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Tribune Staff

Once upon a time, The Sports Guy used to bemoan mid-summer. The period from mid-June until early August looked every bit as lonely as a late-night drive between, say, Lander and Rawlins.

So it is difficult to believe, as I sit here typing this column, that it will only be one month until I'll be attending pre-season practices, hurriedly typing up team previews and fall schedules and preparing to usher in another year of 20,000 miles on my car scurrying here and there to various sporting events.

In other words, I'd better get busy learning all the new offensive plays in the latest version of EA Sports College Football game, because my free time in August appears destined to be a tad smaller in size.

Actually, the local sports scene is already starting its buildup to the opening of fall practices. The Powell Pioneers just clinched another Northwest Conference title. Starting next week, fans will be able to take the short drive west to Cody to cheer the team on to a hopeful North Division tournament title and a spot in the state tournament field.

Little League and Babe Ruth teams will also be entering state tournament play in the not-so-distant future. Will any of those tournaments result in an extension of baseball into the month of August? Only time will tell.

Even if August doesn't contain any baseball on the agenda, it won't be much after the calendar rolls over that fans will start to get a taste for Northwest College athletics. If you want to get an early look at what your defending Region IX North champion Northwest College Trapper volleyball team looks like, circle Saturday, Aug. 7, on your calendar. The team will face off against a compilation of Northwest College alumni in an exhibition match.

One week later, Northwest College's inaugural soccer teams will trot onto a field in Billings for a pre-season scrimmage against Rocky Mountain College to officially usher in the sport's start on the NWC campus.

That same week, high school sports action —not practice, action —will get started with the Powell High School golf tournament. From that point on, we'll be on a multi-month thrill ride of non-stop sporting action for another school year.

So if you fancy yourself a sports fanatic, faithful reader (and obviously you do if you're reading this space), take the time to relax and enjoy the little bit of spare time that you have remaining. The calendar might read mid-July, but the summer swoon is almost over. In one month, we'll be hopping all over the place with another school year's worth of sports action.

"What I've got they used to call the blues; nothing is really wrong, feeling like I don't belong … Walking around, some kind of lonely clown … Rainy days and Monday always get me down.”

That '70s hit was sung by brother/sister duo, “The Carpenters.” What I've personally been feeling lately though, is not what they call the blues, and something really is wrong.

My computer dictionary describes depression as “…a persistent feeling of unhappiness and hopelessness,” listing symptoms like, “…dejection, poor concentration, lack of energy, inability to sleep, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.”

It's not like these feelings are total strangers; they've visited me every five years or so since I was 19. Like the Carpenter's second verse, “What I feel has come and gone before; no need to talk it out; we know what it's all about. Walking around, nothing to do but frown, rainy days and Mondays …”

My depression has nothing to do with the weather, but today's thunderstorms clapped an undeniable analogy.

When I took my dogs for a Sunday walk to the nearby canal, the sun was shining. But within half-hour, we were stumbling back up that muddy hill being pelted by chilling rain and threatened by thunder and lightning.

That's how the segue from wellness to depression seems. So warm and pleasant, it's difficult to imagine rain ever falling again. But suddenly there's instability in the air, dark clouds hovering low, howling winds, pouring rain and thunder rumbling dire warnings. The daily forecast is always, “Unseasonably cold, wet and dark,” with emergency storm warnings, “Seek refuge immediately and don't venture outside.”

The '70s song lyrics circling my mind lately is Terry Jacks' Seasons in the Sun: “Goodbye to you my trusted friend. We've known each other since we were 9 or 10. Together we climbed hills or trees, learned of love and ABCs, skinned our hearts and skinned our knees. Goodbye my friend it's hard to die, when all the birds are singing in the sky. Now that spring is in the air, pretty girls are everywhere, when you see them I'll be there … We had joy we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, but the hills that we climbed, were just seasons out of time…”

One of my most trusted boyhood friends is Lester Stephenson. Of all our Pennsylvania Conemaugh Township High '72 graduates, Les is undoubtedly the most financially successful. After owning restaurants and hotels all over the country, several years ago he moved back home and bought a local business. When I was visiting my dying Mom in April, we got together. I e-mailed Les last week, telling him that my “thoughts in knots” that began that week still remain without remedy.

Part of Les' thoughtful, empathetic reply was, “Yeah Doug, I think we all go thru some things you're experiencing.

Maybe it's our age or circumstances, old memories, missing lost loved ones, etc. I know your OCD probably intensifies it, but I believe this is kind of a crucial time in our lives. We're not young, we're not old, we've achieved some things, haven't achieved others, miss the guidance and steadiness of those we've lost. I don't know — I think it's a screwed up age to be!

“One of the reasons I moved back from Atlanta was because I was starting to feel lost. I was struggling with my faith, the way I felt about myself, priorities, etc. I needed to get back to something familiar…”

Once in the late '90s, I felt my regular Cody crew had disrespected me the previous day at the gym. Next day I arrived announcing, “You have killed the clown. The clown is dead!” I was half-jokingly threatening to not be the group jester any longer since my feelings had been hurt. It didn't last long though; a clown must perform.

These last few months, I've felt like the class clown inside me has literally been murdered and replaced by an insecure bully — a confused and frightened introvert.

My favorite song in 1971 ended with, “Now looking back over the years, and whatever else that appears; I remember I cried when my father died, never wishing to hide the tears. And at 65 years old, my mother God rest her soul — couldn't understand why the only man, she had ever loved had been taken, leaving her to start with a heart so badly broken…” “… And when she passed away, I cried and cried all dayyyy. Alone again… naturally.”

I cried the day Mom died this spring, just like I'm sure she cried all day when my sister Wanda died in '05 and sister Brenda died last year. Maybe too much death is what triggered this mystifying presence back into my life; who knows?

But until the clown inside me can be resurrected, I have warm memories of Mom, Dad, Wanda and Brenda — and great old song lyrics to walk me through this raging storm inside my head.

Take the money or keep autonomy?

The announcement that federal money — $400,000 to $700,000 annually — may be available to fund the Heart Mountain Volunteer Medical Clinic poses some difficult questions for the clinic board, as well as community members.

The clinic, with a second branch soon to open in Cody, has survived thus far through generous community support and volunteer efforts, but with limited hours one evening a week.

The federal money would enable the clinic to operate on a full-time, 40-hour-per-week basis, but with the strings and red tape that accompany federal community health programs. But the “free” in free clinic would cease to exist — instead the organization would see needy patients on a sliding-fee basis.

The next few months will require an exhaustive look into the pros and cons of the proposal. The Heart Mountain Volunteer Medical Clinic Board is divided on how it views the offer, but as Dr. Nick Morris, who along with his wife, Madelyn, founded the clinic, asked, “...the ethical dilemma is, if they're going to give someone $400,000 to see eight times the number of patients, shouldn't we consider it?”

Prior to the proposed meeting with federal Community Health Program representatives in October, donors, community members, volunteers and — just as importantly, the patients receiving services at the clinic — need to voice their opinions to the board about how the clinic can best serve low-income and uninsured people in Park County and surrounding areas.

A federal community health program would have more resources and reach more people — but is the current free clinic model the best choice, with the clinic drawing its strength from continued community support?

(July 27, 1973 - July 9, 2010)

Sarah Elizabeth (Wirth) Borrego, loving wife, mother, daughter and sister, died Friday, July 9, 2010, in Seattle, Wash. She had been a patient at the University of Washington Medical Center for the past month, where she was awaiting a double lung transplant. She had been suffering from a rare lung disease since February.

(Sept. 1, 1933 - July 8, 2010)

Ruth Catherine “Trina” Davis, of Shell, died July 8, 2010, at Billings Clinic Hospital in Billings.

(Dec. 27, 1920 - July 11, 2010)

Lydia Hill, 89, died Sunday, July 11, 2010, at Powell Valley Care Center.

(June 28, 1959 - July 12, 2010)

William J. “Bill” Mudd, 51, died July 12, 2010, at his home in Powell.

A memorial service for Marsha Fetzer will be at 10 a.m. Friday, July 23, at the Presbyterian Church.

Interment will follow at Crown Hill Cemetery.

{gallery}07_13_10/gillnetting{/gallery}

Aboard Freedom, Yellowstone National Park summer employees, Jake Boone, left, and Hannah Gundernan, right, prepare to unleash a gill net to capture unwanted lake trout in Yellowstone Lake. Mount Sheridan rises in the distance. Tribune photo by Gib Mathers

Extreme measures needed to save Yellowstone Lake native cutthroat trout

Since the mid 1990s, the National Park Service has endeavored to eliminate lake trout from Yellowstone Lake. But the race to save native cutthroat trout there could be lost unless the service adopts extreme measures, said a Trout Unlimited member.

Park Service personnel say they are working on it and will adopt tougher measures in the future.

Heart Mountain Volunteer Medical Clinic board mulls offer

Which is better for the Big Horn Basin community — a free clinic with community support and limited resources, or a government-funded clinic with far more resources, but accompanied by federal red tape?

That's a question Heart Mountain Volunteer Medical Clinic board members, and eventually the community, will have to wrestle with in the near future.

Page 486 of 514

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