Happy and Blessed New Year!!!
Yes, it's true. 2009 is here. New Years Eve was celebrated throughout the region and the state with many cities offering family-oriented entertainment. Here in Knotty Pine, the city brought in the New Year with food and music. Around the town square, the stores and restaurants remained open, providing food and shelter for celebrants. Local churches gave out free coffee, donuts, and hot chocolate.
Citizens gathered around the clock tower at City Hall and counted down the last minutes and seconds of 2008. The mayor called out the final countdown and offered everyone a "Happy 2009." Then the mayor flipped a switch which set off a fireworks display on the north end of downtown behind Josh McIntosh's blacksmith shop. All of Knotty Pine's churches began ringing their bells. Fireworks, hand bells, and shouts of "Happy New Year" rang out around town at the stroke of midnight.
Ranger Bill Jefferson closed the evening's festivities with a short prayer and blessing. Ranger Bill and his men were fortunate to be available New Year's Eve. They have been busy feeding the wild animals all over Big Pine National Forest and Big Prairie, as well as assisting local road crews.
Bitter Cold and Snows Grip Region
Most of the state and especially the tri-county area are in the grip of severe winter weather. Heavy snows and deep cold have hit the area several times in the last few weeks. As much as ten feet of snow has fallen in upper elevations in the last two weeks alone.
Road crews have been working around the clock to keep roads and highways plowed. Ranger Bill Jefferson has again offered the assistance of his men and plows to clear the streets and free trapped and stranded motorists. Ranger Bill as before brought out his biggest equipment for the job. Knotty Pine residents thought they were seeing double when, not one, but two Big Brute plows cleared Knotty Pine downtown roads.
Ranger Bill tells the GAZETTE that government funding was adequate this year to purchase a second Big Brute. Also the state purchased two Little Brutes, slightly smaller versions of the Big Brute to clear the state roads in the county. State legislators approved the purchase to stimulate the economy and because of the need for more road equipment. Testimony from Ranger Bill was critical to that approval.
As mentioned in the article above, Big Pine rangers have been busy for weeks feeding everything from long-horn sheep in the mountains to buffaloes on the prairies. Rangers have delivered bails of feed by truck and in air drops. Those air drops used small planes, large military transports, and all sorts or helicopters, especially the rangers' flying banana.
Knotty Pine Business Up
The recent snows have been good for Knotty Pine and the tri-county area in general. All ski lodges in the area report brisk business. The Big Six Lodge, largest in the area reports average to above average room occupancy. All of its ski runs and trails are crowded. Lodges and ski runs are trying new methods of attracting skiers, including organizing bus tours from Central City and Junction City. Area stores and restaurants report a nice bump in business from skiers.
It's Snow Blessing
Rangers Stumpy Jenkins and Gray Wolf tell the GAZETTE that the cold weather and late 2008 snows will be a 2009 blessing for farmers and ranchers in and around Canyon County. The rangers explained that in recent years, the warm weather and lighter snows of previous years have reduced the snow pack on area mountains. Warm weather has also caused heavier than average spring flooding and shallow or dried-up rivers in the heat of summer. December snows appear to have replaced much of the depleted mountain snow pack. If temperatures remain in the average range for the remainder of the winter, Ranger Gray Wolf says spring flooding should not be a major problem and summer river levels should be adequate to water herds and crops.
Happy 2009 from Ranger Bill, all the rangers in Knotty Pine, and the Ranger Bill Fan Club!