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Tribune Staff

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Northwest College music students, freshman Keller Paulsen of Casper (left) and sophomore Drew Brown of Hamilton, Mont., jump together at the velcro wall as Residence Life Specialist Jennifer Skinner gives them instructions during Kick-Off Weekend at NWC on Saturday. Classes began at NWC and Powell's high school, middle school and elementary schools Monday morning. Tribune photo by Kara Bacon

Although the Arthur 2 Fire in eastern Yellowstone National Park kicked-up recently, precipitation Sunday hampered the fire's growth, leaving fire managers guardedly optimistic it will not spread.

The fire is one and one-half miles southwest of the East Entrance and on the south side of the Middle Fork of the Shoshone River. The fire has caused no closures.

A suspected illegal immigrant has been sentenced to 15 to 18 years in the Wyoming prison system for raping a woman in Powell nearly two years ago.

Fabian Ruiz-Estrada, 27, had been tied to the rape through DNA evidence more than a year after it occurred.

On Wednesday, District Court Judge Steven Cranfill accepted a plea agreement and found Ruiz-Estrada guilty of two counts of first-degree sexual assault — one count for making the victim submit by the use of force and another for threatening her with a deadly weapon.

With a tall, floor-to-ceiling wall of windows showcasing Yellowstone National Park's most famous geyser, the park's newest visitor center will open at Old Faithful on Wednesday, Aug. 25. A public grand opening dedication ceremony marks the event at 11 a.m.

The opening celebrates the completion of a 10-year-plus effort to fund and build the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center, which replaces a smaller, obsolete visitor center built in 1972.

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Powell's Alyssa Hildebrand follows her tee shot through the air during the Panthers' opening golf tournament of the season. Hildebrand was the lone female golfer to compete in the meet for PHS. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

Prestwich second after two-hole playoff

The Powell High School golf team opened the 2010 fall sports calendar with a third-place finish at home. The Panthers finished with two of the meet's top four golfers to place behind Gillette and Cody.

“I was pleased with our showing for the first tournament, but we definitely have some room to grow,” said Panther golf coach Troy Hildebrand. “The season got off to a great start with two perfect days of weather and our course in superb shape for the nine schools that were able to come.”

Connecticut man pedals cross-country for MS

With the start of classes at Northwest College steadily swelling the ranks of Powell's young adult population, Brookfield, Conn., native Ryan Prizio could easily have passed through town without drawing attention. Another face, another cyclist out for a summer ride.

In reality, there's hardly anything ordinary about the 23-year-old Prizio. On July 1, he departed Brookfield, leaving behind his information technology job at a local hospital, to pedal cross-country to Portland, Ore., then south to San Diego to raise awareness of and money for multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.

Panthers' season could hinge on what takes place in the trenches

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times, and for Powell High School head football coach Jim Stringer, it was a season unlike any other. The Powell Panthers won their first four games a year ago before injuries, player dismissals and a full-scale mugging at the hands of the swine flu conspired to cause the team to fade to a 4-4 finish and a missed playoff opportunity.

“That last week, I've never seen anything like it,” Stringer said, recalling how sickness kept him from coaching his team during the season's final week and decimated the Panthers to the point where Powell was unable to field a scout team in the buildup to its final game.

That was a year ago. With the start of the 2010 football season slated to begin this Saturday, when the Panthers travel to Miles City, Mont., for their annual scrimmage game (the contest plays as a regular season game for Miles City, but won't appear in the Panthers' season record), Stringer will have a team of about 60 players ready to go.

According to the WyoPreps.com media and coaches' preseason poll, the Panthers kick off the season ranked fifth in Class 3A.

Thanks to the mishaps of last season, Powell returns “six or seven” players with “significant varsity playing time” to each side of the football, according to Stringer. The Panthers have several proven playmakers and a wealth of athleticism in the offensive backfield. Many of the holes that need filled by the program will come along the offensive and defensive lines.

“It's going to take some time for the kids to grow into those positions,” Stringer said of the Panthers' developing 2010 line. “The kids on our line of scrimmage need to think. They need to perform as a unit. I'm excited with the kids we have. I think we've got some good, young talent. We've made a few personnel moves to bolster our line of scrimmage, but it will take time and repetition to get them working together as a unit.”

Getting that unit operating together is a key, because behind the offensive line sits junior Keithen Schwahn, who accounted for nearly 1,500 yards of offense last year, including 1,131 yards through the air. Schwahn's most productive target in ‘09, senior Kyle Sullivan, is also back, looking to build upon a campaign that saw him average better than 19 yards per reception.

“We're not going to be the biggest team out there, but we're used to that,” said Stringer. “That's why our system emphasizes misdirection and combination blocks to give us a chance to use our athletic ability.”

Defensively, the Panthers will make a slight change this season, shying away from the 3-5 scheme in favor of a return to a more-traditional 4-3 alignment. Despite it not being their primary defense in 2009, injuries forced the team to adapt and run some 4-3 as well.

“We don't have the same type of dominating down linemen that we had last season, and you need that in the 3-5,” said Stringer. “The 4-3 matches up better with what we have this season in terms of personnel. We've got an athletic group of linebackers and our secondary has the most experience of any area of the field. I expect we'll have another solid defense.”

After Saturday's trip to Miles City, the Panthers open the 2010 season with non-conference home games against Riverton and Wheatland. Star Valley and Lander will also make trips to Powell for varsity football this season while the Panthers' road slate takes them to Buffalo, Worland, Jackson and Cody.

“If we come together, especially the younger kids on the line, I think we can stack up with anyone in the 3A West,” said Stringer. “We'll have to use our speed to win games. Our schemes should feature our athleticism and quickness. As long as we stay healthy and come together as a team, we'll be competitive.”

School opened in Powell Monday, and as always, the new year was greeted with a variety of emotions as the kids reported.

Some new kindergartners arrived with grins on their faces while others reflected apprehension. A few tears were shed by moms as they entrusted their youngsters to a teacher for the first time. Among the kids returning to school, there were shouts and squeals of delight as friends who hadn't seen each other all summer reconnected. Dashes across the playground into group hugs were common sights.

Soon the kids were back in their classrooms, ready to take on the next challenges.

Wyoming's school kids are fortunate. In many states, schools have had to cut budgets, reducing faculty and even shutting down schools. More crowded class sizes and fewer opportunities are the result for the kids in those states.

In Wyoming, there haven't been many cutbacks, but that doesn't mean there won't be some in the future. The state is just beginning the process of recalibrating its school funding model, and that will determine funding levels for the next five years.

Funding isn't the only factor in the success of a school, though. Just as important is the level of support a school receives from parents and the community at large, and it is in that area that Powell's students are particularly fortunate.

Parental support of the Powell schools, especially the elementary schools, has been exceptional over the years, and community groups such as the Powell School Foundation and the Powell Athletic Roundtable provide tremendous support as well.

Powell businesses provide job experiences for high school students, and community members are frequently in the classroom to pass their knowledge and wisdom along or simply to help out.

Those contributions are a big reason why Powell schools are some of the best in Wyoming.

Take advantage of those good schools, and have a good year, kids.

(March 14, 1955 - Aug. 19, 2010)

John C. Bell, 55, of Cody, died Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010, while performing the duties of his position as supervisor of Grounds/Custodial Services at Northwest College.

Gene S. Allen died Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010 at Powell Valley Healthcare. He was 78.

Page 474 of 513

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