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Tribune Staff

Questions over public access to meetings held recently by two local governing boards were answered two different ways. Those answers, and their consequences, illustrate the difference between taking the high road and getting mired in the gray area of the Wyoming Open Meetings Law.

The first meeting took place in September when the Powell Valley Healthcare board met to interview two candidates for chief executive officer for the organization. While Powell Valley Healthcare is a private nonprofit organization, much of its board membership consists of the Powell Hospital District board, elected by residents in the district.

Even so, that meeting normally could have been exempted from public purview under the Wyoming Open Meetings law, which allows governing boards to meet in secret when considering personnel issues.

However, Board President Dr. Mark Wurzel noted there was a catch that time, because the hospital chief executive officer is not actually employed by Powell Valley Healthcare. Instead, the CEO is an employee of Brim Healthcare — now HealthTech —which is contracted to provide management for Powell Valley Healthcare.

Because of that technicality, the board chose to keep the interviews open to the media, and the public got an early glimpse of the two candidates vying for the position at the time.

A representative of Brim attended the meeting and voiced no disagreement with the decision.

The other meeting took place last week at Northwest College.

The meeting was called by a team from the Higher Learning Commission, an independent corporation reviewing the college's application and self study for accreditation.

To his credit, Board President Jim Vogt advised media representatives of a meeting between the board and an accreditation team from the Higher Learning Commission on Nov. 15.

But before the meeting began, the commission team leader closed it to the public and the media, choosing instead to meet behind closed doors.

Subsequent inquiries indicate closure of the meeting likely was in violation of the Wyoming Open Meeting Laws, though it does fall into a gray area of the law.

The situation in both cases was similar: a meeting called by another organization, but which included a quorum of an elected board.

The response to the similar scenarios was quite different, however, leading to different public perceptions as well.

When explaining the unique circumstances to the Powell Valley Healthcare board in September, Wurzel said board leaders had chosen to take the high road.

It is unfortunate that the NWC board and the HLC commission team didn't come to the same conclusion.

(Jan. 11, 1932 - Nov. 18, 2010)

Frank Sapp of Powell, formerly a resident of Homestead, Fla. and Islamorada, Fla., died Nov. 18, 2010. He was 78.

(Jan. 26, 1925 - Nov. 20, 2010)

Betty Jean (Martin) Brakke died Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010 at Powell Valley Healthcare. She was 85.

DEQ officials take new look at hauling schedule, permits

Officials with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality said Tuesday they plan to step back and re-evaluate a controversial plan to haul some 68,700 tons of gold mine tailings from outside Cooke City, Mont., down the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway and up to a smelter in Whitehall, Mont.

The hauling is just one part of an ambitious, nearly $25 million plan to clean up some 320,000 tons of mine waste at the McLaren Mine a quarter-mile east of Cooke City.

All criteria met for accreditation

Northwest College learned Wednesday morning that it met all criteria for continuing accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

A five-member team from the commission was on campus beginning Monday to assess NWC's self-study efforts toward reaccreditation.

Future Parkside school's effect on Clark Street extension discussed

Citing concerns with traffic flow and a need for more information, the Powell City Council voted unanimously Monday to table the issue of vacating the city's master street plan to accommodate a proposed elementary school.

Park County School District No. 1 is interested in building a new Parkside Elementary School north of Clark Street in acreage currently used for agriculture. Though the school is still at least 15-20 years down the road, the district is looking at purchasing the land now.

{gallery}11_18_10/trapperwbb{/gallery}

Northwest College head coach Janis Beal discusses strategy during a timeout in early-season action. The team returns to Ken Rochlitz Court at 5:30 p.m. this Saturday against a team of former NWC all-stars. The Trapper men play at 7:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday nights. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

Sponsored event provides opportunity for more home games

Two weeks have passed since the Northwest College men's basketball team opened the season by splitting games against top-ranked Midland College and Colorado Christian. This Friday, the Trappers make their home debut as part of the First National Bank Shoot Out.

Andrews draws national recognition

Denied a threepeat state championship by an unlikely late rally last season, the Powell Panthers are expected to once again be a force in Wyoming 3A wrestling this season. At least, that's the prognosis offered early on by WyoWrestling.com, which released its pre-season rankings this week.

Plan on following the panthers? Be ready to drive.

The Wyoming High School Activities Association released football schedules for member institutions last week and Panther fans had best start humming the bars from Willie Nelson's classic. Like the country great, they, too, will be on the road again.

Similar to 2010, Powell High School will host Riverton in the first official game of the season. Week 2 will see Powell fans drive east over the Big Horn Mountains to Buffalo for a non-conference showdown with this year's 3A state runner-up.

The game also represents the shortest road trip of the 2011 season for the Panthers.

Week 3 sends the Panthers almost to Nebraska for a road game at Torrington. After returning home in Week 4 to open 3A West conference play against Jackson, the team climbs back aboard the bus for a road contest at Star Valley.

Back-to-back home games against Big Horn Basin opponents Worland (Week 6) and defending conference champion Cody (Week 7) set the stage for one final road trip as Powell closes out the regular season with a trek across South Pass to Green River in Week 8.

Depending on highway conditions and playoff games, the Panthers' new schedule features a minimum of 2,292 travel miles next season. The team will get relief the following year, however. For 2012, the schedule will feature the same opponents with only the home and away locations reversed.

The Panthers will add an unofficial Week 0 game to their schedule, similar to the games played against Miles City the last two seasons. School officials are attempting to ensure that game takes place at Powell in 2011.

Almost a year ago, I devoted this space to a discussion of how growing up around sports was impacting the development of my daughter, Sierra. Given recent events, it seems a good time to provide an update.

Now that Daddy's Little Girl has moved into the terrible two's, we're at that delightful stage of life where learning is taking place almost daily and communication is gradually becoming easier as her vocabulary develops. Of course, one of the most important building blocks to instill in a young mind is the ABC's.

As parents, we've tried a variety of methodologies to help her learn her letters. There's the tried and true singing. The equally tried and true alphabet blocks and kitchen refrigerator magnets. We've entrusted her little eyes and brain to Sesame Street, as well as some videos we happened to stumble across on, of all places, YouTube that she seemed to catch on to.

So I took it with great pride and a sense of achievement when she stood in the living room over a recent weekend, announcing to the world the letter G. This continued on and off throughout the day, puzzling both mom and dad regarding her fascination with the seventh letter of the alphabet.

Don't get me wrong. We were happy, but we were also confused as to why she was skipping over the first six letters, as well as bypassing some that, quite frankly, would seem to be a lot easier for a two-year-old brain to identify. I mean, let's face it, G looks a whole lot like C and Q. Certainly it isn't as unique as, say, the letters I or X or W.

As usual, it was mom's observation powers that finally cracked the mystery. Dad's first clue came when Sports Gal laughed and pointed to the Gatorade commercial playing on the television. Sure enough, further observation throughout the weekend showed that the wee one's lovefest with the letter G did, in fact, coincide with product breaks for the popular sports beverage.

Score one for a marketing executive somewhere.

This isn't the first time product placement has scored a point in the toddler's life. Pepsi's trademark blue and red logo became the “Pepsi ball” long before any other circular-shaped object — including a globe of the Earth —was anything more than just a ball.

As a 2-year old, Daddy's Little Girl has also reached an interactive stage. For some, this might mean waving and saying hello.

For the sports editor's kid, this means that she now feels the need to fist-bump and high-five everyone in sight. Call it a hunch, but I think watching starting lineups at Northwest College athletic events might have something to do with that one.

When she was younger, it used to be fun to lay on my back and bench press Daddy's Little Girl into the air while counting. After a while, she took over the counting process and it became a sort of educational opportunity for her. What could possibly be wrong with that?

I failed to project the dangers of this behavior into the future. She now weighs in the neighborhood of 30 pounds. She can also count to 20. Suddenly, daddy-daughter workouts are featuring a lot more repetitions with a lot more weight on the bar. Dad and mom aren't having as much fun as they once did.

Naturally, Sierra has decided that its her favorite game to play. I believe this proves, once and for all, that the “physical trainer” gene begins to exert dominance at age 2. Just another discovered danger of raising a child around a sports environment.

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