Pokemon Go players take to the streets in Basin

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.”

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Council asked to help after flood

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
responsibility.”
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.

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Council says no to police raises; one employee receives raise

BY KYNLI SMITH

The town of Basin approved the 2016-2017 budget last Tuesday night during a special meeting.
The town budget is similar to last year’s fiscal budget, and again like last year, no town employee received a raise, with the exception of one town employee whose raise was tied to a promotion.
“I think our pay to our employees is deplorable,” said Councilman Roger Stickney. Since it had been years since employees last received a raise, he added that he hopes in the future to hopefully find a way to give town employees a raise.
He also noted how surrounded towns pay their town employees significantly higher than the town of Basin currently does.
After looking at five different towns, Stickney said that the Basin police chief is $5.87 below the hourly average and that the town clerk is $4.44 below the average.
“I think working our chief of police that far under the average of five towns around is just not the way to go,” said Stickney. “I know we can’t correct it 100 percent but I think we need to come up with some kind of a plan over a period of time where we can make it right.”
“We can’t run the town in the hole because then they won’t have a job, period,” said Councilmen Brent Godfrey. He added if they brought everyone up to par with other towns, they might have to lay off employees to do so.
“At this point in time I think we better ride it another year because where are we going to get the money from?” said Mayor Dennis Peters. “It is not that I don’t think people deserve it.
For the second year in a row, the council said no to raises of the town police officers. Back in April, when the town started looking into this year’s budget, Basin Police Chief Chris Kampbell purposed three different options for the police budget.
The first option allows for three full-time officers with an estimated budget of $131,040. With this option, there would be an increase in the overtime line item due to vacation, sick, training and emergency leave from work.
The second option allows for four full-time officers with an estimated budget of $167,648 and would increase flexibility of scheduling and unforeseen emergency absences. It would also have the least amount of overtime and would allow for more officers on the street and available for emergencies.
Option three would allow for three full-time officers and one part-time officer with an estimated cost of $149,344. It would provide some flexibility of schedule. The part-time position would cover shifts when others are not available. The one drawback is the part-time officer would need to be certified within two years of hire. Kampbell recommends hiring a certified officer for the part-time position.
The council approved $132,120 for the police salaries, which was more than Option 1 proposal of $131,040. However, the council did not approve raises for the police officers.
“This is the first time I have heard those raises have been removed from the budget,” said Kampbell. “That is disappointing.”
Kampbell also clarified with the council that they were saying to hire a part time officer would not cost us any more money than to give these officers a raise.
“In the budget right now we returned more than 10 percent of our budget. I don’ think there is another department in town that has done that. You are asking us to do more with less and we’ll do it. We will sit down and we will do it.”
Kampbell added that the department will not get a new police car that was estimated to cost $16,000 or hire a part-time officer with an estimated cost of $16,000 to make the raises work and return money into the town’s general fund.
“That line item for salaries is higher than I requested; I wasn’t requesting that money,” said Kampbell said. “When you changed it back to the previous year you changed it back to a higher number I was requesting.”
According to Kampbell, about 12-13 percent is estimated to be put back into the town’s general fund.
“The money that is there right now will pay for raises for those officers. You don’t have to add any money; it is in the budget right now,” said Kampbell.
The council asked Town Clerk Dani Chapman how the money Kampbell requested is lower than what he received.
“When I put in the requested raises it didn’t raise his budget, but I was told by the council to take that out and put it back to the way it was last year and that is what it reflected.”
“If the money is there and you want to spend it spend it, but when you run out of money you are done,” said Godfrey.
“I understand that Brent,” said Kampbell. “You guys have given me more money than I asked for and at the end of the year there will be $20,000 left in there that will be turned back into the town.”
“If you can give these guys raises with the budget you got, go for it, but I’m not going to go in and do an emergency transfer in the middle of the year because the police department runs into three or four major cases and a whole bunch of overtime or loses a car,” said Godfrey.
“We have talked I don’t know how many times for years that raises for all the employees,” said councilmen Bill Stoelk. “So if you allow them to do that, then you are going to end up with a personnel problem. You would just open a new can of worms with other departments saying we don’t need this money; we want a raise. It could get really ugly.”
According to Kampbell, the department has returned around $125,000 to the town’s general fund over the last three years.
During a budget workshop meeting last Monday night, the council went into executive session to discuss the open public works director position. When the council came out of the session they decided to fill the position and appoint Steve Vanderploeg as the new public works director.
The director position has not been filled in about five years, according to the council.
The council did not describe this as a raise for the employee, but did state that he would be making more an hour do to his new responsibilities. He will receive a few dollars per hour in-crease in pay.
The council stated that the new public works director would supervise water, utility, clerk/treasurer and municipal court.
Mayor Peters said after the meeting that the council would have to look into and work on change the current public works director position duties and change the chain of command for the town. Currently the public works director does not supervise utility, clerk/treasurer and municipal court, but only supervises over the town crew and water/wastewater operator.
The council said the town needed a public works director after five years of being vacant to help with “accountability.”
“If you don’t have leadership you don’t have anything,” said Stoelk.
The council added that Vanderploeg is the most experienced person on staff that they have.

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