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Monday, January 26th 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Breached Montana pipeline exposed on river bed

GLENDIVE, Mont. (AP) — Sonar indicates part of an underground pipeline that spilled almost 40,000 gallons of oil into Montana's Yellowstone River and fouled a local water supply is exposed on the river bed.

A news release from public agencies involved with the response says the pipeline is exposed for about 50 feet near where the breach occurred Jan. 17.

The pipeline had been buried at least 8 feet under the river bed, and the depth was last confirmed in September 2011.

The cause of the spill remains under investigation. It prompted a five-day shutdown of drinking water services for 6,000 people in the city of Glendive after oil got into a treatment plant.

Wyoming-based Bridger Pipeline Co. says its pipeline will remain shut down until the river section is replaced.


UM student was person killed by semitrailer

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The pedestrian struck and killed by a semitrailer on Interstate 90 has been identified as a 19-year-old University of Montana student.

A UM spokeswoman says Jake Kallen was junior at the college.

The Montana Highway Patrol and Missoula County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene of the incident at about 2:15 a.m. Friday in the westbound lanes between Missoula and East Missoula.

The driver of the semitrailer was not injured.

Authorities say they do not know why Kallen was on the highway, and the accident remains under investigation.

A patrolman said Friday that evidence from the scene showed that the driver had put on his brakes in the traffic lane and that there was no indication that the vehicle swerved off the road to hit the pedestrian.


New student housing project to be built in Missoula

Developers are planning to build a 500-bed housing project in downtown Missoula that will be designed for University of Montana students.

The complex will include an outdoor pool, music practice rooms, a ski- and bike-tuning room, a fitness center with a yoga studio, a media room, study lounges, extra storage and retail space.

The property also will have full-time on-site management and a secured parking garage with visitor parking spaces.

The project is being financed by Farran Realty Partners and Lambros Developments, both private real estate investment firms based in Missoula.

Pat Corrick, of Farran Realty, said the plan is to have units ready for occupancy by May 2017.

Mayor John Engen says the project will provide safety, security and a degree of affordability.


Bills aimed at assuring access to public lands in Montana

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Legislation has been proposed to levy stiffer state fines on Montana landowners who illegally gate roads and require that they show proof of ownership before blocking access.

The two Great Falls Democratic lawmakers who are sponsoring the bills said in a statement that their goal is to improve public access to public lands by keeping roads they say are public open.

The bills are backed by wildlife and public access groups, and opposed by private property and ranching interests.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that private landowners and hunters and anglers increasingly are butting heads in court over remote roads into the state's forests, mountains and rivers. The roads have become contentious because they often cross private acreage leading to public lands.


Missoula County judge retiring May 1

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

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Missoula County District Judge Ed McLean is retiring after 26 years on the bench, effective May 1.

The 69-year-old McLean says he wants to have some quality time with his family.

He is currently the longest-serving judge in Missoula County. After a lengthy career as a county prosecutor, McLean was sworn into office in 1988 and took the bench in 1989.

McLean tells the Missoulian that his 26 years on the bench have made him a better person.

McLean has presided over some high-profile trials, the most recent one being the deliberate homicide trial for the Missoula man convicted of fatally shooting a 17-year-old German exchange student.


Large hotel with convention space planned for Polson

(Information in the following story is from: Flathead Beacon, http://www.flatheadbeacon.com)

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Red Lion Inn & Suites has announced plans to build a three-story, 80-room hotel with an attached restaurant on the south end of Flathead Lake at Polson.

The project will include 3,000 square feet of meeting space for conventions and special events, as well as community gatherings.

The project and other recent announced prominent developments are poised to further raise Polson's profile as a scenic resort community tucked along the shores of Flathead Lake.

Polson Mayor Heather Knutson tells the Flathead Beacon that she hopes the developments will continue to provide new jobs and attract additional services and entertainment.


Bison hunt in Jackson Hole sets record

(Information in the following story is from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com)

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Hunters have killed about 300 bison in the Jackson Hole region during the just-completed hunting season.

The number eclipses the all-time high and helps reduce the number of wild bison to levels closer to where wildlife managers prefer.

The five-month bison hunt season ended Jan. 18.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials say 190 cows and calves were downed by hunters and another 109 bulls were killed.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that the previous record harvest for the Jackson Bison Herd was set in 2007, when 267 animals were killed.

Factoring in calves that will be birthed, the year's hunt is expected to dent the Jackson Bison Herd by roughly 100 animals. It last numbered 825.

Wildlife managers want a herd population of 500.

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

Sunday, January 25th 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Bill proposed to increase Montana gas tax by a nickel

(Information in the following story is from: KECI-TV, http://www.keci.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A bill has been introduced in the Montana Legislature that would increase the state's gas tax by a nickel.

Democratic Rep. Nancy Wilson, of Missoula, is sponsoring House Bill 275.

The state gas tax is currently 27 cents a gallon. Federal tax adds an additional 18.4 cents per gallon.

Montana hasn't increased its state gas tax since 1994.

Under Wilson's proposal, 3 cents of the new tax would go to repair and maintenance for local roads and 2 cents would help fund public transportation, including additional bus routes between cities and increasing funding for DUI task forces.

Wilson tells KECI-TV that the transportation system in Montana is a mess and local roads desperately need repairs.

The hearing for the bill is set for next Wednesday in Helena.


Woman pleads guilty in 2012 death of child in Billings

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 23-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to child abuse and negligent homicide in the 2012 death of her 3-month-old child in Billings.

Amanda Rose Steffen pleaded guilty Friday to negligent homicide, assault on a minor and common scheme aggravated assault as part of a plea agreement.

She admitted that she hit her daughter in the head and blocked the baby's airway on multiple occasions.

The child, Roseana Fox, had a fractured skull and showed signs of dehydration when she died in June 2012.

Steffen is scheduled to be sentenced by Yellowstone County District Court Judge Mary Jane Knisely on April 2.

Prosecutors are recommending a sentence totaling 40 years.

The victim's father, Jeffrey Fox, has pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide. He's scheduled to go to trial on May 4.


FWP group develops hunter-ethics campaign

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

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A citizen's group has taken the first steps toward developing an educational and media campaign to encourage Montana hunters to use good ethics.

The initiative by the Region 3 Citizen's Advisory Council evolved out of reports in several areas of southwest Montana this fall where hunters surrounded herds of elk and shot into them.

The council's efforts are already being noticed.

Region 3 supervisor Sam Sheppard says the Montana's Outdoor Legacy Foundation has indicated it would consider helping part of the campaign.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that other citizen councils in other regions have expressed interest in the campaign.


Missoula federal building studied for possible VA clinic

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

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The General Services Administration is studying the feasibility of converting the vacant Federal Building in downtown Missoula to a new VA outpatient clinic.

The facility was built as the original post office in 1911 and has been under GSA ownership since 1949.

GSA spokeswoman Sally Mayberry says the VA feasibility study should be complete in June.

Mayberry tells the Missoulian that it's not known what the proposed VA project will cost or if Congress will choose to fund it.

The VA opened a new $6.3 million clinic in Billings last year.


Balanced Northern Arizona tops Montana State 71-64

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Quinton Upshur hit five 3-pointers and scored 18 points — 14 in the second half — to lead a balanced attack for Northern Arizona in a 71-64 win at Montana State on Saturday.

Kris Yanku had 15 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds for the Lumberjacks (9-11, 4-3 Big Sky). Aaseem Dixon added 14 points, Ako Kaluna had 12 and Jordyn Martin eight points with eight rebounds. Northern Arizona, which shot 46.3 percent from the field but made 10 of 15 3s, only got four points from its bench.

Michael Dison led Montana State (4-15, 1-6) with 18 points, Marcus Colbert added 15 and Danny Robison 14.

The Bobcats trailed 54-53 with 7:02 left but Upshur hit three 3s down the stretch for Northern Arizona. Colbert's layup pulled Montana State within 67-63 with 1:21 left but Martin and Yanku made two free throws in the final minute to secure the win.

Saturday, January 24th 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
AP-MT--Right Now/1298
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment


Regulators order pipeline upgrades after Montana oil spill

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal safety regulators have ordered a pipeline company to make major upgrades to a line that spilled almost 40,000 gallons of oil into Montana's Yellowstone River and fouled a local water supply.

Friday's order comes after Bridger Pipeline of Casper, Wyoming, announced plans to bury its line deeper beneath the Yellowstone to protect against future accidents.

The Department of Transportation order would make that improvement mandatory and require identical action where the line crosses beneath the Poplar River in northeast Montana.

The cause of last weekend's spill remains under investigation. It prompted a five-day shutdown of drinking water services for 6,000 people in the city of Glendive after oil got into a treatment plant.

Cleanup crews have made minimal progress recovering oil from the ice-covered river.


Exxon gets $1 million penalty in Yellowstone spill

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal officials have issued a $1 million penalty against Exxon Mobil Corp. for safety violations stemming from a 2011 pipeline rupture that spilled 63,000 gallons of crude into Montana's Yellowstone River.

The Department of Transportation order issued Friday reduces the penalty as originally proposed by about $700,000. That comes after the Texas-based oil company challenged some claims it didn't do enough to prevent the accident.

The pipeline break during flooding near Laurel left oil along an 85-mile stretch of the Yellowstone, killing fish and wildlife and prompting a months-long cleanup.

Also Friday, attorneys property owners damaged by the spill announced Exxon agreed to pay them $2 million to settle a civil lawsuit.

Another pipeline break on the Yellowstone last week spilled an estimated 39,000 gallons of oil near Glendive.


Billings man appeals 22 life sentences for rapes

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A man sentenced to 22 consecutive life sentences last year for raping three women and attempting to rape a fourth is appealing his case.

Toby Eugene Griego was convicted of 27 felony counts last April. Three of the women reported being bound and gagged and threatened with various weapons.

According to the Billings Gazette, Griego's attorney has until Feb. 11 to file an opening brief in the appeal process. Griego can appeal issues relating to his sentence and jury conviction


Supporters rally as lawmakers weigh preschool plan

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — About 50 supporters told a legislative panel that Gov. Steve Bullock's $37 million plan for public preschool is a worthy investment.

Educators and parents told members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education Friday that providing preschool for all Montana 4-year-olds would better prepare them for kindergarten and for life.

Under the program dubbed Early Edge, grants would be available to public school districts to create or expand preschool programs. Bullock has included the initiative in his budget proposal.

In more than two hours of testimony, only one woman from a private preschool voiced concerns that she might not be able to continue offering the program in light of proposed accreditation standards.

Bullock attended an Early Edge rally outside the Capitol after the committee meeting.


Legislator seeks to up penalty for abuse of pregnant women

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker is proposing that abusers receive additional prison time if the victim is pregnant.

Rep. Keith Regier of Kalispell introduced the measure in the House Judiciary Committee Friday.

House Bill 197 would require a minimum of two years in state prison be added to any punishment for using seriously harmful force if the victim was known to be pregnant.

Regier said the bill would cover varying degrees and types of abuse, including physical, psychological and financial.

Representatives from the Montana Family Foundation, Right to Life Montana and NARAL Pro-Choice Montana spoke in favor of the bill. No one spoke in opposition.


Whitefish man pleads no contest to felony arson

(Information in the following story is from: Flathead Beacon, http://www.flatheadbeacon.com)

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A Whitefish man has pleaded no contest to charges of felony arson accusing him of setting his ex-girlfriend's house on fire.

The Flathead Beacon reports James Langley was arrested after DNA evidence connected him to an oilcan at the scene of the fire.

According to court documents, the Whitefish Fire Department responded to an early morning fire in 2013. One of the residents told police that a flash outside a window woke them.

When they looked into their yard they found an oil can and the siding on the house on fire and called firefighters.

A plea agreement calls for a six-year deferred sentence and requires Langley to pay more than $2,500 in restitution.


Asarco says Atlantic Richfield concealed pollution

(Information in the following story is from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — American Smelting and Refining Co. says in a lawsuit that Atlantic Richfield Co. concealed pollution-related documents during the sale of ARCO's East Helena zinc fuming plant to Asarco.

The lawsuit filed in Helena District Court alleges breach of contract because ARCO failed to tell it or the Environmental Protection Agency of pollution caused by the zinc plant. The zinc plant operated for 45 years under ARCO before Asarco bought it in 1972.

A request for comment from ARCO's parent company, British Petroleum, was not returned Friday.

In 1984, the EPA listed the smelter property for Superfund site designation and identified Asarco and ARCO as potentially responsible parties.

According to the Independent Record, Asarco says it was found the only liable party because of the concealment by Atlantic Richfield.


Man charged with beating nuns pleads guilty

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 33-year-old man accused in home invasion attacks on three Billings women has pleaded guilty to four of eight charges against him.

Christopher Pine pleaded guilty on Thursday to three counts of felony robbery and one count of felony intimidation. His victims included two retired nuns.

According to the Billings Gazette, prosecutors say they won't ask for a sentence of more than 60 years in prison.

Pine broke into a woman's house and robbed her on Aug. 13, 2013. The next night he broke into a home where two retired nuns were living and stomped and beat them. Both nuns were treated for serious injuries. Credit cards were taken in both robberies.


Pedestrian hit and killed by semitrailer on Interstate 90

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Highway Patrol says a pedestrian was hit and killed by a semitrailer early Friday.

The patrol says the semitrailer was westbound on Interstate 90 near Missoula when the accident occurred about 3 a.m.

Authorities say they do not know why the pedestrian was on the highway. The truck driver was not injured and the pedestrian has not been identified.


Nature Conservancy finishes 257-square-mile land purchase

(Information in the following story is from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — The Nature Conservancy has finished its purchase of nearly 260 square miles of forestlands in Montana and Washington to protect fish and wildlife.

The $134 million deal with international wood products Plum Creek Timber, Inc., was announced last October as an effort to transfer ownership of large tracts of Plum Creek's higher-altitude, lower production timber lands to the environmental conservation organization.

The Great Falls Tribune reports the Nature Conservancy says the project will help protect critical habitat for bull trout, lynx, elk and mule deer.

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

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