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This is Homecoming week at Powell High School. Did you enjoy high school?




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Editorials


Thumbs up to a report that the teen birth rate declined in Wyoming for the fifth year in a row, but thumbs down to the fact that it remains above the national average.

The Wyoming Department of Health reports that 34.6 babies per 1,000 are born to girls ages 15-19. That’s down from 50.1 births per 1,000 in 2007 but still far too high; the national rate is 29.4 births per 1,000 to teen moms.

A recent report on occupational deaths and injuries in Wyoming pointed to increasing highway and agricultural safety as two of the ways to decrease occupational injuries and fatalities.

That makes a lot of sense to us.

Thumbs up to the people who honor the memory of Sept. 11, 2001.

Yes, it was 13 years ago today that one of the darkest chapters in American history was written by a small band of  fanatical terrorists and the evil men who guided them. They hijacked airplanes and struck New York City and Washington, D.C., killing 2,977 innocent people.

Powell takes pride in its trees. For nearly 25 years, Powell has been named a “Tree City USA” by the National Arbor Foundation for demonstrating a commitment to caring for its public trees.

As Mayor Don Hillman’s Arbor Day proclamation has declared in the past: “Trees in our city increase property values, enhance the economic vitality of business areas and beautify our community ... trees are a source of joy.”

Thumbs up to the Powell school board for deciding to hold a public auction for a 1.29-acre lot on North Evarts Street. Located near downtown, the property housed the old high school auditorium/pool for decades. It has remained vacant since 2010, and will go up for auction Tuesday.

Once a month, on average, someone in Park County commits suicide.

Does that number surprise you? It did us when we read it in a story reporter Gib Mathers wrote for last Thursday’s paper.

Maybe it’s because suicides are usually kept quiet, with the survivors not sharing the cause of death with many people, and those who hear whispers about it choosing to keep it to themselves. We appreciate such signs of respect, but it seems to be time to bring suicide and its causes out in the open.

Far too many people are killing themselves in this city, county, state and region — Wyoming and Montana have the highest per capita suicide rates in the nation. In 2012, 163 people reportedly took their own lives in Wyoming, including 12 in Park County. It appears the county had the same number of self-inflicted deaths in 2013.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 39,518 people ended their own lives in this country in 2011, the most recent year such statistics are available. That makes it the 10th most common form of death.

Suicide has been in the news recently because of the Aug. 11 death of Robin Williams. The stand-up comic, TV and movie star was just 63 years old, beloved by millions, wealthy and acclaimed in his field.

Yet he chose to end his private torture by hanging himself in his home. While that may seem like a puzzling end, suicide prevention experts tell us anyone can decide to end their life. Men in his age group are especially vulnerable.

We need to understand why. We need to offer a helping hand to those slipping into darkness and deadly depression. We must make private pain a worthy topic for public discussion.

There is no shame in breaking your leg, or being hurt in an accident, to being stricken with cancer. There may have been such scorn decades or centuries ago, but we understand the cause of illness and accidents now.

It’s time — well past time — to treat mental maladies, including depression, the same way. We call for shedding light on this topic, not hiding it in the corner of a clouded, stricken mind.

One way to battle the blues, we have been told, is to take a walk. Several dozen local residents will do just that this weekend in an effort to strike back against depression and suicide

The second annual Out of the Darkness Suicide Awareness Walk will be held in Cody Saturday. It will start at 11 a.m. at City Park.

Walkers must be registered by 2 p.m. Friday; it’s free. Go to afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2963 or call 307-578-7029 to sign up.

The walk planning committee is meeting at noon today (Tuesday) at 2206 Sheridan Ave., Suite A in Cody. Stop in to offer help; lunch will be served.

Health care provider booths at the park focused on physical or mental health-related will be on hand, and musicians are also welcome. Call Rachel Williams with the Prevention Management Organization of Wyoming at 307-250-5008 or email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to join in the effort.

People are being asked to donate money; 182 people walked last year and $10,000 was collected, with the money going to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Williams teaches suicide prevention classes. She is available to speak to your organization, at your school or to employees at your business. Call her at 307-578-7029 to learn more.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or have made efforts to harm yourself, help is available. Call the Yellowstone Behavioral Health Center at 754-5687 or 307-587-2197. Someone is there right now who will offer assistance.

You also can call the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

People are there and they care. Suicide is a very real part of our world; let’s face it and work to reduce the number of victims.

Thumbs down to the absurd schedule Congress has set for itself.

Plan to enjoy this holiday weekend? Expect to take a trip, or relax at home on the couch, enjoying time away from the workplace? Sorry, but you’re a piker when it comes to time off.

Congress was not in session for a single day in August. Not one.