Daily Archives: July 3, 2014

Community supports fireworks show

by nathan oster

From the you-don’t-know-what-you’ve-got-until-it’s-gone category, the communities of Greybull, Basin and the surrounding area clearly missed having a local fireworks show on the Fourth of July.

That much is undeniable after a fundraising campaign in the two communities generated more than $8,300 in support of the fireworks show, which is scheduled to begin at precisely 10:30 p.m. Friday. In the event of a severe thunderstorm, the show will be pushed back Saturday night, same time and place.

“I’m so proud of this community,” said Myles Foley, who has taken the lead on the planning of the fireworks show for the Greybull Area Chamber of Commerce. “People really stepped up; there’s been between $250 and $400 in the cans every week when I go to collect (around Basin and Greybull). Just unbelievable.”

Big Sky Fireworks has been hired to put on the fireworks show.

Foley said he expects it to last 12 to 15 minutes.

As for other happenings on the Fourth, the Greybull Recreation District did not know if the fireworks show would be a go so it did not schedule its Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Picnic, which in the past has always brought families to the park in big numbers.





Shell man bound over on four felony charges

by karla pomeroy

The Shell man charged with burglary of the Basin Area Chamber and Basin Pharmacy in May was bound over to district court on all four felony counts.

Judge Thomas Harrington bound Michael McKay Anderson over on two counts of burglary, one count of destruction of property and one count of possession of burglary tools.

He said, “At this point in time I find sufficient probable cause was established by two things — Rocky Mountain Information Network identifying Anderson via tattoos from the surveillance video and photos obtained from Anderson’s Facebook page and from Deputy Travis Davis’ daughter identifying Anderson in the surveillance video.

Big Horn County Deputy Attorney John Frentheway called just one witness during the preliminary hearing, investigating officer Big Horn County Sheriff’s Deputy Travis Davis. Davis responded to the Basin Pharmacy on May 4 when he received a call from dispatch about a motion alarm. He said the sheriff’s office was covering Basin for the Basin Police while officers were gone for various reasons.

He said he saw nothing and awaited the owners of the pharmacy to arrive with a key. He said upon entering he saw shelves moved, pills on the floor and hole in the wall going into the chamber building adjacent to the pharmacy. He said he did not know the exact size of the hole but it was a “pretty big hole.”

The scene was photographed and they reviewed surveillance footage. He said they found a bead breaker, which is a sledge hammer with a wedge outside in the back of the pharmacy and notice red brick dust from the brick wall that was broken out between the pharmacy and the chamber. They also found a Snap-On pry bar inside.

Davis testified that the subject who broke into the chamber and then the pharmacy appeared to be after pills with two bottles of prescription pain medicine taken.

He said neither the pharmacy owners nor anyone at the chamber gave permission for someone to enter the building early Sunday morning and no one had permission to break a hole into the wall.

In order to identify Anderson, Davis testified that a video was sent to RMIN and videos are also being processed by the FBI for facial recognition.

He said of the four cameras the pharmacy had at the time, three show the suspect including a frontal view when the suspect is outside on a cell phone looking into the building.

He testified that when viewing the videos at his home his daughter walked by and asked why he had Mike Anderson on video. He said he had suspicions prior to that the suspect was Anderson.

He said investigator Keri Wilske went on Facebook and found a picture of Anderson showing an injured ankle but it also showed a tattoo on his calf and a report from RMIN says the person on Facebook and the person on the surveillance video is the same person with the same tattoo.

“That was more confirmation the suspect was Mike Anderson,” he said.

Davis said the first count of burglary was breaking into the chamber where the suspect allegedly pried the back door open. Davis said several false ceiling panels were popped up in various places, which he believed was the suspect checking to see if there was a way over the pharmacy.

The second count of burglary was the breaking through the wall into the pharmacy, Davis said. He said the video shows a suspect coming from the approximate area of the hole.

The destruction of property was the wall, with an estimated cost of repair of $1,400.

The charge of possession of burglary tools was the possession of the pry bar and bead breaker. Davis said the tools are normally used by mechanics or in construction.

Anderson’s attorney Brigita Krisjansons argued for dismissal specifically of this charge, stating that the state statute defines burglary tools as those “commonly used” for burglary and testimony was the tools are commonly used by mechanics and contractors.

Under cross-examination Krisjansons questioned Davis about the drugs stolen from the pharmacy. David said they found drug paraphernalia during the execution of search warrants and the drugs are in a locker waiting to be processed.

“The investigation is not complete,” he said.

He said they found a pop can with two pills in it but they have also not been tested and it is unknown if they are from the missing bottles.

She asked, “Is it fair to say you didn’t find any of the pills stolen from the pharmacy?” Davis replied, “Not with the identifying marks, no.”

She said 1,000 pills is a lot of pills and it would be reasonable to assume you would find some that shortly after a burglary. Davis testified that none of the pills have been recovered to his knowledge.

She asked why higher-dose narcotics were not taken and Davis replied they were locked up and the others were readily available.


SFC keeps GMS project on track

by nathan oster

The construction of the new Greybull Middle School appears to be back on track after the School Facilities Commission agreed Thursday to earmark another $472,000 in unanticipated funding for the project.

Supt. Barry Bryant said it’s not a done deal yet, as Gov. Matt Mead must first sign off on it.

If that happens, construction could begin before the end of this month.

By contract, the new construction must be done by July 1, 2015, the GMS Gym remodel by Aug. 15, 2015.


SFC decision

How a delegation from Greybull ended up in front of the SFC last week is a story in itself.

A capacity study done in 2013 found that there was, in fact, a capacity issue at GMS.

A building suitable for housing up to 152 students was needed, the study found.

MOA, the architectural firm that did the capacity study, pitched several alternatives to the district. The most cost-effective one, in the district’s estimation, was a plan to build a new middle school addition to the GMS Gym and reutilize current space being used by the district.

According to the SFD square footage calculator, the district is authorized up to 45,369 square feet. With 16,000 new and 5,037 renovated, the district felt like it had found a cost-effective way of addressing the need.

The Legislature agreed, appropriating $4.693 million for the project during the 2014 session.

Also in the appropriation was an additional $508,393 in contingency/unanticipated funding.

The district ran into a snag when bids came in. Sletten Construction, the low bidder, came in at $4.965 million — which was $790,107 over and above the district’s cost estimate of $4.174 million.

The school district’s argument to the SFC was that the extra costs were mainly due to 1) additional fire sprinkling for the GMS Gym; 2) soils condition discovered by the geotechnical survey; 3) the absence of three-phase power on the site; 4) certain trade subcontractors having a lot of work available, which drove up the price; and 5) a low estimate by MOA during the capacity study for the cost of a remodel.

The district’s solution to the gulf between the low bid and the estimate was to award the bid to Sletten and approve a series of financial steps, including committing $200,000 in district funds ($50,000 from the general fund, $150,000 in 2014 and 2015 major maintenance dollars), moving $68,000 in unallocated planning funds to construction and shifting $100,000 from owner’s equity to construction.

The SFC’s decision to commit the $472,000 in unanticipated funding was the final piece of the puzzle for the district, which can now turn its focus back to the construction and an accelerated timeline which calls for the building to be done by the fall of 2015.



In an email announcing the SFC’s decision, Bryant credited Sen. Ray Peterson and Rep. Elaine Harvey for their support on the project.

As for how the project is going to impact school, Bryant said the construction area will be roped off. All GMS and GHS physical education classes will be held in the Buff Gym, as Mr. Nolan Tracy and Mr. Marty Wrage will share that gym space.

The offices in the GMS Gym will remain.

Bryant said school days won’t need to be modified.

“There will be times when the parking lot in front of the high school will need to be emptied for a couple of weeks (for the storage of steel) … but the main construction staging area is going to be the old pool parking lot area,” he said.

‘Spares’ plane once transported Eisenhower

by marlys good

The YouTube story about the very first Air Force One being unknowingly purchased by Greybull’s favorite and most notable pilot, Mel Christler, gets more interesting with information included in an Internet article on Christler Flying Service.

According to Christler he got a call in 1980 from Robert Mikesh, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, asking him if he was aware that his “spares” airplane, one of five he had purchased in 1970 and was now stored in Tucson, Ariz., was Columbine II, Dwight Eisenhower’s first presidential Constellation.

By this time, however, the airplane’s most useful parts had been donated to its working sisters.

Mel felt terrible about what had happened to the historic aircraft and set out to remedy the situation.

In 1985 Christler and his son, Lockie, attended the Globe Air auction in Mesa and bid $5,000 for Columbine II’s sistership. The plan was to ferry the sister ship to Ryan Field in Tucson and use its parts to restore Columbine II.

In 1989 the restoration of Columbine II began. It was completed in April 1990 and toured the United State in 1990 and 1991.

Christler and his partner Harry Oliver, integral to the restoration, thought the perfect home for the aircraft was the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport, but little interest was expressed by the museum.

A note of interest was that the “sistership” purchased by Christler for the restoration was originally named “Dewdrop” and was to be presidential-hopeful Dewey’s presidential airplane. When Harry Truman won the 1948 election he chose a DC-/VC-118 as his airplane. The name Dewdrop was removed from the “Connie,” and it was assigned to the USAF’s VIP squadron at National Airport in Washington, D.C. It was scrapped at Ryan Field in January 2002.

Of the five planes purchased by Christler in 1970, Columbine and two others survive.

One of the “survivors” was restored by the Dutch Aviodome Museum, repainted in late 1940s KLM colors at the paint facility at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, with plans of flying it on the European airshow circuit.

As noted in the YouTube video, that first Air Force I lays forgotten and decaying in the desert.

Christler, who died in 2005, had an avid interest and knack for flying since he was a young boy. Born in Canada, his family moved to Monroe, Mich., when Mel was just an infant, and to Wyoming, where they purchased the Castle Rock Ranch up South Fork above Cody when Mel was 13 years old.

He received his commercial flying license and instructor’s rating from the CAA in the mid ‘30s; was an instructor in the Civilian Pilot Training program, trained Army Cadets; served in the Air Transport command, including a year of flying modified B2 gasoline tankers over the hump between China, Burma and India.

He returned to Wyoming after the war and opened a fixed base operation in Greybull. He was one of the first to introduce large aircraft in aerial application and firefighting efforts.

In 1961 he sold the business and moved to Thermopolis and operated the first corporate jet aircraft in Wyoming for Empire State Oil.

He and his wife Frances owned and operated three businesses: Big Horn Flying Service, Christler and Avery Aviation, Christler Flying Service; performed aerial application, fish planting, slurry bombing, U.S. Forest Service smoke jumping and flight instruction. He pioneered aerial pipeline patrol, which was previously done on foot.

In 1999 he was inducted into the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame.




Dores E. Forbes

Sept. 5, 1922 – March 4, 2014

Word has been received of the death of longtime Greybull resident Dores E. Forbes. Dores passed away March 4 in Flagstaff, Ariz.

She was born Sept. 5, 1922, in Montrose, Colo., the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T.E. Anderson, Sr. She graduated from Greybull High School in 1940. She attended Cook County School of Nursing in Chicago and graduated in 1944.

Dores enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps in 1946 and served in Saipan and Kyoto, Japan.

She was the administrator of South Big Horn County Hospital from 1957 until 1971; she retired from Deaconess Hospital in Billings in 1987.

Dores was preceded in death by her daughter, Judy Forbes, and her grandson, Brian Goodwin.

She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Greg and Linda Goodwin of Flagstaff; three grandchildren, Michael Forbes of Colten, Calif., Corey Goodwin of Phoenix and Amy Goodwin of Little Rock, Ark., and one great-grandson.


Greybull players form core of Mustangs

by nathan oster

The Lovell Mustangs sport a 4-16 record at the midway point of their American Legion season, but their skipper, Steven Durtsche, feels the team has the horses to make a run all the way to the state tournament.

“We’re getting better, starting to find ourselves a little bit,” said Durtsche, whose team is relying heavily on the contributions of four imports from Greybull: Calder Forcella, Dawson Forcella, Justin Bacus and Riley Hill.

From that group come players Durtsche described as the team’s “best hitter” (Dawson Forcella), “best pitcher” (Calder Forcella), “primary catcher” (Bacus) and “up-and-coming manchild” (Hill).

“Those Greybull boys, they are huge for us,” said Durtsche.

Dawson Forcella, a sophomore-to-be at GHS, has excelled at catcher in the past, but has seen his starts at that position limited by injuries. Instead he’s found his way into the lineup by playing a solid third base as well as some first.

His biggest contribution, though, has come with the stick. He’s played in all 20 games for the Mustangs and ranks among the team leaders in batting average (.321), doubles (three), and runs batted in (four).

“When he gets up there, you know he’s going to hit the ball,” Durtsche said of Dawson, who has primarily hit third in the Mustangs lineup.

Calder Forcella, a GHS senior, hasn’t gotten off to a fast start with the bat — through 20 games, he’s hitting .231 — but he’s contributed in other ways. For example, he leads the team in runs scored (12). “His stick’s starting to come around,” said Durtsche, who has used Calder all over in the batting lineup, including leadoff and clean-up.

Calder’s making his biggest mark as the team’s top pitcher and starting shortstop.

He has two of the Mustang’s four wins and has the best numbers on the staff. In 28 innings of work, he’s surrendered 33 hits but walked only six to go along with 19 strikeouts. His ERA of 2.00 ranks first on the team.

Bacus has “been really big for us,” said Durtsche. “He’s had to catch pretty much every game, and without him, I honestly don’t know what we’d do. We can rely on him to catch — and to be a utility player, too.” Bacus has been credited with six hits, but he’s made the most of them, as he leads the team in RBIs with five.

Bacus, like Calder Forcella a senior-to-be at GHS, has done some pitching as well. He has thrown 7.1 innings, giving up nine earned runs on eight hits.

Riley Hill has been a pleasant surprise. Just 14, he’s one of the youngest players on the team, which in American Legion competition faces squads made up primarily of kids between the ages of 15 and 19.

“He’s a manchild, in that when he hits the ball, it goes a mile,” said Durtsche. “He’s got a lot of power, he’s played some third base and outfield for us and we’re still hoping to get his pitching arm in shape. Seeing a lot of good things from Riley.”

The district tournament will be held later this month in Cody.

Teams will be gunning for berths in the state tournament.

Durtsche believes his team is going to be a factor.

“I definitely think we have a team that can make it to state,” he said.

The key to success is going to be “defense, defense, defense. It’s what’s won ballgames for us and lost ballgames for us. When we’ve won, we’ve been solid in the field. When we haven’t, there have usually been one or two errors that have killed us.”




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