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Tribune Staff

Sometimes there's no good way to do something that needs to be done.

Such is the case with Montana's efforts to clean up an environmental mess near Cooke City that has been polluting water flowing into Yellowstone National Park for years.

As part of that project, Montana plans to haul nearly 50,000 tons of mine tailings from Cooke City to Whitehall, Mont., by way of the Chief Joseph Highway. This has raised concerns from some in Park County, who fear that a number of big trucks hauling heavy loads through Sunlight Basin and over Dead Indian Pass will disrupt travel through the scenic area, create danger for other motorists and cause damage to the highway.

Mostly though, the current anger expressed by Park County officials stems from the fact that they weren't consulted before this plan was put in place.

When the Tribune investigated the situation back in June, though, the project didn't seem to be a secret. We learned that the Wyoming Department of Transportation was able to review the condition of the Chief Joseph Highway before a contract was awarded by Montana. The department determined that the highway was capable of handling the traffic with certain conditions.

Montana DEQ waited until the review was done and agreed to WyDOT's conditions before awarding the contract.

One Park County commissioner said at that time that the Wyoming Highway Patrol would be watching the highway closely to ensure safety, and he had great faith that WyDOT and the patrol could handle the situation.

As for disrupting tourist traffic, the extra trucks couldn't possibly be more disruptive than average road construction projects — and many of those last longer than the one summer planned for hauling out the tailings.

The plan to haul part of the waste out of the area appears to be a compromise. Ideally, all of the tailings would be removed, but that is impractical. Leaving all of them in place, on the other hand, increases the risk that a seismic event would cause containment of the tailings to fail. The compromise is to haul some of the waste away to provide more secure containment of the rest.

Once that decision is made, there are only three ways to haul out the waste. It should be obvious to anyone who has driven it that the Beartooth Highway is not an option. The highway from Silver Gate into the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone is not engineered for heavy trucks, and this stretch of road is very narrow, with no shoulders, in many places. In addition, sections of the road are bordered by forest, reducing visibility for some distance, so it's not an option, either. That leaves Chief Joseph.

The purpose of this project is to stop acid from leaking into a creek that flows into Yellowstone Park. That is a worthy goal, and because it is a worthy goal, it is worth the price of a summer's disruption on the Chief Joseph Highway.

Park County shouldn't stand in the way.

{gallery}09_14_10/deaverfest{/gallery}

Jewelry maker Janet Cozzens explains her use of natural stones as she talks with an interested customer during the Deaver Festival Saturday. The festival featured booths from many local craftsmen and artists, antique salesmen and food vendors as well as several performing acts, including the Scandinavian Dancers from Red Lodge, Mont., and the Del Cannon Band. Tribune photo by Kara Bacon

After criticism, Montana officials plan meeting

The director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality plans to meet with Park County officials next month to discuss a controversial plan to haul tens of thousands of tons of gold tailings across the Chief Joseph Highway next summer.

County commissioners, local state legislators, landowners and Cody officials have all voiced concern with the plan's potential impacts on traffic, tourism and the road itself — and frustration with not being notified of the plan until it was all but finalized.

Downtown drivers accustomed to making a U-turn to snag a good parking spot may want to rethink that maneuver.

The Powell City Council is considering expanding the current U-turn ordinance so it would be considered illegal to cross the center of street to reach a parking spot on the opposite side – banning a practice known as a J-turn.

In his latest stop on his national “Civility Tour,” National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Jim Leach will visit Park County on Saturday, Sept. 18.

Leach launched a fifty-state tour in November 2009 to call attention to the need for civility in public discourse. “Civilization requires civility. Words matter,” says Leach. “Polarizing attitudes can jeopardize social cohesion and even public safety.”

{gallery}09_14_10/phsfootball{/gallery}

Powell's Josh Cragoe picks the ball out of the air to record one of his two interceptions and one of the Panthers' six INT's in a 23-16 victory over Wheatland on Friday night. Tribune photo by Ben Wetzel

With apologies to NFL coaching legend Vince Lombardi, perhaps the best offense is a good defense.

The fifth-ranked Powell Panthers intercepted Wheatland six times on Friday night, including a pair of rally-killing fourth-quarter interceptions, to hold off the Wheatland Bulldogs, 23-16. The Panthers, who now have amassed 10 interceptions in just two games this season, improved to 2-0 with the victory.

The Powell Lady Panthers took a step forward on the volleyball court last weekend, coming back to win the silver bracket on Saturday after losing a tie-breaker in pool play on Friday at Rawlins.

All of the state's 3A teams competed in the tournament, and most of the matches were close, according to Coach Cindi Smith.

A long trip to Casper came up a little short for the Powell High School tennis teams on Saturday.

Playing against Kelly Walsh and Natrona County high schools, the Powell boys and girls were narrowly edged out in a number of close matches. The PHS tennis squads emerged on top in just two of 20 matches.

“We just need to keep getting better,” said PHS head coach Ray Bieber.

The Lady Panthers' No. 3 doubles team of Shelby Walton and Haylee Humphries claimed a win over Kelly Walsh, while several other PHS competitors had tight matches.

“The boys, every single match was close, but we lost all five,” said Bieber.

Natrona County brought the best girls team PHS has seen all year, the coach said, and took all five girls matches.

“Natrona's probably the most improved team in the state, that I've seen,” he said.

On the guys' side, No. 2 doubles players Jacob Larson and Marshall McArthur took down their N.C. opponents for the Panthers' lone win.

Bieber said his squads need to work on getting ahead in matches, keeping balls in play, and cutting down on double faults and unforced errors.

With only eight days of practice left before the regional tournament begins, “We've got to spend every minute doing good things,” Bieber said Monday.

For the Panthers, No. 1 singles player Eric Curtis pushed both his Casper opponents to three sets, but narrowly came up short. The senior lost 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 to Kelly Walsh and 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 to Natrona County.

At No. 2 singles, senior Jacob Larson fell 6-4, 6-3 against Kelly Walsh. Against Natrona County, freshman Mark Schiermeister lost a 6-3, 6-3 decision in the slot.

PHS' No. 1 doubles team, senior Tyler Morgan and junior Todd Lewis were edged out in two sets that went to tie-breakers against Kelly Walsh — 7-6(4), 7-6(3). They fell 6-1, 6-2 to Natrona County.

For the Kelly Walsh match, Schiermeister and sophomore Marshall McArthur teamed at No. 2 doubles for a 6-3, 7-6(3) loss. Against Natrona County, however, Larson and McArthur partnered for a 6-4, 6-3 win.

No. 3 doubles players Patrick Huang, a sophomore, and Dillon Jeffs, a senior, lost 6-4, 6-3 and 7-5, 6-3 to Kelly Walsh and Natrona County, respectively.

On the girls side, No. 1 singles player senior Lisa Schiermeister fell 6-4, 6-4 to Kelly Walsh and 6-0, 6-1 to Natrona County.

At No. 2 singles, sophomore BreaAnn Hollenbeck came up short against Kelly Walsh, 6-3, 7-5, and 6-0, 6-0 against Natrona County.

Juniors Emily Kath and Lacey Eckerdt lost 6-1, 6-3 and 6-3, 6-0 to Kelly Walsh's and Natrona County's No. 1 doubles teams, respectively.

Senior Marquette McArthur and sophomore Sheridan Roling, at No. 2 doubles, fell to their counterparts at Kelly Walsh (6-4, 7-5) and Natrona County (6-4, 6-0).

Seniors Shelby Walton and Haylee Humphries beat the No. 3 doubles team at Kelly Walsh, taking a 6-3, 6-2 victory. They fell by an identical, reversed score against Natrona County.

On Tuesday, Powell will head to Cody for a 3:30 p.m. re-match with the Broncs and Fillies. On Friday, PHS will host Sheridan and will welcome Gillette to town on Saturday.

“We've got a really tough league,” said Bieber. “It just gets tougher.”

With plans brewing for a 144,000-square-foot monastery and coffee-roasting facility, Meeteetse residents anxiously await the Park County Commission's decision on the proposed project.

Opponents and supporters have vocalized their views during recent public meetings, where a recurring concern for Meeteetse area landowners is whether the monastery will draw masses of visitors.

Though the monastery would be located on an isolated private ranch — 14 miles from the nearest public roadway — some neighboring landowners worry the elaborate structure still will attract a high number of daily visitors.

Ranchers who have open range livestock along Meeteetse Creek Road have valid concerns about the potential influx in traffic, as do those who chose to build homes in the secluded area for the peace and quiet offered there.

Yet Carmelite monks who would reside at the monastery stress that they, too, want to maintain the location's peaceful and quiet nature.

Plans call for the monastery to be open from 7 a.m.-5 p.m., but monks have said the public will be there only for faith-related visits on a rare basis. And they assure the 150-seat chapel will be used only on rare events, such as a monk's ordination.

For the sake of neighbors in the area, we hope the promise holds true — that the monastery is a place of solitude rather than a sight tourists flock to see.

If Park County Commissioners approve the project, monks residing on the Meeteetse ranch must be conscientious neighbors.

The Meeteetse Creek Road is private, and it's understandable why ranchers want to keep traffic at a minimum. The monks must ensure the monastery doesn't attract a constant stream of visitors.

However, landowners also must be reasonable with their concerns and requests. Development occurs, and though change isn't always welcome, the New Mount Carmel Foundation should have the right to build at the site, as long as monastery plans meet planning and zoning rules.

No Meeteetse resident ever expected a 144,000-square-foot French Gothic monastery to be proposed in their community — but just because the project is uncommon in Wyoming's mountains doesn't mean it should be unwelcome.

(Nov. 9, 1940 - Aug. 11, 2010)

Lora Newcomer of Fort Collins, Colo., died Aug. 11, 2010 at home after a lengthy illness.

Page 457 of 503

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