Feb 12, 2015

Former Powell man fined, jailed for wildlife violations

After three separate court appearances last November, a former Powell resident received approximately $2,500 in fines, lost eight years of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges and served 12 days in jail for multiple misdemeanor wildlife violations.

Powell Game Warden Chris Queen’s investigation began in November with an anonymous tip that Jacob Adkins, 19, had illegally shot a deer.

Deer are shown in rural Cody in this file photo.
Queen found that Adkins had actually illegally harvested three animals: one deer in the McCullough Peaks and two more in Big Horn County.

At a Nov. 24 appearance in Big Horn County Circuit Court in Lovell, Adkins pleaded guilty to taking two deer during a closed season. The following day at Park County Circuit Court in Powell, he pleaded guilty to taking a deer in the closed McCullough Peaks area and not tagging the animal.

For those violations, Adkins was fined $1,500 and lost his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for five years.

That would have ended the story, but just three hours after the Nov. 25 court appearance in Powell, wildlife officers caught Adkins trying to buy bobcat and coyote furs in Lovell without a fur dealer’s license.

“Despite a suspension of privileges, a warning, and multiple court appearances, this young man chose to continually ignore wildlife regulations,” Queen said.

Adkins was arrested, and the following day he appeared in Big Horn County Circuit Court in Basin to plead guilty to buying furs without a fur dealer’s license. He received $1,040 in additional fines and assessments and lost three more years of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges. Adkins ended up serving 12 days in jail, with another 168 days suspended.

Queen said he’d specifically warned Adkins about the need to get a fur dealer’s license, having learned during the investigation that Adkins had bought several muskrat furs without a license and acquired a snowshoe hare without a small game license.

“Despite a suspension of privileges, a warning, and multiple court appearances, this young man chose to continually ignore wildlife regulations,” Queen said in a Jan. 16 statement released by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Adkins currently is serving a six-month term of unsupervised probation, court records say, and he has moved to Kentucky.

Burlington man bags world record crossbow elk

Albert Henderson of Burlington took a large elk last fall. So large, in fact, it set a record.

Albert Henderson (right) of Burlington, bagged this, the largest elk ever taken with a crossbow, last fall. At left is long time friend and hunting partner Larry Michaels. Courtesy photo

Henderson began his annual archery hunt near Dubois last fall with no idea he'd be encountering a bull for the ages. But by the end of the hunt, Henderson’s efforts would be rewarded with what the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has verified as the largest elk ever taken with a crossbow.

Henderson’s elk was scored at 426 1/8 points on the Safari Club International (SCI) scoring system. SCI maintains records for trophies taken with various weapons including rifle, handgun, muzzleloader, bow and crossbow.

Under the more familiar Boone and Crockett scoring system, Henderson’s elk measured 408 points, easily placing it in the top 5 percent of elk ever entered in the record books. The minimum score to qualify for the Boone and Crockett record book is 375 points. Very few harvested elk make the 375 minimum each year and only a handful of elk exceed 400 points.

“This is an incredible hunting story and we tip our hats to Mr. Henderson,” said Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott.

What makes Henderson’s trophy especially noteworthy is that it was taken on public land on a general license in the Shoshone National Forest.

Henderson was into the fifth day of his hunt and was working to get closer to another good bull when he saw his record book animal with a cow elk. Unable to get the elk to come nearer, he stalked to close the distance to 53 yards and the elk presented a perfect broadside shot.

“This is an incredible hunting story and we tip our hats to Mr. Henderson,” Talbott said.

The elk only traveled a little over 100 yards where he found it dead. Henderson said he has hunted in the area several times and had seen bulls in the 350 class, but nothing that approached the size of his record animal.

He had taken his only other crossbow elk in 2013 after more than 10 years of hunting. Over the years, several of his family members have also bagged elk with a crossbow.

“Wyoming is home to some of the most impressive wildlife in the world, but not everyone gets to see these animals, let alone hunt them,” said the Game and Fish's Talbott. “Now is a great time to start planning to make your own memories in 2015.”

‘Isn’t it beautiful’ — Yellowstone in the winter

Yellowstone National Park looks a lot different with a mantle of snow juxtaposing nicely with steaming hot springs and grazing bison.

At the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, Karin Jones, a Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Inc. snow coach driver/guide, loads her passengers aboard a van with tracks. Today’s trip will traverse the park’s winter wonderland from Mammoth to Canyon Village, and, Hayden Valley, if the weather cooperates, she said.

If they listened closely, those Karin Jones’ Feb. 5 tour could just discern the roar of fumaroles on Roaring Mountain north of Norris Geyser Basin. Photo by Gib Mathers

If there is such a thing as a Yellowstone type, Jones fits the profile. Blond hair tumbles from beneath her cap, complementing a ruddy complexion and ready smile. She’s been in the park for many years, and it’s become such a major part of her life that one of her 3-year-old’s first words was “geyser,” Jones said.

Bouncing along like an old pickup truck on a washboard road, Jones’ van rumbles up the hill until it reaches the snow. Then the van swishes through the powder like a skier descending a bunny slope. Within a few minutes, the van has climbed 1,000 feet above Mammoth, reaching the hoodoos near Terrace Mountain.

“You could easily spend your whole life learning things here,” said Jones.

At Golden Gate, Jones eases the van along the narrow road hacked from the side of a mountain. Originally a tunnel was carved through the rock, but it collapsed, she said. The road is all that remains.

Along Swan Lake Flats, the Gallatin Mountains rise through a low ceiling of clouds.

Buffalo graze in the snow beside the road, their heads swaying back and forth like powerful shovels heaving the deep snow aside to find grass. Bison bulls, weighing 2,000 to 2,500 pounds, are solitary while cow bison, weighing around 1,000 pounds, remain in groups, Jones said. Forage is scarce in the winter. Bison lose 15 to 25 percent of their body weight in winter, Jones said.

The Gardner River cuts a narrow channel through the snow soft as baby powder. Vapor rises from the stream gently, invitingly, like steam from a tea kettle.

“Isn’t it beautiful, how it doesn’t freeze?” Jones said to her passengers.

Two coyotes occupy a meadow, presumably after burrowing prey. One coyote digs in the snow like a dog excavating a soup bone.

Trumpeter swans and a few geese and ducks enhance the waters of the Yellowstone River a few miles southeast of Canyon Village. Photo by Gib Mathers
Near Sheepeater Cliff, stone walls flanking the road are veined with obsidian a glass-like volcanic substance like tiny rivers of black captured in a freeze frame. Native Americans in Yellowstone date back at least 9,000 years and the Sheepeaters, a subgroup of the Shoshone tribe, occupied the park year-round. By using hot water, the natives straightened bighorn sheep horns to make incredibly strong bows, Jones said.

South of Roaring Mountain, trees stripped bare by the fires of 1988 still stand stubbornly like bean poles overlooking newer growth. More than 730,000 acres burned in Yellowstone that summer.

“In the end, what put out the fires was one-half inch of snow,” Jones said.

From Mammoth, it is 21 miles to Norris Junction and another 14 miles from Norris to Canyon Junction/Village.

Wagons carried visitors in the early days before automobiles. Each junction was the distance a wagon and horses could cover in one day, Jones said.

Lodging was, and still is, available at Canyon in the summer.

Winter still had a hold on Yellowstone National Park Feb. 5; Canyon Village had 34 inches of snow. Photo by Gib Mathers
The first Norris Hotel was built in 1886-87 by the Yellowstone Park Association, according to Geyser Bob’s Yellowstone Historical Service. It opened in the spring of 1887, although construction was apparently incomplete. A workman started a fire in an unfinished chimney, setting the hotel on fire July 14 that year. It was reported that there were many guests in the hotel, but all were saved.

“A bit of furniture was rescued, but all else was lost,” according to Geyser Bob. “Afterwards, tents were set up for guest use.”

The U.S. Army originally was assigned to oversee the park. In the early days, a fort was located at Norris so the army could watch for poachers, Jones said.

In 1904, the year the historic Old Faithful Inn was completed, it cost $49.50 for a five-and-one-half day package tour and lodging in Yellowstone, Jones said. (Today, one five-day winter package trip that includes transportation, meals and lodging is $1,149 to $1,449 per person, according to Xanterra’s website.)

Jones is a font of facts, much to the interest of her passengers. She invests considerable time conducting Yellowstone research.

“You could easily spend your whole life learning things here,” Jones said.

Grizzly emerges from den in warm winter weather

The mild winter has people doing things they usually don’t in February. At least one grizzly bear is also more active than normal.

Yellowstone National Park employees observed a grizzly out and about on Tuesday. The bruin was seen scavenging on a bison carcass in the central portion of the park late in the afternoon, according to a park news release.

Still, a few bears spotted in February do not necessarily signal scores of bears departing their winter dens.

A grizzly bear is pictured near Canyon in Yellowstone National Park in November. At least one is out and about in Yellowstone now. Photo courtesy Neal Herbert, National Park Service

“There's usually a few bears that may poke out their heads, and the warm weather has everyone expecting a mass exodus,” Dan Thompson, Wyoming Game and Fish Department large carnivore section supervisor, said Wednesday.

“Typically, male bears emerge from their dens in mid-March and early April, while females and young-of-the-year cubs emerge in late April and early May,” Wyoming Game and Fish Department Large Carnivore Conflict Coordinator Brian DeBolt said last year.

Bears begin looking for food soon after they emerge from their dens. They are attracted to elk and bison that have died during the winter. Carcasses are an important food source, and bears sometimes will react aggressively when surprised while feeding on them.

Yellowstone also implements seasonal bear management area closures to reduce encounters between bears and humans in areas where elk and bison carcasses are in high density. A listing of these closures can be found online.

Yellowstone regulations require visitors to stay 100 yards from black and grizzly bears at all times.

With bears emerging from hibernation, hikers, skiers and snowshoers are advised to travel in groups of three of more, make noise on the trail and carry bear spray. Bear spray has proven to be a good last line of defense, if kept handy and used according to directions when a bear is approaching within 30 to 60 feet. The same advice applies for those taking guided snowmobile trips in Yellowstone.

“There's usually a few bears that may poke out their heads, and the warm weather has everyone expecting a mass exodus,” said the Game and Fish's Dan Thompson.

While guns are allowed in the park, the discharge of a firearm is a violation of park regulations.

The park’s law enforcement rangers who carry firearms on duty rely on bear spray, rather than their weapons, as the most effective means to deal with a bear encounter.

Visitors are also reminded to keep food, garbage, barbecue grills and other attractants stored in hard-sided vehicles or bear-proof food storage boxes. This helps keep bears from becoming conditioned to human foods and keeps park visitors and their property safe.

Updated bear safety information is available on the Park Service website and in the park newspaper distributed at park entrances.

Yellowstone bear sightings should be reported to the nearest visitor center or ranger station as soon as possible.

Outside the park, Game and Fish continues to monitor any reports of bear sightings. When bears wearing radio collars begin moving, it's a primary indicator that bears are really coming out, the department says.

Detention deputies provide CPR to inmate, save his life

Two Park County Sheriff’s detention deputies recently performed life-saving cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on an inmate at the Park County Detention Facility.

Sgt. Rob Cooke and Deputy Joe Colegrove
On Jan. 17, around 10 p.m., Sgt. Joe Colegrove and Deputy Rob Cooke were alerted by inmates in a communal area of the jail that a fellow inmate was having a seizure. Colegrove and Cooke found Roy Epperle, 51, slumped over in a chair and being propped up by fellow inmates.

The two deputies immediately placed Epperle on the floor and propped his head with a blanket. They checked for a pulse several times, but couldn't find one.

The Missoula, Mont., man was unresponsive; his face was turning purple and his breathing was labored.  Eventually, Epperle let out a long breath and then stopped breathing entirely.

Cooke immediately summoned an ambulance from West Park Hospital while Sgt. Colegrove began CPR on the victim. After 30 chest compressions, Epperle began to breath and regained consciousness. After several minutes, he became coherent enough to respond to deputies’ questions.

Deputies also began supplemental first aid measures which included monitoring Epperle’s pulse, oxygen levels and blood pressure.

He was eventually transported to West Park Hospital and then to St. Vincent Hospital in Billings, where he underwent surgery to have a pacemaker implanted.

Sheriff Scott Steward praised the immediate actions of his staff.

“Detention deputies take great pride in their responsibilities which include the care and well-being of the inmates,” Steward said. “I can’t say enough about their response in this situation. Their quick thinking and immediate actions no doubt saved the life of an inmate under their care.”

Multiple members of Epperle's family took to the sheriff's Facebook page to express thanks.

"Contrary to what is currently in the news you are the 'Good Guys,'" wrote the man's brother.

Epperle was able to appear in District Court on Jan. 26, where he received 18 to 24 months of prison time on two felony counts of delivering a controlled substance (the painkiller oxycodone).

Prosecutor’s office at half-staff with Krone in Cheyenne

For the second time in four years, the Park County Attorney’s Office is a bit short on prosecutors.

The attorney’s office is spending a couple months with only two of the usual four deputy prosecutors.

That’s because deputy county attorney and state Rep. Sam Krone is representing the Cody area in the legislature until early March and deputy county attorney William “Billy” Struemke is no longer with the office.

Their absences leave deputies Tim Blatt and Jim Davis to prosecute cases, along with their boss, County Attorney Bryan Skoric.

“Obviously, it’s extra work for everyone, but you know it’s the old saying: Nobody’s complaining about government people working harder,” Skoric said Monday. “We’re doing fine. Everybody’s picking up the slack and we’re moving forward.”

That’s about the same thing Skoric said in January 2011, after Struemke’s predecessor left while Krone was legislating in Cheyenne. As he did four years ago, Skoric plans to wait until Krone returns before filling the post.

“Everybody’s picking up the slack and we’re moving forward,” said Skoric.

“Quite frankly, right now it would be more work” to go through the hiring process while short-staffed, Skoric said.

Krone began his third term as a legislator on Jan. 13.

Struemke, meanwhile, started his own Cody law firm after departing the county on Jan. 15. He said in a recent interview that he’d begun to wonder how much further he could go in his position at the county attorney’s office, where he mainly handled matters involving juveniles, families and involuntary hospitalizations for people with mental illnesses.

“You always become a little worried when you’re ... specializing like I was,” Struemke said. Soon after announcing his new practice — called Serviam Legal Services — he said he was getting requests to represent people in litigation ranging from medical malpractice to product liability.

A screenshot of Struemke's new website
While he’s excited to be handling a variety of cases, Struemke said his niche is with family and criminal law.

“The reality is, I like the stories,” Struemke said.

For example, “Let’s hear about how you really love your kids and you want to protect them,” Struemke said, or “Let’s hear about the night that somebody did something really stupid and then the cops showed up and maybe violated your rights” or maybe explain how you did something wrong, but why you deserve leniency.

“That’s the kind of stuff that I’m going to love doing,” Struemke said.

He continues to serve on the Cody school board (having been elected in November) and with the Wyoming Army National Guard, where he’s served for more than 20 years.

Commission seeking Park County events coordinator

Park County commissioners want to add a new position to coordinate all the events hosted on county property — and specifically in the new multi-purpose facility being constructed at the Powell fairgrounds.

At their Feb. 3 meeting, commissioners indicated they’re all on board with creating the position; they said that having to handle a growing number of large events has eaten into the time of multiple staffers.

“We have events going all over Park County,” said Commissioner Loren Grosskopf, adding, “It’s always been an issue: Who’s going to work on coordinating all the things that have to go on on county property when we have events.”

Commissioners cited recent events hosted on the grounds of the Park County Complex in Cody — including serving as the staging area for a large bicycle tour, a display of American flags and a beer festival.

But chief in their minds was the Park County Fairgrounds’ new $3.1 million multi-purpose building, scheduled to be finished this summer.

Park County commissioners (from left) Bucky Hall, Lee Livingston, Tim French, Joe Tilden and Loren Grosskopf are shown in their official county photo
“It’s kind of one of those things: If you build it, they’ll come,” offered Commission Chairman Joe Tilden. “We’re building it, and now we need somebody to get them to come.”

The responsibility for booking fairgrounds facilities has rested with fairgrounds staff, but Commissioner Bucky Hall said that “in all likelihood” the commission would have the events coordinator take over those duties.

Other tasks likely would include serving as the main point of contact for folks looking to use county facilities, handling any problems that arise with events, processing paperwork and being responsible for setting up public meetings for the county.

Hall and the rest of commission believe it will be a full-time position.

“(There will) probably be times where it’s not a full-time job, but there will be times when it’s about a 100-hour-a-week job,” he said.

Beyond freeing up the time of the various staff who now handle event coordination, commissioners want to see more events booked at county facilities.

“The events that everyone’s talking about are events basically that have come to us and said, ‘Hey, we’d like to be here,’” said Commissioner Lee Livingston. “But an events coordinator could go out and find, actively search for more events.”

Commissioner Tim French noted the new, larger fairgrounds building will allow the county to host different events than it has in the past, adding, “We want to fill thing with a lot of events if we’re going to spend that kind of money.”

Hall and French are writing a job description for the position. They’re due to report back to the full commission at its Feb. 17 meeting.

French said he’d like to see an events coordinator on board by April or May.

Legislature: No free access to Buffalo Bill Park

A local lawmaker’s attempt to give residents free access to undeveloped parts of Buffalo Bill State Park was shot down by some of his colleagues last week.

Rep. Sam Krone, R-Cody, sponsored House Bill 148, which would have given the director of the state’s parks the discretion to waive fees in undeveloped areas.

The measure stemmed from the concerns of Park County commissioners and some area residents who were upset with Buffalo Bill State Park’s recent decision to start enforcing access fees on the generally amenity-less South Fork side of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir. But Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources Director Milward Simpson didn’t want the power to waive fees and helped convince the House Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee to shoot down the bill on Feb. 2.

“I don’t disagree the (state) fees are reasonable, but at the same time, I don’t think they should charge when it’s an open, undeveloped area,” said Rep. Krone.

Simpson, a Cody native who now lives in Cheyenne, argued in part that the state’s use fees (as low as $27 a year or $4 a day) are inexpensive, that waiving fees in one area could lead to many more requests and lost revenue, and he wondered how his agency would go about isolating free undeveloped areas from paid ones.

“It could be a problem and very difficult to even kind of administer in some of our larger parks,” Simpson said in a Tuesday interview.

Further, he had concerns about the logistics of the bill: as one example, what would happen if the agency wanted to develop an undeveloped area? Simpson said the department can work with local residents and officials to address their concerns at Buffalo Bill, suggesting the agency could craft a specific agreement to waive fees for the homeowners near the South Fork end of the reservoir.

The recreation committee sided with Simpson’s position, with eight of the nine members voting against House Bill 148.

That included the committee chairman, Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, R-Jackson, who had originally co-sponsored the bill.
Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, R-Jackson, and Rep. Dan Laursen, R-Powell, chat following a Jan. 16 meeting of the House’s Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee. Laursen and Petroff were among the eight committee members (of nine) who voted to kill a bill that could have led to free access to some parts of Buffalo Bill State Park. Photo by CJ Baker

Petroff told the Tribune she’d wanted a response to the situation at Buffalo Bill State Park. After hearing from Simpson, she was convinced the department will work with local residents.

“I would say the feeling of the committee seemed to be that we wanted to give that process an opportunity to work before we make a change that could open up a lot of other parks to requests for exemption of fees,” Petroff said in an email.

Krone, who was not expecting the opposition from Simpson, said in a Tuesday interview that it was a frustrating process. The legislator noted that he, commissioners and others have been discussing a lot of options with park administrators over the past eight months or so.

“I want to hold him (Simpson) to it: If he really believes that we can get this solved agency-to-agency, then I’m all for it,” Krone said. “But it’s going to take some action on their end, for sure.”

Simpson said the agency could start meeting with the park’s nearby homeowners in the spring or summer.

“I would say the feeling of the committee seemed to be that we wanted to give that process an opportunity to work before we make a change that could open up a lot of other parks to requests for exemption of fees,” Rep. Petroff said.

Commissioners, some residents and Krone have said anyone should be able to freely use the South Fork area of the park — as they did before the department began enforcing the fee schedule last year.

“I don’t disagree the (state) fees are reasonable, but at the same time, I don’t think they should charge when it’s an open, undeveloped area,” Krone said.

Rep. Dan Laursen, R-Powell, was among the committee members who voted against Krone’s proposal.

Laursen’s nay vote didn’t sit well with Park County Commission Chairman Joe Tilden, a South Fork resident who had championed the “very important bill.”

Tilden singled out Laursen for criticism during the commission’s Feb. 3 meeting, saying Laursen had “assured me that we had his support on it.”

“It’s important to residents of Park County,” Tilden said. “And when somebody tells me they’re going to support it and don’t, it kind of upsets me.”

Tilden told Laursen in an email that “I don’t believe you voted with the best interest of the people in mind.”

In response to that email, Laursen said he’d actually been undecided going into the committee meeting and if he’d led Tilden astray on his views, he hadn’t meant to.

“After hearing the discussion, I believe I made the correct vote,” Laursen added in the email chain, which he provided to the Tribune.

He said the state’s annual pass “is very cheap” and noted the money goes towards maintaining the state’s “quality” recreation areas and historic sites.

“After hearing the discussion, I believe I made the correct vote,” said Rep. Laursen of his no vote.

Laursen also said separating out undeveloped areas from developed ones “would be pretty ugly” and an enforcement issue. He also had concerns that not collecting fees might have affected state parks’ relationship with the federal Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the reservoir.

“I can say right now that changing my vote would have not changed the outcome and I could have done that easily and you would never know if you were not present,” Laursen told Tilden in the email.

Actually, while failed Senate committee votes are not reported on the Legislature’s website, failed House committee votes are — in near-real time. Other sponsors of the bill included Rep. David Northrup, R-Powell, and Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody.

Wolf killed in Utah passed through Cody last year

An extensive analysis by the University of Idaho has confirmed the gray wolf killed in Utah Dec. 28 was the same wolf spotted near the Grand Canyon in Arizona and collared near Cody earlier in 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says.

Geneticists from the University of Idaho’s Laboratory for Ecological, Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics compared the dead female's DNA to samples that had been taken from the animal found near the Grand Canyon. Fish and Wildlife officials say the university's results conclusively showed it was the same wolf, identified by the service as 914F, which was collared near Cody on Jan. 8, 2014, and spotted in the Grand Canyon area.

The federal government's investigation into the wolf's killing continues. Gray wolves are considered endangered and protected under the Endangered Species Act in southern Utah.

Award-winning Japanese American Artist’s work to be displayed at Heart Mountain center

The art of Hatsuko Mary Higuchi will be on display from February 19 through May 31 at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center.

The exhibit, titled GAMAN: Surviving the Nikkei Gulag and Diaspora in World War II, will feature 22 paintings and prints depicting scenes from the 10 “camps” that were erected throughout the country to confine Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II.

The art of Hatsuko Mary Higuchi, including ‘Executive Order 9066, Series 34. Heart Mountain #2,’ a new acrylic on paper, will be on display through May 31 at the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center.

Some works will be available for sale at the close of the exhibit.

“We are extremely pleased to have Ms. Higuchi’s important work on display in our Ford Foundation Special Exhibition Gallery,” said the center's executive director, Brian Liesinger. “We are especially excited to premier her three newest paintings which feature Heart Mountain.”

Higuchi was born in Los Angeles in 1939.

On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the mass removal and incarceration of “all persons of Japanese ancestry” on the West Coast. Higuchi’s family was imprisoned in the U.S. War Relocation Authority’s Colorado River camp at Poston, Arizona, between 1942 and 1945.

Mary Higuchi
Higuchi earned a teaching credential from UCLA and a MA from Pepperdine University. She taught as an elementary school master teacher from 1962 until retirement in 2003. Always interested in the arts, she took evening classes at UCLA and California State University Long Beach.

Since that time, Higuchi has won several awards and her work has been featured in various publications. She paints a variety of themes such as landscapes, figures, and abstracts. Higuchi uses watercolor, acrylic, mixed media, collage, and calligraphy.

Her EO 9066 paintings depict faces with anonymous features or none at all, symbolizing the mass anonymity to which over 110,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were reduced – denied due process and judged guilty solely by reason of their race.

Higuchi’s haunting portraits are a warning that what happened to Japanese Americans is a precedent for similar actions against other groups, unless we remember the lessons of the past.

In addition to the exhibit, a reception and artist presentation will be held on May 21 at 6 p.m. The event, which will include light refreshments, will be free for students and Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation members and $5 for others.

Located between Cody and Powell on U.S. Highway 14-A, the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center’s winter hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays through Saturdays and by special appointment.

For more information, call (307)754-8000 or visit www.HeartMountain.org.

Feb 10, 2015

County studying options on sliding Wapiti road

A portion of Stagecoach Trail near Wapiti appears to be slowly sliding away towards the Shoshone River.

“Really, other than watching it, we’re kind of stumped on what to do with it, really,” Park County Engineer Brian Edwards told the county commissioners last week. For example, trying to armor the river bank below the road would be “a bloody Band-Aid — it’s not going to stop the movement, by any means,” said county staff engineer Jeremy Quist.

This Wyoming Department of Transportation photo shows where the Shoshone River is undercutting the bank.
The area in question is a roughly 700-foot stretch of Stagecoach Trail, not far from where it connects with U.S. Highway 14-16-20, just east of the Wapiti school.

Blame for the shifting soil underneath the county road is believed to lie with an ancient miles-long landslide that began some 10,000 years ago; the smaller so-called “Wapiti Landslide” that’s effecting Stagecoach Trail is on the toe of the bigger landslide complex and is being undercut by the Shoshone River, according to a report from Wyoming Department of Transportation Project Geologist Dave Vanderveen.

The thinking is that the road has been shifting for quite some time — “That thing’s been moving ever since I can remember,” said Commissioner Lee Livingston, a long-time Wapiti resident — but the cracks and sunken areas became more noticeable when the surface was changed from gravel to asphalt in recent years.

The road was re-paved last spring, but cracks had already re-appeared by last month. The plan now is to return that short stretch of the road to gravel, because “we’re basically throwing materials away,” Edwards said.

Commissioner Loren Grosskopf said the county should do what it can to protect its road, noting that the route would be the only way to get to Wapiti and Yellowstone National Park from Cody if the nearby bridge on U.S. Highway 14-16-20 was to fail.

“It seems like we ought to be doing something other than just watching,” Grosskopf said, adding, “I would like to see us start working on options.”

Some ideas suggested during the meeting were to look at moving the road to the south or finding a way to bolster the river bank.

Park County Road and Bridge staff are keeping a close eye on the area and are installing survey monuments to track the earth’s movement. They also hope to come up with a way to protect the road, though, “everything we can think of is a pretty costly solution, if anything, that’s really practical,” Edwards told commissioners.

A Wyoming Department of Transportation map of the area.
In the meantime, staffers have put up signs to slow down traffic in the area and will close the segment if it becomes a safety risk, Edwards said.

County staff had been concerned that the slide area on Stagecoach Trail might dump a large amount of soil into the river — backing it up and causing it to damage the nearby highway bridge. However,
Vanderveen’s report concluded that — while a big slide is a possibility — it’s more likely that smaller amounts of soil will keep shifting.

“It does not appear that the landslide is impacting the bridge,” he wrote.

Woman injured when wind blows semi off road

An Oregon woman was injured and her husband shaken up Thursday night when high winds pushed the tractor-trailer rig they were in onto its side on Wyo. Highway 294.

Brian Bragg of Eagle Recovery, based in Cody, works inside the cab of a semi tractor as his father, Russ Bragg, walks toward the front of the truck. They, along with Josh Parson (not pictured) uprighted the truck by separating the tractor and trailer, then pulling them up with two heavy-duty tow trucks. Photo by Ilene Olson

Lowell Vanderveen of Oregon was driving the rig north on Wyo. 294, also known as Badger Basin Highway, en route to Columbus, Mont., according to a report from Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Laurie Crocker.

The semi crested a hill at mile post 7.2 and began the descent into Badger Basin at about 5:50 p.m. when a strong gust of wind caught the empty box trailer, which acted like a sail and tipped the semi onto its passenger-side tires. It was forced onto the soft right shoulder of the road, then flipped it on its side on an embankment on the right side of the highway, Crocker reported.

Both occupants were wearing lap and shoulder belts, and Vanderveen was able to get out of the cab. But his wife, Shirley Vanderveen, was partially pinned by her right arm and head just outside the passenger window.

When rescue personnel arrived, they secured the semi to ensure it did not roll any further, and Powell volunteer firefighters used airbags to lift the semi off Shirley Vanderveen.

Shirley Vanderveen sustained a broken right arm, lacerations and a large hematoma to the right side of her face, according to the report.

Vanderveen was transported to Powell Valley Hospital, where she remained hospitalized Monday in stable condition, hospital spokesman Jim Cannon said.

The Vanderveens were traveling with two small dogs, one of which died in the crash, Crocker said.

Lowell Vanderveen said the experience was “like being in an airplane without wings.”

In all his years of driving, he’s never experienced anything like it, he said.

Crocker said there were no posted wind advisories for the highway when the crash occurred. Strong winds battered the area Thursday through Saturday.

A 70-mph gust was recorded one mile west-northwest of Powell at 9:59 p.m. Thursday. A gust of 114 mph was recorded five miles west-northwest of Clark at 10:38 p.m. Friday.

Flag display to move to city park, courthouse

A massive display of American flags will fly near the Park County Courthouse as part of a Flag Day celebration and fundraiser.

For the last three years, the flags for Cody’s annual Field of Honor event flew at the Park County Complex, but event organizers are moving things downtown this summer.

The flags flown in the Field of Honor are purchased in honor of veterans, first responders or local heroes, with part of the proceeds benefiting the planned Cody Heritage Museum.

Flag sales were great the first year, somewhat less the second year and down quite a little bit last year, said organizer Jenny Zink. The hope is that moving the display to Cody’s City Park and near the Park County Courthouse will boost sales and interest.

The 2014 Field of Honor was flown on the grounds of the Park County Complex. Photo by CJ Baker
The spot has the added benefit benefit of being next door to the historic DeMaris house, where the new museum will actually be housed. The commissioners were on board with the change.

“I think it’d be quite impressive to see those flags out in front of our courthouse and really neat,” said Commissioner Lee Livingston.

Agreed Commissioner Loren Grosskopf, “I think the taxpayers of Park County would be honored to have the flags flying out there.”

Museum organizers hope to have the facility open by the summer of 2016 and plan to kick off a major fundraising campaign in April.

“By this summer, I’m hopeful that it really begins to show some progress and we can explain to people that we are moving along,” said Marge Wilder, one of the leaders of the new Cody museum.

Draper Museum curator position to be funded by endowment

Willis McDonald IV, founding chair of the Draper Natural History Museum Advisory Board at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, has announced a gift to endow the position of curator for the Draper.

The endowment will fund salary and benefits for the position, now officially named the Willis McDonald IV Curator of Natural Science of the Draper Natural History Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody.

Charles Preston
“We are so thankful to Willis for such a generous gift,” says Executive Director and CEO Bruce Eldredge. “This gift, together with additional endowment contributions from other Draper Advisory Board members, ensures that we retain our current nationally-recognized senior and founding curator, Dr. Charles R. Preston, and that we attract future candidates at the same level.”

Advisory board members Henry P. ‘Rip’ McIntosh IV and Leighton Steward also made substantial contributions to the endowment fund.

“I am deeply grateful that Willis has chosen to endow this position, and humbled that I have the honor of assuming the title bearing his name,” Preston said.

As founding curator for the Draper, Preston arrived at the Center in 1998 and worked closely with McDonald and the museum’s namesake Nancy-Carroll Draper as they developed the center’s natural history museum.

“It is altogether fitting that Willis’s name, along with Nancy-Carroll’s, be forever associated with this marvelous museum,” Preston said. “The Draper would never have been created, nor flourished, without the steady hand of Willis McDonald IV.”

McDonald served as chairman of the Draper Advisory Board until 2013. He has been a member of the Center’s full Board of Trustees since 1993.

A Cody resident and an active member of the community, McDonald has been involved in numerous activities including the Boys & Girls Club of Park County, the Northwest College Foundation, and Christ Episcopal Church. An attorney, McDonald is a retired partner of White & Case, one of the largest law firms in the world with headquarters in New York City. He has remained a steadfast supporter of the Draper from its inception.

Preston has received national and international acclaim for his visionary leadership of the Draper’s design and development. A wildlife ecologist who explores the influence of climate, landscape characteristics, and human attitudes and activities on wildlife, he is widely recognized as a leading authority on wildlife and human-wildlife relationships in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Local vet offices burglarized; sheriff's office urges caution

The Park County Sheriff’s Office is asking for information — and urging caution from veterinarians — after a series of break-ins at local veterinary hospitals.

“The person or persons responsible are gaining access through various means including breaking out the glass on entry doors or breaking through the doors themselves,” the sheriff’s office stated in a Friday posting to its Facebook page. “The thieves appear to be interested in any cash they can find as well as any narcotics stored on the premises.”

The sheriff’s office said it’s providing extra patrols around clinics, but also asked vets to take extra security measures and everyone — especially people living near clinics — to be vigilant.

Citing the ongoing investigation, sheriff’s office spokesman Lance Mathess declined to release any information about where and when the break-ins occurred or how many there had been. However, sheriff’s logs indicate at least some of the criminal activity hit rural Powell.

A veterinarian whose practice is east of Powell reported Friday morning that his business had been broken into, according to a sheriff’s department log. Around that same time, someone at a nearby vet clinic reported finding what appeared to be a bullet hole in the rear of that business.

Drugs and money were stolen in a separate break-in reported on the morning of Jan. 29 in that same area, the logs say, but they don’t specify whether the building was one of the veterinary clinics.

The sheriff’s office is asking anyone with information about the thefts or suspicious activity to call dispatch at 754-8700 or via 911.

Ice may be unsafe for fishing, Game and Fish warns

Thanks to recent warm weather, many locations for ice fishing across the state may no longer be safe.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking anglers to use extreme caution before venturing out on the ice.  However, with each passing warm day, the news gets better for those anglers anxiously waiting for open water on their favorite lake or reservoir.

Ice file photo courtesy Marc Samsom under CC BY
Anglers who've been fishing on any of the 26 waters covered under the special winter ice fishing provision are reminded that the liberalized regulations on those waters only apply when fishing through the ice. The special winter ice fishing provision allows anglers to use up to six poles on those waters during the ice covered period. When lakes and reservoirs included in that provision are no longer ice covered, the regulation on those waters reverts back to the use of two poles.

While it is likely that upcoming cold snaps may improve ice conditions, it is possible that unsafe ice thickness will prevail on many waters. Anglers are forewarned that ice thickness can vary from safe to unsafe conditions on the same water. Warmer weather coupled with freezing-thawing temperatures and wind can also contribute to unsafe ice thickness.

Remember that regulations require removal of ice fishing shelters before the ice melts.

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