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Tribune Staff

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.

{gallery}11_16_10/beetfactory{/gallery}

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.

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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.

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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.”

The Northwest College Trappers slid to 2-3 overall this women's basketball season after a pair of weekend defeats at the Snow College tournament in Utah. The Trappers lost 96-72 to Salt Lake on Friday night before falling 84-71 to the host team on Saturday.

In both cases, the Trappers were the victims of some stellar individual performances.

On Friday, it was All-American Haley Holmstead doing the damage for Salt Lake against the Trappers. Holmstead finished with 44 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals to spark a 60-percent shooting night from the floor for SLCC.

“It's not hard to score that many points when you're shooting nothing but layups and free throws,” said Trapper head coach Janis Beal, who was less than impressed by her team's defensive effort in the contest.

“When a team is shooting 60 percent on defense, you're not getting stops. In the first half especially, I thought we went away from everything we've been trying to do on defense. The intensity just wasn't there, especially in rebounding.”

The Trappers were out-boarded by a 41-21 count in the contest. Salt Lake did the bulk of its damage in the first half, building a 53-31 lead on the scoreboard by intermission.

Four Trappers reached double figures in the loss, led by Megan Goodman's 15 points. Megan Smith added 14 points and a team-high three steals. Taylor Ryan had 12 points and a team-best six rebounds while McKenzie Garrett reached double figures with 11 points.

On Saturday, Snow's Alle Finch had the hot hand against the Trappers, dropping in 30 points and also dishing out seven assists.

“I thought we played better in Saturday's game,” said Beal. “We were down just six at halftime and after they made a bit of a run on us in the second half to go ahead by double digits, we were able to fight back to within five at one point before they hit a couple outside shots on us.”

Smith's 14 points led Northwest in the contest. Garrett and Jessica Fisher each added 11 points. Lusina Ontineru pulled down seven rebounds as Northwest was able to hold its own on the rebounding glass in the contest.

“Our effort was a lot better,” said Beal. “I was pleased with how we put Friday night behind us and came out and played better.”

The Trappers return to action this Saturday in a 5:30 p.m. contest against the Northwest All-Stars. The game is part of the First National Bank Shoot Out tournament hosted by NWC.

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, area farmers were counting their losses after an early October freeze devastated the sugar beet crop.

This year, those farmers are thankful for a successful harvest as beets are safely out of the ground, piled, dusted with a fresh snow and awaiting processing.

The harvest is ending on a good note, but it didn't start out that way.

In May, severe spring weather threatened the crop, forcing some farmers to replant.

On the heels of 2009's devastating year, it was a discouraging start. As one Heart Mountain farmer said last spring: “I hope it's not a preamble to the fall.”

Thankfully, the sour beginning didn't ruin what ended up to be a season of sweet success.

Though farmers can breathe a sigh of relief at the close of this harvest, the sugar beet industry remains in limbo. The future of sugar beet production is far from secure.

A federal judge issued an order in August halting the planting of Roundup Ready sugar beets until the U.S. Department of Agriculture completes an environmental impact study. For local farmers and those across America who have come to depend on Roundup Ready seed, the ruling could have significant, widespread impact.

However, a USDA plan announced recently may partially lift the ban on the genetically-modified seed, though it's unclear whether it will come in time for next year's beet crop.

If USDA's efforts are unsuccessful and the ban stands, its effect could be catastrophic. Park County ranks No. 1 in the state for sugar beet production, and the vast majority of those beets are of the Roundup Ready variety.

To completely halt its production could cripple the farming industry, and by extension, the local economy.

We hope Powell farmers can enjoy many more successful beet seasons in future years — but for now, that rests in the courts' hands.

Page 463 of 528

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