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Sunday, June 26th 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT
JET NOISE

More noise reductions sought for Jackson Hole Airport

(Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com)

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Commercial jets landing at Jackson Hole Airport may be changing course to reduce noise over the Snake River.

Up to a dozen commercial jets land at the airport over a period of a few hours in Grand Teton National Park, disturbing sports enthusiasts and visitors.

A professional planner is being hired to draw up new flight plans, which could take two years.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports recent changes are not enough because more jets are using the airport.

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MONTANA ELECTIONS-TRIBES

Native Americans turn focus inward for political empowerment

BROWNING, Mont. (AP) — Native Americans account for 8 percent of Montana's residents and growing, but they have yet to realize their political clout.

After generations of tearing down the external barriers that barred their people from the ballot box, Native American activists are increasingly focusing inward to promote a culture of voting across tribal lands.

The Native vote could be especially crucial in what could be tight races in this year's election for governor and in Denise Juneau's bid to become the first Native American woman to win a seat in Congress.

Advocates are also hoping that 13 new satellite elections offices in Indian country have boosted the number of Native Americans registered to vote.

BOAT DOCK DEATH-INVESTIGATION

Report: Ramp caused child's death at Canyon Ferry Reservoir

(Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Bureau of Reclamation has concluded that an improperly positioned ramp caused a dock stored at Canyon Ferry Lake boat launch to partially collapse in April, pinning a 3-year-old boy and causing fatal injuries.

The Independent Record reports that the report, released Friday, is focused on the death of Landon Haight, who as injured April 22.

According to the report, an access ramp had been left in an upright position following maintenance and has not been cordoned off rom public access. Landon was found pinned between the access ramp and dock surface.

Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Tyler Johnson says it is unclear how the ramp fell on Landon.

The bureau will next review the facts, interview witnesses and determine if any administrative actions against employees are necessary.

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MISSOULIAN LAWSUIT

Former Missoulian editor drops wrongful discharge lawsuit

(Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A former editor of the Missoulian has dropped her lawsuit claiming she was wrongfully discharged by the newspaper.

Sherry Devlin had alleged the newspaper's publisher and parent company, Lee Enterprises, demoted her, cut her pay and hired a younger and less qualified man to replace her. The Missoulian reported Friday that publisher Mark Heintzelman and Devlin attorney Eric Henkel declined to comment on whether the sides had agreed to an out-of-court settlement.

In May, a Montana Human Rights Bureau investigation concluded that Devlin was not discriminated against based on her age and gender.

The 61-year-old Devlin worked at the Missoulian for 31 years. Matthew Bunk, who replaced her as editor last August, resigned in April.

Bunk will be replaced by former Seattle Times editor Kathy Best, who begins her new job on Monday.

___

LABOR LEADER-MONTANA

AFL-CIO leader vows union support for Bullock, Juneau

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is rallying Montana union members as they convene in Helena for their annual convention.

Trumka urged the members Friday to stay vigilant against those seeking to weaken unions, and said his federation would work to defeat anti-union office seekers in November's elections.

He vowed to help re-elect Gov. Steve Bullock and to prevent Montana from becoming a right-to-work state. Trumka said the AFL-CIO plans to spend money in the Montana governor's race, and in support of Denise Juneau's bid for U.S. Congress.

He would not say how much money could pour into those races.

Bullock's Republican opponent, Greg Gianforte, said the AFL-CIO's endorsements of Bullock and of Hillary Clinton for president are a "slap in the face" to coal workers, some of whom are union members.

EDITOR-MAYOR RECALL

Editor resigns amid questions about mayor's recall petition

LIBBY, Mont. (AP) — A northwestern Montana newspaper editor has resigned amid questions about his involvement with an effort to recall Libby's mayor.

Bob Henline resigned from The Western News on May 26. The Libby newspaper reports Henline was clearing his desk on June 2 when he told General Manager Suzanne Resch that he helped write two drafts of a petition to recall Mayor Doug Roll.

Resch says she does not condone newspaper employees taking part in the stories they cover. Henline says he believes the newspaper's role is to better its community.

Roll tells the Flathead Beacon he had suspected Henline of being involved with the recall effort. He accuses Henline of manipulating the news to further his own agenda.

Petition organizers have until Sept. 17 to gather enough signatures to force a recall election.

Saturday, June 25th 2016
Associated Press Montana News
AP-MT--2nd Right Now/920
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT
MISSOULIAN LAWSUIT

Former Missoulian editor drops wrongful discharge lawsuit

(Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A former editor of the Missoulian has dropped her lawsuit claiming she was wrongfully discharged by the newspaper.

Sherry Devlin had alleged the newspaper's publisher and parent company, Lee Enterprises, demoted her, cut her pay and hired a younger and less qualified man to replace her. The Missoulian reported Friday that publisher Mark Heintzelman and Devlin attorney Eric Henkel declined to comment on whether the sides had agreed to an out-of-court settlement.

In May, a Montana Human Rights Bureau investigation concluded that Devlin was not discriminated against based on her age and gender.

The 61-year-old Devlin worked at the Missoulian for 31 years. Matthew Bunk, who replaced her as editor last August, resigned in April.

Bunk will be replaced by former Seattle Times editor Kathy Best, who begins her new job on Monday.

___

EDITOR-MAYOR RECALL

Editor resigns amid questions about mayor's recall petition

LIBBY, Mont. (AP) — A northwestern Montana newspaper editor has resigned amid questions about his involvement with an effort to recall Libby's mayor.

Bob Henline resigned from The Western News on May 26. The Libby newspaper reports Henline was clearing his desk on June 2 when he told General Manager Suzanne Resch that he helped write two drafts of a petition to recall Mayor Doug Roll.

Resch says she does not condone newspaper employees taking part in the stories they cover. Henline says he believes the newspaper's role is to better its community.

Roll tells the Flathead Beacon he had suspected Henline of being involved with the recall effort. He accuses Henline of manipulating the news to further his own agenda.

Petition organizers have until Sept. 17 to gather enough signatures to force a recall election.

BIN LADEN SHOOTER-ARREST

Man who says he killed bin Laden to go to trial for DUI

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — The former Navy SEAL who claims to have fired the shots that killed Osama bin Laden will go to trial in September on a drunken-driving charge.

The Montana Standard reports Robert O'Neill's trial has been set for Sept. 14 in Butte.

His attorney, Mark Parker, says six jurors will hear the case.

O'Neill was arrested in April after officers responded to a report of a man passed out in a car parked outside a Butte convenience store. Police at the time said O'Neill failed a field sobriety test and then refused to perform others or take a blood test.

The 40-year-old O'Neill previously denied he was intoxicated and said he was taking sleeping pills to help his insomnia. He has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence, a misdemeanor.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA-MONTANA

State attorneys oppose delay of medical pot restrictions

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — State attorneys say a judge should only delay enforcement of new medical marijuana restrictions until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to take up the matter.

The Montana Supreme Court previously set Aug. 31 as the date to enforce a state law that prevents marijuana providers from selling the drug to more than three patients.

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the state court's decision. The group also asked District Judge James Reynolds to delay enforcement until either the U.S. Supreme Court takes action or voters decide on a marijuana initiative expected to be on the November election ballot.

Assistant Attorney General Stuart Segrest said in a court filing Friday that the only legitimate basis for a delay is the pending action by the nation's high court.

LABOR LEADER-MONTANA

AFL-CIO leader vows union support for Bullock, Juneau

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is rallying Montana union members as they convene in Helena for their annual convention.

Trumka urged the members Friday to stay vigilant against those seeking to weaken unions, and said his federation would work to defeat anti-union office seekers in November's elections.

He vowed to help re-elect Gov. Steve Bullock and to prevent Montana from becoming a right-to-work state. Trumka said the AFL-CIO plans to spend money in the Montana governor's race, and in support of Denise Juneau's bid for U.S. Congress.

He would not say how much money could pour into those races.

Bullock's Republican opponent, Greg Gianforte, said the AFL-CIO's endorsements of Bullock and of Hillary Clinton for president are a "slap in the face" to coal workers, some of whom are union members.

WEYERHAEUSER MILL CLOSURES

Mill closures a 'punch in the gut' of Northwest Montana

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Officials say the loss of approximately 200 jobs in northwestern Montana will be a punch in the gut of a community that was recovering from the 2009 closure of an aluminum plant.

Timber giant Weyerhaeuser said Wednesday it will permanently close its lumber and plywood mill in Columbia Falls this summer. On top of those job losses, up to 100 administrative jobs in Columbia Falls are already in the process of being eliminated or moved to Weyerhaeuser's Seattle headquarters.

Weyerhaeuser bought Plum Creek Timber for $8.44 billion this spring. The company will continue to operate a medium-density fiberboard mill in Columbia Falls and two mills in Kalispell.

Columbia Falls insurance agent Lyle Mitchell tells the Missoulian the elimination of the 200 mill and administrative jobs will have a ripple effect across the Flathead Valley.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Friday, June 24th 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT
VA DIRECTOR

Veterans Affairs names interim director for Montana

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials have named an interim director for the VA Montana Health Care System.

Kathy Berger began her 120-day assignment on Thursday, replacing John Ginnity. Ginnity announced his resignation earlier this month.

VA spokesman Mike Garcia says Ginnity will remain at Fort Harrison until his July 8 resignation takes effect, helping Berger with the transition and writing reports for VA officials in Washington.

Berger is the director of the VA's health care system in Sheridan, Wyoming. She is expected to return to that job after her Montana assignment.

Ginnity did not specify a reason for his resignation.

The agency is conducting an internal investigation into leadership misconduct allegations at Fort Harrison. Garcia says Ginnity's resignation is unrelated to the investigation.

MISSING CHILD-ARREST

Man pleads not guilty to kidnapping, raping Fort Peck girl

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A man has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of kidnapping and raping a 4-year-old girl who was taken from a park on a Montana Indian reservation earlier this year.

John William Lieba II entered his plea Thursday during a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Johnston.

A grand jury indicted Lieba Tuesday on charges of kidnapping someone under 18, aggravated sexual abuse and assault resulting in serious bodily injury on someone under 18. The charges carry a combined maximum penalty of life in prison and $750,000 in fines if he is convicted.

The indictment says Lieba abducted the girl in Wolf Point on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and held her for ransom in February. It says he engaged in a sexual act with the girl and assaulted her.

FISH DIE-OFF

Researchers look into cause of crappie die-off near Havre

(Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — State wildlife officials are working to figure out why black crappie have been dying in the Bailey Reservoir south of Havre.

The Billings Gazette reports that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks crews responded to a report of dead crappie on June 6. They found 25 fish dead along the bank of the reservoir.

Staff from the agency suspect that it is a species-specific die-off targeting only spawning-age crappie. Recent surveys indicate that younger crappies, yellow perch and northern pike in the reservoir are unaffected.

Fisheries biologist Cody Nagel says in a news release that black crappie nearing the peak of their spawn can experience increased vulnerability to parasites and other health-related issues.

A similar die-off of crappie took place in Tongue River Reservoir in 2014.

___

COAL MORATORIUM

White House says coal royalty hike would have modest effect

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Obama administration says a sharp increase in royalties paid by companies mining coal from federal lands across the West would trigger only modest reductions in U.S. coal production.

That report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers comes after new sales of federal coal leases were halted in January.

Officials are determining if longstanding royalty rates shortchange taxpayers.

The council says more than doubling the royalty rate would reduce mining from federal lands 7 percent. It would cut emissions from burning the fuel and bring as much as $730 million annually in new revenue.

The coal industry and many elected officials across the West oppose the sales moratorium. They say higher royalties will force job cuts.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop dismissed Wednesday's report as "propaganda."

OIL TRAIN ACCIDENTS-THE LATEST

The Latest: Union Pacific touts safety of fastening system

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A spokesman for Union Pacific Railroad says the company's rail fastening system has an outstanding safety history.

Spokesman Justin Jacobs' statement was in response to the Federal Railroad Administration's preliminary report on a June 3 fiery oil train derailment in the town of Mosier, Oregon. The report blamed Union Pacific for not properly maintaining its tracks and missing problems with bolts that fasten the rail ties to the rails.

Jacobs says the company will replace all the lag bolts with rail spikes, which will make problems easier to detect on inspections.

He also says an upgraded braking system called for by the Federal Railroad Administration wouldn't have made a difference in the severity of the derailment.

___=

MONTANA PRISONS

Montana takes aim at surging jail, prison populations

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's overcrowded jails and prisons are prompting state officials to take a serious look at the complex issues behind the rising number of arrests, recidivism and policies behind a surge in incarcerations.

The state's Commission on Sentencing on Thursday began considering more than two dozen policy options offered by the Council of State Governments, a national nonprofit that advises local governments on public policy. The commission is far from making recommendations.

The council is suggesting that Montana look into revamping presentencing guidelines, eliminating mandatory minimum jail sentences on some offenses and reconsidering how traffic offenses are handled by the criminal justice system.

The council says the Montana's prison population is at capacity and could cost the state tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars to expand capacity if incarceration trends continue.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.