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Tribune Staff

Plan on following the panthers? Be ready to drive.

The Wyoming High School Activities Association released football schedules for member institutions last week and Panther fans had best start humming the bars from Willie Nelson's classic. Like the country great, they, too, will be on the road again.

Similar to 2010, Powell High School will host Riverton in the first official game of the season. Week 2 will see Powell fans drive east over the Big Horn Mountains to Buffalo for a non-conference showdown with this year's 3A state runner-up.

The game also represents the shortest road trip of the 2011 season for the Panthers.

Week 3 sends the Panthers almost to Nebraska for a road game at Torrington. After returning home in Week 4 to open 3A West conference play against Jackson, the team climbs back aboard the bus for a road contest at Star Valley.

Back-to-back home games against Big Horn Basin opponents Worland (Week 6) and defending conference champion Cody (Week 7) set the stage for one final road trip as Powell closes out the regular season with a trek across South Pass to Green River in Week 8.

Depending on highway conditions and playoff games, the Panthers' new schedule features a minimum of 2,292 travel miles next season. The team will get relief the following year, however. For 2012, the schedule will feature the same opponents with only the home and away locations reversed.

The Panthers will add an unofficial Week 0 game to their schedule, similar to the games played against Miles City the last two seasons. School officials are attempting to ensure that game takes place at Powell in 2011.

Almost a year ago, I devoted this space to a discussion of how growing up around sports was impacting the development of my daughter, Sierra. Given recent events, it seems a good time to provide an update.

Now that Daddy's Little Girl has moved into the terrible two's, we're at that delightful stage of life where learning is taking place almost daily and communication is gradually becoming easier as her vocabulary develops. Of course, one of the most important building blocks to instill in a young mind is the ABC's.

As parents, we've tried a variety of methodologies to help her learn her letters. There's the tried and true singing. The equally tried and true alphabet blocks and kitchen refrigerator magnets. We've entrusted her little eyes and brain to Sesame Street, as well as some videos we happened to stumble across on, of all places, YouTube that she seemed to catch on to.

So I took it with great pride and a sense of achievement when she stood in the living room over a recent weekend, announcing to the world the letter G. This continued on and off throughout the day, puzzling both mom and dad regarding her fascination with the seventh letter of the alphabet.

Don't get me wrong. We were happy, but we were also confused as to why she was skipping over the first six letters, as well as bypassing some that, quite frankly, would seem to be a lot easier for a two-year-old brain to identify. I mean, let's face it, G looks a whole lot like C and Q. Certainly it isn't as unique as, say, the letters I or X or W.

As usual, it was mom's observation powers that finally cracked the mystery. Dad's first clue came when Sports Gal laughed and pointed to the Gatorade commercial playing on the television. Sure enough, further observation throughout the weekend showed that the wee one's lovefest with the letter G did, in fact, coincide with product breaks for the popular sports beverage.

Score one for a marketing executive somewhere.

This isn't the first time product placement has scored a point in the toddler's life. Pepsi's trademark blue and red logo became the “Pepsi ball” long before any other circular-shaped object — including a globe of the Earth —was anything more than just a ball.

As a 2-year old, Daddy's Little Girl has also reached an interactive stage. For some, this might mean waving and saying hello.

For the sports editor's kid, this means that she now feels the need to fist-bump and high-five everyone in sight. Call it a hunch, but I think watching starting lineups at Northwest College athletic events might have something to do with that one.

When she was younger, it used to be fun to lay on my back and bench press Daddy's Little Girl into the air while counting. After a while, she took over the counting process and it became a sort of educational opportunity for her. What could possibly be wrong with that?

I failed to project the dangers of this behavior into the future. She now weighs in the neighborhood of 30 pounds. She can also count to 20. Suddenly, daddy-daughter workouts are featuring a lot more repetitions with a lot more weight on the bar. Dad and mom aren't having as much fun as they once did.

Naturally, Sierra has decided that its her favorite game to play. I believe this proves, once and for all, that the “physical trainer” gene begins to exert dominance at age 2. Just another discovered danger of raising a child around a sports environment.

Once again my thoughts are in knots with lots of plots. They're a disjointed bunch but shouldn't be wasted, so without any further au jus, I offer more brain-droppings:

• For the life of me, I can't fathom why anyone would choose a plain Hershey's bar over Hershey's with Almonds. Why just have chocolate when one can have chocolate and nuts? Sure, conventional wisdom says “Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don't,” but I always feel like a nut. By the same token, it's hard to imagine choosing Mounds over Almond Joy, since Almond Joy's got nuts; Peter Paul's Mounds don't!

• Many of life's small annoyances anger me, but two in particular. No. 1: Cold water on my skin or my teeth when rinsing. I would caution any potential suitor, “Never, ever spray me with a hose, no matter how breezy and romantic it might seem at the time.”

No. 2: Forgetting my sunglasses, then having to drive west in the late afternoon with my dog-smudged truck windshield compounding the blinding glare. I know God made the sun and all, but I find its brightness quite annoying.

• Speaking of driving, I feel superior to no one, nor any sense of entitlement. Yet, I'm often irked that others are out driving the same time as me. “Why does this idiot behind me keep turning when I turn? Is he following me or what?” “Why would this moron be entering a drive-thru just seconds before I do? Who orders fast food in the middle of the afternoon, anyway?”

And someone deciding to turn left off Main Street just as I'm trying to enter left from a side street? Infuriating! I mutter, “Why aren't you losers at home or at work doing something productive instead of holding me up from something important? I missed Judge Judy yesterday, and now because of you, today's episode is in jeopardy.”

• Speaking of TV, I caught the end of a segment about a woman's dog that sniffed out her breast cancer in time to save her life.

Anyone who still doesn't get that dogs are heaven-sent, and animal abusers hell-bound, just hasn't been paying attention.

• Speaking of dogs, remember my little Trina that a carpenter backed over on 9/11 and broke her foot and coccyx? I twice canceled appointments to end her misery, once at the last second in tears. I'm giddy to report Trina is on the mend and happier than heck to be alive. Even though it was believed she'd always be incontinent, I left her out of the truck the other day and she sprinted into a grassy area, squatted down and squeezed one out just like old times. I was so dang proud, I just wanted to scoop it up to show all my friends.

• I fear that a middle-aged man's maturity level is in direct correlation to the value he puts on his hair. Sadly, I should probably be throwing water balloons from a roof with Justin Bieber.

Speaking of my hair, it has almost all grown back from that grotesque, “free” haircut I foolishly entrusted to my friend Phoebe, a photographer — NOT a barber. Once again, my hair is shaggy, unkempt and in my face. And I'm loving every minute of it.

• Sans helmet, Green Bay QB Aaron Rogers looks like Aaron Rogers. With a helmet, I'd swear it was Jerry Seinfeld behind the center. Against the Cowboys, I even thought I saw Kramer lined up at tight end.

Speaking of quarterbacks, listen up, Brett Favre: For the love of God and Vince Lombardi, stop acting injured after every unsuccessful play and whining about it all week. We get it: you're a tough, resilient legend who plays through pain. You're also sounding like the Quarterback Who Cried Wolf.

• I think “greatest thing since sliced bread” is an erroneous tribute. Heck, I think I could go on living even if I had to slice my own bread. I buy cheese in blocks and don't feel overly put-upon slicing it for a sandwich. Now, “greatest thing since instant replay” I could get behind. No matter how you slice it, many football games would be unjustly lost if not for instant replay. Pro refs make so many glaring errors that the replay breaks make for a long game, but still, it's brought a sense of fairness back to illegal sports wagering.

• The prediction of the world ending at the close of 2012 because of some Mayan calendar snafu brings me an odd comfort. Since I've been end-phobic for decades, it makes me think, “Whew; it's great to hear we've got two more good years left!”

Speaking of the end, that was it.

Many public schools around the nation are observing American Education Week this week, an observance dedicated to celebrating our nation's public school system.

America's public schools are currently under severe scrutiny and receiving a great deal of criticism. Unsatisfactory student achievement and high dropout rates are only two of the complaints being voiced about our schools.

This is nothing new, of course. Back in the 1950s, the nation was asking “Why Johnny Can't Read,” and around 1940, when the Greatest Generation was graduating, one study of college students lambasted America's schools for poorly educating that generation.

America's schools do, of course, have shortcomings, and every institution does. Those shortcomings need to be addressed, and educators are working hard to address them.

But it is important to remember that our public schools are a reflection of our society, and American culture doesn't always value or respect education. Politicians, for example, are fond of campaigning against the educated “elite” as being at odds with the common people.

Fortunately, the Powell community does value education, and the community demonstrates that value through the support it provides to the schools.

Active parent groups at the elementary level provide important support for younger students. The Powell Schools Foundation provides general support, and other organizations, such as the Powell Roundtable, Powell Music Boosters and FFA parents, boost specific programs. Businesses provide work experience and welcome students for job shadowing as well as donations to specific causes.

That support is vital, because it demonstrates to students that their community believes their education is important.

In the end, learning the importance of education may be the most important lesson students learn in school. Our world is changing, and it is impossible for the schools to totally prepare students for jobs and situations that no one has even envisioned yet.

What is possible is to instill in those students a belief in themselves and their ability to learn, and to provide them with the tools to re-educate themselves when that unforeseen future arrives and makes it necessary.

That's the real business of schools, and they require community support of education to make it happen. The Powell community does provide such support, and Powell people are to be commended for it.

(July 2, 1943 – Nov. 14, 2010)

Kenneth Ray Bullinger, a lifetime resident of the Otto area, died peacefully at his home late Sunday night, Nov. 14, 2010. He was 67.


Young Eli Clavadetscher of Lovell stands on a platform over a flume outside the Western Sugar Co. factory in Lovell Friday as he watches a dump truck prepare to dump its load of sugar beets into the flume. From there, water washes the beets as it rushes them through a chute into the factory, dropping rocks out of the chute along the way. Tribune photo by Ilene Olson

In a process that began at the Lovell sugar factory nearly 100 years ago, sugar beets grown in the Big Horn Basin are sliced, heated and treated to extract and refine one of the beets' approximately 2,000 chemicals: sugar.

While the process remains virtually the same, it has been automated and modernized, making it possible to process much more sugar in a day, said Rich Olson, chemist at the factory.


With the 2010 sugar beet harvest in the books, yields are up slightly over last year and sugar content is about average.

Ric Rodriguez, a Heart Mountain sugar beet grower who is a member of the Western Sugar Cooperative board of directors, said the Lovell factory harvest averaged 26.83 tons per acre with a sugar content averaging 17.34 percent.

Implementing health savings accounts

With funds again running short, the Park County Commission plans to put an additional $145,000 or so into the county's health insurance plan this fiscal year.

Effective Jan. 1, the county will begin paying $201,448 per month into its self-insured plan — a 15 percent increase from the $177,274 it had been paying for monthly employee premiums.


Northwest College sophomore Jesse Hillhouse took the mat for the first time this season last Wednesday, giving the Trappers a win to start their dual against Montana State University-Northern. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

The eighth-ranked Northwest College wrestling team flexed its muscle in the upper weight divisions over the weekend, crowning three champions in the amateur brackets of the UW Cowboy Open. Freshman Keithen Cast (174) and sophomores Nick Petersen (184) and Sears Tiernan (285) each went 4-0 on the day.

“All three of our champions wrestled well,” said NWC wrestling coach Jim Zeigler. “I saw a lot of improvement just over the course of this past week from where we were at our home open event.”

Wins over Butte, Billings vault team to third

The calendar read November, but the play on the ice was more indicative of February or March as the Yellowstone Quake finally broke through against the Billings Bulls with a 2-1 victory at Riley Arena on Friday night. The Quake also scored a 13-3 win at Butte over the weekend.

“The win (over Billings) was a big one for us,” said Quake coach Craig Furstenau, who watched the game from the stands while serving a one-game suspension after being ejected late in a shoot-out loss at Billings the previous Sunday. “The guys played well and kept creating opportunities.”

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