Heard around the West


Department of What About The Horse? Any person atop a bucking bronc in a Navajo rodeo may soon have to wear safety equipment, reports The Najavo Hopi-Observer. Injuries (to people) have been identified as a problem, so the tribe's Injury Protection Committee wants to make all rodeo cowboys compete in "rodeo safety vests' that are "similar to the bullet-proof vest worn by the law enforcement agents." The vests are made of denim and "kevlar thermal Beta 7 material." Presumably, cowboy hats would be history, since the rodeo contestants would also have to wear "heavy duty" hockey helmets, which have "proved to be effective to prevent head injuries."

Cody, Wyo., rodeo performer T.C. Thorstenson wasn't wearing the recommended safety gear when he rode his one-ton trained (but shaggy) buffalo into Jim Bassett's 3 H Bar. As the two of them bellied up to the bar inside the 3 H's suddenly tight confines, T.C. rode so high in the saddle that his head about smacked the ceiling, but he dared to wear a soft felt cowboy hat and flimsy cotton T-shirt, not the least bit bullet-proof or hockey-puck-proof.

Nevada Sports: So many people report UFOs whizzing mysteriously over remote Nye and Lincoln counties, the Nevada assembly debated naming the local two-lane the official "Extraterrestrial Alien Highway." In a session where oxygen seemed thin, as "spacy sound effects' played, legislators "donned alien space masks, antennae and pointy ears," reports the AP. The measure, promoting "intergalactic" and Earthling tourism, passed the assembly without a single nay vote and then was beamed over to the Senate side. If the Senate also says roger, the state will spend about $3,300 erecting the space tourism signs along State Route 375. How about a new generation of rest stops, with some nicely leveled ground for easy landings?

Idaho Sports: Olena Devinney, a muscular and smiling Shoshone Bannock, had taken home trophies from the 1993 as well as the 1994 National Arm Wrestling Championships. At this year's nationals, held in June at the Quality Inn in Pocatello, Devinney won fourth place in ladies' left-arm wrestling and fifth in ladies' right-arm. According to the tribe's newspaper, the Sho-Ban News, if Devinney can raise the necessary $1,800, she can compete in the world championships in October in Brazil. Her reaction: "All right! Cool!"

Another Idahoan flexing her muscle: The confrontational new Republican representative, Helen Chenoweth, may have a contract with America, but she has trouble maintaining long-lasting contracts with her own people. Since she assumed office in the U.S. House in January, nearly a dozen of her staff have quit or resigned, including her chief of staff, her special assistant, her communications director, two fund-raisers and two appointment schedulers. "Most have cited personal reasons," reports The Idaho Statesman, digging not very deep ...

In the good old romantic days of grass-roots organizing, actual human beings were involved - knocking on doors, passing out leaflets, meeting each other face-to-face. Very time-consuming. Now, for advocates of Utah wilderness, the whole thing can be done in a blink by tireless computers. "People can get the latest information and react instantly," explains Tom Price, who's based in Washington, D.C., doing the nationwide organizing for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. That group and the Utah Wilderness Coalition have set up a "list server" computer station to ward off an imminent wilderness bill they see as bad. Anybody who's interested can modem the new e-mail address, UTAH\[email protected], and type in the one-word message: subscribe. It's that simple. When the feared bill is coming to a vote, the central computer alerts all the subscribing computers around the country, which then inform their human owners (still the weak link) to make that last-nanosecond phone call to a key congressperson. Price expects at least 10,000 to subscribe. He calls it "the greatest thing ever invented for grass-roots organizing."

Beewatch: The vigilant Utah Department of Agriculture is deploying 100 blue boxes along the state's southern border with Arizona, trying to trap any dreaded killer bees that might be flying that far north. Killer bees, invaders from Africa via South America, crossed the U.S. border in 1990 and now occupy portions of New Mexico, Texas, California and Arizona - where a concentration south of Phoenix contains a whopping 88 hives. Killer bees mob their victims, including humans, inflicting hundreds of stings, and dominate domestic bees. The traps are baited with a hormone that smells attractive (to bees). Entomologist Ed Bianco, checking a trap one day and finding only some domestic bees inside, told The Salt Lake Tribune, "If these (bees) were Africanized, they would have attacked me and anyone else in the area." As the killers claim more turf, it'll be interesting to see how the Beehive State fares ...

Heard Around the West hopes readers will get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or [email protected]

High Country News Classifieds