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Tribune Staff

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As of today (Thursday), texting behind the wheel is illegal. A new law makes it a misdemeanor for motorists to write, send or read text messages. Violators face a $75 fine. The state transportation department says Wyoming is one of 28 states to have a texting while driving law. Tribune photo illustration by Carla Wensky

Wyoming now prohibits texting while driving

Effective today (Thursday), text messaging while driving is illegal in Wyoming, because legislators and law enforcement officials want drivers to focus on the road.

Under the new law, police can stop drivers and give them $75 tickets if they believe motorists are texting and driving. Proving a driver caused a car crash while texting, although tricky, could happen.

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News that Chief Executive Officer Rod Barton will be leaving Powell Valley Healthcare was greeted by long faces around the hospital board table on Monday.

Barton, who has held that post since 1997, announced on Monday he will leave in late August to take a position as the executive director of the hospital in Burley, Idaho.

Once again, Powell Volunteer Fire Department firefighters will celebrate the Fourth of July with a fireworks show sure to knock everybody's socks off, with an explosive $9,000 arsenal, thanks to the community's financial support.

“It will start at 10 p.m.,” said fireman Sam Rodriguez, who is organizing the annual show with fireman Tracy Sweet.

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It was a rough night for pitchers like Powell's Grant Geiser, (above), on Tuesday, but a great night to be swinging the bat. As evidenced below, Powell and Cody combined to send the scoreboard soaring during Legion baseball action. Tribune photos by Randal Horobik

Pioneers send scoreboard soaring with 32 runs

The Powell Pioneers remained unbeaten in Northwest Conference play on Tuesday night with a wild 32-14 victory at Cody that left scoreboard operators and play-by-play announcers working overtime. Contrary to final appearances, that was, indeed, the final score for a baseball game.

Duran becomes second player to sign with Trappers

Northwest College women's basketball coach Janis Beal announced this week that Mariah Duran has signed a letter of intent to play for the Trappers next season. Duran is a 5'5” shooting guard from Murray, Utah.

Last summer, I dared to tred into history's footsteps and quote from a 1965 gubernatorial proclamation, reclaiming the title of Wyoming's baseball capital for Powell. With the calendar transitioning to the month of July, the time has come for Powell's various teams to defend that lofty status.

It was only fitting, then, that on the eve of calendars turning from June to baseball's title month, the Powell Pioneers delivered a warning shot across the bow of the rest of the state. The premature fireworks display came in the form of a 32-run explosion on Tuesday night.

There isn't a team in the state that wouldn't gladly accept 32 runs as its output in a doubleheader. For a single game, that sort of total is practically unheard of in video game circles, much less on an actual grass-and-dirt stadium surface.

It was, as best I can tell, the greatest offensive output by a Wyoming baseball team this summer. Gillette shelled Rapid City for 28 runs in what appears to have been the previous 2010 summer high.

Admittedly, those 32 runs on Tuesday night mean very little aside from giving the Pioneers the inside track now for a No. 1 seed when district tournament play opens on July 22. Powell won't be able to carry any of that scoring surplus forward as post-season action opens. Scoreboards will still begin each game reading 0-0.

Still, there is a significance to the number.

The 2010 edition of the Pioneers has, in some ways, been a victim of its own prior success. I'm probably as much to blame as anyone for being blinded by it.

A stellar 26-11 summer has been lost in the relative familiarity of been there, done that. One year ago, that's a record we would have been celebrating. This year, it looks almost pedestrian, despite the fact that it has been achieved with as many as two regulars out of the lineup for two weeks of the summer.

The Pioneers' 12-game win streak in June was nice. But, again, it probably didn't turn heads around the community the way it should have because last year's team chained together 13 W's.

Of course, we forget that 13-game streak was believed at the time to be the longest on record for the club.

Two hitters clobbering the ball at an over .500 clip? We've seen that. A team drilling the ball in play at a .400 clip?

Impressive as it may be, that's a sequel as well.

So as we sit here at T-minus three weeks away from the start of Legion baseball's post-season, it was indeed refreshing to see the Pioneers step out of their own shadow with a statement so thunderous, so outrageously inconceivable, that it simply cannot be ignored. There's no guarantee that a title will come home to Powell in July, but the message has now been sent — the road to the title will, most likely, run through Powell.

There's still much work to be done. Pitching needs to be sharpened. Double-digit strikeout performances by the batting order need to be exorcized once and for all from the scorebook. Defensive play in the field can always be fine-tuned.

But the call to arms has now been issued. Not only the Pioneers, but the Babe Ruth and Little League squads should hear its call and respond with alacrity.

The calendar has officially turned to baseball's title month. Let the excitement and anticipation begin to build.

There should be a gradual buzz building in the days ahead as state tournaments move nearer. March may have its madness, but July holds fields full of dreams.

Here in Wyoming's baseball capital, that's just the way we like it.

The upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend will be filled with exciting events and fun activities throughout the area.

While enjoying all the area has to offer over the Fourth, it's crucial Park County residents and visitors practice safety as well.

The recent rash of traffic fatalities in Park County — due to excessive speed, lack of seat belts, driving under the influence and motorcyclists' failure to wear helmets — should serve as a strong reminder to use additional caution when traveling Wyoming's roadways.

Not drinking and driving — along with slowing down, buckling up and wearing helmets — can go a long way toward keeping the holiday weekend tragedy-free.

People traveling to the mountains to celebrate should make sure others are aware of travel plans and destinations. Travelers should be prepared to encounter high water in area creeks and rivers, and hikers should have bear spray or a firearm handy when enjoying the back-country.

Fireworks should be handled with care to avoid the burns and injuries that send thousands of people to emergency rooms across the nation each year during Independence Day festivities.

Young children should not handle or ignite fireworks, and older children should be supervised by adults at all times. In order to prevent unintentional fires, fireworks should be used only in still conditions and in areas cleared of brush and debris.

The Fourth of July should be a time for all Americans to celebrate our independence and to create long-lasting memories with family and friends. The proper measure of caution can ensure weekend revelry doesn't take a tragic turn for the worse.

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Powell emergency personnel work to extricate the last victim from a car that crashed into a tree off Wyo. 295 north of Powell Saturday. EmiLee Bapst, 16, of Powell was killed in the crash and three other Powell teens were injured. Tribune photo by Don Amend

Three others injured

A Powell girl is dead following a Saturday crash north of Powell.

EmiLee Bapst, 16, was a passenger a 2000 Ford Taurus driven by Jack Farwell, 18, when the accident occurred. Two other passengers, Erik Rodriguez, 18, and Luke Sherley, 16, were seriously injured in the crash. All four occupants are from Powell.

A tragic accident at a rodeo in Jackson on Wednesday took the life of Nicolas Gillett, 20, of the Heart Mountain area, but he died with his boots on.

His brother, Andy Gillett, said Nick was doing what he loved — rodeoing — right to his untimely end.

A memorial service for Betty Derry will be at the Harvest Community Church of the Nazarene on Saturday, July 3, at 2 p.m.

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