Daily Archives: May 29, 2013

Days of ’49 fast approaching

by nathan oster

With June 1 falling Saturday, this year’s Days of ’49 is going to seem earlier to a lot of people — and yet, there it is on calendar, officially set to begin one week from today (Thursday, June 6) and continue through Sunday, June 9.

That would be the first full weekend of June — where the ‘49er falls each year.

Additional information about the celebration will appear in next week’s paper.

But Days of ’49 organizers want the public to be aware that T-shirts featuring this year’s theme, “Days of Old, Days of Gold,” are now on sale at Big Horn Federal as well as from any Days of ’49 committee member.

The committee is also raffling another Anne Hanson print, which is currently on display at the Bank of Greybull.  See a committee member if you’d like to purchase a ticket for that print raffle.

The first day of this year’s celebration, Thursday, June 6, will feature a queen contest — Ronna Rollingwood reports that there are three contestants for queen and one for princess this year — as well as the annual tug-of-war in front of Lisa’s.

A fun run has been added to this year’s lineup, and Collingwood said local churches are planning a special 10:30 service on Sunday, June 9, followed by a potluck, free snow cones and opportunities to play on blow-up toys.

The Greybull Recreation District this week announced plans for the Kiddie Parade which starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 8.  The parade will begin at the Bank of Greybull and proceed east to the Greybull Public Library.

Children of all ages are invited to dress up as their favorite superhero or villain and join in the fun. Bicycles, motorized toy vehicles, wagons and strollers are welcome, too.

Kiddie Parade participants should plan on arriving between 9:30 and 9:45 a.m.  There is no fee and all participants will get a treat, compliments of the Maverik Country Store.

Revenue declines force county to cut

by karla pomeroy

Big Horn County commissioners began meeting with department heads last week to discuss the budget.

The county can levy 12 mills each year for operation and requests have come in at nearly $20 million which would require the county to levy 16.5 mills. A portion of the $20 million do not require levy mills and are not factored in the portion that must be cut — enterprise funds of $571,000 and $1.2 million for the state-county road fund.

Initially the commissioners requested each department to cut 6.5 percent from the current budget.

Big Horn County Treasurer Becky Lindsey said they are budgeting the same property taxes as the current budget year with valuation figures not in yet. However, she said two main sources of revenues have been cut severely. The county’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) is being budgeted at $300,000 for the coming year and the county is expected to receive $900,000 in the current year. Lindsey said the payment is not due until June, however.

She said the estimated figures come from the Wyoming County Commissioner’s Association Revenue Estimating Manual.

Another revenue loss comes from the forest reserve/Secure Rural Schools. In 2010 the county received $441,159 and similar amounts in 2011 and 2012. For the upcoming budget year, they are estimated to receive just $5,526 due to budget cuts from the federal sequestration.

Lindsey said she also estimates sales tax on the low side, estimating $700,000 for the coming year. She said the county, for the 4 percent sales tax has received $756,000 to date for the current year. For the one-cent optional sales tax she is budgeting $300,000 with the county already taking in $412,000 this year and $100,000 for the one-cent optional use tax with the county taking in $122,000 to date this year.

Department budgets

On Friday, the commissioners began meeting with department heads and continuing on Tuesday. Big Horn County Public Health Nurse Manager Kimberly Cowan began her meeting asking about step raises, noting that an employee has reached the five-year step.

The commissioners said since step raises were allowed during the current fiscal year, they will be allowed through the end of the fiscal year. They noted they likely won’t be allowed under the new budget.

Commissioner John Hyde asked why benefits are higher than salaries in some departments? Clerk Lori Smallwood said departments were asked to budget a 15 percent increase in health insurance. It was also noted that depending on the department, salaries can vary, and some lower paid employees can have the most expensive insurance plans thus benefits can be higher than salaries.

Grant added that several budgets had benefits that were figured too low and so there will be large increases in benefits from the current budget to the new budget.

Ewen said the county may have to look at increasing employees’ contribution to health insurance in order to balance the budget.

The Public Health budget request is at $291,409.30, $30,000 above the current budget and $48,000 more than the actual 2011-2012 budget. The budget includes $117,200 for the four nurses. The county shares the cost with the state with the county paying 35 percent.

Grant said, “Looks to me like to get your budget in line you’re going to have to do a reduction in force.”

Cowan said, “This will reduce services to the county.” She said she has considered cutting hours.

The commissioners also looked at the revenues with Cowan noting grants help pay for some of the expenses and they do make some revenue on the vaccines but the grants cannot be used for salaries and benefits.

Cowan said the grants are all pass-through. She said it pays for training, materials and supplies, pays for emergency preparedness employee salary and benefits,

“Without public health the community’s at risk,” Cowan said. “Look at Oklahoma, public health is keeping disease down.”

Hyde said, “It’s a great service but not a lot of income for it.”

Cowan said the state is pushing for a fee for service to be in place by July 1 that should help offset the expenses.

Ewen said, “We’re not considering not having public health, just funding it at a lesser level. It looks like that would be one nurse.” He added, “You’re not the only department in this position.”

Cowan said rather than cut a nurse, she may consider cutting a secretarial position. She emphasized, however, that the north office is currently open despite rumors to the contrary and she would like to maintain that service.

Assessor

Big Horn County Assessor Gina Anderson said she has reduced her staff one position. The assessor’s budget request is at $364,429, down from $409,781 for the current year.

She said she had two employees who left on maternity leave, neither whom plan to return. She has only filled one position.

She said the budget is about 11 percent less.

“The primary reason for the decrease is we are able to operate with less personnel due to the new GIS Mapserver, which has significantly decreased the phone and counter activity,” Anderson wrote in her budget letter to the commissioners.

Library

Acting Library Director Donna Capellen and two board members came to speak about their budget.

Grant said, “I’ll make the same speech I’ve made to everyone. This is a poor budget year and we’ve asked everyone to cut their current budgets by 6.5 percent.”

Ewen said, “We’ve also asked departments not to consider step raises or cost-of-living raises.

Capellen said, “It’s a disappointment that we have to cut the budget and won’t even get the same level of funding as this year.” She added that they have not received a raise since 2011.

Ewen said, “We appreciate that. Some departments have already cut positions and others are looking at possibly having to make cuts.”

The current library budget was approved at $513,000. The proposed budget is at $522,773. The proposed budget includes cash reserve.

Capellen said the largest budget line item is salaries and increases.

In the letter to the commissioners in April, Capellen wrote that the proposed budget focuses on books and staffing.

She wrote, “A goal of the Library Board is to have two employees at each library at all times. To accomplish this we need to hire two new part-time employees. We would like to add one person to Lovell and one person to Greybull. With one more staff at Greybull we can add one more hour to the Greybull Library hours on Friday afternoon.

The proposed $522,773 budget does not include raises or the new employees.

The commissioners asked the library to cut 6.5 percent using the $513,000 starting figure of the current budget.

Land planning

Land Planner Joy Hill presented her budget, which was down from $208,050 in the current budget to $204,806 for the 2013-2014 budget.

“With the proposed fees I do anticipate an increase in revenue and hoping that will help offset some things as well,” Hill said. She said she has some preliminary suggestions for fees from the planning office that includes a few increases for the commissioners to review.

“I’m not down the full 6.5 percent and I’m here asking for help. I’ve tried to cut all the other lines. anything else but personnel.”

Hill agreed to cut some software licenses for $3,500, needing to cut a little more than $10,000 for the full 6.5 percent.

Mayor: Levee ‘provisionally accredited’

by nathan oster

Greybull residents won’t have to pay higher flood insurance rates as long as the town continues to make progress toward recertification of its levee.

Mayor Bob Graham made the announcement during the May 13 meeting of the Greybull Town Council, telling his fellow council members and the audience that if nothing else, it buys the town more time.

Graham said he asked representatives of the national flood insurance program for an extension but was originally told no. “But then they called back and said, ‘We appreciate you moving forward with the project and will adjust the provisional accredited levy (designation) to the new mapping tool that will come out in August or September.

“That PAL will stay attached, which means that Greybull residents will not need to pay increased rates for insurance as long as we show progress toward levee certification.  If we run into a stalemate, or don’t show action and keep them up to speed on our progress, then the PAL will be lifted and our people will have to pay higher insurance rates.  So it’s like an extension.”

The town has been working with a consulting firm, AMEC, on the dike recertification.  A team from AMEC inspected the levee during a site visit earlier this spring and is now in the process of finalizing its report, which is due July 31.

That report will identify deficiencies in the levee, provide options to mitigate those deficiencies and identify potential funding sources to cover the costs of the work.

Graham reported during last week’s meeting that AMEC has informed him of an additional $51,000 in charges associated with the study.  He and a company spokesman are currently working to bridge that gap in the scope of services.

In other actions related to the dike recertification, the council authorized Graham to send two letters to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  One was for application under Section 205 to look at redirecting or opening some or all of the original channels in the oxbow to relieve hydraulic pressure placed on the town’s levee during periods of high water. The other letter of application falls under Section 1135 and deals more with wetlands, Graham said.

Thriving business now empty barn

by marlys good

The Greybull Livestock sales barn on the north side of Greybull sits silent and deserted. Surrounded by weathered and worn corrals and overgrown with weeds, it bears little resemblance to the bustling enterprise it was five/six decades ago when the pens were filled with sheep, cattle, horses, goats, pigs. The parking lot bumper-to-bumper with pickups and trucks, farmers trading news of crops, drought, rainfall, planting, harvesting, whatever the season happened to be.  Everyone waiting the call of the auctioneer as animals were shuffled quickly in and through the sales ring.

An article in the Aug. 1, 1946 Greybull Standard said “Construction will start immediately on one of the finest sales rings in Wyoming.”

Jack and Richard Smith and Floyd Heitz all of Ten Sleep had been looking at different locations around the Big Horn Basin, and decided to locate the pavilion “north of the highway overpass and west of the CB&Q railroad tracks north of the Greybull city limits” on a tract of land that was part of the A.W. Sabbe farm. The new business would be known as the “Ranchers and Feeders Commission Co.”

The facility, which would accommodate between 1,200-1,500 people was completed in October and the grand opening was a complete success. It was estimated that 700 spectators, buyers and consignors were in attendance. When the sale was over $14,000 worth of livestock had been run through.

The Greybull Jaycees hosted a stockmen’s banquet that evening at the Norris Hotel.

Maybe the most well-known owners were brothers Guffy and Lloyd Groseclose who purchased it Feb. 1, 1956, from Marion Petsch of Riverton. (“Glimpses of Greybull’s Past” by Tom Davis). Jack Smith (no relation to the Shell Smiths) was the manager/auctioneer.

Doratha Groseclose said she and Lloyd moved to Greybull in June 1947 when Lloyd took over the Sinclair Service Station.

“Lloyd would leave his own business and go out and work at the sales barn for Smith,” Doratha recalled.

Several years later, Guffy and his family moved to the area from Wray, Colo., and Guffy became the auctioneer at the sales barn in March 1954.

Doratha said Guffy and Lloyd “decided when they were kids that someday they were going to own a sales barn,” and when the one in Greybull came up for sale, “They jumped at it.”

It was a good partnership, a true family affair. Lloyd was the manager. He would go out to neighboring farms and ranches to get animals to be consigned, Guffy cried the auctions, and Leah did the bookwork.

When the Grosecloses first purchased the business, Guffy and Leah lived in two rooms on the north end of the sales barn. They later moved into a house on Fifth Avenue North.

The facility was “extremely well built,” Doratha said. Well built, it was, but in the late 1960s, a Wyoming State Law required that a sales barn had to have a concrete floor wherever animals were kept in pens, not just “manure and dirt” because of the diseases that could be spread.

“We put in all concrete. Cost us over $10,000 and at that time that seemed like a horrible amount of money to spend,” Doratha said.

A strict routine was followed for running animals in and out of the sales ring itself. “When people brought in animals, they were put in pens on the left; they ran them through the sales barn and they came out on the right side, the scales were just outside, they were weighed and then penned on the right. It was extremely well organized.”

Doratha recalls wanting to help drive some sheep from the farm they owned along Dry Creek to the sales barn. “I begged Lloyd to let me take old Bobo (their well-trained lead sheep). He said, “Bobo gets to going pretty fast; you’ll have to watch for that and promise me you won’t let go. Promise me?”

It was a well-intentioned promise. “Things went pretty good,” Dorotha recalls 50 years later (she also recalled she was wearing sandals) ”But the nearer we got to the sales barn the faster Bobo was going. I could see the sales barn just ahead but by that time Bobo was really running. Then I saw a thistle patch coming up and I knew it was just a matter of time until I had to decide whether to keep my promise, and hold on and get dragged through the thistles, or let go and get yelled at.

“I decided Lloyd yelling at me was better than weeks to digging out thistles so I let go. I figured I would be raked over the coals for a hour, but Lloyd didn’t say anything.”

Doratha’s and Lloyd’s sons, Gordon and Jerry “went out every morning before school and took care of the livestock that was there,” Dorotha said. She didn’t know if they enjoyed their chore or not. “I don’t think they minded too badly, but they certainly learned to work and that is what kids need to learn.”

Sales were always held on Wednesdays, according to Doratha, “but on other days also. We used to have big horse sales, but they were always held on Saturday nights. Sometimes before a sale someone would bring in furniture, and we would cry the furniture sale before the regular start of the livestock sale.”

A sign still visible on the old building advertises “sales every Friday. No date is known as to the year the sales switched from Wednesdays to Fridays.

The lunch counter, a part of the facility from the very beginning, remained a popular spot. Buyers, sellers, big and little kids, enjoyed the hamburgers, and sundry other food stuff, and the smell of good, strong coffee lent a hominess to the atmosphere.

Long after the sales barn had closed, the Grosecloses were holding a “mini-family reunion,” and Ralph and Vicky Groseclose Temple and several and sundry cousins went over to look through the sales barn. “It brought back so many memories of family – and the sugar was still on the lunch counter,” Doratha recalled with a laugh.

It was a good life for the Groseclose families. Lloyd and Doratha raised LoiDene, Gordon, Jerry, Marvonne and Laura, and Guffy and Leah were busy raising Gary, Connie, Vickie and Becky. “It made a nice living for us,” Doratha said.

The Grosecloses owned the sales barn until the 1970s. Doratha is not sure what triggered the selling but said, “Guffy’s health began to decline; he could no longer cry the sales. I think that had something to do with it.”

Since then it has passed through the hands of half-a-dozen other owners including (first name unknown) Ward, Hugo and Hilda Ward and Dick Looby.

Jay Wilkinson bought the business from Looby in 1986 or ’87 and ran it for six years. “It was fun; I enjoyed it, but I got tired of ‘begging’ people (for consignments).”

Wilkinson sold it to a California couple, Ken and Carol Koppel in “either 1992 or 1993,” he isn’t sure which.

After Ken died of a heart attack, Carol continued to run the sales barn for several years. No one is sure when the place was boarded up and closed to business but the closest estimate is circa the late 1990s.

Driving by the deserted barn and the empty corrals one wonders if its closure was a portent of things to come for what was once a thriving town and a growing community.

The only answer comes from the wind rustling through the dry leaves and the tumbleweeds skittering across the abandoned corrals.

Greybull to field Majors, Minors, T-ball teams

by nathan oster

Greybull won’t field a Babe Ruth team this summer, but it will roll out Majors, Minors and T-ball squads in the days ahead.

Managed by Ken Wright, the Minors are scheduled to play a 5:30 p.m. game in Basin today (Thursday, May 30).  It will be their second official game of the season, as a regularly scheduled tilt with Otto didn’t go off last week.  On Tuesday night the team hosted Basin.

Minors teams are typically composed of 9- and 10 year olds, but Greybull’s squad will include several younger kids out of necessity.  The call-ups were needed to form a team, said Wright, who as of Tuesday had a roster of 12 players.

Team members include Ashton Prentiss, Ethan Dalin, Nick Eckman, Avery Swiftney, Colton Farrow, Noah Zeller, Dante Terry, Coby Henderson, Johnny Coyne, Cale Wright, Aiden Farrow, Weston Adams and Jake Schlattmann.

Henderson, at 7, is the youngest team member, followed by Wright, Eckman, Ashton and Schlattmann, all of who are 8.

“We have a real diverse mix,” said Wright.  “But in the last month, the kids have really shown improvement.”

Wright said “skill development” and “fundaments” have been the focus of practice. “Primarily we just want them to have fun,” Wright said. “But hopefully we can keep them going, so that as they get older, we’ll have enough to play some more games.”

As of Tuesday the schedule included games against Basin and Otto, but Wright said he’s trying to get Worland scheduled as well.  The Minors play in Otto Tuesday, June 4, starting at 5:30 p.m. Wright said he expects the season to conclude in mid-June.

Numbers are an even bigger concern at the Majors level, where Scott McBride is the manager.

“We dance around between seven and 10 kids per practice…so you never know,” said McBride, whose squad, with the exception of a single 10 year old, consists of 11 and 12 year olds.

The Majors will make their season debut in a 7 p.m. game against Otto today (Thursday, May 30).  Additional 7 p.m. games are scheduled June 4 at Otto, June 6 against Basin in Greybull and June 26 in Basin.

As of Tuesday, the roster included Dade Greene, Gage Hunt, Gerardo Corral, Brandon Welsh, Stockton Eckman, Dale McBride, Caden …., Bryant Davis, Calvin Farrow and Abraham Mendez.

“Practices have been going very well,” said McBride. “Kids are growing by leaps and bounds. When we started off, I was pretty nervous.  But I’m comfortable about us being competitive this season.”

Pitching is a concern, he said, noting that he has “some kids who can pitch — but with very little experience doing it.”

Jeff and Carrie Hunt are overseeing the T-ball/coach-pitch program this summer.

Hunt said those two teams start practice this week and will open the season with 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. games in Basin on June 13. Additional games with Basin as well as Otto are also on the schedule.

Joe Forcella, who managed last year’s Babe Ruth to within a win of qualifying for regionals, was unable to round up enough players to field a team this year.  He said the older returnees are playing Legion ball in Lovell, while the younger ones have joined Babe Ruth teams in Worland.