Celebrating Campbell County’s Heroes

Phil Weibel and Mike McReynolds enjoy the BBQ with other local first responders Saturday.
Phil Weibel and Mike McReynolds enjoy the BBQ with other local first responders Saturday.

Phil Weibel and Mike McReynolds enjoy the BBQ with other local first responders Saturday.

Mother and Daughter Host BBQ to Show Appreciation for Local First Responders

Phil Weibel has been a firefighter with the Campbell County Fire Department (CCFD) for 40 years. When asked why, he had a simple answer.

“I’m still a kid,” he said, grinning.

Weibel started his firefighting career as a volunteer in Colorado but has been a full-time professional firefighter in Gillette for four decades. He likes that it’s not a nine-to-five job.

“How long will I do this? Until I can’t anymore,” he said.

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Weibel was one of several CCFD personnel who, along with Campbell County Memorial Hospital EMS personnel, Gillette Police Department (GPD) officers and Campbell County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) deputies, spent Saturday afternoon meeting the public they serve and enjoying some great barbecue at the Heroes of Wyoming Barbecue at the American Legion Saturday afternoon.

The inaugural event was the first of what organizers Courtnei West and her mother, Robin Shipley, hope will become a yearly tradition. The two thought up the idea as a way to show their appreciation to Campbell County’s first responders for all the hard work they do.

Event organizers Courtnei West and her mother, Robin Shipley, wanted to show local responders their appreciation with a celebratory lunch.

West, speaking Saturday beside a large outdoor grill where hamburgers and bratwurst were sizzling, said the inspiration came from her mother initially.

“After the George Floyd death in Minneapolis, when it seemed like the whole world turned on police officers, my mom decided we needed to show our local first responders that we stood behind them,” West said. “We first wanted to just cook a meal and have on-duty personnel come by and get a plate, but then I thought it would be better if we made it bigger.”

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Thus, Heroes of Wyoming was formed. The pair sought donations from the public and from local stores and vendors and planned the barbecue.

“We wanted to open the event to the public, so people could come and put a face on the people who come when we call 911,” West explained. “We might be a small community, but we wanted to do something big.”

Courtnei West has big plans to make the barbecue a yearly event, with the third Saturday in July as the target date. She also wants to start a scholarship fund so people interested in becoming an EMT, a firefighter or a police officer can seek out the training they’ll need.

“We even gave the name of our organization a lot of thought, because we’d like to see people in other states take up the idea,” West said.