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September 16, 2010     Lovell Chronicle
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September 16, 2010
 

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6 I The Lovel! Chroniclel September 16, 2010 www.LovellChronicle.com Hunt petition hearing .., Reason petition filed disputed in opening arguments BY KARLA POMEROY It will be several weeks before a deci- sion is rendered in the petition filed to re- move Big Horn County Attorney Georgia Antley Hunt from office. A seven-hour hearing was held last Wednesday before the Big Horn County commissioners and hearing officer Tom Ju- bin. The hearing included the submission on more than 40 exhibits, all written docu- ments, and testimony from four witnesses. The hearing concluded shortly after 5 p.m. with Jubin telling the parties that written closing arguments are due by Sept. 23. The commissioners will have time to review all the testimony and exhibits before making a decision. No timeline has been set for commissioners' deliberation or decision. The petition, filed by Letitia Abromats of Greybull on Aug. 2, alleges five reasons for removal -- mishandling of criminal re- cords data; vindictive and selective pros- ecution of petitioner; closing office; con- flict of interest with defense attorney Bill Simpson; and exposing County Clerk Dori Noyes to a federal contempt citation. The hearing opened with Jubin an- nouncing that motions had been filed re- questing the removal of the two of the com- missioners -- Keith Grant and Thomas "Scotty" Hinman. Both commissioners declined to recuse themselves, stating they could be fair and unbiased. OPENING ARGUMENTS Letitia Abromats used her opening ar- guments to discuss what the case is not about. "I'm not an attorney. I'm a citizen bringing forth this petition pro we. I want- ed to point out first of all what we're not discussing." She said she did not bring forth any- thing that she did not feel she had suf- ficient evidence for. She said prosecuto- rial discretion would not be discussed or questioned, nor would competence. She said they would not be discussing prob- able cause regarding the driving under the suspension charge brought by Hunt against Abromats that is at the heart of the vindictive prosecution allegation. "Those have been dealt with exten- sively in the federal court and those are not pertinent to the issues I'm bringing forward today," Abromats said. "This is a very serious proceeding that I'm coming forward with. I didn't do this in a flip or cavalier manner," Abro- mats said. She said the statute provides recourse for citizens to deal with elected officials in between elections because elections are so far apart, but added that there are reasons she brought the petition forward close to the election. "There are issues of public interest that need to be put on record. There's also a situation of a deterrent for other county officials and oth- ers in positions of authority that they need not to use their position of authority in an improper manner or they're not to be reckless with their position of authority," Abro- mats said. Abromats said, "I'm de- Georgia Antley pending upon Hunt you three gentle- men to do what's important for the public policy issues, which is to make sure that our elected officials are held account- able by the public." Hunt's attorney Larry Jones said there has been a long history between the two parties, who are currently battling it out in federal court and district court on two separate civil cases. He said the biggest question is: why was the petition filed? "The reasons (Abro- mats) gave of why we are here today does not answer the question ..." "There's been a primary election and my client has not won. She lost. There are some four months left in her term. Her term will end Jan. 1 or 2." He said even if the commissioners use their discretion and choose to remove Hunt from office "my client will serve out her term." There is a right to an appeal and any decision is stayed during an appeal. He said, "No Dis- trict Court is going to resolve an appeal in four months. So to remove my client from office can't be the reason we are here. It's illogical." Jones addressed Abromats' opening comments about filing the petition as a deterrent to other public officials. "That is a totally improper reason for bringing any claim under the statute," he said. "I believe the evidence will show that the petitioner and her husband filed this particular action on Aug. 2 and argued that it had to be heard on Election Day. (During a commission meeting in present- ing the petition Aug. 3, Phil Abromats ar- gued that the hearing should be held Aug. 16 so a decision could be made for the vot- ers to make an informed decision.) "Can there be any other reasonable conclusion from that other than the peti- tioner wanted to influence the election?" Jones said. He added that motivation for the pe- tition is "purely personal. It is solely in- tended as a means of gaining an advan- tage in the federal court litigation." Jubin said the Petitioner (Abromats) will have the burden of proof, which is "clear and convincing proof." Defense attorney testifies on 'sweetheart deal' accusation BY KARLA POMEROY Only two of the five allegations listed in the petition to remove Big Horn County Attorney Georgia Antley Hunt Hunt from office are not part of the federal lawsuit of Abromats vs. Hunt, Matthew Miller, et al. The issues -- conflict of interest and clos- ing of the county attorney office -- were addressed during testimony of the seven- hour hearing last Wednesday before the Big Horn County commissioners. Petitioner Letitia Abromats submit- ted two documents regarding the allega- tion of closing the county attorney's office, an e-mail from Georgia Antley Hunt to col- leagues and family on Dec. 22, 2007, stat- ing that someone had complained about the office being closed the previous day and that Commissioner Keith Grant had e- mailed her a statutory reminder. The second exhibit was an article from the Basin Republican Rustler dated Oct. 15, 2009, where the closing, of the office in September 2009 was discussed at a com- missioner meeting. In the article, Commis- sioner Jerry Ewen states that all offices are to be open during business hours. During the hearing Wednesday, Hunt testified that the first closing was for a few hours just before Christmas: She said she was leaving early and did not feel it was right to ask her employees to work. Dec. 21 was a Friday and the courthouse was closed Dec. 24-25 (Monday and Tuesday). In 2009, she and her deputy county at- torneys attended the Wyoming Association of County Officials. She said her adminis- trative assistant had a doctor's appoint- ment that could not be rescheduled and rather than hire someone to answer the phones for one day she closed the office. She said she is unaware of any emergencies or issues that were not addressed when the office was closed. CONFLICT OF INTEREST Regarding the conflict of interest, also termed a "sweetheart deal" in the petition, Abromats did not call any witnesses but filed a few exhibits including the federal case pleading showing that Bill Simpson is the attorney of record for Hunt and a news- paper article regarding the embezzlement case of Quinton Vavra. Hunt's attorney Larry Jones called three witnesses to address the allegation, first calling Michelle Burns regarding an embezzlement case while she was county attorney from 2003-2006. Burns testified that officials from the Town of Burlington did not want the defendant to go to jail and she agreed to a 7-13-301 or deferred pros- ecution where Mary Howard would not have a felony conviction on her record if she abided by terms of her probation and made full restitution. Hunt also testified regarding her re- lationship with Simpson as a defense at- torney and as her attorney in civil action. Regarding the Vavra case, she said Vavra was initially charged with two felonies - forgery and larceny by bailee. Vavra pled guilty to the forgery count, paid restitution of $29,000 to Big Horn Rural Electric, was sentenced to three to five years in prison, which was suspended, and was placed on five years probation. She said Simpson re- quested a deferred prosecution sentence but Hunt denied it because she did not think it was appropriate despite the fact Vavra had a clean criminal record. Simpson testified that he believed Judge Steven Cranfill knew that Simpson was representing Hunt on the lawsuits, as well as representing Vavra, since Cranfill was the judge in the Vavra case and is the judge on the lawsuit Abromats filed against Hunt in District Court alleging "interfer- ence with contractual relations." Simpson said he has worked with five Big Horn County attorneys over his years as a defense attorney and each one has agreed to deferred prosecutions. He said embezzlement cases are good situations for deferred prosecution because they are "crimes against an entity, not a person." "If this was a sweetheart deal (for Vavra) it was not much of one based on oth- er deals I've made," Simpson said. He said he, Hunt and Judge Cranfill were aware that Big Horn REA officials wanted Vavra to serve prison time and plea agreements have been against the wishes of victims in the cases. Under cross examination, he told Abr0- mats he did not recall th judge being up- set by the plea agreement, adding that the judge has sole discretion to accept or reject any agreement. PUBLIC N()TICES Bi Hnrn Coun Schanl Disfricf #2 ;chanl Lunch .nrnram BIG HORN COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT #2 FREE AND REDUCED PRICE MEALS IN THE NATIONAL SCHOOL BREAKFAST AND SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAMS BIG HORN COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT #2 announced its policy for providing free and reduced price meals for children served under the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. Each school and/or the Special Education Office have a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by any interested party. Children in households receiving SNAP (Food Stamps), FDPIR, or TANF and most foster children can receive free meals regardless of your income. Households receiving assistance under the SNAP (Food Stamps), FDPIR, or TANF should only submit an Application for Meal Benefits if they are not notified of their current eligibility in the new school year. If the household income is within the Income Eligibility Guidelines, your child(ren) can receive free or reduced price meals. Applications for School Meal Benefits are available at school sites. The Big Horn County School District #2 offers healthy meals every school day. Elementary (K-5) prices are $1.90 per lunch, $1.10 breakfast. Middle School and High School (6-12) are $2.15 per lunch, $1.10 per breakfast. Adult meals are $3.00 per lunch and $1.50 per breakfast. Your children may qualify for free meals or for reduced price meals. INCOME ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES FOR FREE AND REDUCED PRICE CATEGORIES For school year 2010-2011 FREE MEALS Every Household Twice Per Two Size Annual Monthly Month Weeks 1 $14,079 $1,174 $587 $542 2 $18,941 $1,579 $790 $729 3 $23,803 $1,984 $992 $916 4 $28,665 $2,389 $1,195 $1,103 5 $33,527 $2,794 $1,397 $1,290 6 $38,389 $3,200 $1,600 $1,477 7 $43,251 $3,605 $1,803 $1,664 8 $48,113 $4,010 $2,005 $1,851 For each additional family member, ADD $4,862 $406 $203 $187 Weekly $271 $365 $458 $552 :i $645 $739 $832 $926 $94 REDUCED PRICE MEALS Twice Per Month Annual Monthly $20,036 $1,670 $835 $26,955 $2,247 $1,124 $33,874 $2,823 $1,412 $40,793 $3,400 $1,700 $47,712 $3,976 $1,988 $54,631 $4,553 $2,277 $61,550 ! $5,130 $2,565 $68,469 $5,706 $2,853 $6,919 $577 $289 Every Two Weeks Weekly $771 $386 $1,037 $519 $1,303 $652 $1,569 $785 $1,836 $918 $2,102 $1,051 $2,368 $1,184 $2,634 $1,317 $267 $134 Lnwer Sunshine Reservnir .nrnject REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL Greybull Valley Irrigation District is seeking responses to its request for proposals for qualified contractors and engineers interested in submitting a design-build proposal for the engineering and construc- tion of the Greybull Valley Irrigation District Hydroelectric Project, including FERC permit application. The project is located at the Lower Sunshine Reservoir in Park County, Wyoming. Interested parties should contact Greybull Valley Irrigation District, P.O. Box 44, Emblem, WY, phone 307-762-3555, Attn: Lee Allen, email: gvid- guy@msn.com. For engineers/contractors interested in submitting a design-build response to the RFP, Greybull Valley Irrigation Dis- trict is requesting that a notice of intent to bid be presented to them by September 21, 2010. A pre-bid conference has been scheduled for September 21, 2010 and although not mandatory for persons intending to submit a response to the design-build option for the hydroelectric facility, it is strongly recommended. Different time lines apply to engineers intending to provide a response for only engi- neering services. Publish: September 16, 2010 CONSIDERING A VASECTOMY? Why not have it done by the only board certified urologist located full time in the basin? DN. GREGORY STEWART UROLOGICAL SERVICES OF NORTHERN WYOMING PC Specializing in the "no needie/no scapel technique." 15 minute office procedure. Frequently done on Friday with the possibility of back to light-duty work on Monday. DI: Gregory Stewar Vasectomy reverals also available at competitive pncing. Clinics held ill Powell Basin - Big Horn Clinic Greybull - Midway Clinic Thermopofls - Hot Springs Co. Memorial Hospital. VA patients accepted with prior approval. 225 W. YELLOWSTONE AVE., SUITE 9 " CooY, WY To schedule oaz appointment please call 307-587-5131 Free and Reduced Meal Benefits are for breakfast and lunch. In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington DC 20250-9410 OR CALL (202) 720-5964 (Voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Publish: September 16, 2010 Please recycle this newspaper. Recycling bins are located in the parking lot of the Red Apple Supermarket. If you're 50 or older, please get screened. Screening saves lives, fe.r 1-800-CDC-INFO (I-800-232-4636) www.cdc.gov/screen forlife U,$, OEPARTMENT OF HEAL1H AND HUMAN IIERVICI