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February 10, 2009 3:54 am

Mo Mohan

(Jan. 18, 1951 - Feb. 7, 2009)

Mo Mohan, 58, of Billings, Mont., died on Saturday, Feb. 7 in Billings.

Visitation will be from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary.

A celebration of life will be held from 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12 at the Petroleum Club on the 22nd floor of the Billings Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly the Sheraton Hotel).

Cremation will take place.

Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary is in charge of the arrangements.

Monday's announcement that First National Bank and Trust was being sold to Montana-based Glacier Bancorp came as a surprise to most people in Powell.

In the big picture, it's yet another reminder that we aren't immune to the economic turmoil being felt around the country — this one just hits awfully close to home for many.

Over the last 100 years, Powell has benefitted from a rare commitment to benevolence and community involvement on the part of the bank. First National has been a leader in economic development and projects and events — both big and small — throughout Powell's history. The private ownership of the Nelson family throughout this time has been the key ingredient.

One can't help but feel a bit of sadness and trepidation as we watch this change unfold, but we have every assurance the people at Glacier will strive to maintain the strong community leadership role forged by First National over the last century.

February 10, 2009 3:49 am

School of fire

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This house fire was set as a training exercise for Powell Volunteer Fire Department rookies last Saturday. Here, Paul Thomas uses a long pole to push a disintegrating piece back into the rubble, where it is devoured by hungry flames. Tribune photo by Gib Mathers

Powell Volunteer Fire Department rookies braved training under fire Saturday when they intentionally torched a house on Road 8 northeast of Powell.

The Wyoming House of Representatives passed a bill to halt Internet hunting in its tracks before the shooting starts in Wyoming.

Now House Bill 207 will head to the Wyoming Senate, where Rep. Seth Carson, D-Laramie, the bill's sponsor, is relatively confident the bill will pass.

February 05, 2009 4:17 am

Dentist shortage?

Local providers have different perspectives

Imagine waking up with a severe toothache, a nagging pain that just keeps getting worse throughout the morning. You don't have a regular dentist, so you call a local dentist listed in the phone book, only to be told the dentist is not taking any new patients.

You try the next number, and the next, only to be told the same thing.

February 05, 2009 4:15 am

A day like no other for PHS wrestlers

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Panther wrestlers (from left to right) Luke Wozney, Ren Utter, Charles Wittick and Cory Eden lift a pole over their heads during one of Monday's SEAL Day events. Tribune photo by David Dickey

Urbach tests wrestlers' mental, physical toughness

It's not often that the photo of a furry, white harp seal strikes fear into a person. Last Monday, however, it did just that to a number of young wrestlers at Powell High School.

The harp seal image, one of many photos of docile-looking seals taped to the window next to the entry way leading into PHS head coach Nate Urbach's classroom, wasn't exactly the scary part. It was more a case of what it represented — SEAL Day — an event that has become a tradition for the Panther wrestlers.

The men's basketball team at Northwest College moved into the top spot in the North Sub-Region standings Tuesday night with a 70-56, road victory over Miles (Mont.) Community College.

With the win, NWC now controls its own destiny as far as earning a No. 1 seed for the Region IX Tournament in early March. The Trappers have three sub-region contests remaining, and two of those will be played at Hank Cabre Gymnasium on the NWC campus.

“This was a big win for us,” said NWC head coach Andy Ward. “We struggled shooting the ball in the first half and actually trailed by two points at halftime. But in the second half, we did a better job offensively, and we continued to do a good job on the defensive end.

“Now we're in a position to earn a No. 1 seed for the tournament. We control our own fate at this point, so we're not having to figure out a lot of different scenarios that would put us in that position. We just have to take care of business and keep winning our sub-region games.”

The Trappers (12-11, 4-1 North Sub-Region), who connected on just 26 percent of their shots from the field in the first half, entered halftime trailing 28-26. However, they were able to overcome that deficit with an improved offensive performance in the final 20 minutes of the game. During that stretch, the Trappers hit near the 40-percent mark on their field-goal attempts. They also made solid use of their trips to the free-throw line, particularly late in the game. Overall, NWC hit 23 of 28 free throws.

“We didn't shoot a lot better in the second half, but we were able to do a better job than we did during the first 20 minutes,” Ward said.

During the first 30 minutes, NWC and MCC exchanged the lead 10 times and were tied on seven different occasions. After that stretch, NWC held the Pioneers to a one-for-seven shooting clip for four minutes and claimed a double-digit lead. The Trappers outscored MCC 44-28 in the second half, including a 30-12 run during the final 10 minutes.

And whereas the Trappers found more offensive success as the game progressed, the Pioneers continued to struggle and finished with a 21-of-70 effort. MCC also failed to capitalize on opportunities at the free-throw line, where they hit just eight of 17 shots.

Leading the way for the Trappers was point guard Julian Olubuyi, who enjoyed a solid all-around performance. The sophomore finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Olubuyi was one of three Trappers to notch a double-double during the game. Ricardo Bodra and Casper Hesseldal were the others to accomplish that feat. Bodra finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Hesseldal added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

“The guys were really attacking the boards,” Ward said. “To have three guys finish with double-digit rebounding totals was pretty impressive, and we almost had a fourth. As a team, we outrebounded them 52-37.”

The Trapper who almost became the fourth with 10 or more rebounds was Mitchell Ackelson. He came up with nine rebounds to go along with eight points.

Others scoring for NWC were Jordan Harris (11 points), Cody Ball (7) and Anthony Harris (4).

The Pioneers (14-9 overall, 3-3 North Sub-Region) were led by Trent Fildes (16 points) and Darnell Maze (11 points). Maze also grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.

• Up next: The Trappers' next contest will be in Riverton against Central Wyoming College Friday at 7:30 p.m. On Friday, Feb. 13, NWC will be on the road for a sub-region matchup against Little Big Horn College in Montana.

MCC overcomes early deficit

The Northwest College Lady Trappers, after holding a double-digit lead early, dropped a 67-54 decision to Miles Community College Tuesday night in Miles City, Mont.

NWC raced to a 13-2 advantage in the first four minutes of the game, but a 15-4 run by the Lady Pioneers tied the score at 17 at the 10:25 mark. The next 10-plus minutes produced six lead changes and a tie with neither team gaining more than a five-point advantage.

MCC freshman Dina Fritz hit a 3-pointer at the end of the first half to send the Lady Pioneers into the halftime break with a 31-28 lead.

In the final 20 minutes, the two teams swapped the lead four times and were tied twice before the Lady Pioneers took the lead for good with about eight minutes left. MCC was able to stretch its advantage to 63-50 on the strength of a 15-1 run.

During that span, the Lady Trappers were held to a zero-for-eight showing from the floor. For the game, NWC hit 22 of 59 of its attempts to finish with a 37-percent percentage from the field. The Lady Trappers also committed 21 turnovers, which translated into 23 points for MCC.

Only five Lady Trappers scored in the contest, including Gita Grava, who tallied 16 points. Larissa Crump added 14 points, and Sheena Ryan finished with 11. Others contributing to the scoring load were Erin Cooke (8 points) and Lacey Gilmer (5 points). Grava also led the rebounding effort with nine boards.

Sophomore Beata Bak of Poland led MCC with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

• Up next: The Lady Trappers (6-17 overall, 2-3 North Sub-Region) will travel to Riverton for a matchup with Central Wyoming College Friday at 5:30 p.m.

For many American drivers, multitasking behind the wheel is commonplace. Switching a radio station, drinking coffee, checking a map and talking on a cell phone are all everyday tasks that easily interfere with driving.

In recent years, another activity has spurred distraction: Text messaging.

As the Tribune reported Tuesday, state legislators are considering a bill that would make texting and driving an illegal combination.

However, as local law-enforcement officials point out, it would be a difficult statute to enforce.

Just as drivers rush to click a seatbelt when pulled over by an officer, they can easily tuck a cell phone away. Drivers are unlikely to readily admit that they were distracted by a text message after a traffic stop, or worse, a car wreck.

Last fall, in separate crashes, two young Wyoming athletes' deaths were linked to texting, according to the Casper Star-Tribune. The Wyoming Highway Patrol believes Mitchell Birch, 17, of Encampment, a football player at Saratoga High School, and Brittany Rentas, 16, of Wright, an all-state cross country runner, were texting at the time of the fatal collisions.

These tragic deaths show the danger of mixing messaging with driving.

Young drivers —who have less experience on the road to begin with —are much more likely than older drivers to text while driving.

In a report released in December, 50 percent of drivers ages 18-24 admitted to sending text messages while driving, according to the American Auto Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Text messaging while driving is already illegal in numerous states, including Alaska, Connecticut, California and Minnesota. It's time for the Cowboy State to act as well.

Though a law may curb some texting behind the wheel, it's also up to drivers of all ages to be sensible and focus on driving rather than messaging.

February 05, 2009 3:42 am

Tammy Rae Saldana

(Oct. 2, 1962 - Jan. 12, 2009)

Tammy Rae Saldana of Casa Grande, Ariz., died Jan. 12 at her home. She was 46.

She was born Oct. 2, 1962, in Powell to Joe and Ylaria Saldana. She owned and operated the Pita Pit, in Casa Grande, for the past two years. She was an optimist and adventurer and treated people as she wanted to be treated. She always had a smile and was a great cook.

Tammy loved the outdoors, riding her motorcycle, camping and fishing, and was an avid New York Jets fan. She loved elephants, and her cat, Louie. She thought elephants brought her luck.

She is survived by a daughter, Marquita Koplitz, and a son, Zach Koplitz, both of Casa Grande; her parents, Joe and Ylaria of Powell; three sisters Laurie Ochoa of Thousand Palms, Calif.; Mickey Carillo of Layton, Utah; and Melanie Saldana of Casa Grande; and brothers Joe Saldana of Casa Grande and Mark Saldana of Powell.

Cremation has occurred and services were held Jan. 17 at Simes Mortuaries Casa Grande Chapel.