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County watch

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Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies assisted federal agents near Woodland last week in the arrest of a Salt Lake man charged with violating a black man’s civil rights. Salt Lake County residents Robby Wayne Baalman, 22, Keith Wayne Cotter, 25, and David Lance Gardner, 43, were charged in U.S. District Court Nov. 2 with interfering with a federal protected activity and aiding and abetting. Deputies arrested Baalman last Wednesday while he was working at a construction site near South Summit. A federal grand jury indicted the suspects last week for civil-rights violations in connection with an attack on a black man in Salt Lake City in March, a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office states. "It went down without a problem," FBI spokesman Brent Robbins said about last week’s afternoon arrest near the Summit County line. "[Baalman] was working up there in the area." During the alleged attack, prosecutors claim at least one of the suspects used a bottle as a weapon. The victim was injured while riding his bicycle to work. "The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Utah has a long history of aggressively prosecuting hate crime and other civil rights related criminal conduct," U.S. Attorney Paul Warner said in the press release. "[This] indictment says, once again, that such conduct is not tolerated in our community or our state." The FBI worked with the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division to make the arrests. "While people are free to espouse hateful ideas, they are not free to act on those ideas in ways that are criminal and dangerous," Warner states. Since 2001, the Department of Justice has charged 171 people in 116 cases of "bias-motivated" crime, the press release states. If convicted, the suspects could face 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Mtn. Regional/Summit Water reach legal accord Two Snyderville Basin water companies have settled a dispute over rights to a spring in western Summit County. Summit County’s Mountain Regional Water Special Service District and Summit Water Distribution Company, the county’s private competitor, share water in Spring Creek spring near Sun Peak. "A dispute arose between the two entities with regard to a new splitter box Summit Water put in," said deputy county attorney Dave Thomas, adding that Mountain Regional sued Summit Water when the county’s rights to the spring were violated. The lawsuit was dismissed when Summit Water agreed to install and allow Mountain Regional to use more efficient infrastructure at the spring, Thomas said. "It’s a win-win," Mountain Regional water operator Leo Williams said. According to terms of the settlement agreement, Summit Water is entitled to 71 percent of the spring’s flow from April 1 to Oct. 31. During the non-irrigation season Nov. 1 to March 31 the water companies split water in Spring Creek spring. A new splitter will allow operators to monitor spring usage, the agreement states. Mountain Regional owns roughly 38 percent of the spring water and the district is responsible for 38 percent the future maintenance costs of the spring. "We’ve always viewed their claims as having no merit," Summit Water attorney John Flitton said about Mountain Regional’s lawsuit. Mountain Regional sued for the right to use infrastructure at the spring the county did not pay for, Flitton said, adding that Summit Water had nothing to gain by litigating the matter. Deputies’ trucks still idling A Summit County Sheriff’s Office sport-utility vehicle idled for more the 30 minutes as the deputy had lunch a few months ago on Main Street in Coalville. "Your Sheriff’s Office vehicles are left idling," Summit County Auditor Blake Frazier recently told the Summit County Commission. But Summit County sheriff’s Capt. Alan Siddoway says officers have been instructed to turn off vehicles during extended office stays, training or community presentations, to conserve gasoline. "That may be cost-effective now with the cost of gas," Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer said. However, the Chevrolets, Fords and Dodges the Sheriff’s Office operates are equipped with laptop computers, cameras and communication devices that require tremendous battery power, Summit County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Dave Booth said. "It’ll kill our batteries," Booth said, adding that if the electronics are left running without the engine, "within five minutes the battery will be dead." A power surge recently destroyed a radio when deputies jumpstarted a dead SUV, he said. "We’ve just told our guys, if they’re just out and about doing stuff, they have to let them idle," Booth said. "People will gripe about it." Fuel budgets at the Sheriff’s Office increased last year due to high gas prices and costs are expected to increase again in 2006, he added. "The fuel has impacted us," Booth said.


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