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Riding with the Rangers: Blueberry ice cream, Martha Raye, and a young man named Island

Aug 16, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

At a recent Sunday afternoon reception for former Riverton resident Jan Saban, who gave so much for so long to youth activities in Riverton, visitors got to hear about blueberries. Darrolyn Crews was there, and she said her son-in-law is in the berry business in the Pacific Northwest. Big grower, big exporter, big success. Better yet, he shares some of the goods with Darrolyn. She had brought a few pounds of the deluxe berries to Daylight Donuts, where they were blended into an out-of-this world blueberry ice cream for Jan's event. Spoon-lickin' good. (Look for a couple of pictures from that nice reception in The Ranger a few days hence.)

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The hottest of the hot weather probably is over for the summer -- especially with the smoke in the air that keeps the sun from doing its full overheat in the afternoon. But it's still been plenty warm. Two Saturdays back, the state's high temperature for the date was a tie between Riverton and Lander. The temp was 91 degrees.

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A schoolteacher we know said "every construction worker in town must be on the job at Rendezvous School." Well, not quite -- some of them are at Jackson Elementary next door. Fremont County School District 25 is hurrying to complete some significant changes to both schools so they can be closer to complying with the state's 16:1 student-to-teacher classroom occupancy rules.

Easier said than done -- especially when the start of school is just a couple of weeks off. It's worth taking a slow drive by West Jackson Avenue and/or North Fourth Street West to see the hubbub.

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Several readers have dropped by saying "I read where your brother Chris is back in Riverton." My answer always is the same: "No you didn't."

Chris, born in Lander, raised in Riverton, is writing a weekly column for The Ranger now that he is recently retired from a long career as a metropolitan newspaper in Spokane, Wash., and then in Memphis, Tenn. He lives in Memphis, not Riverton. There's a little thing called e-mail that makes it all possible.

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Liz Cheney stopped by a few days ago. It was her first visit to The Ranger office since she announced her plan to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi. It takes a lot of driving to run a statewide campaign in Wyoming. The miles are long, the towns far apart. We recall when former Ranger co-publisher Roy Peck was running for governor in 1974 (one of the great, close, exciting primary campaigns in Wyoming history, by the way). Family lore has it that Roy had two 1973 Chevrolet Impala sedans -- each with 200,000 miles on it.

Cheney's mode of travel was a big Cadillac SUV with fully-shaded windows.

"Do you do the driving?" we asked.

"No, no, no," the candidate replied. "Island does."

Island?

Yes, Island, as in Island Richards. That's the name of the young man hired to be the a-little-bit-of-everything guy for the campaign.

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For years, Jim Ray was one of The Ranger's "regulars." There is an ever-changing list of about a dozen locals who come in to hang out at the newspaper office once in awhile. Jim started doing it about 10 years age, usually accompanied by his little black-and-white Boston bull terrier named Martha.

It didn't take long for former Ranger reporter Martin Reed to dub the dog "Martha Ray," referring to the old show-biz song and dance performer of almost the same name (she was Martha Raye). Nor did it take long for Ranger staffers to take to the pup, who would gallop from desk to desk saying hello and inquiring about a dog biscuit. She never left with an empty stomach.

We lost Jim Ray a couple of weeks back at age 82. Martha had preceded him a year or two before. We miss them both.

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Lots of businesses know the value of a good summer intern or two. We've certainly learned that this summer at The Ranger. In the newsroom, Andee Novotny, a rising senior at the University of Wyoming, has been a mainstay. She's been particularly valuable on coming events coverage, and her story from a couple of days ago on the Carissa Mine grand opening at South Pass City this weekend is being circulated region-wide by The Associated Press.

In advertising, we've benefitted greatly from summer intern Nick Esposito. He's a CWC grad who now is attending the University of Denver.

If there's such a thing as a natural for newspaper ad sales, Nick is it.

Circumstances in the office ended up putting him into a level of responsibility he never bargained for when he came asking about an internship in June, but he's handled it very well.

Andee's last day is today; Nick hangs in through Aug. 30.

Thanks, you two, for Riding With the Rangers.

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