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Tribune Staff

January 27, 2009 3:38 am

Leon L. Sanders

Leon L. Sanders, 77, died Thursday, Jan. 22 at his home in Powell.

Funeral services will be Saturday, Jan. 31 at 10 a.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on 7th Street Powell.

Viewing to be one hour prior to services.

Burial will be in the Crown Hill Cemetery

Arrangements are being handled by Thompson Funeral Home and Crematory.

January 27, 2009 3:37 am

It's time for a smoke-free Wyoming

After failing repeatedly in previous legislative sessions, a statewide smoking ban has a fighting chance as it heads to the House floor.

An amended bill to prohibit smoking in restaurants and other public places — but allow tobacco use in bars — narrowly passed the House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee Friday.

Let's hope the bill doesn't suffocate in the Legislature once again.

An estimated 22,700 to 69,600 nonsmokers in America will die prematurely this year due to secondhand smoke, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nonsmoking customers can choose to avoid a restaurant or bar if it's notoriously smoky. Nonsmoking workers, however, cannot. A statewide smoking ban not only protects consumers, but also hundreds of employees who work long shifts in restaurants and bars saturated with smoke.

Workers who are exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk of developing heart disease and lung disease by around 25 percent, according to the CDC.

Lawmakers need to consider the health of nonsmoking employees around the state when considering this bill. Some workers have few options when it comes to switching occupations and, therefore, are unable to escape an endangering work environment.

Smoke-free air is not only good for health — it's also good for business.

According to Americans for Nonsmokers Rights: “While the tobacco industry has claimed for years that smoke-free ordinances have a negative impact on business, particularly hospitality-oriented businesses, that simply is not true. Every independent study ever done to show the economic effect of smoke-free ordinances has shown that there is no negative impact to businesses.”

City leaders in Cheyenne, Laramie and Evanston have led the way with municipal smoking bans in the Cowboy State, and it's time legislators followed suit with a statewide ban.

January 27, 2009 3:35 am

Powellink finished

Fiber-optic service to be available to 95 percent of homes in city limits

A citywide fiber-optic network envisioned by city leaders for more than a decade now is a reality. On Monday, the remaining two zones of Powellink were released to Tri County Telephone (TCT), the company providing service.

“Today has been a long time coming,” City Administrator Zane Logan said Monday.

January 22, 2009 4:22 am

Kids meet sled dog

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Five-year-old Elsie Spomer, daughter of Dusty and Betsey Spomer of Powell, was among the 100 children who gathered at the Powell Branch Library Tuesday afternoon to meet Pixie, a retired Alaskan sled dog who was a lead dog for the National Park Service. For more coverage of Pixie's visit, CLICK HERE . Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

If passed, House Bill 115 could give the courts more teeth when punishing drunk drivers.

The bill is tentatively scheduled to be heard before the House Judiciary Committee today (Thursday).

More than 100 children gathered at the Powell Branch Library Tuesday to literally get their hands on a genuine Alaskan sled dog.

Pixie, who retired three years ago after an eight-year career as a lead dog for the National Park Service in Alaska's Denali National Park, visited the library with her owner, Harry Schlitz of Park City, Mont.

Since her retirement, Pixie has been part of Mountain Mushers, a business Schlitz and his wife Lela started in California 17 years ago. Along with Sorrel, who also is retired after working with the same dog team in Denali, and a younger dog, Su, Pixie accompanies the Schlitzes around the country visiting schools, libraries, nursing homes and senior centers as “The Nation's Only Hero Sled Dog Educational/Therapy Team.”

Before introducing Pixie, Schlitz talked to the children about sled dogs and the work they do at Denali National Park. He recounted the epic story of the emergency delivery of medicine to Nome, Alaska, in 1925, the incident that inspired the annual Iditarod dogsled race. His own sled was on display along with the equipment he carries, and he showed the children an old dog harness used in Denali in contrast to the modern harnesses used today.

Schlitz talked about how he treats his dogs with love and patience. He told the kids he had to earn the dogs' trust and respect. He also told them why it was important to treat the dogs with respect in return.

“If they know they're loved and respected, they will work for you,” Schlitz said.

In his talk, Schlitz also encouraged kids to read, use their imagination and follow their dreams.

After his talk, Schlitz brought out Pixie, who calmly allowed kids to pet her while Schlitz answered questions.

Schlitz began working with sled dogs after he lost his job with Delta Airlines in a 1992 cost-cutting move. His wife, a teacher, asked him to give one of her colleagues a ride in his sled, and he was subsequently asked to bring his dogs to visit the teacher's class. The visit led to the founding of Mountain Mushers.

Since then, the dogs have traveled around the country for educational appearances and also have served as therapy dogs. The dogs are particularly effective with special-needs children, and one of the dogs, Su, has a special affinity for autistic children.

“Su seems to sense each autistic child's needs and seems to be trying to meet them,” Schlitz said.

“We don't train them to be therapy dogs, but they seem to work that way.”

He also has been asked to bring his dogs to comfort individuals who are moving into nursing homes or are in the final stages of life.

Lela Schlitz has written a children's book recounting Pixie's career in Denali, and she is working on another about Su's work as a therapy dog.

January 22, 2009 4:14 am

Tough times for recycling

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Powell Valley Recycling employees Jeff Schulz (left) and Al Renaud (center), work to load newspaper into a baler, as manager Mary Jo Decker (in the Bobcat) holds the dumpster steady. Decker said the center receives between 9,000 and 12,000 pounds of newspaper each week. The baled papers — which can include the one you're reading right now — will eventually end up in Spokane, Wash., where they are turned into insulation. Tribune photo by CJ Baker

Powell Valley Recycling pressing on

Rumors of Powell Valley Recycling's death have been greatly exaggerated.

“Right now, it's just ‘keep it coming,”' says recycling manager Mary Jo Decker.

January 22, 2009 4:13 am

Niemann has Fillies on winning path

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Cody head coach Kim Niemann directs her squad during a matchup with Powell High School during the 2007-08 season. Niemann, a 1993 graduate of PHS, will lead the Fillies against the Lady Panthers Friday at 5:45 p.m. in Cody. Tribune file photo by David Dickey

Coach to face alma mater Friday night

When Kim Niemann took over as head coach of Cody High School's varsity girls basketball team prior to the 2007-08 season, she had a number of goals in mind for her squad.

One such objective was to create a team with an unmatched work ethic in the Class 3A ranks. Under the direction of Niemann and assistant coach Jesseca Cross, early morning practices and countless hours of conditioning became commonplace for the Fillies. As they instilled a hard-working mentality, the Fillies' team chemistry developed, as did a desire to win.

When the girls basketball teams from Powell and Worland high schools square off, the crowd typically takes on the distinct shades of orange and black. However, when the two teams meet in Powell on Friday, Jan. 30, they want to leave everyone seeing pink.

Thanks to an idea proposed by Bruce Miller, activities director at WHS, the two teams will don pink-and-white uniforms as part of an event aimed at increasing breast cancer screening and education. The event in Powell and activities planned in conjunction with the Hoops for Hope game are being conducted in an effort to raise money for Women's Wellness, a non-profit, Powell-based organization created in 2005 to help women in the Big Horn Basin locate health services including mammograms, wellness screenings, diagnostic testing, case management and self-examination education.

Miller noted that when the Lady Panthers visit Worland for the two teams' second matchup of the season on Feb. 26, the squads will again join forces to promote the Lady Warriors' version of the Hoops for Hope event. In both games, the Lady Panthers will wear white uniforms with pink letters and numbers. The Lady Warriors will have pink shorts and tops with white letters and numbers.

“A lot of colleges are doing things like this, so that's where the idea came from,” Miller said. “Our kids are really excited about it, and we think this a good way for them to give back to the community. There are a lot of people out there who have had some type of experience with breast cancer. I had an aunt pass away because of breast cancer, and my mother had it as well. Fortunately, she's still with us.

“We think this will be a great thing for both communities. Powell and Worland are a lot alike, and the people are great about helping out. That's why we believe this will be a big success.”

The girls teams aren't the only ones who will be wearing pink during the events in Powell and Worland. According to Jeff Jones, activities director and assistant principal at PHS, the boys teams will get into the act as well. Jones said the Panther boys will wear black warm-up shirts with pink lettering.

The two schools also are selling t-shirts for fans to wear at the boys and girls games on Jan. 30 and Feb. 26. According to Jones, both programs want their respective crowds to resemble a sea of pink. So for PHS fans who don't already have something pink to wear, they are encouraged to purchase one of the pink t-shirts designed by Vision West in Powell.

Jones said the events Jan. 30 will begin at 4 p.m. at PHS. Women's Wellness will have an information area set up in the PHS Commons and representatives will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about organization throughout the night.

The PHS student council also will be selling pink t-shirts and other items, and the Powell Athletic Roundtable will be selling pink, autographed basketballs. According to Jones, fans will be able to preview the items to be included in an auction at approximately 7 p.m., which will be between the girls and boys varsity games. Among the items included in the auction will be autographed jerseys from pro football players Chris Cooley of the Washington Redskins and Haloti Ngata of the Baltimore Ravens.

As for the basketball games, Jones noted that the boys teams are scheduled to play at 5:45 p.m. and the girls squads are slated to square of at 7:30 p.m. During the girls game, he said that pink buckets will be passed down each aisle so those who want to make a donation can do so.

Several school functions before and after the games also are expected to raise money for Women's Wellness, including a date auction for students. Jones also said there will be a student dance following the conclusion of the game between the Lady Warriors and Lady Panthers.

“A lot of planning has gone into this,” Jones said. “A steering committee has been meeting over the last few months and coordinating our event here in Powell. The activities this committee has planned leading up to and on Jan. 30 are outstanding, and we are hopeful we will raise plenty of awareness and needed funds.”

Those wanting to purchase a pink t-shirt for the event can do so in a variety of ways. The PHS student council has already started selling the shirts at PHS. Those sales begin each day at 3:20 p.m. The shirts, which are $8 each, also can be purchased at Vision West, which is located in the basement of Wyoming Financial, which formerly was known as Nelson Insurance. To place an order, fans can call Vision West, the designers of the Hoops for Hope logo and commemorative t-shirt, at (307) 754-1000. For last-minute purchases, fans can buy pink t-shirts at PHS on the night of the games.

For those wanting to get a head start on learning more about Women's Wellness, located at 615 E. 7th St. in Powell, they are encouraged to call (307) 754-5252.

Trappers now hold 9-9 mark

The Northwest College Trappers saw their current losing streak extend to three games following a 76-67, road loss to Sheridan College Tuesday night.

For the Trappers, the loss was particularly disappointing because they held a 38-27 advantage at halftime and appeared to be en route to a key road victory.

“Going into it, I felt there were three things we needed to do in order to win the game,” said NWC head coach Andy Ward.

“I thought we needed to control the transition game. We also needed to control the boards and stop Sheridan from getting into the lane with their dribble penetration. We wanted to force them to take shots from the perimeter.

“In the first half, we did a good job in those areas. After halftime, our focus slipped a little bit. When that happens against a team like Sheridan on the road, it makes it tough. I just feel bad for our guys. It was a tough one to lose, but I'm extremely proud of their effort.”

After building an 11-point lead in the first half, the Trappers were outscored 49-29 during the final 20 minutes of the contest. Ward said foul trouble played a key role in the outcome. Point guard Julian Olubuyi, who has been among the Trappers' top players on offense and defense, picked up his fourth foul with just more than 10 minutes left in the game. That landed him on the bench until about the five-minute mark, Ward said. The sophomore eventually fouled out with under a minute to play.

Casper Hesseldal also encountered foul trouble, which affected his playing time considerably in the second half.

Hesseldal, who was NWC's leading scorer in the game, fouled out with about three minutes remaining, according to Ward.

Three Trappers finished with double-digit point totals Tuesday night. Hesseldal had 18 points, and Olubuyi and Mitchell Ackelson added 13 and 11 points, respectively. Others scoring for the Trappers were Jordan Harris (9 points), Cody Ball (9), Ricardo Bodra (4), Anthony Harris (2) and Keith Kegerreis (1). Hesseldal also led the team in rebounds with nine.

Sheridan had four players finish with 10 points or more, including Moustapha Diarra, who scored 17 points. J.R. Cadot also enjoyed a solid game and finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. His effort on the boards helped the Generals outrebound NWC 43-31.

• Up next: The Trappers (9-9 overall, 2-3 WCCAC, 1-1 North Sub-Region) will be in action again today (Thursday) when they host Little Big Horn College in a 7:30 p.m. game. On Saturday, NWC will be on the road for a 3 p.m. matchup with Dawson Community College in Glendive, Mont.