image

Elkhorn Bar and Grill co-owners Rachel and Magnum Faust said they will remain open after 10 p.m. curfew. (Photo by J.T. Currie)

A few Park County establishments are openly defying public health orders, specifically the recently imposed restrictions that require bars and restaurants to close their doors from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. through Jan. 8.

The Elkhorn Bar and Grill in Meeteetse is one of these businesses. Co-owner Magnum Faust, 38, said the restaurant he runs with his wife Rachel Faust, 39, was visited by Park County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rob Cooke on Friday around 11:30 p.m., 90 minutes past the legal time for their business to be open. Cooke told the business to shut down for the night, which their bartender complied with at the time. 

The bartender said the deputy threatened their food and liquor license being pulled if they did not comply. Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said he is still investigating the deputy’s visit, although he denies that the deputy made any threats at this time.

Magnum Faust said their compliance won’t be happening again and finds the health orders to be an infringement on constitutional rights.

“This is not an anti-authority grab here for us. This is nothing to do with the local town council, or sheriff deputies, or the Park County sheriff or anything – we respect all those people,” he said. “This is about this ridiculous mandate that they’re trying to put out on all of Americans, and encroaching on all of our freedoms.

“Sometimes standing up for what you believe in comes off as disrespectful or disobedient. This is not what this is about.”

Faust said Tuesday he does find the virus to be a real threat, supporting sanitation and social distancing efforts, while also mentioning he finds masks effective in certain hospital scenarios. 

Although he does not find them to be effective in a restaurant or bar, a recent post on the Elkhorn Facebook page promoted another business selling fake masks.

Prior to the deputy’s visit, Faust stated on the Elkhorn Facebook it would not be enforcing the state’s face mask order in their establishment, which Faust defends in part because the restaurant offers drive-thru and take-out options to customers. 

“By now, nine months into this pandemic … patrons know that they are assuming a risk by walking into public eating establishments,” he said. “We are not going to enforce our patrons to wear a mask in such a tiny community with such a low infection rate. We feel that increased sanitation efforts do more to combat the spread of this virus than a mask ever would.”

He said their face mask flouting prompted chatter among the Meeteetse town council and initiated a visit from Mayor Y.W. (Bill) Yetter. Faust said the meeting was civil and respectful, but not lacking subtle threats.

“Bill brought up if we refused mandates and it came to town hall and they were having to bring it to council and put it on the agenda, they would have to take it as far as they have to do in order to enforce whatever rules were put out,” Faust said. “At that point we kind of explained to him, ‘if you’re going to make that big of a stink about it that we’ll just close up shop and go somewhere else.’”

In a phone interview Tuesday, Yetter said there is no consideration taking place for revoking the Elkhorn’s liquor license at this time, but would not rule out the possibility of it occurring in the future if the business continues to not comply with orders.

“At this point I would hate to speculate on what’s going to happen down the road,” he said.

In Powell, the Red Zone Sports Bar and Grill is claiming to be a “travel center” in order to justify defying health restrictions, a move owner James Andrews said his legal team thought was an apt description for the business.

“We’ve been charging electric vehicles all summer,” he said, also mentioning the business’s proximity to a city parking lot, Wi-Fi, USB and other electric charging outlets as proof the Red Zone, despite not once describing itself as a “travel center” on its website, is in fact that.

Around midnight on Thursday, Powell police officers paid the business a visit to educate its staff on the rules of the order, but took no action beyond that. Andrews said Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt has not spoken to him directly since the interaction.

“He decided what he was going to do,” he said. 

Education vs.

enforcement

The county’s two police chiefs and Steward have all stated they will rely on education in their enforcement of health orders. As far as actual enforceability goes, even Park County Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin has stated this is a tall task. 

“Having a mask mandate is one thing, enforcing is another,” Billin said during a November commissioner meeting. “Nobody is looking for people to come into a business and haul you away because you’re not wearing a mask.”

To date, there have been no charges levelled in Park County for any health order infractions, but Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric has not ruled out prosecuting charges if law enforcement presented violations to his office.

Park County Commissioner Dossie Overfield said she sees both sides of the coin when it comes to business owners trying to stay afloat amidst COVID-19 concerns, but sides with the advice of professional health practitioners and State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist.

“It’s been proven that when people imbibe in alcohol they get kind of lax with taking precautions,” Overfield said, describing Harrist’s curfew order as a compromise initiated in order to avoid shutting down businesses altogether.

Faust and Andrews both said they do not believe rules should be created that cannot be enforced, and Faust describes the 10 p.m. curfew as, “more of a power-grab than about compliance and safety.”

Fiscal concerns?

Andrews said the Red Zone was closed for about six weeks in the spring due to health order restrictions, while Elkhorn went to take-out only for two months.

In the winter time, Park County businesses do not frequently stay open past 10 p.m. Faust said his business typically exceeds this threshold about three of the six days per week it is open, and his staff decides when to close based on how many people are inside the building at different points in the night.

On Saturday, a county variance request submitted by Billin was denied by Harrist. If approved, the variance would have allowed the county’s restaurants and bars to stay open until midnight daily, and until 2 a.m. on New Years.

Both Andrews and Faust said they still plan to stay open until midnight and later on New Years, even though Andrews admitted the NYE holiday can sometimes be slow at the Red Zone.

Both business owners mentioned the vast amount of support they received on social media for their pledge to stand up to the orders.

“You guys are true Americans and we love and support you,” said Facebook poster Glenn Wood. “And if we all stand up for our rights we will win this battle.”

 The owners also cited the need to keep their employees as a primary reason for taking a stand.

“I have three employees here, two are single mothers, and this is their only income,” Faust said. “They have to be able to work their shift all the way through and get that support.”

(53) comments

StrongDogRT

My body; my choice! All of those that do not want to contract the COVID-19 virus should stay home, wear a mask, and stay away from everyone. That's their right! Don't trample on my rights!! Thank you very much.

Trex

Well folks some not to thoughtful person wants martial law for closing a business huh I would suggest thats when words end and other things would fly!!! Just Saying.

Stephluce

The virus isn’t more lethal after 10 pm. If you are afraid of catching it after 10pm don't go in. Personal responsibility it’s that simple.

eltee

So to take the micro view here...has anyone articulated the rational for closing a public house during their hours of lowest customer density? Between 10PM and 5AM....really?

bandc

It is very good to see thoughtful people stand up for both human and constitutional rights and against tyranny. It is also good to see officials declining to enforce foolish and wrong headed orders. As thinking people we should ask why, from the time of creations beginning to February 2020 influenza & viruses have been more or less successfully dealt with by our immune systems, and that now only pharmaceuticals who must be paid can deal with this crisis. The technical lead of the CDC at the beginning of this ordeal announced the ineffectiveness of mask/face coverings, until POLITICAL pressure made her reverse that stand. An excellent and solid understanding by a PhD in organic chemistry who has designed PPE has written about this: https://www.aier.org/article/the-year-of-disguises/

If this COVID-19(84) was more serious than our overblown media and hypocritical politicians of all stripes claim, then we would not need their constant blaring. We would see the results everywhere as happened when the Bubonic plague struck the earth. Were that the case then gas stations would all return to full service only with attendants dressed in chemical gear would take your payment to avoid the vector of the pin pads, same w/our grocery stores.

Finally Founders such as Benjamin Franklin would only shake their heads and remind us: 'THOSE WHO CHOOSE SECURITY OVER LIBERTY, DESERVE AND SHALL RECEIVE NEITHER'.

gus

1. The owners are irresponsible and don't care at all about the public. 2. They are being unfair to the business owners who are responsible and care about our health. For these two reasons this business should lose its license.

Deuce

The Powell Tribune has an article on this as well that's worth the read

SamJones

our Sheriff is a well known social media gadfly so no doubt reads these comments. I'd like to ask the Sheriff "what is the status of your internal investigation of this matter"? On second thought, never mind, we all know how LEO internal investigations end up "we didn't nuttin' wrong". many of us do take exception that you basically called out the Elkhorn bartender as a liar

i am Essential

"Merna" might have a hidden point, here. Citizens of Park Co has long disdained locally owned and operated businesses and much prefer to spend their dollars at either an invasive box store chain that has located here, or up in Billings. Local-Owned-Operated businesses are not supported around here. Yet, the same Park Co citizens routinely hit up these local operations for donations - they think that these operations are solely here to support their favorite causes and clubs. The same citizens were never dare to hit up the Billings businesses, though. So, yep, Merna represents the majority of Park Co citizens so it's no surprise how many of you don't care if one of our, AGAIN, locally owned and operated businesses goes under. If this applies to YOU, then every dollar you spend at the local box strore, online or in Billings is actually YOU shooting yourself in the foot

XMonkey

Some people have missed the point here. It's not about what businesses are "essential," and which aren't. If you're a business owner, Wal Mart is no more "essential" to your survival than your own business. If you're not making any income, you have nothing to spend at Wal Mart. The real issue here is the arbitrary rules that are being made that have no effect whatsoever on the spread of the disease, which is evident if you just look at what's happening everywhere. What is it with people that you can't see that masks and curfews don't make an iota of difference to the spread of a virus? Slow it, perhaps. Stop it, no.

Bob In Park County

Agree. Plus none of the numbers they spew out on this virus have any context to them. How many teenagers have died from the virus? What is the age and general prior physical condition of those who die (this info. does not violate HIPPA)? Why have reported deaths from the flu and pneumonia virtually ended? Have they found a cure for them? Where is the giant spike in the yearly death rate? There appears to be an absurd power grab going on and it is time for some civil disobedience from those who fund (tax payers) these corrupt politicians.

Whatsup

I guess we need to live in Arizona so we can think and see like you x monkey

Bob In Park County

Congratulations to the Elkhorn and it’s owners. I support your act of civil disobedience. I wonder how many of the critics here supported the disobedience by those who burn and looted businesses a few months back. Many of the doctors and politicians trying to mask and quarantine us now did.

And to you mask shamers out there who believe that society can be freed from unnecessary deaths by masks. I hope you don’t drive. Cars are responsible for 38,000 deaths a year and 4,000,000 serious injuries. If the gov’t would just mandate no more driving, the country would be so much safer.

It is clear after 9 months of contradictions and failed policies that neither the politicians nor doctors are up to the task. Therefore, they should be ignored and we should return to our pre-March 2020 lives.

Whatsup

Hey Bob I think what you're trying to say is we have a choice and what we do with our personal lives

okthen

I read these comments just to remind myself why I left this ignorant piece of planet. I hope these owners will maybe feel a twinge at the pain they might cause a caregiver and family and friends who is required to provide lifesaving to a person who wanted a drink. Not sayin' the person who got sick 'cause they were stupid enough to put themselves at risk, but the nurse, CNA, housekeeper, first responder, support staff, room cleaner, etc.

Jim Jones

You left this ignorant piece of the planet but insist on spewing your drivel here. What's the matter, can't get anyone to listen to you in your new home?

Whatsup

Must be related to x monkey don't live here but want to comment on everything going on here

Merna

Some of us stand firm with the sheriff and health department leader. The Elk Horn is not essential, but Walmart is. When I need eggs, bacon and milk, I go to Walmart, I can also purchase liquor there, too. Last time I check the Elk Horn only offers liqour. I call on our sheriff and dr. Billings to end this pandemic by issuing martial law by establishing a dawn to dusk curfew and only keeping open a truly essential business such as Walmart. Walmart has more people employed that depend on their paycheck. These people keep our economy going vs some small local drinking establishment. Closing down the Elk Horn affects no one

Damnitkevin

Closing down the Elk Horn absolutely affects the employees and single mothers who work there! I agree tho let’s declare martial law and set a curfew...much like they do in the Purge. I bet your door will be one of the first ones knocked on!

LabRat

Martial law? Really? Gee, Merna, who gets to decide what business is essential? You? I believe any business that provides a product or service and provides jobs for people is essential. People are depending on that paycheck to buy food, pay bills and put a roof over their head. The only non-essential "workers" we can do without are politicians. They produce nothing, provide nothing, and only figure out ways of taking more and more hard earned money from the people.

Jim Jones

Attention Merna: The Sheriff is standing firm in not enforcing any health orders. You want to enact martial law for a disease that has an overall survival rate exceeding 99%? Brilliant. You also think a Walmart cashier's paycheck is more important than an Elkhorn Bar employee's check. You're a twisted person.

Whatsup

Very biased article everybody is essential are you a mother you're essential are you an aunt sister everybody's essential

codygal

[thumbup] BRAVO [thumbup] this whole FLU shutdown is absurd. Enough BS already! I can't believe how easily [read as gullible] people are falling for these "lockdowns" cloth masks [which even fauci once said about 9 months ago did little to nothing to help with the flu-bug], making SMALL businesses shut down while big box stores are fine to be open regular hours.

Below is the truth about how deaths are being recorded in this country, by non other than your beloved Dr Birx.

Dr. Birx says here very plainly that anyone who dies “with COVID-19” is being counted as having died from COVID-19. She admits this is a “liberal approach” to recording mortality. The suspicions many of us had are now confirmed.

pic.twitter.com/NxmfwyfjTC

— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) April 7, 2020 from Fox News

and in Colorado people killed by guns are classified as covid deaths! good grief!!!

The coroner, Brenda Bock, says two of their five deaths related to COVID-19 were people who died of gunshot wounds," CBS News Denver reports. "Bock says because they tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 30 days, they were classified as 'deaths among cases.'" from Townhall News

and what some SMART countries are doing (also from a Fox news article)

"There are other countries that if you had a pre-existing condition, and let's say the virus caused you to go to the ICU [intensive care unit] and then have a heart or kidney problem," she said during a Tuesday news briefing at the White House. "Some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death.

meeteetse creek supports Elkhorn

Good for your guys, Rachel and Magnum! Sad part is, the same people that think you should close down your business will be the same ones labelling you a deadbeat for the fact that without income, you can't pay your staff, bills or loan. It's a lose-lose situation for the folks who think you should shut down, yet let Walmart crowd'em in - they should just stay home, put on their masks and hide behind the couch and stay out of your business. The Red Zone and Elkhorn is just the start of showing the county authorities who's in charge...THE CITIZENS

codyleo

Good for them and exactly what I would do if I owned a small public serving business. New to the area, so I now have a new regular watering hole. Thankful for great Americans like this who understand and fight for their rights. They have the right to do business and you have the right to spend your money there or not.

DeweyV

Direct quote from State statutes:

35-1-240. Powers and duties in the Wyoming Statutes

(a) The department of health, through the state health

officer, or under his direction and supervision, through the

other employees of the department, shall have and exercise the

following powers and duties:

(i) To exercise in Wyoming, all the rights and powers

and perform all duties hereunder;

(ii) To investigate and control the causes of

the epidemic, endemic, communicable, occupational, and other diseases

and afflictions, and physical disabilities resulting therefrom,

affecting the public health;

(iii) To establish, maintain and enforce isolation

and quarantine, and in pursuance thereof, and for such purpose

only, to exercise such physical control over the property and over

the persons of the people within this state as the state health

the officer may find necessary for the protection of the public

health;

(iv) To close theaters, schools, and other public

places, and to forbid gatherings of people when necessary to

protect public health;

I might even consider reading Section 38 of the Wyoming Constitution - specifically subparagraph c.

Whatsup

Dewey anywhere in there does it define essential businesses cuz every business is essential to someone's paycheck unless you're a freelancer like you you can do what you want

rachelfaust

And P Demoney......nothing has changed with the masks or the closing time in 9 months(with the exception of the shutdown) so you must not frequent our establishment much, as it's always been that way. We are just more vocal about it now because of the visit from our local authorities. Red Zone and Elkhorn are fighting back, but dont think we are the only ones. Have a blessed day.

rachelfaust

Whether patrons arrive at 8pm or 915pm, they were already there and willingly exposed to the same things that will be there after 10pm. The elkhorn isnt a nightclub with a line waiting to get in like in the big cities. Again, increased sanitation plays the best roll in stopping the spread.

Whatsup

Does it matter cuz once you enter a restaurant anywhere in Cody Wyoming you don't have to wear your mask so what good is that doing when you have to walk in with a mask but soon as you walk in you can take it off now that sounds like the pot calling the kettle black or should I say what's good for the goose is good for the gander

James_Andrews

News Journalism - is ideally succinct and to the point, articles in this genre simply convey a piece of news. No sugarcoating, no interjecting opinions, nothing.

This "article" would best be placed in the opinion or Editorial section with a clear statement that the author has a belief system which renders him unable to impartially report on the subject matter.

In our current state of divisiveness, we expect more from you Cody Enterprise.

Comment deleted.
Disgusted taxpayer

Your krap got published so stop whining and add something constructive to any discussion for once.

per diem

Sounds like the Sheriff doesn't have control of his boys, much like letting that one clown operate the tacky and taunting "Warrant Wednesdays"...you remember, the same guy that illegally discharged a firearm in the city limits (and damaged the Best of the West building) but of course was never charged...it was all laughed off. anyway, good for both the Elkhorn and Red Zone in Powell!

meeteetse creek supports Elkhorn

Yep, the good ol'e boy syndrome. We have a sheriff who' obviously not in charge and glosses over miscreants in his own office Yet, to generate income, the boys in blue (and khaki) think nothing of hiding behind a billboard aiming a radar gun at your bank account

Buck

Magnum and Rachel are trying to make a living, please leave them alone and my hats off to them for standing up respectfully

P Demoney

Clearly they don't care about the rest of us. Sorry, I'll never set foot in there again. It's too bad, I enjoyed it.

Sully53

P Demoney you and everyone that thinks like your statement are missing the point. You don't understand that the mandates aren't about the virus. They are only about control. Do you mean the if these businesses closed at 10pm and sent a 50 people home no one would get the virus? Do you think you can catch it easier from 10 pm -2am easier than you can catch it from 6pm-9pm? Why do you think it is someone else's responsibility to protect you? Protect yourself and stay home if you don't like it. There is several things the county health experts could have done besides making every place close down. For an example, have a nurse sit at the door to take everyone's temperature before entering. The county already had a mask mandate where you have to wear a mask into bars and restaurants until you are seated, why isn't that good enough for New Years Eve. This is all about control. You sheep are being duped.

meeteetse creek supports Elkhorn

P Demoney, I can assure that you won't be missed

Jim Jones

Show me one receipt or credit card statement with Elkhorn Bar on it.

XMonkey

"imposed restrictions that require bars and restaurants to close their doors from 10 p.m.-5 a.m."

Whatsamattayou? Don't you know "the science" says that viruses are only awake between midnight and 4 AM? It's all about "the science," isn't it?

Whatsup

Who cares what you have to say x monkey

PJ Roemich

I know for a fact that Sgt. Cooke threatened to have their license revoked. Sheriff Steward is "investigating"...ya, right. We all know what happens when the blue line "investigates" their own - NOTHING

6FUresident

If you have direct knowledge of the alleged threat involve yourself in the investigation as a witness.

Suzie

Good for these business owners! It's OK to go out and riot and destroy things but not OK for people to make a living???

Wyoming resident

Just because you are stupid and don’t care about other peoples safety.

Damnitkevin

You might be a resident but you’re clearly not from here! SMH

Deuce

So much for health orders and thinking about the welfare of others! I know Deputy Cooke and doubt he would say what is claimed by the Elk Horn. Closing down between 10pm and 5 am is 7 hours out of 24 hour day. You can't tell be these bars can't get creative and adjust to the 17 remaining hours available to make money. Furthermore tell what is so essential about a Bar, last time I checked those establishments are not essential.

Bryans49ers

Every business is essential, especially in a small town like Cody.

It’s essential that the employees and the employers remain productive so they don’t loose their businesses and become a potential burden on the states unemployment system and more. They have family’s that rely on that income to survive. It’s very essential!!!

Jim Jones

The business is in Meeteetse.

silentmajority

This is why a bar is essential:

“I have three employees here, two are single mothers, and this is their only income,” Faust said. “They have to be able to work their shift all the way through and get that support.”

hoss403

Good for these great Americans. Requiring these establishments to close early has nothing to do with safety and will not prevent the spread of COVID in any way.

Wyoming resident

No masks and not following orders is stupid just like you are.

Damnitkevin

It’s ok we know you voted for Biden!

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.