Oct 15, 2015

Small-town football photo exhibit opens Friday in Meeteetse

Small-town gridiron heroes, their families and fans are the focus of a photography exhibit displayed Oct. 16-30, in the Meeteetse School Building. Area residents are invited to meet Morgan Tyree, the photographer, at a 6:30 p.m. artist’s reception Monday, Oct. 19, in the school’s cafeteria.

“Six-Eight-Eleven” is a select photo collection about small-town high school football culled from a body of work amassed over nearly two decades.

The exhibit featuring photos of small-town football teams opens Friday. Photo courtesy Morgan Tyree
His images capture the full spectrum of the six-, eight- and eleven-man experience—from team runs during practice sessions and fan seating accommodations on the grass slope of a hill next to the playing field, to the gritty action of the big game itself and the incredible mountain vistas that accompany so many small-town contests in the West.

Since 1997, Tyree has spent every autumn weekend traveling the two-lane highways of Montana and Wyoming to savor the spirit of what he considers the purest form of football. When not burning the road to get to games, Tyree spends his weekdays in the classroom as an assistant professor of graphic arts and printing at Northwest College.

Most of his images were taken in Wyoming and Montana, many during Meeteetse Longhorn games. Meeteetse residents may recognize many of the players and themselves in the photos displayed in the exhibit.

Acknowledging his “football-minded upbringing” in Akron, Ohio, Tyree explains that for him, following small-town football is something akin to hiking down the Grand Canyon instead of just viewing it from a tourist point on top—it’s one way to get a richer experience living in Wyoming and Montana.

“There’s more to Wyoming and Montana than standing in a blue-ribbon trout stream with a fly rod or hiking through a tranquil area of the Bob Marshall Wilderness,” Tyree said. “And on an autumn Saturday afternoon (Friday night too in some towns), you’ll find me in Highwood, Belfry, Meeteetse or Custer where small-town high school football folds into the landscape like sugar in your coffee.

Perhaps the game isn’t as perfect as the NFL (National Football League), but the scenario is just as perfect as standing in one of those blue-ribbon streams.”

Tyree keeps a blog about his football experience, where players, parents and fans often check in to see what he caught or thought of their big game, to offer their appreciation for his work, and sometimes to challenge him about it.

His visual explorations of small-town football have been exhibited at the Massillon Museum in Ohio, less than a dozen miles from the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton (sometimes referred to as the cradle of high school football). Three of his images have also toured across America as part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services “Home Town Teams.”

The Meeteetse Longhorns enjoy a prominent spot in "Six-Eight-Eleven," a photo exhibit about small-town high school football opening Friday, Oct. 16, in the Meeteetse School Building. Photo courtesy Morgan Tyree

His photo collections have been viewed at Texas A&M University at College Station, the Western Heritage Center in Billings, Mont., Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne and the Center for Fine Art Photography in Denver, Colo., to name a few.

Tyree’s images have graced the pages of Sun Magazine, Harpers, Utne Reader, Beartooth Times, Montana Quarterly, as well as an eight-page spread in Referee magazine.

“Six-Eight-Eleven” can be viewed during school hours in the cafeteria and hallway across from offices in the Meeteetse School Building.

Oct 13, 2015

Bull elk poached and left to rot near Meeteetse

Authorities are seeking information about a bull elk that was illegally killed and left to waste in Elk Hunt Area 66 near Meeteetse.

Although the area's bull season closed on Sept. 30, the elk appeared to have most likely been shot sometime Sunday evening, Meeteetse Game Warden Jim Olson said in a Tuesday news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Photo courtesy Wyoming Game and Fish
A concerned hunter found the abandoned elk, located on the Sleeper Ranch, and reported the incident to Game and Fish.

“The bull was hit once with a clean shot to the vital area and the entire carcass was left to waste in the hay meadows near the ranch manager’s house,” Olson said in the release.

The Game and Fish Department is asking anyone with information about the poaching  or anyone who noted suspicious vehicles or activity in the area  to call Meeteetse Game Warden Jim Olson at 307-868-2212, the Cody Game and Fish office at 307-527-7125 or the STOP POACHING hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847).

Callers may remain anonymous and any information leading to the arrest and conviction could bring a reward of up to $5,000.

New Willwood bridge to be ready next fall

Slated for completion in October 2016, a new bridge just downstream of the Willwood Dam will convey motorists coming and going.

The bridge will connect with the original road on each side of the river, said Mike Eckhardt, Wyoming Department of Transportation (WyDOT) construction inspector.

Workers from Sletten Construction, Inc., of Great Falls, Montana, were busy setting concrete forms for a 60-foot pier on Wednesday, one of two that will support the new bridge. Cody News Co. photo by Gib Mathers
The cost of the bridge is more than $3.4 million. Ninety percent of the funding is federal with Park County contributing the remaining 10 percent, Beers said. 

Sletten Construction, Inc., of Great Falls, Montana, is the prime contractor.

“I’d say they’re about on their schedule,” Eckhardt said. “Maybe a week behind where they’d like to be.”

Because the bridge is being constructed off the main road, there are no traffic delays, but there will be traffic delays when construction begins in the summer of 2016 to connect the new bridge to the existing roads, Eckhardt said.

The old bridge crosses the Willwood Dam, built in 1932.

Once the new bridge is completed, the old bridge over the dam will be closed to public use, said Tom Walker, Willwood Irrigation District manager.

The new bridge will allow space for farm equipment to cross the river. “It will definitely improve the level of safety,” Beers said.

On the north or Powell side it is Park County Lane 14. The south side is Road 18, Eckhardt said.

The bridge under construction is about 200 feet downstream of the existing Willwood Bridge/Dam. It will be 420 feet long, said Todd Frost, WyDOT resident engineer in Cody.

The new bridge has the same span as the Corbett Bridge on U.S. Highway 14-A east of Cody, said Cody Beers, WyDOT public relations specialist.

The bridge will be 28 feet wide. It will have two12-foot-wide lanes and two 2-foot-wide shoulders, Eckhardt said. Twelve feet is the standard lane width.

The bridge's approximate height over the water is 60-70 feet, Frost said.

Two piers — approximately 60 feet high — will support two girders, Eckhardt said. The piers’ footings beneath the water are 30 feet by 30 feet and 6 feet deep. The footing supporting the pier on the north side is sunk 5 feet into the bedrock below the river. The footing on the south side is 13 feet into the bedrock, Eckhardt said.

Caps will top the piers to support four girders, 120 feet in length, spanning the bridge. The bridge’s surface will be concrete covering the girders, Eckhardt said.

The new roads connecting the bridge will be paved with asphalt to tie into the existing road on each side of the bridge, Eckhardt said.

The bridge, piers, footings and abutments will have a total of 16,000 cubic yards of concrete, Eckhardt said.   

WyDOT has multiple webcams capturing the project.
There are abutments on each side of the river. The abutments are sunk at least 1 foot into the bedrock, Eckhardt said.

On the north side of the river, where the Shoshone feeds the Willwood Canal, a 12-foot by 12-foot box culvert will be installed to channel irrigation water, Frost said.

Speed limits on the bridge and road will be the same as current speed limits, Eckhardt said.

WyDOT has set up multiple webcams to capture the project's progress, available to view online.

South Korean government honors local veterans for service in Korean War

Representatives from South Korea’s government paid tribute on Thursday to some of the local veterans who fought for the country’s freedom more than a half-century ago.

“You answered the call to defend a country you never knew, and a people you never met,” Dongman Han, Consul General of the Republic of Korea, told a group of about 30 Korean War veterans from around Park County. “We in Korea remember your noble spirit; we remember your great achievement to defend Korea from communists.”

Republic of Korea Deputy Consul General Sang Ryol Lee photographed local Korean War veterans at the State of Wyoming Veterans Memorial Park on Thursday in Cody. Cody News Co. photo by CJ Baker
The Korean War, is sometimes referred to as the “Forgotten War” — overshadowed by World War II, which ended five years earlier, and the Vietnam War, which began several years later.

“Korea was just kinda off out of sight,” said Gary Troxel, a Korean War veteran who lives in Cody.

It began as a civil war between North and South Korea, the U.S. State Department explains on its website, but the United States and the United Nations intervened to fight on the side of the south when the Soviet Union-backed north invaded in the summer of 1950.

“It started out to be a small war; ‘be home by Thanksgiving,’” Troxel said. “And the next thing you know, the Chinese have entered it (to support North Korea), and it turned out to be a much tougher war.”

The conflict became a stalemate and resulted in a truce in July of 1953.

“Everybody just went and did their job and came home. That’s really what it was,” Troxel said.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead said he wants all of the state’s citizens — young and old — to know about the war and what it means. In his remarks at the Cody event, Mead noted that more than 36,000 American troops were killed and more than 100,000 wounded in the fighting.
Mead visited South Korea two years ago and “what I saw over there was an absolutely thriving economy,” he said. “And more important than that, is I saw freedoms and liberties not enjoyed to the north.”

The governor said he was happy to report back to his father, Korean War veteran Peter Mead, “that it was a job well done, and those people over there have been the beneficiaries of what you all have done.”

Gov. Mead thanked General Consul Han for taking the time to recognize Wyoming’s veterans.
Han said Korea has changed over the past six decades — becoming the world’s No. 1 ship-builder and producer of semi-conductors, among other achievements — but the country’s gratitude for those who fought in the Korean War remains the same.

“Korea would not be enjoying peace, democracy and economic prosperity ... without the heroism, valor and the sacrifice of the fallen war veterans,” Han said.

On behalf of his country, Han presented each of the local veterans with a “Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal,” thanking them for their service and sacrifice.

A few medals were accepted by veterans’ widows or spouses. With the conflict now some 65 years in the past, Korean War veterans are at least into their early 80s.

Bob Davidson of Cody salutes Consul General Dongman Han shortly before receiving an 'Ambassador for Peace Medal.' Cody News Co. photo by CJ Baker
Veteran Paul Rodriguez helped form the state’s only chapter of Korean War veterans, helped organize efforts to build a memorial for the war’s fallen soldiers in Cody and helped put together Thursday’s event. Rodriguez, who lives in the Heart Mountain area, said close to two dozen members have died since the chapter’s formation in 2006.

Cody Mayor Nancy Tia Brown welcomed the Wyoming and foreign leaders at Thursday’s ceremony, “but the real special guests that are here today are you,” she told the veterans. “Thank you so much for being here,”

After a medal presentation at Geysers on the Terrace, the group proceeded to the State of Wyoming Veterans Memorial Park, where Mead and Han laid a wreath on the Korean War memorial.

America had previously gotten off track in not thanking its service members and, “you veterans, Korean veterans, have set us on the right track,” Mead said, thanking them for their efforts for all U.S. veterans.

When soldiers are deployed today from Wyoming, “they know from what you’ve done, the example you’ve set, that they will be sent off with the full support of the state, and their families and the country,” Mead said. “And when they return, they’re going to be returned to open arms, with gratitude and with blessings, because we want to now forever remember all those who served.”

Rodriguez hopes the state’s Korean War veterans who couldn’t make last week's event can be honored in the future.

Oct 12, 2015

Most local students don't drink or use drugs, emphasizes new campaign

Local youth are 12 times more likely to drink alcohol if they think “most everyone drinks.” So a new  campaign is aimed at telling Park County students the truth: most don't.

The new “Truth is…Most Don’t” campaign — put together by the West Park Hospital Prevention & Wellness office and the Park County Coalition Against Substance Abuse is aimed at promoting positive choices by focusing on the overwhelming majority of kids who don't drink or use drugs.

“We focus on the good,” says project coordinator Diane Ballard. “We’re up front about the risks, but this campaign is intended to empower youth with positive messages.”

Campaign leaders say scare tactics — think the shocking ads from the Montana Meth Project — don’t work and can actually prompt high-risk teens to engage in that behavior.

Negative messages may also promote the belief that drug and alcohol use is more common than it really is “and we want to dispel these myths,” Ballard says.

While the overall tone is a positive one, the ads do talk about the risks and side effects of alcohol and drug use — including noting that “about 5,000 youth die every year due to alcohol-related accidents.”

“That's scary. But the cool thing is most Cody High School students don't drink. Seriously — 72 percent choose not to drink alcohol, and that's a statistic I'm proud to be a part of,” a narrator says in one video spot. “Besides, nine out of 10 Cody High School students agree it's not okay for someone our age to drink regularly. Join me and most Cody High School students by not drinking alcohol.”

Different versions of the print and video ads are aimed at high schoolers or middle schoolers in both Cody and Powell, along with county-wide messages.

The messages will appear in school newspapers, posters, promotional items, on social media, closed-circuit broadcasts in local schools, at Big Horn Cinemas and on TCT cable.

Campaign leaders say all the facts presented in the campaign are science based, with data coming from the 2014 Wyoming Prevention Needs Assessment survey and other reliable studies. Ballard says the goal is to arm students with facts, contrasting it with the simplistic “Just Say No” and other drug-awareness campaigns of the past.

The campaign is funded by a Drug-Free Communities grant to reduce substance abuse among youth.

For more information, visit the website, www.mostdont.org, contact Ballard at 578-2708 or email 11pccasa@gmail.com.

Five years after its construction, Cody's new trash cell put to use

After five years of basically just sitting there, a new and improved trash pit at the Cody landfill is now being put to use.

The first loads of household trash were dumped in the Park County Regional Landfill’s lined cell on Wednesday morning; Park County commissioners formally opened the $2.7 million on Tuesday.

“I’m happy for everyone that worked on it, that, ‘Hey, we’re moving forward,’ but it’s always going to be a work in progress,” said Commissioner Bucky Hall.

Park County commissioners and landfill staff look out over the new trash pit after a Tuesday ribbon cutting. Cody News Co. photo by CJ Baker

Hall conceded Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting was “somewhat anti-climatic,” given that the cell was completed in 2010. However, the long delay between the pit’s construction and its first use was a good thing for the county: it was because the county was allowed to fit another five years’ worth of trash into the old trash pit, saving space in the new one.

“It was nice not going into it, because we were just buying more time,” Hall said.

The new pit is expected to hold eight to 10 years’ worth of trash. Once full, the county will have the option to either close it down or build another, overlapping cell.

The pit — which involved moving some 750,000 cubic yards of dirt — meets modern Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality standards aimed at stopping any run-off from garbage from reaching groundwater.

Park County commissioners fought against the need for a state-of-the-art liner — arguing the site south of Cody has little groundwater and naturally insulating bentonite — but they ultimately relented to the DEQ.

The upgraded cell’s multi-layer liner includes a plastic covering that’s “basically like a thick garbage bag,” said Park County Engineer Brian Edwards. Drains in the the pit funnel are intended collect any garbage run-off (called leachate).

Edwards said county staff watched the pit to make sure the liner went undamaged over the last few years.

The Cody landfill’s primary customers are the city of Cody and Keele Sanitation, along with the town of Meeteetse and private citizens.

The city of Powell started taking its trash to Billings last year, where rates are cheaper.

“‘If you build it they will come,’ isn’t exactly working out the way we planned it,” said Commissioner Bucky Hall.

Commissioner Hall quipped that “‘If you build it they will come,’ isn’t exactly working out the way we planned it,” but he said commissioners still hope the Cody site will come to be used by customers around the region.

“Ultimately, if we were taking everybody’s stuff from the Big Horn Basin, it would make our tipping costs go way down, and it really wouldn’t be worthwhile for anybody to go to Casper, or over the hill to Buffalo or Sheridan, or to Billings,” Hall said.

Multiple county officials and staff attended Tuesday’s ceremony, along Mickey Waddell of Powell, the sister of Park County Landfills Manager Tim Waddell.

Mickey Waddell said she decided to stop by because she was already in Cody and thought, “what the heck.”

“I’m proud it got done,” she said of the project.

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