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NEWS BRIEFS for Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Irrigation tunnel collapse prompts emergency declaration

TORRINGTON (WNE) — Gov. Mark Gordon has officially declared a state of emergency for Goshen County due to the collapse of an irrigation tunnel along the Fort Laramie-Gering canal.

In a press release issued Monday evening by the governor’s office, Gordon pledged to deploy state resources to Goshen County “in an effort to provide assistance to farmers affected by a catastrophic irrigation tunnel collapse in Goshen County.” 

“The Governor signed an Executive Order for a Declaration of Emergency today, allowing him to deploy state resources to Goshen County as needed,” the release said. “The collapse occurred early in the morning of July 17 along the Fort Laramie-Gering irrigation canal west of Lingle and caused a large breach of the canal wall. The disaster inundated farmland near the breach and has left more than 100,000 acres of cropland in Wyoming and Nebraska without water during a critical period for growers.”

Gordon visited the site on Friday, along with representative from several local and state agencies.

“The Governor and members of the executive branch met Monday morning to analyze ways to provide state support to Goshen County and the Goshen Irrigation District,” the release said. “The Governor’s office is assembling resources to engage federal partners and is working with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security and the State Engineer’s Office to explore potential options for resources and assistance.”


Park Co. sheriff looks at accepting Montana inmates

CODY (WNE) — Montana criminals could become dollar signs for Park County in the near future.

Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said the county is considering accepting Carbon County inmates for custody at the Park County Detention Center in the near future. The move could bring in around $200,000 in new annual revenue, Steward said.

Carbon County’s jail in Red Lodge has sat dormant for decades. When people commit a crime in Carbon they are usually taken to the Yellowstone County Detention Center in Billings, Steward said.

State penitentiaries have held such a right for many years under the Interstate Corrections Compact but the addition of county jails is a new wrinkle with the 2017 passage of Senate File 30 by the Wyoming Legislature, allowing county jails to take in out-of-state prisoners.

Now Park County is considering taking advantage.

The detention center generated $41,320 in 2018, a slight decrease from the $42,589 garnered in 2017.

Steward did say there would be a small cost to the county in the form of clothing prisoners and spending $10 per day to feed them. There could also be up to $20,000 in additional annual medical fees as well, but these commitments are still dwarfed by the $200,000 in total revenue the prisoners could bring in, he said.

The Cody jail will likely be an enticing option for Montana authorities as Steward said Carbon spends about $185 per day to house a single inmate in Billings. He estimates Park County could likely offer this service at around $65.


Cheyenne to buy easement at condemned iconic hotel

CHEYENNE (WNE) — A portion of the condemned Hitching Post Inn property could soon be under city ownership.

During Monday’s Cheyenne City Council meeting, members voted 8-2 to approve a proposed land purchase and sale agreement between the city and Victory Real Estate Management LLC.

Under the agreement, the city would pay $329,630 for 209,955 square feet of property in the easement portion south of the Cheyenne Ice and Events Center, as well as buildings 5 and 6, the two northern-most hotel buildings on the property.

In the event remediation and abatement are necessary, the purchase contract states, Victory Real Estate Management would contribute an amount not exceeding $200,000 toward any matching funds or other abatement costs.

But council members voted 9-1 to amend the proposal deal to require the seller to execute a $750,000 promissory note and mortgage to the city upon the sale of the remaining property not conveyed in the proposed city purchase.

Council member Dicky Shanor, who introduced the amendment, said it was “fiscally irresponsible” to end up paying $1.1 million more than the appraised value of the easement property for remediation.

What was once a center of Cheyenne society and an informal dormitory for state legislators during winter sessions away from home is now just a set of boarded-up buildings on the city’s west side.

The hotel filed for bankruptcy in 2009, and a fire destroyed its front building in 2010.

In 2013, a partner in a new ownership group pleaded guilty to arson, and two years later, the then-owner pleaded guilty to insurance fraud.


Auto dealership involved in lawsuit with Nissan sold

LARAMIE (WNE) — After just two years of owning the Chrysler dealership on Pierce Street, Josh Griffin’s JAG Auto has sold Snowy Range Dodge amid a lawsuit from Nissan, which alleges the dealership owed the manufacturer $6.8 million.

On Thursday, a Colorado-based company finalized its purchase of the Laramie dealership and has already rebranded the store as Johnson Auto of Laramie.

Johnson Auto was started in 1992 in Brighton, Colorado, by Dick and Mary Lou Johnson.

Matt Boone, a manager at the company, told the Laramie Boomerang that Laramie’s similar population to Brighton made the opportunity ideal for Johnson Auto. Brighton has an estimated population of about 40,000.

Boone said the sale happened faster than most.

“We had been working on it for a little while, but it came together at the end very quickly,” he said. “Normally, you’d like to have a couple weeks to sort everything out.”

Boone said JAG Auto’s financial woes detailed in the lawsuit with Nissan have no bearing on Johnson Auto’s operation of the dealership.

At the beginning of July, a federal judge imposed some strict business practices on JAG Auto, which allegedly was selling Nissan vehicles without paying the car manufacturer for the product.

Nissan’s financing of the car dealership allowed JAG Auto to acquire an inventory of new and used vehicles without pre-paying.

Nissan’s attorneys have said that JAG Auto has sold 27 vehicles, valued at $1.1 million, and failed to pay off the related liens upon sale. The car manufacturer also claimed JAG Auto also “refused to turn over vehicles and other secured collateral following (Nissan)’s lawful demand.”


Wyoming this Weekend, July 26-28

By The Wyoming News Exchange

A day of celebration in honor of the American cowboy highlights this weekend’s activities around Wyoming.

The “National Day of the Cowboy” will be celebrated in Dubois over the weekend, beginning with a working ranch rodeo on Friday.

On Saturday, events include a parade, a poker run, a “cowhide race” and a concert featuring the story of the West told in song. The weekend will wrap up Sunday with “cowboy church.”

Other events scheduled for the weekend include:

The closing weekend of Cheyenne Frontier Days;

The Headwaters National Art Show and Sale in Dubois Friday through Sunday;

The ninth annual “Rocking the Winds” patriotic benefit in Crowheart Friday through Sunday;

The Ethete Celebration and Powwow Friday through Sunday;

The Park County Fair in Powell through Saturday;

The Heart Mountain Pilgrimage in Powell Friday and Saturday;

The Teton County Fair in Jackson through Sunday;

The “Strong Willed Women’s Wyoming Retreat” in Savery through Sunday;

The Red Desert Roundup Rodeo in Rock Springs through Saturday;

The opening weekend of the Fremont County Fair and Rodeo in Riverton on Saturday and Sunday;

A “Castle Gardens Trek” on Saturday in Riverton;

A live taping of the “Stand Up Comedy Tour” on Saturday in Gillette;

A tour of the historic Pitchfork Ranch in Meeteetse on Sunday, and

A performance by the band “Band of Drifters” on Sunday in Ten Sleep.

For more information on these and other events, please visit the Wyoming Tourism Division’s website at

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