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Tribune Staff

This week, the old Powell High School auditorium/natatorium came tumbling down. All that remains of the structure, built in 1956, are massive heaps of concrete, bricks and metal — an all too familiar sight in the community as of late.

The auditorium/natatorium was third in a succession of demolition projects over the past six months, joining the demolished old Powell High School gymnasium and Westside Elementary. At those sites, only dirt remains.

Eventually, the old Powell High School also will share a similar fate, though it won't be demolished until a cafeteria is constructed for Powell Middle School. The old high school cafeteria is still in use and likely will be until a new middle school cafeteria opens.

Planning for a new middle school is under way, and construction of a new Westside Elementary recently began.

Though new buildings replace the old, memories of the old structures aren't easily forgotten.

Each building carried meaning. The elementary school where children began their education and learned early life lessons.

The pool where, for 50 years, residents learned how to swim and experienced triumphs and disappointments in competitive swimming. The auditorium where hundreds of nervous and bright-eyed kids gathered each year for time-honored Christmas programs. The old gymnasium that hosted many memorable proms, emotional graduation ceremonies and countless athletic competitions for more than 60 years.

Throughout the past 10 years, Park County School District No. 1 board members deliberated over difficult decisions to demolish and replace these buildings. Often, decisions and funding at the state level dictated how the local board proceeded.

We know the demolition of landmark buildings is difficult for Powell residents. The torn-down structures leave a void in the community, especially for those who grew up as students in the buildings.

Yet in their absence stand new structures, and many local youth are grateful for the new Powell High School, new Southside Elementary and new Powell Aquatic Center. Young students who use those facilities can attest to the fact that new memories are being made, and for the next generation, these will be the buildings that carry meaning.

Still, the changes remain difficult — and for many Powell residents, driving by the sites where old landmarks once stood always will stir memories.

(July 14, 1924 - Sept. 23, 2010)

Edwin Rudolph Lohrenz, 86, died Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010 at the Northfield Hospital in Northfield, Minn.

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Northwest College photography students capture brilliant autumn colors in Yellowstone National Park during the photo department's annual outdoor trip last weekend. Tribune photo by Kevin Kinzley

The Powell Valley Healthcare Board hopes to have a new chief executive officer onboard in a few weeks.

The board interviewed two candidates for the position last week, and board members hope to announce their choice during their monthly meeting Monday.

Folks with unused prescription drugs in their home are being encouraged to dispose of them on Saturday, which is “National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.”

Police departments across the country, including those in Powell, Cody and Lovell, are collecting unneeded medications between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in an effort to ensure the potentially dangerous materials aren't misused.

The past year was not a good one for The Merc, and the board of directors is looking at ways to improve operations.

Stockholders at the annual meeting last week learned that the sales between July and December, 2009 were significantly lower than the same period in 2008, and they remained flat through the remainder of the fiscal year ending June 30, according to Ron Blevins, chairman of The Merc's Board of Directors.

{gallery}09_23_10/nwcvolley{/gallery}

Allison Hart (8), Sandrina Hunsel (15) and Gianesi Tarafa (12) celebrate with teammates Valerie Lesu (left) and Randi McInerney (right) after scoring a point during Tuesday night volleyball action against Dawson Community College. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

Women post sixth win

The Northwest College women's volleyball team remained unbeaten at home this season with a 25-19, 25-9, 25-10 victory over Dawson Community College on Tuesday night. Despite the lopsided nature of the score, the win did not fully impress Trapper head coach Flavia Siqueira.

Three Prantes receive taekwondo's top belt

Five and a half years ago, Jacob Prante was listening as some of his friends talked about taekwondo. It sounded fun, so he decided to give it a try.

Roughly six months later, his younger brother Tucker tired of sitting on the sidelines watching Jacob and decided to get involved in classes as well. About half a year later, the pair approached their mother, Vickie, with a challenge.

Women's squad blanked by nationally-ranked foes

The Northwest College men's soccer team stepped back onto the pitch after an 11-day layoff to post a 4-1 non-conference victory over North Idaho on Saturday. The win improves the men's team to 3-1-2 overall this season.

Gavin LaFollette scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season as part of the Trappers' offensive assault. Lakeland Florida's Legofi Crawford added a goal and an assist as Northwest struck for two first-half goals to take a 2-1 lead at intermission. The Trappers added two more goals after the midgame break.

Adrian Elicero and Matheus Vasconcelus netted the other two goals for the Trappers. Zach O'Dell was credited with an assist on one of the plays.

The week was a far different affair for the Trapper women, who played their home-opener against then-No. 11 Laramie County Community College, falling by a 5-0 count. Two days later, the squad took the field against then-No. 14 North Idaho, falling by a 3-0 count.

In both contests, the Trappers were simply unable to sustain any sort of offensive possession for an extended period of time against their nationally-ranked opponents. LCCC scored twice in the first half and three times after intermission while limiting Northwest to just three total shots on goal in the contest.

Saturday's contest against North Idaho was more a tale of two halves. The Trappers played North Idaho level for the first half of soccer, but a red card issued late in the first half forced Northwest to play the entire second half a player down.

The result, predictably, was a completely different feel to the second half. North Idaho scored just minutes after the resumption of play and added a second goal to their tally shortly thereafter. The team's final goal of the afternoon came on a penalty kick after an inadvertant hand ball in the box.

Much like the LCCC game, the Trappers were unable to take the pressure off their back row defenders by mounting an offensive charge in the second half.

The Trapper women slid to 1-4-1 on the season with the losses.

Both Northwest College soccer teams return to action this weekend with a pair of games. The teams play return contests at North Idaho. The squads will turn around 24 hours later to take on the University of Idaho men's and women's club teams. All four games will take place in Couer D'Alene on the North Idaho campus.

I've received considerable positive feedback about my last column, “God and politics.” A large number of people have told me they agree with what I said.

Such compliments are appreciated, but I'm also happy to receive negative feedback, such as the letter we published last week, “Traditional values are decency and hard work,” criticizing my position. Such criticism is good, keeping me on my toes and providing an excuse to write another column.

Most of the points made in the letter were valid, but debatable, and they deserve serious comment and discussion.

But the writer inserted an irrational element when he suggested I had been drinking “Obama Kool-Aid.” The implication, of course, is that, because of my liberal leaning, I'm somewhere in left field, probably because I'm intoxicated, or otherwise not quite all there mentally.

I actually found the comment rather humorous, since, when I was a teacher 40 years or so ago, some of my students thought I was hopelessly conservative, despite my vote for George McGovern. And they may have had a point about my conservatism, since I owned a sizable collection of Nixon buttons, which, I am embarrassed to say, I had worn to school in 1960. I was only 16 then and didn't know any better.

Suffice it to say, then, that my political inclinations were evolving well before President Obama was born — an event which did take place in Hawaii, by the way — and anyway, I'm not by nature a hero-worshipper. Even great men, George Washington, for example, are flawed human beings, and that is definitely true of our president. I tend toward seeing both of them as real people rather than the mythical heroes or demonic fiends some make them out to be.

So, when I started to write this column last week, I planned to include a wisecrack about over-indulgence in tea spiked by Sarah Palin, who, it seems to me, has the same effect on some conservative voters that President Obama has on some liberals. But, having listened to a discussion about civility over the weekend, I decided to take a different path.

The fact is, I am not the radical the writer thinks I am. I agree that the government has been fiscally irresponsible, wasteful and bigger than it should be. Neither am I opposed to the work ethic, having been a job-holder ever since I took over a paper route back in 1955, and I am still working, even though I could be retired at my age.

It's important to point out, though, that I am able to work, in part, because of fortunate circumstances. I have found a job that fits my talents and physical abilities, and I remain healthy enough to perform in it. In addition, I have found a boss who doesn't mind employing a guy bordering on geezerhood. Not all people my age are that lucky.

The realization that I am blessed by good fortune is the basis for my liberal view on government aid to people less fortunate than I am. That realization grew out of more than 50 years of working and observing the world, not the result of something I drank or some hero I worshipped.

America's social problems, including unemployment, have complex causes because our society is complex, and an unemployed person can't be simply written off as lazy or lacking a work ethic. A variety of social, economic, political and personal factors are involved. I will take the writer's word for it that he isn't a racist, but it is naive to deny that race or ethnicity plays a role in finding a job. So do gender, sexual orientation, age and even religion.

Even personal assets, such as education and training, may sometimes have a negative effect on employment. I personally know people who have had difficulty because they couldn't find the jobs they were prepared for, but were rejected for lower level jobs because they were “over-qualified.”

But in our political life, complex issues are usually boiled down to simplified slogans, most of them designed to play on people's emotions rather than serious discussion about the causes and solutions of problems.

Demonstrations such as the Beck/Palin event I criticized in my last column are designed around such simplified slogans. The plea for “traditional American values” is as empty and meaningless as the “power to the people” slogans chanted by left-wing anti-war demonstrators a generation ago in the absence of serious discussion of what those concepts mean and how they apply to the events at hand.

Such discussion is not available in the ranting heard from radio commentators or seen in signs waved in anger on the steps of the U.S. Capitol by whatever group is angry this year. Neither can such debate take place when we begin the discussion accusing our opponents of being un-American, crazy or intoxicated with Kool-Aid or spiked tea just because they see the situation from a different perspective than we do.

With that in mind, I invite anyone who takes exception to my positions to respond. I may not like your opinion, and I will try to point out the flaws your thinking, but I won't cast any aspersions on whatever is in your tea cup.

Page 459 of 508

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