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The weather outside has been frightful, but the lights around Powell are delightful.

The city of Powell honored the best-decorated homes and businesses in its annual Christmas Decorating Contest.

The 2008 winners for best decorated residential display (within 5 miles of city limits) are:

• First place: David and Mary Jo Decker, 632 Sawtooth Ct.

December 22, 2008 3:49 am

PHS wrestlers spread Christmas joy

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Linton's Big R cashier Dani Byrd (foreground) helps members of the Powell High School wrestling team with their Christmas purchases last Thursday. Members of the Panthers in this shopping group included (from left to right in the background) Jimmy Seckman (not visible), Cody Kalberer (partially visible), Trevor Donarski, Cole Kary, Zach Thiel, Cory Eden, Colt Nix (partially visible) and Olie Olson. Tribune photo by David Dickey

Team extends helping hand to those less fortunate

It's not everyday you see a group of rough-and-tough wrestlers buying doll-and-stroller sets, but such was the case late Thursday afternoon in Powell.

But have no fear, the members of the defending state champion Powell High School Panther wrestling team aren't turning into a bunch of softies, at least not on the mats. They were buying more than dolls and they were doing so for a good cause. They were purchasing gifts for young boys and adults, too, as part of what has become known as Wrestlers' Christmas — a program to help families in need during the holiday season.

Former PHS standouts Poinsettia Bowl bound

For twin brothers Dave and Matt Wilson of Powell, Christmas has always been a special time of year. It's a time for family, food and, of course, plenty of good-natured fun. And just like last year, it also means a time to go bowling — college football style.

Dave and Matt, both invited walk-ons and members of the Boise State University football team, will get an early

Christmas gift in the form of trip to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

The Broncos, ranked No. 9 in the Bowl Championship Series standings, departed for California late last week, and their bowl game against No. 11 Texas Christian University is slated for Tuesday, Dec. 23. Kickoff for the contest, which will be televised by ESPN, is scheduled for shortly after 6 p.m. (MTN).

Phil and Anne Wilson, the parents of the twins, also will be on hand for the contest. Phil, as a Christmas gift to Anne, purchased a travel package for the game that included a round-trip charter flight from Boise to San Diego and back.

Anne, in order to eliminate the long ride by car from Powell to Boise, made a Christmas purchase of her own — round-trip plane tickets from Billings to Boise. Her purchase, she said, was the only way to ensure everyone made it back to Powell for Christmas.

According to the travel plans, Anne, Phil, Dave and Matt will fly from Boise to Billings on the same flight the day before Christmas. Once they arrive in Billings, the group will meet up with Dave and Matt's older brother, Jim, and make the trip back to Powell.

“Christmas really means something special to our family, and it's important to us that we spend it at home,” Anne said. “We've been very blessed because we all get along so well, and we all love being together. We even get along great with our in-laws. That's something not every family can say.”

Also joining in the Wilson family Christmas celebration will be Dave and Matt's older sister, Nikki, and her husband, Matt. Yes, there will be two Matts hanging around the Wilson household and that will only add to the good-natured chaos.

As an example of the “chaos” that will take place, Anne pointed to the recent Thanksgiving holiday when she and Phil drove from Powell to Boise to spend time with Dave and Matt. The twins' main request was a Thanksgiving feast prepared by none other than their mother. That's not surprising, according to Anne, considering Dave and Matt both stand 6-1 and weigh about 225 pounds each.

Anne planned well for the feast. In addition to a 15-pound turkey and a host of traditional Thanksgiving food items, she also made pumpkin and pecan pies. The pies, which she made in Powell, survived the long road trip, thanks to extra-special care. However, upon arrival at Dave and Matt's apartment, the pumpkin pie fell victim to the shenanigans for which the boys have become known.

“We got there the day before Thanksgiving, and we were getting all of the food out of the car,” Anne said. “I got inside, and (Dave and Matt) were already doing there usual thing — joking around. Matt was poking me, and he got me in the ribs.”

The shot to the ribs was enough to make Anne jump, and the pumpkin pie went flying. Fortunately, it landed on the kitchen counter, but it took on a whole new shape.

“It was folded over like a taco,” Anne said.

“I took the heat for that one,” said Matt, who quickly added the pie didn't go to waste. Like every other food item that found its way into the apartment during that holiday span, it got devoured.

According to Anne, that short get-together, which also included Travis Dooley, a former Powell High School Panther football player, lasted about 60 hours total. During that time, the group consumed the majority of the Thanksgiving feast. They also went through a large pot of spaghetti, a dozen eggs and four gallons of milk.

“You had to be quick about getting food,” Anne joked. “If someone reached for food, they just about lost a hand.”

The good news for Dave and Matt is that they will get more of the same when they return home for Christmas.

Nikki, instead of making the trip to San Diego, stayed behind to get a head start on some of the baking duties.

And Anne, once she gets home, will go about her usual routine of preparing a feast fit for a king, or in this case, kings.

“They really miss home-cooked meals,” Anne said.

According to Dave and Matt, both freshmen who redshirted last season, the only thing that will make Christmas more enjoyable will be a bowl victory over TCU (10-2 overall, 7-1 Mountain West Conference) Tuesday. The twins said this year has been a dream season, and they've enjoyed their limited but important roles with the team, which navigated the regular season to the tune of a 12-0 mark and the Western Athletic Conference title.

“I'm totally stoked about it,” said Dave, who has seen playing time on both the kickoff and kick return teams. It's been a fun ride for us.”

Dave listed a tackle on special teams and the Broncos winning the WAC championship among the highlights of the season.

“It was really cool when we won the WAC championship,” Dave said. “The students stormed the field. It was crazy, and it was a lot of fun to be part of that.”

Matt also has made on-the-field contributions, including a number of key blocks while serving on the Broncos' kick-return team.

“It's been a blast,” Matt said. “It's been a good year for us. Beating Oregon was pretty cool. Winning the WAC and being 12-0 — It's just been a fun deal for all of us. We've had a good year so far. The team has grown close, and we've been able to accomplish a lot together.”

Dave, who wears No. 58, and Matt, who wears No. 42, both said the Broncos being left out of the Bowl Championship Series picture was disappointing, but they also said they aren't going to let that put a damper on the season.

“We did everything we could do,” Dave said. “We wanted to go to a BCS bowl, but it was out of our hands. The Poinsettia is a good bowl game, and it should be a great matchup.”

When the Poinsettia Bowl is in the record books, Dave and Matt hope to make a triumphant return to Powell for some time with family and friends. And if you're included in that group that will be spending time with the two linebackers, keep a close guard on the pumpkin pies if you are brave enough to let them into your home.

As President-elect Barack Obama wrapped up his nominations for cabinet positions last week — just in time to enjoy a holiday vacation — it became clear he is following through on pledges made during his candidacy to make his cabinet one of the most diverse ever.

The majority of the soon-to-be President's appointments consist of women and ethnic minorities — in fact, white men are the minority in this cabinet. He has looked to people outside the political circles of Washington, D.C., and though he has named long-time Chicago allies to several posts, he has veered away from cronyism in favor of deciding who will best fill the positions.

Not only that, Obama has appointed two Republicans — keeping Robert Gates, the secretary of defense under the Bush administration, and naming Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois as transportation secretary — drawing comparison to Abraham Lincoln's “team of rivals” approach.

Obama is proving he will not, unlike his predecessor, surround himself with “yes” men and women, but will instead ensure a broad range of perspectives in the White House. His choices show he's not afraid of opinions and beliefs that may not mesh with his own.

Of course, people continue to grouse: Republicans call his appointments “token;” Democrats question the centrist lean; gay rights leaders want a homosexual nominee; women's groups want more women ...

It's a case of not being able to make everyone happy, all the time, but it's an admirable start.

And after the last eight years, it's a welcome change to hear ABC's political expert George Stephanopoulis say, “We have not seen this kind of combination of star power and brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes.”

It will be exciting to see what this diverse and bi-partisan group brings to the table.

December 22, 2008 3:26 am

Southside Christmas program a bustle

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Southside Elementary kindergartners take their places on the Powell High School Auditorium stage Tuesday night. The elementary students performed holiday favorites, including “Must Be Santa,” for a packed house. It was standing-room-only at the new auditorium. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

As Centennial Committee members planned Powell's New Year's Eve bash, they worried about transportation for tipsy partygoers. After a night of drinking —and in temperatures too frigid to walk —how will people get home safely?

“We were saying, ‘It's too bad we don't have a cab service,'” said Mayor Scott Mangold. “We crossed our fingers and hoped something would come up —and it did.”

Scholarships aid nontraditional students

Katie Martinez of Powell is a single mother of three children, ages 1, 2 and 7, who earned her GED in 1996.

Now, she is working toward an associate degree in sociology at Northwest College, and she plans to go on to get her bachelor's degree through the University of Wyoming Outreach School.

The pending merger between Powell's only cell phone carriers — Verizon and Alltel — will not leave residents with just one cellular option.

As part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Verizon Wireless has agreed to sell off either its or Alltel's business assets in much of Wyoming — including Powell and Park County. The assets to be sold include “everything needed to run a wireless operation,” said Verizon spokesman Robin Nicol — from cell towers, to operating licenses, to equipment.

December 18, 2008 3:56 am

PHS derails Locomotives

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Powell High School's Trevor Donarski (left) battles Locomotive 152-pound entry Easton Padden Tuesday night. Donarski won the bout 16-1. Tribune photo by David Dickey

Panthers win 11 of 14 matches

Wrestling in their first dual meet at home this season, top-ranked Powell High School overpowered Laurel (Mont.) 60-15 Tuesday night. Particularly satisfying, according to PHS head coach Nate Urbach, was the Panthers' performances in the upper weight classes.

“Our big guys did a really nice job,” Urbach said shortly after the conclusion of Tuesday's competition. “For us to challenge for the state title this season, our bigger guys need to step it up, and they did that tonight. That was huge for us, and it was nice to see that.”

In a state with more cattle than people, public transportation may not seem like a major priority. The Cowboy State and rural Big Horn Basin certainly don't have any major metropolitan areas that would make a transit system justifiable.

As a result, Wyoming's wide-open spaces make driving necessary.

Yet, for a small population, driving is not an option. Whether it's for health reasons, age, disabilities, intoxication or lack of access to a vehicle, some Powellites are unable to drive.

The Powell Senior Center faithfully transports people over the age of 60 around Powell on weekdays, taking them to appointments and grocery shopping. Others in the city, who are under the age of 60 or who need rides on nights or weekends, have limited options when it comes to local transportation.
International students at Northwest College, who may be unable to obtain driver's licenses, often are in need of a lift.

Local residents who need a safe ride home after a night of drinking also would benefit from public transport. Not having a designated driver after a night at the bar often results in drunk driving.

The local government is taking steps to address Powell's lack of local transportation and recently showed its support for two public transportation services.

On Monday, the Powell City Council unanimously approved an application for a local taxicab service, which will be available 24 hours a day. Last month, the council pledged $1,000 to support a bus service that operates in the Big Horn Basin.

Some citizens of Powell never will have to worry about needing public transportation, but for those who do, the council's support of these services is a step in the right direction.