Volume 103, Number 17 - December 28, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Roundup Predictions for 2007
Star charts didn’t work so well last year, so we turned to tea leaves instead. Unfortunately, all we could find late one Tuesday night was Rock Rabbit coffee grounds, sticking tenaciously to the bottom of my to-go mug. Reading these was difficult, but pouring boiling water over them and getting one last caffeine-jolt gave a moment of inspiration, which led to these predictions for the coming year.
Winter Drilling approved
2007 will see the BLM approve industry’s plan for 4,399 more wells on the Anticline, which will lift the winter drilling restrictions in place for the acreage Shell, Ultra and Questar wish to drill.
Greenies will speak loudly against this, but they will be held in place by their responsible development rhetoric. A few bright brochures will be printed and distributed, and year-end newsletters will describe the cooperative aspect of their strategies. They are, after all, not against development. Industry will write some checks, and some mitigation projects will be discussed between the two.
PAWG, speaking in the BLM’s Orwellian terms, will issue a statement that the new wells, if mitigated correctly, will not cause undue impacts. The mitigation plans will get mired in negotiation and bureaucracy.
The Wyoming Game and Fish, by Freudenthal-appointed Director Cleveland’s pressure, will develop their own mitigation measures and trundle on as best they can. Employees on the ground will shake their heads but be held in check.
The wintering mule deer will look for other winter range, with those weakened by bad forage having little luck. Fawn mortality levels will rise as the excess stress on the mothers by the drilling will take its toll.
Pinedale’s skies will be less sparkling blue and clear as the visibility impacts described by the BLM obscure our views.
High-density developments given go-ahead
The Sublette County Planning and Zoning Commission is facing applications for at least three high-density developments to be annexed to the Town. These will allay the housing shortage issues and begin squeezing the housing bubble.
Two of the three will be approved before the Commission cracks under the weight of having to balance burgeoning Pinedale with the town’s historic, rustic nature and the County’s wide open spaces.
Younger couples in town will rejoice at not having to waste $300,000 on a pre-fab home.
Old-timers will bemoan the loss of Pinedale as they knew it. Entrepeneurs will cheer the rush of opportunities, and we’ll all watch the construction with one thought in mind: hundreds of empty houses in thirty years.
But at least Roundup writers won’t have to sleep on couches.
Mail-order bride business sky-rockets
The multitudes of young, single men in Pinedale will finally get to see new, beautiful faces when some entrepeneur develops a mail-order bride service direct from Eastern Europe to Pinedale’s Ralph Wenz Field.
Local women at the Corral will be forced to buy their own drinks, and the tanning salon will see a dip in its business as these girls simply give up – or can’t afford it after paying for their own Bud.
There will be an influx of tall, heavily-accented women at Faler’s shopping for turnips and cabbage.
Men, no longer single, will then be seen at the Corral for its food, no longer sitting there for hours with the lost hope of a girl walking in.
Maybe the Christmas spirit has made me soft, but I predict 2007 will be a better year for the Rural Health Care Board and District. The District has taken the encouraging steps of breaking ground on the new Pinedale Clinic, hiring new doctors and administrators (Kip Boone, a potential Clinic Administrator will likely come to Sublette County early next year), and establishing the providers’ consulting group) and establishing the providers’ consulting group. Next year should see more of this kind of progress.
The RHCD’s reputation for incivility could threaten my sunny forecast. Infighting and condescension from the Board could alienate providers and citizens. But now, the Board and the District are like a dented, old boat. It may creak and sputter, and you may doubt its ability to float, but it will get you across the lake, one way or another.
Wyoming Range leases will be overturned
Large Dodge-driving, angry red-turning-blue outfitters, hunters, fishermen and oldtimers will prove more effective than Subie-driving greenies at halting development. These votes, when teamed with the legal background of their greenie partners, will provide enough political pressure to keep further Wyoming Range leases from being issued. They may also have a say in migration corridors.
The IBLA will take months, but sometime in 2007 will overturn the BLM’s December and April leases issued in the Range.
Both Senator Thomas and Governor Freudenthal will tout this as a victory for Wyoming’s heritage while giving approval nods to other oil and gas development plans.
However, the triumphant outfitters will still have a terrible mule deer season.
Abernathy starts own Burning Man
The Blues Fest, ever-larger, ever-more fun, and ever-popular will expand into a fullblown week-long festival along the lines of Burning Man.
The County Commissioners will rage against this hippie fest but will be found, Fat Tires in hand and in disguise, mingling with the New Agers from California.
The religious Right will lay off the roughnecks and meth problem and turn their fury on Rock Rabbit, possibly staging a caffeine-free sit-in.
The braided hippie chicks will take the pressure off the European mail-order brides, most of whom will make a break for the homeland during the week.
The Festival will culminate with a ceremony to free the pigs from their hog wrestling opressors, a flaming rig, some pagan dances and will disband when Faler’s runs out of tofu and goat cheese. So maybe it will last for a day, not a week.
A look back at last year’s predictions…
Former Editor Noah Brenner’s star chart was intermittently right and wrong for this year. Sitting on his mountaintop, instead of gazing on the stars, he must have gotten confused by the glittering rigs and divined from them, leading to some right and some wrong guesses.
Here’s how his predictions panned out:
Murder We Wrote:
Brenner predicted that Pinedale would see its first murder this year, and he was right. In March, Iva Jo Hueske stabbed her boyfriend Brandon Honerkamp to death. Hueske plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter in September. Judge Young sentenced her to no less than four nor more than ten years incarceration at the Women’s Center in Lusk. Noah guessed that the first murder would be making good on a “drunken bar room promise” to “kill that bastard.” He also noted that though increasing crime in Sublette County tends to get blamed on newcomers, at least one involved in the murder would be local. Hueske claimed that after the stabbing, when she left their shared apartment, Honerkamp was still alive, thereby shedding some doubt on the accuracy of Brenner’s prediction that she wanted “to kill that bastard.”
Noah added that the guilty finding would be as surprising as the murder itself, but 2006 saw at least one other guilty sentence, though for disparate charges.
Pinedale gets a peep show
Noah felt that Pinedale’s sexual morality sentiments would loosen this year, and the town would get a strip club.
Unfortunately for the gas field hotties and cowboys alike, he was wrong. The County moved earlier this year to only allow “sexually-oriented businesses” on heavy industrially-zoned districts versus commercial, thus limiting their scope and locales. Noah noted that a town with so many single men will not “make it too long without some form of ‘adult’ entertainment”, but these guys will have to wait a few years more, and drive to Sand Draw to get it.
His prediction that “most people will silently tolerate it, and more than a few will rejoice,” is off too. How many people in Pinedale “silently tolerate” anything?
Rural Health Care is Rural Health Care
Noah wrote, “Looking at both recent and not-so-recent history, this one is kind of a given. Despite the public uproar over clinic management and emergency room access and clinic siting and clinic design and hiring and firing of doctors and the allegations of lying and backdoor deals, nothing will change on RHCB issues in SC in 2006.”
Yes and no. The RHCB remains as fierce and contentious as ever. Three new Board members, brimming with optimism, took office only to become mired in nasty conflicts. District doctors have engaged in very public disputes with Board members, and the letters section of this newspaper are lately full of vitriolic letters from the spouses of health care providers in this county.
In fairness to the District however, 2006 was a year of remarkable changes. Judy Boyle sold her private practice and became an RHCD employee. Randy Johnson was hired as District Director. Construction began on the new Pinedale clinic, and plans for one in Marbleton are underway. A health care providers’ group was established to make recommendations to the Board about staffing and protocols, but occasionally sees its suggestions ignored. A bitter, contentious atmosphere, - yes. No change - for better or for worse, 2006 was a whirlwind year for the RHCB.
Here Comes the Golden Arches
Noah predicted that 2006 would see Pinedale’s first stand-alone fast food restaurant, and though it may not be a Mickey D’s, it will be fast and cheap.
Though there is still an ample market for such a business, Pinedale did not get one this year, leaving Noah’s populace lined up with “five ketchup packets” in one hand and money in the other, still standing.
Pinedale did get more variety to its usual fare with the entry of China Gourmet, but thankfully, not a stand-alone, flashy fast food restaurant. Though it will come, hopefully the Town will require it to blend its landscaping and façade to match Pinedale’s rustic look, instead of shiny, plastic and neon.
Goodbye recapture, hello reality
Noah hit this nail on the head. The November election did see Statewide approval of Amendment B, which took away the excess recapture –topping $20 million – Sublette’s Schools had so enjoyed. The Wyoming Legislature’s bill fixed a glitch that limits the amount of money school districts must send back to the State’s education coffers. Sublette County voted against Amendment B, but of course, the other counties did not.
Mule Deer on the Mesa rebound
Noah’s optimisim here was sadly misguided. Predicting a “rebound – sort of” for the wintering Mesa mule deer herd after its catastrophic 46 percent decline, he saw high fawn survival rates and a mild winter helping out the herd numbers.
Under the “rebound – sort of” category, Noah may have been right – sort of. The recently released Hall Sawyer study indicated that the wintering mule deer herd has stabilized, neither rebounding nor, knock-on-wood, dipping ever lower.
Noah wrote “The BLM and the gas companies will trumpet the success of winter drilling all the while failing to mention that population levels are still below what they were before the agency opened the gates to the Mesa.” The BLM hasn’t responded to the study which indicated that their claim the deer had simply left was unfounded. Gas companies found the study “hopeful” and pushed for 4,339 more wells on the Mesa through unrestricted winter drilling.
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