Maybe you've heard that tomorrow night there will be a "Super Blue Blood Moon," but you're not entirely sure what all that means.
For the first time in over 150 years, a Blue Moon, Super Moon, and a Lunar Eclipse will all happen at about the same time.
Blue Moon: Two full moons in one calendar month
Blood Moon: When the moon passes into the Earth's shadow (a lunar eclipse, making the moon appear red)
Super Moon: When the moon's perigee coincides with a full moon (making the moon seem larger than normal)
(Perigee: When the moon's orbit is nearest to the earth)
The first full moon of January was New Year's Day, and the second one will be occurring overnight on January 30. That also happens to be the same time as a lunar eclipse, and a "super moon." It's something that hasn't happened since 1866.
For those of us in Wyoming, the eclipse portion won't really begin until 4:48 a.m., peaking around 6:00 a.m. Hopefully the snow we're expected to receive tonight will pass through before then, but NASA will be livestreaming the event from their Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California; the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles; and the University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory.
If you are awake and the skies overhead are clear, a tip from NASA about getting the best Super Moon photos: include another object for reference. Whether that's a natural monument like Devils Tower, a building, or even yourself (or the kids, if they're up for school that early!)
Photo: A "bee hotel" at the Campbell County Extension Office. This year, the Master Gardeners will begin an "urban orchard" at Camplex Park, in conjunction with the Campbell County Parks & Recreation department. The trees planted in the orchards will have these "bee hotels," which are designed to encourage bees to hibernate in Campbell County for the winter. The hope is that maintaining the pollinator population will encourage the fruit to grow.
"Our goal for  is to hold workshops out there for pruning fruit trees, harvesting fruit trees, and doing anything to educate the community," said horticulturalist Hannah Johnson with the Extension Office.
Press release from the City of Gillette:
Gillette, WY, January 26, 2018 – Bee City USA® has renewed Gillette’s certification for 2017 following a rigorous renewal application process. This completed the efforts of the Campbell County Master Gardeners’ Pollinator Committee to accomplish this re-certification, the facilitating committee for Gillette’s efforts to engage the community in promoting pollinator-friendliness.
In 2016, the United Nations reported that forty percent of the world’s 350,000 pollinator species were at risk of extinction. Bee City USA is a national nonprofit organization that galvanizes communities to sustain pollinators by providing them with healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants and free to nearly free of pesticides. Imperiled pollinators like honey bees, bumble bees, butterflies, moths, bats, hummingbirds, and others are responsible for the reproduction of ninety percent of the world's wild plant species and one in every three bites of food we consume.
Mayor Louise Carter King said, “Our City Council understood the importance of sustaining pollinators when we voted to become a Bee City USA affiliate in 2016. We commend the Campbell County Master Gardeners’ Pollinator Committee for the impressive gains we made last year.”
According to Megan McManamen, chair of the Pollinator Committee for the Campbell County Master Gardeners, “With the invaluable support of the Mayor, City Council, and the City Parks Division, we were able to create pollinator habitat and increase awareness of pollinator-friendly gardening practices in our community. From planting a Pollinator Rain Garden to hosting our first Annual Gillette Pollinator Day Celebration, we had an extremely successful first year as Wyoming’s first Bee City USA affiliate. We would also like to thank our community for being so supportive of our efforts.”
A new year brings new opportunities for raising awareness of the vital role pollinators play in supporting our food systems and the planet generally. The Master Gardeners’ Pollinator Committee meetings are held throughout the year with dates and times advertised on the Campbell County Master Gardener webpage at www.ccgov.net/282/Master-Gardener and invites all residents of Gillette to offer their ideas for pollinator-friendly initiatives. The more people and organizations involved, the sooner pollinator declines will be reversed.
To see Gillette’s annual report as well as other Bee City USA affiliates’ annual reports visit http://reports.beecityusa.org/.
For more information about the Bee City USA organization visit www.beecityusa.org or email Director Phyllis Stiles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Gillette Bee City USA program, contact Hannah Johnson at email@example.com or Megan McManamen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For at least the fourteen years Debbie Hepp has been working for the Campbell County Conservation District, the Seedling Trees program has been a huge success in fostering conservation efforts for all of Wyoming. Hepp, a CCCD Program Assistant, says that the Seedling Trees program provides local landowners access to the native trees and shrubs that help conserve natural resources.
Seedling trees can be anywhere from six inches to two feet tall, and the Conservation District makes them available in bundles of 25 or 30, depending on the species. Over a dozen varieties are available this year, from Chokecherry to Colorado Blue Spruce. Hepp says all the seedlings are locally sourced from the Colorado State Forestry Service, which means they're native to our region and more likely to succeed in our climate.
The trees, both bareroot and tube, can be grown to provide windbreaks on your land, to cut back on soil erosion. That's the overall goal of local conservation programs, Hepp says: to stabilize your property, keeping the moisture in the soil, and the soil where you want it, and not blowing down your road. The process can be a long one, and not always easy.
"They're a lot of work, and if things don't go right the first time, it can be discouraging," Hepp says. "But we provide a packet with information like tree spacing, and how many rows you'll need for a windbreak."
The Conservation District also can use a soil survey online that they can check, to zero in on your property and provide suggestions for the optimum trees suited for your land. And if you have any trouble -- like with disease or pests -- the Campbell County Extension Office (which is not a part of the Conservation District, but is willing to help out anyone having trouble*) has a horticulturist on staff to keep your trees successful, as well.
There's no minimum purchase, and it's open to anyone. Download their order form online, and order by April 2 to get your trees in time for planting in May. Hepp says that the most trees they've ever sold through the program was over 12,000, but on average they provide two to three thousand trees to Campbell County property owners each year.
*The Campbell County Conservation District is a member of the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce. Like the Chamber, they are not a part of the Campbell County Government. They are mostly grant-funded, though they do receive funds from the 1% Optional Sales Tax.
"Point-in-Time" counts have been conducted across the country since 2005. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires a count of all sheltered people in the last week of January, in order to identify the need in each community for federal funds to help combat homelessness.
Currently, the state of Wyoming receives $292,329 in funding, but last year 553,742 people in the Cowboy State experienced homelessness. That's an increase from 2016, a continuing trend that has seen homelessness in Wyoming jump by over 50% in the past seven years.
On January 26, the Council of Community Services will be conducting their PIT count at an event called "A Day of Hope." A free lunch at the Rockpile Community Center will be provided to those who need it from 12:00 - 1:00, and anyone who would like to set up a booth to offer services to those experiencing homelessness can do so by contacting the Council.
You can check out their event page on Facebook for more information.
Last year ended on a bad note for Wright residents when it was announced in mid-December that Don’s Supermarket, the town’s only grocery store, would close.
But 2018 is off to a great start with an announcement that the store re-opened Thursday under new ownership.
Troy and Cathy McKeown, who have owned Don’s market in Gillette since 2008, bought the Wright Don’s on Dec. 23.
Troy said the decision to buy the store wasn’t an easy one to make, but it was something he felt compelled to do.
“(Wright) needed a grocery store, and it was available,” he said.
Now Wright residents won’t have to make the 80-mile round trip to Gillette to do their grocery shopping.
McKeown said that although the store is under new ownership, everything else should stay the same, adding that he’s most excited to help out the community and the employees who had faced unemployment.
Wright Mayor Ralph Kingan said he was surprised that the McKeowns were able to reopen the store so quickly. He stopped by the Wright Don’s on Thursday to thank them, especially for rehiring the 14 workers who had lost their jobs when the store closed.
“He hired all the employees back. That made me really happy,” he said. “That’s a big help in the town.”
-- Written by Jonathan Gallardo, originally published 1/5/18 in the Gillette News Record
This month we'll be talking a lot about encouraging Wyoming women to take more of a leadership role in their communities, as part of our January Luncheon topic: "If Not You, Then Who?"
As we discuss the impact of gender representation in politics, it's important to remember that Wyoming was not only the first state to allow women to vote, it was the first government in the world to do so unconditionally. Governor Matt Mead's Council for the Wyoming Women's Suffrage Celebration is planning for the 150th anniversary of women's equality in the Equality State. They are calling for anyone with a little bit of that history to contribute it towards the celebration of women's voting rights in the Cowboy State, to begin in 2019.
“The historical record is sparse on how many women voted, who they voted for, how they felt about voting, even, in that period. Any observations from family letters, or from clippings that might have been lost, or from other records, or even oral histories that have come down in some form would be of interest," Wyoming League of Women Voters representative Robin Hill told Wyoming Public Media.
You can submit your memorabilia here, either by donating it, or making copies available for display. The council will help those who do not know how to preserve or duplicate their family correspondence.
The 150th anniversary commemoration of Louisa Swain's historic vote will take place in downtown Laramie on September 6, 2020.