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Tuesday notes

Sep 25, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

Familiar sight

Yes, the mountains are still there. The showers that dampened the Riverton Valley on Sunday and Monday knocked down enough smoke from the Alpine Lake Fire that the rugged outline of the Wind River range was visible again. It's the first time in a couple of weeks that our mountains have been visible.

It's easy for those of us who live here to take the sight of the mountains for granted. They are just always there. But when they disappear for days on end, as they have this month, we learn quickly how much we miss them. Welcome back, Winds.

At last

Rarely in recent years has rain been more welcome than it was Sunday and Monday. It's the first real break the fire managers have been given by Mother Nature since the Alpine Lake Fire cropped up two months ago and grew to more than 40,000 acres. It's highly possible that the rain signaled the beginning of the end of the blaze.

A big, hot wildfire can burn even when it's raining, but not very well, and it will be harder for it to regain its full vigor even after the weather clears. If this is the start of the Alpine Lake Fire's swan song, it won't be missed. This was not a downpour by any means, but it brought a refreshment to the air that we hadn't experienced for weeks.

Health/Science Center

Central Wyoming College's tour last week of the far-from-finished health/science center on campus invited participants to see what was there and imagine what is to come. It's supposed to be finished next summer.

Beyond the impressive array of laboratory and classroom space was the promise of enterprise from off campus, namely, the likelihood that the new facility will be a sought-after site for seminars hosting health and science professionals on a regional or even national scale.

In terms of location, attributes and accessibility, tour leaders said, the new center will be unsurpassed anywhere west of the Mississippi in terms of attractiveness and convenience. When it comes time to schedule a hands-on conference in certain sciences, the new health/science center will be in demand.

Inquiries already are being made, said the tour guides. "Just tell us when it's open," one out-of-towner said, "and we'll start making plans."

It all means that the new health/science center could well end up being not just an important site for on-campus learning, but a money-making center of distance education as well. The taxpayers who approved it via ballot measure ought to be happy about that.

Closed file

The court hearing the case of Hudson's double-homicide and arson has decided to close the case file of the youngest of the five suspects, who was 15 years old when the crimes were committed and is 16 years old now.

By now, however, closing the file is, if not quite an exercise in futility, then one of inadequacy. The boy's name, his age, his charges, and several accounts of his alleged crime have been known, reported publicly, and talked about widely for many months. What, really, is the point of sealing the file now? Any protections for an under-age defendant that might have been possible through secrecy have long since been lost. The toothpaste, as the say, is out of the tube.

The three questions

Since Labor Day we've posed three weather-related questions just for the fun of speculation and making the transition from summer to fall more interesting.

First, will we get another 90-degree day this year? It's now Sept. 25, and it hasn't happened. Forget about it now.

Second, will there be an 80-degree in October? Weather records show it happens with some frequency, although it isn't typical. There hasn't been a chance to test that question yet, but as of next Monday there will be. Typical high temperatures for early October are in the 60s, so 80 takes an extra-warm day.

Third, will there be measurable snow by Halloween? Nothing remotely like winter weather has been seen in the valleys yet, but a lot can happen between September and October.

To remind readers, our guesses were no on 90, yes on 80 and yes on snow.

Here's to a good week.