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Tribune Staff

February 26, 2009 3:02 am

Powell ready for WyoLink

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Zack Thorington checks equipment at the Powell Police Department recently. The entire dispatch system was updated and is ready for WyoLink, a statewide, wireless communications system. Thorington oversees information technology for the city of Powell and spent the last few years getting the system updated for WyoLink. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

System will allow statewide radio communication

Powell Police officers soon will be able to communicate with law enforcement officials around the state from their squad cars or portable radios. Powell is one of the first communities in Wyoming to be ready for WyoLink, a public-safety wireless communications system that will allow statewide radio communication, among other things.

Amount of discretionary funds estimated at $15 million

The stimulus bill recently passed by Congress contains money that may benefit Wyoming, but state officials warn that the money does not mean a windfall for state and local governments.

February 26, 2009 3:01 am

One step remains

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Colt Nix (top) was one of nine Panthers who claimed a first-place finish at last week's Class 3A West Regional Tournament in Cody. Nix, a sophomore, now is taking aim at a state title in the 125-pound weight class. Tribune photo by Don Amend

Panther wrestlers take aim at repeat title

The 2008-09 wrestling season will culminate this week at the Casper Events Center Friday and Saturday, and when it does, the Powell High School Panthers are hoping to add yet another state championship trophy to the display case at PHS.

February 26, 2009 3:00 am

Lady Trappers stun Sheridan

Ryan paces NWC with 23 points

An inspired Northwest College Lady Trapper basketball team defied history and registered a thrilling, 72-67 upset over Sheridan College Tuesday night at Hank Cabre Gymnasium in Powell.

Recent outcomes in the series between the two rivals pointed to a probable victory by the Lady Generals. However, NWC had other plans and registered its first decision over Sheridan since the 2004-05 season. Sheridan entered the contest with a 20-8 overall mark and a 7-0 record in North Sub-Region competition, which had already earned the Lady Generals a No. 1 seed in the upcoming Region IX Tournament in Scottsbluff, Neb.

NWC (10-18 overall, 4-4 North Sub-Region) raced to a 31-22 halftime advantage but lost the lead during the second half, thanks to a late surge by the Lady Generals. But unlike what has been the case in many of the Lady Trappers' games this season, head coach Chad Oletzke's team overcame their opponent's second-half run with a series of timely baskets and defensive stops.

“I'm just so proud of the girls,” Oletzke said. “They deserve all the credit for this one, and I'm happy they were able to get a win, especially considering the way they played. One of the things we've talked about is staying focused for 40 minutes. That means not letting a team get us all out of whack when they make a run at us when we've got a lead.

“We had a good lead at the half, and Sheridan came back and went ahead. But instead of the girls letting it get to them, they did what they had to do to get the win. They didn't do anything spectacular. They just went out and did what they are supposed to do — nothing more and nothing less. They stayed within themselves, and did a great job. It was a big win for us.”

After being in control for the majority of the contest, the Lady Trappers fell behind 55-54 at the 8:35 mark in the second half. That deficit quickly moved to three points with 8:06 remaining, but the Lady Trappers continued to keep Sheridan from pulling away.

Trailing 61-60 with just less than five minutes to play, Trapper sophomore Sheena Ryan hit a 2-point shot to put NWC back in the lead. Shortly after, Kati Oliverson connected on a 2-pointer from near the top of the key to extend the advantage to three points.

Sheridan answered and tied the game with a 3-pointer with 3:30 left in the game, but the deadlock was short lived as NWC's Larissa Crump hit a pair of free throws about 15 seconds later.

Not to be outdone, Sheridan's Tahnee Robinson, the nation's leading scorer, drilled a 3-pointer to help push the Lady Generals back in front, 67-66. That would be the final basket for Sheridan, however, as NWC closed the game with a 6-0 run. Erin Cooke scored the first of those six points with 1:48 on the clock. With just more than a minute remaining, Ryan hit a key 2-point basket to put NWC ahead by three points. Sheridan failed to keep pace and squandered its ensuing possession and NWC regained control of the ball. That forced the Lady Generals to opt for a quick foul to stop the clock, and resulted in Lady Trapper Gita Grava getting a trip to the free-throw line. Grava hit both foul shots with 13.3 seconds remaining and put NWC ahead by five points at 72-67. Her free throws proved to be the final points of the game.

“We got great leadership tonight from our sophomores,” Oletzke said. “I thought Erin (Cooke) played very well. We also got solid efforts from Sheena (Ryan), Gita (Grava) and Lacey (Gilmer). As leaders for us, they did exactly what they needed to do.”

Ryan, who plays point guard for the Lady Trappers, was the game's leading scorer with 23 points. She also handed out four assists. Grava added 16 points, eight rebounds and two steals. Others scoring for NWC were Cooke (9 points), Oliverson (9), Crump (6), Gilmer (4), Chanda Hallows (3) and Rachel Tilley (2). Cooke also grabbed seven rebounds and helped the Lady Trappers edge Sheridan 26-19 in that department.

As a team, NWC hit 28 of 51 shots (55 percent) from the field and posted an eight-of-11 mark from the free-throw line.

Sheridan's offense was paced by Kori Bingham's 20-point effort. Robinson, a former Lander High School standout, finished with 19 points, and Kendahl Avery tallied 12 points. The remainder of Sheridan's scoring output was handled by Pavlina Chudarkova, SirShawna Dowdy (5) and Mandy Mullock (2). Mullock also led her team with seven rebounds, and Robinson finished with a squad-leading five assists.

• Up next: The Lady Trappers have two more games remaining this week, and both will be played in Powell. On Friday at 5:30 p.m., NWC will host Eastern Wyoming College. On Saturday, Casper College will be in town for a 3 p.m. matchup with the Lady Trappers.

“This was a big win, and now we'll see how we use it,” Oletzke said. “We've got to play Friday and Saturday, so that will be a challenge. Hopefully, we can put together two games like the one we had tonight. If we can do that, we could really get some momentum in our favor heading into the region tournament.”

NJCAA Tourney gets underway Friday

Six Northwest College wrestlers will begin pursuit of potential title runs Friday in the two-day, NJCAA National Championships at the UCR Sports Center in Rochester, Minn.

This year's group of title young contenders from NWC includes just one sophomore — Anthony Varnell of Spokane, Wash. The remaining competitors from NWC are freshmen.

Varnell, this year's Apodaca Award winner, is no stranger to the NJCAA National Championships. Just last year in Rochester, he notched a sixth-place finish at 141 and earned the distinction of being an All-American.

This time around, Varnell will be competing in the 149-pound weight class. He will enter the national event ranked fourth and is coming off a runner-up finish at the West Central Zone Championships, which served as the qualifier for this week's national championships. At that event earlier this month, Varnell went 2-0 before enduring an injury default in the finals.

“Leading into the national championships, the guys are looking at Anthony like they always have — as a quiet leader who sets the tone by example,” said Jim Zeigler, NWC head coach and athletic director. “He wrestles tough and he wrestles hard all the time. Our guys are using that, and they are looking to (assistant coach) Cort Petersen and me to get an idea of what to expect this week when we get (to Rochester).”

Saul Guerrero of Ft. Lupton, Colo., and Landon Harris of Rexburg, Idaho, both are coming off championship efforts at the recent West Central Zone Championships. Despite being freshmen, they are expecting to challenge for national titles this week.

Guerrero's title run at the West Central Zone Championships 133 saw him record a 2-0 mark. He currently is unranked in the NJCAA's individual standings. Harris, who boasts a No. 3 national ranking, also went 2-0 en route to a first-place effort in the heavyweight division.

Joining Varnell as runner-ups at the West Central Zone Championships were first-year Trappers McCade Ford and Mak Jones. Ford, of Payson, Utah, currently is unranked at 141, and Jones, who is from Powell, will enter Rochester as the seventh-ranked wrestler at 197.

Briston Brenton earned his ticket to the NJCAA National Championships by virtue of a third-place effort at 157 in the West Central Zone Championships. He is currently unranked, but Zeigler said the freshman from Casper is wrestling well and looks ready to end the 2008-09 season on a strong note.

“This is a young group, but sometimes that can work to your advantage in a situation like this,” Zeigler said. “Because they don't know what to expect, sometimes a young group like this will go in and surprise you. It's a lofty goal, but I think we can go there and have six guys finish the week as All-Americans. If we can get all of them on the podium, we can even come away with a team trophy. For that to happen, we'll have to finish in the top six, but it's a possibility.”

As a team, the Trappers, ranked 10th nationally, finished third behind Colby Community College and Labette Community College at the qualifier for the national event. Those two teams figure to be among the favorites to challenge for a strong placement in the final standings this week, as will overwhelming favorite Iowa Central Community College.

Iowa Central finished the regular season as the top-ranked team in the NJCAA's team standings. Clackamas Community College and North Idaho College also are expected to be in the mix for the top spots.

According to the tournament schedule, wrestling action will begin at 10:30 a.m. (MT) Friday and continue throughout the day, with the championship quarterfinals beginning at 7:15 p.m.

Saturday's action is slated to begin at 11:30 a.m. The championship finals are set for 8 p.m.

Trapper fans can track the progress of the NWC wrestlers by visiting www.rochsports.org/2009njcaawrestling.php.

“Right now, I feel really good about where we are,” Zeigler said. “We're where we need to be, and now it's just a matter of going there and seeing what we can do on the mats.”

February 26, 2009 3:00 am

William (Bill) Clevenger

(Oct. 7, 1934 - Feb. 15, 2009)

William “Bill” Clevenger, 74, died of a brain aneurysm on Sunday, Feb. 15 in Eugene, Ore.

He was born Oct. 7, 1934 in Worland to Glenn K. and Ilene (Paxton) Clevenger.

He attended high school in Eugene. On Dec. 31, 1954, he married Norma Tryon in Worland.

Bill was in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War. He worked as a truck driver for Willamette Graystone.

He is survived by his wife, Norma; brother, Glenn Clevenger of Modesto, Calif.; sister Shirley Pardovich of Eugene; sons Glen, Springfield, Ore., William Jr. and Jim of Eugene; daughter, Linda Hogan of Eugene; 12 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren and relatives in the Powell area.

Memorial services will take place at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 28 at Grace Baptist Church in Eugene. Cremation has taken place. Allen Funeral Home in Mesa, Ariz. is in charge of the arrangements.

Memorial contributions can be sent to Grace Baptist Church at 4101 River Road, Eugene OR, 97404.

February 26, 2009 2:59 am

James (Jim) C. Rodgers

(Oct. 14, 1918 - Feb. 23, 2009)

James ‘Jim' C. Rodgers, 90, died Monday, Feb. 23 at West Park Long Term Care Center in Cody. He was born Oct. 14, 1918 in Bassett, Nebr., the son of James F. and Ella (Kops) Rodgers.

Jim was raised in Bassett and received his schooling there. He and his family came to Wyoming in the early 1930s, first to the Riverton area, where he worked on a ranch and later to the Casper area. He entered the U.S. Army on Nov. 12, 1942 and served in the European Theatre during World War II. Following his discharge in 1945, Jim worked in South Dakota until moving to Cody, where he was employed by Taggart Construction. He met Myrna J. Kaiser, who he married on May 31, 1951 in Riverton. Jim continued working for Taggart's until the company closed. He went to work for Graham and Hill Construction and finally was employed by the city of Cody until his retirement.

Jim enjoyed snowmobiling, hunting and the outdoors. He was a lifetime member of the Elks Lodge, Eagles Lodge and the VFW. Jim served as a faithful and longtime member of the VFW Honor Guard, which held a special place in his heart.

His survivors include his wife of more than 57 years, Myrna; his children and their spouses, David Rodgers of Cody, Larry and Joni Rodgers of Mesquite, Nev., Carol and Karl Butler of Cody, and Brian and Anna Rodgers of Powell; a brother, Calvin Rodgers of Shoshoni; seven grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by a daughter, Janet; his parents; and eight brothers and sisters.

Visitation will be from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26 at Ballard Funeral Home in Cody. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27 at Ballard Funeral Home with Jerry Lanchbury officiating. Interment will follow at Riverside Cemetery with the VFW Honor Guard presenting military honors at the graveside.

Memorial donations can be sent to the VFW Honor Guard, c/o Veterans of Foreign Wars, 808 12th St., Cody, WY 82414.

February 26, 2009 2:59 am

Alice Zlomke

Alice Zlomke, 85, formerly of Deaver, died Tuesday, Feb. 24 in Rapid City, S.D.

Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, March 2 at Immanuel Lutheran Church, and burial will follow at the Deaver Cemetery. Visitation will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 1 at Thompson Funeral Home and one hour prior to services.

A full obituary will follow in Tuesday's paper.

The worth and value of an education is rarely questioned. Its delivery, however, is often scrutinized.

At all levels of government, leaders are evaluating education policies, asking how to keep teens in high school and how to help students across the spectrum succeed.

As new education revisions are sought, the policies need to be creative, and lawmakers need to understand that more money can't be the only solution.

Wyoming knows from experience that simply putting more money into education doesn't automatically result in improvement. Despite funding education at a high level, students statewide continue to struggle.

Addressing the Legislature in January, Gov. Dave Freudenthal urged state lawmakers to look at the system and see whether the state is making the best investments for education.

“Wyoming ranks first or second in nearly all of (the) ratings in terms of the funding effort, and then it falls off,” Freudenthal said. “Whether it is test scores, matriculation or dropout rate, we are in a position where the only ‘A' we get on the report card is for funding.”

In his address to Congress and the nation Tuesday night, President Barack Obama encouraged parents to engage in their children's education. Schools may open the doors of opportunity, but it's up to parents to make sure children walk through them, he said.

“In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend those parent-teacher conferences, or help with homework after dinner, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child … responsibility for our children's education must begin at home,” Obama said.

With uncertain economic times, the value of an education is clear. We can hope that lawmakers and educators successfully reform the current system, but as Wyoming shows, it's not just in the funding. Education starts at home.

February 26, 2009 2:55 am

Legend honored

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Keith Bloom, known as Mr. Panther, had his No. 57 Powell High School basketball jersey retired during a Friday night ceremony at the new Panther gymnasium. The evening also recognized PHS greats Eddie Kawano, Dennis Havig and Jesseca Cross, who each had a banner unveiled in their honor in the new Hall of Fame Corner, an area of the gymnasium dedicated to athletic accomplishments. Tribune photo by David Dickey For full story CLICK HERE