Powell, WY


Humidity: 42%

Wind: 13 mph

Tessa Schweigert

Once again, Powell Valley Healthcare will be under the direction of a new leader.

It’s welcome news following a tumultuous year and a half.

A brief recap: former CEO Rod Barton resigned in 2010, and the organization hired a new CEO several months later. In the span of a year, that CEO would be hired twice — only to leave the job twice.

It’s a frustrating and all-too-common scenario: Driving down the highway, you see another car swerving or slowing down for no apparent reason. When you pass the vehicle, it becomes clear — with one hand on the wheel and the other clutching a cellphone, the driver is distracted.

While we’re all frustrated by distracted drivers talking on cellphones, many of us continue to do it.

‘It’s a new beginning,’ says outgoing chief Tim Feathers

Tim Feathers finished his final shift as Powell’s police chief on Friday. Moments later, Roy Eckerdt began his first.

As one career came to a close on Friday, another began. Tim Feathers retired as Powell’s police chief, and Roy Eckerdt, formerly a sergeant, took over.

Eckerdt now faces the challenge of building upon the department’s strengths and driving a fresh vision while guiding a young police force.

Residents ‘Pay it Forward’ and give Cody woman a car

On a frigid Friday in early December, a woman walked along a road in Cody, loaded down with bags of groceries, a gallon of milk in one hand and a gallon of water in the other. Driving by, Brook Grant of Cody noticed the woman, whom she had seen walking frequently, but only in the summer.

Last week, a group of residents gave a woman a car. They did not know her — not even her name. They only knew of her need.

She’s a hardworking single mother who couldn’t afford a vehicle, so she walked everywhere, even on frigid December days. On one of those walks, Brook Grant of Cody saw her and offered her a ride. From there, Grant organized a Facebook group and called it “Paying it Forward.” Donations soon came from Cody, Powell, Lovell and surrounding communities.

On Thursday — less than two weeks after Grant first met the woman — she gave her the keys to a car.

The story exemplifies the true spirit of giving in the Big Horn Basin — something that’s certainly alive and well. While this story is especially heartwarming at Christmas time, the spirit of giving is evident in the community year-round.

Just looking at a few stories from Powell over the past year illustrate the unceasing generosity of our small agricultural community.

In January, Alexa Lazar-Minnix, then a junior at Powell High School, was seriously injured in a horrible car wreck. Within a couple of weeks, the community gathered for a fundraiser, raising thousands of dollars to help her family with medical costs. In September, the “Hitting for Hometown Heroes” softball tournament raised another $3,000 for Alexa, helping her with the transition to a Colorado hospital.

In May, residents raised nearly $40,000 for Zach Wagner of Powell, who was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. Wagner underwent a successful surgery in Arizona. “I’m so blessed to be in this community,” Wagner said following last spring’s fundraiser.

Throughout the year, Powell Troop Support sends care packages to soldiers serving our country. For the Christmas holiday, the group sent 210 boxes to soldiers in Afghanistan and Kuwait. Donations totaling nearly $3,000 covered the postage costs.

Every holiday season, the Christmas Basket Program distributes gifts to those in need. Since  1949, Sally Montoya and other volunteers have faithfully served, giving to countless families over the decades.

These are just several examples of the many ways Powell and the surrounding communities give to those in need. Youth athletic teams, churches, charitable organizations, educational programs and other community groups regularly receive support from local residents and businesses. Of course, this generosity goes well beyond Wyoming — over the year, residents have given to flood victims in North Dakota, orphans in Haiti, families struggling in Mozambique, Africa, and many other causes.

This is the season to gather in holiday traditions, to worship, to celebrate and to reflect on the past year. This also is a time to be thankful for the generosity of our neighbors, friends and strangers who make this community a better place.

For the second time this year, the Powell City Council is considering an electric rate increase.

The city is proposing a 15 percent increase for residential and commercial users. If approved, the increase will show up on January utility bills.

“Our wholesale cost went up 22 percent. This is the minimum we could do,” City Administrator Zane Logan told councilmen.

Wholesale cost increases through the Wyoming Municipal Power Agency have resulted in higher electricity bills for three consecutive years. In April, residents saw a 10 percent hike in their electric fees. Rates increased by 11 percent in 2010 and by 5 percent in 2009.

If you see flames and plumes of smoke billowing at the Park County Fairgrounds on Saturday, don’t be alarmed.

The Powell Volunteer Fire Department will burn the old manager’s house and garage at the fairgrounds this weekend if the weather cooperates and everything goes as planned.

Windsor Energy’s decision to give up a controversial drilling project in the Shoshone National Forest may be for the best.

The company sought to drill an exploratory gas well inside the forest’s boundary and roughly seven miles northwest of the Clark community. Officials announced last week that they’re backing off the project at this time. Windsor still will retain its lease and could pursue drilling in the area in the future. But for now, Windsor won’t drill inside the Shoshone Forest.

Project includes replacing four blocks of waterline, widening street

It’s a scenario repeated too often over the years: a Division Street waterline breaks on a frigid winter day, sending water gushing down the street while leaving residents and businesses nearby without service.

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