Monthly Archives: December 2012

Peterson to chair Senate Revenue Committee

by david peck

Sen. Ray Peterson has a new assignment in the Wyoming Senate – a chairmanship.

Peterson (R-Cowley), in recent years a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was assigned by Senate leadership to become the new chairman of the Senate Revenue Committee, and he has also been named to the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, the same committee Rep. Elaine Harvey (R-Lovell) is chairing in the House of Representatives.

Incoming President of the Senate Tony Ross of Cheyenne called Peterson to give him the news, and all assignments were announced during a recent GOP caucus in Casper. Phil Nicholas of Laramie is the majority floor leader, and Eli Bebout of Riverton is the vice president of the Senate, as well as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“It’s an interesting committee,” Peterson said of the Revenue Committee. “All of the revenue bills start in the House, and most don’t make it out, so once a backlog exists in the Senate we’ll get to hear all kids of bills.”

Peterson spent last week in Cheyenne for hearings with the Joint Appropriations Committee (JAC), and he then sat in on the Labor and Health committee on Thursday and Friday to get a feeling for what his new committee will be handling.

Labor and Health will be busy, he said, sponsoring eight or nine bills this session and dealing with important issues like Medicade expansion and health insurance exchanges.

“We’ll be right in the thick of things,” he said.

Gov. Matt Mead presented his recommendations for the supplemental budget to the JAC on Monday, Dec. 11, and the JAC then began hearings with various state agencies for their supplemental budget requests.

Wyoming is in the middle of the two-year 2012-14 biennial budget that was passed during the 2012 budget session.

Peterson noted that the governor has called for an 8 percent cut in the second year of the biennium due to an anticipated decline in revenue due to continuing low natural gas prices, but he said the execution of the cuts has been “hit and miss.” The University of Wyoming, he said, has been asked to make only a 6 percent cut and has been given under the governor’s recommendation additional revenue for salary increases.

“I was frustrated,” he said. “I told Phil Nicholas that I don’t think we’ve had one agency come in with true 8 percent (cuts). But at least cuts are being made.”

Peterson said the latest Consensus Revenue Estimating Group report was better than anticipated, but not much better. He said spending increased with budget surpluses, and now the legislature is “trying to level that off or even reduce spending and reverse that trend a little bit.”

Among the proposed cuts is a recommendation to close the circuit court in Lovell, and Peterson said he made his pitch to keep the court open, citing the average income of the local population and the distances – 40 miles or more – that people in the north end of the county will have to travel for court or to file paperwork.

“This is just a proposed budget,” Peterson said. “It still has to go through the legislative process.”

Highways

Gov. Mead told the JAC last week that he would like the legislature to establish a steady funding source for highway construction and maintenance rather than always going to the general fund as a funding source. He has proposed a 10-cent increase in the fuel tax or diverting a portion of the mineral tax revenue that flows into the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund for highways.

“I’m against the (fuel) tax,” Peterson said. “I’d rather divert some of the flow away from what we’ve been stockpiling to catch up on road maintenance. I agree with the concept (of a steady stream of revenue for the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation), but I’m still not convinced that WyDOT is spending money as effectively and efficiently as it could. I’d like to take a shot at prioritization first, for all agencies.

“I have a hard time with increasing taxes for highways when we’re putting money away in an account for a rainy day. Some people say it’s raining, but it’s not like it was 20 years ago. We’ll see how it comes through the House. I don’t think a tax will survive the House.”

The 2013 session will begin Tuesday, Jan. 8.

State orders study of GHS/GMS campus

by nathan oster

The School Facilities Department (SFD) has hired an architectural firm to conduct capacity studies on six Wyoming school districts, including Big Horn County School District No. 3, where the primary concern continues to be overcrowding in its middle school building.

A special school board meeting was held Dec. 19 to formally kick off the capacity study, and attending either in person or via phone were all seven members of the school board, a team of school administrators and representatives of both MOA Architecture and the SFD.

Troy Decker, a project manager, represented the SFD, while MOA Architecture, the firm that will be doing the capacity studies around the state, was represented by Bill Speck, a project manager, and Jack Mousseau, the firm’s lead architect.

Superintendent Barry Bryant called the meeting a productive one, noting that he believes school officials made inroads in convincing the SFD that overcrowding is an issue in the middle school, and that the SFD’s contention that there is “excess space” in the high school, due in part to the size of the auditorium, was not a feasible argument.

The task facing MOA will be to come up with a number of possible solutions to the overcrowding at GMS.  One it has those options, another public meeting will be held.  From there it will go to the SFD, which will then decide whether to recommend the project to the School Facilities Commission for approval.

If everything goes well, Bryant said construction could begin within the next two years.

 

Overcrowding

How much of a concern is overcrowding in the school?  GMS Principal Scott McBride made the argument that it negatively impacts students and staff.

Enrollment at GMS (which is home to sixth, seventh and eighth grades) has ranged between 120 and 140 during the last four years.  On opening day this year, the school’s enrollment was set at ….

A PowerPoint presentation put together by the school district emphasized that, “For students to thrive, they need a learning environment that engages and challenges them to reach their individual potential.”

McBride pointed out that the building has small windows and primarily uses artificial lighting. “Through research, we now know that natural light helps kids feel better,” said McBride.

The staff lounge is too small, he continued. “You can only have a few teachers in there at a time, so most of them are isolated in their rooms most of the day with very little interaction or ability to communicate with other teachers about what’s happening in the school.”

McBride also noted that the building does not have a defined “teacher prep” room; its ceilings are low, which limits the number of banners and signs that can be put up to encourage students or display their good works.

Perhaps the biggest concern, however, is the layout of the building.  The hallways are very narrow to begin with — and when lockers are opened, they become even more so, according to McBride.

“Kids struggle to get to their classes on time because of the congestion,” said McBride, adding that teachers routinely play “traffic cop” during the transitions between classes.  But with more than 100 kids pouring into the hallways at the same time, not everything gets noticed. McBride said the school office gets a number of complaints from students claiming they were either harassed or bullied between classes.

Eddie Johnson, a school board member who spent many years teaching at GMS, concurred, calling those transition periods “scary times” for kids.

“All of this has an impact on climate — and how kids feel about their school,” said McBride.

McBride emphasized that research has proven that “if you improve the culture and climate, you will improve test scores.”  He added, “In spite of the problems with the building, our teachers do an excellent job. But our potential is hindered by this structure, by things we cannot control, such as the size of the hallways and the size of the classrooms.”

The school district’s presentation cited several other concerns as well, including the lack of a media center, inadequate room for special services, and limitations in the way GMS instructors can utilize technology in their instruction of students.

 

School proposal

“This is not a new issue,” said Bryant, when McBride’s presentation came to an end. “The district has been leading the charge on this for more than 10 years. If it sounds like we’re frustrated, it’s because we are.  Not to point a finger at anyone … but I feel it’s time some of the smaller districts are taken care of in this state.”

Bryant pitched one possible solution to the SFD and MOA representatives, one developed through consultations with the school district’s architect, Jim Bauer.

That plan calls for the construction of a new wing, between the sound end of the high school and the current Greybull Middle School Gym, which would house the grade six through eight classrooms.

Administrative offices, which are currently spread among the bus barn, the high school and in the GMS Gym, could then be consolidated into the current middle school building, which in its current location is centralized on the GHS-GMS campus, increasing efficiency in the process.

The district’s plan calls for a reclaiming of the two classrooms to the rear of the GMS Gym, where there are currently administrative offices for special services and a computer lab.  The possibility of turning those rooms into a weight room was discussed.

Under the plan, GMS students would utilize the GHS library, which would featured a section just for middle-school level books.

Bryant urged MOA to “take a hard look” at the practicality of the square footage numbers. For example, by the SFD’s formula, Buff Gym is big enough to hold a class of up to 77 kids — but a class of 77 students with one PE teacher is not feasible.

“That gym was built before the SFD, and we are penalized because the good people of this district spent their hard earned dollars building these things,” said Bryant. “We saved taxpayer money by keeping (the GMS Gym) when the old high school was torn down … but now we’re penalized because for excess square footage.”

In summation, Bryant told the SFD and MOA representatives that the district has looked at all of its options, including varying bell times, but that in the end, it always comes back to the limitations of the building, which was constructed in 1980.

“Please don’t think we haven’t sat and brainstormed about how we can make this better,” said Bryant. “We have already extended the school day by five moneys — to the point where our middle school kids get more in-school time than is required.”

 

MOA

Mousseau said MOA’s mission is to look at “capacity based issues” that are either occurring now or are expected to occur through 2020.

While he didn’t draw any conclusions, Mousseau said the GMS’s primary problem isn’t “capacity” as much as it is “improperly designed infrastructure, such as the hallways.

“You may have enough classroom space, but the corridors don’t support the number of students in those classrooms,” which makes for “a horrible situation for those poor kids, in every way that you folks described.”

Mousseau said the capacity study would be an analysis of the entire 6-12 campus and how to best utilize the available space and that he expects that it will be completed by no later than March 2013.  It could then head to the SFC by as early as the following month.

At one point, someone suggested moving the sixth grade back to the elementary school.  Bryant scoffed at that idea, saying, “Good luck with that one.  There is no space there.”

Mousseau concurred. “I don’t see that as an issue either.”

Another suggestion from the audience involved a greater mixing of GMS and GHS students, but Bryant said that, too, would be problematic.  “The school board has more say than I do, but I do not want to have a 6 through 12 school,” he said. “We have a middle school for a reason — because it’s more conducive and better for our kids.”

While the district proposal does call for the GMS building to be adjacent to GHS, Bryant emphasized that it would have its own entrance.

Johnson echoed Bryant, saying that from day one in this discussion, “We haven’t wanted a 6-12 school.  Middle school kids have very specific needs for getting them ready to go over to the high school.”

The other school districts that are getting capacity studies at this time are all located in large districts in the counties of Park, Campbell, Natrona, Laramie and Fremont.

 

Dana Gregory Norland

Feb. 21, 1959 – Dec. 11, 2012OBIT Nordlund

Memorial services for Greg Nordlund of Cody were held Dec. 15 at the Little White Church in Malta, Mont. Greg, 53, died Dec. 11 at his home in Cody.

He was born Feb. 21, 1959, in San Francisco, the son of Jerry and Donita Nordlund. He was raised and received his education in Dodson, Mont. He lived in several places around the country. His final residence was in Cody where he owned and operated Midstate Siding and Construction Co.

Greg loved to sing, golf, fish, race cars and do woodworking projects, but most of all he loved spending time with his family. He had a great sense of humor and could discuss anything under the sun.

He was married to Stephanie Schwartz Nordlund.

He is survived by his wife; three sons and a daughter-in-law, Douglas Nordlund of Great Falls, Mont., Keith and Brittney Nordlund of Sidney, Mont., and Gregory Robert; his parents, Jerry and Donita Nordlund of Malta, Mont.; three sisters, Kim Geer of Seattle, Rita Nordlund of Harlem, Mont., and Lisa Day of Mesa, Ariz.; one brother, Larry Nordlund of Lewistown, Mont.; and three grandchildren.

 

Michael Walton

A memorial gathering for Michael J. Walton of Billings, formerly of Greybull, will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28 at the Holiday Inn in Billings.  Michael, 67, died Dec. 20, 2012.

Survivors include his sons Jon, Brady and Andy,  and sisters Betty and Julia.

Mike was preceded in death by his wife, Chiquita (Pearce) Walton, his parents Clarence and Anna Walton and brothers Anthony and Robert.

Fired-up Lady Buffs tame Huskies

by marlys good

The Greybull Lady Buffs outscored the Burlington Huskies in both the second and fourth quarters and won the non-conference match up 45-36 in Buff Gym Tuesday night.

Ceirra Carlson had the hot hand and scored a season high 22 points to lead the offensive charge.

After what Hunt called a “dry spell” in the third period, the Buffs scored 20 points in the last eight minutes, including 10 for 12 from the stripe. “Free throws were a big factor for us,” Coach Jeff Hunt pointed out. “The girls worked hard and finished strong.”

With three varsity players (McKenna Powers, Jordan Kraft and Nevin Brown) out with injuries, other players had to step in, and they did a great job of that. “All the girls who played contributed a lot. The girls played really well,” said Hunt.

After a few days break over the holiday, the Buffs will hit the practice court next week. They need all the practices they can get in to get fine-tuned for the 2013 portion of the season. They come back on Friday, Jan. 4 to play Lovell, one of the 2A’s top-ranked teams. The game is on the Bulldogs’ home court. Game times are 4 and 5:30 p.m.

They’ll get another look at Burlington Saturday, Jan. 5. This time the Huskies have home-court advantage so anything can happen.

 

Greybull    8  11  6  20 – 45

Burlington  10    6  5  15 – 36

GREYBULL — Michaela Denniston 2 4-4 8, Ceirra Carlson 9 3-4 22, Biri Gallegos 0 1-2 1, Brett Stephens 2 2-3 6, Karlina McIntosh 1 1-1 4, Sarah Bockman 2  0-0 4. Totals 16 11-15 45.

3-POINT GOALS — Carlson, McIntosh. REBOUNDS — 21 (Carlson 5, Gallegos 4). STEALS — 16 (Denniston 6). ASSISTS — 9. TURNOVERS — 21.

 

Late rally not enough as Buffs fall

by nathan oster

If the first nine games weren’t enough of a measuring stick, the 10th certainly was.

In Class 1A’s top ranked Burlington Huskies, the Greybull Buffs may have faced their toughest opponent to date. While it will go down on the ledger as a 72-57 loss, Coach Jim Prather saw enough good things to be encouraged about his team’s chances when play resumes in January.

“No shame in losing to that team,” said Prather. “In fact, I told their coach after the game that in the 14 years I’ve been here, that’s one of the best Burlington teams I’ve seen — and they’ve had some really good ones over the years.

“They just have the total package. We knew that.  They have size, exceptional athletes in the post and on the perimeter, plus guys who can shoot it.  They’re just a well rounded team that is taking care of business.”

Being a non-conference game, Prather said he approached it from the standpoint of “wanting to work on things that would make us better in the long run.”

One of those things was a “high pressure press” that Prather rolled out early in the second quarter.  After one, it had been a one-point game, at 12-11. “We played at the tempo we wanted in the first quarter and we were able to handle the pressure they applied defense, get the ball to the spots we wanted, and get good shots,” Prather said.

But when the Buffs rolled out the press in the second quarter, “Burlington figured it out pretty quickly and took control of the game.  We weren’t able to stop the basketball.  McNiven got loose for five straight baskets, which pushed their lead to 11 or 12,” said Prather.

The half ended on a demoralizing play — and with the Huskies in front 37-23.

Burlington stretched its lead to 27 at the end of three, 59-32, before the Buffs rallied in the fourth quarter to close the gap to 15 at the final buzzer.

“We made a few baskets in the second half,” said Prather. “One positive was that we were able to compete against a really good basketball team.  Burlington could play In 1A, 2A, and maybe even 3A and compete for the conference championship.”

The Huskies put five players in double figures, with Davidson leading the way with 18 and McNiven following with 16.  Preston Wardell, usually a big contributor for the Huskies, did not play.

The Buffs got a big game from Payton Gonzalez, who was 6 of 11 from the field en route to an 18-point performance.  Wyatt Good sank a pair of threes and missed only three shots all night, finishing with 12.  Freshman Treston Tracy also had a hot hand, connecting for 12 on 5 of 7 shooting from the field.

Prather said he believes the game will prepare his team for its first test after the holidays, a conference game against defending Northwest Conference champion Lovell.  While the Buffs have played some good basketball, they  have not won since the Big Horn Basin Shootout and will begin play in 2013 with a 4-6 record.

Prather isn’t worried.

“We finished the Burlington game playing well, especially in the second half,” said Prather. “We kept our turnovers down.  We ended up shooting a good percentage from the field (49 percent), and for us, being able to make baskets consistently is always going to be a concern.  To be able to do that against a team like Burlington was nice to see. Plus our free throw shooting is coming along…and our younger kids have gotten some valuable experience.  I feel good about where we are as a team.”

 

Burlington 13 24 22 13 – 72

Greybull 12 11   9 25 – 57

BURLINGTON – Christiansen 3 0-0 6, Davidson 5 0-0 10, McNiven 8 0-3 16, Wardell 4 0-0 10, N. Carrizales 4 2-2 12, Davidson 8 2-3 18.  Totals 32 4-8 72.

GREYBULL – Payton Gonzalez 6 5-6 18, Calder Forcella 2 0-0 5, Wyatt Good 5 0-0 12, Quinton Haley 0 1-2 1, Ryan Sylvester 1 1-2 3, Paul Stewart 2 0-2 4, Fabian Davila 1 0-0 2, Treston Tracy 5 2-3 12.  Totals 22-45 9-15 57.

3-POINT GOALS – Wardell 2, N. Carrizales 2; Good 2, Forcella, Gonzalez.  REBOUNDS – Greybull 27 (Stewart 8).  STEALS – Greybull 9 (Forcella 3).  ASSISTS – Greybull 15 (Sylvester 4).  TURNOVERS – Greybull 24.

Smokehouse takes top float honors

by nathan oster

The weather was frightful, but the holiday cheer on Greybull Avenue was still delightful Saturday evening as bundled-up residents came out for the annual Holidazzle parade and for the open houses and promotions in local businesses.

Holidazzle was a success — and no where was the holiday spirit more evident than on the Smokehouse Saloon’s hay wagon, which was being pulled up Greybull Avenue by a team of mules directed by Jeff McManus.

With Bethany Bame on vocals, singing holiday favorites, and Santa and Mrs. Claus aboard and waving to spectators along the parade route, the Smokehouse float was second to none, at least in the eyes of parade judges, who awarded the bar the $100 first-place prize.

Second place, and $75, went to Big Brother Big Sisters, whose float was decorated in a “Feliz Navidad” theme and featured children in the back with sombreros and maracas.  Finishing in third place and netting a $50 prize was the Midway Clinic entry, which featured a lighted Nativity scene.  Midway also took the $50 prize for having the Best Lighted float.

The Town of Greybull, which had one of the top floats in the parade, withdrew from the judging so that the money and recognition would go to one of the other entries.

The winning entries’ plaques and prize money are available at the chamber office.

A second contest held in conjunction with the Holidazzle celebration benefited the Greybull Elementary School, which is trying to purchase 200 new books for its library.

The kindergarten class, whose decorations can be seen in the front window of the NAPA store, took top honors in that competition. What that means is that $50 will be donated for books on behalf of the kindergarten class. Another $25 was donated to the school in recognition of all the students for their participation in the project.

 

Town, WYDOT advance encroachment discussions

by nathan oster

While there remains disagreement over the need for a proposed ordinance on sidewalk encroachments, business owners and highway department officials appeared to find common ground Monday on which governing body they want policing downtown sidewalks.

The Town of Greybull, and not the Wyoming Department of Transportation, will be in a better position to deal with business owners, a point conceded even by Ron Huff, who was representing WYDOT at the meeting.

“Yeah, we are big, bad WYDOT … but we want to try to work with the town,” said Huff, toward the end of Monday’s discussion. “We don’t want to have to deal with the businesses in Greybull (on this issue).  We’d prefer to have the town talk with them.  They have  a better rapport, a better feeling.”

WYDOT initiated the sidewalk encroachment conversation late in 2010.  Highway department officials stated at the time that their charge is to effectively and safely manage the sidewalk system along U.S. Highways 14-16-20and that objects placed on the sidewalk — things like sandwich boards, merchandise, the Probst Western Store horse, for examble — were impeding or posing hazards to pedestrians.

Since that time, WYDOT, with help from the town, have been guiding downtown business owners into compliance.  Huff stated Monday night that Greybull business owners have been cooperative. As an example, he said Probst Western Store has since obtained permit to place its horse on the sidewalk, starting in the spring.

Not everyone likes the proposed ordinance, or the memorandum of understanding between WYDOT and the town that would govern sidewalk encroachments. The council passed the ordinance on first reading in November, but members made it clear Monday night that they only did so to open the discussion up to public input.

By the end of Monday night’s conversation, which was attended by approximately one dozen local business owners, the council had agreed to table second reading of the ordinance until the January meeting, when a new council will be seated.

Before that, though, the council heard from not only Huff, but also a couple of business owners.

Julie Owens, owner of Big Horn Quilts and president of the Greybull Area Chamber of Commerce, called the ordinance “totally unnecessary” and said, “No merchant in his right mind will limit accessibility to pedestrians.”

Owens said WYDOT is “vastly exaggerating” the ADA requirements.  Citing information she found online, Owens said the ADA requirement for sidewalks is only a 3-foot continuous path, with a place wide enough for two wheelchairs to meet every 200 feet.

“The highway department wants Greybull to be a stretch of boring concrete bristling with traffic signs,” said Owens. “They want us to be a generic town with a speed limit to annoy the traveling public and nothing remotely interesting to distract drivers.  They want all the businesses that have managed to stay open to look as boring as the many that have closed.”

Owens said things like the Probst horse, the airplanes on top of the hill, the flowers at the Greybull Motel and the Historic Hotel Greybull give Greybull a charm that is appealing to visitors.

She said she couldn’t understand why WYDOT might want to negatively impact businesses such as Dis ‘n Dat, where owner Jay Hightower faithfully displays items on the sidewalk each day, or Edward Mitchell, who does the same at Moonstar Trading Co. on North Sixth Street.

Owens called upon the council to represent “the townspeople,” not WYDOT, to not cave in to WYDOT’s “unreasonable demands,” and to trust merchants to keep the sidewalks clear enough for pedestrians.

Rodney Ross, a former councilmember, also spoke against the proposed ordinance, railed against the signs that WYDOT has installed in the downtown as well as their placement, saying, “Right now, they are the impediment” for pedestrians.

Huff defended WYDOT, saying the intent is not to harm businesses, but rather to better define what is and isn’t allowed on sidewalks running alongside highways.

“What we have been doing is working with the town to allow encroachments,” he said. “Right now, policies don’t allow them. So technically, all of the business owners, if they want to encroach in the right of way, should be coming to WYDOT and applying for a permit for the encroachment.”

Huff said the MOU was developed through as series of negotiating sessions with town officials, and that if approved, it would give businesses the power to encroach within 3 feet of their  building without any paperwork being filed.

“We’re trying to be more business proactive than restrictive,” he said.

Councilor Bob McGuire said it’s essentially “a boundary line issue” and that WYDOT has the right to set the rules, since it owns the sidewalks.  “In this case, the state owns the land in question within the town. And because of that … if we don’t enter into an operating agreement, then (business owners) would have to individually apply to the state to use their land.”

McGuire said the ordinance would provide business owners “a collective OK” to have the encroachments, as long as they are in compliance, and that it would put the responsibility on the town, not WYDOT, to police the streets.

“I’d have the town making decision than WYDOT,” said Myles Foley, owner of the  Historic Hotel Greybull, and a council member-elect.  “WYDOT has taken my signs (in the past). They were rude. Extremely rude.”

Mitchell challenged WYDOT, saying that if they owned the sidewalks, they should be responsible for the maintenance of them.  Mitchell said he maintains the sidewalk in front of his business, and Foley said he does the same at the hotel.

Houk countered, however, that the town receives money from WYDOT to maintain the sidewalks, so in effect, it is the town’s responsibility.  Mitchell said the town hasn’t been doing a very good job, then, noting the rare sight of the street sweeper in front of his business in the summer and fall.

McGuire said the only advantage to the ordinance is that the council, and not WYDOT, would be able to work with business owners who aren’t in compliance or who have questions about the rules.

The discussion also touched on sandwich board that advertise off premises business ventures.  Examples would be signage for the Dollar Store or The Shack, neither of which are on the state highway system.

Huff downplayed the urgency of giving the ordinance a second reading, saying that business owners have done a good job complying with WYDOT’s wishes regarding encroachments.  He said the MOU, and not the ordinance, should be the subject of talks in the coming months.

“What’s going on now has been working,” said Huff. “I think we got the word out in the fall of 2010 … and people have complied with that. So I don’t see this as being a big Issue that needs to be done today.  But I’d rather see the town address the MOU, so we can get an agreement there.”

Council promotes Graham to mayor

by nathan oster

The question of “Who will become Greybull’s next mayor?” was finally decided Monday night when the Greybull Town Council tapped incumbent Councilor Bob Graham to serve the remaining two years of Frank Houk’s term.

“I have enjoyed immensely my time (on the council), but I am ready to go,” said Houk, who in the course of his final meeting at the helm drew thanks and well wishes from staff members, including Town Foreman Dalen Davis and Police Chief Bill Brenner, as well as some members of the audience.

When he opened the floor to nominations for mayor, Kay Fleek and Jan Johnson, who are also leaving the council at month’s end, nominated and seconded the nomination, respectively, of Graham to the office of mayor.

The hands of Fleek, Houk, Johnson and Bob Graham went up when the vote was taken, sealing Graham’s appointment.  He’ll be sworn in, alongside new council members Myles Foley and Clay Collingwood, during a special meeting Jan. 2 at Town Hall.

Graham’s appointment will eventually create a vacancy on the council, but no action on that  is expected until after the new council is seated in January.

Graham said he sent an email to Mayor Houk and the other members of the council after the November meeting, expressing his interest in completing the final two years of Houk’s present term.

He said he knows that he has some big shoes to fill.

“I didn’t realize when I ran for the council how much work our mayor does,” Graham said. “I saw how much time he spent in this office, doing his job.  I just hope I can do one-tenth of what that man has done for this community.”

Graham joined the council in 2006, winning one of the two four-year terms that were up for grabs that year. He did not initially file for re-election in 2010, but accepted a write-in nomination after the primary and then received the most votes in a four-person general election race to win a second four-year term.

Graham has lived in Greybull since 1987, but is actually a Newcastle native.  He graduated from Newcastle High School in 1965 and then spent three years in the U.S. Army, including one (1968-69) in Vietnam.

When he returned to the States, he settled into the oil industry, where he would spend the next 17 years working in North Dakota and Wyoming.  When the bottom fell out of the oil industry in the late 1980s, he returned to Wyoming and to his roots in Newcastle.

From there, the trail led to Greybull. He arrived here in 1987, and after working for an oil company, then stints remodeling houses with Dave Williamson and doing concrete work with Bill Hunt’s crew, he went to work for the town in 1991 as a crew member. During his 15-year tenure with the town, he worked his way up to the role of assistant public works director.

In 2005, he went to work for TCT as a member of its construction crew, but has since retired.

Bob and his wife Jan have two grown children, Jody and Kim.

Lee Elwood Ruark

Aug. 15, 1932 – Dec. 5, 2012

Cremation has been held and no services are planned for Lee Elwood Ruark. Lee, 80, died Dec. 5 at his home in Greybull of multiple myeloma.

He was born Aug. 15, 1932, in Chariton, Iowa, the son of Claude and Eva Wren Elwood Ruark. He graduated from Woodlin High School (near Woodrow, Col.) in 1951. Lee served in the United States Air Force from 1952-1956. After his discharge he attended college in Redding, Calif., for two years and then farmed near Woodrow, Colo., from 1960 to 1976.

He married Marjorie Kyr. They had one daughter, Sheryl Wren, and six sons, Ronald, James, Joseph, Edward, Timothy and Glen. He and Marjorie divorced in 1976.

He married LaVona R. Geist in 1978 and acquired a stepson, Barry, and four stepdaughters, Catherine, Aline, Sue and Diane.

Lee and LaVona managed apartment complexes in Phoenix until 1990.  He worked as a security guard at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., until 1999 at which time they moved to Greybull.

Lee loved yard work and gardening and grew vegetables every summer.

He was preceded in death by his daughter Sheryl Wren Ruark Hellyer; two brothers, Claude Jr. and Gerald, and two sisters, Mary and Esther.

He is survived by his wife, LaVona of Greybull; six sons, one stepson; four stepdaughters; two sisters, Marjorie and Nadine; 24 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations in Lee’s memory can be made to a cause devoted to fighting cancer.

 

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