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Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Salmonella outbreak traced to Cody restaurant CODY — A salmonella outbreak that sickened at least a dozen people has been traced by state Department of Health officials to the Sunset House restaurant.

Besides the 12 confirmed cases, four probable cases had also been identified as of Tuesday, according to Deputy State Epidemiologist Scott Seys.

All 16 people ate at the Cody restaurant between April 25 and Monday, with most cases originating the first week of May.

The restaurant was voluntarily shut down on the urging of the state health and agriculture departments.

Seys said two epidemiologists from the Health Department and three Department of Agriculture officials were investigating and talking with those who had fallen ill.

Food samples and stool samples were being tested at the state Public Health Laboratory in Cheyenne.

Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause diarrhea. Other symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, and sometimes vomiting.

Symptoms usually go away on their own within four to seven days.

The typical cause is food contaminated with animal feces. Thorough cooking kills salmonella.

Man killed in shootout at Laramie business LARAMIE — A shootout between two men in the parking lot of Rocky Mountain Forest Products Corp. resulted in one being killed, authorities said Tuesday.

The shooting occurred at 11:39 a.m. Monday, Laramie police said.

The victim was identified as Constantino Hernandez, who also went by the name Roberto Aguirre, 39, according to Sgt. Jonlee Anderle. Hernandez was an employee of Rocky Mountain Forest Products, Anderle said.

The shooter fled. Police identified the suspect as 25-year-old Fidel Ruiz-Serrano, who also went by Fidel Serrano-Serrano, Anderle said.

Both the suspect and victim are Mexican nationals, he said.

Anderle said both had guns: Ruiz-Serrano was armed with an SKS rifle, which is similar to a military rifle, and Hernandez had a handgun.

Investigators had not yet determined how long both had been in Laramie, he said.

A motive was not immediately determined.

Injured Gillette soldier returns to United States GILLETTE — A soldier shot by friendly fire in Iraq has returned to the United States but is expected to spend several more months in the hospital.

Staff Sgt. Derrick Goodrich, 21, who returned to the country Sunday, is expected to undergo surgery soon at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., according to his aunt, Beth Martin, of Gillette.

Doctors remain unsure if Goodrich will need hip reconstruction or hip replacement surgery. He is expected to remain hospitalized three to six months.

"We know at least he will be in a good hospital," Martin said.

Goodrich was shot early this month in Tikrit, Iraq. Relatives at first thought a sniper shot him but have since learned he was shot when another serviceman tripped, causing his rifle to fire.

"I'm just glad he's alive. Things happen. It wasn't like it was on purpose," Martin said.

Goodrich is a 1999 Campbell County High School graduate who was raised in Gillette by his grandparents, Carroll and the late Jane Martin, as well as by his aunt, Beth Martin. He has a twin brother, Kyle Goodrich, who is a Marine who has also been serving in Iraq.

Man injured in fall at Wright coal mine GILLETTE — A man was slightly injured after falling about 7 feet from a shovel at the North Antelope-Rochelle coal mine.

The accident Friday morning was the second this month involving a P&H Minepro employee in Campbell County. On May 1, Richard Koch, 53, was burned when a cutting torch ignited a patch of grease at Belle Ayr mine.

The identity of the man injured Friday was not released. He was taken to Campbell County Memorial Hospital with shoulder pain, according to officials with Peabody Energy, operator of the mine south of Wright.

P&H Minepro is a contractor at the mine. A P&H Minepro official could not be reached for comment.

Guilty plea for meth bust GILLETTE — A man accused of helping run one of the largest methamphetamine labs ever discovered in Campbell County has pleaded guilty to a pair of felonies.

Kevin Wayne Busler, 42, pleaded guilty in 6th District Court on Thursday to possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and to conspiracy to deliver the drug.

Two other felony charges — for allegedly operating a methamphetamine lab and conspiring to run a meth lab at his home — were dismissed.

The dismissed charges included an allegation that the lab was operated in the presence of a 4-year-old girl and within 500 feet of other homes, according to court documents.

Busler faces up to 20 years in prison on each charge. Judge Dan R. Price II ordered Busler held in jail until his sentencing, which has been scheduled for July 15.

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Busler was one of six arrested last month for allegedly taking part in running the drug lab. The lab allegedly made 1-2 ounces of methamphetamine after it went into operation last fall.

Tracy Jo Wilkinson, 35, and Tiffany A. Getchell, 25, have been bound over on felony charges of operating a methamphetamine lab and distributing the drug. Kimberly Hazel Mansfield, 33, Timmy Wayne Brooks, 28, and Mario Pina Jr., 18, all of Gillette, await preliminary hearings on similar felony charges.

Revenue committee to deal with coal-haul tax CHEYENNE — The Legislature's Joint Revenue Committee will discuss whether to repeal two state coal tax laws that a federal judge has ruled mostly invalid.

U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson ruled last month that railroads are exempt from a coal transportation tax enacted by the 2000 Legislature. He also ruled invalid a companion law that imposed a per-mile tax against the railroads.

However, the ruling does not apply to about a dozen trucking companies that move coal in Wyoming. They are still subject to the coal transportation tax.

But state Rep. Roy Cohee, R-Casper, a co-chair of the revenue committee, said there may be a constitutional problem because the tax isn't being assessed fairly.

"I think the Legislature has no choice but to eliminate the statutes," Cohee said.

Enzi seeks equality for aerial firefighters CHEYENNE — U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi has introduced legislation that would provide death and disability benefits for aerial firefighters who work on a contract basis for a public agency and suffer death or disability in the line of duty.

Currently, pilots that fly air tankers to fight fires on federal public lands do not qualify for death benefits under the Public Safety Officers' Benefit program. The program provides benefits to individuals serving a public safety agency in an official capacity, on a paid or volunteer basis.

The U.S. Justice Department has ruled that air tanker pilots are ineligible for the program because they are contractors and not employed directly by the federal and state agencies, according to Enzi's office.

Enzi's bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A similar bill was introduced by Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyo., in the House.

Two air tankers owned by Hawkins & Powers Aviation Inc. of Greybull, Wyo., crashed while fighting fires last year, killing five crewmembers.

Albin school district postpones staff hires ALBIN — Trustees for Laramie County School District 2 have postponed approving coaches and classified staff positions for the next school year until they can get a better idea about the district's finances.

The board voted 8-0 Monday to delay the job appointments.

Classified employees include custodians, teachers' aides, cooks and bus drivers.

Trustee Diana Lembitz wanted to wait another month for the appointments.

"As you go through this list of personnel and the coaches, I have a problem with hiring and not knowing where we are financially," she said.

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