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May 18, 2012 - The Associated Press

Grand Teton to host eclipse event

MOOSE -- The Teton Range will provide one of the more dramatic backdrops for a solar eclipse that will be visible across much of the West this weekend.

Grand Teton National Park will host a solar eclipse viewing event starting at 6 p.m. Sunday. Astronomer and park ranger naturalist Bob Hoyle will host the gathering in partnership with the Jackson Hole Astronomy Club.

A full solar eclipse will occur across a wide swath of the Southwest.

In Jackson Hole, the moon will cover up as much as 80 percent of the sun. That will happen at around 7:30 p.m., when the sun is low in the western sky and not too far above the craggy Tetons.

The viewing event will take place at the Willow Flats Overlook north of Jackson Lake Junction.

Regional economic index good

OMAHA, Neb. -- The economy remains strong in rural areas of 10 Midwest and Plains states because of the health of agricultural businesses there.

The overall economic index on the new monthly Rural Mainstreet survey rose to 58.5 in May from April's already healthy 57.1. Any score above 50 on the index suggests growth in the months ahead.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says even though the May numbers are positive, he believes the region's economic growth will slow in the months ahead as the global economy weakens and crop prices decline.

The survey covers rural areas of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. The survey focuses on 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300.

Soda ash bill to a full U.S. House

CHEYENNE -- A bill aimed at keeping American soda ash competitive with a subsidized, synthetic version produced in China is advancing in Washington.

The bill, sponsored by Wyoming congresswoman Cynthia Lummis, got the backing of the full House Resources committee on Wednesday. It will be heard by the full House next.

The bill would return the soda ash royalty to 2 percent. It rose to 6 percent in October.

Soda ash is the trade name for a chemical made from the mineral trona. It's used in household cleaners, windshields and cellphones.

Wyoming produces about 90 percent of U.S. soda ash and the industry employs about 3,000 people in the state. Lummis says soda ash shipments also provide work for hundreds of longshoremen in Portland, Ore. and Port Arthur, Texas.

Hitching Post case stays in Wyoming

A legal battle over an arson fire that destroyed a landmark Cheyenne hotel will play out in Wyoming.

A federal judge in New Jersey granted a motion from the insurance company, National Surety Corp., to move the case to Wyoming on Monday. The decision came during a hearing in Trenton.

National Surety accuses the owners of the hotel, CJM Hospitality LLC, of intentionally burning the hotel to collect $13.6 million in insurance money.

CJM filed a lawsuit against the insurance company in New Jersey in December, because the company has refused to cover the loss of the hotel. National Surety countered by filing a lawsuit in Wyoming.

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