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Tribune Staff

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Panther tennis player Jake Larson of Cowley works on his serve Wednesday morning after practice. The tennis team takes the court for its first dual on Aug. 27. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

NWC looks for encore after regional title, national appearance

The Northwest College Trapper volleyball program produced a 27-10 record, a regional championship and a national tournament appearance last season. That's nice, but for head coach Flavia Siqueira, that's also part of the past.

“New team, new year,” Siqueira said, one week out from her team's first games. “This team isn't like the team we had last season, but they have the potential to do the same sorts of things. They'll need to improve throughout the season.

Four letterwinners return

Four letterwinners, including three who appeared on the Panthers' roster at last year's state tournament, will step back onto the links for Powell High School. The Panther golfers will be the first team out of the chute when they open the fall sports calendar today (Thursday) with their home golf invitational.

It isn't quite like Superman and a telephone booth, but The Sports Guy has dashed through the revolving door and changed from baseball season to fall sports season. One of these years someone's going to qualify for a World Series and really make my month of August interesting.

And that's just fine by me.

Gazing into my crystal ball, I have to confess that I find the fall sports calendar on the local level to be extremely captivating.

Most years, you have a feel for how certain teams and certain players will do. This year, I find myself with more questions than answers — and there's nothng wrong with that.

Powell High School is coming off a strong two-year run on the volleyball court, but the time has come for a few new faces to rotate into the starting lineup and perform. Dynasties reload rather than rebuild, so I'm anxious to see what transpires inside the PHS gymnasium.

Last year's football season had to be one of the craziest gridiron seasons I've covered in all my years as a sports writer. After opening with a four-game win streak that saw the Panthers shoot as high as No. 2 in the state's football polls, Powell crashed back to earth during conference play.

Was that fade a statement of where the Panthers rank compared to the other members of the 3A West conference? Or was it courtesy of a mid-season rash of injuries combined with a widespread mugging at the hands of the state's swine flu outbreak, which by week 8 had left the team too depleted to run a scout team prior to the Lander game?

I don't know. But I do know that there's a lot of athleticism standing out on the Panthers' practice fields when I drive by.

The list could go on. The Panthers' tennis team is again blessed with an abundance of bodies. How will that translate to results once the meet scores start rolling it? Powell cross country has brought home four team trophies, including two state titles on the girls' side —will they do so again? Will the boys' team take its turn on the team podium?

How about Coach Hilde-brand's golfers, who were a close fifth last season at state? Who will be the first member of the Powell High School swim team to bring home a state medal to the new aquatic center?

At Northwest College, the story lines are equally interesting. Trapper volleyball got some national attention with a No. 25 ranking, but are also ranked behind the Casper and Laramie County teams they had to beat in order to reach the national tournament. They're also ranked well in back of the Temple College team they swept 3-0 at nationals last fall.

Can Coach Siqueira's crew go back-to-back with post-season appearances? If so, is that a sign that the balance of Region IX North volleyball power has officially wandered from Casper to Powell?

And how about those fledgling soccer programs at NWC? Traditionally, expansion seasons aren't always the prettiest of things to behold. But if you listen softly to some of the talk around town and look at the interesting collection of credentials held by some of the Trappers' first recruiting class, you can't help but wonder if this might not be the exception to that rule.

We've come full circle, faithful reader. We're back at the beginning. A new sports calendar is staring us in the face, so put on your school colors and cheer on the teams of your choice with pride.

Here we go again.

For the third time this year, a Powell landmark is going down.

This time it's the old swimming pool and auditorium which is, as they used to say in old Westerns, biting the dust. Its destruction follows close on the heels of the Westside Elementary, a much newer facility than the natatorium/auditorium, and the disappearance of the old Powell High School gym earlier this summer.

These last two demolition projects don't seem to have raised as much of an emotional response among Powellites as the old gym's death did. I suspect that's because, once the old gym's fate became inevitable, people simply resigned themselves to the fact that time goes on.

I suspect, though, that there were more than a few twinges of sadness felt around town by people who had experienced moments of success, even glory, in the pool or on the stage that are rapidly becoming history.

One former Panther swimmer voiced some of that sadness last week when I talked to him at the new pool. Even my daughter, who, as a swimmer for another school often expressed intense dislike — well, actually, hatred — for the old Powell pool, looked at the picture I had e-mailed her and remarked that it was “kind of sad” to see it go.

I have to admit that, even though I'm a relative newcomer to Powell, I have been sad to see the gym and now the pool and auditorium go. My son won a couple of wrestling victories that were significant to him in the old gym, and I'll never forget watching the pure joy exhibited by the Lady Panther volleyball players when they won the regional championship in that gym a couple of years ago.

As for the pool, despite my daughter's lack of success in the water in Powell, I enjoyed watching her compete there, and I've had a lot of fun watching Powell's swimmers since writing about them became my responsibility a few years ago.

Personally, I was never in the water in the old pool, nor did I ever compete in the old gym. Aside from being a spectator, my only participation in any athletic contests in Powell was as a member of officiating crews at a few football games, when we dressed in the old gym building.

The auditorium is a bit different though, because I actually did appear on that stage once, acting in a one-act play during what used to be called the District Speech Festival back about 50 years ago.

I don't remember the name of the play, but I played the part of a stuffy preacher, and at the play's climax, recited some lines from Tennyson. What stands out most in my mind is that I had the experience of wearing a clerical collar for the role, which I found very uncomfortable. Despite the discomfort, I always enjoyed performing, so I have good memories of that day.

Those personal connections to the old buildings, minor though they may be, are enough to cause a little regret when I see the auditorium being turned into rubble.

But I've had those feelings before. All three of the school buildings I attended in Worland are gone, and just a few years ago, the old Greybull High School building — where I spent three decades of my life working — was torn down. I was sorry to see all of them disappear.

Despite those feelings of regret, though, I am well aware of the shortcomings of those old buildings, and realize that they did have to be replaced. Buildings have a useful lifespan, and changes in our expectations of schools, educational practices and technology require changes in the way buildings are constructed and used.

Those changes have come gradually over the years, and sometimes we aren't even aware that they are taking place. The demolition of a building is a dramatic and obvious change, but, in fact, the changes that brought its destruction have already happened, some of them years in the past.

But change is also beneficial, and the new pool is no exception. I am looking forward to the Lady Panthers' first meet with Buffalo, because, for a photographer, the light in the new pool is much better, and, more importantly, more predictable. As a result, I'm hoping I can finally get a really good picture of a diver in action, something I never could do in the old pool.

It's sad to see the past disappear, but looking forward to the new is pretty exciting.

On Tuesday, local voters verified what has been said around the community for the past eight months: Powell doesn't want to pay for Cody's hospital.

West Park Hospital's proposed $14.2 million tax failed to garner Powell's support, with voters casting ballots decidedly against the measure.

Overall, voters countywide, including a majority of Cody voters, nixed the proposal with just 2,872 (32.3 percent) in favor of the specific purpose tax and 6,026 (67.7 percent) against it, according to unofficial results.

The tax measure's defeat does not mean the project is unnecessary. We believe West Park Hospital's needs are genuine and that its emergency room must be renovated to bring it to code and ensure patient privacy.

However, Tuesday's results do indicate that a countywide 1-cent, specific purpose tax is not the best way to address those renovation needs.

For starters, the project did not get off on the best foot. In January, West Park leaders first approached the Cody City Council with the proposal — and a $38.7 million price tag.

Though that amount was later reduced to $14.2 million, the initial shock of a nearly $40 million tax proposal lingered in many voters' minds, tainting some residents' perception of the overall modernization project.

Original proposals also combined the hospital tax proposal with $10 million for a landfill tax proposal already on the table, further muddling early impressions.

An ongoing qualm for many Powell voters was the fact that West Park Hospital has a tax district in place and could raise the funding through property taxes. If West Park leaders successfully pursued that route, only residents in the hospital's tax district would pay for it.

That appears to be the best Plan B now that the 1-cent tax has failed, but there may be other ways to fund the necessary renovations.

We hope that West Park finds a way to fund its modernization project and encourage its board to find creative ways to engage community members in a future funding proposal.

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Debris fills the shallow end of the old Powell High School swimming pool last week as demolition of the natatorium/auditorium began. The project is being carried out by Wyoming Demolition of Sheridan, which has 90 days to complete the project, according to Randy Warnke, foreman of the project. The Powell Lady Panthers began practice Monday in the new Powell Aquatic Center, which will host its first PHS home swim meet when Buffalo visits Powell on Aug. 28. Tribune photo by Don Amend

Don't let anyone tell you the primary election isn't important.

Many key 2010 races will shaped — if not determined — by today's (Tuesday's) primary election.

Sugar beet council vows to find way to continue to produce genetically modified crop

A federal judge has revoked the government's approval of genetically altered sugar beets until regulators complete a more thorough review of how the scientifically engineered crops affect other food.

The ruling issued Friday by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White means sugar beet growers won't be able to use the modified seeds after harvesting the Roundup Ready beets already planted on more than 1 million acres spanning 10 states from Michigan to Oregon, including Wyoming and Montana. All the seed comes from Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Facilitator to visit campus this week

Efforts to resolve conflicts at Northwest College are under way, with mediator Pam Fisher making her first visit to the campus on Wednesday and Thursday.

Fisher held a teleconference with a mediation task force on May 27, and contacts, interaction and preparation have continued since then, said NWC President Paul Prestwich.

Page 411 of 449

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