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Wyoming News Briefs


December 20, 2018

Beet growers back farm bill

POWELL (WNE) — At first blush, the farm bill recently passed by Congress is being welcomed by sugar beet growers. 

Most in agriculture are happy to have a new five-year ag policy framework they can work with, said local sugar beet company official Ric Rodriguez of Powell. 

“We are just starting to hear from all the national farmer organizations, and the reactions I’ve heard are all positive,” said Rodriguez, vice chairman of the board of Western Sugar Cooperative, which operates in Wyoming and three other states. 

The farm bill — approved overwhelmingly by both Houses of Congress — says all the right things as far as sugar beet growers are concerned, Rodriguez said. 

But there is more to the equation: “The big concern is for the government to run the program correctly,” he noted. 

The sugar program was left virtually untouched in the five-year reauthorization of the farm bill. It gives protection to sugar growers from the market being oversupplied by highly subsidized foreign sugar. That’s a monitoring function left to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

“When they [the government] don’t control the imports as the law intended, we end up with an oversupplied market and lower prices,” Rodriguez explained. 

Already a concern to sugar beet growers, he said, is the delay in the appointment of an undersecretary to run the program.

The sugar program operates at no cost to the consumers, Rodriguez maintains. It offers low interest loans for sugar company borrowing, and is one of the only commodities to put money back into the U.S. Treasury from interest paid on the sugar loans.

Man facing felony charges in DUI crash

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A Cheyenne man is facing charges in felony court after being accused of running a red light while under the influence of methamphetamine and causing serious injuries to another driver.

Edward Booker is facing a single count of driving while under the influence and causing serious bodily injuries in connection with a March 2017 crash at College Drive and East 12th Street that left both Booker and another driver in the hospital.

If convicted, Booker would face a $2000-$5000 fine and/or spend up to ten years in prison.

Court documents filed in the case outline the evidence that led investigators to believe Booker committed the crimes of which he is accused.

Those accusations have not yet been formally contested by Booker’s attorneys in court.

According to initial court documents:

At around 2 p.m. March 28, 2017, a Cheyenne Police Department detective was notified of a serious injury crash at the intersection of College Drive and East 12th Street.

An initial investigation revealed a man named Zackery Rondeau was driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck westbound on East 12th and crossing College Drive on a green light when he was struck by a Nissan Altima driven by Booker.

A crash reconstruction determined Rondeau was driving at about 22 miles per hour and Booker was driving at 83 miles per hour – 43 miles per hour over the speed limit.

As a result of the crash, Rondeau suffered a lacerated spleen, lacerated liver, two broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung. Booker suffered a broken left leg, broken vertebra and a subdermal hematoma, and had bilateral chest tubes due to lung issues.

Brothers charged in assault on officer

EVANSTON (WNE) — A pair of out-of-state brothers entered not guilty pleas in Third District Court on Dec. 11, to charges related to a November incident in which an Evanston police officer was injured during a traffic stop. Thirty-eight-year-old Abideen Musa and 46-year-old Akeem Musa were arrested on Nov. 11 following a confrontation with several members of the Evanston Police Department. 

Shortly after midnight on Nov. 11, Sgt. Justin George stopped a Nissan Versa with Illinois plates after the car allegedly failed to yield at an intersection. 

George called for backup and he and other responding officers asked Abideen, the driver, and Akeem to exit the vehicle, which they allegedly refused to do. 

The affidavit states a confrontation over the brothers’ refusal to get out of the car continued for several minutes, until officers on both the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle opened the doors to forcibly remove the men. 

At that point, Abideen allegedly put the car in drive and began driving while officer Nikoli Knezovich, officer Zachary Marler and Sgt. George still had their hands on the men. Marler was unable to get clear of the vehicle and was forced to continue running alongside it as the car accelerated and turned onto the Interstate 80 onramp. 

Ultimately, Marler was able to get his foot onto the brake and stop the vehicle, at which point Akeem was ordered out of the vehicle at gunpoint. 

Officers found multiple containers containing raw marijuana, along with empty plastic bags, a vacuum sealer and a digital scale. 

Both men are facing counts of felony interference with a peace officer for knowingly causing bodily injury to Marler, along with felony possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Riverton offers support for meat plant

RIVERTON (WNE) — The Riverton City Council offered its support last week for a grant that would fund a USDA-certified meat processing facility on Airport Hill.

The proposed facility would cover about 8,800 square feet on 5.88 acres in the industrial property near Riverton Regional Airport.

Genuine Meats partner Beau Sheets said the space would be adequate to accommodate his operation, which he said would likely process 68 animals per week at most, employing up to 13 people depending on demand.

He anticipates the site would provide the room required for future expansion of the business as well.

Some council members and one area resident talked about the way the plant might look to visitors traveling into Riverton from the airport.

In response, Sheets addressed what he called “misconceptions” about the appearance of packing plants.

“We anticipate having a very nice retail front,” Sheets said, describing a lawn with landscaping leading to a storefront where customers can purchase local cuts of meat. “(We want to) make it really a nice place to walk into ... as well as to look at.”

He said he also would like to highlight the ranching heritage of the region using photos and other displays in the retail portion of the facility.

The processing area will be “as high tech as it can be,” Sheets continued.

“It’ll basically be surgical,” he said, pointing to the USDA standards for cleanliness that will be enforced at the business. “That is a big deal to us.”

Parents jailed after newborn tests positive for meth

JACKSON (WNE) — A Jackson couple is behind bars and their newborn is in protective custody after a doctor told police that the child tested positive for methamphetamine.

The baby and her mother, 34-year-old Tosha Scott, chemically tested positive for the drug “during the labor and delivery at the hospital,” according to police.

The Jackson Police Department received the call at 11 a.m. Thursday. A doctor said the 10-day-old baby boy tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine, according to the probable cause affidavit. The test was ordered after Scott’s urine tested positive for the same substances.

Doctors confronted Scott and the child’s father Aube Ringer, 35, but they denied the allegation and left the doctor’s office, police said.

Police followed up by serving a search warrant at the couple’s Jackson home.

“We located numerous items of paraphernalia related to the use of meth,” Jackson Police Lt. Roger Schultz said.

There was not a meth lab in the house but glass pipes, meth residue and torches were recovered from closets, officers said.

“During the search warrant 17 glass pipes, miscellaneous glass pipe parts with residue, baggies with white residue and torches were found in multiple rooms and closets inside the home,” the affidavit states.

A field test confirmed the substances as meth, officers wrote.

Ringer and Scott were arrested and each charged with two counts of felony child endangerment and one misdemeanor count of abandoning or endangering children.

“The child has been put into protective custody with foster parents,” Schultz said.


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