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County Watch0

Compiled by Patrick Parkinson

If the wind often blows over your school or farm there might be the potential for the development of wind power on the property.

The Utah Geologic Survey will loan wind-measuring devices to landowners throughout Utah. The anemometers help determine whether wind is strong enough for energy development, a press release from the Utah Department of Natural Resources states.

The devices are loaned at no cost.

"We are looking for as many as eight sites with strong, consistent winds that could be developed commercially or for private use," Utah Renewable Energy Coordinator Jason Berry said in the press release. "We are specifically looking for potential sites along the Utah-Wyoming border in Rich and Summit counties as well as other areas in southwestern Utah."

With support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America program, the Utah Geological Survey will install 20-meter or 50-meter anemometer towers with monitoring equipment for a period of one year for qualifying applicants.

The program helps Utahns take the guesswork out of determining if wind power development is feasible, the press release states.

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Data collected measures wind speed and direction, and the frequency at which wind occurs. At the end of the loan agreement, the state will provide the participant with a final report informing them of the feasibility of small or large-scale wind development on the property.

The deadline to receive applications is March 1. For more information visit http://geology.utah.gov/sep/wind and click on the Anemometer Loan Program button.

Laws about guns are debated

Business owners wouldn’t be allowed to prevent employees or customers from storing guns in their vehicles as long as the weapon is hidden and properly stored under a bill approved by the Senate.

Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, says his bill is intended to keep gun owners safe while they commute to work or drive around town. He says some people feel vulnerable to attack if they can’t have a gun nearby.

Opponents of Senate Bill 67 say Madsen’s bill eroded the rights of private property owners and could threaten public safety. The bill would not apply to churches, schools and government property.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Parkite probes primary results

Discrepancies between exit polls and vote counts in the Super Tuesday primaries are consistent with vote miscounts favoring Democrat Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama and Republican John McCain over Mitt Romney, said Parkite Kathy Dopp, of the group Utah Count Votes.

The most suspicious results based on exit polling came from Massachusetts and New Jersey on the Democratic side and Massachusetts and New York in the Republican race, according to Dopp.

"Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York did not conduct any post-election manual audits to check the accuracy of machine vote counts, leaving their primary elections susceptible to undetected manipulation consistent with their exit poll discrepancies," Dopp claimed in a prepared statement.

No state in America currently uses all the fundamental measures that are required to ensure accurate elections: paper ballots, post-election manual audits, verifiable ballot security, ballot and voter reconciliation and public access to election records, Dopp said.

Children’s Justice Center benefit

Friday a fund-raiser for the Wasatch/Summit County Children’s Justice Center is planned at Harry O’s on Main Street in Park City.

The event boasts food, dancing, and two live bands, and begins Feb. 22 at 9 p.m.

Tickets are $15 at the door. Contact the Children’s Justice Center at 657-1000 for more information.

State forester blasts budget cuts

Utah State Forester Dick Buehler is concerned about a 60 percent budget cut President Bush proposed for state and private forestry programs, a press release from Utah’s Department of Natural Resources states.

"The state has been receiving pass-through funds from the [U.S. Forest Service] through state and private forestry for at least 50 years," Buehler said. "The federal program provides technical assistance and funding to states who manage 2/3s of the nation’s forest lands."

Community forestry, fire assistance, forest stewardship, the National Fire Plan, forest health and forest legacy programs are most affected by the cuts, the press release states.

Merck will pay

The manufacturer of Zocor, Vioxx and Pepcid will pay Utah $2.3 million for failing to give rebates to the state Medicaid program. Merck is paying a total of $649 million as part of the two separate global settlements involving 49 states and the federal government.

"Merck is paying a great price for failing to be fair to taxpayers. I hope this will send a loud message to all pharmaceutical companies to play fair and pay up in the first place," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required by the Federal Medicaid Drug Rebate law to give Medicaid programs the benefit of the "best price" available for those products, a press release from Shurtleff states.

Manufacturers are required to file best-price information with the Centers fro Medicare and Medicaid Services. The information is then used to calculate rebates to be paid by these manufacturers to the state Medicaid programs.

Merck failed to report it offered 92 percent discounts to hospitals for selling Zocor and Vioxx, the press release states. The company also failed to report that hospitals were able to get discounts up to 92 percent for Pepcid tablets, Shurtleff claimed.

In addition to the monetary settlement, Merck agreed to market, sell and promote its products in accordance with all federal health care program requirements.

The public can learn more about Medicaid fraud or report abuse at http://www.medicaidfraud.utah.gov.

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