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September 01, 2008 6:38 am

Save-the-gym effort asks more time

Suggestions include grants and cap tax, move of school site
“What we're talking about is grants. If we use grant money, it isn't going to cost anything.”
Ric Rodriguez for save the gym committee
Efforts to convert the old Powell High School Gymnasium into a community center continued last week with a plan proposed to city and school officials.
Ric Rodriguez, speaking for the Powell Gym Improvement Project, told a joint meeting Tuesday, Aug. 26, of the school board and City Council that the facility can be an asset to the community and asked that School District No. 1 and the city cooperate in finding a way to use the gym.
“I see a facility that has a lot of potential,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the 58,000-square foot building, which includes two large gyms, could house a variety of activities. The building also includes a weightroom and space that could accommodate racquetball courts and a walking track, classrooms and offices.
In his report, Rodriguez addressed the structural condition of the building, funding for the project and the needs of the school district. He asked that the school board and city council each appoint a staff person to work with his committee and schedule regular meetings about the gym.
The school district has vacated the building and currently plans to demolish it in order to build a new middle school on the site. Rodriguez instead suggests the school district turn the building over to the city, which would then put management in the hands of a separate entity.
Addressing the question of funding, Rodriguez admitted “it's not cheap,” but is possible. He cited Worland, where the old middle school was converted to a community center through the use of grant money and a capital facilities tax.
“We can use the capital facilities tax to leverage the grant proposals,” Rodriguez said.
Riverton will be Panthers' homecoming opponent
Powell High School's homecoming festivities, originally scheduled for the week of Sept. 29 through Oct. 4, have been changed, announced Jeff Jones, PHS activities director.
Late last week, Jones said homecoming festivities have been rescheduled for Sept. 15-20. The move was made to allow more PHS students to take part in the events during the week of homecoming.
“There had been plans to have homecoming the week of Sept. 29 through Oct. 4, which meant all of our student-athletes would be home except for our tennis players. This also meant the tennis student-athletes would miss out on the bulk of the homecoming activities for the second consecutive year. By moving homecoming to the week of Sept. 15-20 and making a few minor adjustments in our calendar, we are able to have all of our student-athletes at home for the homecoming activities planned that week.”
For the PHS football team, the change means Riverton will be the Panthers' homecoming opponent instead of the Star Valley Braves. That game against the Wolverines also will serve as the home opener for the Panthers, who play road contests against Worland (Sept. 5) and Buffalo (Sept. 12) during weeks one and two of the season. PHS's matchup with Riverton is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m.
Because of the schedule adjustment, Jones noted that a time change has been made to the Lady Panthers' swim team schedule for Friday, Sept. 19. The Lady Panthers, who host Cody that day, now have a scheduled 4 p.m. start time. That meet was originally planned for 5 p.m.
“By moving the start time up one hour, it should give the swim team time to compete then go to the football game,” Jones said.
To keep track of the Panthers and Lady Panthers, Jones said fans can access PHS's sports schedules atwww.highschoolsports.net. The schedules on that website are updated as needed, so they reflect changes to schedules as soon as new information is submitted by officials at PHS. He also noted that non-athletic events pertaining to PHS are included in the master schedule at www.highschoolsports.net.
“If you are someone who likes to have up-to-date schedules for all activities (athletic and non-athletic) at PHS, I strongly encourage you to check out the website www.highschoolsports.net,” Jones said. “Once you get to the opening page, type in our zip code (82435), then you will have access to a current, real-time PHS activities calendar. You also can click on ‘My Account' at the top of the screen to set up a very simple account. This would allow you to be immediately notified anytime there are schedule changes made at PHS.”
Schedule change notifications from www.highschoolsports.net can be set up so that they are sent to one or more e-mail accounts. Also, the option is available to have notifications sent to a cell phone via text message.
September 01, 2008 6:34 am

Martha Obermueller

Sept. 8, 1919 - Aug. 26, 2008
Martha Frieda Sophia Kellner Obermueller, 88, of Sheridan, died Tuesday, Aug. 26, at Memorial Hospital of Sheridan County.
She was born in Wilcox, Nebr., on Sept. 8, 1919 to Henry and Julia Kellner. She married Reinold Obermueller in Lincoln, Kans., on April 25, 1943. Martha worked with her husband for many years in their country grocery store in Kansas. They moved to Greeley, Colo., in 1970, then in 1974 moved to Sheridan, and in 1975 opened Yellowstone Modular Homes.
She worked at JC Penney, Wal-Mart, and with her son, Brian, at Sheridan Homes. She loved watching NASCAR, Jeff Gordon #24 was her favorite driver. She enjoyed crocheting, dancing, fishing, playing cards, especially pinochle, and she bowled until she was 82 years old.
Martha was preceded in death by her parents; her youngest daughter, Jackie, in 2005; her grandson, Corey, in 1991; her husband, Reinold, in 1982; and five brothers and six sisters.
She is survived by her children, Darla Lotz of Sheridan, Peggy Landis of Lancaster, Pa., Candy Morris of Centralia, Wash., and Brian (Renee) Obermueller of Sheridan; her son-in-law, Ron Harmon, of Sheridan; 15 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Sheridan on Wednesday, Sept. 3, at 10 a.m.
Memorials may be made in Martha's name to Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1300 West 5th, Sheridan, WY 82801.
Kane Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
The Gunbarrel fire burning west of Cody has forced the closure of two Buffalo Bill State Park areas.
Until further notice, the North Fork Campground and Sheep Mountain day-use area are closed to the public.
The fire drew within 10-12 miles of Cody on Wednesday
"The campground is currently serving as a staging area for the helicopters used in the firefighting efforts," said a press release issued Wednesday evening by the Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources department. "Persons with reservations at the North Fork Campground may find that their campgrounds have been moved to the North Shore Campground."
The Sheep Mountain day use area is being used as the firefighter base camp, the release said. Nearly 350 personnel are working the fire.
For further information on campground availability at Buffalo Bill State Park, call (307)587-9227.
August 27, 2008 3:00 pm

Lower grades fuel enrollment

Powell opening day numbers up from last year
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Powell High School principal Bill Schwan (left) explains something during a student during freshman orientation last week as as Alice Pinter, Taylor Swensen and Alyssa Rodriguez listen. When school opened Monday, the PHS student body included 123 freshmen.
Tribune photo by Don Amend
Increased elementary enrollment helped push opening-day enrollment in the Powell School District above last year when students reported for school Monday.
A considerable increase in enrollment in the alternative high-school program at the Shoshone Learning Center also was a factor in the increase.
A total of 1,691 students were enrolled the first day, up from last year's enrollment of 1,674.
Elementary enrollment in the Powell's three elementary schools increased by 29 students over last year. Much of the increase is due to higher enrollment in the kindergarten and first-grade classes.
Southside has enrolled 294 students this year, while Parkside and Westside each has enrolled 231. Southside's larger enrollment stems from two new first-grade classrooms and one new kindergarten class authorized by the school board for this year, and the transfer of an additional kindergarten class created last year from Parkside School.
Clark School has 17 students attending, the same number as last year.
Powell Middle School's enrollment on opening day was 375, compared to 387 a year ago.
Powell High School also is down from last year, with 509 students enrolled. School opened last year with 534 students at PHS. The Shoshone Learning Center, however, has 34 students enrolled, compared to nine on the first day last year.
First grade is the largest class in the district, with 145 students enrolled. The smallest classes are the fourth, sixth and 10th grade classes, each of which has 118 students.
This week's enrollment numbers are tentative and tend to change during the first few weeks. Students who have left the district may not have officially transferred or dropped out as yet. Such students must be kept on the roll for 10 days before being dropped. In addition, students moving into the district may not have enrolled as yet.
The district will release an adjusted report after 10 days of school as required by state law.
August 27, 2008 2:56 pm

Finesse and power

Kienlen, Stockdale bring mix of talents to court
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Alexa Kienlen (left) and Taylor Stockdale (right) will be aiming for back-to-back doubles titles in 2008. The duo won the state championship at No. 3 doubles last year. This time around, however, they'll begin the season as the Lady Panthers' No. 1 doubles team. Tribune photo by David Dickey
Finesse and power — the pairing of those elements, according to Powell High School tennis coach Ray Bieber, can produce an almost unbeatable combination when it comes to doubles play.
For proof of that statement, one needs to look no farther than the dynamic doubles duo of Lady Panthers Alexa Kienlen and Taylor Stockdale. With Kienlen providing a large portion of the finesse game and Stockdale providing the majority of the power game, that tandem was able to win the state title at No. 3 doubles in 2007. They did so after being paired together following last year's preseason tournament that determined the Lady Panthers' starting lineup.
“Taylor actually was competing in the singles tournament, and things just didn't work out for her,” Bieber said. “At the end (of the tournament), Alexa was left without a partner, so we put those two together. You could tell they were going to be a good team.
“You need that combination of finesse and power when you play doubles, and that's what you get with those two. That's part of the reason they've been so successful. They both bring different strengths to the court, and they complement each other very well. They also get along very well. That's a big part of it. If you can't get along, it makes it a lot harder. These two have always worked well together, and that's one of the reasons they've been such a good team.”
The tall addition to Powell Valley Hospital looks handsome and smart as its nears completion in late summer 2008 — a little later than hoped for, but handsome and smart just the same
It may look even better with the realization that the medical facility is built without a levy on taxpayers.
True, there is nearly $3 million of public funds in the project, the fruits of successful application by the Powell Hospital District to the Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board. The hospital district had to compete with others for the life, health and safety grant money.
That's in keeping with the self-help nature of the project. A few years back, the hospital board's master facility planning process determined that the only way to keep pace with growth in patient volumes was a capital building project to start addressing priority needs. At the top of the urgent needs list were consolidation of patient treatment in one location and upgrading mechanical and electrical systems. The hospital board said, “Let's get on with it.”
Hospital trustees added one caveat: “We're not going to the taxpayers with a bond issue.”
Their objective had an $8.2-million price tag. They convinced the State Loan and Investment Board of the worthiness of the project to cover more than a third of the cost, and then tackled the rest. The hospital itself and Powell Valley Healthcare, which operates the district facilities, committed $1.5 million from internal cash reserves.
Then, much like any other business would do, the hospital enterprise turned to the financial marketplace to borrow up to $4 million from a local bank. And finally, the Powell Medical Foundation helped to coordinate a local fundraising campaign to come up with another $500,000 from donors with an interest in better healthcare facilities in the community.
It's important to note that the $4 million in borrowing will be repaid with hospital operating revenues and not out of hospital district tax receipts. The new building's physician offices will provide for more doctors, dispensing more medical services, and that's the key to retiring the obligation.
All the pieces fit together, and no one will see a bump in their tax bill. Thank a hospital board member for that.
Some people less serious about elections
With his ears as large as they are, voters must think Mickey Mouse would make a good listener.
Mickey picked up a ballot for Powell's town council in last Tuesday's primary election.
On county ballots, Bullwinkle Moose, Goofy, Pluto, Donald & Daffy Duck, Fred Flinstone and Mickey & Minnie Mouse received write-in votes for a host of offices.
“Pretty good company, isn't it?” quipped House District 25 Republican candidate Dave Bonner.
Powell Republican Pat Slater launched a serious write-in campaign against Bonner, publisher of the Powell Tribune, but both candidates saw more frivolous opposition from “Cowpie,” “Pogo,” and “Slack.”
What those results mean is anyone's guess.
By law, an option must be provided for voters to “write-in” the candidate of their choice, giving everyone ballot access of sorts. However, according to state statute, what's written-in does not have to be actually read unless there are enough votes to win the election. So, as long as self-penned votes are less than number of votes received by winning candidates, write-in ballot are never even seen.
As an experiment, Park County clerk Kelly Jensen decided to record all write-in votes this year. She was a little sad to see the results.
“It's disappointing to see what (some) people do with their opportunity to vote and bring in a candidate,” Jensen said. “I don't think people realize how much work has to go into (counting write-ins).”
“The winds are just howling,” Clint Dawson said Wednesday, describing the wind's rate around the Gunbarrel Fire.
Dawson is the zone fire manager for Shoshone National Forest.
In the valley — in the vicinity of the newly-relocated Gunbarrel Fire camp at Buffalo Bill State Park — the wind was gusting to 40-60 mph in the early afternoon on Wednesday. The new incident command camp is just above the reservoir west of Cody.
An aircraft flying over the fire Wednesday reported winds reaching 115 mph at 11,000 feet, Dawson said.
The fire was was spotting on the east side of 12,000-foot high Trout Peak, according to an incident report.
Wind often is the rule rather than the exception in the hills and mountains above the reservoir, but Dawson described these fierce winds as “abnormal.”
A red-flag warning was issued for the fire area again on Wednesday. That means low humidity and windy conditions likely will translate to potential fire growth and extreme fire behavior, said Mark Giacoletto, Shoshone Forest fire management officer.
As of Wednesday morning, the Gunbarrel Fire was roughly 10-12 miles west of Cody and north of U.S. 14-16-20. It had grown by 3,424 acres since Monday to a total of 57,384 acres and extended about 24 miles roughly from east to west. Lightning ignited the fire about 38 miles west of Cody on July 26.
August 27, 2008 12:45 pm

Connie F. Mason

Jan. 4, 1953 - Aug. 17, 2008
Funeral services will be today (Thursday) at 2 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Cody for Connie F. Mason, 55, who died of cancer Sunday, Aug. 17 at her Cody home.
She was born Jan. 4, 1953, in Powell, daughter of Kenneth D. and Ilene F. (Gillette) Kobbe. Connie attended schools in Powell and graduated from Powell High School in 1972. She married Rodney Mason in Cody on April 7, 1973.
Connie enjoyed being a homemaker, especially her gardening and cooking. She enjoyed the times shared fishing and camping with friends and family. She was a member of the Eagles Auxiliary and an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church.
Survivors include her husband Rodney in Cody; her mother, Ilene Kobbe of Powell; her sister, Cindy Peterson of Powell; nephews Randy, Brian (Pam)and Kenny (Terry) Peterson, Richard (Micki), David (Jennifer) and Dennis Mason, Allen (Kathy) Jones, Bill (Valerie) and Scott Witkowski; nieces Wendy McClure and Debbie (Keith) Viles; mother-in-law, Edith Mason; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Deanna and Elmo Jones; brother-in-law, Al Witkowski; and sister-in-law, Jackque Biesemeier.
She was preceded in death by her father, Kenneth Kobbe.
Visitation will be Thursday at 9 a.m. till noon at Ballard Funeral Home, Cody. Burial will be in Riverside Cemetery.
The family would appreciate memorials to Spirit Mountain Hospice, 707 Sheridan Ave., Cody, WY 82414.