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Last week's announcement that the University of Wyoming doesn't plan to increase resident tuition for the upcoming academic year was good news to many Wyoming families.

UW currently is ranked in the top 1 percent of public institutions in terms of affordability of resident tuition — university officials should be commended for recognizing the importance of keeping tuition low.

With only one four-year college in the state, it's important that the school be accessible to the state's residents — and that a college education continue to be attainable. Low tuition, combined with the Hathaway Scholarship program, has made the dream of higher education a reality for an increasing number of Wyoming high school graduates.

The university's commitment to affordable education is paying off in higher enrollment numbers. In fact, this year's freshman class at UW is the largest ever — with more in-state students than usual, despite decreasing high-school enrollment numbers statewide.

State leaders' theory is that educating Wyoming students in Wyoming will pay off when graduates remain and build a life in Wyoming. During an economic time when the budgets of nearly all Wyoming families are feeling serious stress, holding firm to the commitment of affordable college education for our graduates is the right move.

November 18, 2008 3:07 am

Early morning fire destroys garage

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Fire engulfs a garage early Wednesday morning in the alley behind Steve and Megan Nickles' home at 349 N. Douglas St. The garage was fully engulfed before firefighters arrived, and the cause of the fire has not been determined. Photo courtesy Megan Nickles

2,000 homes without power following fire

Early Wednesday morning, Powell Volunteer Fire Department firefighters responded to a blazing garage in the alley behind Steve and Megan Nickles' home at 349 N. Douglas St.

The garage was fully engulfed before firefighters arrived, said Powell Fire Chief Joey Darrah.

Just when Yellowstone's winter 2009 plans appeared set, a new court decision has muddied the waters.

In September, a District of Columbia judge scuttled Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks' long-term plans for winter use. Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled the parks' plans to allow 540 snowmobiles a day in Yellowstone and 65 in Grand Teton were not backed by science.

Police still searching for handgun

A Powell man has been charged with attempt to cause injury to another using a deadly weapon after he threatened another Powell man and then fired his handgun into the ground early Saturday night.

There apparently was bad blood between the two men and it boiled over, resulting in one shot being fired into the street, Sgt. Alan Kent of the Powell Police Department said Saturday.

According to a Park County Circuit Court affidavit, Franklin Lee Miller, 57, of Powell had an argument with Christopher Downey outside Downey's home on South Clark Street at around 5 p.m. Saturday. Miller pointed the gun at Downey's head, then pointed it at the ground and fired his weapon. The bullet ricocheted off the asphalt and struck Downey.

November 13, 2008 3:16 am

Panthers fall to Douglas

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Powell High School quarterback Galen Mills (21) eludes Bearcat defender Pierre Etchemendy during last Saturday's matchup in Douglas. The Bearcats won the double-overtime contest by a final score of 28-27. Brendan Burnett-Kurie/Douglas Budget

Heart-breaking loss in double-overtim contest

The Powell High School Panthers saw their season come to a dramatic close Saturday with a 28-27, double-overtime loss to the Douglas Bearcats in the semifinal round of the Class 4A football playoffs.

Douglas running back Cody Bohlander provided the winning margin with a successful two-point conversion run at the end of the second overtime. Bohlander's game-winning conversion jaunt was set up by a Panther penalty on the extra-point attempt following his 3-yard touchdown run that left Douglas behind 27-26.

November 13, 2008 3:11 am

Trapper wrestling season begins

Harris among NWC top placers

A trio of Northwest College wrestlers notched placing efforts as the Trappers officially kicked off the 2008-09 season waith the annual NWC Open last Saturday at Hank Cabre Gymnasium in Powell.

Leading the charge for the Trappers was freshman and heavyweight entry Landon Harris, who cruised to a 4-0 record during the event. Harris opened with decisions over the University of Great Falls' Garrett Johnson and Matt Schnittgen. He then pinned Evan Mattingly, an unattached wrestler from Montana State University-Northern, and defeated UGF's Brad Fraser by an 11-5 score in the championship bout.

Others placing for the Trappers were freshmen Saul Guerrero (133) and Mak Jones (197). Guerrero went 2-1 Saturday. His first victory, an 11-2 major decision, came against DJ Skelton, an unattached wrestler from MSU-Northern. He followed with a 6-0 decision over another unattached wrestler, UGF's Ryan Leonard, to earn a spot in the title bout against MSU-Northern's Colt Hager. Hager defeated Guerrero 4-3 to claim the title at 133.

Jones, a 2008 graduate of Powell High School, began his Trapper wrestling career in style by finishing fourth in the 197-pound weight class. In his first bout of the day, Jones claimed a 12-4 victory over Western Wyoming Community College's Mike Malone. He followed with a 6-2 decision over UGF's Will Wine before suffering an 8-3 loss to the University of Wyoming's Alfonso Hernandez. Hernandez went on to win the weight class.

Jones, following his first loss, defeated UGF's Jimmy Martin 8-1. That set up a bout for third place with UGF's Scott Lucas, and Lucas escaped with an 8-6 decision.

“Those guys who placed wrestled really well,” said NWC head coach Jim Zeigler. “As a team, I think the guys did a good job Saturday, particularly after their first matches. We've got a lot of young guys, but once they got past those first matches, they settled in and did a solid job. It was a good way for us to start the season.”

Zeigler also said McCade Ford (141), Corey Woodruff (157) and Luis Carranza (133) enjoyed solid performances and each came one bout short of placing.

Also among the highlights of the tournament was the participation of the University of Wyoming's squad. The majority of the Cowboys' team made the trip to Powell, and UW walked away with seven champions, four runner-up spots, three third-place finishers and two fourth-place efforts during Mark Branch's debut as head coach.

“It was a busy day and the guys wrestled a lot of matches,” Branch said. “That is what we wanted. It was good for us as a coaching staff to evaluate, and it was good for the guys to get a feel for where they are at.

“Overall I was pleased. Our team actually matched up against each other quite a bit and there were a lot of good things out there, but there are also plenty of things we need to improve on.”

Among UW's first-place finishers was senior Eric Coxbill at 165. Coxbill, a former NWC wrestler from Wright, is in his second season with the Cowboys. Last year he led UW in victories with 26 and finished second in the West Regional Tournament.

“It was a big deal for them to be here,” Zeigler said. “They brought quite a few fans. In fact, we had a lot more visiting fans than we've ever had for this tournament. We had a big crowd all day long, and we got a lot of support from the wrestling community here in Powell.”

Though an attendance count was not made Saturday, Zeigler said this year's NWC Open clearly was a record-setter.

“The turnout for this one was far better than anything we've seen before,” Zeigler said. “With UW taking part in it, it was almost like we had two home teams, and that really helped us bring in more people.”

• Up next: The Trappers will be in action again tonight (Thursday) at Hank Cabre Gymnasium against MSU-Northern. Start time for the event is slated for 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Trappers will be in Laramie for UW's Cowboy Open.

End of the road

The Northwest College Lady Trappers had their volleyball season come to a disappointing end at the hands of Casper College Saturday night at the Region IX North Tournament in Cheyenne.

Top-seeded NWC (41-10) cruised into the championship round of the four-day tournament by claiming consecutive match victories against eighth-seeded Miles Community College, fourth-seeded Western Wyoming Community College (25-17, 25-13, 25-16) and second-seeded Casper College (25-23, 25-21, 25-23).

NWC's third victory, the decision over Casper on day three of the event, came during the tournament's semifinal round. Casper, after the loss to the Lady Trappers, rebounded with a victory against Western Wyoming (25-21, 21-25, 18-25, 25-22, 15-12) during the 2 p.m. match Saturday. That decision landed the Thunderbirds in a rematch with the Lady Trappers in the championship game. Because NWC was undefeated entering the title tilt, Casper also faced the prospect of having to win back-to-back matches against head coach Flavia Siqueira's team Saturday. Casper did exactly that, forcing the Lady Trappers to settle for the title of tournament runner-up.

The Thunderbirds defeated NWC 3-1 (25-17, 25-21, 21-25, 25-18) in the championship round at 4 p.m. and forced a tournament-deciding second title game. The outcome of that contest, which was played 10 minutes after the conclusion of the initial title matchup, was reminiscent of the previous one. Casper again emerged victorious in four sets (23-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-22), giving them three victories in a marathon span of just more than six straight hours.

“You have to credit Casper for what they did Saturday,” Siqueira said. “They played three matches in one day and won them all. I thought we played well against them, and the girls fought hard. There were just too many times throughout both matches where we couldn't get the points we needed.”

During the final match of the tournament, NWC got a number of standout performances from players in the lineup, including Carol Martin (48 assists, 30 digs), Katie Gregg (17 kills, eight blocks), Thabata Galvao (11 kills, 26 digs) and Kayla Propes (six blocks, seven kills). However, those efforts, along with those of the others on the team, weren't enough to prevent Casper for earning a second national tournament berth in as many years.

“It's really hard because we beat Casper in three on Friday,” Siqueira said. “When we got into the championship match, I think some of our kids didn't know what to expect. I thought we were in a good position to win it. We had it in our hands, but we weren't able to finish it like we wanted. That was very disappointing, but it should be good motivation for my players who are coming back next year.”

The Lady Trappers, a team that entered last year's Region IX North Tournament as bottom seed, opened this year's event with a first-round bye and crushed Miles Community College in three sets (25-21-25-14, 25-13) on day two. During that noon match last Thursday, NWC's leaders included Galvao, who finished with 11 kills and zero errors, and Martin, who had six kills, 32 assists and 18 digs. Irelis Avendano and Gregg added seven kills each.

Also on Thursday and during the 8 p.m. match, the Lady Trappers made quick work of Western Wyoming by sweeping the Mustangs in three sets — 25-17, 25-13, 25-16.

“It was for sure one of our best matches in the entire season,” Siqueira said.

Siqueira credited a number of players who recorded standout efforts, including sophomore and team captain Maddie Peterson. She finished with 13 kills and 15 digs. Other leaders were Gregg (11 kills), Avendano (nine kills), Galvao (eight kills) and Martin (three kills, 21 digs, 33 assists). Libero Marisa Shigetomi enjoyed a solid match as well, finishing with 18 perfect passes.

As a team, the Lady Trappers finished with seven assisted blocks and four solos.

During Friday's semifinal matchup against Casper College, NWC again played like a team destined for the national tournament by sweeping the Thunderbirds in three sets — 25-23, 25-21, 25-23.

“The main key for us has been team chemistry,” Siqueira said. “We definitely played as a team of 13 against Casper and everything we did — right or wrong, good or bad — we did as a team. My non-starters were focused and into the game as much as the six players on the court.”

Casper, in its attempt to neutralize the strong hitting of Galvao during the match, left other openings in their defense for the Lady Trappers to attack, which translated into 14 kills each for Peterson and Avendano. Angela Schuman added 12 kills and 15 digs.

Martin contributed with 16 digs, 40 assists and three kills, and Shigetomi had 19 perfect passes and 16 digs, according to Siqueira.

Following the tournament, a number of NWC players were selected for postseason honors. Martin and Galvao, both sophomores from Brazil, were named to the all-tournament and all-region teams. Peterson also earned a spot on the all-region squad.

As for the Thunderbirds, they earned the right to advance to Council Bluffs, Iowa — the site of this year's national tournament. That season-ending event is scheduled to begin Nov. 20.

November 13, 2008 2:55 am

Comment on BLM land use today

Every so often at a public meeting, enraged residents come to complain about a project occurring in their backyard — be it drilling, building or some other unwanted alteration. Many times, the drilling or construction company has followed necessary laws for the project, leaving public officials powerless to legally change anything.

In such cases, the adage, “better late than never,” is obsolete.

What matters is early comment — before plans are approved to alter a beloved landscape.

Residents have that chance today.

During a Bureau of Land Management open house event from 3-8 p.m. today (Thursday), residents are asked to weigh in on the future of roughly 3.2 million acres of federal land in the Big Horn Basin and 4.2 million acres of mineral estate.

The meeting takes place in the conference room of Americas Best Value Inn on Second Street in Powell.

The public is encouraged to comment and ask questions about the BLM resource-management plan, which will guide the use of federal land for the next 15-20 years.

The policy will affect the land residents use for hunting, grazing and four-wheeling. Access to these millions of acres of land will be considered in the policy, so folks who plan to use the land to hunt, graze cattle or drive ATVs need to voice their concerns to the BLM.

Comments will help identify issues and alternatives for the bureau to consider, but a BLM official said it's not a matter of counting votes for or against land use.

If you can't attend the meeting, comments may be submitted until Nov. 17 by mailing P.O. Box 119, Worland WY 82401-0119, e-mailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or calling 307-347-5171.

Take the opportunity to comment today — before it's too late.

November 13, 2008 2:52 am

Mary Veland

Funeral services for Mary Veland, 85, of Ellendale, N.D., will be at 10:30 a.m., Friday, Nov. 14, at Zion Lutheran Church in Ellendale. She died Monday, Nov. 10.

Survivors include one daughter-in-law, Joyce Veland of Powell. Her son, Rev. Larry A. Veland preceded her in death.

Memorials may be made to Zion Lutheran Church, 121 2nd St. S., Ellendale, ND 58436.

Condolences may be sent to www.carlsenfh.com. Carlsen Funeral Home in Ellendale is in charge of arrangements.

November 13, 2008 2:51 am

Leona Woehl Lord

(Feb. 26, 1917 - Nov. 4, 2008)

Leona Woehl Lord, Powell, died Tuesday, Nov. 4 after a short hospital stay.

She was preceded in death by her first husband, Harry J. Woehl, in Chicago, Ill., and her second husband, Ted B. Lord, of Powell; her mother, Martha Shumanski of Chicago, Ill., her father, Joseph Battaglia, who was born in Palermo, Sicily (Itay); and her brothers Charles, Frank, and Joseph Battaglia, all of Chicago, Ill.

She is survived by her only son, James P. Woehl, three grandchildren, Joy Powers of Atlanta, Ga., James H. Woehl of Tucson, Ariz., and Juliana Guzman of Powell; and four great-grandchildren.

Leona's confirmation verse of John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life," gives comfort.

A memorial services will be held at Memory Gardens Cemetery in Arlington Heights, Ill., at a later date.

Thompson Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements.