By Bill Sniffin 

That was the year that was . . . A look back at 2013 in Wyoming


As 2013 winds down, it makes sense to look back at what kind of items were featured in this statewide column.

Funniest item I wrote about in 2013 was the California woman calling the Fremont County Sheriff's office and complaining about how much cleavage was being shown by their female deputies.

Since Sheriff Skip Hornecker has only one female deputy patrolman, this was a big mystery until it was determined the gal had been watching the TV show Longmire. The female lead on that show is blond Katie Sackhoff, who definitely is not wearing a protective vest and, yes, she seems to always have an extra button unbuttoned on her blouse.

That TV series, based on books by Craig Johnson, Ucross, is an enormous hit. The town of Buffalo even invited all the cast to a special Longmire Days event.

Crime-wise, the biggest story for me was the solving of a 33-year old mystery of what had happened to Virginia Uden and her two sons. Her ex-husband finally admitted to this horrific crime. This will be subject of a future column.

Lots of great books were written in 2013 but I got personally involved with Rodger McDaniel's story about Lester Hunt, a former Wyoming governor and U. S. Senator who committed suicide in 1953. I even got to play investigative reporter Drew Pearson (circa-1953) in a couple of versions of the trial Rodger wrote. I predict this could be a movie or at least an off-Broadway play.

In recent years, this column has veered away from its original political bent to cover all things Wyoming. But in 2013, we wrote about the challenge Liz Cheney is launching against senior Sen. Mike Enzi.

As the best-known "duck whisperer" in the state, I used that analogy to describe Liz as a "cold duck" who had Sen. Enzi in her sights, whom I called a "sitting duck," in her opinion only.

On the national stage, this continues to probably be the biggest story to come out of Wyoming. It will continue through to August of 2014, no doubt. Alas, more columns may be coming.

Also using this ducky approach was my characterization of Wyoming State Supt. of Public Instruction Cindy Hill as "daffy duck." As the legislature kicks off its budget session, we will be hearing more about what this spat is all about.

This was a huge news story through most of 2013 but certainly slowed down during the recent holiday season. It will fire up again, I predict probably not with a duck slant.

Energy was a big topic in 2013 as we are watching President Barack Obama try to destroy the coal industry in our state. He believes in man-caused global warming. Lots of folks agree with cleaning up the environment and our coal is target number-one.

Climate change appears to be real, at least to me, as I whined on these pages in 2013 about all of our blizzards in April and then also in October. Heck, winter is fine in Wyoming. Spring and Fall can be a real test, though.

In November I wrote about a concept called "heal up, hair over" which described how we could use more civility in the way we all get along. Some folks here in the friendliest state in America have been acting a little prickly lately and that was a great theme for the Wyoming Business Alliance annual forum.

What we are seeing on the national stage when it comes to gridlock is certainly not something to aspire to.

In 2013, I celebrated my 10th anniversary of writing a statewide column. More newspapers and news outlets than ever are running it and we are very pleased about it.

As I traveled Wyoming for various book signings in the last year, it has been overwhelming to hear the nice compliments from people all across the state who read this column on a regular basis.

Highest compliment came from Suzanne Young of Jackson who said I was Wyoming's Herb Caen and Mike Royko rolled into one. High praise. It is humbling to even be mentioned in the same breath as those icons, both of whom died in 1997. Caen worked in San Francisco and Royko in Chicago. Both men are way out of my league but it was very nice of Suzanne to mention me in the same sentence.

At last count this column is often exposed to nearly140,000 readers each and every week, which is amazing. Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!


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