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News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.

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Tuesday notes

Feb 18, 2014 - By Steven R. Peck

Seasonal battle

Windy, sunny and warm, then windy, cloudy and cold. We'll get both this week, and it's a sign of one sure thing: Winter is starting to weaken, and spring is advancing. We're on the back end of the last winter-only month of the year, and we've passed the point at which longtime observers say the worst of the cold season is over. If the conditions over the weekend and Monday are taken into account, it's easy to see where that old adage comes from.

Water on high

Winter, meanwhile, is still delivering what we want it to higher up. The newest report on snowmelt for the Wind River Basin's streams and reservoirs predicts full runoff from the mountains this year, meaning there should be plenty of water for agricultural and residential use.

If that comes to pass months from now, when the sun is hot and the fields are green, it will be more than Mother Nature simply doing its job, but our system of dams, reservoirs, diversions, canals and laterals as well.

Farming in this part of the country would be an impossible task to carry out consistently over time without planned irrigation. With it, this is one of the nation's fine agricultural regions -- and the outlook is pretty good for 2014.

Right here in River City

We encourage readers to make plans now to see "The Music Man," the Central Wyoming College spring musical which opens next weekend at the Robert A. Peck Arts Center. As always, the production will feature top actors from the college, plus performers from the community.

"The Music Man" is one of the grand old shows of Broadway, a fun crowd-pleaser with two of the best-remembered songs of the American musical theater ("Trouble" and "Seventy-six Trombones"). Try it. You'll like it.

Jail shocker

Our state was shocked over the weekend at the news of a jail guard in Scottsbluff, Neb., being attacked and killed by an inmate from Wyoming. Such attacks are rare at municipal and county jails, and this one is all the more unnerving because the attacker is a 15-year-old boy from Torrington.

Expect all sorts of questions about this case above and beyond the normal criminal investigation. The guard was a young woman. The apparent perpetrator was a kid. The scene of the crime was a local detention center. How might all these factors have mingled to create a disaster? The public will want and need to know.

Meryl and Charlie

Predictions and accompanying hype over Olympic athletes often seems to lead to disappointment. This month in Sochi, Russia, the American speed skaters were touted for their world records and their super-fast, high-tech suits. So far, no good. Bode Miller turned back time for a couple of minutes in the men's Super G and hung on for a medal, but other skiers who had been trumpeted highly haven't delivered yet. And the snowboard star Lindsey Jacobellis secured, unfortunately, her place as one of the great Olympic flops, having failed to stay on her feet in the closing seconds of her third straight race -- one in the final in Turin, then in the semifinals in Vancouver, and again Sunday when she was far ahead in her semifinal race in Sochi.

So what a pleasure it was to watch the burly bobsled driver Steve Holcomb, limping on a sore calf, drive to a medal in the two-man division (he's the defending gold-medal driver in the four-man sled, which comes up this weekend) and, most particularly, the delivery of a promised gold-medal performance by the ice skating pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

So good were Davis and White on Monday night that they posted the highest score ever recorded in their sport, ice dancing, and some even dared to commit the figure skating blasphemy of saying they are the equals of or -- gasp -- even better than the legendary British team Torvill and Dean from 1984.

Speaking up

Local leaders walk a fine line when commenting -- or opting not to comment -- on extraneous talk surrounding the recent Environmental Protection Agency interpretation of the boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Riverton municipal leaders expressed disagreement with that decision early on, but now the stage more or less has been given to others, and they are making the most of the limelight. Some of what is being said surely makes the city fathers agitated.

It's not always easy to determine if a simmering pot ought to be stirred, and so far the city has done its best to leave the spoon in the drawer while others do the stirring. Silence is a tactic, and if the appeals court process on the case is, as predicted, going to take as long as two years, then maybe keeping the cooler head is the way to go.

But it's also true that if local leaders don't feel comfortable having others speaking for the city on the boundary issue, then they always have the option of doing it themselves.