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Sunday, November 29th 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Police look for woman who reportedly stole donation kettles

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Police are looking for a woman who reportedly stole Salvation Army donation kettles from outside two stores in Billings.

Sgt. Clyde Reid tells The Billings Gazette that bell ringers from the Salvation Army kettle campaign reported their donation kettles had been stolen from two locations Friday. The charitable campaign involves volunteers who ring bells and give out candy canes in front of businesses.

The first theft happened in front of the Hobby Lobby, and another theft was reported hours later at Scheels.

Police are searching for a woman in connection with both thefts. Reid says she posed as a volunteer, took the kettles and left in a white, four-door vehicle driven by a man.

She is described as 5-foot-6 with blond hair and glasses.


Former ambassador to Russia to receive honorary MSU degree

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, will receive an honorary degree from Montana State University during fall commencement Dec. 12.

McFaul, who was raised in Glasgow, Butte and Bozeman, served as ambassador under President Barack Obama from 2012 until February 2014 during a critical point in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

He earned a scholarship to Stanford University, where he received his bachelor's degree in international relations and Slavic languages and his master's degree in East European studies. McFaul received a Ph.D. in international relations from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and served for three years as special assistant to Obama and senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs for the National Security Council.

MSU President Waded Cruzado says McFaul "has distinguished Montana's reputation during his remarkable academic and diplomatic career."


Forest Service reminds Christmas tree hunters of the rules

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service is reminding people who want to cut down their own Christmas tree to follow the rules of the program.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports tree cutting permits cost $5 with a limit of three per household. They are available at Forest Service district offices and some retailers.

Trees can't be cut down in campgrounds, at trailheads, in designated wilderness areas, developed recreation sites, posted timber sale spots, recently planted areas and administrative sites or within 50 feet of any lake, stream or wetland.

Trees can't be taller than 15 feet and should be cut as close to the ground as possible.

The Forest Service also is urging people when they make their selection to consider that trees protect watersheds and provide habitat for wildlife.


Man in Townsend chase faces attempted homicide charge

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Helena man is facing two dozen charges, including attempted deliberate homicide, after investigators say he tried to strike multiple law enforcement officers with a stolen truck during a high-speed chase in and around Townsend on Thanksgiving.

The Independent Record reports 41-year-old Sean David Gauer is accused of trying to crash into pursuing sheriff's deputy vehicles as he reached speeds upward of 100 mph through residential neighborhoods.

Broadwater County Undersheriff Wynn Meehan says the chase began shortly after deputies found Gauer passed out in the truck at a gas station in Townsend. Gauer was cooperative before investigators say he jumped back into the truck and sped away.

Meehan says Gauer tried to run him over as he left.

Booking documents do not indicate if Gauer has hired an attorney.


Inmate at Montana State Prison dies after extended illness

DEER LODGE, Mont. (AP) — Officials say a 75-year-old inmate at Montana State Prison has died following an extended illness.

Andrew Charles Sunday died in the prison infirmary Friday. He was sentenced out of Lewis and Clark County in September 1978 to 240 years in prison with no parole on two counts of deliberate homicide, two counts of theft and burglary.

No other details about his death were released.

Saturday, November 28th 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
AP-MT--Right Now/870
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Author rejects claim that records release threatens funding

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The attorney for "Into the Wild" author Jon Krakauer says state officials must disclose the disciplinary records of a former quarterback accused of rape for the public to understand what the University of Montana is doing to protect students from sexual assault.

Attorney Mike Meloy wrote in a filing to the Montana Supreme Court that preventing the release of records would be an endorsement of keeping secret how the university treats such cases.

Krakauer is urging the state's high court to uphold District Judge Kathy Seeley's ruling that Commissioner of Higher Education Clay Christian must release records of any actions he took in the case against Jordan Johnson, who was later acquitted after a trial.

State attorneys argue releasing educational records without a student's consent could threaten Montana's federal education funding.


Deer Lodge woman, son still missing with large bar of gold

(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)

DEER LODGE, Mont. (AP) — Authorities are still searching for a 79-year-old Montana woman, her adult son and a $480,000 bar of gold.

The Missoulian reports that Beverly Giannonatti and her 57-year-old son Gregory Giannonatti went missing a month ago. Officials say Beverly was having some work done her deceased ex-husband's house when a cleaning lady found a 25-pound bar of gold there.

Powell County Sheriff Scott Howard says Beverly was reported missing about a week after the gold was discovered. Officers found unattended dogs at her house. At her son's home, the TV was left on, a roast was cooking in a slow cooker and another dog had been left alone.

There was no sign of a struggle in either house or at the house that belonged to Beverly's ex-husband.

The FBI joined the search in early November.


Missoula County deputies investigating Bonner-area shooting

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Missoula County deputies are investigating after a Bonner-area resident called to report a man had come to his door with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his face.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Brenda Bassett says the resident called 911 at about 6 a.m. Thursday.

The victim was taken to a hospital in Missoula before being transferred to a Seattle hospital. He was listed in serious but stable condition on Thursday.

The victim's name and age haven't been released.


Feds seek to shut down Montana-based timeshare tax scheme

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department is seeking an injunction to stop a Montana attorney and others from operating or promoting a program that appears to facilitate the donation of timeshares to charities, but actually led its customers to commit tax fraud and donated very little to charity.

The U.S. Attorney's office filed the complaint in U.S. District Court in Butte on Monday against James Tarpey of Bozeman, two of his companies and three people who did appraisals for Donate for a Cause.

The IRS alleges Tarpey's operation promotes donating unwanted timeshares to charity in exchange for a tax write-off. However, federal prosecutors say the program charges thousands in processing fees and appraisers tied to Tarpey's companies significantly overvalue the timeshares, leading the sellers to claim improper tax deductions. The timeshares are often sold for pennies on the dollar.


Low prices deal federal minerals revenue hit to Rockies

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Low prices for oil and natural gas have driven down federal minerals revenue to the lowest point in five years, even as oil and gas production booms nationwide.

The federal Office of Natural Resources Revenue tracks federal revenue from sales of fossil fuels including oil and gas. The agency says revenue over the 2015 federal fiscal year was $9.9 billion, down 26 percent from the year before.

It's bad news for Wyoming and other energy-rich states in the Rocky Mountain region. That's because the federal government shares its minerals revenue with American Indian tribes and states with minerals development on federal land.

Wyoming gets a bigger slice than any other state by far. Wyoming's share last year was $886 million, down from $1 billion the year before.


Gold mine operators eye site miles from closing mine

(Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)

WHITEHALL, Mont. (AP) — Mine operators east of Butte are looking to open a new gold mine just miles from the existing open pit gold mine that is set to close.

The Montana Standard reports that the Golden Sunlight Mine is seeking a permit for a new gold mine less than a mile from the existing one, which is northeast of Whitehall.

Mine manager Dan Banghart says the new mine would be an expansion of the old mine and would use the same mill to process the ore. The new mine is awaiting permitting by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

At the original mine, 135 employees are facing unemployment starting Tuesday.

If approved, the new mine would not open until 2019.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Friday, November 27th 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Trout Unlimited ups reward in illegal fish stocking cases

WHITEFISH, Mont. (AP) — Montana Trout Unlimited has doubled to $20,000 the reward it is offering for the apprehension and conviction of whoever is responsible for illegally stocking fish in three western Montana lakes and reservoirs.

The state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is investigating the illegal planting of walleyes in Swan Lake and Noxon Reservoir and smallmouth bass in Seeley Lake.

Montana TU chairman Chris Schustrom says the illegally planted fish threaten established and popular sport fish populations in each body of water. The group is urging FWP to treat illegal fish stocking as a serious wildlife crime and to step up its enforcement and investigation efforts.

FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim says the agency needs tips from the public and he hopes the increased reward encourages someone to come forward.


Montana's unemployment insurance rate going down

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state's improving economy and low unemployment rate mean most businesses will see a reduction in their unemployment insurance rates next year.

The state Labor Department says Montana's unemployment insurance contribution rate will drop from an average of 1.52 percent of wages to 1.12 percent for 2016.

In 2014 the rate was 1.92 percent.

Unemployment insurance rates are calculated on a schedule that takes into consideration the ratio of the amount of money in the state's unemployment trust fund compared to the total wages it is covering along with previous unemployment claims filed by former employees of individual businesses.


Dairy owners, processors complain about planned fee hike

(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Board of Livestock is proposing to raise its fees on milk producers and to add a fee for processors.

The changes would bring $130,000 to the state Department of Livestock next year. The department has been battling budget shortfalls.

The proposed rule would affect 72 people who are licensed through the Department of Livestock for the production and sale of milk.

It would raise the minimum fee for licensed dairies from $50 to $225 a month. Other licensees, such as processors, would be charged a minimum $725 per month.

Dairy owners say the increases would threaten their businesses.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Wilcoxson's Ice Cream President Matt Schaefer said he is considering using milk from Idaho to avoid the fees.

The board plans to hold a public hearing on the proposal.


Teams that kicked off season with upset wins to battle

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Two teams that opened their seasons with impressive upset victories are set to battle in Missoula, Montana, on Saturday in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

Montana's season started with a bang. The Grizzlies took down four-time defending champion North Dakota State, but much of the season has been hampered quarterback injuries.

South Dakota State opened by beating Kansas for its first ever victory over an FBS squad. The Jackrabbits appeared on pace for a first-round bye heading into the regular-season finale at Western Illinois but dropped a heartbreaker in double overtime.

Saturday marks the eighth meeting of the teams. Montana has won all seven games, including a 61-48 win over South Dakota State in the first round of the 2009 FCS playoffs.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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