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July 28, 2011

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www.LovellChronicle.com July 28, 2011 I The Lovell Chronicle I 15 i BY DON AMEND Powell Tribune Keep the Big Horn Ba- sin whole. That was the message local legislators conveyed to the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Sub- divisions Committee dur- ing a hearing held in Pow- ell Tuesday morning, July 12, in an effort to keep the Big Horn Basin from losing a seat in the Legislature due to reapportionment. "We would like the com- mittee to consider keeping the Basin whole," said Rep. Lorraine Quarberg, R-Ther- mopolis, who represents Hot Springs and parts of south Big Horn County. Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, also asked the committee to keep the seat in the Basin. He told the committee that the four counties in the Big Horn Basin produce 39 per- cent of the oil produced in Wyoming, and they have ag- riculture interests in com- mon. In addition, the entire Basin is part of a proposed Resource Management Plan by the Bureau of Land Man- agement, which could have a major impact on jobs and development. He also noted that geography tends to iso- late the Basin from the rest of Wyoming. "The Big Horn Basin is a unique place," Coe told the committee, and speaking for the Park County repre- sentatives, he added, '%Ve're working for the whole Basin, not just Park County." Committee member Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, agreed with Coe that the Basin is a "logical region," but said the region was 300 to 400 people short ofrequir- ing the six House Districts it presently comprises, based on population figures and guidelines set by the courts -- and that would only bring the districts ta the bare min- imum size. To maintain the one- man, one-vote standard set by the courts, the ideal House district in the state should have 9,394 residents, and the maximum variance from that figure would be 10 percent between the high- est and lowest district state- wide, meaning each district must be within 5 percent of that ideal, whether above or below. While the 5 percent devi- ation is acceptable, commit- tee members would prefer the deviation be as small as possible. What local legisla- tors were asking is that the committee accept deviations close to 5 percent below the ideal for Big Horn Basin dis- tricts, and suggested they might ask for an exception to the 5 percent standard. Quarberg said the draw- ing from the Shoshoni area is the most practical way to add population to the Basin. The only other options are and a large majority of them have no pop .ulation. Case also noted that Quarberg's plan would have people living within 10 miles County School District No. 1 and the closely related towns of Basin and Grey- bull, who share a hospital district, as well as Willwood and other areas tied to Paw- ell and Park County. But Harvey urged the committee to keep the representation of the four counties within the Basin. "Don't break up the Big Horn Basin," Harvey said. "It's important to keep us to- gether." Big Horn County Com- missioner Keith Grant joined area legislators in de- fending the request that the Childers said the Ba- sin's representatives would continue discussions and will have public meetings and hearings in an effort to develop an acceptable plan for keeping the Basin's rep- resentation. "It's important that the people participate," Childers said. "We'll give you some sound data." In response to a ques- tion from Quarberg, Case said the committee will meet again in August, but would not be taking action on a plan to present to the Legislature. Scott, howev- ( to reach across the Big Horn of Riverton in the same dis- Legislature accept close to er, said he would be pre- Committee members Mountains to Sheridan or trict as people in south Big the maximum deviation be-pared to make motions with t: said they would be very re- Johnson counties, or to aHorn County, possibly via- low the ideal in redistrict- regard to making part of luctant to grant such an ex- northern Teton County area lating another of the Legis- ing the Basin. Grant spoke Fremont County available, ception, and Scott said doing that includes a small num- lature's principles, that dis- of predictions of an oil boom depending what he sees in li so likely would bring a law- ber of people living in Yel- tricts reflect a community of in the Basin, based on new Quarberg's proposal. suit challenging the reap- portionment. Of the six districts in the Basin, only District 25, represented by Rep. Dave Banner, R-Powell, is within the 5 percent margin. House District 50, represented by Rep. Pat Childers, R-Cody, is 6.75 percent above the ide- al and all the rest are below, ranging from 5.89 percent in District 26, represented by Rep. Elaine Harvey, R- Lovell, to nearly 16 percent in District 28, represented by Quarberg. To address that short- fall, reapportionment will have to draw population from outside the Big Horn Basin, even though the Legislature would prefer to consider significant geo- graphical features, such as mountains, when redrawing districts. Quarberg presented a plan for reapportionment in the Basin that would in- clude two Fremont County election districts into the population base. The two districts, which would in- clude the towns of Shoshoni and Lysite, would add more than 700 people and enable the districts in the Basin to be redrawn equitably, al- though they still would be below the ideal. lowstone Park, due to the re- quirement that Legislative districts be contiguous. Even with the addition of the Fremont County vot- ers, however, districts in the Basin would still be close to the 5 percent deviation from the ideal. Committee members generally accepted Quar- berg's efforts positively, but cautioned that it might not resolve the problem. "This is an example of why local people should de- velop these plans," Scott said. "But having said that, we have to live within the court limits." Sen. Cale Case, R-Land- er, the co-chairman of the committee, complimented Quarberg on her work, but said "the devil is in the de- tails." Referring to the Legis- lature's other principles for reapportionment, Case said, ' When you look at census blocks, which you can't di- vide, and election districts, which you shouldn't divide, this might not work." interest. The community of inter- est principle also brought an objection from Jack Turnell of Meeteetse because Quar- berg s plan pulls the Mee- teetse area into her district. "I've nothing against Thermopolis, but people in Meeteetse don't know peo- ple in Thermop," Turnell said. "We do 90 percent of our business with Powell, Cody and Lovell. That's our center." Turnell added Meetee- tse's connection with North- west College and said he felt the area would be better represented by being includ- ed in Park County. In later testimony re- sponding to Turnell's objec- tions, Banner, Harvey and Childers all emphasized that they work together for the good of the entire Basin, not solely for their districts. Citing the fact that the Willwood area, part of the Powell community, is rep- resented by Harvey, Ban- ner said, "I don't check the address of a constituent Census blocks are the who contacts me. We ar all smallest units used in tak- working together to "m*/ ke ing the national census, things work for the Big Horn In towns and cities, theyBasin." are typically city blocks orHarvey echoed Banner, neighborhoods. In rural ar- noting her district splits the eas, they are much larger, town of Frannie, Big Horn technologies in the next three to five years, which would increase population. Rep. Mike Greear (R- Worland) spoke of an effort to develop agriculture land west of the Big Horn River in northern Washakie and southern Big Horn counties that could bring more popu- lation growth. Both Scott and Case praised the Big Horn Ba- sin delegation's efforts to address the situation, and Case recommended that Quarberg make use of the resources available from the Legislature's staff. The committee held an- other meeting in Worland the same evening. Advertise your business for just $]4 per week (3 month minimum) Call Erin, 548-2217, to 'guide' cuslomers to your business today! Hise s Veteran Owned & Operated Steven Hiser Cell: 307-272-7211 FAX: 307-548-2684 Power Sweeping on: Power Washing on any: i ~ Parking lots Residential I Driveways Commercial I ~ Blacktop or Concrete Industrial I For AII Your Cleaning Needs! Home theater setup? No problem! Call Ben today. 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