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The Campbell County Camels take the court for their first game of the Energy Classic Basketball Invitational against the Thunder Ridge Titans in 2020.

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Another ‘Knight of Gore:’ Upstart haunted house returns for second year in new location
  • 5 min to read

Complaints of lingering Christmas decorations become common as the New Year bleeds into the spring and the decorative lights and wreathes remain on display. It is, however, less common for complainants to look into their yard and see Halloween decorations buried in snow.

mmoore / News Record Photo/Mike Moore 

Kyla Colburn displays a decapitated mannequin head while preparing for haunted house, “A Knight of Gore at the Compound,” along Warrior Road last Saturday.

But that was the predicament Kyla and Knight “K.J.” Colburn found themselves in last winter, after they hosted “A Knight of Gore,” an open-air haunted house, in their Gillette backyard last Halloween.

“It was Halloween in my backyard all year,” Kyla said.

For months and months, the “bloody bathroom” and its various props sat in their yard. But not again. This year, they are bringing back the homegrown haunted house, but in a new location.

Instead of a backyard of horrors, “A Knight of Gore at the Compound” transitioned into a salvage yard fright fest, located at 1220 Warrior Road just north of Gillette.

Opening weekend began Friday and Saturday followed by Oct. 29, 30, 31 of Halloween weekend. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Guests will enter the salvage yard, or as the Colburns call it, “the compound,” through an old trailer doubling as the ticket booth. Inside of the yard, fright-seekers will traverse a labyrinthine path through abandoned vehicles, old appliances and plenty of things that go bump in the night.

mmoore / News Record Photo/Mike Moore 

Dolls hang from a school bus door at “A Knight of Gore at the Compound” last Saturday.

Of course, costumed characters will be there to spook them when they least expect it, every step of the way.

“There will be a lot more jump scares this year,” K.J. said.

The Colburns had more space to work with this year, with the whole salvage yard and all of its remnants fair game for their haunted house design. The result is parked buses, cars and trailers forming the edges of a path through the yard. Caution tape is draped along the path, leading guests through the many scares scattered throughout the trail.

Last year’s haunted doll house was one of the most popular sections of the inaugural Knight of Gore. In the new setting, that concept has been converted to a school bus, full of creepy dolls and, just maybe, other eerie surprises.

“It’s definitely a bigger walk-through this year,” K.J. said.

Just how long it takes depends on how scared you are, he said. Last year, some people didn’t make it past the beginning of the haunted house. That was understandable, when considering the hulking Michael Myers lookalike stalking entrants through the first part of the path.

“We had like three people pee themselves,” K.J. said. “A lot of people couldn’t make it past the first part.”

That Myers stand-in, Chris Gore, partnered with K.J. and also loaned his namesake to “A Knight of Gore.” He was unable to help build the salvage yard spectacle this year, but plans to be involved next year when the team hopes to rent a building for an indoor haunted house that could stay open throughout October.

“He’s pretty bummed he’s not going to be here for it,” Kyla said.

In this case, there’s always next year. And the year after that. Now on their second go-around, they intend to make it an annual tradition.

mmoore / News Record Photo/Mike Moore 

KJ Colburn, from left, and Gabriel Labbé clear snow while working on this year’s haunted house, “A Knight of Gore at the Compound.”

Bringing out the dead

Where do you start when planning a haunted house?

There is no pure science to scaring. Sure, a lot of things are objectively creepy, but there are a lot of factors that can influence whether that translates to an actual fright. Fear is primordial, but it’s also subjective. The jolt you get when a leashed dog lunges at you can jump your heart rate faster than staring into the eyes behind a Jason Voorhes hockey mask.

So when K.J. and Gore decided to go all-out last year, they turned to Gabe Knowlton, who has been running his own haunted house in Upton for going on five years.

Knowlton stepped away from “The Scream Asylum” last year to help launch “A Knight of Gore.” Even though he is helping out again this year, he will still operate his own attraction Halloween weekend.

“We took last year off to help these fools, made friends out of that situation, now there are two sweet haunted houses that exist,” Knowlton said.

The Colburns and Gore were never lacking for Halloween passion. But Knowlton was able to bring some technical know-how from his years running his own horror production, along with piles of props and decorations to make a scary mess out of Kyla’s backyard.

Of course, Gillette is a bigger market than Upton, which equates to a larger pool of too-cool-teenagers and Halloween-heads to lure into their haunted house.

mmoore / News Record Photo/Mike Moore 

Kyla Colburn observes progress on completing this year’s haunted house, “A Knight of Gore at the Compound,” along Warrior Road last Saturday.

“Last year was just so fun, especially with the year that we had,” Knowlton said. “It was just a crazy year. I was expecting a lot of people to show up last year, but it was beyond expectations.”

The event ran through Halloween weekend and drew a crowd each night. On Halloween night, they said a nonstop line ran down their driveway until close to midnight.

“I feel like this is probably just going to be a continuance of us all collaborating for now on anyways,” Knowlton said. “I think after last year and this year, it’s only a matter of time before we just combine for one big haunt.”

But in order to haunt, they need help. Setting up the haunted house with inanimate objects that scare life into the guests is one part of the job, but it takes dedicated volunteers to really strike terror.

Kyla said they have about 15 volunteers dressing up and stalking the the salvage yard, but they will still take all the volunteers they can get.

Matt Pitt, 26, showed up as a creepy “pig man” last year and is returning as a pirate this time. A pirate may seem out-of-place in a haunted salvage yard, but when you see the speedboat marooned amid the wreckage, it makes more sense.

mmoore / News Record Photo/Mike Moore 

Haunted house designer Kyla Colburn walks through a portion of this year’s, “A Knight of Gore at the Compound,” last weekend.

He even made his own cannon to bring on board.

Then there’s family friend Brooklyn Colvin, 15, who also helped last year and is returning for year No. 2. You may have seen her last year. She was the one “screaming and acting like I got killed.”

You know the one.

“It is real acting,” she said. “I’d never done it until last year. I’ve always liked scaring people.”

Kyla’s son, Gabriel Labbe, 14, also did his part in the haunted house last year. With it in his backyard, how could he not?

While he was running around delivering scares, other friends his age were on the other side of the equation, trying to make it through the winding trail without looking like the most scared one in the pack.

“Honestly, they definitely gave monotone reactions,” Labbe said of others his age going through the haunted house. “Like, ‘Yeah, it was fun to go through there.’”

Of course, trying not to look scared as a teenager on Halloween is as timeless as trying to find things that make you scared on Halloween.

Even without the props and dozen or so volunteers loaning their time to make the atmosphere creepier, walking through the salvage yard under a typical dark autumn sky can can give goosebumps in its own right.

Getting to the core of what compels people to dedicate themselves to scaring others is as mysterious as why it is that people, in a kind of cathartic way, enjoy being scared in the first place.

Or maybe, at it’s core, it’s not all that complicated.

“We just like to have people have fun on Halloween,” Knowlton said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Army National Guard Sgt. Lucas Donnelly and CNA Madason Malone work with a patient at Campbell County Memorial Hospital on Oct.12.

Jackson Hole News&Guide/Meg Potter

Fred Miles is strapped into an adaptive paragliding chair before his adaptive paragliding flight at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Teton Village, Wyoming. At 103 years old, Miles set a recort for the oldest adaptive paraglider to fly in the United States.

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Committee appointed to explore new role for Gillette College Advisory Board
Trustees believe board can serve new purpose as district evolves

The Gillette College Advisory Board may stick around the new district, but in a different capacity.

In a work session Thursday night, Gillette Community College District trustees met with some advisory board members to discuss the future of the advisory board, including whether it should continue to exist now that an independent district has formed.

After a round of brainstorming and thought-sharing, GCCD Chairman Robert Palmer appointed a committee of trustees and current advisory board members to come up with a newly defined role for the advisory board to be presented at a future board meeting.

Trustees Frank Stevens and Tracy Wasserburger were appointed to the committee, along with Advisory Board Chairman Brian Worthen and member Jerry Tystad.

Since passing the vote to form an independent community college district around Gillette College in August, the advisory board has been “disassociated” from the Northern Wyoming Community College District, Worthen said.

The advisory board has up to 11 members and served as a liaison of sorts representing the interests of Gillette College and Campbell County in dealings with NWCCD.

“It provided Gillette with a voice for how this campus is run,” Worthen said. “That was the sole purpose.”

But now that Campbell County residents raised their individual voices in a public election and chose their own board of trustees, it is a matter of what role the advisory board should serve with the new district if it is to continue on.

“I think to me it’s a complementary type of relationship between facets of the community that maybe aren’t necessarily reflected directly on the board of trustees but have been on the advisory board and to help move forward from a continuity and consistency standpoint as well,” Palmer said. “I certainly see the opportunity to have both.”

The benefits discussed of keeping an advisory board, albeit in a revised capacity, included community representation, continuity and industry expertise.

“If we had a team of people who are the experts helping us at the table, what a huge lift that would be for our board,” trustee Alison Ochs Gee said.

Trustee Josh McGrath said there is value in the advisory board because the trustees are elected and the advisory board is appointed, which can ensure industry and community interests are represented on the advisory board, if not directly represented by trustees.

“I think we have a very good board of trustees but we don’t have representation of all industry that is important to Gillette,” he said.

Advisory board member Scott Durgin and Worthen both said they entered the work session unsure what role the advisory board could provide going forward, but were convinced otherwise.

Worthen said he came in thinking the advisory board would no longer have a purpose, but realized the potential benefit of creating an opportunity for people to get involved with the college, establish continuity for the district and even feed potential trustees for future elections.

Ochs Gee neatly summed up what appeared to be the general consensus.

“It’s a way to create community consensus and community buy-in,” she said.

The newly formed committee is to look at the existing advisory board bylaws and new district policy and find a defined role for the advisory board with “clear boundaries and clear expectations,” Palmer said.

He added that he would like to decide on the future of the advisory board soon, possibly at the next November meeting. Regardless of what trustees formally decide to do with the advisory board, other program-specific advisory boards remain in tact for nursing, business and CTE programs, interim President Janell Oberlander said.

“We have this really excellent opportunity as a brand new district to do things, maybe, that aren’t done in other places and be innovative and out in front,” Oberlander said. “(It would) create this model that maybe isn’t a norm in the state for other community colleges, but it serves the needs of this community and our stakeholders.”

Trustee Nello Williams colorfully compared the new district to an octopus, with the potential for a redefined advisory board to be an extra tentacle, or tentacles, that can feel out the different parts of the community and bring input to the trustees and administration.

“The more tentacles we have, the greater feel we’ll have for the community,” Williams said.