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January 1, 2015     Lovell Chronicle
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4 The Lovell Chronicle I January 1, 2015 CHRONICLE OHS Leadership drives our community As we turn the page from 2014 to 2015, we think of leader- ship - of leadership that has produced many great successes during the past year, of leadership that has been lost and of the challenge of leadership that lies ahead. North Big Horn County might seem to outsiders like a quiet, laid-back area, but underneath it all is a dynamism that keeps our community pushing forward in the areas of education, health, busi- ness and community infrastructure. Lovell is wrapping up a multi-year project to repair and replace most of the town's water and sewer infrastructure, a project that, while painful for the average family pocketbook and difficult and costly for Main Street businesses this year while combined with a WyDOT street project, showed great vision and foresight by the mayor, town council and town administration. This project is the envy of communities throughout the state, and while Lovell citizens have been enduring higher costs in order to pay off project bonds, the Town of Lovell did get in on a very favorable ratio of grants vs. loan compared to the ratio newer projects are getting. The water and sewer "replacement fees" are high, but many other communities have been and will be experi- encing the same situation as their infrastructure grows older. We also think of Cowley's project to not only complete the se- nior league baseball complex with field lights but to also turn the adjacent park land into a full-service, year-around recreation area complete with a splash park, picnic area with playground equip- ment, sledding hill, ice rink and tee-ball field. Cowley is to be ad- mired for coming up with so many progressive projects over the years like the log gym restoration and the Main Street renovation. School District No. 2 is wrapping up an innovative project that saw the district modernize the existing Lovell High School facility while also maintaining the school's square footage, thanks to the innovative thinking of the school board and former Supt. Dan Coe. The school now has updated technology in classrooms, a bet- ter use of space in the central office, vocational education area and other areas of the building, a new cafeteria, commons and multi-purpose room, a new weight room at Winterholler Gym, new track and field facilities and new and safer bus lanes and parking areas. There are still kinks to work out such as lighting during music performances and space difficulties with the music program, but this project, overall, is one of which patrons and the community can be proud, much like the excellent school facilities built a few years earlier in Cowley. Also in the works is an expansion and modemization of the North Big Horn Clinic and Hospital that, if it all comes to fruition, will include an improved and expanded physical and occupa- tional therapy department, a larger emergency services area, an expanded clinic with more examination rooms, better equipped hospital rooms and a general much better use of space. Again, we appreciate the leadership of the hospital board and administration, especially CEO Rick Schroeder. We value the leadership of the LovelI-Kane Museum Board, which is continuing to work for a museum and preserve our his- tory, even after the defeat of the museum district in August, of ' Sue Taylor and Lovell Inc/Grow Big Hom County, which has taken the lead on a number of projects to improve our community, the teachers and staff at our excellent schools, our rec districts in Lovell, Byron and Cowley, which provide for so much activity, and the ongoing efforts of the Hyart Theatre Board, which continues to 'modernize our movie palace while preserving its heritage. We treasure our hometown businesses, which work so incred- ibly hard to provide goods and services for our community, often- times providing service above and beyond what would normally be expected. We will miss the leadership and institutional memory of lead- ers like Commissioner Keith Grant, Lovell Mayor Bruce Morrison, Byron Mayor Pam Hopkinson, retiring Deaver Mayor Fred Yates, Deaver Town Clerk Vana Camp, Supt. Dan Coe, school board members Judy Richards (District Two) and Dave Monk (District One) and many others. And we want the best for their successors and wish them wisdom, vision, perseverance and courage, but also patience and a willingness to listen to the citizenry, to those who work with and for them and to their colleagues in like lead- ership positions. Change, while often desired and/or requested, should come only with great care and deliberation. Good people live in North Big Horn County. We are very for- tunate to live where we do. Here's to a happy and prosperous 2015. - David Peck Postmaster: Send address changes to: The Lovell Chronicle, USPS 321-060 234 E. Main, Lovell, Wyoming 82431 (307) 548-2217 Published every Thursday Periodical postage paid at Lovell, Wyoming Editor and Publisher: David Peck Reporter: Patti Carpenter Staff: Pat Parmer, Dorothy Nelson, Marwyn Layne, Teressa .............. Ennis, John Lafko, Ana Baird, Leonora Barton. www.LovellChronicle.com When rich dictate to poor Medicaid expansion in Wyoming makes sense for all Well-to-do people imagining the lives of the poor can devolve into an embarrass- ing, sometimes shameful exercise. That's what worries me about the back-and-forth going on in Wyoming now related to the question of whether the state should expand Medicaid. ..... At the moment, state legislators and Gov. Matt Mead are shaping up dueling plans to dictate to poor folks what they should do about health care. This fashioning by moneyed people of a health plan for poor people comes through as part of the debate over wheth- er Wyoming might expand Medicaid. Medicaid, as you probably know, is a government insurance program for people who have little or no money. Medicaid covers kids who live in poor households. Medicaid covers low-income senior citizens. In theory, Medicaid covers anybody in Wyo- ming living on $16,104 a year or less. That works out to living on $309 a week -- for food, shelter, clothes, transportation, and health care. In Wyoming, about 83,000 men, women and children don't have any health insurance. At least 20,000 of these residents would qual- ify for Medicaid under the new rules outlined in Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act. For those 20,000 people to get health insurance the state legislature and the governor have to agree on a plan. With reluctance, the legislature and governor are now exploring options. That's good. But the work so far is shining a light on the way richer people often think about poorer people. Wyoming politicians seem particularly worried that people making $309 a week are likely to rip off the system. They seem to imagine that the poor have a stash of cash under the mattress that they should use to pay for someportion of that medical care. Maybe pitch in $25 a month to make sure they can get heath care - as is outlined in the plan ap- proved by the Joint Labor, Health and Social Ser- vices Interim Committee. To me, this approach seems small-minded. Exactly where is a kid, or a fixed-income grand- ma, or a young father or mother working a low-wage job going to dig up that dough? What's the message, honestly, that is being sent? You're poor, so we'll make it harder on you? And here is the real kicker on all of this. The federal government is offering to pay 100 percent of the costs of Medicaid expansion in Wy- oming for the next four years. There is no require- Chris Peck Guest column ment that Wyoming tack on a charge for this. Of course there are reasons for that. Sen. Charles Scott of Casper says that charging the poor for what in other states is free medical insurance is a way to make residents more responsible for their health care. OK. A life lesson is being wrapped into health insurance. I get the sentiment, but I go back to the question: if you're living on $309 a week, or are a kid, or are old and feeble, what's the point of that life lesson other than to rub it in about being poor? And even if the more wealthy don't agree with that, it's puzzling that the rich don't see the benefit to themselves of having the state sign up for Medicaid expansion. Here are some obvious examples: Hospitals and doctors will begin getting paid for care they now provide for free. Today, Wyoming docs and hospitals can't really turn away poor sick people or kids. They treat them, and take about $200 million a year in uncompensated losses. If Medicaid expansion goes through, these docs and hospitals will be paid. Earlier treatment of expensive health prob- lems. If you have health insurance, you are more likely to go to the doctor or take your baby to see a doctor. This lowers the cost of health care for every- body who has insurance, including the wealthy. No longer are the poor as likely to simply use the emer- gency room when things get really bad and really expensive. Examples: Oregon has seen a 35 percent reduction in emergency room visits after expanding Medicaid. Less costly to Wyoming state government. Yes, if the state simply signs on for the Medicaid expan- sion and doesn't require poor people to pay a por- tion, the state will still enjoy a net savings to the state budget of $47 million between 2015 and 2020, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. The benefits outlined here all fall to people and institutions of means: doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, state government. One way to look at the current debate would be to make this point: expansion of Medicaid in the state helps the well-to-do. There is, of course, another group of people who will benefit: the poor among us. If rich and not-so-rich can be in this together, there is not much argument against the expansion of Medicaid in Wyoming. Chris Peck is the former editor of the Spokane Spokesman-Review and the Memphis Commercial Appeal. He is co-owner of the Riverton Ranger in Riverton, Wyo., and resides in Memphis. Cats and Christmas trees an interesting mix There appears to be no record of cats at the Nativity, although we have found that felines really like Christmas. However, there are a few problems with our six curious creatures during the holidays. For example, we no longer can hang breakable bulbs on our Yule tree be- cause the cats get a kick out of swatting them. The bulbs then fall to the floor and shatter. Cats like that sort of activity. And we worry about the brightly col- ored lights on the tree because although they can't be smacked off, the felines have been known to gnaw on the electric cord. This does not seem like a good or safe idea. OK, so we no longer use shiny fragile bulbs or electric lights. We also had to give up putting tinsel on our holiday fir because (guess): A. Cats like to swipe at the dangling decor. 2. Cats enjoy yanking the tinsel off the branches and then rolling around in the de- bris. 3. Sometimes a cat will ingest a length of tin- sel (more on this feat later). Or all of the preceding, which is the most likely scenario. Yet another seasonal glitch involves trying to run our scale model electric train around the tree. It moves, you see, and cats think that means they're supposed to chase it. This results in the engine and cars being knocked askew or totally off the track. This also results in the engineer (that would be me) becoming frustrated and angry and finally giving up. Fine! If they don't want me to enjoy the train then let's leave it wrecked. At least then the fero- cious hunters will leave it alone. We also must not forget how helpful cats can be when we unpack our unbreak- able ornaments or try to wrap Christmas presents. Cats, you see, really are incred- ibly curious, which means that they wish to explore the insides of boxes by burrow- ing in and using those sharp devices on their paws to remove what's inside. They also enjoy seeing if wrapping paper will shred easily. This means that sometimes the recipients of our gifts will find chunks of wrapping paper with claw marks. Or occasionally a couple of tooth marks. Same with ribbons, bows and tape. The latter often results in one cat sticking around more than another (sorry ...) One more observation is that with cats one will likely find at least one at the top of the Yule tree af- ter climbing through the decorations and branches. So we often get to redecorate portions of the tree, as the decorations tend to fall off when the branches undergo violent shaking as a cat clambers up. And there's nothing like having a furry creature at the uppermost piece of your tree, staring at you and try- ing to bat offthe star so that they can watch it plum- met to the floor. So yes, cats are wonderful at Christmas, as they keep you on your toes. Oh yeah, about the cat who had some tinsel. There was good news and bad news. The good news was that a piece still was showing at his mouth. The bad news was that there also was a piece coming out his rear. And that's the end of this tale ... ,, i I Bob Rodriguez Letter to the editor Wyoming information needed Dear Editor, I am a student at Cascade Christian Schools, in Puyallup, Wash., and I am writing a re- port on the state of Wyoming. We are responsible for gathering as much information as we can about our state. If any of your readers would like to help me by sending any pictures, postcards, used license plates, facts, products, etc., from your state, it would be greatly appreciated! Thank you very much. Rielly, 5th Grader Cascade Christian School 601 9th Ave. SE Puyallup, WA 98372 The Lovell Chronicle welcomes letters from its readers and will make every effort to print them. Letters longer than 400 words may not be printed. Letters must be signed and include the address and telephone number of the writer. Unsigned letters will be discarded. Writers are limited to two letters in any 30 day period.All letters must conform to the law of libel and be in good taste. They may be mailed to The Lovell Chronicle, Box 787, Lovell, WY 82431, or delivered to our office at 234 E. Main St., Lovell. A strict 1:00 p.m. Tuesday deadline will be enforced.