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January 15, 2009 3:18 am

Gilbert M. McKinney

(Dec. 28, 1927 - Jan. 12, 2009)

Gilbert M. McKinney, of Casper, died Monday, Jan. 12, of congestive heart failure. He was 81.

He was born Dec. 28, 1927, in Casper, the son of Charles and Marie (Peterson) McKinney. He attended school in Casper, graduating from NCHS. He married Cheri Aarestad in Casper on June 24, 1985.

Gilbert was a materials coordinator for Texaco for 35 years. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and boating and was a member of the Casper Boat Club.

Survivors include his wife Cheri of Casper; son Dale McKinney of Littleton, Colo.; daughters Rita (Dave) Row of Littleton, Colo.; Glenda (Curtis) Cote of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; sister Helen (Al) Bunning of Roseville, Calif.; and numerous grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Charles E. McKinney and nephew Richard McKinney.
Services will be held at a later date. Cremation has been held under the direction of Bustard's Funeral Home of Casper.

The number of DUI arrests in Wyoming continues to rise each year. It seems current Wyoming laws, coupled with other preventative measures, still aren't strong enough to dissuade people from driving drunk.

According to a recent Associated Press story, 1,400 people were arrested by the Wyoming Highway Patrol for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2008 — up from 1,000 in 2005. The number of local arrests increased in recent years as well.

A spokesman for the Wyoming Highway Patrol attributes the increase to Wyoming's growing population — and, in the same AP story, the chief of police in Cheyenne (where there was a 46 percent increase in DUI arrests last year) said he thinks the increase occurred because he has more officers on duty on weekend nights. Powell Police Chief Tim Feathers attributes the increase to a greater emphasis on DUI arrests — prompted by state reports, beginning in 2005, that show drunk driving continues to be a major problem in Wyoming.

Whatever the reason, the goal of decreasing the number of drunk drivers on the road simply isn't happening.

House Bill 115, which will be considered in this session of the Wyoming Legislature, would increase DUI penalties across the board — particularly for repeat offenders. Chief Feathers said that's an area of particular concern.

According to Feathers, 35-40 percent of DUI arrests in Park County are what he calls “hard-core drunk drivers” — those with a blood-alcohol content above .15 percent (twice the legal limit or more) and drivers being arrested on a second or subsequent offense.

Other approaches — public awareness, increased law enforcement, public transportation — can only go so far. It's time for our legislators to consider another tactic. If increased penalties for DUIs kept even a few drunks from driving, Wyoming's roads would be safer for everyone.

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An icy avalanche buried snowmobiler Ryan Berchtold, very nearly taking his life, on New Year's Day. The next day, Berchtold stood in the hole his friends dug to rescue him. Courtesy photo by Tim Metzler

When an avalanche buried and suffocated Ryan Berchtold of Powell at Togwotee Pass on New Year's Day, three friends came to his rescue.

Josh Lovelady, Tim Metzler and Darren Thomas, all of Powell, dug Berchtold out of the snow and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), delivering him from sure death.

In case you didn't hear, you were supposed to evacuate your home during the recent swarm of earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park.

That was according to a self-dubbed expert who now may face criminal charges for his suspect predictions of doom.

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To assist in construction costs at the Buck Springs siphon inlet, Heart Mountain Irrigation District landowners will see a rate increase of $1.50 beginning this year. Tribune photo by Gib Mathers

Heart Mountain Irrigation District users will pay an average rate increase of $1.50 per acre beginning this spring to pay for replacing the Buck Springs Siphon inlet.

The average assessment was $21.50 per acre, and will increase to $23 per acre, said Dan Laursen, Heart Mountain District manager.

By now, the drive between Cody and Cheyenne is a familiar one for Colin Simpson.

But there was a difference when he made the familiar drive last week: He was on his way to perform his first duties as speaker of the Wyoming House of Representatives as he began his 11th year in the Legislature.

January 13, 2009 4:05 am

Lady Panthers keep rolling

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Powell High School's Leslie Thronburg (20) is fouled by Kemmerer's Kim Cattelan (24) during Friday night's matchup at PHS. Thronburg made the shot and earned a trip to the free-throw line on the play. Tribune photo by David Dickey

Squad runs record to 7-1 overall

For most basketball teams, a pair of 21-point victories would be a season highlight.

It seems more like a typical weekend for the Powell High School Lady Panthers.

Chad Oletzke, head coach of the women's basketball team at Northwest College, announced his resignation Monday. His resignation, according to a press release issued by NWC, is effective in mid-May at the end of the current academic year. The fifth-year coach said he resigned for personal reasons.

January 13, 2009 3:59 am

Panthers thump Thermopolis

Top-rated PHS wins 58-13

Powell High School's wrestling team, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, recorded a convincing, 58-13 victory over Thermopolis last Thursday night at THS. The Bobcats entered the dual meet ranked third in Class 2A.

“Thermopolis has a really good team, and I was pleased with the way we wrestled against them,” said PHS head coach Nate Urbach. “Going into it, I figured there would be four or five tight matches, and we won all of those. That was good to see.”

Top-ranked Ren Utter gave the Panthers a victory at 103 by pinning his opponent at the 1:54 mark.

At 112, Olie Olson lived up to his No. 2 ranking when he registered one of the biggest victories of the night. His win came during a triple-overtime matchup with top-ranked Josh Materi.

“That was a big win for Olie,” Urbach said. “Materi is an old nemesis for him, and it was exciting to see him get the win in that one.”

PHS's Luke Wozney picked up a victory via forfeit at 119, and Colt Nix added to the Panthers' strong effort by posting a 13-0 victory over Cody Shinost at 125. Shinost boasted a No. 5 ranking.

A forfeit victory was claimed by PHS's Randy Andrews in the 130-pound weight class. At 135, Cory Eden also earned a forfeit victory.

Panther Auston Carter won his bout at 140 by pinning his opponent at the 3:16 mark, but PHS's Cole Kary suffered a 17-3 setback in his match Thursday.

In the bout for supremacy in the 152-pound weight class, PHS's Trevor Donarski, who carries a No. 1 ranking, scored an 8-3 decision against Josh Pounds. Pounds entered the bout with a No. 3 ranking.

Panther Cody Kalberer, who was behind by more than a half dozen points in his bout, avoided defeat by notching a pin at the 4:42 mark against second-ranked K.C. Lahoe. At 171, PHS's Monte Nickles pinned third-ranked Daniel Noskog in 3:20.

In the bouts at 189 and 215, Panthers Tyler Showalter and C.J. Simon suffered defeats. Showalter lost when he was pinned, and Simon lost a 5-2 decision against second-ranked Tanner Cornwell.

• Up next: The Panthers will be in action again Friday and Saturday when they take part in the Miles City (Mont.) Invitational. Wrestling is slated to begin at 10 a.m. both days.

Urbach said the tournament will not be as large as the recent Bozeman Invitational, but he is expecting many of the same teams from that event to attend the Montana-based event.

“It will be pretty similar to the tournament in Bozeman,” Urbach said. “There will be plenty of tough teams there, and it should be a lot of fun.”

January 13, 2009 3:58 am

Tomi J. Welsh

(Nov. 23, 1953 - Jan. 10, 2009)

Tomi J. Welsh died Saturday, Jan. 10 at West Shore Medical Center in Manistee, Mich. after a courageous battle with cancer. She was born Nov. 23, 1953, in Powell, the daughter of the late Dr. Jack and Rose (Norton) Stahn.

She graduated from Powell High School in 1972. Tomi then attended Sheridan College and received her degree in dental hygiene. Tomi met the love of her life, Michael L. Welsh in Sheridan, while they both were attending college, and they were married on Aug. 16, 1974, in Powell. After their marriage, they moved to Mt. Pleasant, Mich. so Michael could complete his degree at Central Michigan University. During that time, Tomi was employed as a dental hygienist. After Michael's graduation from college they settled in Manistee. During Tomi's professional career as a dental hygienist in the Manistee area, she was employed by Dr. Donald Miller for more than 20 years.

She was a member of the Manistee Golf and Country Club and had a great passion and love for the game of golf.

She also had a great love for horses, which began as a child in Wyoming and continued throughout her life. Her passion for horses was shared by her daughter, Casey. Tomi also enjoyed the solitude of reading, whenever she had the chance. For many years, she was the Manistee Catholic Central Girls Basketball statistician. She was a communicant of Guardian Angels Catholic Church of Manistee.

She is survived by her husband, Michael L. Welsh of Manistee; daughter Casey Welsh of Manistee; Casey's fiance, Matthew Brucker of Wadsworth, Ohio; son Kelly Welsh of Palm Springs, Calif.; brother and sister in-law, Jeff and Elvira Stahn of Gallup, N.M.; sisters Joni (John) Hazlitt of Arvada, Colo., Geri (Dan) Prell of Powell, and Marta (Dan) Conlon of Corona, Calif. and numerous nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents and sisters, Karen Anicito, Toni Wren and Teresa Stahn.

According to Tomi's wishes, cremation has taken place and a Mass from the Order of Christian Funerals will be celebrated Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 at 10 a.m. at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Manistee with Rev. James Bears officiating.

The family will receive friends at the church on Thursday morning, one hour before the funeral Mass. Those wishing to make an expression of sympathy are asked to consider memorials in Tomi's name for the Manistee Catholic Central Athletic Association or to the Manistee Humane Society — Homeward Bound Animal Shelter. The Herbert Funeral Home of Manistee is in charge of funeral arrangements.