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Tribune Staff

A 20-year effort to protect land near Yellowstone National Park from mining was resolved recently, but Park County residents will experience the mine's lingering effects as cleanup begins.

Wyoming's scenic Chief Joseph Highway will be the route for trucks hauling at least 48,700 tons of mine tailings during summer 2011.

The contaminated waste must be removed from a defunct gold mine near Cooke City, Mont. — a site that ignited a firestorm of controversy in the 1990s after the mining company Noranda sought to mine gold just three miles outside of Yellowstone National Park.

Thankfully, its mining plans were foiled, and today the beloved national park is protected from large-scale mining development.

Unfortunately, thousands of tons of pollutants remain at the mine site near Cooke City and are at risk of seeping into Soda Butte Creek and eventually running into Yellowstone's waterways.

A cleanup effort spearheaded by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality calls for trucks to haul tons of the harmful mine tailings over Wyoming's Chief Joseph Highway.

As a public highway, the scenic route is open to commercial traffic — an unfortunate reality for motorists who will find themselves sharing the road with heavy trucks.

Though Montana's cleanup plan has been in the works for years, officials in Park County apparently were unaware of the project and didn't realize that the highway would be the route for trucks hauling toxic mine tailings.

With Wyoming responsible for maintaining the highway, it's unsettling that Wyoming Department of Transportation officials weren't informed of cleanup plans until after the project was sent out to bid.

Given the history of dispute over the mining project and use of the highway, it's also disappointing that there wasn't an open line of communication between Montana officials and those in Park County.

(April 22, 1938 – Jan. 30, 2010)

Delbert A. Brown, 71, of Lyndhurst, Ohio, died Jan. 30, 2010.

William E. Whittlesey, 62, June 17, 2010, at his home.

Finisher Clay Ward (at left) heats a portion of the monument “Good Ride Cowboy,” as sculptor D. Michael Thomas (in cowboy hat) applies patina to the statue outside Ward's Frannie shop. The life-and-a-half size statue of the late rodeo and country music star Chris LeDoux is being installed in LeDoux Memorial Park in Kaycee. Tribune photo by Carla Wensky

LeDoux memorial to be unveiled Saturday in Kaycee

All hands were on deck Monday evening at finisher Clay Ward's shop outside Frannie as a busy crew worked to put finishing touches on a massive bronze statue of the late country music star Chris LeDoux.

“Is the end in sight?” asked one.

But not as much as feared

Park County's total assessed valuation has dropped significantly from last year — though not as steeply as some had feared.

Numbers finalized on Wednesday say that Park County is worth $741,246,235 this year. That would be a 28 percent decrease from 2009, which saw a record-high valuation of more than $1.033 billion.

Park County voters wanting to see where the Republican candidates for the Wyoming governorship and Park County Commission stand on issues should mark their calendars for Monday.

GOP candidates for the positions will mix it up in two separate events at Cody's Holiday Inn.


Marshall McArthur gets a face full of dirt as he dives into base during recent Powell Babe Ruth baseball action. Tribune photo by John Wetzel

The Powell Babe Ruth Giants and Royals faced off last Monday night with a doubleheader. The evening twinbill was forced by the rains of late.

Tyler Patterson of the Giants started out the first game against Ty Whiteman of the Royals. The Giants jumped out to an early lead and were able to hold it as the Giants came out on top of this one 8-5 in five innings.

Trappers' chances at short go appear slim

With three preliminary rides in the bank, Powell native and Vernon College sophomore Kaleb Asay has positioned himself nicely to reach the saddle bronc short-go at the 2010 College National Finals Rodeo in Casper.

After turning in one of only two rides in Sunday's preliminary round to score more than 80 points, Asay followed it up with performances worthy of 72.5 points on Monday night and 78.5 points on Tuesday night. The 78.5-point ride on Tuesday was the highest-scoring performance among the night's saddle bronc competitors.

Team takes 20-5 record to North Dakota event

The Powell Pioneers American Legion baseball team remained unbeaten in conference play this season with a doubleheader sweep at Jackson on Monday. The pair of wins lifts the Pioneers to a 20-5 season mark as the team prepares to travel to Williston, N.D., for tournament action.

Scotty Jameson led the Pioneers in their game one win against Jackson, throwing seven innings of four-hit ball while striking out 10. Jameson also went 3-for-3 at the plate with a pair of doubles in the contest.

Grant Geiser added a pair of RBIs as part of a 2-for-4 day that included a double. Olie Olson also drove in a pair in the contest.

In game two at Jackson, the Pioneers needed just five innings to wrap up a 10-0 victory. Geiser threw the one-hit shutout, walking three while fanning five.

Following Jameson's lead in game one, Geiser helped his own cause by going 2-for-4 with a home run. Tyler England added a pair of triples, while Jameson drove in three runs with a 2-for-4 showing that included a triple.

The victory was the Pioneers' second doubleheader sweep of the past week. The team also dispatched the Sheridan Troopers by scores of 8-2 and 8-5 in recent home action.

Jameson and Geiser teamed up in the opener, with Geiser earning the win after throwing four innings of relief for Jameson. Jameson left the mound with arm discomfort but remained in the contest.

Dallas Robirds was 3-for-3 at the plate while Geiser knocked in three runs.

In the late game, Colt Nix went the distance, allowing 10 hits and three walks while fanning four in the complete-game victory. Josh Cragoe sent the ball deep against the Troopers for a home run, part of a 3-RBI performance. Jordan Gonnoud added a pair of hits as the Pioneers jumped in front early for Nix and held on for seven full innings.

Sandwiched between the pair of doubleheaders, the Pioneers played three games at Aaron's Tournament in Billings. The Pioneers won one contest at the event, suffering a pair of one-run losses and a rain-out as well.

Jake Beuster picked up Powell's only win in Billings with a complete game against the Bozeman Spikes. Beuster fanned nine Bozeman batters while only walking one in seven innings of work.

Garrett Czapla drove in a pair of runs while Geiser, hitting a whopping .559 to date this summer, padded his average with a 3-for-3 performance at home plate.

A 13-game winning streak ended for the Pioneers with a last-inning loss to Miles City in tourament pool play. Powell's Olson took the loss on the hill after throwing 6.1 innings in which he allowed nine hits and six walks.

England, who arrived late at the field after taking the ACT college placement exam earlier in the day, make his presence felt when he entered the contest in the third inning and promptly delivered a triple. England finished 2-for-2, as did Geiser.

Miles City scored its winning run during its final at-bat.

The Pioneers suffered rare back-to-back losses when the Emmanuel Halos repeated Miles City's formula by rallying in the final at-bat for a 6-5 win in a contest where Powell rested many of its regular players.

Joe Wisniewski took the loss with Czapla coming on to throw the final five-plus innings. Cragoe missed by a double of hitting for the cycle after he finished 4-for-4 with a home run, a triple and three RBIs.

“It was great to see our non-starters go out and compete as well as they did,” said Pioneers manager Mike Jameson. “I was most pleased that our defense had just one error in the game, and that was a throwing error that we wound up turning into a double play when their guy tried to advance on the play.”

Powell heads to Williston, N.D., this week for a four-day tournament starting today (Thursday).

Powell opens the event against Canadian entry Weyburn, Sask., at 9 a.m. The team plays north-of-the-border competition again at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday against the Regina, Sask., Wolfpack. The Pioneers' pool play concludes at 5:30 p.m. on Friday when Powell faces Aberdeen, S.D.

Powell's next home action will be June 25-27 when the Pioneers host their own Heavy Metal Classic tournament.

Put your phone down

On July 1, a law goes into effect making it illegal to text while driving on our state's roads and highways.

While it remains to be seen how, exactly, the law will be enforced, few can argue that it's an important step in keeping our highways safe.

A 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (one of the world's largest vehicle safety research organizations) found that drivers distracted by texting increased their likelihood of having a crash or near-crash event 23-fold.

Yes, it bears repeating: A driver's risk of being in an accident or a close call increases by 23 times when the driver is texting.

For the sake of comparison, another study by the Virginia Tech institute indicates drivers increase their risk of a crash or near-crash by three times when dialing a cell phone and 1.3 times when talking on a phone.

The study indicates the highest risk comes when drivers eyes are distracted from the roadway — when dialing or reading and sending texts.

According to a New York Times story about the study, texting drivers “typically spent nearly five seconds looking at their devices — enough time at typical highway speeds to cover more than a length of a football field.”

Unfortunately, it's an all-too-common sight around here to see a weaving vehicle — in town or speeding down the highway — piloted by a driver who is texting feverishly and glancing toward the roadway only periodically.

It's scary stuff. Especially considering that some of the most frequent texters are the least experienced drivers.

Beginning July 1, law enforcement will be on the lookout for offenders. But given the enormous risks — to texting drivers and others who share the roadway with them — it's also up to drivers to police themselves.

And, since young drivers are unlikely to be reading Tribune editorials: Parents, please make sure your youngsters are aware of the huge risks of texting while driving before they get behind the wheel.

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