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Tribune Staff

Reconsider the I-80 toll

Earlier this month, a Wyoming roadway was closed partially after its pavement deteriorated so quickly that it necessitated emergency repairs.

Though the deteriorating pavement — on a section of Interstate 80 between Rawlins and Laramie — is far removed from Powell's road system, highways in our area may soon face similar plights.

With worsening highway conditions statewide, Wyoming Department of Transportation crews are struggling to keep up.

“The bottom line is that state roadways are deteriorating at a faster rate than we have the ability to fix based on current revenue,” said WYDOT District Engineer Jay Gould, in a recent press release.

He cautioned that Wyoming residents will see more situations where roads are closed for emergency repairs, especially on heavily-traveled interstates.

More than 6,800 miles of roadways wind through Wyoming. Each stretch requires regular maintenance, but funding for upkeep is scarce. In the last budget session, the Legislature reduced the department's money for highway construction by $150 million from the previous biennium.

Those funding woes are compounded by the expiration of the Federal Aid Highway Program in September 2009. Federal highway funding currently is being distributed under continuing resolutions, which limit the department's ability to do long-term planning.

Wyoming's current situation — dwindling budgets and deteriorating roadways — signals the need for a new approach to fund highway maintenance.

State leaders should reconsider a toll for I-80.

The frequented interstate sees around 13,000 vehicles daily, with heavy trucks accounting for half of that traffic. The wear and tear of a single heavy truck is equivalent to that of 400 cars, according to WYDOT.

Over the next 30 years, maintenance for Wyoming's 400 mile-stretch of I-80 is estimated to cost $6.4 billion. Yes, that's a staggering figure — in fact, it exceeds the total of revenue projected to be available for maintaining Wyoming's entire highway system, according to an I-80 tolling study.

Though the recent tolling study conveyed the steep costs Wyoming faces in maintaining I-80, state legislators voted against the tolling concept earlier this year. The tolling issue may remain dormant for now, but the cost of fixing deteriorating highways certainly is not.

State legislators, and Wyoming's next governor, must consider how to keep the state's roadways safe and well maintained — even if it means imposing a toll for I-80.

(Feb. 26, 1955 - July 17, 2010)

Duane Allen Taylor, 55, died Saturday, July 17, at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Graveside services for Sandra D. Folkerts of Billings will be at 11 a.m. Friday, July 30, at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Billings.

Marjorie E Diehl, 91, died July 25, 2010, at Powell Valley Care Center. Services are pending, and a full obituary will follow in the Thursday Powell Tribune.

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A gangling grizzly bear nicknamed “Circus Bear” runs along Mary Bay in Yellowstone National Park last week. The bear got his nickname for his unusual features — long, funny ears, a skinny body, extra long legs and hair missing around his eyes, said photographer Neale Blank, who took this photo from about 50 yards away. His features “aren't characteristic of a grizzly.” Circus Bear is about 10-12 years old and frequently roams the area around Mary Bay, Blank said. Courtesy photo/Neale Blank

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Pine beetles plague ‘important' tree species

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider listing the beetle-embattled whitebark pine as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, thanks to a December 2008 Natural Resources Defense Council petition.

But that does not mean listing is a slam dunk.

West Park Hospital is encouraging Powell residents to learn more about its modernization project at a pair of meetings in coming weeks.

On July 28 and Aug. 3, West Park staff and elected trustees will present information and answer questions about proposed upgrades to the Cody hospital. Both upcoming presentations will be held in Fagerberg Room 70 at Northwest College. The presentation on the 28th is scheduled from 3-5 p.m., while the presentation on the 3rd is slated for 5:30-7 p.m.

Antique hunters with the television program “American Pickers” are scouting out the Powell region and may soon scour local yards, garages, sheds and barns for unique treasures.

“People may think it's just junk, but these guys know what they're looking for,” said Gina Vogel with the Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce.

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Sheridan's Skyler Holwell delivers a pitch to home plate in the opening game of the 2010 Wyoming Babe Ruth state championship tournament. The event runs through Saturday afternoon in Powell. Tribune photo by Kara Bacon

Powell all-star team hopes to defend title

In the end, there can be only one.

Eight 15-year-old Babe Ruth baseball teams descended upon Powell on Wednesday to begin state tournament play. The competition will run through Saturday afternoon, with the winner earning a spot in the Pacific Northwest regional tournament, to be played later this summer in Klamath Falls, Ore.

Defending district champs eye repeat

Throw strikes. Play solid defense. Wait for the big inning.

On paper, Powell's strategy for the start of the American Legion baseball post-season seems fairly straight-forward. The defending 2009 Class A state champions will begin pursuit of their title defense at 1 p.m. on Thursday when they face the Sheridan Troopers in their North District tournament opener in Cody.

Page 477 of 508

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