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Bicycle-truck accident increases calls for better safety

An Oct. 7 accident that involved a Powell High School student who was bicycling on her way to school illustrated the need for improving the intersection at U.S. 14-A and Road 8.

Tamara Elzey, 18, was seriously injured in the accident, in which her legs were run over by the rear wheels of an unloaded semi-trailer after the truck turned in front of her. She and and the truck's driver, Dane McIntosh, both were headed north on Road 8 and had stopped at the intersection with U.S. 14-A. No citations were issued at the time of the accident.

Ordered to pay nearly $9,000

A young Powell man accused of stealing and damaging seven Powell automobiles has pleaded guilty to two counts of felony car theft.

Tyson L. Flores, 18, had been accused of taking the vehicles for joyrides between late January and early March this year.

On Oct. 6, as part of a plea agreement, Flores pleaded guilty to two of the seven counts. District Court Judge Steven Cranfill gave Flores concurrent five-to-seven-year prison sentences, but they were suspended in favor of four years of supervised probation. Additionally, he was ordered to pay more than $8,920 in restitution to the owners of the cars he stole and damaged. Flores also must pay $470 in court fines.

October 23, 2008 3:02 am

Wild West Showdown

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Quarterback Galen Mills (21) and the fourth-ranked Panthers will travel to face top-ranked Cody Friday in a game that will decide the Class 4A, West Conference championship. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Cody's C.R. “Spike” Vannoy Memorial Stadium. Tribune file photo by David Dickey

Conference title on the line Friday night

Class 4A's West Conference title will be decided when the Powell High School Panthers invade Cody's C.R. “Spike” Vannoy Memorial Stadium for a 7 p.m. showdown Friday.

Cody will enter the game as the top-ranked team in Class 4A, according to this week's ranking released by WyoPreps.com. Powell dropped from third to fourth in the rankings despite defeating third-ranked, Class 3A Lovell by 35 points last week.

October 23, 2008 3:01 am

Cross country season ends Saturday

PHS squads set sights on state meet

Powell High School's cross country teams will attempt to end the 2008 season on a solid note when they compete in the state meet Saturday at the Sheridan V.A. Hospital grounds.

The Lady Panthers enter the state event after winning the Class 3A West title last Friday in Worland. During that meet, the Lady Panthers placed five runners in the top nine spots in what proved to be a dominant performance.

They finished ahead of runner-up Jackson, the defending conference champs and winners of the 3A state title in 2007.

Leading the Lady Panthers' charge at the conference meet were freshmen runners Desiree Murray and Alyssa Rodriguez, who finished second and fourth overall. They will lead a Saturday lineup that includes Lauren Dunleavy, Skye Albert, Jordan Bigelow, Emily Schwahn and McKenzie Danforth. The alternate runner will be Kassey MacDonald.

Murray and Rodriguez, though in just their first year of varsity competition, have consistently been among PHS's top runners this season. Both, according to Murray, are looking to continue their success this weekend and help the team to its second state championship in three years. The Lady Panthers last won the state title in 2006.

“It should be a lot of fun this weekend,” Murray said. “It's been on my mind a lot this week, and I'm looking forward to it. Winning the state title is our primary goal, but we know there will be a lot of good teams there. The competition is going to be pretty tough, but if we can run together in a tight pack and finish strong like we did at the conference meet, we've got a good chance to win it.”

Murray also said the help of the veteran runners, particularly those who have competed in previous state meets, should help her and Rodriguez deal with added pressure that comes with a state meet. Those veteran runners, Murray said, have have helped her and her fellow freshman teammate all season long.

“They've all been very supportive,” Murray said. “Because of all the support and teamwork, we've all been able to accomplish a lot.”

On the boys side, senior Patrick Sullivan is expected to be the leader of a lineup that will include Patrick Voss, Danny McKearney, Tyler McCauley, Colton Smith, Alex Speiser and Devin Lynn. The alternate runner will be Jake Firnekas.

Sullivan, who has made major improvements in his times when compared to last year, earned a spot on the 3A West All-Conference squad with a ninth-place finish in Worland last Friday, and he believes the Panthers have a good shot at making the top three Saturday.

“If we run well like we did at the conference meet, we might be able to make the top three,” said Sullivan, who will be competing in his second state meet. “We know Jackson and Worland are going to be good, and Lander from the East has a good team this year. There will be a lot of good teams there, but we believe we've got a shot at placing.”

Devin Lynn, a junior who will be making his first appearance at a state cross country meet, shared the same outlook as Sullivan. Lynn was among a group of five runners who finished in spots 27 through 31 last week at the conference meet.

“I'm very excited about it,” Lynn said about qualifying for the state event. “We've got the potential to do pretty well.

The key for us will be to get as many runners in the top 10 as we possibly can.”

Both the Panthers and Lady Panthers have been training this week with a routine that closely mirrors what they've used all season. According to PHS head coach Cliff Boos, maintaining the status quo has proven to be the best way to approach the state meet.

“You just have to keep doing what you've been doing,” Boos said. “You don't want to make any major changes this close to it.”

Though only the state qualifiers and alternates are required to train during the week leading up to the season-ending meet, Boos said the practices have been filled with Panthers and Lady Panthers who finished their individual running seasons last week in Worland. That, he said, is a credit to the determination of PHS's runners. Boos also said that has helped the teams maintain a routine like they've used all season.

Wyatt Horner, the lone freshman for the Panther boys, said he's continued practicing in an effort to get better and support those who will have one last chance to run Saturday. According to Sullivan, that type of dedication doesn't go unnoticed.

“That kind of support means a lot,” Sullivan said. “I think it shows a lot of character and love for the sport.”

Sullivan also said the encouragement and time offered by the coaching staff, which includes assistant coach Ashley Hildebrand, has helped put both teams in a position to do well this weekend.

“Our coaches have been great,” Sullivan said. “They always take the time to work with everybody on the team, and they know what the needs are for each runner. They're really supportive, and they do a great job with the workouts and helping every person do the best they can.”

For the Lady Panthers, they will get their 3A title shot in the 10:30 a.m. race Saturday. The Panther boys will get their chance against the rest of Class 3A in the 12:15 p.m. race.

The Powell High School Lady Panthers enter the regional tournament this week with high hopes of starting a run at the state title.

For Kelsey Allen and Erica Woodward, this year's postseason also means the end of their volleyball careers, and the two seniors are practicing hard to make sure they end on a high note.

For Allen, that means trying to keep her skills sharp and hoping her sore ankle is well enough to take the court this weekend. For Woodward, it means preparing for whatever role she is assigned this weekend, stepping in wherever the team needs her, including the possibility that she will have to take on Allen's position.

But the goal for both is the same, helping their team challenge for the state championship.
“I'm excited for regionals and state,” Allen said. “I think we have a good chance of winning it.”

When asked about her ankle, Allen would only admit to its being “sore,” and added that she thinks she'll be ready to go by Friday.

The girls have traveled different paths as Lady Panthers. Allen stepped into the varsity libero position as a sophomore and has been the starter ever since. During that time, she has developed into a dependable defender on the back line and, when called upon, an effective server. She played a big role last year when the Lady Panthers won the conference and regional championships and earned their first trip to state in several years. Only a disappointing, hard-fought loss to Wheatland kept her and her teammates from playing for the championship.

Woodward has also played the libero position but on the junior varsity squad. This year is her first year on the varsity, and she has played a different role, filling in as a blocker or on the back line. Earlier in the year, she saw playing time when sophomore Randi Asay injured a knee and in last week's final conference game with Worland, where she stepped in for Allen and helped PHS keep its conference record perfect. She has also been effective from the service line, once serving four straight aces against Lovell.

“I didn't think I'd get to play much this year,” Woodward said, “but I've played a lot after Randi got hurt.

“Not that I'm glad Randi got hurt,” she added quickly.

Volleyball has been important to both girls, but especially to Allen. Even though she plays basketball, and a few weeks ago was elected homecoming queen, she still counts her time on the court as her best time at PHS.

“It's my top high school memory,” Allen said.

Woodward recalled the emotion of senior night this year, when she and Allen were honored by their teammates. She not only played extensively in the Lady Panthers' win over Cody that night, she also sang the National Anthem before the match.

“I cried that night,” Woodward said. “Before it started, Hannah (Pollart) told me not to cry, but then she was the first one to start crying.”

How will they feel when it's all over? That depends on how their last match turns out, and both girls hope it ends with a state title. Either way, though, they know it will be an emotional moment.

“We'll probably cry either way,” Allen said.

While Wyoming is faring better than most places in America economically, residents here still naturally worry about the economy. In recent weeks, Wall Street scares have placed the economy as the No. 1 issue for Wyoming voters.

In a Mason-Dixon Polling & Research poll for the Casper Star-Tribune, 65 percent of Wyoming voters polled said the economy was at the forefront of issues in the upcoming election. That number may not seem that high, considering the current state of America's economy, but in August, only 36 percent of voters rated the economy as their No. 1 issue, according to the Associated Press.

Going into the election, voters obviously expect politicians to address, and hopefully fix, America's declining economic condition.

Besides marking the ballot on Nov. 4 for the candidates who will best address economic troubles, voters can take action by shopping locally.

For the most part, money spent in the community stays in the community.

When schools, religious groups, non-profit organizations and others do fundraisers, Powell's businesses provide products and money over and over again. Our local commerce invests in the community, and now more than ever, it's time to invest in our local economy to keep it vital.

Another reason to shop local —which also ties into a hot issue in America at the moment — is that it's better for the environment. By shopping locally, we create less traffic and pollution.

In a few short weeks, all the frenzy of election campaigning and media coverage will dwindle, but the economy will remain a crucial challenge for newly-elected officials. While we can all hope that those who take the reins in the city, state and federal governments will help rebuild the nation's economy, we can do our part to shop local and encourage the economy at home.

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Jake Thiel, project engineer for Sletten Construction, looks out over the aquatic center site at Homesteader Park on Friday. Crews began digging for the new pool last week. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

Cap tax funding for project ahead of schedule

Sletten Construction crews began digging at the new aquatic center site in Homesteader Park last Thursday.

Construction for the project is expected to take a little more than a year.

Shawn Warner, president of Sletten Construction, said the recent snowstorm delayed starting the excavation by a few days.

The original contract set Nov. 1, 2009, as the completion date for the new aquatic center, but an extension of eight or nine weeks is expected, according to Project manager Nancy Ronto of Burbach Aquatics, Inc.

October 21, 2008 3:02 am

Legislators ponder wolves

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee met in Cody Thursday to discuss what Wyoming lawmakers should — or shouldn't — do about wolves.

On Friday, a similar hearing took place in Riverton.

Lawmakers and state officials are debating how to respond to U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy's ruling to nix U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to remove wolves from the Endangered Species List.

In July, Malloy ruled in favor of 12 conservation groups and issued an injunction against delisting the gray wolf, saying that the federal government failed to ensure the animal's genetic exchange between packs in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Fields in the Powell area continued to dry out from early October snow and rain that halted the sugar beet harvest.

Sugar content measured more than 17 percent as the Big Horn Basin sugar beet harvest resumed last week.

But up to 2 feet of snow, followed in some areas by a quarter-inch of rain, has kept some growers out of the field for more than a week.

Heart Mountain grower Paul Rodriguez said his family harvested some of their 1,365 acres before the Oct. 10 snowstorm began.