Weekly Poll

What's the cause of unemployment in Park County?




Results

 


Tribune Staff

September 11, 2008 4:40 am

Gym's future fades

A report to the school board left the future of the old Powell High School gymnasium looking dimmer Tuesday night.

Following a report from Superintendent Kevin Mitchell on a meeting with the Wyoming School Facilities Commission and comments by Powell Middle School principal Jason Sleep, the District No. 1 board appeared ready to designate the site of the old gym as the location of a new middle school. Since the item was not on the agenda as a business item, however, Mitchell told the board they would have to wait until the October meeting to act on the issue.

A group headed by Ric Rodriguez has asked that the district delay the decision for eight months to a year while efforts to find an alternative that would preserve the gym as a community recreation center are explored. At a meeting of the board and the Powell City Council last month Rodriguez offered two alternatives for a site for the new school, including one that would relocate the school to city-owned land across the street from the new high school and one that would use the current site but would require closing Third St.

At Tuesday's meeting, however, Mitchell indicated that the board should make a decision by January to avoid a delay in building a new middle school. Referring to a capital facilities tax proposed by Rodriguez as a major part of funding for preserving the gym, Mitchell noted that such a tax would not be on a ballot until Nov. 2010, and by that time, projections indicate the middle school will face over-crowding.

September 11, 2008 4:37 am

Failure to maintain lanes

High oil prices wreaking havoc on road maintenance

Sky-high oil prices have all but put a halt to road maintenance.

If prices don't drop, roads in the Powell area stand to fall into disrepair.

Typically, Park County chip-seals 60 miles of roadways each year. This summer, the county road and bridge department has sealed exactly zero.

“We can't afford to,” said county engineer Dave Kieper.

In the state's northwest transportation district, which includes parts of Teton, Big Horn, Washakie, Natrona, Fremont, Hot Springs, and Park counties, the Wyoming Department of Transportation normally chip seals 100 to 125 miles of road. This year the state isn't chip sealing either.

“It's a struggle,” said WYDOT spokesman Cody Beers. “No doubt about it.”

The cost of chip oil — the sticky stuff used to seal roadways and make the chips stick — has rocketed at a rate that almost defies belief.

For the 2008 fiscal year, the county spent $310 a ton.

Expecting a hefty increase, Kieper budgeted $550 a ton for this year.

But he “hadn't any more than hit the send button” on his budget, when he learned prices were up to $760 a ton.

Not long after that, as though that was a bargain, Kieper received word that chip oil was no longer available.

Today, Sept. 16, is Step Up for Kids Day.

Step Up for Kids Day was created by the Every Child Matters Fund, a non-partisan, non-profit group whose mission is to make the needs of children, youth and families a national political priority.

The group focuses on making politicians aware of issues affecting children and families.

Nearly every state in the union is hosting a Step Up for Kids Day event. The First Lady of Wyoming, Nancy Freudenthal, is speaking in Cheyenne, along with former district court judge Gary Hartman, who is currently the governor's advisor on juvenile justice.

Additionally, 12 of the 23 Wyoming counties have plans to recognize the day in a variety of ways.

Child advocates in Park County have asked people to wear red on Step Up for Kids Day to show a commitment to learning about issues facing our children.

Too many Park County children live in poverty, face abuse and neglect and are uninsured.

It's sometimes all too easy to lull ourselves into believing these things are only problems in other places.

The sober truth is that's not the case.

So today, wear red for Step Up for Kids Day — then commit to learning what you can do to make life better for kids in our community.

Let candidates for office know that we demand they pay attention to issues facing young people.

And on an individual basis, the options are many: We can mentor, volunteer at a school or a food bank, or take in a foster child, among other things.

We should all do something. Our future depends on how our kids are raised today.

September 16, 2008 4:00 am

City commits to Sletten

  • Image folder specified does not exist!
  •  

This is the most recent rendering of the aquatic center's design, provided by the City of Powell. Certain aspects of it, such as the window wall, may not be in the final plan. The Powell City Council will continue discussing alternates of the design with Sletten Construction. Courtesy illustration

Construction of aquatic center with 8-lane pool expected to start in October

Powell will get its pool.

On Monday, the Powell City Council approved a contract with Sletten Construction, and construction on the new aquatic center is expected to begin in October. The decision came after years of planning, discussion and, at times, heated debate.

“It's been a long, hard struggle,” said Councilman Jim Hillberry. “We've been working toward a common goal and reached it. It will be a facility we can all be proud of in the future, meeting the needs of the community, the schools — everyone.”

The council approved plans for an aquatic center with an eight-lane competition pool and recreational features, including a lazy river, spray pad and toddler slide.

By law, Sletten Construction had to hold its bid until Monday, Sept. 8 — 60 days after the bid opening on July 10. After that, the company could legally alter its bid.

With that in mind, David Burbach of Burbach Aquatics, Inc., told the council Monday that it “should be in a position to award the contract with value engineering.”

Over the past two months, Sletten and Burbach worked on that value engineering, which basically entails finding alternative brands or materials that would help lower the $9.4 million project cost.

Some changes were minor and only accounted for $400, while more major changes would save the city more than $40,000.

The council discussed the alternates, but will decide on some major projects, such as the roof, in future work sessions with Sletten.

Certain projects, and therefore a concrete price tag, are pending, said City Administrator Zane Logan. Shawn Warner of Sletten Construction agreed to work on specific alternates with the city.

“He knows he has the job, but there's still going to be discussion on fluting, the roof and other projects,” Logan said. “He realizes that's yet to be determined.”

Money saved from accepting alternates in the future will go into a contingency fund, which the project currently lacks.

September 11, 2008 3:48 am

Gym's future fades


A report to the school board left the future of the old Powell High School gymnasium looking dimmer Tuesday night.

Following a report from Superintendent Kevin Mitchell on a meeting with the Wyoming School Facilities Commission and comments by Powell Middle School principal Jason Sleep, the District No. 1 board appeared ready to designate the site of the old gym as the location of a new middle school. Since the item was not on the agenda as a business item, however, Mitchell told the board they would have to wait until the October meeting to act on the issue.

A group headed by Ric Rodriguez has asked that the district delay the decision for eight months to a year while efforts to find an alternative that would preserve the gym as a community recreation center are explored. At a meeting of the board and the Powell City Council last month Rodriguez offered two alternatives for a site for the new school, including one that would relocate the school to city-owned land across the street from the new high school and one that would use the current site but would require closing Third St.

At Tuesday's meeting, however, Mitchell indicated that the board should make a decision by January to avoid a delay in building a new middle school. Referring to a capital facilities tax proposed by Rodriguez as a major part of funding for preserving the gym, Mitchell noted that such a tax would not be on a ballot until Nov. 2010, and by that time, projections indicate the middle school will face over-crowding.

Mitchell told the board, after his meeting with Todd Wilder of the Facilities Commission and CTA architects, that he believes the district should designate a site by January.

Sleep spoke in favor of building the new school at the present site, citing the advantages to the school's curriculum and activities of being close to downtown.

Sleep said safety and security make the site preferable, along with enabling students to walk or bike to school.

He added that using the site preserves the athletic fields and would allow PMS to develop its own identity.

Sleep reminded the board that projected enrollment indicates that the current middle school will be overcrowded in 3-5 years, so delaying a decision is not practical. He urged the board to approve the proposed site.

Mitchell said the facilities commission is aware of the situation Powell is in regarding a new middle school and the old high school, and said Wilder believes the new middle school will be high on the priority list for school construction if the district designates a site.

“Basically, the board has to make a site decision by January,” Mitchell said.

Following Mitchell's report, board member LeAnne Kindred said the district's main concern should be the needs of the kids.

“There's a lot of ifs about the gym,” Kindred said. “If they don't work out, we're in a bind. We need to decide this site now.”

September 11, 2008 3:45 am

Failure to maintain lanes

High oil prices wreaking havoc on road maintenance

Sky-high oil prices have all but put a halt to road maintenance.

If prices don't drop, roads in the Powell area stand to fall into disrepair.

Typically, Park County chip-seals 60 miles of roadways each year. This summer, the county road and bridge department has sealed exactly zero.

“We can't afford to,” said county engineer Dave Kieper.

In the state's northwest transportation district, which includes parts of Teton, Big Horn, Washakie, Natrona, Fremont, Hot Springs, and Park counties, the Wyoming Department of Transportation normally chip seals 100 to 125 miles of road. This year the state isn't chip sealing either.

“It's a struggle,” said WYDOT spokesman Cody Beers. “No doubt about it.”

The cost of chip oil — the sticky stuff used to seal roadways and make the chips stick — has rocketed at a rate that almost defies belief.

For the 2008 fiscal year, the county spent $310 a ton.

Expecting a hefty increase, Kieper budgeted $550 a ton for this year.

But he “hadn't any more than hit the send button” on his budget, when he learned prices were up to $760 a ton.

Not long after that, as though that was a bargain, Kieper received word that chip oil was no longer available.

One problem is that SemMaterials of Billings, the chip-oil supplier for the county and many other construction groups, is bankrupt. But it's not just SemMaterials that couldn't provide chip oil. Beers said that refineries all over the country are producing less and less road oils and instead are using as much oil as they can to make gasoline.

“I called all over,” Kieper said. He tried places from Idaho to Colorado with no luck.

Then, last month, Kieper said he spoke to a supplier who said he could get the county some oil for $1,000 a ton out of Denver.

“We passed on it,” Kieper said.

The county's plan is to wait until next spring and hope prices come down.

Things could get dicey if they stay up.

Without regular sealing — typically every eight years or so — roads can fall into rough shape.

“If we don't get (chip) oil this next year, we're really going to notice some deterioration in our chip-sealed roads,” Kieper said.

  • Image folder specified does not exist!
  •  

The 1978-79 University of Wyoming women's basketball team included Dale Ann Meeker (24) and Sue Pollart (20) of Powell and Lori Kline (50) of Cody. The team will join the UW Hall of Fame Friday night. Courtesy photo

Meeker, 1978-79 Cowgirls basketball squad to enter UW Hall of Fame

When the 1978-1979 Cowgirl basketball team joins the University of Wyoming Sports Hall of Fame Friday, it will be another career highlight for Dale Ann Meeker of Powell.

Meeker played guard for the 1978-1979 Cowgirl basketball team, which also included Sue Pollart of Powell and Lori (Kline) Waddell of Cody.

This is the 16th class of athletes and teams to join the Hall of Fame.

The team joins its coach, Margie McDonald, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame about six years ago.

“It's just quite an honor,” Meeker said. “For 33 years we were the best team that ever had played there.”

The team won a postseason berth in the AIAW Regional Tournament in Tucson, Ariz., and lost to Weber State 74-70 in the first round. The team compiled a 25-7 season record, racking up records that still stand, including most team rebounds at 77, most blocked shots in a game with 15, most points in a season – 2,464 in 33 games; most field goals attempted – 2,308 in one season and most rebounds in a season with 1,573.

The team remained UW's most successful women's basketball team until the 2006-2007 Cowgirls won the women's NIT.

Meeker said the women on her team succeeded because they all came to campus with a strong basketball foundation and the belief that they could compete at that level. Then they all worked during the offseason to make sure.

“We didn't worry about comparisons. We didn't worry about this or that. We just did our thing,” Meeker said.

Meeker was the first woman to receive a UW basketball scholarship. The first two years it covered tuition, but by her junior year it was a full-ride scholarship covering all her expenses. She started every game for four years.

Meeker said the women's basketball team was known and respected on campus.

“We were getting good crowds. We got full support of the students. When we walked around on campus, they knew who we were,” she said.

Four Wyoming players formed the core of the UW team during her career, Meeker, Cindy Bower from Worland, Linda Gilpin from Cheyenne and Rosann Wisroth of Burns. Sue (Owens) Pollart, a Colorado native, was the fifth player.

“That's kind of what's exciting, we were just four little Wyoming girls,” Meeker said. “We didn't know we shouldn't be able to compete. We just kept working at it.” Although women from many other states played for UW during her career, “that nucleus came out of the state of Wyoming.”

“We just loved to play. We loved to practice and we loved to play,” she said.

Meeker grew up playing basketball. Her father moved her family from Lovell to Powell when she was in eighth grade because Powell offered more athletic opportunities for girls. Meeker credits long-time athletic director Keith Bloom's foresight in emphasizing girls' sports as part of the early success of Powell girls' basketball.

Meeker played for two Powell High School teams that won “mythical” state championships in 1974 and 1975. They defeated Natrona County High School both times. “Mythical” state championships were awarded because Wyoming did not have a statewide classification system for girls' basketball. Bloom and other athletic directors organized a statewide, all-class tournament in Powell.

The Natrona team had never lost in more than 40 straight games before it fell to Powell in 1974, Meeker said.

“Powell should be very proud that they provided this opportunity for girls” before communities across Wyoming or Montana, Meeker said. “All of us that took part in the evolution are so proud.”

Girls basketball has come a long way from when Meeker's Powell High School teams got one night a week to practice in the main gym. The girls had to purchase their own black shorts, she said, although the school did buy uniform shirts. They played 12 to 14 games a season, all on Saturday mornings. At the university, the team spent the first couple of seasons getting taped in the hall before they were allowed to use the men's training room.

“It's been a real privilege to watch everything grow as it has,” Meeker said.

Meeker returned to Powell to assist Frank McCarthy, then coach of the Powell girls' basketball team, before assuming the coaching duties. She said she tried during her tenure as Powell High School coach to instill in her players that same sense of pride and to let them know they had come a long way since the beginning.

“I tried to help the girls appreciate those that came before them,” she said. Her PHS and UW days “gave me an appreciation of how important a team was,” not just individual efforts.

September 11, 2008 3:38 am

NWC cancels Sports Rendezvous

Officials with the Trapper Booster Club announced earlier this week that the Sports Rendezvous dinner and auction planned for Tuesday, Sept. 16, has been canceled.

The club's board members, stating a low number of RSVPs for the event, added that more emphasis will be placed on the Trapper TailgateParty scheduled for Monday, Sept. 22.

The tailgate party, which is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at Hank Cabre Gymnasium, will be held in conjunction with the Lady Trappers' first home volleyball match of the season. That match, which will be against Dawson Community College, has a scheduled 7 p.m. start time.

According to booster club members, the tailgate party will feature a family-friendly environment, music, volleyball contests, prizes, hot dogs and cookies. Admission to the Trapper Tailgate Party is free, but a hot dog plate with chips and a cookie will cost $2.

Those attending the tailgate party and volleyball match will be part of a historic night. The match will serve as Flavia Siqueira's home debut as head coach of the Lady Trappers. Her team has played 19 matches so far in 2008, but all of those have been played outside of Powell.

Siqueira's team currently boasts an impressive 14-5 mark. In their most recent action, the squad went 6-0 at the Colby (Kan.) Community College Classic Tournament.

The match also will be the first competitive event on Ken Rochlitz Court at Hank Cabre Gymnasium since the addition of stadium seating.

“I'm excited about it because it's an opportunity for us to showcase our student-athletes,” said Jim Ziegler, NWC athletic director and head wrestling coach. “The volleyball team is having a great season, and they're looking forward to playing at home. It would be great if we could fill

Cabre Gymnasium with fans. I'm also excited about it being the new grand opening for Cabre Gym because of new seating.”

September 11, 2008 3:26 am

Lady Panthers win conference opener

The Powell High School Lady Panthers opened their conference season with a convincing win over Lovell in volleyball action Tuesday night.

A strong attack by Hannah Pollart and Kayla Ando highlighted the match, but aggressive serving and effective defense also were factors as the Lady Panthers took the match in three games, 25-11, 25-13, 25-1.

Pollart scored 19 kills in the match and Ando assisted on most of them, finishing the match with 19 assists. Ando also was perfect from the service line, hitting 19 serves accurately, two of which went for aces.

As a team, the Lady Panthers served 10 aces, half of them by Randi Asay. Savannah Donarski was also perfect from the line, going seven for seven, and Olivia Rogers was 17 for 18 with one ace.

The Lady Panthers scored points in bunches during the victory, including an eight-point run behind Ando's serve in the deciding game. Rogers served for seven straight points and Asay had a six-point streak in game two.

PHS coach Cindi Smith said the Lady Panthers' offense adapted to a strong performance by Pollart in the match. In their normal offense, Pollart shares the setting duties with Ando, Smith said, but Pollart was hitting effectively and the team responded to take advantage of her hot streak.

“Hannah was really on, so we kept going to her, ” Smith said. “More than half her attacks were kills.”

Donarski and Olivia Rogers contributed the attack with four and three kills, respectively.

Defensively, Donarski led the team in digs with 12, and was six of seven in service receptions. Defensive specialist Kelsey Allen led the team in receiving serves, keeping 12 of 14 in play, and contributed 10 digs. Rogers made eight digs and assisted with three blocks.

Smith complimented her team for serving aggressively and playing steady defense in the win. She also credited Rogers with playing well both at the net and on the back line.

“The girls really played together well,” Smith said.

This weekend, the Lady Panthers will compete in a tournament in Rawlins, where Smith said the Lady Panthers will meet regional rival

Kemmerer, Buffalo and 2A Mountain View in pool play.

“Kemmerer has started out strong,” Smith said, adding that the Rangers may be the top team in the Southwest Conference.

“I like this tournament,” Smith said. “It's early in the season and we'll see a lot of 3A schools.”

Tuesday, the Lady Panthers will travel to Greybull for a match.

The Rawlins tournament is scheduled to start at noon Friday and continue through Saturday at Rawlins High School. The Greybull match is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Greybull High School gym.

For the past few years, just saying the word “pool” in Powell has stirred strong reactions. Some have adamantly supported the ongoing project throughout all its phases. Others just as fiercely opposed it, or at least some part of it — be it the funding, location or design.

On Monday, the Powell City Council voted to move forward with the aquatic center, and construction likely will begin within the next four to six weeks.

The construction and design companies spent the past two months looking for ways to reduce the cost and suggested cutting certain aesthetic elements of the pool.

At a savings of more than $50,000, the city could have taken away the pool's exterior color, eliminated flutes, gotten rid of the sandblasted walls and put an end to other design features.

However, Mayor Scott Mangold and councilmen opposed making the pool a gray, lifeless cement building. Aesthetics matter to the council — thankfully.

After all the money, hours, labor and emotion that has gone into the new Powell pool, it needs to be a facility the community is proud of, rather than an eyesore.

The dollars going into this pool certainly matter, especially in an unstable U.S. economy. However, money spent on a well-designed, aesthetically pleasing aquatic center is an investment, not a frivolous expenditure.