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Tuesday notes

Apr 24, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

Check the date

An investigation is in order. Apparently the calendar has been hijacked, and June has been substituted for April. Somebody notify the authorities.

This is the farthest cry possible from last year, when winter finally arrived in April after pretty much leaving us alone from December through March. This year, it's summer that has begun in April, or the best imitation of it possible considering the date. Tuesday's forecast high in the Riverton valley: 87 degrees according to one source. That's 25 -- count 'em, 25 -- degrees above normal for April 24. Yowser.

Open hopas

The astounding weather has fooled Riverton's familiar crabapple trees, and they are at or near full bloom this week. It's a full month earlier than normal.

Throughout most of their 50-year history as Riverton's unofficial official tree, the flowering crabs have been a Memorial Day treat. This year the flowers probably won't make it to May Day.

But, my, aren't they lovely in 2012?

Some years are better than others for the hopas, and this edition ranks way, way up there. They do look a bit odd against the background of the bare-branched cottonwoods and green ash, which are the larger inhabitants of the wooded landscape and are not leafed yet, for the most part.

Enjoy the sweet-smelling white, pink and purple display while you can. A 10-day run is exceptional for the blossoms, and the forecast is for a windy, cooler day Friday. That probably will wipe them out -- all before April has ended.

More for malt

Wyoming's tax on malt beverages, better known as the beer tax, is in Riverton's sights again. For a few years now, the city has been pushing the state to raise the tax from its 1935 level of 2 cents a gallon. Wyoming could increase the tax by 1,000 percent and still fall short of the national average.

Riverton and Fremont County could put the revenue to good use for operations at the heavily used county detox center in Riverton. Mayor Ron Warpness made the case again last week, and it's a good one.

But, while it seems legitimate from Riverton's point of view to raise the tax, it's going to be hard to get legislators in other counties interested, at least enough of them to get this changed. It's simply not viewed as a major issue in many other places.

Don't forget that the alcohol lobby has influence in Cheyenne. One need look no further for proof than a malt beverage tax unchanged for more than seven decades. A tax -- any tax -- doesn't stay untouched for 72 years unless someone, or something, with real clout wants it left alone.

Thou in the Dow

It's been a volatile six weeks on the stock market, but our yearlong Thou in the Dow investment experiment is still paying off.

Last August, just after the market had taken a terrible beating, had you invested $1,000 in a stock fund based strictly on the rise or fall on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, that money would have grown to $1,126.35 as of Tuesday morning. The Dow scored a 1.5 percent improvement last week, but it was anything but a smooth ride.

Health expo

Riverton Memorial Hospital's spring health fair, the For Your Health Expo is, is set for Saturday, April 28, at Central Wyoming College.

Many exhibitors from businesses and other entities with an interest in health are scheduled to participate. In conjunction, we're producing a 12-page special edition Wednesday, April 25, to appear in The Ranger and our sister paper, the Lander Journal.

We suggest you take time to read about the health expo, and we encourage you to support the advertisers who support your local newspaper.

A nickel down

Pssst ... Gasoline prices are actually down a nickel or so over the past 10 days at many Wyoming stations. The price per gallon still is higher than it was a year ago, but Wyoming's prices are well below the national average.

Most places are paying nearly $4.50 per gallon, and a Ranger reader reports that on a trip back east this month, he paid $4.91 to fill the tank of a rental car in Milford, Conn.

Always remember, in this and all else, things could be worse.

Here's to a good week.

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