2013 in Review: January through June

JANUARY

Murdoch’s win home lighting contest

The Greybull Area Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners of its holiday home decorating and lighting contest — and the top two finishers should come as no big surprise to longtime readers of the Standard.

First place went to the Paul and Claudine Murdoch residence at 232 Sixth Ave. N.

Finishing in second was the Ron and Elaine Huff residence at 424 S. Third St.

 

Mayor Graham outlines 2-year goals

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.”

 

GMS a National Title I Distinguished School

Greybull Middle School finds itself in some elite company.  Only 66 schools in the nation can call themselves a National Title I Distinguished School — and GMS is one of them.

David Holbrook, a representative of the Wyoming Department of Education, presented a plaque to GMS Principal Scott McBride during the school’s awards assembly in the GHS auditorium.

Holbrook, speaking for Supt. of Public Instruction Cindy Hill who was unable to attend, told students and staff that each state may select two schools for national recognition — one for exceeding its adequate yearly progress for two or more years, the other for significantly closing the achievement gap between student groups.

GMS’s nomination was based the school meeting the criteria of significantly closing the achievement gap, Holbrook said.

 

Shell Post Office hours to  be cut

The Shell Post Office won’t be closing, but its hours will soon be reduced as the U.S. Postal Service tries to streamline its operations in Wyoming and around the country.

$3 billion.  That’s how much the USPS lost last year, according to Gary Sims, manager of post office operations for the state of Wyoming.

Sims was in Shell, talking to a group of about 35 local residents who had gathered to discuss the fate of their post office, which is currently open eight hours a day Monday through Friday and three hours every Saturday.

Sims said within the first two minutes of his presentation that the USPS had no intention of closing the Shell Post Office.

“We know how important post offices are to small rural communities,” Sims said, adding later in the meeting that nearly half of the approximately 142 post offices in Wyoming are in line for some sort of reduction in business hours.

 

Longtime retirement calls it quits

CPA Bruce Bergstrom has put away his ledgers and is “closing the books” on his accounting practice which has been a mainstay on Greybull Avenue for the past 39 years.

His decision to retire has nothing to do with the fact that he will turn 73 in June.  Simply put, Barb told his clients, “Barb and I want to move on to the next chapter in our lives.”

 

Council can’t agree on appointment

A special meeting of the Greybull Town Council ended the way it began — with a governing body of four and one empty chair.

Mayor Bob Graham and Councilmen Bob McGuire, Myles Foley and Clay Collingwood failed to reach a consensus in their first attempt to appoint someone to complete the remaining two years of Graham’s council term.

Les Lowe, Rod Collingwood, Ross Jorgensen, Lindsey Casey and Dave Havener had filed letters of interest with the town, but none of them received the three votes necessary to secure the appointment.

With Foley leaving town for a month and legal counsel needing time to determine where the town goes from here, the council isn’t expected to pick the matter up again until sometime in March.

 

FEBRUARY

BBBS in transition mode

The resignation of two key staffers and the expiration of a 21st Century Community Learning Grant that had been supporting its after-school programming have combined to deal a crippling blow to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Wyoming.

Lisa Beamer, the local agency’s chief executive officer, confirmed on Tuesday that Jen Prentiss, who had been serving as the program director in Big Horn County, had resigned, as had Kellie Asmus, the Americorps VISTA assigned to the Greybull office.

Asmus, whose last day was Friday, said she came to the conclusion that “the program wasn’t a good fit for me, and didn’t align with my future interests.”

Prentiss had an even larger role for BBBS. She has served as the program manager for more than two years, but will be leaving for good today.  She has accepted a job working for Gottsche, which has moved into a new facility in Basin. She will be running Gottsche’s wellness program, including fitness programming.

 

Buffs give Chiefs a scare

If the Greybull Buffs are fortunate enough to make it to the Class 2A West Regional, they will know that at the very least, they can compete against the teams from the southwest corner of the state.

The Buffs are 4-1 against the Southwest Conference — and their only loss, a 48-47 setback Saturday to Wyoming Indian, may have been more impressive than their four combined wins over Big Piney, Kemmerer, Shoshoni and Wind River, all of which came in the Big Horn Basin Shootout.

Playing their third game in as many days after a 67-37 thrashing of Riverside and a 52-37 loss to conference leading Lovell, the Buffs went toe to toe with the No. 2 ranked Chiefs for 32 minutes Saturday afternoon at Buff Gym.

 

Preis celebrates 98th birthday

Friends and relatives gathered at Bonnie Bluejacket Memorial Nursing Home Tuesday, Feb. 5 to honor Geneva Preis on her 98th birthday.

 

Let’s Talk Cellular pulls out of town

Let’s Talk Cellular, which unexpectedly pulled out of Greybull last year, has now closed its doors in Cody, Powell and Thermopolis, as well.

Sandi House, owner of the Verizon authorized retailer, said in a statement that she plans to retire, stay home and expand her alpaca operation.

“The cellular business has been good to us,” she said. “It has been fun and we have all enjoyed getting to know the people in our communities.  But it’s time to pursue other avenues.”

House and her Let’s Talk Cellular team members thanked customers for their support over the past 10 years.

 

Greer, Van Gelder King and Queen of Hearts

Tom Van Gelder and Stella Greer were crowned King and Queen of Hearts at a special Valentine’s Day party held at the Bonnie Bluejacket Memorial Nursing Home.

Both residents and staff voted on their “favorites” with Dian Sixberry assisting in counting the returns. The two won election by a slim margin, staving off a “tie” that would have resulted in a “royal court” instead of a king and queen.

 

Mat team places fourth at state tourney

A season that began with question marks up and down the order and with only six kids having any state wrestling experience whatsoever ended on a high note for Greybull-Riverside last weekend at the Casper Events Center.

The Buffs brought home a trophy, which was the goal, finishing fourth in the 21-team field with 126.5 points and trailing only 2A champion Moorcroft-Hulett (which set a new 2A team record with 263 points), Cokeville (170) and Lovell (147.5).

Thirteen of G-R’s 15 state qualifiers won matches in Casper.  Leading the charge were its eight placers: Luke Zeller, second at 160; Cole Hill, third and 145; Spencer Redland, third at 195; Jesus Burgos, fifth at 138; Rob Nuttall, fifth at 170; Zane Edeler, fifth at 220; Tanner Bernstein, fifth at 285; and Matt Brown, sixth at 182.

 

Upheaval on Shell Canal Board

As annual membership meetings go, it was a doozie, featuring talk of lawsuits, allegations of wrongdoing by public officials and even claims that ballots from a recent election had been improperly counted and reported.

But by the end of the night, the members of the Shell Canal Company had had their say. The results of the first “annual membership meeting” held Feb. 4, 2013 were declared invalid, and as the clock neared 11 p.m. the membership finalized its new board, which now consists of Quinton Noyes, Tom Delaney (incumbent), LeRoy Klitzke (incumbent) and Ray Weese, along with holdover Gary Good.

Voted out of office were Barbara Burbridge and Boyd Van Fleek.

The Shell Canal Company has approximately 130 members. Approximately 70 showed up for Monday’s annual meeting, which was moved from the Greybull Public Library to the Greybull Elks Lodge to accommodate the anticipated large turnout.

 

Herrins honored for 72 years together

It was Oct. 12, 1940 when Marcella Johnson and Dan Herrin entered St. Vincent’s Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minn., clasped hands and vowed: “…for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honor, and cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”

After weathering 72 years of “better, worse, richer, poorer, sickness, health,” Marcella and Dan are as committed to each other as they were as newlyweds.

Father Tom Ogg of St. Mary Magdalene and Sacred Heart Catholic churches in Worland and Greybull, representing Worldwide Marriage Encounter, the original faith-based marriage enrichment program in the United States, sponsored by the Catholic Church, presented Dan and Marcella with a framed parchment certificate for being “the Longest Married Couple in Wyoming.”

 

MARCH

Sidekick to close, make way for Family Dollar

Greybull would lose one of its restaurants but gain a Family Dollar store if a proposed real estate transaction is completed in the coming weeks.

Dean and Sheila Waddell, owners of Side Kick Pizza and Subs on North Sixth Stret, have announced plans to close their business. On a sign hanging in their front door, and in an advertisement appearing in this issue, the Waddells offered thanks to the community for its support over the years.

Prior to opening at their current location in 2004, the Waddells dispensed coffee out of a drive-through building in the Ron’s Food Farm parking lot.

 

Study: Renovation of GMS best option

A consulting firm hired by the state is recommending that Big Horn County School District No. 3 pursue renovations to its middle school to address concerns about crowded hallways and other building deficiencies.

“Using the state’s approved methodology, you do not have a capacity issue at the middle school and you are much farther from having a capacity issue at the high school,” Jack Mousseau, an architect with MOA Architecture, told school board members and staffers during a meeting Wednesday night at GHS.

Because of that, he said the school district would not stand a good chance of securing funds from the School Facilities Commission for the construction of a new middle school, although that was one of the three options considered by MOA.

 

Council decides: It’s Jorgensen

Ross Jorgensen, who for six years served as the town’s public works director, was appointed to the Greybull Town Council Monday night, ending an at times contentious internal struggle over who would complete the remaining two years of Bob Graham’s four-year term.

Jorgensen’s appointment, which was approved by a unanimous vote, capped a 45-minute discussion in which the council failed to agree on the appointment of Dave Havener and refused to put to a vote the appointments of either Rod Collingwood or Lindsey Casey.

The council had decided the fate of a fifth candidate, Les Lowe, in January.  The third-place finisher in the November general election, Lowe failed to get a majority of the council votes, as he received the backing of both Clay Collingwood and Myles Foley, but was opposed by Mayor Bob Graham and Bob McGuire.   Three votes were needed to win the appointment, and because he had gone to a vote, he could not be brought up for another vote.

 

Board sticks to its guns, wants new school

The Big Horn County School District No. 3 board of trustees has elected to pursue the construction of a new middle school rather than make the renovations to its existing building that were recommended by a consulting firm hired to do a capacity study of the GHS/GMS campus.

By unanimous vote, the board chose to “roll the dice,” so to speak, citing the age and condition of the current GMS building, the impact of the recommended renovation plan on current and future school programs, and an overriding concern that the district’s argument for a new GMS would be hurt by any improvements made now.

 

Brown wins People’s Choice award

The Historic Greybull Hotel was filled to overflowing Friday night as about 300 people roamed the rooms and halls to view the 51 illuminated exhibits displayed by Big Horn County School District No. 3 art students.

Each “critic” could vote on his/her favorite and when the votes were counted, the “people’s choice” was the project of GHS senior Nevin Brown, who received a ribbon, certificate and $100.

Brown’s project started with an old window frame stored in the family garage.  The glass was replaced with mirrors centered with a picture of her and her boyfriend. A shelf was built onto the frame, and feathers, candles, flowers and white lights highlighted the project.

 

Landfill board OKs closure of south landfill

Based on recommendations from Howard Johnson of Inberg-Miller Engineers of Riverton, the Big Horn County Solid Waste Board voted at their regular meeting to move forward with Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) in closing the south end landfill.

Johnson’s firm did a topographic survey of the landfill in 2009 and 2013. The board reviewed the differences. Johnson and Gary Grant, landfill manager had reviewed how much had been filled in since 2009 and the average of tons that have been received per year. Based on this they came up with a remaining life of 10-15 years for the south landfill. The board asked Grant to contact the WDEQ to set up a meeting with them to discuss the closure.

 

APRIL

Flitner “Lady-in-Waiting” for Cody Stampede

Morgan Flitner was crowned the 2013 Cody Stampede Lady-in-Waiting at the Irma Hotel in Cody March 16 at the conclusion of a day-long contest that included horsemanship, public speaking and questions, modeling and judges’ interviews. The eight contestants were also scored on a 100-question rodeo test that included everything from livestock diseases and Wyoming current events to PR history and awards.

Flitner, this year’s Stampede Lady-in-Waiting, will become the 2014 Cody Stampede Queen in January and compete for Miss Rodeo Wyoming in August 2014.

 

Longtime GHS/GMS art teacher resigns

Personnel issues were front and center during a special meeting Thursday of the Big Horn County School District No. 3 board of trustees.

The board accepted four resignations, made four new hires and agreed to create another teaching position at the elementary school, where the student-to-teacher ratio of 20 to 1 currently exceeds the state’s recommended 16 to 1.

Topping the list of resignations was Karyne Dunbar, the art teacher at GHS and GMS.  She has been with the district since 1981 — and even though she was not in attendance to hear it, she drew a round of applause from the board and audience for her years of dedicated service to the district.

The board moved swiftly to fill the position, approving a motion later in the meeting to offer the GHS/GMS art teacher position to Teresa Boyer, whose husband, Nathan, is a teacher at the elementary school.

 

Thur hired as new town administrator

The Greybull Town Council has tapped a man with more than 10 years of management and supervisory experience in the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) to be its new administrator and finance director.

Paul Thur is expected to begin work in early May. He will replace Joe Fischer, who resigned at the end of last year to return to his native Wisconsin.

 

 

 

 

District pulls the plug on swimming pool

The clock has officially struck midnight for users of the Greybull swimming pool.

Supt. Barry Bryant announced on Friday that he had closed the pool, citing a fire marshal’s conclusion that the building is “not structurally safe” and a structural engineer’s opinion that it is “unfit for public occupancy.”

The pool was funded through the end of June and the school board and town council had recently agreed to each chip in $8,000, for a total of $16,000, to cover the months of July and August.

The plan was to try to keep it open through the end of the summer, but Bryant said concerns about the safety of people using the pool prompted him to take the action, which he immediately conveyed to members of the school board and the mayor Bob Graham.

In an email, fire marshal Dale Link said, “From looking at the corrosion on the main structure of the building and the piece I picked off with my finger the building is not structurally safe.”

 

Positive brucellosis tests create unease

Officials from the Wyoming State Livestock Board urged local cattle producers to be proactive in monitoring their herds for brucellosis following the recent announcement from the Game and Fish Department that two elk taken in the Big Horn Mountain had tested positive for the bacteria.

“If I was a producer in this area, I would want to get some surveillance testing in my cattle herd to assure myself that it wasn’t there — or to find it quickly if it was,” said Dr. Jim Logan, the state veterinarian. “If you go through the calving seasons with one infected female that calves in your herd, you will know it the next year.

“The longer you wait to find it, the greater the risk of inter-herd spread.”

Logan was one of several Wyoming Livestock Board and Wyoming Game and Fish officials in attendance at a public meeting Thursday night at the Greybull Elks Lodge attended by approximately 50 local producers.

While Logan’s call was for livestock producers to be proactive, even he acknowledged early in the evening that no one yet knows what to make of the two positive tests, which was discovered in elk taken in Hunt Area 40.

 

Rec district losing its director

The Greybull Recreation District has begun its search for a new director after Chris Waite announced late last week that he was resigning in order to accept a position as the volunteer coordinator for the Billings Recreation District.

Waite will remain on the job through the end of this month, at which time he will turn over the reigns to Heather Howe and Trista Williams, who during Monday’s meeting of the Greybull Recreation Board were appointed interim director and interim assistant director, respectively.

Howe has been serving as the assistant director and Williams as the roller rink supervisor.

 

Can’t get enough goldfish racing

What started 10 years ago as a “Mardi Gras-type party” has grown and evolved into one of the most anticipated events of the spring in Greybull under the direction of Kevin and Brenda Peterson and their legions of cooks and support people.

More than 150 people filed into the Greybull Elks Lodge on Saturday night, drawn by the lure of fresh shrimp and crawdads and another round of “championship goldfish races” featuring racers with names like “Jamaican Me Crazy,” “Fish-N-Chicks,” and “Knotty Tonight.”

Brenda Peterson estimates that 148 people were fed and that another 15 to 20 paid to watch the racing, which drew to a conclusion when Ryan Howe and his fish, “Oliver Clothesoff,” crossed the finish line ahead of a fish directed by Kelle Saldana.

 

Commissioner Hinman resigns

Thomas S. Hinman  “Scotty” announced his resignation late last week in a public letter to the citizens of Big Horn County.

His letter states, “Regrettably I must resign from my position as county commissioner due to health issues. I greatly appreciate the opportunity that you have given me to serve you as commissioner for the past six years. It has been an honor and privilege that few get to experience, and for that I thank you.”

Hinman is in the midst of his second term as a commissioner, having first been elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010.

Commissioner Hinman remembered

Big Horn County Commissioner Thomas S. “Scotty” Hinman resigned the position on April 18 and a week later passed away from leukemia.

 

MAY

Laird promoted to command sergeant major

Michael Laird of Greybull became the newest command sergeant major in the Wyoming Army National Guard after a series of movements among some of the senior ranking enlisted soldiers in the state.

The moves provide new opportunities for full time and traditional National Guardsmen to serve Wyoming’s soldiers.

Laird was promoted from sergeant major to command sergeant major, identifying his responsibility for soldiers in a particular command.

His responsibility came after he was transferred from the state’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion, based in Cheyenne, to the 2nd Battalion, 300th Field Artillery, based in Sheridan.

 

GHS names top graduates

Hunter Grant, Sarah Bockman, Michaela Denniston and Dane Gifford share valedictory honors for the Greybull High School Class of 2013. Luke Zeller is the salutatorian.

 

Buffs qualify two more at regional

The Greybull Buffs will be sending six athletes to the State 2A Track and Field Championships in Casper after McKenna Powers and Logan Jensen punched their ticket at the regional meet in Lander.

Powers and Jensen join the four members of the 400-meter relay team, Dylan Brenner, Calder Forcella, Alex Hebb and Kyler Flock, who qualified earlier in the season by bettering the 2A qualifying standard.

The Buffs didn’t have the firepower to make a run in the team standings, finishing ninth in both the boys and girls divisions.  Lovell won both divisions, collecting 170 points in the girls and 148.83 in the boys.  Greybull tallied 17 in the boys division, nine in the girls division.

 

Mayor: Levee ‘provisionally accredited’

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.”

 

Campaign for new middle school continues

Big Horn County School District No. 3 may be a step closer to getting a new middle school.

Supt. Barry Bryant believes he’s making progress in his bid to convince the School Facilities Commission that an approximately $4.5 million solution that includes building a new middle school and remodeling both the current middle school and GMS Gym is the best one for the school district and its patrons.

Bryant made his comments after a May 16 presentation to the School Facilities Commission.

“I was 50/50 before I went down, but I’m 90/10 now … 90 percent sure we’ll get a new middle school by the time all is said and done,” said Bryant.

Bryant said the SFC was “very receptive” to his presentation, in which he pointed out flaws in the recent capacity study done by MOA Architecture. In it, the cost of a new middle school was set at $10 million.

 

Memorial Day bring turbulent weather

The weather system that stormed through Big Horn County on Memorial Day served as a reminder that tornados can happen here, too — and not just in Oklahoma and Kansas, the two states that get the most twisters.

Chris Jones, a warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said residents of Johnson County — and particularly around Kaycee — saw tornado warnings issued three times in a five-day span of the last week.

But the only reported touch-down of a funnel cloud occurred just on the outskirts of Big Horn County in neighboring Park County.  According to Jones, a tornado (or at least, what appeared to be one on photographs) was observed 20 miles southeast of Cody, or 11 miles northeast of Meeteetse.

It appears the tornado was on the ground for 15 to 20 minutes, until around 11:18 when it lifted back up into the thunderstorm. By that point, it was approximately 17 miles northeast of Meeteetse.

No damage was reported.

 

JUNE

Town proposing hike in sanitation fees

Greybull residents would notice a $2 increase on their monthly utility bills if the town’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014 is approved in its present form on third and final reading Monday night.

Council members agreed to incorporate the $2 hike into the budget when they met to give it a second reading on Tuesday, May 28.  The hike would come in sanitation fee, where residential customers currently pay $22.50 per month and business customers pay $35.50.

If it clears third and final reading, the increase would take effect July 1 and generate an estimated $20,000 annually for the town.  It would be the second increase in as many years in the sanitation rates. In July of 2012, they rose by 50 cents.

 

 

Coffee Barn opens on Sixth

Greybull wasn’t without a drive-up coffee shop for long, as Teresa Collingwood over the Days of ’49 weekend opened The Coffee Barn on North Sixth Street. By doing so, she filled a void for drive-up coffee that was created when Sidekick Pizza and Subs closed earlier this spring.

Teresa said the decision to leave the Children’s Resource Center, where she had worked for seven years, and open her own business was made almost entirely for family reasons. She and her husband J.T. have a 1-year-old daughter, Josie, whose pull, she admits, is far stronger than any job.

 

Baxter Black booked for HATS

HATS will be “doffed” this year on Saturday, Aug. 17 at the Herb Asp Community Center. The fifth annual charity event will feature entertainment by Baxter Black, cowboy, poet, philosopher, former veterinarian and radio and television commentator.

Black drew rave reviews when he appeared at the 2009 fundraiser, and guests will enjoy the same quality show this year.

 

SFC approves plan to build new GMS

Three months after it rolled the dice, the Big Horn County School District No. 3 board of trustees has apparently come up a big winner in its bid for a new Greybull Middle School building.

Supt. Barry Bryant announced during a special meeting Monday night that the School Facilities Commission had approved the project, doing so on the recommendation of the School Facilities Department staff and the architectural firm, MOA, which earlier this year conducted a capacity study of the GMS/GHS campus.

MOA, the SFD, and ultimately, the SFC itself, all supported the plan pitched by Greybull staff and school board members, which calls for the construction of a 14,710-square-foot addition onto the Greybull Middle School Gym, the remodeling of 5,017 square feet on the opposite side of the GMS Gym, and the conversion of the current GMS into an administrative central office.

 

Have bats and gloves, will travel

With no Babe Ruth or Legion teams in Greybull this summer, local boys who have wanted to play baseball have had to load up their gear and join teams from other communities to get their fixes of America’s pastime.

The Forcella boys — Calder and Dawson — and Justin Bacus are playing American Legion ball with the Lovell Mustangs, Bryce Wright is in his second season with the Powell Pioneers, and Brock Hill and Morgan Dowling are playing with the Worland Indians, a Babe Ruth squad.