Monthly Archives: May 2012

S&S strives for progress before ’49ers

by nathan oster

After taking much of the Memorial Day weekend off, S&S Builders resumed work on downtown Greybull streets on Tuesday morning.

The terms of the contract prevent the contractor from working during Greybull’s Days of ’49 celebration, so there is expected to be a major push in the next seven days, including this Saturday, to make improvements within the one-block stretch of Greybull Avenue lying between Fifth and Sixth streets.

According to discussion at Thursday’s weekly construction meeting, curb and gutter will come first, followed by the pavement and, lastly, the sidewalk.  While the main focus will be Greybull Avenue, some demolition work is also planning in the next few days on the east side of South Sixth Street, roughly between Second Avenue South and First Avenue South.

S&S spokesmen said no work will be done between now and the Days of ’49 on the corners in front of the Bank of Greybull or the Historic Hotel Greybull.  The demolition in front of the hotel is expected to begin immediately after ’49ers.

In other construction-related news:

* Ben Steed of WYDOT reported that the department had received a “notice to proceed” with the paving of the new parking lot at the corner of First Avenue North and Sixth Street and that the work was expected to begin shortly.

* Flashing, red lights to make the four-way stop signs at the main intersection more visible have been ordered and are expected to arrive soon, according to S&S spokespeople.  Steed said WYDOT’s traffic people opposed the idea of adding “message signs,” feeling that they would be too distracting.  “It is possible to have too many signs,” Steed said.

Houk to resign at year’s end

by nathan oster

Greybull Mayor Frank Houk has announced his intent to leave office at the end of this year, which would be halfway through the four-year term he was elected to serve.

“I have appreciated the opportunity to serve the community these past 9 ½ years and I plan to finish this year,” he said in a statement. “I do not plan to serve the remaining two years on my term after this year.

“I do plan to spend more time with my children, grandchildren, my church and other friends in this community.”

Houk is in his second term as mayor.  Prior to that, he served on the council, and before that, for 20 years as Greybull’s superintendent of schools.

This is, of course, a municipal election year, and the filing window is now open at Town Hall for two seats on the council that will expire Dec. 31. Those seats are currently held by Kay Fleek and Jan Johnson, neither of whom is seeking re-election.

As of Tuesday at noon, no one had filed for either vacancy. The filing period closes at the end of the business day Friday, June 1.

Houk had hoped that candidates would be able to file for mayor, just as they could for council, during the current filing period, and that a two-year term as mayor would appear on the primary and general election ballots for voters to decide.

That will not be the case, however.

Big Horn County Clerk Dori Noyes said that with no formal notification of a vacancy, it will fall back on the town to decide the process for filing it.

Town Attorney Scott McColloch said the state statutes are clear.

“A vacancy in the office of mayor is filled from the governing body,” according to statute, meaning that one of the four council members would need to be appointed mayor.

And that council member’s appointment, according to statute, would create a vacancy (on the council) and that is filled by the governing body, who is to serve until a successor is elected at the next general election.”

Bob Graham and Bob McGuire will be the holdovers on the council when 2013 begins, with each of them having two years remaining on their four-year terms.

Chamber raffles autographed Kosich ball

by marlys good

The Greybull Area Chamber of Commerce will be raffling a John Kosich autographed baseball in a fund-raiser that kicks off during the annual Days of ’49 celebration.

The baseball was donated by GHS grad “Sam” Small of Crooked River Ranch, Ore. How did Sam acquire the ball? Well, he admitted, “There is nothing romantic or exciting about it.  We were cleaning out Cora’s (Sam’s wife is GHS grad Judy Grant) house after she passed away and it was in the boys’  (Bill and Dick) bedroom. Bill didn’t know anything about it so we assume it was Dick’s; he passed away several years ago.”

Sam took the ball home and it “lived on my nightstand for a few years. Then I was searching for something else and ran across it. I got to thinking that it should be in Greybull, not out here in Oregon, so I got the idea to send it back, see if it could be used (as a fundraiser) in some way. And I thought someone there might appreciate it.”

Kosich, a native of Vodizza, Italy, who immigrated to Chicago when he was 12 years old, played both baseball and football at Bowen High School in Chicago. He was All-Chicago in both sports, and signed to play professional baseball with the Chicago White Sox upon his graduation.

Playing was put on the back shelf when Kosich enlisted in the Army. After the war, although he had the opportunity to return to professional baseball when his contract was purchased by the Chicago Cubs, he decided to further his education and entered the University of Wyoming where he made a name for himself in both sports. In baseball he was an all-conference catcher for four years. Kosich told one of his former players that he had caught every game in his four years at UW, including all double-headers.

Kosich batted over .300 each of his four years “He was as tough as they came,” said Mike Schutte. “If you ever noticed his hands and fingers, I think most of his fingers had been bruised, knocked out of their sockets or broken a few times during his career. Catchers played with very little protection in his days.”

He played offensive and defensive lineman on the football team and was the first University of Wyoming football player to be named to an All-America team.

Kosich was inducted into the University of Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame in both football and baseball. His write-up at that time read: “John Kosich was one of the most outstanding and durable two-sport athletes in Wyoming history. A four-year letterman in both football and baseball, Kosich missed just two games in four seasons due to an injury. He earned either first or second team all-conference each of his four years in both sports.

Kosich is probably best remembered by Greybullites for the impact he made on the young people he taught and coached  in the 50s. He influenced dozens of kids during his tenure in Greybull and left his mark on their lives.

His influence extended to the baseball-loving, including a “Midget All-Star” team who took on an undefeated Billings, Mont. Midget League team that hadn’t lost a game all season – until it faced Greybull that is.

Kosich also played on the Greybull men’s team. Schutte, who lived about 100 yards more or less from the baseball field, was an avid fan.

“Greybull had a great town team with Kosich, John Copenhaver, other locals and a few UW players that we recruited for the summer and who were given jobs at the bentonite plant or other places.

“During one game, Greybull was at bat and John was sitting on the home bench down first base line. There was just a bench, no dugout or any kind of protection. The Greybull batter hit a line drive foul ball which hit John in the head and somersaulted him off the back of the bench. I think it would have killed someone else, or severely injured them. John got up shaking his head and said, “What’s wrong? Didn’t I have my mask on?”

Kosich died Jan. 3, 2009, in Billings, where he, wife Dorothy and sons, Lew, Daniel and Milo had lived after they left Greybull.

Schutte said, “He taught us about hard work … he emphasized that doing anything well in life would require dedication and hard work and that we would get knocked down many times and have to get back up and keep going on. He (told us) “develop that attitude now and it will serve you well the rest of your life.”

Sam said after his high school year, “I played baseball with John and I learned a lot from him. Later I coached a Babe Ruth team in Riverton, and I had learned enough from him that our team won the state title – that was in 1963.”

Kosich and wife Dorothy last visited Greybull in 2002. At the time, he said,  “Even though we have lived in Billings for decades, we still consider Greybull our home.”

We think Kosich would be honored that a baseball autographed decades ago would be used to better and enrich the lives of people of his adopted hometown.

Still no filers for town seats

by nathan oster

There have been some “tire kickers” who picked up applications, but as of Tuesday at 2 p.m., no one had filed for either of the two expiring seats on the Greybull Town Council.

Jan Johnson and Kay Fleek, the current holders of those council seats, have announced that they do not intend to seek re-election to the council.

Filing for the two, four-year terms ends Friday at 5 p.m.

To file, visit Town Hall.

Other posts

All’s quiet on the county front, as well. As of Tuesday at 2 p.m., Jerry Ewen and Linda Harp were the only two filers for the Republican nomination for a single seat on the Big Horn County Commission.

Filing at the courthouse in Basin ends Friday at 5 p.m.

The seat, currently held by Ewen, carries a four-year term.

In other filing news, Randy Royal has filed his Letter of Intent to seek retention as the Circuit Court magistrate.

Town gives proposed budget second reading

by nathan oster

With less money coming in from the state and fewer projects in the works, the Town of Greybull’s proposed budget for 2012-13 is more than $1 million less than the one the council approved for the current fiscal year.

The town council approved the second reading of its proposed budget during a special meeting Thursday.  The third and final reading is scheduled for Monday, June 11.

For the fiscal year that begins July 1, the town is proposing $4.38 million in revenues and expenditures.  For the 2011-12 fiscal year, the budget reflected $5.4 million in revenues and expenditures.

Town Clerk Kathy Smith informed the council at its first work session in April that general fund expenditures would need to be lower due to the lack of supplemental/direct distribution funding from the state.

For the current budget year, the town received $314,820 in hardship and distribution funds.  For 2012-13, the town will receive $174,218, a drop of approximately $140,000.

In fact, the town’s general fund budget this year comes to $1.23 million, down from $1.44 million budgeted for the current fiscal year.

The administration expenditures line item rose from $161,002 to  $174,500, in part due to the hiring of a new administrator, but several other departments will be working with less in their budgets, including police ($541,500, down from $545,000), municipal judge ($70,000, down from $92,000), fire ($21,000, down from $27,000), streets and alleys ($171,000, down from $202,000), mosquito control ($47,500, down from $76,500) and parks and recreation ($126,000, down from $166,200).

Enterprise funds

If the budget is approved in its current form, town customers will notice a $3 increase in their monthly utility bills, with $2.50 being for water and 50 cents for sanitation.

Nearly half ($1.14) of the $2.50 increase in the base water rate goes directly to Big Horn Regional to offset costs linked to the further expansion of the regional water supply system.

The rest ($1.36) is to cover operation and maintenance costs.

Smith budgeted a 50 cent increase in the base sanitation rate to cover anticipated increases in landfill fees, as well as the purchase of a new garbage truck.

Rollouts shot down by town council

by nathan oster

The likelihood of the town ever switching to rollouts for the collection of garbage was greatly diminished Thursday when the Greybull Town Council directed Town Foreman Dalen Davis to pursue the purchase of a garbage truck with a left-hand-only drive setup.

Councilor Bob Graham, who cast the lone dissenting vote, had been pushing for a truck with a dual-drive setup (with steering wheels on both the left and right sides of the cab) and the hardware needed to one day install a grabber for the rollout dumpsters.

According to Davis, the town current has three garbage trucks, including an “alley truck.” The plan, he said, is to replace the blue truck that was purchased in 2004 and to keep the white truck, which is slightly older, as a backup truck.

Davis asked the council for direction on the type of truck to purchase. In presenting the bids, he said the town could get a dual-drive truck with the hardware needed for grabbers for around $185,000.  A truck set up exactly the same way as the one it will be replacing — in other words, one without the right-hand drive option — would cost about $8,000 less, or $177,000.

Mayor Frank Houk said he had asked Davis to get specs for both options, saying a dual-drive truck would give the town flexibility down the road to switch to rollouts, if it was ever deemed necessary.

“I thought rollouts were a dead issue,” said Councilman Bob McGuire.

Graham agreed that rollouts were a dead issue “for this council,” but quickly added, “For future council’s, I can guarantee that it’s going to come up again” as a way to combat rising landfill costs.

“I don’t disagree that the price (at the landfill) is going to go up, but I am not sure rollouts are the way to solve that price issue,” countered McGuire. “We’d be paying for something now that we may not use until 10 years from now.”

Graham said towns that have already switched to rollouts, like Lovell and Worland, went through similar procedures.  They reason they switched, he said, was because of rising landfill fees, not to mention problems with illegal dumping in Dumpsters.

Graham added that with technology improvements people could ultimately be billed just for the amount of garbage in their rollouts at the time of collection. With the current system, he argued, it isn’t right “for a little old lady who takes a little bag to the Dumpster to be paying the same as I do or the same as a family of six. To me, I’d rather pay for whatever I put in the rollout.

“The landfill is going to raise its rate by a half cent, and the more we recycle, the more we take away, the higher their price is going to go because they have no other way to fund it until they finally figure out that it’s going to require some sort of mill levy.”

Councilors Jan Johnson and Kay Fleek admitted that they were initially intrigued by the rollout concept when it was first presented to them. But both said they heard vocal opposition to the plan from their constituents.

McGuire said he, too, heard “from a lot of people” who absolutely do not want rollouts.

“We all agree the price is going to go up … and whether they charge me $5 because I’m old or Kay $90 because she’s young, it’s still going to come out the same way.  The issue isn’t whether we have rollouts or dumpsters. The issue is still going to be financing on the bottom end, between the landfill and the town.”

The question, McGuire said, is whether the town can afford the $8,000 to $10,000 needed to equip the truck to collect rollouts.  For him, the answer is no.  McGuire said the timing isn’t right and that there are other more pressing needs, like costs associated with hiring an administrator, as well as for streets to be chip sealed and for more improvements at the Herb Asp Community Center.  Any of them are “now” issues, rather than “potential” ones. McGuire’s said his preference was for the $8,000 to $10,000 in savings to go to chip sealing.

When asked to weigh in on the matter, Davis said his preference would be for a left-hand drive truck, rather than the dual-drive truck.  When the vote was ultimately taken, it was 3-1, with Graham in the dissent.

Shirley Lenore Rannells


July 26, 1921 –May 22, 2012

Funeral services for Shirley Lenore Rannells were held May 26 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Shirley, 90, died May 22 at South Big Horn Hospital.

She was born July 26, 1921, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, the daughter of Dewey and Olive Annetta Crowley Hutchinson. She grew up and received her schooling in Twin Falls, Idaho, and graduated from Twin Falls High School. She attended Pasadena (Calif.) Junior College for two years.

During World War II, Shirley worked as a “Rosie the Riveter,” operating a rivet gun on machine gun turrets of the B-21 bombers.

In 1947 she entered the television program “Queen for a Day” and won the title. She later worked as a switchboard operator and at a periodontist‘s office in Salt Lake City, Utah.

She married James M. “Mid” Rannells Aug. 27, 1950.

Shirley worked on the family’s ranch at Hyattville for 35 years. She grew a large garden, canned, baked pies and raised bum lambs. She enjoyed painting with oils and won numerous awards at regional art shows.

She was an avid long-distance swimmer and for many years took part in the Senior Olympics, winning many gold medals.

Shirley’s family was very important to her. She attended the school activities and sporting events of her children and her grandchildren.

She was a member of the Daughters of the Nile and a 50-year member of the Order of the Easter Star, serving as the Worthy Grand Matron for the state of Wyoming in 1984.

Her husband James “Mid” Rannells, brother Roland Hutchinson, grandson Larry Rannells, son-in-law Will Gregson and daughter-in-law Darlene Rannells preceded her in death.

She is survived by her five children and their spouses, Kathy Gregson of Frederickburg, Va., Jim and Marti Rannells of Basin, Judy Rannells of Murray, Utah, Lori and Ken Thon of Basin and Debbi and Nolan “Whiz” Beck of Marathon, Wis.; her sister Maida Spjut of Tremonton, Utah; 19 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter.

The Order of Easter Star graveside rites were held at the Hyattville Cemetery.

Memorials in Shirley’s name are being accepted at Security State Bank, Box 531, Basin, WY 82410. Proceeds will benefit The Shack.

Lexie Broers

Nov. 28, 1946 – May 24, 2012

Funeral service for Lexie Broers of Gillette were held May 29 at the Gillette Memorial Chapel.

She was born Nov. 28, 1946, in Miles City, Mont., and spent her childhood in the Laurel/Billings area before moving to Gillette in 1983. She married Larry Broers in August 1990.

Lexie worked at the Cordero mine for several years and most recently at Don’s Supermarket. She retired in 2010.

Lexie enjoyed gardening. The greatest joy in her life was her grandchildren. She doted on them through the years.

Lexie read her Bible daily and never hesitated to share her testimony with others.

Her father preceded her in death.

She is survived by her husband Larry of Gillette; her mother Sylvia Ralston, also of Gillette; her children, Vieka Hudson of Des Moines, Iowa, Krista Wigner of Gillette, John Broers of Pierre, S.D. and Laura Smith of Rio Rancho, N.M.; two brothers, Will Ralston of Upton and Sheldon Ralston of Meeteetse, and eight grandchildren.

Ernest Roy Howe

Aug. 22, 1914 – May 26, 2012

Ernest Roy Howe, of Billings, passed away Saturday, May 26, 2012, at the age of 97.

Born Aug. 22, 1914, in Shell, Wyo., son of Eddie Claude and Josephine (Milward) Howe. He was one of eight children; four sisters and three brothers.  He was raised on Beaver Creek and attended school in that area (lower Beaver School), located on the family ranch.

On April 2, 1938, he married Shirley Campbell in Red Lodge, Mont.  They lived and farmed in the Deaver, Wyo., area where they had three children.

He worked for the Deaver Irrigation District and on the Japanese relocation center at Heart Mountain, Wyo., the Wyoming Highway Department, and was a government packer for Yellowstone Park Service, handling a string of 10 mules.  He also worked for Weaver Construction and the sugar company in Lovell, Wyo.

For a number of years he had a country-western band called the Wyoming Wranglers.  He played the fiddle and the band was well known in the Deaver/Powell area.

Ernest and Shirley were divorced in 1964 and he moved to Billings. On March 5, 1965 he married Julia E. Johnson in Sheridan, Wyo.

In Billings. he worked for Yellowstone Exhibition (now Metra) as grounds superintendent starting in 1965 until he retired in March 1977.  During his tenure as grounds superintendent he became known for the beautiful flowers, especially petunias and sweet peas on the grounds as well as at his residence which was located on the fairgrounds midway.  After retiring he returned several summers, assisting on various projects on the grounds, but especially the growing of flowers.

He was baptized at 89 years old in the Sea of Cortes, San Felipe, Baja, Mexico, while visiting his daughter.  He was a member of Elks, AARP and PERS.

Ernest passed away at Aspen Meadows nursing home where he had been a resident for four years.  There he was fondly known to the staff as their “Singing Cowboy.” We want to extend our thanks to the staff for his care at Aspen Meadows.

Survivors include his wife Julia of 47 years; two daughters, Janeen (Sam) Sefren of Apache Junction, Ariz., and Saundra (Curtis) Martin of San Felipe, Baja, Mexico;  son Eddie Sam (Judie) of Gillette, Wyo.; 8 grandchildren;  13 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Cremation has taken place. Memorial services will be held at a later date.

Memorials may be sent to the Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter, 1735 Monad Rd., Billings MT 59102, or a charity of your choice.

Arrangements are by Cremation & Funeral Gallery.  Condolences may be sent to the family at www.cfgbillings.com through “Our Families.”

(PAID OBITUARY)


Downtown project passes the one-third mark

by nathan oster

Downtown businesses are feeling the pain as the construction project unfolding in front of their stores enters its fifth week, with no end in sight.

“It’s just killing us,” said an exasperated Joni Hansen, one of the owners of the Uptown Café.

Hansen said that with no parking in front and just a narrow, 4-foot walkway access for pedestrians, the restaurant has begun closing at 2 p.m. during the week.

“We should be closed every day … because every single day we are losing money,” she said. “There just isn’t anywhere to park, and this community is filled with older people who can’t walk a block or a block and a half.”

Hansen made the comments during the weekly construction meeting, which was attended by representatives of the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the prime contractor, S&S Builders of Gillette.

“There’s been a restaurant there for 96 years, and it would be a shame if we had to close it now,” Hansen said.

Another concern voiced Thursday was the safety of the intersection of Greybull Avenue and Sixth Street, where two of the four corners are torn up — and a third is likely to be added to that list in the coming weeks.

Marion Hansen of the Uptown Café said she’s seen trucks run through the intersection without stopping, and that the problem is the worst in the evenings due to the poor visibility of the signage.

Discussion at the meeting focused on what could be done to improve the visibility of the stop signs, particularly at night.  One suggestion was a flashing red light.  Another was to install signs before the intersection informing motorists of a “stop ahead.”

Edward Mitchell said no business has been more adversely impacted by the construction than his, which fronts North Sixth Street and is to the rear of the Historic Hotel Greybull. When the sidewalk in front of his store was removed, he lost all access, except for a temporary plank that was put there by construction workers.

“It’s hurting all of us,” he said. “We just have to bear with it until the project is finished. No matter how much we complain, it won’t make the project get done any sooner.”

 

Gas tanks

The project hit a temporary snag when the town’s public works department, while in the course of relocating services, discovered the presence of three underground gas tanks in front of the law office of Scott McColloch.

The tanks were discovered approximately 4 feet below the surface, and while there was some concern among officials about how long it would delay the project, those were alleviated.

Paul Koenig, the project inspector for WYDOT, said the tanks were removed on Thursday.  “They’re out and gone,” he said. “The DEQ gave us clearance to pull them; there was no contamination obvious or present.

“So that didn’t really hold us up at all.”

As for the week ahead, Koenig said Tuesday the initial push will be to get the sidewalks poured on the north side of Sixth Street between Greybull Avenue and First Avenue North.

From there the focus will shift to finishing up the rear access area behind the Bank of Greybull, then to the stretch of Greybull Avenue between Fifth Street and Sixth Street.

First will come the curb and gutter likely toward the end of this week. Koenig said the hope is to have the street paved by the end of next week and, long term, to have the sidewalks along that stretch finished by the Days of ’49.  That, however, is weather dependent.

When asked Tuesday about how the project is going, Koenig said it’s at about 35 percent finished. “Getting that block done between Sixth and Fifth will help immensely,” he said. “When that happens, we’ll be past the midway point.”

Koenig said he feels for the businesses that have been impacted.

“Everything we’re going to be doing in these next couple of weeks will be geared toward not only getting ready for the Days of ’49, but also toward getting parking in there for those businesses.

“The project can only go as fast as it can go … it’s the nature of the beast with construction and this particular project.”