Tuesday notes

Mar 20, 2012 By Steven R. Peck

New season

Spring dawned sunny and cold in 2012, last week's warm air having been driven away ferociously by some classic Wyoming wind. The daylight is longer than the darkness now, and will be for six welcome months.

On a weekend such as the one we just had, a child we knew used to ask, "Isn't Mother Nature out of wind yet?"

Apparently there is an inexhaustible supply, or at least there was Saturday and Sunday. It howled hour after hour.

Our March winds define the terms of a mighty battle between the seasons. This is what it takes to get rid of winter, which ends on the calendar today but whose grip can stick like Velcro at the lower reaches of the season for weeks to come.

Remember last year's cold, snowy spring? We had a full-on snowstorm Memorial Day. Winter yields, but not without a fight. We saw a particularly forceful round of that fight over the weekend.

1 percent money

The City of Riverton is on board in support of the extra 1 percent sales tax voters will be asked to approve in November. In an editorial last week, we described the kinds of things a general-purpose tax such as this one could be used to fund, mentioning "streets and alleys, lighting, and water and sewer work that has been lagging."

That was just a bit of generic description of how such a tax might be used or has been used elsewhere. It had nothing to do with Riverton's or any other town's actual 1 percent tax plans.

Each municipality has its own specific projects in mind that would benefit from the tax. In particular, the City of Riverton most definitely is not planning to use any revenue generated by the tax to pay for the new street lighting that is being discussed as part of the South Federal Boulevard upgrade.

As the election draws nearer, each town will give more details about where it would use the money -- but Riverton wants to make it clear from the start that no money from the 1 percent tax would go toward lighting on South Federal Boulevard.

Helen's letter

We have an apology to make to Helen Potts, who wrote a letter to the editor that was published last week with a few typographical errors that were our fault, not hers.

She submitted the letter hand-written, and the approximate equivalent of a "rough draft" sneaked into print instead a proof-read version. Helen brought it to our attention in the civil and polite way for which she's known.

It's particularly embarrassing because the subject of the letter was to give our Ranger news staff a pat on the back. To set the record straight -- which Helen did not insist that we do, by the way -- here are the erred portions of the letter, corrected (we think!):

"The staff of our Ranger, Fremont County's daily newspaper, has come away from the annual contest sponsored by the Wyoming Press Association with 13 awards ... After much thought, I have chosen some characteristic attributes of these winners ... They are learned, trained, experienced ... They deserve a lively, noisy, whoop-de-do ... "

At age 100, Helen is our oldest regular letter writer. Her very kind acknowledgement of our recent newspaper awards deserved better treatment than we gave it, and we apologize.

Thou in the Dow

Our hypothetical "Thou in the Dow" investment has never looked better. As of Tuesday morning, had you invested $1,000 in an imaginary Dow Jones Industrial Average index fund last August, right after a terrible market plunge, that money would have been worth $1,152.73.

That means your 401(k) account probably looks better, your retirement account through your job with the state looks better, the mutual fund you dabble in via the Internet probably looks better as well.

March Madness

Every year the NCAA men's college basketball tournament looks so orderly in its original bracket, and every year a portion of that bracket gets poked full of holes.

The four No. 1 regional teams have escaped with their basketball lives so far, but two other giants -- Duke and Missouri -- both seeded No. 2, were bounced by two 15th seeds who didn't care a thing about their opponents' lofty reputations. A couple of No. 3 seeds were eliminated as well, and one state -- Ohio -- accounts for four of the "Sweet 16" teams still playing. That's a first.

This is the time of year when everyone pretends to be an expert on college basketball, so here's a quartet to consider for the Final Four: Kansas, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Louisville. (If just one of them makes it, consider it a success.)

Here's to a good week.

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