Tragedy, Billionaires and an Attempt to Hold Big Devils Tower Concert

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Bill Sniffin
Bill Sniffin

During a long winter of road closures, sub-zero temperatures and ample snowfall, there was a long list of interesting news happenings that involved rock bands, billionaires and tragedy in the Cowboy State.

• One of the most popular rock bands in the country will NOT be staging a concert at Devils Tower.

Daft Punk, which includes two members from France who are dressed as robots, had planned to put lasers at the base of the tower and hold a concert for 50,000 people.

The National Park Service rejected the proposal after consulting with six American Indian tribes, all of which agreed it would be disrespectful use of such a sacred Indian site.

Daft Punk won five Grammy awards this year including Record of the Year and Album of the Year.

• A Wyoming college student from Powell made dubious history when he tragically died in Denver following eating a marijuana cookie, which is now legal in Colorado.

Levy Thamba Pongi, 19, a native of the Republic of Congo, fell to his death from the balcony of a motel after eating a cookie purchased by one of his friends.

It was reported they had travelled to Denver for several reasons, but one was to experience what is called “marijuana tourism,” where folks from surrounding states travel to Colorado to partake in that state’s legal use of the drug.

Young Pongi had just started taking classes at Northwest College in January.

• By far the biggest star in pro football from Wyoming is Greybull’s Brett Keisel.

He has two Super Bowl rings, but at the age of 35, is now at the crossroads of his career, reports Riverton columnist Randy Tucker.

Keisel is a giant of a man. A football version of noted wrestler Rulan Gardner, of Afton, perhaps.

Keisel is 6-6 and weighs in at 285 pounds while playing a dynamic defensive end. He is a fan favorite in Pittsburgh, where they love him.

Besides his size, he stands out because of his fearsome beard. He truly looks like a mountain man who is a mountain of a man from a rugged state like Wyoming.

This past season, he has been dealing with foot injuries

Tucker was able to ask Keisel a question after the big man had endured a marathon of media requests after a win against the Cleveland Browns late fall. Tucker asked him if he had any message for the kids back in Greybull.

“Yeah, the Buffs are having a great year. I read the Greybull Standard every week and follow the teams in the paper and on the Internet,” he said. He also said he hoped Greybull could beat Lovell. “Any year we can beat the Bulldogs is a great year,” he exclaimed.

• A former child soldier from Africa wants to establish a refugee resettlement office in Wyoming. We are the only state without one.

Bertine Bahige, a teacher in Gillette, came to the USA as a refugee many years ago. He once served as a 13-year old rifleman in 1996. He has not seen his sisters or his mother since.

After a tumultuous journey escaping Africa with the help of the United Nations, he ended up in the USA and attended the University of Wyoming on scholarship. He is now a math teacher in Gillette and is married to a Gillette native.

His initiative has drawn ire from some folks because of distrust of the United Nations whose agencies would decide which refugees would come to Wyoming.

The project sounds like a good idea for a place that calls itself “The Equality State.” We are glad to have this man among us.

• The term “billionaire” and the state of Wyoming did not go together very well in the same sentence just a few years ago. But today, we have several of them here, according to Forbes Magazine.

Long-time residents Christy Walton (of Walmart fortunes) and the Mars brothers (Forrest and John) of the candy fortune, live in Wyoming. Christy and Forrest in Jackson and John in Big Horn.

Christy is worth $36.7 billion and each of the Mars brothers is orth $20.5 billion.

New listings include Amy Wyss, daughter of Switzerland’s second richest man. She lives in Wilson.

Tiger Woods’ ex-wife Elin Nordegren and her billionaire boyfriend Chris Cline just purchased the Carney Ranch in Sublette County for $25 million. It includes eight miles of the Green River.

 

Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.

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