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January 23, 2014 8:37 am

PEP now making impressive strides in right direction

Written by Tom Lawrence

Thumbs up to Powell Economic Partnership.

PEP is making progress and we are impressed with what we are seeing. It has hired an executive director, held a series of meetings that involved people from across the community, and is preparing to reveal dozens of proposals to improve Powell.

Christine Bekes, a Powell native, has returned home, and has been named the executive director. Bekes, an accomplished athlete, strikes us as a smart, energetic person who is a good fit for this fledgling organization.

We hope to see both PEP and her succeed.

Thumbs up to Anna Sapp, to Northwest College, and to the volunteer members of boards who teamed to get PEP up and running.

Sapp served as the enterprise’s executive director for more than a year, and continued to work for PEP after taking a new job at NWC as the project coordinator for Northwest College’s Center for Training and Development. The college continues to provide, for free, office space for PEP at West Trapper Village on campus.

Sapp correctly points out that several people played crucial roles — “it was a group effort that got PEP to this point: Many hours of effort on the part of many people.  Every member of the Executive Board and Advisory Boards gave of their time and talent ever so generously.”

We applaud all of them — and urge them to continue to make progress.

Thumbs down to the the city of Powell for not observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Martin Luther King Jr./Wyoming Equality Day was proclaimed a legal holiday in the state in 1990. While state workers had the day off, and some minor observances were held around Wyoming, in Powell it was business as usual.

We feel that should change. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great and courageous American who led a movement to honor and respect the rights of all. The city should pay tribute to this man and the Civil Rights effort he spearheaded. While some consider this a “black” holiday, the reality is King is a hero to people of all colors, faiths and political views. He was an iconic figure.

Powell already observes numerous holidays and should add this one to its list in some manner. The third Monday in January should be set aside to honor Dr. King, and a public event to honor to him and his cause would be fitting as well.

Thumbs up to the Park County School District No. 1 Trustees for moving to hire a third school nurse.

The new nurse will be a part-time employee. He or she will join two other full-time nurses who are charged with providing care and services to nearly 1,800 students.

Keeping kids healthy is a benefit to the schools and to the community, since an illness passed along in a classroom will soon spread throughout the city. This was a wise move by the school board.

Thumbs down to a Wyoming legislator’s proposal to use firing squads to execute condemned criminals.

Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, said Monday that since the state does not have a functioning gas chamber, and if lethal injection is unavailable for one reason or another, the state should return to its Old West roots and shoot to kill. Burns has tossed a bill allowing the use of firing squads into the legislative hopper for the 2014 session.

He said it makes more sense than building a new gas chamber, will be cost-efficient and in a way is more humane than using gas to kill someone. We’re not sure the person on the business end of those rifles would agree.

The bill is sure to be quickly shot down, and that’s good. While there is continued debate and legal wrangling over the proper way to use drugs to execute someone — and it’s hard to worry about some pain and discomfort for the vicious people who end up on death row — we feel the state should follow the guidelines other states use and make executions as swift and painless as possible.

Lining someone up for a round of bullets to end their life may seem like justice to some, but it would do harm to the state’s reputation and add a level of violence to the process that we just cannot endorse.

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