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Tribune Staff

U.S. Marshals apprehend Arizona prison break convict in Meeteetse Monday

One of two escaped convicts from an Arizona prison, also suspected in the murder of an elderly Oklahoma couple last week, was captured without incident in Meeteetse early Monday morning.

According to the U.S. Marshals, Tracy Province, 42, was arrested at 6:20 a.m. Monday. He was carrying a handgun and a hitch-hiking sign saying “Casper.”

Few attend presentations

Officials and trustees at West Park Hospital in Cody know their nearly 40-year-old facilities must be modernized.

“This does need to happen, it's just the question of how,” said West Park CEO Doug McMillan, at a recent public presentation in Powell.

Searches planned to replace two vice presidents

After an initial conference with employees in affected areas, Northwest College President Paul Prestwich said he no longer is considering a change in the management structure at the college.

When Sher Hruska, former vice president of academic affairs, and Dana Young, former vice president of student affairs, both left the college last spring, Prestwich said the college could consider changing to a provost form of management. A provost would have supervised both areas, with deans of instruction and students serving under the provost.

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Dallas Robirds fires a throw in from left field in Powell's opener versus Ashland, Ore. Tribune photo by John Wetzel

Team overcomes poor start to reach Monday

They may not have gotten the start they wanted, but the Powell Pioneers are exactly where they were a year ago — playing baseball as a member of the Northwest Regional tournament's final four. The Pioneers bounced back from a 15-1 loss to Ashland, Ore., in the opening round to knock off Olympic, Wash., and Blacksmith Fork, Utah, to reach this point.

All-Stars reach semifinals before bowing out of regional

The Powell Babe Ruth All-Stars went where none before them have gone — into the semifinal round of the Pacific Northwest regional tournament. The team eventually fell 15-2 in its semifinal encounter against Kitsap, Wash., to miss out on a chance to play for a spot in the Babe Ruth World Series tournament.

A Powell USA swimmer qualified for regional competition last week at the Wyoming Summer State Competition.
Jessica Curtis, one of eight Powell swimmers in the competition, swam the 100-meter backstroke in 1:15.84 to finish second in the senior girls A competition. and qualify for the USA Zone Competition in San Jose, Calif. later this month.

As a team, the Powell group finished fourth in their division.

The swimmers swam in two divisions during last week's competition, held in Fort Collins, Colo. In order to swim in the A division, swimmers were required to have posted a qualifying time during the past 12 months. In the B division, no qualifying time was required and events were open to all registered USA swimmers.

In A competition, Curtis swam four other events in A competition, finishing fourth in the 200-meter freestyle, tying for sixth in the individual medley and 11th in the 50-meter freestyle.

Also swimming in the senior girls A division was Kaiya Rodriguez, who swam in five events and recorded four top-12 places in five events. Rodriguez tied for sixth in the individual medley and took another sixth in the 200 breaststroke.

She finished ninth in both the 100 breaststroke and the 100 backstroke.

Roy Oursler, competing in the senior boys division, also earned a second place during A competion, finishing the 800 meters in 11:04.84. In addition, Oursler finished seventh in the 100 meters, eighth in the 50 meters and 12th in the backstroke.

Anya Tracy swam four events in the girls 15-16 competition and finished in the top 12 in the 100 butterfly with an eighth place.

In boys 13 and 14 competition, Ed Oursler grabbed seventh place in both the 100 meters and the individual medley and he finished in the top 12 in two other events, taking ninth in the 200 and 10th in the 50.

Nick Tracy took a fifth place in the backstroke in boys 13 and 14, and added a sixth in the 200 backstroke and a 12th in the 50.

Amanda Tracy swam in four events in the 11-12 girls division, finishing in the top 12 in all four, including a seventh place in the 100 backstroke.

Katie Brown also competed in the 11-12 girls A division and earned seventh place in the 50 breaststroke. In the 11-12 year-old B competition, Brown competed in eight events, winning the 100 breaststroke and finishing second or third in the others.

Amanda Tracy swam in five events in the B division finishing first or second in all of them.

Nic Tracy won the 100 and finished third in the butterfly among the 13-14 year-old boys and Ed Oursler won two firsts, a third and a fourth in the four events in which he competed.

Anya Tracy earned third in the individual medley and fourth in the 100 breaststroke among girls 15 and 16.

So here we are, another year, another column being penned at a regional baseball tournament on the eve of high school fall practices opening. Despite the fact that last year my employer booked me into a hotel near where a fire was burning and this year's journey has brought me to the site of an FBI manhunt for prison escapees, I could get used to this.

And that appears to be a good thing.

Wyoming's baseball capital produced another memorable summer. After leaving many last year asking how things could get any better, we now know the answer.

The Babe Ruth All-Stars from Powell set the standard by which future seasons will be compared. After going 0-for-four during last year's trip west, this year's crew opened with a late-inning heartbreak loss, then rallied to claim their first-ever victory in regional competition.

Then came the fun stuff. The All-Stars steamrolled their hosts by an 11-0 count. They had a chance to seal their place with a victory, albeit against a Kelso, Wash., team that, by most accounts, would have fit in nicely at the Pioneers' tournament venue this past seekend. They got to experience the thrill and the angst that comes with having to watch a sporting event while knowing that your fate and your future rely on its outcome.

Ultimately, they got to experience something that no Wyoming team in a very long time — if ever — has been able to. They got to play baseball on semifinal Sunday at a regional tournament.

Any way you slice it, that's quite an accomplishment considering that very few other states send a team representative that isn't a compilation of several communities' worth of hand-selected all-stars. The significance of Powell's run in Klamath Falls simply cannot be overstated. It was simply the finest baseball run in Powell Babe Ruth history, and possibly in Wyoming history.

That success should also ensure a couple things. First, those younger than this year's All-Stars should embrace the challenge and the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of this year's team. See the goal, and strive to meet it. That's how dynasties are formed in any sport, and hopefully this year's crop of All-Stars will share their knowledge and experience with those a few years younger to help lay the foundation for future success.

Second, it should make the odds good that summer trips, such as the ones Pioneers fans have made to Utah and Montana the past two years, don't become things of the past. Success breeds both expectation and deeper hunger — trust me, I've been there — and back-to-back Babe Ruth regional appearances should set the table for a crop of young up-and-coming Legion players to want the same at the next level.

For those of you who are just returning from Oregon to read these words, congratulations on your success and thank you for the thrill ride you've taken this community and its fans on over these last couple of weeks. For the Pioneers who are moving on, thank you as well. Having spent two summers now chasing you guys around and following you on the diamond, I'm going to miss seeing you in the dugout as you move on in baseball and in life.

Anyone doubting whether baseball still has a place in the heart of America just needs to look at what it has done for Powell these past couple summers. It's given us a reason to be proud. It's united fans in their quest to find out the latest scores in venues in Oregon and Montana. It's had listeners here at home glued to radios and Internet web addresses.

Not many other things do that in this day and age.

Among the decisions Park County voters will be asked to make one week from today is whether to approve a specific purpose sales tax to fund expansions and updates to the emergency room and other portions of West Park Hospital in Cody.

The proposal often has been viewed by Powellites from an “us vs. them” standpoint: Why should people in Powell pay for improvements at the Cody hospital, when Powell Valley Hospital needs many of the same improvements?

But I would ask people to look beyond this selfish reasoning. We're all residents of Park County, and it's important for us to work together to advance worthwhile causes and projects. After all, without the support of many Cody residents (though not a majority), Powell residents would not be enjoying an aquatic center now, and it's likely we will be asking for money for future projects as well — perhaps even a similar building project at Powell Valley Hospital. Park County communities must stop this ongoing community feud and support each other for the good of all.

Others decry any effort to raise money by any form of tax, regardless of the amount or the purpose. I believe this is short-sighted; each proposal should be weighed on its own merit. For most, a 1 percent sales tax is not a budget breaker, and the specific purpose sales tax provides a way to fund projects and facilities for the good of the public that otherwise might go unfunded. It also brings in dollars from tourists who spend money in Park County and Yellowstone, making it a little less onerous for residents, and it ends when the project is paid for.

However, there are some other important factors to consider when voting for or against the West Park proposal, and some of those have been overlooked or downplayed — and even misrepresented — during the discussion over whether to fund the West Park project. Following is my summary of some of those issues.

• The West Park Hospital District is a tax district — formed specifically for the purpose of raising money through property taxes to fund building projects at the hospital. The district comprises Cody and the surrounding area served by the hospital. As with the specific purpose sales tax, any property tax would have to be approved by voters — but in this case, only residents of the district would vote, and if approved, pay the tax for the project.

Some say it would be best to raise the money for the West Park project through a property tax on the district, because the people paying the tax also would be the people who use the hospital's services.

But I think the reasoning should go beyond that. The specific purpose tax is a valuable tool created to fund worthwhile community projects, particularly those without any dedicated funding or methods to pay for them. In my opinion, specific purpose sales taxes should be approved only for important community projects that can't reasonably be funded in any other way. I believe it would have been more appropriate for the West Park board to attempt to raise the money through the district before considering a specific purpose tax proposal.

The reason the board opted to go the specific purpose sales tax route is simple and understandable: By extending the tax countywide, more people pay and the money is raised faster, reducing the amount of interest paid on a construction loan and shortening the wait to begin construction.

• The West Park proposal has been a moving target that, initially at least, came with little or no advance public discussion at a time when other projects already were on the table. When West Park officials first approached the Cody City Council with the proposal, they were asking for a total of $38.5 million. When local government leaders and the public balked at that figure, the project was scaled down and numbers recalculated for lower construction costs. The board also decided to apply $12 million — previously held in reserves for a future building project phase — toward the proposal.

Those changes, combined, whittled the amount West Park needed for the remodel down to $14.2 million. But one could argue they should have been made before the project ever went to the public. It is unconscionable that West Park board members even considered asking the public to fund a $38 million project when they had $12 million stashed away in a reserve account that would have continued to earn interest while taxpayers were footing the bill for the entire project.

• One of the arguments used repeatedly to justify asking for a specific purpose tax to pay for the West Park remodel is, “We don't want to burden our children with a property tax that will take 25 years to pay off.”

That is misleading, if now downright deceitful. True, when West Park initially made its specific purpose tax proposal for $38 million, it would have taken 25 years to pay off the debt with money raised by a property tax on the West Park Hospital District. But now that the proposal has shrunk to $14 million, it would take only nine and a half years to pay it off through that method. Admittedly, that's still about three and a half times longer than the estimated 31-months it would take to raise the money through a specific purpose tax, but it's a far cry from burdening a second generation.

• The bottom line: The proposed remodel of West Park Hospital's emergency room and other areas absolutely is needed. I don't think anyone is arguing with that; I certainly am not. West Park Hospital is a public facility that serves the public, and it deserves public funding, if it is needed; the real question is, what form should that funding take, and who should pay the bill?

Voters need to be informed and prepared to answer those questions when they cast votes for or against the West Park proposal. Make sure to vote one way or another; if you cast a ballot but don't vote on the issue, it counts as a vote against the project.

And, if voters agree to fund the project through a specific purpose tax, we will expect Cody voters to reciprocate if Powell Valley Hospital makes a similar proposal in the future. WPH board members already have said they would support such a proposal.

After all, one way or another, we're all in this together.

A week from today (Tuesday), voters statewide will queue up at the polls, casting decisive votes in a pivotal primary election.

Much is at stake in this year's primary.

Locally, Park County voters will decide whether to reinstate a specific purpose 1-cent tax, this time for major renovations to Cody's West Park Hospital. In recent years, voters approved a 1-cent sales tax for a new Park County Jail (2002) and the Powell pool, Meeteetse pool and Park County Library projects (2006). Unlike previous years, voters must consider the 1-cent tax in the primary ballot rather than November's general election.

Whether Park County residents and tourists will pay an extra penny on purchases for the next 31 months — nearly three years — hinges on what voters say next Tuesday.

The West Park tax proposal has provoked praise, criticism and continual debate since it was first publicly presented in January. Seven months' worth of information, campaigning and controversy all comes to a head next week, making it crucial to show up and vote on this important ballot item.

Though public officials are not elected until November's general election, many races likely will be decided in the primary. Only one of four main GOP gubernatorial candidates will advance to the November ballot.

For certain races — such as the Powell area House District 25 legislative race — no Democratic candidates filed. A dozen GOP candidates are facing off for three available seats on the Park County Commission, and only one Democrat is running.

So in some cases, the Republican candidates who advance in next week's primary could very well be our next leaders.

To help inform voters about this year's candidates and their positions on important issues, the Tribune has published an online primary election guide. The edition, available at www.powelltribune.com, provides an overview of candidates in city, county and statewide races.

Voters only have a week to decide which way to vote, and in the days ahead, there's a wealth of resources to help you make informed decisions.

Get to know candidates and issues this week — and be sure to show up and cast your vote on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

(June 22, 1953 - August 6, 2010)

Debra A. (Dean) Beall, died Friday, Aug. 6, 2010, at Powell Valley Healthcare due to a long illness of COPD. She was 57.

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