to play on. It was time to find some goats.

A visit with a friend led them to a group on Facebook and to a breeder of Nigerian dwarf goats in Billings, Montana. She agreed to sell them 6 young wethers (a neutered male goat).

“Some of the boys had been bottle raised, in fact three of them were still on the bottle when we picked them up,” said Maxine. “The other three had been raised on mom and were wild as March hares.”

Dale, Maxine, and a friend made the trip to Billings to get the goats and bring them to their new home. When they arrived home the goats were transferred from the back of the pickup to their new pen and the spoiling began.

“The bottle babies were pretty tame,” Dale said. “But the ones we call the “brothers” a set of triplets that were raised on their mom? They were horrible, wild little things. It took us several months and lots of crackers and other treats to tame them and make them gentle.”

Now it is a year later. The boys have been broke to lead with collars, they are getting used to traveling in a horse trailer that the Rupperts bought to make transport easy, and they are beginning to make their debut as the visiting goats. They travel to Thermopolis to the facility that Maxine’s father resides in, to the Wyoming Retirement Center, and this week to the Big Horn County Library to Story Time.

And Dale and Maxine are having the best time of their lives.

“We are so happy with our goats, and we love sharing them.” They both agree.

“The time we take them out and see how other people love them is so special,” Maxine said. Dale just nods in agreement. “We love them, but we love how other people love them, too.”

At home the “boys” have a pen full of toys and towers, slides and tubs to play in.

“When I am not busy with yard work or something else,” Dale says, “I am thinking up new toys for the goats. Ramps and blocks and tires are some of their
favorite things to play on.”

“Our favorite time of day is afternoon feeding time,” Maxine says. “We feed and give treats and then just go in the pen and let them play around us. Soon there will be goats laying down all around us relaxing and chewing their cuds. It is very relaxing to us, too. They are just what we needed to keep us busy and active since we have retired.”

Dale and Maxing love sharing their goats especially with the elderly. They welcome requests from facilities and other groups to either come to their place and enjoy them or to bring the goats to the facility for a visit.

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Cloud Peak Middle School closes doors

Cloud Peak 1

Former students and educators share memories of Manderson


For 60 years, the school in Manderson has been opening its doors to students and helping them learn and grow.

At the end of the school year, Cloud Peak Middle School closed its doors. At the eighth-grade graduation May 23 former students, teachers and administrators shared their memories of the school at a reception.

“The school is not the building,” said former student and teacher Lin Doyle in his speech. ”It is the people who make the school. Throughout the years the schools have had a history of excellent teachers and staff. That isn’t to say there weren’t some weird ones along the way, but overall they have been exemplary.”

Manderson and Hyattville high schools were consolidated in 1954. Students attended school in the old Manderson school building, which was located by the park in town.

“Our class started as freshmen in this building in 1957,” said Doyle. “Along with the upper grades, we were the first to utilize the building. At the end of the year the annual shows 79 students in the four grades. Our class has the distinction of being the first to attend all four grades and graduate from the new building.”

Eleven years after Doyle graduated, he returned to teach in that same building. He said at the time more than 40 students in the four grades made up the Manderson-Hyattville High School.

The school continued as a high school until about 1976, according to Doyle, and then the seventh and eighth grades from Manderson and Hyattville were brought to the school to form a junior high.

Doyle added, in the early 1980s the Manderson Elementry School was determined to be unsafe so a bond was presented to add onto the high school to accommodate the Manderson Elementary students. After the bond issue was passed, the administration and board presented a plan to consolidate the high schools into Basin and form a middle school in Manderson. The plan failed with a tie vote from the school board.

Doyle also reflected on the building’s quirks like the 22 steps on the front stairs and 21 on the back, a ladder above the stage and a pit on the south side.

The school continued on as a high school/junior high school with the elementary school arrangement until 1987 when the high schools in Manderson and Basin were consolidated and Cloud Peak Middle School for grades 6-8 was formed in Manderson.

That year marked the last graduating class for Manderson-Hyattville High School. In 1988 the newly formed Riverside High School had its first graduating class.

In the early 1990s fifth grade was also moved out to be a part of the middle school in Manderson.

Doyle added that the schools in the Manderson school building have produced many successful students.

“I recall one chemistry class whose students went on to be a surgeon, two teachers, one of whom is a state legislator, an executive vice president for a state agriculture organization and a lawyer who became a judge,” said Doyle. “Each of you has the potential to become one of these success stories. I learned long ago not to underestimate or judge the potential of students. No matter what you have accomplished here the future is open to you.”

Former principal Becky Allred also spoke during the ceremony about her time at the school. Allred and her husband, Sherman, began teaching in Manderson in 1969.

“We were the two teachers on the second floor, with him teaching math and science and me teaching English, history and geography,” said Allred.

Allred became principal in 2001 until she retired in 2007.

“For six years this was my home year round, for many hours,” said Allred. “Working with great kids, parents and the whole staff. Keen minds, energetic thoughts and bodies, support from parents, family, staff and community, plus all the state, helped this school to succeed, which will leave young minds forever mirrored with life experiences, life challenges, a strong unity never to be forgotten as the doors of this building close and educating moves to Basin. But whenever you pass through this unique and community-blended town, an important niche of your life will burn strong in your thoughts and beat proudly in your hearts.”

What’s Next?

According to Superintendent Dave Kerby most of the teachers have boxed up and moved out a lot of their classrooms.

There will be some minor changes to Riverside High School in Basin before the some 100 Cloud Peak students move in.

“We would like to sell the Manderson building,” said Kerby. “It is in the budget to be demolished, but we would love to have someone come in and have a serious look at it.”

The district has hit a few bumps in the road to building the new schools. According to Kerby, they are waiting for approval to get 95 to 100 percent of the design completed. The district hopes to break down in late August and could possibly have students in the buildings a year from December. But mostly it will be two years before students are able to use the buildings.

“We intend to use the Manderson building for sports like basketball and volleyball this next year for practices and games,” said Kerby. “Until the new facility is built there are no plans to tear it down.”

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Common tragedy makes for special bond between Kyle Petty and the Lairds

BARBARA ANNE GREENE Michael and Andrea Laird pose with Kyle Petty last week.


Two families who have lived through the horrific tragedy of losing a child met last Tuesday in the cold rain.  Andrea and Mike Laird of Greybull met NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife Morgan Petty in Ten Sleep. Both couples have lost a son in a car accident.

Adam Petty was killed in 2000 on a racetrack at age 19. He was a fourth generation NASCAR driver. His parents are Kyle and Pattie Petty. In October 2000, five months after Petty’s death, his family partnered with Paul Newman and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to begin the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C. as a memorial.   

Kyle and second wife Morgan were in Wyoming as part of the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America. The seven-day ride started May 13 in Walla Walla, Wash. and ended May 19 in Milwaukee.

Morgan Petty talked about the ride and the camp during an interview on Tuesday. She said that Kyle started the charity ride in 1995. When he started the ride it was just a fun ride with some friends. “As they went they were picking up different riders along the way. They realized hey we could raise money and help people out and do something for the community. It was also a way for their sponsors in racing to let them out of work for a week.” The ride got bigger and bigger as the years went on. This year there were 125 motorcycles and 225 people. “We’re all about raising money for the Victory Junction in North Carolina.”

She added that they have had kids at camp with chronic illnesses from all over the country as well six countries. “Twenty-eight thousand kids and their families have gone to camp free of charge. Kids that can’t attend normal summer camp can attend camp and feel like normal kids. And experience all the same things that other kids experience at camp. Bowling, horseback riding, zip line, fishing, you name it, they can do it.” The website for the camp is victoryjunction.org.

The Lairds lost son Brendon at 18 in a car accident three years ago. They too took a tragedy and created a memorial that gives back to students in this community. They also donated Brendon’s organs so that six other people could live.

So how did this meeting come to be? Laird Sanitation received a call from the charity ride people who wanted to rent portable toilets for their stop in Ten Sleep. During the call Mike told them about the loss of Brendon. “I thought it was a great opportunity to help out both organizations. The Kyle Petty Fountain’s Victory Junction camp and the Brendon Laird Memorial.” said Laird. Later he received a call from Morgan Petty who said she heard about Brendon and was struck by the similarities of both losing a son in an auto accident.

After a few phone calls and some emails exchanged between Morgan and Mike a bond was created. Laird donated the cost of the toilets. Morgan asked Mike and Andrea to be in Ten Sleep so she and Kyle could meet them in person. She also said she would bring items autographed by Richard
Petty and Kyle for the Brendon Laird Memorial June 3 in Greybull.

Also on the ride were NASCAR racer “Handsome” Harry Gant and football great Herschel Walker.

The moment when the Pettys and Lairds met and talked was poignant.  Drawn together by a common loss that each couple chose to use for good. Later the Lairds shared their feelings about the day and the Pettys. Mike said that he was moved to tears when Morgan and Andrea’s eyes met. “They both had that look of great sadness and understanding. I felt that too when Kyle and I met face to face. He said he was touched by our story and was glad we came to meet them. This is something they didn’t have to do but they did.” said Mike.

Andrea said, “It meant a lot to me. The unfortunate loss that put us together in this ‘club’ that no one wants to be a member of.”

The Pettys said they had a lot of respect for the Lairds and how they too had taken their loss and used it to help others. “When we heard their story we had to meet them.” said Morgan. She hopes to send some additional items for the auction. Kyle thanked the Lairds for taking the time to come to Ten Sleep to meet with them. He also told the school kids how much it meant for the riders and him to come into town and see the flags waving. “God bless you.” Kyle said.

Mike and Andrea are even bigger fans of Kyle than they were before and not just because of the common bond. Before the group left Kyle used the PA system in Washakie County Sheriff Steve Rakness patrol vehicle to address the motorcyclists.

First he explained to them the conditions of the highway. “It is snowing but it isn’t sticking to the road. You’re going to encounter some switchbacks. Take it slow. Safety is always number one.” He continued by telling the group to watch out for each other and he would see them on the other side of the mountain.

Petty then stepped to the front of the line of motorcycles and motioned for them to take off. As each cycle passed he spoke to each of them with words like “God bless”, “Take it slow”, “Be safe”, “Watch out for each other”. He was the last cycle to get on the road.

On Tuesday when Petty came to town the students waving flags lined the streets in Ten Sleep. The original plan was for Petty to set up tables to autograph but with the rain and being told that it was snowing on the mountain the stop was cut short. The group was headed east with plans to stop in Gillette and stay the night in Deadwood, SD.


The scholarships are meant to encourage student to get a higher education and better the community. Brendon wanted to go to college to be a welder. “So we decided that our scholarships would go to those seeking education in agriculture or vocational fields.” said Mike Laird.

This year six seniors from Greybull High School each received a $1,000 educational scholarship from the Brendon Laird Memorial. Typically three seniors from both GHS and Riverside High Schools receive scholarships. Only one student from Riverside High School applied this year and she ended up not qualifying.

The GHS seniors were Gabe Keisel, Dasha Kelso, Stevi Wamhoff, Elias Ewen, Jake Harold and Dawson Forcella.

Jamie Keisel said this about her son getting the scholarship. “When you have children that are your world and then lose one, it has to be devastating. As a parent of a son who is a recipient of the scholarship in that child’s name you hope your child will honor his memory, that your child will use the money to move forward and accomplish their goal. We are so honored and touched.”

Gabe echoed his mom’s thoughts and added. “It felt really good because it is in his honor.  Brendon was one of my better friends when I was a freshman and sophomore,” he said.

Elias Ewen said “When Mr. and Mrs. Laird called my name at our senior scholarship night to receive the Laird Scholarship, I felt so relieved. The scholarship will help me tremendously at Northwest College.”

Stevi Wamoff’s future plans are to study nursing at Sheridan College. She had this to say about the scholarship she received. “I feel it’s an honor that they are supporting me in my future of helping other people”

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