Heard around the West

  • From Fords to Herefords at a ranch in Drummond, Montana

    Ray Vinkey
 

THE GREAT PLAINS

The Week magazine celebrated Elsie Eiler, 71, of Monowi, Neb., as the most powerful person in her town. She’s also the only person in her town. When her husband died last year, the population halved. But Eiler said she’s not leaving: "I like it here." Too bad many others don’t appreciate freedom from traffic jams and small-town living, as Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and the Dakotas continue to search for ways to stop a steady population exodus. Free land seems to help. USA Today reports that Ellsworth, Kan., and at least five other towns in the state have been successful in luring families by giving them lots for homes and sometimes eliminating taxes. The New York Times adds that Crosby, N.D., throws in a free membership to the Crosby Country Club along with a building lot. Newcomers say life can be good where people are few, a commute takes four minutes and there’s no crime. Isolation also isn’t total, now that interaction with the world comes easily through the Internet and e-mail. Still, it’s a hard sell to lure locals back and attract city folk fed up with small apartments. Catchy slogans are thought to help. Lincoln, Kan., says it’s "The size of a dime with the heart of a dollar," northwestern North Dakota admits, "We have four distinct seasons — three are absolutely beautiful, one is very distinct," and Atwood, Kan., asks, "Where else can you enjoy a cup of coffee at the local café, and everyone there is your friend?!!!!!"

THE WEST

A full-page ad for a Toyota SUV in Backpacker magazine features the big truck precariously parked on the down slope of what looks like a giant-bouldered sandstone cliff. How the vehicle got there — and how it was muscled back out again — are two unsolved mysteries; let’s hope the brakes held for the photo shoot. The ad’s headline is no help, though it is an unintentional hoot: "NO INTELLIGENT LIFE OUT HERE. JUST YOU." Well, we’re not so sure about "you," either.

CALIFORNIA

Does West Hollywood have a double standard for beauty? Movie actors can smooth out their wrinkles with Botox and liposuction away their flab, but they may no longer be allowed to "improve" the looks of their pets through ear cropping or tail docking. It’s all for the good of the animals, says Mayor Paul Duran. West Hollywood has already declared that pets are the wards of their "guardians," and last year, the town began regulating the pet-grooming industry. The town’s latest target is any surgical procedure that doesn’t have a medical rationale. That would include declawing cats or silencing the barks of dogs, says the Los Angeles Times.

COLORADO

Denver police botched the capture of an alleged serial rapist, but when the suspect, Brent J. Brents, was said to be heading west on Interstate 70, Glenwood Springs cops took up the chase. You might assume that small-city police weren’t up to snuff, says the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, especially since their most recent coup was nabbing two men accused of stealing knickknacks and sewing materials from downtown stores. But the local police did everything right: They staked out the highway, forced Brents onto unfamiliar roads through town, and then arrested him without incident once he was trapped on a dead-end street.

COLORADO

The little town of Hotchkiss, population 1,000, asked residents a big question recently: What would they like to see in this western Colorado town 10 years from now? Even though it’s still a ranching area, we find one answer — as printed in The North Fork Merchant Herald — a little odd: "Need reasonable or low-cow, high-speed Internet access."

MONTANA

A conversation in Bozeman about President Bush ended with one man in the hospital and another accused of pistol whipping. The dispute began when Matthew Logan Doddy, 23, called President Bush "incompetent and stupid," reports the Bozeman Chronicle. The man he was talking to "apparently disagreed." But it was a third man who ended up with 11 stitches to his head. He made the mistake of trying to stop the discussion.

MONTANA

An unseasonable spring "set off the alarm clock a little early for hibernating bears in Montana," says the Missoulian. Melting snow leaking into high-altitude dens woke up some of the bears, and some must have emerged ill-tempered as well as hungry. One bear killed four goats in Kalispell; another, which had denned in a city park in Missoula, had to be killed in March after it started rooting around in garbage and approaching people. State wildlife biologists say food sources for bears exist now, but they’re concerned about a dry summer.

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado. Tips of Western oddities are often shared in the column, Heard around the West.


High Country News Classifieds
  • WRITING SKILLS TUTOR FOR HIRE!
    Fort Collins, CO college students welcome. Meet on your college campus!
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • NATURE EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Our mission is to inspire a life-long connection to nature and community through creative exploration of the outdoors. We are seeking an educational leader who...
  • DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING DIRECTOR
    The Development and Marketing Director is a senior position responsible for the execution of all development and marketing strategies to raise funds and increase public...
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Coordinates all Wyoming Wildlife Federation philanthropic activities. Tasks include identification, recruitment, and retention of donors, organizing fundraising events, and assisting with grant writing.
  • REALTOR NEEDS A REMOTE ASSISTANT
    This is a business assistant position, The working hours are flexible and you can chose to work from anywhere of your choice, the pay is...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Central Oregon LandWatch is seeking an Executive Director to advance our mission and oversee the development of the organization. Job Description: The Executive Director oversees...
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • MEDIA DIRECTOR
    Love working with the media? Shine a spotlight on passionate, bold activists fighting for wild lands, endangered species, wild rivers and protecting the climate.
  • STAFF ATTORNEY - NEVADA
    The Center for Biological Diversity is seeking an attorney to expand our litigation portfolio in Nevada. Come join our hard-hitting team as we fight for...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Montana Wildlife Federation seeks an energetic leader to advance our mission, sustain our operations, and grow our grassroots power. For a full position description,...
  • HISTORIC COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITY IN DOWNTOWN NOGALES
    Nogales. 3 active lower spaces and upper floor with lots of potential. 520-245-9000 [email protected]
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • DIRECTOR, TEXAS WATER PROGRAMS
    The National Wildlife Federation seeks a Director to lead our water-related policy and program work in Texas, with a primary focus on NWF's signature Texas...
  • SPLIT CREEK RANCH
    Spectacular country home on 48 acres with Wallowa River running through it! 541-398-1148 www.RubyPeakRealty.com
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...
  • NEW MEXICO GILA NATIONAL FOREST HORSE RANCH
    43 acres in the Gila National Forest. Horse facility, custom home. Year-round outdoor living. REDUCED to $999,000, 575-536-3109.
  • EVERLAND MOUNTAIN RETREAT
    Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • COPPER CANYON MEXICO CAMPING & BACKPACKING
    Camping, hiking, backpacking, R2R2R, Tarahumara Easter, Mushroom Festival, www.coppercanyontrails.org.