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Y.E.S. House girls perform service for Gillette burn victim

Y.E.S. House staff and four girls staying in the Y.E.S. House Girls Cottage did some mowing, planting and other yard work for Jim McLeland of Gillette, who is a patient at the burn unit hospital in Greeley, Colorado.

The girls, ages 9 through 16, went to the McLeland’s home with Y.E.S. House Foundation Director Jessica Seders and board member Jeri Wandler and helped by mowing the grass, raking leaves and planting flowers.

Seders said that both Jim and his wife, Debbie McLeland, have been sponsors of the Y.E.S. House and Debbie was a member of the board for a time. The opportunity to give back was not lost on the girls.

“It’s really important when we’re able to give back to our donors and supporters,” Seders said. “They (the girls) understand.

“Now they were in need and the kids were able to give back, just like Jim and Deb have given to them in the past. It was really special to see the kids understand how important it is to support your community.”

Jim McLeland was involved in a fire March 24 when he went out to check an oil well about 34 miles south of Gillette. He suffered burns to more than 55 percent of his body, including his torso, chest, back, arms, face and head.

He was airlifted to Wyoming Medical Center in Casper and then taken to the Western States Burn Center at Northern Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, where he was listed in critical, but stable, condition.

Daughter-in-law Robbie McLeland said McLeland is progressing each day and is now up and walking using a makeshift walker. He is alert and talking with family members.

“Everything considered, he is healing really nicely,” she said. “It is a long, long process. He can talk now, and is a little more alert now, has conversations and he can hang on a little bit longer before he falls asleep on you. He still looks like himself. A lot of people have asked about Jim’s face, but it still looks like Jim. They just had to shave his hair off.”

However, McLeland was blinded in the fire and his sight still has not returned. Robbie said the doctors don’t have a prognosis of if, when or how much of his sight may return. He also received skin grafts on the affected areas, the last of which was May 6.

“They probably will need to go in at some point in the next few weeks to do touch-ups for whatever hasn’t healed because some spots don’t take,” she said. “But they’ll do that again and hopefully those areas will be smaller and smaller.”

She said she was touched by the Y.E.S. House gesture, adding that Jim and Deb have both shown what it means to help people in the community.

“I think it’s really huge,” she said. “My father-in-law is always willing to help out. He’s the kindest and most generous person I’ve ever met.”

Doctors continue to work with McLeland on being able to swallow on his own because the muscles in his throat were damaged in the fire. He will soon be moved to a long-term acute hospital in Johnston, Colorado.

Arch Coal scholars

Morgan Williams, who will graduate from Campbell County High School on Sunday, has been selected as one of 11 Arch Coal Scholars in 2016. The program recognizes scholastic achievement by the children of employees of Arch Coal and its subsidiaries. Each scholar receives an annual $2,000 scholarship for an accredited college or university for up to four years.

Williams is the daughter of Bob and Monica Williams of Gillette. She plans to attend the University of Wyoming and major in chemical engineering. Both her parents work at the Thunder Basin Coal Co.’s Clear Creek mine in Gillette.

The National Honor Society member is graduating with top honors. She was the student trainer for the CCHS football and boys basketball teams this past season, has served as a graduation ambassador and a member of the prom committee. She also was part of the first delegation of CCHS students to travel to China this past summer.

Also receiving scholarships from Arch Coal from Wyoming are: Wright valedictorian Zachary Siebert, Wright salutatorian Chantal Lawrence and their classmate Adrienne McKenzie, who all graduate Sunday, along with Jewel Jackson of Douglas and Megan Logan of Newcastle.

Siebert, the son of Walter and Cynthia Siebert of Wright, plans to attend Chadron State College and major in math education. His father is employed at Thunder Basin Coal Co.’s Black Thunder mine in Wright.

Siebert is a member of the National Honor Society, the Future Business Leaders of America, student council and the speech, debate and drama clubs. He also competed in outdoor track and football.

Lawrence is the daughter of Dennis and Diana Lawrence. She plans to attend Brigham Young University and major in psychology. Her father also is employed at Black Thunder mine.

She has been a DARE role model and sang in the school choir. She played four years on Wright’s volleyball team, which twice won state Class 2A titles. The 2A Northeast Conference player of the year in 2014, Lawrence also has earned academic all-state honors four times, along with being an all-state selection in 2014.

Mackenzie is the daughter of Dawn Mackenzie and plans to attend Minerva Schools at KGI in San Francisco. Her mother is employed at the Black Thunder mine.

A member of the National Honor Society, Mackenzie also has been active in Future Farmers of America and served as president of Wright’s speech and debate club. She placed second in the state speech and debate meet, received an all-state extemporaneous speaking award and also competed in the Science Olympiad.

This article originated from The Gillette News Record: http://www.gillettenewsrecord.com/news/local/article_d6ea9137-c0d7-5aa9-8997-a599ee33088b.html