Now it should be obvious that, as a self-respecting reporter (of rumors), I cannot reveal my sources. But I will try to give you some idea as to the gravity of this thing.
If I recall correctly, a friend of mine told me late last year that his sister-in-law had told his wife that her (the sister-in-law's) husband's youngest brother (who isn't from here) was talking to a barmaid in some little town in North Dakota, who had gotten part of the story from a fuel truck driver, and another part from a Billings beverage salesman. But no business names were actually mentioned in the story (to protect the guilty, no doubt). But she had been repeatedly assured by both sources that the report was from very, very reliable sources. Very reliable.
Anyway, this friend of mine (who sells hand soap) later asked some of his customers at a couple of auto parts stores if they had heard about it. The funny thing is that when he first asked them, they said no. But when he got around to talking with them again a week or so later, they did recall hearing someone saying something about that very thing. They seemed to remember some guy had come in asking about the story, for some kind of official investigation or something.
Getting more curious, my friend then starting asking everyone he saw about it. And in the next couple of weeks, as he made his rounds, it seems that every time he mentioned the rumors to anyone, more and more people had heard about it. Not all of the reports had the same details, of course. People often lose the details, it seems. But the story was out there, with a life of its own.
Based on what I've heard, then, I'm pretty sure that there is something very, very substantial to the rumors. Very substantial. Of course, I might just be full of it, if you know what I mean. I do get filled with some substantial stuff, now and then. But that's what laxatives are for, right?
So The Gazette's denial was, perhaps, a bit too glib.