Letters to the Editor – Nov. 28

I was so sad to hear that Mr. Hubbard had passed away from Mom last night. I considered him a mentor, a leader, a professional and after high school, a friend. As you may or may not be aware I am in school district administration and in an age when teachers try to dress like the students and the dress code has become almost nonexistent, the same could not be said of Mr. Hubbard. Teaching for him was a professional endeavor and no matter if we spent every single day in the shop, he dressed in his slacks and collared shirt with a tie. When we headed for the shop he put on his shop coat with the FFA emblem on it, grabbed his black safety glasses out of the pocket and placed them on his face and away he would go. The only time he dressed down was on visits to the ranch or at the fair. At state and national meetings he always wore a suit jacket and looked every bit the proud leader/advisor of a group of kids from Wyoming who many times were on their first trip out of state and for some out of town.
He provided us with experiences that were exciting and varied and he was always an active participant. We had to raise all our money for FFA events that we participated in for state and national travel and no fundraiser was above him. He sold and sorted fruit, he chopped and hauled wood, he helped organize and work the annual FFA carnival among many other things, if we thought of it he was a willing partner to us. Mr. Hubbard supported me in all my quests through FFA from the local level to becoming a state FFA officer and then traveling abroad to New Zealand through the FFA work experience abroad program. He wanted us to learn that there was a much larger world out there for us to explore and that we could succeed in it and he was proud of each of our successes. The Denver Stock Show was always a blast and he took us to Casa Benitas with the drivers and IHOP for breakfast, a big deal for a bunch of ranch kids from Sundance. He saved us from a bus wreck on the way to Kansas City and the National FFA convention when the driver fell asleep.  Mr. Hubbard jumped up and grabbed the wheel and got everything back on track. Just a note, this was not a bus driver from Sundance, we rode with Campbell County in those years on the big fancy coach bus. We thought we were in heaven.
We may not have won many livestock judging contests in the state but Mr. Hubbard’s program was renowned for its prowess in Ag. Mechanics. Year after year, the Bear Lodge FFA program was the top in ag mechanics at the county and state fair and if there had been national competitions I am confident that we would have swept those awards as well. He instilled a work ethic in his students that you didn’t just weld half way or throw a bead at a piece of metal and hope it stuck together. He showed us how to do it and worked with us until we could do it flawlessly. No project was too big for the small ag shop at Sundance High School, if it didn’t fit in the shop, we just moved it outside and worked on it out there. If a project was taking longer than expected, he came in during the summer and made sure that everything was ready to go by the time fair rolled around, he didn’t need an extra duty contract to do the extra duty, he did it because he cared. He would help cut grasses and alfalfa and wheat for plant projects and work timelessly with students on their livestock projects. If you were at State Fair and needed help he was there, you didn’t have to go find him hanging out with the other ag teachers, he was with his students where he felt he should be.
I was always thankful for what he was willing to do above and beyond because he knew us and he cared. Freddie and I had to feed cattle before we went to school in the morning because Mom and Dad drove school buses and Mr. Hubbard knew this. Sometimes we would run into difficulty from snow or vehicles or cows but Mr. Hubbard left the back door of the shop open so that we could get into the school without being counted as tardy if we were late. He understood and he cared, that was the kind of man he was.
When I would see him at different activities after graduation from high school and I moved on in my career and my life, I still couldn’t call him by his first name. I respected him, looked up to him and felt he still deserved the title of Mr. Hubbard, it is just one of those weird things when you can’t get to a first name basis but it doesn’t mean that I didn’t think of him as my friend. He always was happy to see me and my siblings, their children as they have grown and my parents. He always had a ready smile and that twinkle in his eye and we would all catch up when we got back to Sundance.
We lost a good man.
Much of the person I am today was molded from my time spent with him and I will miss him.
Mary Jo Kokesh Lewis

Keeping our local government on a
sound path

Why is the proposed Crook County pipeline policy so important and in our newspaper every week?
The evolution of this policy is a new process for creating local government regulations and will set a precedent for all future policies in our county. It will determine: 1) if local policies will be based on sound facts and reasoned considerations, or 2) if special interest groups, largely organized from outside our county, will move policies and succeed in fundamentally transforming our communities. As the process is currently proceeding, we have the second. But, a few outspoken opinions in a commission meeting isn’t the way to write sound public policies and doesn’t make for good science.
This is a deciding moment. Few residents even realize what is happening and why it’s so important for us to become involved and give our County Commissioners the support they need, and have requested, to do the right thing. In a nutshell, here’s the story.
A policy was proposed to establish a permitting process for pipelines that go alongside or cross county roads in order to ensure that our county won’t have to pay for any road damages or maintenance costs caused during the construction or operation of a pipeline. This makes sense. As part of state and federal regulations, pipeline companies already conduct intensive studies and design pipeline routes and installation to avoid high-impact areas and have the least impact on people, roads, bridges, infrastructure and the environment. Also, as part of the county’s existing pipeline permit, companies already agree to be responsible for maintaining and repairing or replacing to original condition any roads, fences, culverts, topsoil and plants, etc. affected during the installation or operation of pipelines.
So why has a new policy evolved into a more than 2600-word document filled with notifications, hearings, inspections, reporting, water testing, and a slew of other regulations? Not only do many of the requirements duplicate and even overstep or go beyond state and federal regulations—with no health and safety justifications—others have nothing to do with recovering road expenses at all.
It’s because this policy is the opening effort of special interest groups looking to use county regulations for political reasons. Trumped-up scares about hidden dangers of water contamination are being used as a wedge issue across Wyoming to cripple and hinder the energy industry in our state. But, for instance, since Wyoming established the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in the 1950s, there has not been a single confirmed case of groundwater contamination due to well stimulation in the entire state—in over 60 years, according to Tom Doll, former head of the Commission. Sadly, people unfamiliar with the industry or science are being needlessly frightened into believing that pipelines are unsafe and that the extensive state and federal regulations and science-based industry practices currently in place aren’t adequately protecting them.
A few examples show why this proposed policy is a concern for our communities:
• If you owned a business, would you want the survival of your project—which you’ve spent years and millions of dollars to develop—to be decided by a single person with the power to grant or not grant a permit for any reason he/she decides, leaving our Commissioners to sort out problems later?
• If you were a business owner, how would you feel about being required to pay for any potential impact and damages that might be caused by your project during its entire lifetime—pipelines have a lifetime of more than 50 years—BEFORE the project even started? That’s impossible, of course.
• As a business owner, would you want the government telling you what vendors, employees, services, hardware and supplies you should use and where you should have them delivered?
With countless undefined ways pipeline projects could be blocked from Crook County and by making the permitting process so expensive and cumbersome for companies, the clear effect is to deter these businesses from our county.
As residents of Crook County, we don’t have access to the written public comments submitted to the Commission to see the soundness of the evidence being presented and rationale for the expanded government regulations. Yet Crook County residents will bear the consequences of the policy.
There are five pipeline companies doing business in our county. Just the tax revenue from a single pipeline company brought in more than $271,000 last year — more than enough to fund Fire, Emergency Management, Senior Services, Ambulance, Family Violence and Mental Health services for Crook County for the entire year. Multiply this by five, plus add the jobs and economic development companies bring, and we can begin to see how opposition to pipelines puts the people in our communities at risk.
Sandy and Ronald Edgington