Pavillion reportAug 1, 2014 By Steven R. Peck
State is right not to give gas company a sneak preview
It always seemed such a poor idea for the State of Wyoming to delay releasing its official findings on the Pavillion-area groundwater contamination until the natural gas company, which some think contributed to the pollution, had been given a sneak peek ahead of time.
Regardless of what privileges Encana would -- or would not -- have had in reviewing the document before its public release, the impression conveyed by the arrangement was that the state and the energy company were too cozy in their cooperation on the investigation.
One news report said Encana would be given a chance to "make suggestions" on revising the report before it was unveiled for public consumption. That would have been a good way to erode public trust in the findings, and there is enough distrust in this situation already without adding to it knowingly.
So, it was a pleasant surprise a few days ago to hear that the state had changed its mind and decided not to run it by Encana before releasing the report publicly. There aren't many ready examples of government listening to the public and responding positively (at least not that most people would acknowledge), but this certainly counts as one.
While the State of Wyoming is in a listening mood, here's a slice of advice: Think about these bad public relations moves before you make them, and alter the plan accordingly.
A persistent criticism aired by citizens is that there is too much behind-closed-doors dealing between government and wealthy people or corporations. It's being raised by one of the governor's challengers in this month's primary election. Perhaps that's a fair criticism, perhaps not, but steps like the one announced -- finally -- a week ago mean that the perception will be far less harsh.
A question raised several times before in this space is why government leaders so often don't do simple things that would make them more popular. Here's one that ought to help, at least a little.
The Ranger has taken on the very enjoyable mission this year of trying to renew interest in the Fremont County Fair ice cream contest. Our concern is built on more than 20 years of being granted the delicious favor of judging the contest.
After many years of good popularity among both contestants and spectators, the contest began to erode a couple of years ago, and last year it barely existed at all.
This year the fair has welcomed our offer to try to rejuvenate the contest, and we've been working to do that for a few weeks now.
Anyone can enter the competition. Bring your own ice cream base, hand-operated freezer, and whatever ingredients you'd like (yes, we once judged a creation called beef brownie ice cream that included grilled hamburger).
If you need some help, the fair staff will provide classic hand-cranked freezers and a gallon of creamy base to get you started.
Take an hour to make your concoction, then watch with nervous excitement (well, maybe not quite) as Ranger staff members pick the winners.
In addition to the blue and red ribbons, there's a new prize this year, a very fancy, shiny ice cream scoop. We'll hand it over to the winners during a good-natured awards ceremony that's been a hallmark of the contest since we first got involved in the early 1990s.
Our bias is acknowledged readily and freely: This request is entirely selfish. We want to eat more ice cream, and we are counting on the public to provide it. The Fremont County Fair Ice Cream Freeze Off begins at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Cottonwood Arena just behind the old 4-H lunchroom. Teams and spectators are welcome.
Have a bit of ice cream before heading into the demolition derby. If you think of fair week as a good dinner, then consider the Ice Cream Freeze Off the dessert. Hope to see you there.