Daily Archives: January 9, 2013

Lawmakers go to work in Cheyenne

By David Peck
In the Wyoming Legislature it sometimes pays to be persistent, and in the case of Sen. Ray Peterson (R-Lovell), he’s hoping the third time is the charm for his bill on Medicaid fraud.
Peterson’s bill to authorize civil recoveries for Medicaid fraud has passed the Senate in each of the last two sessions overwhelmingly, only to be defeated in the House of Representatives.
He’s trying again in 2013 as the general session of the 62nd Wyoming Legislature begins this week in Cheyenne. The session convened Tuesday and is expected to run through Thursday, Feb. 28, with three days (March 1, 4 and 5) set aside for additional work if needed.
After the first attempt in 2011, Peterson modified his bill to eliminate the “whistleblower” portion of the bill, wherein someone reporting fraud could receive some of the settlement or penalty, a practice allowed in about a dozen states, he said.
The bill (SF 83) creates the Wyoming Medicaid False Claim Act, which authorizes civil recoveries for the state. Currently, he said, Wyoming is operating under the federal false claims act, and the only option is criminal prosecution.
The bill passed 30-0 in the Senate in both 2011 and 2012. Two years ago it was defeated in the House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, and last year it was killed in the House Judiciary Committee.
“I don’t know how it will fare this year,” Peterson said in a pre-session interview last Thursday.
The bill was received for introduction Tuesday in the Senate.
Another bill Peterson is sponsoring (SF 25) entitled “Recreation facilities and systems-detraction” would set up a method for public recreation system to split off or separate from an existing district and has been requested by citizens in Clark who wish to separate from the Powell Recreation District.
Assessed valuation in the Clark area has been rising and helping to fund the Powell Rec District, Peterson said, but residents feel the valuation can support a separate district in Clark.
“They don’t feel they’re getting their fair share back and want to go off on their own,” Peterson said, noting that Clark has only one vote on the Powell Rec Board in the form of board member Larry Dodge, who is leading the effort to separate, he noted.
“I expressed my concern about them going off on their own,” Peterson said “I told them they could be rich this year but paupers later, and it also creates another special district.”
Peterson said the issue has been percolating for two years and he has urged the two parties to work things out, but nothing has really changed, he said, so Clark residents have asked him to draft the bill to establish the separation process, which is somewhat similar to the process the Deaver-Frannie Fire Dept. used to separate from Powell and form a separate fire district in Big Horn County.
The separation bill was also received Tuesday for introduction in the Senate.
Peterson said he has also been asked by House Revenue Committee Chairman Mike Madden of Buffalo to co-sponsor a bill to require a worker who has been terminated for testing positive for an illegal substance in a drug test to pass another drug test before applying for unemployment benefits.
The new chairman of the Senate Revenue Committee, Peterson said he will miss the appropriations committee on which he served in recent years but is also looking forward to chairing Revenue.
“Part of me says I’m going to miss Appropriations, but the other part says, ‘Whew,’” Peterson said, noting the many days of hearings Appropriations members must attend every year.
“I’m looking forward to chairing a committee,” he added.
Peterson drove to Cheyenne Saturday and expected to attend Republican caucus meetings Sunday. The session convened Tuesday, and Gov. Matt Mead addressed a joint session of the legislature Wednesday morning.

GMS honored for ‘closing achievement gap’

by nathan oster
The public is invited to attend a special event Friday morning in celebration of Greybull Middle School receiving one of the 2012 Distinguished Title I School awards.
Cindy Hill, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, is scheduled to attend. She is expected to present the award to the school, staff and students during the ceremony, which runs from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in the GHS auditorium.
Greybull Elementary School received a similar award in 2010.
Supt. Barry Bryant said only two schools from each state were chosen for the award and that GMS was selected for “closing the achievement gap between student groups” on the Proficiency Assessment of Wyoming Students.
Barry Bryant said it is a nice honor for the school.
“Especially now, as we move further down the NCLB as the requirements get higher as far as still making AYP,” he said. “The middle school made some really big gains last year.”

New council gets to work

by nathan oster
There was a changing of the guard on the Greybull Town Council Thursday night, as Bob Graham was sworn in as mayor and Myles Foley and Clay Collingwood began their four-year terms.
Gavel in hand, Graham thanked the outgoing council members, Kay Fleek and Jan Johnson, as well as Mayor Frank Houk. “I just want you to know, I appreciate all of you, how you’ve helped me grow on this council and with the town,” said Graham. “It’s a little different sitting on this side after spending 15 years on the other side (as a town employee).
“Thank you for your help and confidence in me. I hope I can fill those shoes and move the town forward for the next two years.”
Graham then turned to Foley and Collingwood, saying he looks forward to working with them. He lauded Foley for his concern about the community and desire to make it a better place, and said Collingwood, with his family’s deep ties to Greybull, would be an asset. “He has a lot of devotion to this town.”
Councilor Bob McGuire urged the two new council members not to be afraid to speak up, adding it’s all part of the learning experience.
After the meeting, Graham outlined a number of goals for the next two years.
One is to continue along the path of replacing water lines. “One of the things I take pride in for the last six years has been our water projects, and how we as a town have gotten back going with those and rebuilding infrastructure for our community. I think we’re down to only about 22 blocks left to replace.”
Graham said the town was planning to address them, but had to shift money away from the project to cover the cost of recertifying the dike. He is hopeful, however, that work on the remaining blocks will be completed by the time he leaves office.
“There aren’t five communities in the whole state that have completely updated water distribution systems,” Graham said. “Almost every one of them is way behind on infrastructure because they’ve had to spend money elsewhere.”
As for other priorities, Graham said he’d like to see more progress on the cleanup of the refinery site and that he views the dike recertification to be a crucial step, saying it will “ultimately keep insurance rates where people can afford to get loans to own a house.”
Lastly, Graham offered a big vote of confidence to the Greybull Police Department, which came under fire during the lead-up to the election. “I’m the last member of the council remaining that had to build that police department,” he said. “I really think we have built an excellent police department. We have an excellent staff, a great police chief.
“That was a real strain on the council when I came here — trying to build a police department from scratch after basically being told (by the sheriff’s office) that they wren’t going to continue providing the service. We were scrambling, trying to figure it out. It has all worked out very well.”

Saying goodbye
The meeting marked the end of the terms of Mayor Frank Houk and Councilors Jan Johnson and Kay Fleek.
Houk spent 10 years on the council, including the last six in the mayor’s chair. Town Clerk Kathy Smith presented Houk with a desk block, featuring thermometer, clock, hygrometer and photo frame.
Johnson spent eight years, or two full terms, on the council. For Fleek, it was one term, four years. Both received plaques in recognition of their service to the town.

Martha Jane Highland

OBIT HighlandApril 25, 1930 – Jan. 6, 2013
Funeral services for Martha Jane Highland will be held Monday, Jan. 14 at 10 a.m. at Atwood Family Chapel in Basin. Martha, 79, died Jan. 6 at her home in Basin.
She was born April 25, 1930, in Greybull, the daughter of Edward E. and Ruth Richards Blank. She graduated from Basin High School and was a nurses’ aide prior to her marriage to Herbert B. Highland on June 5, 1953. The couple exchanged vows at the First Baptist Church in Basin with Pastor Floyd Ellison officiating.
Martha’s love for her husband and six daughters made her an exceptional homemaker. She enjoyed gardening, flowers, sewing, knitting, singing and tap dancing.
Martha was a Jehovah’s Witness for over 50 years and was very active in the ministry.
Her parents, her husband Herbert Highland, two daughters, Kay Highland Fredrichsen and Rebecca Flora Highland, and one brother, Harvey Blank, preceded Martha in death.
She is survived by three daughters and two sons-in-law, Karen and Rocky Brink of Thermopolis, Cindy and George Foster of Basin and Sara Brow of Falmouth, Mass.; two brothers and two sisters-in-law, Jim and Mary Ann Blank of Basin and Gary and Alisha Buxton of Oregon; sister and brother-in-law Ray and Mable Bristow of Buffalo; eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Burial will be in Mount View Cemetery in Basin. A private family gathering will be held at Martha’s home in Basin following the burial.
Memorials in Martha’s name will be received at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1156 South Road 11, Worland, WY 82401.

GPD announces hirings
Hess spent 7 years with Lovell P.D.
by nathan oster
The Greybull Police Department moved quickly to fill the patrol position vacated by Tom Hueckstaedt, hiring Greg Hess away from the Lovell Police Department.
Hess grew up in Lovell, graduating from high school in 1982. He moved to Colorado for a time, only to return to his hometown “10 or 12 years ago.”
It was the school system in Lovell that drew him back. He and his wife, Tracy, have two daughters, both grown and out of the house. One daughter, Kristen, now lives in Greybull, where she is married to Casey Good. The other, Alicia, resides in Arvada, Colo.
Hess joined the Lovell Police Department a little more than seven years ago and served not only as a patrol officer, but also as the LPD’s firearms instructor.
So why the move to Greybull?
“I’ve heard a lot about Chief (Bill) Brenner and the way he runs his department,” said Hess. “My wife and I decided it was time for a change.”
Youngerman hired as town’s ACO
The Greybull Police Department has hired Doug Youngerman as its new animal control officer. Youngerman, who replaced Lisia Hueckstaedt, has been on the job since Dec. 27.
Youngerman and his family (wife and two boys, ages 17 and 23) have lived in Greybull for the past 12 years. Most of his working years were devoted to the railroad, including a stint as the Train Master in Greybull. Retired since 2002, he said he’s excited about his new job.
“I took the animal control officer job because I love animals,” said Youngerman. “I would like to have no dogs be sent to the pound, but if they are, I’d like to be able to easily reunite pets with their owners by having all implanted with a microchip.”
Youngerman said he’s on the job to help the animals and will do whatever he can to find owners to take the homeless pets that he picks up.
To contact Youngerman directly with any animal issues, call 272-4264.

Wrestlers win two of three duals

by nathan oster
Greybull-Riverside got an up close and personal look last week at three of its top rivals in the Big Horn Basin. In dual action, the Buffs topped Thermopolis 42-24 on Thursday before splitting with their north-end foes Lovell and Rocky Mountain Friday in Cowley.
Forfeits played a role in all three duals.
Coach Mark Sanford said he expected his team’s dual with Thermopolis to be close. The Buffs came out on top 42-24. But they also took the mat knowing they had a 12-point lead, since they would be the recipient of four forfeits compared to two for Thermopolis.
With six uncontested weight classes, the two teams squared off only five times on the night.
Marshall Gibbs suffered one of G-R’s losses, falling by pin to Vinchinzo Castle, a returning state champ for the Bobcats. Sanford said Gibbs “did a good job,” even recording the match’s first takedown, before Castle asserted himself.
Ryan Peoples also lost for G-R, falling to Ryan Bradshaw in a first-period pin.
The Buffs owned the rest of the night, however, as Jesus Burgos earned a third-period pin over Caleb Sipe, Cole Hill pinned Ben Crosby in the first period and Luke Zeller racked up a second-period pin of Jon Burrows.
Anthony Eibert won an exhibition match for the Buffs.
The Big Horn County Dual Championships showed just how closely matched the county’s three 2A teams are as the new year begins. Lovell won bragging rights, beating Rocky Mountain in the day’s first dual and then adding a 42-30 win over G-R. The Buffs finished second in the field, holding off Rocky Mountain 42-39 in the finale.
Forfeits also played a role in the Lovell dual. Lovell picked up three wins by forfeit, G-R one. Those 12 points were the difference in the dual.
Burgos opened the scoring for the Buffs with a pin of Richard Walker.
Then, in what Sanford called ” one of our best matches of the weekend,” Cole Hill scored a 4-3 upset win over Hyrum Hopkin, a ranked wrestler in 2A. Hopkin, a “solid, stout kid who moves well,” led early, but Hill stayed with it, eventually winning by one.
Anthony Eibert made it 15-0 with a pin of Jacob Winterholler, setting the stage for a matchup of the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked wrestlers at 152 in Luke Zeller and Nathan Grant. Zeller got the better of his longtime rival, winning 3-1 to extend the G-R lead to 18-0.
A forfeit win by Tanner Bernstein and a Spencer Redland pin of Nash Jolley at 220 gave the Buffs a 30-12 lead. But the Bulldogs won every match that followed, including wins by fall over Oscar Gomez, Marshall Gibbs and Ryan Peoples.
Sanford said he saw some good things in the loss. “But as I have said all year, some of our inexperienced kids have to quit acting so inexperienced,” he said. “For us as a team to compete well, we need to have our young guys and our inexperienced guys moving on that learning curve pretty fast. We got handled in a couple of matches. We just can’t give up that much.”
The Buffs finished the day with a three-point win over Rocky. But considering they entered the dual with a 12-point lead (four forfeits compared to two for Rocky Mountain), the Buffs were actually outwrestled in the weight classes that were contested.
Cole Hill, Luke Zeller and Jesus Burgos picked up the three G-R wins. All three were by fall.
The Buffs would have preferred to sweep the duals, but Sanford said the meet is a stepping stone in the season. Greybull-Riverside will see Lovell and Rocky the next four weeks, and by the end of that stretch, the Buffs will have an even better idea how they stack up heading into the regional.
The Buffs will attend the Don Runner Invite this week, where with the exception of Cokeville, they will see virtually all the 2A teams from the western half of the state.