Daily Archives: July 17, 2013

Decline in natural gas, oil impacts valuation

by karla pomeroy

After seeing a significant jump in valuation last year of $30 million, Big Horn County saw a decrease in valuation by $5 million.

According to figures from the Big Horn County Assessor’s Office, last year’s valuation was $294,606,744 and it dropped to $289,109,390. The biggest change is in the state assessed valuation, Assessor Gina Anderson said. The county’s state assessed valuation dropped from $198,849,143 to $192,882,139. The biggest decreases came in oil and natural gas with natural gas dropping $2.4 million in valuation. Oil dropped $6.8 million in valuation from a three-year high last year of $129 million to $122.2 million this year.

There were also decreases in valuation in railroad, gas distribution companies, major electrics, municipal electrics, major telecommunication, cable and satellite, rural telephone and sand and gravel.

In contrast to oil and natural gas, bentonite continued its increase in valuation for the fourth straight year, jumping $3.3 million this year to $47.1 million. Other state assessed industries seeing increases in valuation were liquid pipeline, rural electrics, cellular telecommunication, reseller telecommunication (jumping 98 percent from $2,488 in valuation last year to $99,709 this year) and gypsum.

Anderson said the 37 special districts who are assessed, including the nine municipalities saw a mix of increases and decreases. Those with significant decreases are attributed to the loss in valuation from oil and natural gas, including School District No. 4, a drop of $3.4 million and School District No. 1, a drop of $2.5 million. Districts 2 and 3 saw increases.

North Big Horn Hospital saw a drop of $3.1 million, as did districts with similar boundaries including the North Senior Service District. Anderson noted that oil production in the Byron area saw a decrease of $3 million, which also accounted for decreases in the Byron Cemetery and Byron Solid Waste Disposal District.

The South Big Horn Hospital District saw a drop in valuation of $2.3 million, as did the South Big Horn County Senior Service which has the same district boundaries.

All the fire districts saw decreases with the largest decreases in the Lovell district ($2.4 million) and Manderson ($2.3 million).

Of the nine cemetery districts, all but two dropped in valuation. Otto saw a drop of $2,222,234, South Central $1 million and Byron $1.5 million.

The anomalies were Burlington, with an increase of $120,383 with slight increases in each taxing district; and Hyattville with an increase of $183,193, mostly due to the bentonite increase.

For the first time in three years, the town of Basin was not the only municipality to drop in valuation. This year Basin dropped by $228,252 with drops in state assessed valuation industries of rural telephone, municipal electric, major telecommunication and cable satellite companies.

Greybull had the largest drop of $1,168,831. Anderson said in 2012, New Era Petroleum (formerly Rockwell) reported most of its production in the town of Greybull taxing district and this year most of the production, thus most of its valuation was outside the town.

Frannie ($44,157), Lovell ($103,233) and Manderson ($9,303) also saw decreases in valuation.

Increasing in valuation were Burlington, Byron, Cowley and Deaver.

Anderson said in regard to local valuation, which increased $469,650 to $96,227,251, her office saw an increase in the business property claimed by ag businesses and other businesses. “I guess that speaks well of the economy. People were buying equipment,” Anderson said.

Local assessed valuation also includes ag land, residential, commercial and the property used to make money for the commercial, ag and business properties.


Riders vow to ‘kick cancer to curb’

by nathan oster

United by their desire to “kick cancer to the curb,” Conga motorcyclists clad in pink and a group of nearly 80 Big Horn Basin bicyclists pedaling for the PEAKS to Conga cause converged in Shell Saturday for an afternoon of fundraising and socializing.

It was the fifth time that the Conga fundraiser came to Greybull and Shell.

Flo Fuhr, who has organized each of the rides from her home in Canada, acknowledged on her Facebook page that this year’s turnout was “a lot smaller” than past years, and while there were still many great donations, the live and silent auctions also fell short of matching those of previous years.

“We raised $2,000, with a little more coming in before the day was over,” Fuhr wrote on Saturday afternoon.  “Thanks to everyone who participated in any way.  Special thanks to Arlan (Howe), for letting us have his curly locks, which raised $650.

“Everyone is exhausted,” she wrote from the road. “Thanks for five great years in Shell and Greybull.  There are some amazing folks here. Hoping for a reunion some year. Next year, it’s in Canada.”

The Conga girls raised money through car washes and hot dog sales on Friday and through the live and silent auctions at the Antler Inn of Shell.



The PEAKS fundraiser was even more successful.  Lauritta Parker said an estimated $10,000 was generated.  All of it will stay right here in the Bighorn Basin, she said, adding that people in Big Horn and Hot Springs counties, in particular, will be the biggest beneficiaries, since they have to travel the farthest to receive their cancer treatments.

PEAKS stands for People Everywhere Are Kind and Sharing — and Parker said she was overwhelmed by the response of the riders.  While the Conga riders won’t be returning to Shell in the near future, Parker said the PEAKS ride will continue. And it will continue to be called “PEAKS to Conga” as a way of honoring the Conga organization.

“If it weren’t for Flo, none of this would have happened,” she said.


Conga overview

Karen Allen agrees.  Fuhr has been the driving force behind the Conga rides.  All the riders recognize her as leader of the pack. So it only made sense, Allen reasoned, that Fuhr should be the recipient of a plaque from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, celebrating the contributions of the Conga organization over the years.

Allen made the presentation to Fuhr on Saturday afternoon.

Fuhr in turn handed it to Al Martin, who personally and through his business, the Antler Inn, has been a big supporter of past Conga rides.

Allen said the Conga effort has generated more than $100,000 for breast cancer research in the past five years.  Money has flowed in from generous donors in both the United States and Canada, where Fuhr resides.

“We had upwards of 40 in Cheyenne a few years ago, and I bet over the years, we’ve had 80 different women riders (participate in the Conga) … probably another 10 or so men who came along with us,” she said.

As for the years to come, Allen suggested that while you can take Conga out of Greybull and Shell, you won’t be able to take Greybull and Shell out of the Conga.  The community and its generosity have left a lasting impression on the group.

“I’m jaded about the area — in the sense that I love Greybull and Shell,” said Allen.  She has some personal ties to the community; her husband’s grandparents, Ruth and Lloyd Allen, lived here for 68 years.

“To me, personally, it’s like coming home, and I have heard a lot of comments from other Conga riders about their affection for this community.  Words like ‘inclusive’ and ‘welcoming’ are frequently mentioned.”

Allen suggested that the ride is an attempt to “put the best foot forward. For most of us, it’s a long-distance ride. It’s not an easy thing to do.  It’s hot, it can be windy on the road, and you deal with traffic and deer and everything else.  But it comes down to faith and believing you can do it and that it’s for a good cause.

“The community there is phenomenal. Greybull and Shell won’t be abandoned by the Conga riders. We’ll be back.  It feels like a big family reunion, every time we visit.”





One-room schoolhouse holds lots of memories

by marlys good

Clair and Arlene Cheatham held a “grade school reunion” at their home on Shell Creek July 6, inviting everyone who had attended the one-room Stone School six miles east of Greybull to share memories of bygone days.

He noted, “One doesn’t hear of too many grade school reunions, but one room, eight-grade schools are different. Some of us spent eight to 10 years together in one room, with one teacher who cared about us.”

Although officially named the Odessa School, to early pioneers of Shell Valley and the surrounding communities it is known simply as the Stone School.

The original 24- by 46-foot school was built from sandstone quarried from nearby hills on land donated to the Odessa school district that was named for the nearby Odessa Post Office that operated from 1891-1895.

Cheatham recalls, “My grandfather, Jesse Joel Smith, was among the pioneers who helped cut the stone to construct the school. His three children all attended, with my mother (Inez, the youngest) starting first grade in 1908.”

When doors to the school opened in 1906, it is reported that 40 children were in attendance, which indicated just how important education was to the early pioneer settlers.

Former Stone School students attending in addition to the host were Dwain Cheatham of Powell, Robert Akin (who attended for just one year), Harry Barnett, Mary Bond Dempster of Lovell, Alice Forbes Chapple of Hardin, Mont., Francis “Frankie” Good, Leora “Lee” Good, Harry Grisham, James Grisham of Lovell, Johnny Herren, Roy Herren of Billings, Sharon Peterson Silcocks of Whitehall, Mont. and Kathy Stevens of Emblem.

Dwain Cheatham was the earliest attendee having started first grade in 1938 and “graduating” from the eighth grade in 1946. He read a poem about the school that he had composed that was funny, sad, interesting and very true, all at the same time.

Silcocks was an honored guest. The daughter of Stone School teacher Lucille Peterson Stone read a letter her mother had written describing her experiences.  (Peterson Stone was the last to teach at the school before it closed in the mid 1950s.)

Thelma Smith shared memories of the school in a letter to Cheatham. “Life in those days revolved around the school. Here we saw our neighbors, had parties, sang, danced and ate with them, as well as attended the many programs sponsored by the school. We loved entertaining our families with special programs for Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Our teacher) Mrs. Nelson obviously cared for each of us and we loved her in return. But I did dread Mondays and oral reports. While the darns in my long brown stockings seemed a work of art to me, I was not happy to show them off to the boys…”

Smith recalled building play houses out of the rocks and using flat rocks, sticks and bottles for furniture. Another favorite playground activity was playing Annie, Annie Over.

“We would throw the ball over the schoolhouse and the other side would catch it, run around the building and attempt to touch one of our players before we made a dash for the other side. If the ball was thrown crooked it would roll into the bell tower. One day one of the more daring boys climbed up the bell rope, pushed himself through the trap door into the tower and let down a virtual windfall of balls … In the winter we played ‘fox and geese’ in the snow.”

John McGough, who purchased the school in 1980, arranged for the attendees to visit the Stone School and loaned them a notebook thick with invaluable records and photos dating back to 1903.

Cheatham, who “graduated” from the school in 1952 and from Greybull High School in 1956, said, “We all owe a debt of gratitude to John, who rescued the school building from deterioration and/or demolition. We need symbols like the Stone School to remind us of the work and sacrifice of our pioneer forefathers. Education was important to them and we are still reaping the rewards of their dedication.”

The afternoon passed quickly as the “alumni” shared their memories of the Stone School. “Our memories of the Stone School, if not perfectly sharp, are very poignant. We are already planning the next ‘grade school reunion’ hoping that with better planning and more advance notice, everyone who attended the Stone School will come relive the great experience they had there,” Cheatham concluded.



McCollochs team up to win SSB Invite

by nathan oster

Scott and Michael McColloch finished four shots ahead of their closest pursuers, the team of Dave Walton and Shawn Roods, to win the more prestigious net title in last weekend’s Security State Bank Invitational at Midway Golf Club.

The McCollochs finished with a two-day net score of 121, following rounds of 61 and 61.

The Walton-Roods team came in at 125, with scores of 63 and 62.

Finishing in third place was the team of Marti Storiem and Tom Zierolf with a 126 (59-67).

Rounding out the top four was the team of Carl Olson and Shawn DeVries, who shot a 130 (69-61).

In the “gross” scoring, which does not factor in players’ handicap golfers, the duo of Jeff Vail and Chris Bundren were runaway winners.  They came in with a gross score of 130 (63-60), 11 shots better than the Storeim-Zierolf team and 12 better than the McColloch-McColloch pairing.  Because each of those teams were winners on the “net” side, the tournament awarded second to the team of Thayer Crouse and Doug Crouse, who shot a 144 (71-73).

Twenty-four teams participated in the tournament, which used a best-ball format.

In Saturday evening’s derby, the top seven local golfers, based upon scores in Friday’s practice round, were paired with the top seven out-of-town golfers.  The Bundren-Zierolf team took first place, followed by Thayer Crouse and Walton in second and Aaron Grosch and Gary Pangburn in third.

“I think everybody had fun,” said Jim Core, the tournament director.

The next big event on the local golf calendar is the Midway Open, which is Aug. 10-11.

%d bloggers like this: