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Lovell Chronicle
Lovell , Wyoming
January 15, 2015     Lovell Chronicle
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January 15, 2015

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4 The Lovell Chronicle I January 15, 2015 CHRONICLE Better system could avoid confusing entanglement So now what? The Lovell Town Council voted Tuesday night to advertise for a new chief after Mayor Angel Mon- tanez confirmed that he wasn't reappointing Chief Nick Lewis. In the meantime, Chief Lewis remains on duty. Under the Lovell system, one person, the mayor, has the right to make major personnel decisions involving the law enforcement (chief of police), finances (clerk-treasur- er), administration and court system (municipal judge) of the town govemment, and key people are not protected from being dismissed unless the governing body is will- ing to go to the mat and oppose an appointment. Is this a good system? This has been a confusing mess from the beginning. Nineteen hours after taking his oath of office, the new mayor fired the chief. Then four days later he rescinded that termination but announced that he would not reap- point him. Councilmen will tell you that they have received over- whelming support for Chief Lewis during the past two weeks, but on Tuesday they voted 3-2 to advertise for his replacement. Does any of this make sense? So now a new chief will be advertised for and appoint- ed, and the town council will have to decide whether they are willing to take an adversarial position against the new mayor or go along to get along. This is not a healthy sit- uation for the mayor or the council, although great pains were taken Tuesday to show unity on the town governing body. In the meantime a man could lose a job he loves and our community lose a veteran chief at a time when good police officers are hard to find. Why would anyone take a job under this system? It would behoove the town council to seriously study a better way. State law puts the appointive system in place for municipalities under 4,000 in population, but towns have the right to enact a "charter ordinance" to remove themselves from the state statue and build in more pro- tection for their top officials. This happened in Greybull several years ago when the council voted to change the previous appointive system so that it takes a majority vote of the council to remove the chief of police, clerk or town administrator from office, and the termination must be for cause, Greybull Town At- torney Scott McColloch said. It makes sense. If there truly is a reason to get rid of an official, surely three of the five elected officials would agree. Now that the emotions of the situation are simmer- ing down, we urge the council to carefully examine a way to enact a better system for Town of Lovell department heads and key officials. We applaud the members of the public who weighed in on the issue at Tuesday's council meeting. People were polite and well-spoken, and Mayor Montanez did an excel- lent job managing the session. What the mayor and town council must decide over the next few weeks is - emotions aside - what is in the best interests of the people of Lovell. - David Peck Letters to the editor Citizens must support the lake level Dear friends and citizens of Lovell, I am sure some of you may- be are tired of hearing about Big Horn Lake issues, but I feel urged to try every avenue I can to alert you to the possibility of our lake reverting back to the bad old days when there wasn't enough water to fill it and we had nothing but mud flats at Horseshoe Bend and points south of there. The time for public comment will end on Jan. 16, so time is not on our side. If good people do nothing, and comments from our end of the lake are not received by the Bureau of Reclamation by this date, I feel that the downstream fisheries people who are lobbying the B. of R. hard for more water will win. This does not bode well for our end of the lake or the city of Lovell, both of which are near and dear to my heart. Some of the things we need to tell the B. of R. is we want them to maintain a lake level of 3,640 feet by July and lake levels of 3,640 feet to 3,635 feet until No- vember to support recreation and our national wild waterfowl fly- way. A minimum of 3,620 feet in the winter and up to a lake lev- el of 3,630 feet by Memorial Day. These numbers are supported by Wyoming Game & Fish and the National Park Service. We also have a sedimentation issue on the south end of our lake due to the silt coming down the two major feeder rivers to our lake. By some estimates, the silt is building by a foot per year. Without leadership by the B. of R. in this matter and some fixes being put in place, it's only a matter of time before the south end of the lake is silted in. The website for public com- ment is www.usbr.gov/gp/mtao/ yellowt ail/ope/-ating_criteria. html. For the past five or six years the B. of R. has been doing a pret- ty good job of water management for the entire lake system. Let's let them hear from us and keep those management practices in place. Please be specific in your com- ments. Don't just say we want a full lake. They are a typical gov- ernment agency and full of bu- reaucrats. They like specifics. Thank you, good people of Lovell. Your time will not be wasted. Steve Keil J Friends of Bighorn Lake We must maintain Big Horn Lake water levels Dear Editor, Prior to the construction of the Yellowtail Dam downstream Montana fishing interests had to contend with nature in regard to very high water levels in the spring due to melting snow, often at flood stages, and very low wa- ter levels in the late summer due to drought-like conditions. Now with water flow be- ing regulated from the dam by the Bureau of Reclamation the Montana fisheries want an opti- mum flow of water to meet their needs for supporting their stated 52 million dollar economic fish- ing industry seemingly not car- ing about the economic needs of the neighboring state of Wyoming upstream. The Declaration of Indepen- dence states all men are created equal, so along with that, all men have equal rights such as deter- mining the outflow from the dam and the water levels in Bighorn Lake as nearly every drop of wa- ter entering the lake originates in the state of Wyoming. Low water levels in the spring prevent the launching of water- craft at Horseshoe Bend, causing economic losses not only for the Town of Lovell, but the entire Big Horn Basin from Cody to Thermo- polis and all towns in between not to mention the state of Wyoming in the form of loss of sales taxes, loss of gasoline taxes and loss of out of state fishing licenses. While the economic input to our local economy from the spring boat launchings at Horse- shoe Bend might not be in the $52 million range, any additional in- crease into the local economy is always welcomed. It is time for our local state representative and our local state senator, as well as all state senators and representatives, to get on board with our county commissioners and the board of Friends of Bighorn Lake to pre- serve our rights to maintain wa- ter levels in Bighorn Lake, that will allow boat launching in ear- ly spring. Jim Szlemko Editorial was not fair to new mayor Dear Editor, cause right is right and wrong I found last week's Editor's is wrong was decimated by you Note to be so poorly written and citing "the community" as a biased that it was comical, source for a possible reason to It seemed more like some- Lewis being fired. thing from the rumor mill The same can be said for than something you would ex- Nick Lewis bringing up .that pect coming from the editor of others had heard Mr. Mon- a newspaper. The claim that tanez's father-in-law saying the your friendship with Nick Lew- Mayor wasn't going to fire Lew- is didn't weigh into the fact be- is. The hypocrisy of question- ing the Mayor's professional- ism and then including this in a newspaper does nothing for the wedge you described or your own credibility. If I were in the Mayor's posi- tion I wouldn't be too keen on do- ing an interview any time soon. Keep the gossip at the coffee shop and the news in the newspaper. Kelton A. Wagner Lovell Police Department is run with integrity Dear Editor, I'm not one to write a letter to the editor of a newspaper, but I could not sit on the sidelines after reading the Lovell Chronicle arti- cle regarding the termination Of Chief of Police Nick Lewis. A law enforcement officer in the course of their duties will always get criticism and com- plaints. These concerns should be reviewed with a hearing based on a standard protocol or policy to make a determination on the merits of the complaint. To have a position like the Chief of Police work at the pleasure of the may- or seems archaic. Given what I have read in the Lovell Chronicle and the Billings Gazette it seems that Mayor Montanez sees his po- sition as that of a dictator, no dis- cussion, no hearing, most of all no merit for the termination. I worked with Lewis in a law enforcement capacity from 1978 through my retirement irl 2007 and I resided and raised my fam- ily in Lovell. I was a law enforce- ment officer for the U. S. For- est Service and the Bureau of Land Management in the Big Horn Basin. I worked with Lew- is while he was employed as dep- uty, police officer, Justice of the Peace and Chief of Peace. I was always impressed with the integ- rity and professionalism of Lewis and his ability to work with cit- izens or other agencies. To have someone with the ability, knowl- edge and skills that Lewis has is a blessing for the town of Lovell. Lewis has transformed the department from an under- trained, understaffed and ill- equipped police department into a modern well-trained enforce- ment agency to serve the com- munity. I hope the town pays close attention to what happens when there are no checks, bal- ances or discussion as to what your town officials do. It will not be to your benefit. Daniel "Boone" Vuletich Cody Let's move in a positive direction Dear Editor, I would like to express appreciation for those who shared their opinions in last week's Chronicle regarding the mayor and chief of police. If all can work together for the common good, each of us will benefit. When lives and careers are needlessly poisoned in the process, everyone loses. My hope is for all to work together in a fair and equitable way to resolve the issue and move ahead in a positive direction. Hopefully, we are capable of that. A shot in the foot can be overcome. Brent Tirrell 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 Lost traditions and change Dear Editor, As we begin 2015, a New Year here in Lovell and Big Horn County, we are seeing many changes. More changes than we have seen in many years. Is change good? In 2008, change was promot- ed as the way to go and it wasn't really the best change. Bankrupt- cy of America, etc. We also had a change in politically correct. A way to make 'speaking your mind' as a bad thing. There is good and bad in everything. We did learn that being PC can be good in that we recognize all religious cele- brations during December. Un- fortunately, it tried to suppress the wishing of 'Merry Christmas' to Happy Holidays, but Merry Christmas is making a come back because it has been found to not be a bad thing. One of the changes that I dis- like is the loss of traditions. Such as vchen you step on someone's foot, you apologized. Now, it seems like apologizing is not required of some people. Another lost tradi- tion is the saying of thank you. We are seeing changes in the guard in our local and coun- ty government. It drives me crazy when I hear all the - as we used to say - wash women talking aka gossip. I once went to a meeting where the group was pretty much run by one man for 33 years. They bragged how he had only missed two, meetings in those 33 years. So, I asked, "Then why is your group dead?" and not long after, they folded. Yes, the man is to be thanked for those many years of service, but sometimes a change is needed to survive and grow in a good way. As an American, yes, Amer- ican, not German American, Irish American or anyone who is Asian American, African American or Mexican American, because being an American first makes us stron- ger. It would be nice to hear - I am an American of German or Irish descent, etc. So it is, I would like to take this time to say thank you to all those who have served us for these past many years. It doesn't matter if you or I liked them or not, I respect them for stepping up. I hope with our new leader- ship, everyone, and I mean ev- eryone, will do their best to sup- port our new leaders to help make us a stronger community. Step up and support them with new ideas. Thank you to those who served before and let's all quit being wash women and be Americans first. Gary Noth Lovell