Daily Archives: November 1, 2012

Sixth-cent funds would fund pool O&M

by nathan oster

Streets would be paved, parks improved and infrastructure added around Big Horn County if voters approve a temporary, specific-purpose, sixth-cent tax question that will be on the ballot in Tuesday’s general election.

While it is a countywide issue, with each of the nine incorporated municipalities standing to benefit to the tune of about $24.8 million in projects, it was Greybull and its elected municipal officials who led the initial charge for the sixth-cent tax.

Bob Graham, a member of the Greybull Town Council, attended council town meetings throughout the county earlier this year, trying to educate them on the specific purpose tax and how it could be used to benefit them.

The urgency from Graham is directly tied to concerns about the community swimming pool.

Now four decades old, and having exceeded its anticipated life expectancy long ago, the pool has been limping along in recent years. In fact, it took a community-wide effort to get the pool reopened after school officials voted to shut it down when structural deficiencies were discovered.

If the sixth-cent tax is approved, it would bring a benefit to Greybull of $2.601 million.

Of that total, $2 million would be used for operations and maintenance of the pool for the next 20 years. The remaining amount, $601,000, would represent the bonded amount ($400,000) and the cost of borrowing.

If the school district’s bond issue were to fail, the town would apply the $400,000 toward reconstruction and remodeling of the existing pool and it would seek a $1 million grant through the Wyoming Business Council, according to Mary Keating Scott, of George K. Baum and Company.

 

Disproportionate

A group calling itself the Concerned Citizens for the Betterment and Development of Big Horn County this week launched an effort to educate voters on what’s at stake with respect to the sixth-cent tax.

According to an ad appearing in this issue, the group notes that 80 percent of the total loan amount requested for all nine of the county’s municipalities would be paid by sales and use taxes generated in Greybull, Basin and Lovell.

The group also emphasizes that the three largest communities would be paying back more than $20 million to receive the benefits of $8.3 million in projects.

“That,” according to the group’s ad, “is paying back nearly $3 for every $1 the three towns were to receive.”

Figures released by the Wyoming Department of Revenue support the group’s claim that the three largest municipalities generate the most in terms of sales and use taxes.

According to the Aggregated Sales and Use Tax Distribution Report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012, the fifth-cent, local general-purpose tax generated $1.634 million over a 12-month period.

Proceeds from a sixth-cent tax would closely mirror those of the fifth-cent tax, according to a spokesperson for the Wyoming Department of Revenue.

For FYI 2012, the fifth-cent sales tax totals, by municipality, were as follows:  Lovell, $330,000; Greybull, $258,000; Basin, $179,000; Cowley, $91,000; Byron, $83,000; Burlington, $40,000; Deaver, $24,000; Frannie, $19,000, and Manderson, $15,000.  Big Horn County’s share came to $589,000.

The use tax totals, by community, were as follows for FY 2012: Lovell $76,000; Greybull, $59,000; Basin, $41,000; Cowley, $21,000; Byron, $19,000; Burlington, $9,000; Deaver, $5,700; Frannie, $4,400; and Manderson, $3,700.  Big Horn County’s share was $136,000.

Graham said in an interview this week that he has heard the arguments against the sixth-cent tax, including the one put forward by the citizen’s group that the three largest communities would be carrying a burden much larger than those carried by the smaller communities.

His response was that, “The people of Manderson, Basin and Burlington, they shop in Greybull too,” he said. “And on the north end, people in Cowley and Deaver, they shop in Lovell.

“Just because these communities don’t have retail stores doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to their share of the tax.  This is one county.  These projects are going to improve the quality of life for everyone.”

 

The pool

As the ones putting forward the project, the burden of convincing the public of the need for these projects falls upon the elected leaders in the nine municipalities.

In Greybull, Graham has been at the forefront of the effort.

In that role, he’s been one of the people getting the questions.

One question he has received deals with whether the pool would be utilized by the public to the degree that it justifies the investment.

“You can’t go off of per-capita use,” he said. “It’s important that we have assets in our community that make it a viable place to live, not just work and home.  You have to have things for people to do.  If we vote down the swimming pool because not enough people are going to use it…where do you draw the line?

“The next thing, we’ll be asked to do away with the ballfields, because the Little League uses it only six months of the year, and by 30 or so kids.  Or the senior center.  Granted, they have Meals on Wheels. They go a great service. But you have to have those kind of things.  If you walked in there on a Tuesday and saw 12 people having lunch, do you evaluate a senior center based upon what it costs to provide lunch to those 12 people? We’d have to get rid of the senior center. My point is, where do you stop? Go to the city park.  On any given day, you might see two moms with three little kids using the swing set. It costs a lot of money to take care of that park, including $70,000 for the restrooms alones.

“All these things enhance the community…and are what draws people who want to be a part of our community,” he continued. “Not everyone who comes to Wyoming wants to hunt or fish.  If you don’t provide a healthy environment – senior centers, parks, ballfields, pools – then the community is going to die.

“It’s either invest in the community now or contribute to the death of it by not voting for the tax.”

Graham also addressed a criticism heard throughout the community that not enough planning went into the project, and that some communities put forward projects that didn’t rise to the level of qualifying as a “need.”

To that charge, Graham said, “I don’t live in those communities, I don’t know what it’s wants and needs are, but I do know this: Manderson, Frannie, Deaver and Burlington are small, small communities.   They have no opportunity, no tax base, no way of getting the projects they want without something like a sixth-cent tax, or some kind of funding outside of their communities.”

Graham said that even if they were to obtain grants or loans that required matches, their rate structure would be dramatically impacted.

“That’s why a lot of these projects have been placed on the back burner for all these years,” he said. “Communities were hoping, wishing that something would come along to help them fund them.  I firmly believe that every project each town has come up with is a need — not just a want, but a need that would enhance their community and/or make people want to live there.”

Bond issue would pay for construction

by nathan oster

The proposed sixth-cent, special purpose tax has drawn the most interest and discussion, but it’s only one of two tax questions facing voters in Big Horn County School District No. 3 in Tuesday’s general election.

Voters will also be asked whether they support a $5.2 million, school district-sponsored bond question that would pay for the construction of a new swimming pool as well as equipment and furnishings for that facility.

The sample ballot published in last week’s issue contains the precise wording of the question — and shows how voters will be able to vote “for the bonds” or “against the bonds” when they step into the voting booth on Nov. 6.

A closer look at the issue and what’s what stake — both for the community and taxpayers:

 

The pool

The current pool was built four decades ago and has exceeded its anticipated life expectancy, in large part due to the efforts of the district’s maintenance team. In recent years, it has shown its age.

Concerns about the structural integrity of the pool and the safety of users forced then Supt. Roger Clark to shut it down in the spring of 2010.   After a big community-wide effort, the pool re-opened in November 2010.

It has remained open ever since, although as the Power of the Penny PAC notes, four decades of chlorine, water, humidity and heat have taken their toll on the facility.  The pool continues to leak from cracks that have developed over the years and can no longer be repaired.

The PAC also notes that the pool’s deck, ceiling and windows are deteriorating and that it is becoming increasingly expensive to operate and maintain because of its age and inefficiencies.

 

Proposed pool

Jim Bauer, of the school district’s architectural firm Bauer Group Architects, provided an overview of the proposed facility during a recent meeting of the pool subcommittee.

The pool was designed with a 40-year lifespan and as “community friendly” as possible, with an emphasis on factors that minimized the O&M costs over the lifespan of the pool.

The pool committee evaluated a number of sites before eventually settling on the one located on school property, between the Greybull Elementary School playground and the tennis courts. Bauer said the site stood out because of its close proximity to not only the school and the tennis courts but also the city park and a small baseball/soccer field directly behind the elementary school.

Trees that are currently growing on the site would be preserved under the concept plan presented last week by Bauer.  However, there would need to be some site modifications, including realignment of some sidewalks and the development of an additional parking lot between the facility and the tennis courts.

Bauer said the front door of the facility would face north and be accessible from the tennis court side.  The pool itself would be on the south half of the facility, with the thought being that it would get the most available light in that position.

The concept plan included a six-lane pool, just like the existing pool, as well as a “zero entry area” where seniors and small children would be able to enter the pool.  The current pool has no zero-entry area.

Bauer said the concept plan also includes provisions for a future slide, wading area and patio on the south end of the facility. The business end of the pool on the northern half of the facility would include change rooms, showers, toilets, and check-in, office and laundry areas.

Bauer said the proposed pool would seat 40-45 spectators and would have around its outside perimeter storage areas for large items as well as for some of the other items needed around the pool.

The concept plan that Bauer presented last week was for a facility of 14,320 square feet.  The existing pool is 10,440.

The pool would be constructed with energy efficiency in mind, Bauer said, noting that there would be windows around its perimeter as well as translucent panels to the east, south and west to maximize natural light around the year.  Those translucent panels are available with a factor of R-22, as opposed to the older ones which are R-7 and R-8, he said.

With the bond issue set at $5.2 million, and 3 percent of that required to go to O&M, and the school district set to receive at least $400,000 from the sixth-cent tax, there would be around $5.6 million to complete the project, Bauer said.

 

Cost to taxpayers

So what would construction of the new pool cost district taxpayers?

Mary Keating Scott, senior vice president of George K. Baum and Company, said the owner of a home with market value of $100,000 would pay an extra $2.30 per month, or $27.55 annually.   For the owner of a $200,000 home, it would come to $4.60 per month, $55.10 annually.

According to Power of the Penny PAC campaign literature, the bond measure would pay 93 percent of the cost of the swimming pool.  The other 7 percent, or about $400,000, would be generated by the sixth-cent tax put forward by the county’s nine municipalities.

The PAC noted that the use of the bond issue and one-cent tax is the same approach that was used to build a new pool in Worland.

“The new community swimming pool would allow for water safety/education/therapy to continue to be provided to hundreds of children and adults each year,” according to Power of the Penny.

“Convenient open-swim hours would be available to the entire community.”

 

Options

Sara Schlattmann said the bond issue is crucial — but not to the degree of the sixth-cent proposal.

If Big Horn County voters reject the sixth-cent proposal, the bond issue is “dead in the water” even if it is approved by voters because there would be no funding source for the operation and maintenance of the new pool.

However, if it goes the other way, and the bond issue is defeated but the sixth-cent proposal is approved, the school district would have the option of using the sixth-cent revenue for upgrades to the existing pool and for future O&M costs, according to Schlattmann.

She hopes, however, that both win voter approval.

“Eventually that pool will have to close down, for mechanical or structural reasons,” she said.

The Greybull Recreation District is currently managing pool operations under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding with the town and the school district, both of which are contributing $30,000 toward O&M costs. That MOU, however, states that the pool is to be shut down and the contributions of both the town and school district returned in the event of a major equipment breakdown.

Schlattmann conceded that the PAC has no clear vision what would happen at the end of the 20-year period, after all of the revenue generated by the sixth-cent tax is expended. “A new set of voters is going to have to decide that,” she said. “To us, 20 years is long-term planning.

“The pool should last longer than that … at that time, we as a community will have to make another decision.”

Local swimmers give Warriors a boost

by nathan oster

The Worland Warriors saw one of their team members, Carolyn Kennedy, capture a state title and the team capture fifth place out of 12 teams at the State 3A Swimming and Diving Championships over the weekend in Gillette.

Worland has produced two diving champions since 1978, but Kennedy was the first Lady Warrior to capture a state swimming title, taking first in the 100 butterfly thanks to a come-from-behind finish.

While her win was the highlight, Coach Kim Wyman noted that the team turned in many other great performances. With 97.5 points, the Warriors topped two of their closest rivals, beating Powell, with 96 points, and Cody, with 94.  Jackson Hole won 3A with 288.5 points.

The Greybull-Riverside contingent didn’t disappoint.

Elizabeth Dietrich, Brianna Jolley and Taylor Werbelow all placed for the Warriors.

Jolley and Werbelow swam on Worland’s 200 medley relay team, which placed eighth in 2:08.85.

Dietrich and Werbelow swam on Worland’s 200 freestyle relay, which was seventh in 1:51.22.

Dietrich and Jolley swam on the 400 freestyle relay, whichh was fifth in 4:01.51.

Jolley was the only Greybull-Basin swimmers who placed in an individual event, taking eighth in the 100 butterfly in 1:08.39.

“I am really proud of the swim team this season and all the gains they have made,” said Wyman. “It was such a fun season with a lot of memories not just in the pool but friendships within the team.  They were a great group of kids to be around.

“The exciting thing is that we are a really young team.  We will lose our two seniors who led us in all the right directions this year and will welcome back 13 freshmen and sophomores and one junior.  The Lady Warriors swim team looks bright into the future.”

GMS teams open with wins

by nathan oster

All three Greybull Middle School boys basketball teams checked into the win column during the opening weekend of their season.

The sixth graders defeated Powell B 28-15 on Thursday before falling at Cody B 27-22 on Saturday.  The seventh graders had a similar showing, beating Powell 32-24 but losing to Cody 30-16.

“We have 11 kids out this year (for sixth grade), and with only seven practices before the first game, we are just working on basic skills so far,” said Ken Jensen, who coaches the  sixth and seventh graders. “Most of the kids have little or no experience starting the season. We are concentrating on defensive skills. We believe it takes at least two seasons to learn how to play man-to-man defense properly, so the first year we present lots of information, rules and concepts.

“Hopefully by seventh grade they remember what we teach them and react correctly, and by the eighth grade they can play on instinct instead of having to think about everything.”

The eighth graders, who are coached by Jared Collingwood, beat Powell 32-11 and Cody 29-22.

Powell is down this year, but Collingwood said he was still impressed with the way the kids “came out strong, got some early fast break points and took control of the game early.

“It was good for us, because it allowed us to slow it down and work on our halfcourt offense and defense. Our goal was to keep them below 10 coming out of halftime, but we fell short of that, but our fourth quarter was probably our best as far as basketball goes. We improved on running some of the things we wanted to and getting the looks we needed.”

Clancy Stoffers netted 12 points, Dustin Fox 10, Dante Sylvester six and Cade Dooley four for GMS.

In Cody, the eighth graders faced a team that beat them twice last season, including at the season-ending conference tournament.

“We knew it was going to be a game that we needed to play better and do some things we didn’t against Powell,” said Collingwood. “Our defense and rebounding was key. We pressured the ball and forced them out of some of the things they wanted to do.

“It was a great team effort defensively, but Dante Sylvester’s ball pressure truly set the tone for us; it was the foundation for what we did and all the kids stepped in and fed off that leadership he showed. On offense we were able to push the ball when needed and available due to the good defense and rebounding.”

Clancy Stoffers, Cade Dooley and Dawson Forcella “dominated the boards for us and Forcella really helped us control the tempo allowing him to work with Sylvester and Dustin Fox taking care of the ball offensively,” Collingwood continued. “We also got real good time out of our subs Mason Stebner, Hayden Howe and Jacob Harrold all came in off the bench and played tough defense, didn’t score offensively, but helped us run the offense and get into the things we want to do. Dustin Fox played excellent shooting the ball and attacking off the dribble and pressing the defense.”

Fox paced GMS with 10, followed by Sylvester with seven, Forcella six, Stoffers four and Dooley two.

GMS teams hosted Lovell on Tuesday and will tangle with Thermopolis today (Thursday, Nov. 1).  The eighth graders will play in Greybull, the sixth and seventh graders in Thermopolis.  Game time at both locations is 4:15 p.m.

Collingwood said he’d be taking some eighth graders, freshmen and sophomores to Bozeman, Mont., for a tournament weekend.  “It should be a good test and challenge for them to play with older kids and bigger schools,” he said.

James Anthony “Tony” Terry

Feb. 27, 1956 – Oct. 26, 2012

Memorial services for James Anthony “Tony“ Terry will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 2 at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 3086 in Basin. A memorial graveside service will be held Monday, Nov. 5 at 10 a.m. at the Knez Cemetery in Craig, Colo. Tony, 56, died Oct. 26 at the Washakie Medical Center in Worland.

He was born Feb. 27, 1956, in Craig, Colo., the son of James Elmer and Mary Lou Droic Terry. He graduated from high school in Casper. Tony moved to the Big Horn Basin area in 1998.

Tony married Elaine Jean Herman in July 2000 in Greybull.

He loved to decorate for the holidays, doing yard work and camping. His last trip was in September with his wife and Eagles Aerie 3086. Tony served as president of Eagles Aerie 3086 four times.  For a long time he called “Bingo” at the Eagles Lodge on Sundays.

His brother Dan Terry preceded him in death.

He is survived by his wife Elaine of Greybull; his parents, James E. and Mary Lou Terry of Craig; his son, Josh Maxwell of Greybull; daughter and son-in-law, Dan and Tammy Maxwell-Griffis of Hemet, Calif.; brother David Terry of San Francisco; two sisters and brothers-in-law, Marcia and Johnny Steffredo and Marsha and Mike Scullion, all of Craig; sister-in-law Robynn Terry of Basin and one granddaughter.

Walter “Skip” Louis Rieck

June 8, 1951 – Oct. 23, 2012

Memorial services for Walter “Skip” Louis Rieck will be held Saturday, Nov. 3, at 10 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Greybull. “Skip,” 61, died Oct. 23 at his home in Greybull.

He was born June 8, 1951, at Prairie du Chien, Wis., the son of Walter Lee and Anna Marie Weighner Rieck. He was raised in Wisconsin and graduated from Durand High School in 1971.

Skip’s employment with the railroad brought him to the Big Horn Basin in 1985. He married Susan Lunder Feb. 18, 1986.

Skip worked for the Burlington Northern railroad for 17 years until he was injured in 1987. He then worked for Bob Soliday of Rocky Mountain Tree Service for 14 years worked as flagger/traffic control for S&L Industrial for the past four years. His parents, Walter and Anna Marie Rieck of Alma, Wis., and his grandparents, Louis and Mary Weighner of Prairie du Chien, Wis., preceded him in death.

He is survived by his wife, Susan Marie Rieck of Greybull; two sons, Benjaman S. Rieck of Chehalis, Wash. and Louis L. Rieck of Greybull and his daughter Jessica Ann Marie Rieck of Greybull.

A memorial dart party and silent auction will be held at the Smokehouse Saloon in Greybull Sunday, Nov. 18 from 1-5 p.m.

Ruby Jean Bell

Jan. 23, 1942 – Oct. 27, 2012

Graveside services for Ruby Jean Bell of Greybull, formerly of Hot Springs, Ark., will be held at the Cutter-Morning Star Cemetery in Hot Springs on Nov. 2 at 10 a.m. Ruby, 70, died Oct. 27 at West Park Long Term Care Center in Cody.

She was born Jan. 23, 1942, in Lona, Ark., the daughter of Floyd Lutton and Emmogene Stiles Hall. She grew up in the Lona/Hot Springs area.

Ruby married Sherman Lee Bell on Jan. 30, 1960, in Hot Springs. The two were avid fishermen; they caught and ate lots of catfish. Ruby moved to Greybull five years ago.

Ruby loved to quilt, was an excellent seamstress and enjoyed doing handcrafts. She loved giving family and friends her homemade projects.

She loved attending New Hope Baptist Church in Rolla, Ark.

Her parents, her husband Sherman Lee Bell, sister Emma Lynn Thompson and foster sister Dorothy Faye Ragland preceded her in death.

She is survived by four children and their spouses, Edith and Raymond Shannon of Greybull, Alice and Mark Williams of Emblem, Ronda Bell of Ward, Ark., and Sherman Lee Bell II of Donaldson, Ark.; a brother, Floyd Hall of Malvern, Ark.; eight grandchildren; three great-grandchildren and special friend Jeanette Carruth of Little Rock, Ark.