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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

Jan 15, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

Hot stuff

Reporter Christina George's story in Sunday's edition about 2012 being the warmest year ever recorded in both Riverton and Lander probably was one of the most talked-about items that day.

Do you suppose it is safe to predict, here and now, that the record is safe in 2013? We are shivering in the new year.

Our look through the newspaper archive for the weekly "The Way It Was" feature revealed details of the winter Fremont County was enduring 50 years ago this month. It brought the coldest mid-January weather on record, with several overnight lows of 30 degrees below zero or colder.

This is another way of saying that while, yes, it has been unseasonably cold for most of the days since Christmas, it sure could be worse.

Per gallon

The nationwide analysts of gasoline prices say the cheapest price for a gallon of regular unleaded in the United States can be found in ... Laramie. You can buy a gallon for $2.47 in the university town.

We don't have any station offering gas for that price in Fremont County, but we definitely have seen a rapid decrease in cost here as well. In early fall a gallon cost about $3.90. Today you can find it for $3.01.

How about it, gasoline merchants? Dip under the $3 barrier for at least a little while, just for old times' sake.

Well trained

You can always tell when the annual Mid-Winter Fire School is in town, even if you never go near the fire academy in east Riverton. It's fun to check out the assortment of fire district trucks, chief's vehicles and other rolling stock associated with the various fire departments around our state -- virtually every one of them driven by a volunteer firefighter.

Riverton has duly earned and is duly proud of its place as a center for firefighter training. They come here to learn it and learn it well.

Playoff time

Pro football fans in our office root for several different teams, but the two dominant groups are those loyal to the border-state Denver Broncos and the Green Bay Packers.

Both teams were so good this season that a Broncos-Packers Super Bowl was the most common prediction among the media professionals who analyze the NFL.

So this was a fun season to be a Broncos fan, a Packers fan, or both.

Until Saturday, that is.

The San Francisco 49ers fairly well routed the Packers, and the Baltimore Ravens fairly well stunned the Broncos by scoring a virtual Hail Mary touchdown in the closing seconds of the game that gave the Ravens a chance to win in overtime -- which they did.

There is a particular kind of disappointment that shrouds sports fans in a way that nothing else can, and a lot of people in our office felt it over the weekend as that anticipated Broncos-Packers Super Bowl evaporated.

The 'Hill bill'

Elsewhere on this page is a letter to the editor from Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill. It arrived Monday via e-mail with these words in the subject line: "A Call to Action."

That sentiment is appropriate.

This over-reaching bill to remove policy power and personnel authority from the state superintendent's office immediately and transfer those duties to an unelected bureaucrat is being rocketed through the Wyoming Senate.

Clearly the procedure has been worked out ahead of time so as to avoid as much legislative deliberation and public discourse as possible. The thinking, apparently is this: If the voters don't know, then the voters can't object.

But the superintendent has decided not to let her job -- and the job of all her successors -- be rendered meaningless without a fight. Hence her "Call to Action."

Please read it, and consider what this harmful legislation would mean to the independence of the democratic process and the people's voice in statewide education decisions.

We would never stand for this in our local school districts, where we elect school board members and hold them accountable every two years at the ballot box. And we shouldn't stand for it at the state level, either.

That's one opinion. Read what the superintendent says, and then contact your legislators and tell them how you feel, whether you agree with Superintendent Hill or don't.

Either way, this rushed and radical overhaul of a vital part of our elected government ought to have full, free and, if necessary, fierce discussion in full public scrutiny and participation.

We show you how to contact legislators in a separate box on this page. Take advantage of it.

They won't always agree, but good lawmakers want and need to know how voters feel. Things can get more than a little cloistered down at the Capitol during the long winter's session.

Here's to a good week.

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