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Tuesday, March 3rd 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Opposing Medicaid programs' costs vary

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Two proposals to expand Medicaid in Montana would have drastically different outcomes on state finances.

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock's plan to put an additional 65,000 Montanans on Medicaid would save the state $80 million over the next four years then require the state to contribute 10 percent of the roughly $683 million biennial expansion cost.

A Republican counterproposal heard in the Legislature last week would immediately cost the state more than $20 million annually and cover fewer people. But Republican Rep. Nancy Ballance says House Bill 455 is a backup to cover certain needy people in case the larger expansion fails the statehouse.

The Republican plan was originally touted as an alternative to the Democratic one. The governor's budget director calls the Republican proposal an excuse not to expand Medicaid coverage.


Court to consider preservation of judge's racist emails

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Civil rights attorneys are due in federal court Tuesday to argue that hundreds of racist emails from Montana's former Chief U.S. District Judge should be preserved as potential evidence in future lawsuits.

Attorneys for the federal judiciary are seeking to dismiss the case. They said in court filings that the emails from Judge Richard Cebull are confidential and can't be released under federal law.

Cebull resigned last year after an investigation into a racist email he sent involving President Barack Obama.

A judicial committee determined he sent hundreds more inappropriate emails. Those have not been released.

Attorneys with the California Civil Rights Law Group say the emails could show bias in cases decided by Cebull.

The case is before U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California.


$750K bail maintained for former coach accused of rape

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

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A former girls' basketball coach at Lone Peak High School in Big Sky who is accused of raping two of his players will remain jailed on $750,000 bail.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports District Judge John Brown issued an order Monday saying 22-year-old Cyle Kokot's bail will remain in effect.

Kokot posted $250,000 bail after his arrest but was arrested again earlier this month for allegedly defying the judge's order that he have no contact with the alleged victims and witnesses in the case.

Kokot was arrested Aug. 29 after the parents of one of the girls went to the school superintendent. Charging documents say Kokot acknowledged having sex with the girls and knowing they were 14 and 16 at the time.

He has pleaded not guilty to two felony counts of sexual intercourse without consent.


Montana coal seam fire is out after smoldering for decades

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

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A fire that smoldered for decades in an underground coal seam in southeastern Montana has been extinguished.

Bill Snoddy with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality says the Settler's Stripping Coal Fire is out and reclamation work on the Treasure County site is underway.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that Snoddy said the fire burned for as long as 70 years after a lightning strike hit an exposed section of the 15-foot-thick seam.

It was put out at the request of a landowner who grazes cattle nearby. Snoddy says there were worries it would spark a wildfire on the surface.

Since 1997, the DEQ has extinguished 36 fires in areas where coal was mined on state and private lands.

There are 3,200 abandoned coal mines in Montana.


Town Pump adding on to corporate office in Butte

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

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Town Pump, which employs almost 3,000 people in Montana, plans to expand its corporate office in Butte.

Spokeswoman Maureen Kenneally tells The Montana Standard the project will begin this spring and take about 10 months to complete.

Plans call for building a 24,000-square-feet, four-story building just east of the current corporate office. Breezeways will connect the two buildings.

A small warehouse will be demolished to make way for the new construction.

Town Pump, founded in 1953, operates in 55 Montana communities and owns travel plazas, convenience stores, car washes, hotels, casinos and delivers propane.


Montana prosecutors honored for anti-corruption work

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice's inspector general is honoring the Montana U.S. Attorney's Office for its work to weed out fraud involving federally funded programs on Indian reservations.

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Carl Rostad of Great Falls accepted the Collaboration Award on Feb. 27 in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the U.S. Attorney's Guardians Project.

The project has charged 77 defendants since 2012, has resulted in convictions on more than 100 charges and orders for millions of dollars in restitution.

The DOJ says Rostad is considered the architect of the strike-force model that elevated the Offices of Inspector General in corruption investigations. U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter said in addition to holding defendants responsible, the investigations found errors in oversight and management that could lead to improvements in the grants and contracts process.


Bail set at $150K for man arrested after Missoula-area chase

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

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Bail was set at $150,000 for a man suspected in a string of thefts in the Missoula area who was arrested after leading Missoula County sheriff's deputies on a high-speed chase.

The Missoulian reports 36-year-old Douglas Brown was charged Friday with five counts of felony endangerment for the Feb. 25 chase that began in East Missoula. Justice of the Peace Marie Andersen scheduled Brown's preliminary hearing for March 17.

Undersheriff Jason Johnson says officers wanted to hear from drivers who were run off the road during the chase that ended just west of Potomac. Johnson says six vehicles were run off the road, but only one driver had come forward by Friday.

Prosecuting attorney Mac Bloom said Brown was under investigation for stealing two cars in Missoula County.


Montana State receives $1M donation for computer science

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Greg Gianforte, the founder of RightNow Technologies, is donating $1 million to Montana State University to help the school educate and graduate more computer science majors.

The donation from the Gianforte Family Foundation, announced Monday, includes $500,000 for the Gianforte Faculty Fellows program to support the recruitment and retention of computer science professors and $500,000 to increase space for those teaching and studying the computer sciences.

Gianforte says the gift will give MSU students more opportunity to pursue computer science and to fill high-paying job opportunities without leaving Montana.

RightNow Technologies, founded in 1997, developed customer relationship management software. Oracle purchased the company for $1.5 billion in 2011.


Kalispell man convicted in double homicide dies in prison

SHELBY, Mont. (AP) — A Kalispell man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and her 15-year-old daughter on Christmas Day 2010 has died after being found unresponsive in his cell at the Crossroads Correctional Center in Shelby.

Corrections Corp. of America says 38-year-old Tyler Miller was found shortly before 9:30 p.m. Sunday. Staff administered life-saving efforts and Miller was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounce dead shortly after 10:30 p.m.

An autopsy is planned to determine the cause of death.

Miller was serving two life sentences for killing 35-year-old Jaimi Lynn Hurlbert and her daughter, Alyssa Burkett, when they arrived at the home of Miller's mother.

Court records said Hurlbert had filed a harassment report with Kalispell police shortly before 4 p.m. on that Christmas Eve. She reported Miller had threated to kill her, her family, her friends and himself.

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

Monday, March 2nd 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

2 rescued from the backcountry in Gallatin County

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Two men have been rescued from the backcountry in Gallatin County.

The two out-of-state residents were rescued Saturday night. They were found cold but in good condition.

The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office says it received a call shortly before 9 p.m. from the men who had become lost in Hyalite Canyon while on a snowboard outing.

Though hampered by marginal cell coverage, the men were able to help guide rescuers on snowmobiles to their location by listening to the sound of the machines.

They were found about 10:30 p.m.


Missoula remembers avalanche on 1-year anniversary

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A film recounting the deadly avalanche that swept through a Missoula neighborhood a year ago highlighted the one-year anniversary of the event.

The documentary about the Mount Jumbo avalanche drew a packed house at its premiere on Saturday at Missoula's Roxy Theater.

"Amplify Kindness," by director Katrina Johnson, had its premiere on the one-year anniversary of the day when an avalanche slid down Mount Jumbo and into the Rattlesnake neighborhood, destroying two homes.

After the avalanche, an army of neighbors rushed to the scene with shovels and snow probes and helped dig out three people.

Two survived but the third died at the hospital.

Johnson says the film is primarily about spreading the message of the community spirit after the avalanche.


Cause of moose deaths in SW Montana investigated

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

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Biologists are trying to determine the cause of six moose deaths in the Upper Big Hole Valley in southwest Montana since 2013.

So far, laboratory tests have proved inconclusive.

The Montana Standard reports that the six adult female moose died of either disease or malnutrition, but exactly the nature of the disease or what caused the malnutrition is unknown.

Officials say the moose population is not in danger.

In fact, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says mortality rates for moose calves are improving.


Various groups stand against Yellowstone paddling bill

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

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is among various groups opposing proposed legislation that would open up more rivers and streams to paddling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

The Yellowstone and Grand Teton Paddling Act was introduced last month by Wyoming Republican U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis.

Caroline Byrd, who directs the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in Bozeman, Montana, says the proposed bill is not the right way to address a new recreational use in a national park.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that the Greater Yellowstone Coalition joins the National Parks Conservation Association and Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance in opposing the bill.

Lummis says her bill allows park managers to manage paddling as they do any other recreational activity in the parks.


Billings man to argue self-defense in homicide trial

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 28-year-old Billings man accused of the shooting death of a woman while she was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher intends to argue self-defense at his trial.

The trial of Richard Douglas Reinert Jr. is scheduled to start Monday in Yellowstone County District Court.

Reinert is charged with deliberate homicide in death of 25-year-old Jessica Lee French Stephenson at his home in December 2013.

Prosecutors say Reinert shot Stephenson multiple times in the head and chest while she was calling 911 to report he was drunk and fighting with his wife.

The Billings Gazette reports that court documents show Reinert contends that his actions were motivated by fear from statements by Stephenson.


Kalispell assisted living facility is closing

(Information in the following story is from: Daily Inter Lake, http://www.dailyinterlake.com)

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Residents of an assisted living facility in Kalispell have been given 30 days to find a new place to live because the center is closing.

Greenwood Village Assisted Living is home to 30 elderly and disabled residents.

It will close April 1.

The Daily Inter Lake reports that the closure comes as the Montana Department of Health and Human Services is investigating a complaint filed recently over the care of a woman who suffered a stroke at Greenwood Village and later died.

Agency spokesman Jon Ebelt says the Quality Assurance Division Licensure Bureau has received four complaints related to Greenwood Village Assisted Living within the past 12 months.


Belgrade bail bonds business settles federal lawsuit

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

BELGRADE, Mont. (AP) — A Belgrade bail bonds business has reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit against Park County and the county's justice of the peace over issuing jail bonds.

Park County agreed to pay Valley Bail Bonds $6,700 after the business' federal lawsuit was appealed.

In April, Valley Bail Bonds sued Judge Linda Budeski and Park County in U.S. District Court in Billings. The company says Budeski allowed a criminal defendant to post 10 percent of his bail with the court, which deprived the company of its percentage.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, a federal judge ruled judges have discretion and the company was free to write surety bonds for other defendants.

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

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