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Wyoming in brief

Dallas wholesaler to pay $16 million to settle lawsuitSALT LAKE CITY – A Dallas-based grocery wholesaler has agreed to pay $16 million to settle a lawsuit claiming it had been overcharging grocers in Utah, Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming.

The lawsuit alleged that Fleming Cos. Inc. overcharged independent grocers served by its Salt Lake City warehouse between 1984 and 1995.

The case began in federal court in Utah and was later combined with similar lawsuits from other states.

A final hearing on the settlement is scheduled for Sept. 10. The grocers who will be paid will be identified next week.

Few citizens joining focus groups for energy commissionGILLETTE – Few citizens so far have joined focus groups set up by the Wyoming Energy Commission to help develop a statewide energy policy.

“I think, at best, the response has been spotty,” said Steve Reynolds, the commission’s assistant chairman. “We clearly have people who are interested in specific issues and things that impact them locally.”

The 14-member commission was created by the Legislature to develop an energy policy and explore energy development issues. Its first report is due in December.

Citizen involvement is one of the issues the commission plans to discuss Thursday in Rock Springs.

The commission may need better outreach methods, Reynolds said.

“It’s extremely important that we give folks a sense that we will be including all of the interests that can be included in Wyoming,” he said. “We have to have a good idea of the big picture of Wyoming and all the smaller pictures of the communities and counties.”

Sheriff, paper, seek court ruling on public recordsCHEYENNE – Laramie County Sheriff Roger Allsop and the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle want a judge to decide whether arrest information is public.

Allsop’s department stopped releasing names and addresses of people arrested and jailed in May, saying state law keeps criminal histories secret, including recent arrests.

The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle says the public has a right to arrest information under the Wyoming Public Records Act and Wyoming Criminal History Record Act.

Tuesday, Allsop filed a court brief asking for a ruling from the Laramie County District Court.

The brief is a nonadversarial approach to resolving the dispute, said the newspaper’s attorney, Bruce Moats.

“We feel it’s clearly a matter of public record,” said L. Michael McCraken, the newspaper’s president and publisher. “The taxpayers should have a right to know.”

Sheridan, Johnson counties consider district attorneySHERIDAN – Sheridan County commissioners are considering whether to share a prosecutor with Johnson County by establishing a district attorney position.

“This has the potential to provide much better service than is presently available due to economic restraints,” said Sheridan County Attorney Matt Redle.

Each county has an attorney to cover criminal and civil matters. If a district attorney position was created, the state would fund the job and the county could focus its attention and budget on civil matters entirely, Redle said.

The attorney would work in the 4th Judicial District. The district would be the third in Wyoming to employ a district attorney, after Cheyenne and Casper.

Both counties must approve the idea and the Legislature must appropriate money for the job.

A public meeting on the proposal is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. next Tuesday.

Parents form group to raise money for teacher salariesJACKSON – Parents in Teton County have formed a nonprofit group to raise money for teacher salaries to keep classes small.

Communities Offering Resources for Education, or CORE, formed in response to school district budget cuts that have cut teaching jobs.

“When you reach the level where you have to cut staff, you’ve reached the level where you have to do more,” Bob O’Neil, of Moran.

The district cut $1.6 million from its 2001-2002 budget. About 50 to 60 percent of the money was for staff, said School Board member Ed Owens.

School board members said they welcome the group’s efforts and suggested that parents take their funding concerns to the Legislature.

The group consists of parents from Jackson, Moran, Wilson and Kelly.

Work continues on cleaning up derailmentROCK SPRINGS– Railroad crews working to clean up a 27-car train derailment from July 4 hope to have the job done later this week.

The rail cars and vehicles that were burned in the derailment were to be shredded on Thursday. The pieces then will be hauled away for scrap metal.

The accident happened at about 3 p.m. on July 4 east of Rock Springs.

The train was hauling automobiles from Nebraska to Washington when 27 railroad cars derailed. Some of those cars then derailed three cars on a side track. The derailment started a brush fire. About 1,600 feet of track had to be repaired.

A crew of nearly 100 people worked to get the track replaced and operational by midnight the next day. Trains have been running on both of the main lines since last Friday.

The cause of the derailment is still under investigation.

Mark Davis, a spokesman for Union Pacific in Omaha, Neb., said the damage to the rail cars alone was $1.5 million. Damage to the cargo was “well over a $1 million” though he had no exact figures, he said. He also said there was damage to switching equipment in the area.

UW honors alumni with business awardsLARAMIE – An oil executive and sportswear executive will receive the 2001 University of Wyoming College of Business Distinguished Alumni awards, the university announced.

Peter Johnson, a Lovell native, is president of the Oil Division of Sinclair Oil Corp. in Salt Lake City. He earned a bachelor’s in finance at the university in 1972.

Scott Musselman, of Buffalo, is president of Ouray Sportswear Wyoming Inc., based in Buffalo. He earned a bachelor’s in marketing at the university in 1987.

Johnson graduated with honors from the university and was active in campus organizations. He began his career as a marketing analyst with Husky Oil Co. in 1972, and joined Sinclair as a corporate attorney in 1979.

Musselman joined his family’s clothing business after graduation. Sales grew from $400,000 in 1987 to $6 million in 1991.

The business manufactures embroidered and silkscreen-printed clothing for wholesale markets. Musselman recently moved the silkscreen branch of his family’s business in Englewood, Colo., to Buffalo.

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