BY BARBARA ANNE GREENE
Search and Rescue teams were busy over the weekend with three separate incidents on the Big Horn Mountains.
The first involved a 12-year-old boy from Powell who got separated from his boy scout troop while hiking in the Black Mountain area. Benjamin Kellett was missing for 33 hours before he was found. Sheridan Search and Rescue was the lead agency on the search but did get back up from South Big Horn County Search and Rescue (SBHCSR).
The other agencies involved were the Sheridan County Sheriff’s office, U.S. Forest Service, Johnson County Search and Rescue, Wyoming National Guard and Wyoming State Forestry Division. There were also two K-9 units brought in — one from Cody, one from Douglas.
Kellett was found southeast of Black Mountain in the Wolf Creek drainage area. He was dressed in sweatpants and hoodie.
The second rescue involved a 20-year-old man from Illinois. He and his friends were hiking the loop around Paintrock Lakes. The last time the six hikers were in a group was at Tee Pee Flats. From there they started hiking out and got spread out from each other. Big Horn County Sheriff Ken Blackburn said that this happens quite often and that groups need to hike as fast as the slowest hiker in the group.
Blackburn said that Daniel Lindsey Paulson was the last hiker in the group and the most inexperienced. There is a portion of the trail that isn’t very well marked. The rest of the group went the correct way but Paulson did not. The rest of the group hiked all the way to Elk View Lodge before calling for help.
Because the Civil Air Patrol and Air Force had already been in the air searching for the 12-year-old, they were unable to start looking for Paulson until after they had the required hours of sleep and maintenance done on their crafts. Blackburn said Kellett was given priority because he had been missing longer and had no survival equipment.
Horse and foot patrols from SBHCSR spent 14 hours on the search and put on a lot of miles during the search. The hiker was eventually spotted under a tree thanks to a Civil Air Patrol fixed-wing which had Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR). They were able to direct the helicopter to the general area.
Paulson told rescuers that he had heard the plane but didn’t have time to build a fire to signal it before it was out of range. When he heard the helicopter, he built a fire which was able to direct the team right to his location.
Blackburn said that Paulson was actually out of the original search area by a few miles. He had walked a lot faster and further than anticipated. “If he had stayed put we would have had him sooner,” said Blackburn. He hopes that is a lesson others will pay attention to when they explore the wilderness.
The third rescue was led by North Big Horn County Search and Rescue. Derrick Lehman, 28, of Gillette, was preparing to take off near Medicine Wheel for a hang gliding adventure. According to Blackburn, Lehman was in the rest position when a gust of wind flipped him and the glider over. He was dragged backwards and sustained minor injuries. Search and Rescue was able to pack him to a waiting ambulance. He was transported to North Big Horn County Hospital.
“Working with these agencies and their planes and helicopters has been a real blessing. We’ve been on six rescue missions this year. Each one has ended successfully and quickly. I’m sure we have saved hundreds of man hours. “ Blackburn noted.
He had high praise for Civil Air, the Air Force, REACH and Saint Vincent’s air teams. “It has made a huge difference for the victims.”
BARBARA ANNE GREENE Some of the rugged terrain of the Big Horn Mountians. This picture shows elephant rock in the distance.
BY KYNLI SMITH
In the evening in Basin, one can drive along the small town streets past the courthouse, the library or Henderson Field and see people with their cell phones out actively searching. They are not searching for a signal or checking Facebook. They are playing a new game, Pokemon Go.
Pokemon Go was launched in early July and can be downloaded on Apple and Android de-vices. The game takes players on a journey between the virtual world and the reality.
“It’s great seeing kids running around and getting off their butts rather than sitting at home playing a video game,” said Gary Hibbert, who on Monday evening was outside the Big Horn County Courthouse with his girlfriend, Alexis Smith, battling their Pokemons against others.
“It gets me out of my house and I’m not so lazy now,” said Smith.
Fans of Pokemon when they were kids, they have been playing for about a week and have spent the last several nights gaining more Pokemon and battling others all around Basin and the surrounding areas.
“You also get to meet a lot of people you would never meet if you weren’t playing the game,” said Hibbert. “Last night a group of us were just sitting around the flagpole trying to gain control of the gym.”
So far Hibbert has about 44 Pokemons collected while Smith has about 100.
HOW IT WORKS
After players download and log into the Pokemon Go app, they create an avatar. After the avatar is created to the player’s liking, it is displayed on a map of the player’s current surroundings.
The game uses AR (augmented reality) as well as Google Maps that make it extremely accurate in a player’s location. The game also has an expansive database on real-world objects submitted by players to make up the Pokestops
On the map players can see PokeStops and Pokemon gyms. The stops provide players with eggs and Pokeballs and other equipment. The gyms serve as battle locations for teams to gain control of the gym.
“I’m surprised more kids aren’t playing,” said Nicholas Unruh. “We have been seeing a ton of adults.”
Unruh, who as of Monday evening currently had control of the gym in Basin which is located out of the Big Horn County Courthouse. Unruh is on team red.
There are three teams that currently battle for control of the gym red, yellow and blue.
“The gym is where you go and do battle,” said Unruh. You try to control the gym because you get bonus points for control. I may have control of the gym now, but it changes daily.
According to Unruh most Pokestops are at nonprofit, art related or public buildings. For ex-ample in Basin there are Pokestops at the library, courthouse, post office, Henderson Field and the Town of Basin office.
More gyms can also be added to a town depending on the number of players in the location. For example, Greybull has three gyms.
“They intentionally designed the game to get people out to where you have to go to the locations,” said Unruh. “It’s good it gets people out moving but you mostly interact with people on your phone, still.”
He added that the app has been glitchy lately, but said that it was nice because it’s a free game for people to play.
CHANGING THE GAME
Since Pokemon Go’s launch in early July, the net worth of its creator, Nintendo, has risen into the billons.
It also appears to be not only a Basin phenomenon but also a world phenomenon. The game is also bringing out first-time players and introducing people to the world of Pokemon.
“This is my first time playing Pokemon,” said Lacosta Davis.
The game is also the first ap of its kind to successfully blend the physical world and the virtual world. While the AR plays a minimal role in the actual game, and players can only use the feature when catching a Pokemon, businesses are starting to use it to their advantage.
According to Time’s Tim Bajarin, “There are already examples of stores using a Lure (a virtual object that lures Pokémon to a specific location) in order to get people to their retail locations. After posting a Lure, some restaurants I have talked to report business up as much as 25 percent as people try and find a Pokémon in or near these eating establishments. Now, cross this thinking with how stores may battle something like Amazon, which does not have more than a couple of physical locations. Physical retail’s best tactic against Amazon is technology. Most retailers sim-ply don’t use it effectively. This is the start of something interesting when local businesses can start taking advantage of blending the physical and digital in ways that online-only players can-not. This is augmented reality perhaps in a way we had not considered before. Think about it as digital overlaying the physical with graphics and adding location and geodata in new and creative ways. It’s hard to predict where this goes. But we are clearly seeing a social movement here in ways we had not before.”
This change in the game could potentially affect local businesses in Basin in the future where they could use it to their advantage. But for now players plan to continue searching high and low for Pokemons around town and will be battling it with their phones in front of the courthouse.
“Just go everywhere,” said Hibbert “Catch as many of them as you can.”
BY KYNLI SMITH
For three months, Greyco Apartments along with another local resident in Basin have been waiting to get some answers from the Town of Basin about the flooding that occurred at the apartments in April.
On April 8, George Dubry received a call from one of the tenants that sewage was coming up in their laundry room. Dubry immediately took action to determine the cause. After some investigating, he determined that the leak was happening in the basement apartments of both buildings. Sewage was spilling into the apartments; some apartments were nearly completely covered in the flood. Sewage was also spilling out of the manholes on the grounds.
He noticed that the raw canal water had been turned on and immediately drove up to Town Hall to notify them of the sewage backup, which he believed was caused by the sewage valve not being switched off by the town. Because the valve was not turned off, canal water got pumped into the sewage drains, causing them to flood.
Dubry knew what the problem was because it happened in 2011 as well. In 2011 a similar incident occurred when the valve had not been switched, causing a muddy sinkhole to form in the parking lot of the apartment complex. In that incident, the town covered the damages.
By the time Dubry got back from notifying the town, crew members were already turning off the valve that caused the sewage and water to go down.
Dubry said after the incident, a member of the town crew, Steve Vanderploeg, came up to him and apologized for forgetting to turn off the valve.
“They have done this before,” said owner Karl Bertagnole. “They didn’t rush to turn off the canal water, they rushed to go turn off the valve. The knew exactly what the problem was.”
Since the flooding, seven of the eight downstairs apartments have been receiving a total makeover. Since the raw sewage was a category three, everything had to be sanitized.
According to Bertagnole, the apartments have been certified sanitary by a hygienist from Billings. Bertagnole also said that part of the walls and the flooring all had to be replaced. Some of the bathrooms had to be completely gutted and the sheet rock had to be replaced.
All expenses, as of right now, are being paid out of pocket. Bertagnole said the tenants they could not place in another apartment were placed in a hotel.
While a LGLP claim has been filed with the town for the apartments as well as one house that was also affected by the sewage flooding, Bertagnole said they have received no help from the town. He estimates there will be well over $100,000 in damages.
“This would not have happened if that valve had been switched off,” said Bertagnole. “I want the town to do the right thing. Things happen. It’s O.K. But take
Bertagnole and Dubry say they are not out to “get” the town by any means, they simply want the town to be held accountable for the negligence.
The apartment complex still has six of its eight basement apartments out of order and under construction that is costing them more money.
Dan Heck, whose home was also affected by the sewage flooding, is still dealing with the aftermath.
Heck, whose home is next to the apartment complex, said he sits lower than the apartments and had about 3 inches of sewage come up into his basement on that same day in April.
He said he contacted town officials about the problem and they informed him that workers were already out there fixing the issue.
“I was in the basement when the valve was turned off and the water instantly stopped coming out of my toilet,” said Heck.
Heck added he has lived in his home for 10 years and had never had a problem with his sewer until that day. He also added that Vanderploeg said that he should send the cleaning bill to the town.
“Someone needs to take responsibility,” said Heck. “To me, when he said send the bill to the town, he was taking some. “
Like the apartments, Heck’s basement had to be cut and gutted out. Two feet of his wall had to be ripped out as well as the carpeting and the cabinets.
Heck has had some appraisals done and said he estimates he has about $23,000 in damages which includes the clean-up.
On Tuesday night, Bertagnole, Dubry and Heck all attended the Basin Town Council meeting to address the council and ask how it intends to address the issue.
“We are asking for your help,” said Bertagnole. “We are at a point were we are very concerned about how this is being handled and how this is going to be handled and we wanted to come before you tonight.”
Bertagnole gave the council a summary of the events that happened that day.
“The sticking point is what caused the flood; there is an argument being made that there was a plug in the sewage line. It is pretty clear to us what caused it was turning on the raw water. The events happened as a direct result of the water being turned on and the valve not being turned off.”
Bertagnole added that they are making their case to the LGLP that handles the insurances claims for the town of Basin.
LGLP is currently reviewing the report sent from their adjuster.
“Apparently, now I haven’t seen the report, but I know what’s in it,” said Bertagnole. “There is strong case being made that the sewage back up plug caused it. We would dispute that. The valve didn’t shut off and that caused it. As soon as that valve was shut off, that problem went away.”
“I’ve done it that way every year since the apartments were there,” said Vanderpoleg during the meeting. “It gets drained in the fall; I leave it open so it purges the air out and I go back around and close all the valves. There was a definite blockage in the sewer line coming from that apartment complex. The valve was open and I did shut it off, but that didn’t make it go away. What made it go away was us washing the sewer.”
Attorney Kent Richins added that this was an unfortunate situation and that LGLP will allow them to respond to the report and the report decision.
“The council has no options here. They can’t say they will help pay for anything. They really have their hands tied until they get the report decision.”
The council agreed that they can’t do anything until they get the report and the decision from LGLP which will given to the town in the coming weeks.
“Three months is a long time,” said councilmen Brent Godfrey.