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Tribune Staff

Even as the national economy continues its downward spiral, the economic situation in Wyoming has looked rosy. A Casper Star Tribune front-page headline last week boomed: “Wyoming bucks national recession.”

A healthy report card today, yes, but an indicator of economic prosperity tomorrow? Not so fast.

The hard truth: Wyoming is far from invincible. There are many indicators that our insulation from the nationwide recession may be coming to an end.

The state treasurer's office reported a record loss in investment income last month — a whopping $22 million. The state's investment portfolio has lost, as of November, $1 billion in market value. The Wyoming public employee pension fund has taken a 25 percent plunge in market value. And Gov. Dave Freudenthal has told us revenue into state coffers is declining significantly.

National trends are catching up with the state's real estate market, too. Sales are sluggish in many communities — even Jackson, with a real estate market that's boomed for many years, is feeling the pinch. One of Jackson's largest brokerages announced it was closing last week, leaving 70 agents looking for jobs.

While Wyoming led the nation in job growth and personal income growth last month, the state's “boom and bust” history is all too real. Many here remember the pain of the mid-1980s following the party just years before.

If energy prices stabilize at current rates, we may avoid the bust — but caution, in both personal and government spending, is in order in the immediacy.

Centennial Park is beginning to take shape with key elements, including a sledding hill and miniature golf course.

Members of the park's planning committee recently sifted through five designs proposed by Peaks to Plains Design and chose a preliminary layout they believe will suit Powell best.

December 30, 2008 4:12 am

Sunny day gets kids on the ice

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Brothers (from left) Tyler and Justin Morgan, along with their friend Tyler Webb, spent part of Monday afternoon at the ice-skating rink at Homesteader Park. The rink is open daily, weather permitting, from 11 a.m. -10 p.m. Skates are available for rent from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. The rink will be closed on New Year's Day. Tribune photo by Toby Bonner

Using fertility control measures on the BLM-managed wild horses is an effective means of controlling the prolific animals' population, but that will not eliminate roundups, said one Bureau of Land Management official.

The bureau is responsible for the wild-horse management program, and employees have their hands full caring for 33,000 wild horses and burros.

Shoshone whitebark pine nut crop dismal this year

Earlier this month, the Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to place the beleaguered whitebark pine on the endangered species list.

“Whitebark pine forests are being decimated throughout their range by an array of threats that have emerged in high elevation environments as a result of climate change, including swarming insects and an invasive disease,” said a NRDC news release.

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Powell High School basketball player David Starcevich releases a shot during a recent practice at PHS. Starcevich was one of several players using the new shooting machine, which was donated by Kelly and Annie Brandt, Wells Fargo and the Powell Athletic Roundtable. Tribune photo by David Dickey

Christmas came early for the basketball programs at Powell High School in the form of a shooting machine.

The machine, which was delivered to PHS just before Christmas, features one-piece construction for easy setup, an adjustable net and a delivery system to launch the ball to awaiting shooters.

December 30, 2008 4:02 am

Panthers open 2009 slate Friday

Defending state champs looking for continued progress

The holiday season is drawing to a close, and the Powell High School wrestling team is slated to kick off the 2009 portion of its schedule Friday at noon when they open competition at the two-day Bozeman Invitational.

According to PHS head coach Nate Urbach, the event promises to be one that will serve as yet another formidable challenge for his squad. The tournament, he said, has the potential to rival the one in which the top-ranked, Class 3A Panthers participated in earlier this season in Rapid City, S.D. That particular tournament, Urbach said, was the toughest one any of his teams had been a part of during his coaching career.

“We're looking for continued improvement,” Urbach said. “We'll also have a chance to see how well we can do against some of the best teams around. Every tough team in Montana will be there. This tournament has been a really good one in the past, and it will be interesting to see how it compares to the one we went to in Rapid City. It has the potential to be right in line with what we saw there.”

Overall, 25 to 30 teams are expected at the tournament, which will feature Montana's No. 1 A (Havre) and AA (Billings Skyview) squads. Those teams also are ranked 30th and 35th nationally, according to Amateur Wrestling News' Prep 40 rankings, which were released Dec. 22.

“I'm excited to see how well we stack up against a strong lineup of teams,” Urbach said.

Day two of the Bozeman Invitational is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Following this weekend's tournament, the PHS varsity wrestling squad will have a Thursday, Jan. 8, matchup at Thermopolis. The dual meet is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m.

As for the remainder of PHS's varsity teams, the break in competition for the holiday season will come to a close next week. Both the girls and boys basketball teams will be in action at home against Kemmerer Friday, Jan. 9.

The varsity girls contest is slated for 5:45 p.m. and the boys matchup is set for 7:30 p.m. For the Panther boys, that day will mark their first game at the new school.

Also, PHS's boys swim team will resume their season Friday, Jan. 9, with a home contest against Riverton. That event has a 5 p.m. start time at the PHS Pool.

December 30, 2008 3:45 am

John V. Lake

(Nov. 28, 1944 - Dec. 20, 2008)

John Victor Lake Jr., 64, a Wyoming resident for 51 years, died Saturday, Dec. 20 at his home in Rapid City, S.D.
Funeral services were held Saturday, Dec. 27 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Gillette. Military honors were provided by the American Legion Post #42 of Gillette.

John was born in Pueblo, Colo., on Nov. 28, 1944, to John and Jacqueline Lake. He later moved to Wyoming and attended high school in Powell. Moving yet again he graduated in 1962, in Scottsbluff, Nebr. John enlisted in the United States Army where he proudly served his country for three years. After returning from Vietnam in 1965, John worked in Powell and soon after, he married Claudia Scott in August of 1966.

John received a second chance at life when he was tragically injured in a car accident and became a paraplegic.

John was determined to make the best of life and enrolled in college, graduating from the University of Wyoming College of Law in 1975 with a J.D. degree. John practiced law for 30 years and retired from the county attorney's office in Campbell County in 2005.

John is survived by his wife of 42 years, Claudia Lake, of Rapid City, S.D.; daughter, son in-law, granddaughter and grandson: Jennifer, Justin, Justyce and Korbyn Eliassen, of Gillette; daughter, son in-law, and granddaughter: Bianca, Mike and Cheyenne Mayfield, all of Surprise, Ariz.; son, Justin Lake of Gillette; and numerous friends and extended family.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Memorials are suggested to benefit Paralyzed Veterans of America in John's name. Memorials and condolences may be sent in care of Gillette Memorial Chapel, 210 W. 5th Street, Gillette, WY 82716 or via the internet at www.gillettememorialchapel.com.

December 30, 2008 3:38 am

Robert F. Wallace

(March 8, 1920 - Dec. 23, 2008)

Robert F. Wallace, formerly of Billings, Mont., died Tuesday, Dec. 23 at Powell Valley Hospital of complications from pulmonary fibrosis, with his daughter Donna by his side. He was 88.

He was born March 8, 1920, in Zeigler, Ill., the son of Fred and Ina (Tate) Wallace. He married Barbara Avis on June 30, 1951.

Robert served in the Army and was stationed in Germany, France, and the Phillipines during World War II. He was awarded three Bronze Stars.

He worked in Montana for HCL Equipment at Great Falls and Billings. He retired in 1986 and moved to Peeples Valley, Ariz. The family moved to Powell five years ago.

Survivors include his wife, Barbara, of Powell; daughters Vicki Wallace of Billings, Karen (David) Wright of Lamoille, Nev., Terri (Doug) Brandon of Anchorage, Alaska, and Donna Wallace (Marty Hanson) of Columbus, Mont.; granddaughter, Danielle Ellsworth, and grandsons, Jason (Elaine) Sayre of Val Verde, Calif., and Bryce Sayre of Fernley, Nev. He is also survived by great-grandsons Aleister, Brodie, and Gavin; and great-granddaughter Kiara.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Tom Wallace; and daughter, Jean Wallace.

Cremation has taken place, and no services are planned.

December 30, 2008 3:37 am

James W. Riley, Jr.

(Aug. 18, 1943 - Dec. 26, 2008)

James Whitcomb Riley Jr., 65, of Powell, died Friday, Dec. 26, in Wellington, Kans.

Cremation has taken place, and services are scheduled for Friday, Jan. 2, 2009, at 10:30 a.m. in the Nelson Performing Arts Auditorium at Northwest College.

James W. Riley Jr. was born Aug. 18, 1943, the son of Dr. James Whitcomb Riley Sr. and Carolyn Crenshaw Riley in Oklahoma City, Okla. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Washburn University in Topeka, Kans. He attended three years of Law School at Washburn before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He served as a military policeman in Germany and Vietnam.

Jim returned to Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, to earn his Master's degree in Speech Communication where he also taught and coached forensics. Jim furthered his education at the University of Utah while continuing to coach. Jim later taught and coached forensics and debate at the University of Nevada Reno and Boise State University. In 1977, Jim began teaching at Northwest College in Powell.

On May 4, 1991, he was united in marriage with Laura (Barker) Hagerman. Jim retired from teaching at Northwest College in 2005 and later received the status of Professor Emeritus in the spring of 2008.

Jim was an avid outdoorsman. He had a passion for hunting, camping, cutting firewood and river rafting. His fondest outdoor adventure took him down the Grand Canyon with friends, family, and colleagues. Jim also enjoyed teaching, reading and spending time with family, friends and the family's two dogs.

Surviving to honor his memory are his father, Dr. James W. Riley Sr. of Wellington, Kans.; wife, Laura Riley of Powell; daughter, Mallory Riley of Powell; sons Daniel Hagerman and his wife Abbey Hagerman of Laramie, Jeremy Hagerman and his wife Kelly Shriver of Olympia, Wash., Nathan Hagerman and his wife Melissa Hagerman of Anchorage, Alaska, and Taylor Riley of Powell; and three grandchildren, Mikayla Hagerman, Natalie Hagerman and Collin Poe.

Preceding him in death was his mother, Carolyn Crenshaw Riley, on Jan. 2, 2006.

Donations can be left with The James Riley Memorial at First National Bank & Trust.