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August 13, 2008 1:59 pm

Area fires held at bay

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The Gunbarrel fire continues to burn, but all lodges, campgrounds and trails are open at this time. However, no hiking is allowed north of U.S. 14-16-20 from Dunn to Grinnell creeks. Things were a bit warm a mile or so up the ridge from Wayfarers Chapel Saturday afternoon. Tribune photo by Gib Mathers
Estimated costs for fighting the Gunbarrel Fire rose to about $4 million by Monday, with most of that invested in protecting area structures.
Gunbarrel, about 40 miles west of Cody, off U.S. 14-16-20, was at 37,650 aces Monday. Although rain cooled the fire a little on Friday, winds increased fire activity slightly over the weekend.
Meanwhile, most of the LeHardy Fire remains inactive in Yellowstone National Park.
Mop-up continues on the Cascade fire near Red Lodge, Mont., and the Tumble Creek fire 40 miles to the west is being monitored, according to news releases from fire commanders Monday.
GunbarrelContainment is not an issue. The plan is to allow the fire to burn in remote areas to remove dead trees and protect structures on the North Fork, said Ben Brack, public information officer for the Rocky Mountain incident management team.
“This corridor, the North Fork, is very important to the people around here,” Brack said.
Winds and lower relative humidity increased fire behavior Sunday.
August 11, 2008 2:01 pm

Title hunt ends early

Riverton ousts Pioneers from state tournament
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Powell base runner Auston Carter (left) gets past Cheyenne Hawks' catcher Cody Farrell en route to scoring a run during the opening round of the Wyoming State A Legion Baseball Tournament at Powers Field in Cheyenne last Thursday. Michael Smith/Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
An unexpected 30-plus win season came to a close for the Powell Pioneers during a third-round, loser-out matchup against Riverton in the Wyoming State A Legion Baseball Tournament in Cheyenne Friday afternoon.
The Raiders emerged victorious in the matchup by edging Powell 8-7. Adding to the frustration for the Pioneers was the fact that they had notched a 5-1 record against the Raiders prior to last week. During the West District Tournament, the qualifier for the state event, Powell pounded Riverton 12-1.
“It was tough to lose to a team we had played well against all season,” said Pioneer head coach Jeff Young, whose team finished the tournament with a 1-2 mark and tied with Gillette for fifth place. “You have to give Riverton credit. They got things going at the right time, and they made it to the championship game. Riverton deserved to be there, but it made all of us kind of sick because we felt like we should have beaten them, especially looking back at what we had done against them earlier in the season.”
The Saturday Farmers' Market draws consumers from around the area.
People come to buy the usual suspects — beans, chard, cucumbers, zucchini, and the yet-to-be-seen tomatoes, along with other home-grown produce.
Many also look for baked goods like breads, dinner rolls and cakes.
However, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture's Consumer Health Services, under pressure from the FDA, may soon prohibit the sale of those products — unless they are prepared in a licensed, commercial kitchen.
Existing Wyoming Statute § 35-7-124 (a) says that “any person processing, distributing, storing or preparing any food ... shall obtain a license.”
However, farmers' market vendors around the state have been allowed to continue sales of baked goods because of a loophole in subsection “e” under the same statute. It says the law “...shall not apply to food operators or kitchens in private homes that prepare food that is not potentially hazardous (cakes, cookies, dinner rolls and breads) and (is) prepared for sale or use at functions, including those operated by not-for-profit charitable or religious organizations.”
The state Attorney General's office in 2006 interpreted the word “functions” to include farmers' markets, but the office has now reversed course, saying farmers' markets are not “functions” after all. The decision apparently was based on whether a vendor is selling goods for profit.
Differentiating between for-profit farmers' markets and not-for-profit bake sales is splitting hairs. In both cases, most buyers are aware that the items they're purchasing are rarely prepared in commercial kitchens.
As one Powell Tribune Blog reader put it, “Given the choice, I'll take home-made bread purchased at a farmers' market any day over Wonder Bread. If people want guarantees when it comes to food safety, go to IGA or Blair's.”
The Wyoming Consumer Health office — recognizing that the statute, and the attorney general's interpretation, is overly restrictive — may soon introduce a bill making the sale of such products legal.
That's the right choice. Hopefully our legislators also will see that over-zealous regulation of farmers' markets and similar events is not needed or wanted.
Besides, aren't there bigger problems to tackle?
August 11, 2008 1:42 pm

Sletten evaluating numbers

Burbach will guide ‘value engineering' process
“We're not focusing on a ‘magic number.'” Shawn Warner, Sletten Construction of Wyoming
Last week's City Council decision to move forward with aquatic center construction hinges on Sletten Construction of Wyoming's ability to “value engineer” the bid to a lower number.
Shawn Warner, president of Sletten Construction of Wyoming, said Monday, “We feel very confident and comfortable that we'll bring a number of really good options to the table for the city and the architects to evaluate. We're looking to give them a lot of flexibility.”
Warner is currently working with representatives of Burbach Aquatics Inc. to identify ways to cut costs.
As to whether he will be able to work constructively with Burbach Aquatics, after the company recommended a re-bid of the project, Warner said, “There's no reason we can't have a good, acceptable working relationship. That's just business, and they were just doing the job they've been paid to do. I've got no reason to think otherwise.”
City Administrator Zane Logan said the city “is just waiting for Burbach to work with Sletten to come up with small, incidental stuff to bring the price down.”
He added that value engineering doesn't entail a redesign of the pool, but rather involves looking a small things that can be adjusted or modified. Examples, he said, might involve choosing another brand of equipment or changing the texture on some of the prefab walls.
“We're not worrying about a magic number. Instead we're looking at the areas where we can cut costs,” Warner added, “There's no doubt (city officials) are uncomfortable with the original bid numbers, but if they have a certain number in mind, they sure haven't shared it with us. I don't even know if all of the council members agree on what the budget numbers should be.”
Warner reiterated his belief that a re-bid of the project would have brought even higher bid figures. He said material costs are increasing daily.
“Our steel package price alone goes up over $40,000 tomorrow morning,” he said. “The chance of new bids being lower is non-existent. That's a fool's game right there.”
Logan said it could be a couple of weeks before Burbach Aquatics forwards a new recommendation to the city, adding that part of the process involves research on their part to gather information about where the additional costs came in.
August 11, 2008 1:42 pm

Norma M. Scott

Norma M. Scott died Monday, Aug. 11 at the Powell Valley Care Center. She was 84.
Funeral services will be conducted Saturday, Aug. 16 at 10 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Seventh Street in Powell.
Burial will be in Crown Hill Cemetery.
A full obituary will follow. Arrangements are being handled by Thompson Funeral Home.
Sent at 9 a.m. by Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team A Public Information Officer,
Laura McConnell.


Cooler temperatures and higher humidities kept fire activity to a minimum on Thursday 8/7/08. The majority of activity occurred at the head of Sweetwater Creek approximately nine miles north of highway 14-16-20.
Owners, employees and visitors to the Elephant Head Lodge, Goff Creek Lodge, and Crossed Sabres Ranch returned after evacuations were lifted with the knowledge that hasty retreat may be necessary if conditions change. Residents of the Moss Creek area were allowed to return to their cabins as well. Structure protection measures were started at the Shoshone Lodge on the west flank and improved at the Standing Star Ranch on the east flank of the fire
A predicted shift in winds today may advance the fire on the west flank towards the highway. The majority of resources will monitor the fire growth closely in these areas in order to meet management objectives of property conservation and ecosystem benefit. Incident Commander Don Angell said, “Our effort is to maximize the benefits for the communities while taking firefighter and public safety into account.” Engines will continue to patrol to ensure that nothing ignites on the south side of the highway and at least one crew will staff the east side of the fire.
In the corridor, Qwest will be repairing the damaged phone lines to restore service to areas west of the fire. Traffic continues to flow well along highway 14-16-20 allowing visitors and residents access to Cody and the East Gate of Yellowstone National Park. To ensure safe passage pilot car operations may be implemented that could cause minor delays. Seven of the eight campgrounds in the fire area are open for camping with Threemile Campground being the exception. Fishhawk trailhead remains closed.

Gunbarrel Fire Statistics at a Glance:
  • Time/Date Started: July 26, 2008
  • Location: 40 miles west of Cody, WY north of Hwy 14-16-20.
  • Cause: Lightning
  • Estimated Cost: $2,900,000
  • Fuels: Heavy dead and down timber with 50-80% beetle killed trees in spruce/fir.
  • Size: 35,500 acres.

Resources Committed:
5 twenty-person hot shot crews, 2 type two crews, 2 heavy helicopters, 1 medium helicopters, 2 light helicopters, 16 engines, and approximately 361 personnel.
‘We want to deal with fire on our terms'
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Teams of Gunbarrel firefighters were in protection mode Wednesday. This Idaho-based Hot Shot crew prepares a perimeter water line around a Mormon Creek cabin. Tribune photo by Toby Bonner
Crews fighting the Gunbarrel Fire on the North Fork were on the offensive Wednesday, protecting structures and planning for burn-out operations around lodges and along U.S. 14-16-20.
Burn-out operations were scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday, weather permitting.
The fire had grown to 32,590 acres by Wednesday morning, but according to fire officials, it was moving slower than in previous days.
Ben Brack, public information officer trainee for Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team A, said, “Yes, it's growing, but it's progressing west at a slower pace.”
Elephant Head Lodge, Crossed Sabres Ranch and Goff Creek Lodge, as well as a cabin east of Eagle Creek Campground, all on the west edge of the fire, were evacuated late Tuesday. The campground at Eagle Creek is under a “precautionary evacuation alert,” according to an update sent by the fire management office.
“The fire hasn't overtaken the area, but, because of movement, we decided to evacuate. The evacuations will allow fire managers to conduct burn-outs around the structures,” said Brack.
August 06, 2008 2:18 pm

Soccer camp proving successful

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Kalina Smith blocks a shot attempt during her time as a goalie in a game called Top Gun at Pat D'Alessandro's soccer camp. Tribune photo by David Dickey

August 06, 2008 2:16 pm

People feeling the force of fire

Two days ago, I wrote a piece expounding the benefits of forest fires — the Gunbarrel Fire, in particular.
The positives of the fire, in an area with 50-80 percent beetle killed trees, are indisputable.
The health of the land depends on fire — to cleanse and promote new growth in weakened areas.
It was just a matter of time, anyway. The North Fork has been a veritable tinderbox for years.
But as the fire swallows up acre after acre, things have turned personal for many.
Late Sunday, Sweetwater Lodge was consumed. My grandparents owned the lodge years ago — much of our family lore is intertwined with Sweetwater. So even though I hadn't spent much time there, I felt a pang of sadness at the news.
By Tuesday evening, the fire raging on the North Fork had grown to nearly 33,000 acres. E-mails arrived saying the fire had moved into the Libby Creek drainage and was moving toward Mormon Creek.
Mormon Creek is home to the Bonner family cabin — a structure the family dedicated many summers to building some 50 years ago.
It's a place I've come to love over the last several years.
Firefighters on Wednesday began installing sprinklers around the building to protect it should the fire advance down Mormon Creek.
So far, the cabin is safe, but the anxiety will hang over us, much like the smoke shrouding the Basin, until it's out of danger.
I know I'm not alone. More people feel the power and destruction of the fire each day as it encroaches on civilization.
The change from natural to threatening came fast. For many of us, it's now personal.
The fall sports season is just around the corner, and Jeff Jones, Powell High School's activities director and assistant principal, has released the start times for the first day of practice for all fall sports teams.
Each of PHS's fall teams will open practice Monday, Aug. 18.
Leading the way into the 2008 fall season will be the PHS football and golf teams. PHS's football squad will begin practice at 6:30 a.m. and continue until 12:30 p.m. on the practice field across from the Panthers' football stadium. The boys and girls golf teams also have a scheduled 6:30 a.m. start time. Their practices will be conducted at Powell Golf Club.
The PHS volleyball team and boys and girls tennis teams will open practice at 7 a.m. The volleyball team's first practice session of the day is set for 7-10 a.m. Their second session will be from 4-6 p.m. Both volleyball practice sessions will be at the gymnasium at the new high school. The tennis teams, following their first practice session at 7 a.m., will have a second session from 4-6 p.m. Practices for the tennis teams are scheduled for Westside Courts.
The boys and girls cross country teams have one practice session set for Monday, Aug. 18, and it will begin at 8 a.m. at the PHS Track.
The Lady Panther swimmers have two sessions set for the opening day of practice. The first will be from 8-10 a.m., and the second is from 4-6 p.m. Both practice sessions will be at the PHS pool.
Also opening practice will be the PHS cheerleading squad, which will start preparing for the upcoming season in the PHS wrestling room at the new high school. Their practice time is slated for 4-5:30 p.m.