News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Jan 14, 2014 - By Steven R. Peck
Nature's blow dryer
There was very good reason to think the snow that fell in the first week of the year might stay on the ground for many weeks to come, but there's nothing like a few days of steady, warm wind to cut into a snow bank. That's what we got over the weekend, and it took a big bite out of the snow in exposed areas.
Once again the mid-month condition known locally as the "January thaw" arrived to give a nice break in what can be the coldest month of the year.
And, if the forecasters can be trusted (and they almost always can be), the rest of the month looks pretty nice too.
So Wyoming has the best license plate in the nation, eh? No surprise there. The simple, bold iconic bucking horse and rider silhouette that distinguishes our plates has been voted No. 1 many times before in the annual survey of favorites.
As reported in Sunday's edition of our paper, the poll also included favorite license plate slogans. Wyoming doesn't have one of those, but among those plates that do carry a slogan, "Sweet Home Alabama" was named the favorite.
Our vote: "Famous Potatoes" in neighboring Idaho.
As has been the case from the start, there wasn't much substance coming out of last week's legislative hearing on Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill. Antagonistic witnesses -- many of them pre-coached, apparently -- said the same things they have been saying for a year, with precious few specifics being raised. The details that were discussed were open to wide interpretation.
There just isn't much there for the "impeach-Hill" faction to hang its hat on. The best thing now probably would be for the Legislature to find a way to put this to rest and move ahead with the coming legislative session rather than spend another winter stint in the Capitol with Cindy Hill as the main topic of conversation. There are many other issues more deserving of attention.
The best possible outcome for presumed 2016 Republican presidential frontrunner Chris Christie in the entertaining-from-afar scandal being called both "bridgegate" and "trafficgate" would be a string of talk-show jokes that dwindles over time, along with a dose of embarrassment and mea-culpa-style chagrin that can be put behind him well before any votes are cast a couple of years from now.
Odds are, that's precisely what will happen -- presuming that no phone recordings or e-mails turn up in which the good governor himself is revealed to have given the order to shut down the access lanes to the George Washington Bridge to punish a New Jersey mayor who didn't kiss Christie's ring.
Christie is a well-seasoned pro, and he has handled the original burst of attention pretty well: It happened, I disapprove, I'm sorry, I have fired people over it, and, by the way, I had nothing to do with it personally.
One sign, however, that there is some worry with the GOP ranks is that party leaders and prominent supporters quickly have turned to the old debate tactic know as "shifting ground." It's the "yes, but" ploy, which is not so much a defense as an attempt to change the subject.
That's why, when those who want Christie to be president are asked about the traffic scandal, they quickly bring up the bad Obamacare website or the unanswered questions about the Benghazi consulate attack.
Two wrongs don't make a right, but one wrong can distract attention from another.
The National Football League is down to its final four teams, with our home-region Denver Broncos among them. The smart money seems to be on the Broncos to beat New England in Denver on Sunday and for Seattle to down San Francisco. That would set up a Super Bowl matchup between the irresistible force (Broncos) and the immovable object (Seahawks).
That would be a fun one, especially considering the two teams are old rivals from their days in the AFC West division, bringing to mind Dave Krieg vs. John Elway. There are a lot of fans of both teams in Wyoming.
Wolverines and Tigers
Speaking of old rivals, Riverton hosts Lander in high school basketball Thursday at Wolverine Gym in Riverton. For many years, the teams were conference rivals and always played at least twice a season, sometimes three if the tournament brackets broke the right way. Now, though, with RHS in Class 4-A and Lander in 3-A, there usually is just one game per season between them. Thursday's is it for this year.
Few places are better to be on a cold, dark January night than a bright, warm, boisterous high school gymnasium for a Riverton-Lander game. Show up Thursday for a fresh reminder.
Here's to a good week.