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Friday, July 31st 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
MONTANA SHOOTING

FBI: Suspect in Montana shooting says victim laughed at him

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — An FBI agent says a Wyoming man acknowledged to investigators that he shot a couple and their daughter on Montana's Crow Indian Reservation.

Special Agent Larry McGrail II's statement filed Thursday says Jesus Deniz opened fire because one of the victims laughed at him.

McGrail's statement was filed with a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court seeking a murder warrant for the 18-year-old Deniz, also known as Jesus Deniz Mendoza.

Deniz is being held in Wyoming after police arrested him near Meeteetse, about 120 miles away from the town of Pryor, where the shooting happened.

FBI spokesman Todd Palmer confirmed 51-year-old Jason Shane and 47-year-old Tana Shane were killed in the Wednesday shooting.

A relative, Ada Shane, says their daughter Jorah Shane was wounded when she ran from the man who had told them he was out of gas and needed assistance.

BILLIONAIRE'S BANKRUPTCY

Court denies Yellowstone Club founder's release from jail

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A court has denied a third emergency petition to release the founder of Montana's Yellowstone Club from jail.

Wednesday's decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means 65-year-old former billionaire Tim Blixseth will likely remain in the Cascade County Detention Center until an October hearing.

The Medina, Washington, resident has been in the Great Falls jail since April 20 on a judge's contempt order. U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon says Blixseth has not accounted for $13.8 million from the sale of a Mexico resort.

Blixseth had been ordered not to sell assets while the Yellowstone Club's bankruptcy was pending.

Blixseth says he has turned over the details of the 2013 sale. Haddon has ordered a trial-like hearing on Oct. 19 to determine whether those documents comply with his order.

SAGE GROUSE

Wyoming, Montana governors unsatisfied with sage grouse plan

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The governors of Wyoming and Montana say a federal plan to protect the greater sage grouse is far more restrictive than Western states' own programs to help the struggling species.

They told the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Wednesday to rewrite major portions of a draft federal policy for protecting the ground-dwelling bird.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead says the BLM is wrong to portray livestock grazing as a threat to sage grouse. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock says the federal plan would prohibit oil and gas leasing.

A court has told the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to decide by Sept. 30 whether the birds need protection as a threatened or endangered species. A decision to list could severely restrict oil and gas drilling and other development in the region.

TRAIN SPEED LIMITS

BNSF doubles train speeds through Miles City to 60 mph

MILES CITY, Mont. (AP) — Officials in Miles City are unhappy after BSNF Railway lifted its self-imposed speed restrictions and is now moving trains through town at speeds of up to 60 mph.

Miles City Mayor Butch Grenz says town residents are upset that trains are moving faster than 30 mph. Miles City sits between the rail hubs of Glendive and Forsyth and BNSF's rail bisects the town. Grenz notes one crossing doesn't have crossing arms.

BNSF spokesman Matt Jones says the company made the change earlier this month in the name of efficiency. He notes the Federal Railroad Administration has said the tracks through Miles City can handle trains traveling at up to 60 mph.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester of Montana asked BNSF officials to meet with Miles City residents to review the speed change. He says just because they can go that fast, doesn't mean they should.

24/7 SOBRIETY PROGRAM

Montana Supreme Court upholds 24/7 Sobriety Program

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Supreme Court has upheld the state's 24/7 Sobriety Program, saying charging associated fees for alcohol monitoring is not pretrial punishment in violation of the Constitution.

In its ruling Thursday, the high court says breath testing can be appropriate as a condition of pretrial release. But they likened the testing fees to bail and said a judge must do an individual assessment to determine whether the program is appropriate for a defendant.

Under the program, a judge can order people charged with a second or subsequent drunken driving offense to pay for twice-daily breath tests or an alcohol monitoring bracelet as a condition of their pretrial release.

The court's decision comes after the state appealed a lower court ruling that said fees charged for the state's 24/7 Sobriety Program amount to unconstitutional pretrial punishment.

MONTANA STABBINGS

Woman injured in MSU-Northern stabbings to leave hospital

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

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A 19-year-old Belgrade woman who was attacked in an off-campus apartment with two other Montana State University-Northern students is being released from the hospital.

Taylor Woolman's father told the Great Falls Tribune that his daughter was scheduled to return home Wednesday after being released from Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado.

Woolman was attacked in the May 2 stabbings that also injured Sam Mix and Alicia Schneid. Mix was stabbed more than three dozen times, Woolman more than 20 times, including one that pierced her brain. Schneid was stabbed seven times.

A 17-year-old Havre boy is accused of attacking the three students with a knife. Justice Brown has pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted homicide and one count of aggravated burglary. He will be tried as an adult.

PATROL CRUISER CRASH

Patrol cruiser damaged in Billings crash

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana Highway Patrol officer and a suspect he was transporting to the Yellowstone County jail were injured when a minivan turned in front of the patrol cruiser at a Billings intersection.

Billings police say the collision happened shortly after 2 a.m. Thursday.

The patrol says the trooper suffered minor injuries to his leg and the suspect was taken to the hospital for treatment of a broken wrist. Both vehicles sustained front-end damage.

The Billings Gazette reports the 22-year-old man driving the minivan was uninjured. Jail officers said Ryan Allen Schottler was booked into jail on suspicion of criminal endangerment, driving under the influence and possession of drug paraphernalia after the crash.

HIT-AND-RUN CHARGE

Bond set at $350,000 for man in hit-and-run

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A judge has set bond at $350,000 for a man charged with a hit-and-run collision that left a 72-year-old man in critical condition.

Thirty-one-year-old Jerry Edward Dickson was arrested Tuesday and charged with two felonies — tampering with evidence and accident involving death of personal injuries. He appeared in court Wednesday via video from the Gallatin County jail.

Dickson allegedly hit William Kasun with his car as Kasun was crossing an intersection in Bozeman. Court documents state that Kasun had been found more than 100 feet from where the vehicle struck him. He remains in a Billings hospital in intensive care.

Dickson is also on probation for a drug charge, which increased his bond by $100,000. A public defender representing Dickson argued that the bond was set too high.

FATAL CRASH-BROWNING

Man, 25, killed in rollover crash in Browning

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

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say a 25-year-old man was killed in a single-vehicle rollover crash in Browning.

The Montana Highway Patrol says the Browning man, whose name has not been released, was thrown from his SUV when it went off a curve and rolled. The crash was reported at about 7 a.m. Thursday.

The Great Falls Tribune reports the driver died at the scene.

No other details have been released, and it's unclear if speed or alcohol played a role in the crash.

YELLOWSTONE-MISSING-SWIMMER

Search still on for missing Yellowstone worker from China

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Search and rescue teams are continuing to search Yellowstone National Park for a seasonal worker from China who went missing July 23 while swimming.

The park says that 12 to 18 searchers as well as two teams of dogs and helicopters have continued to search for 21-year-old Feiyang "Isaac" Xiang. The seasonal park concessionaire is believed to be in a 6-mile segment of the Yellowstone River near its confluence with Hellroaring Creek.

Xiang of the Hubei province disappeared while swimming with friends in the river after the current pulled him away from the shore.

The area of the Yellowstone where Xiang is thought to be is known to have deep pools, rapids and rocks.

No signs of Xiang have been found.

Thursday, July 30th 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
MONTANA SHOOTING

Relative: Family shot after offering help to stranded driver

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

BILLILNGS, Mont. (AP) — A relative says his aunt, uncle and cousin were gunned down when they stopped to help a man whose vehicle had run out of gas on Montana's Crow Indian Reservation.

FBI spokesman Todd Palmer confirms that two people were killed and a third wounded Wednesday morning in the tiny town of Pryor. He says a suspect was later arrested in Wyoming.

Palmer couldn't say what led to the shooting and didn't release the victims' names or relationships.

Bryce Hugs tells the Billings Gazette that his aunt, Tana Shane, drove by the stranded man, then returned with her husband and daughter to help.

Hugs says the man opened fire, killing Tana and Jason Shane and wounding their daughter, Jora Shane.

Hugs did not immediately return messages to The Associated Press.

TRIBAL CORRUPTION

Former Chippewa Cree leader sentenced to 5 ½ years in prison

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A judge has sentenced a former Chippewa Cree tribal council member to 5 ½ years in prison after he pleaded guilty to embezzlement, tax evasion and other charges in a federal corruption investigation.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris also ordered John "Chance" Houle to pay restitution of more than $121,000 for the tax evasion charge, along with another $525,000 with three of his co-defendants.

Houle pleaded guilty to three felony charges in December. Prosecutors say he took bribes and kickbacks from contractors while he was on the Chippewa Cree Business Committee.

They say he tried to conceal the payments by having them made to his children and the Flying Rock Cattle Co.

The case came from a wide-ranging federal investigation into the misuse of U.S. government money on Montana Indian reservations.

BLM FRAUD

Former BLM worker sentenced to 1 year for fraud

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A judge has sentenced a former Bureau of Land Management employee to a year in prison after he pleaded guilty to continuing to draw a federal salary after leaving his job.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris on Wednesday also ordered Larry Denny to repay more than $74,000 along with his former supervisor at the BLM, who was previously sentenced to six months in prison.

Prosecutors say Denny continued to collect a salary and benefits after he left his position as former deputy state director of the BLM's Eastern States Office in July 2012 to work for Montana's Chippewa Cree Tribe.

Denny pleaded guilty in March to charges that included wire fraud, false claims and theft of government property.

Former Eastern States Director John Grimson Lyon was convicted in March of covering up for Denny.

GLACIER WILDFIRE

Glacier park wildfire may have been human-caused

ST. MARY, Mont. (AP) — Glacier National Park officials say initial evidence shows a wildfire that burned 5 square miles may have been human-caused.

Park officials did not elaborate in their statement Wednesday. They are asking for information from hikers who were in the Reynolds Creek area and campers in the nearby backcountry campground between July 14 and July 21.

That is where the fire started on July 21. It spread quickly north of Lower St. Mary Lake, leading to the closure of 18 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Park officials re-opened part of that road Wednesday to allow access to the popular Logan Pass.

Two buildings have burned, including a cabin. Fire information officer Don Carpenter says park officials recently discovered another burned structure at the site of a historical homestead.

ENDANGERED CHILDREN

Families, counselors demand changes in child abuse cases

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Mental health counselors and families of children involved with child protective services are demanding wholesale changes within the agency.

Gov. Steve Bullock listened intently Wednesday as counselors called for more education and training for caseworkers, families asked that they be treated with respect and some called for the resignations of key administrators within the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Bullock declined to hear the specifics of each case, saying he didn't want to substitute his judgment for what a court has determined, but said he wanted suggestions for making the Division of Child and Family Services better.

Counselor Robin Castle of Great Falls said caseworkers should respect the recommendations of trained counselors and employees should return phone calls.

Officials with the governor's office promised to follow up on their concerns.

CHILD SHOT-SENTENCING

Man gets 10 years for fatally shooting 3-year-old nephew

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

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A St. Ignatius man who pleaded guilty to shooting his 3-year-old nephew has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 13 months in an alcohol treatment center.

The Missoulian reports 22-year-old Galen Hawk was sentenced Wednesday for the Oct. 22 death of Lonato Moran-Allen. Hawk previously pleaded guilty to negligent homicide.

He has said he had been drinking when he saw the boy holding his gun and took it away. Hawk told authorities the boy then ran away and looked back at him while pretending to shoot a toy gun.

Hawk then pointed his gun at the child and pulled the trigger, believing the weapon wasn't loaded.

The boy was shot in the back and died weeks before his fourth birthday.

PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE

Prescription drug abuse reduction initiative launched

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Medical Association, Department of Justice and other partners have launched a new initiative aiming to reduce prescription drug abuse in the state.Emergency and family doctor William Gallea and Attorney General Tim Fox announced the initiative Wednesday at St. Peter's Hospital in Helena.

They say the abuse of prescription drugs contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans every year. The state also has the third-highest rate in the country of teens reporting abuse of prescription pain relievers.

The key component of the initiative 18 months in the making is a website called knowyourdosemt.org.

Gallea says the website is a gold mine of information for patients, families and providers on statistics, pain management, drug prescribing practices, medication disposal and more.

FLATHEAD COUNTY JAIL

Flathead County offers to buy old Wal-Mart building for jail

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Flathead County has a tentative agreement to purchase a former Wal-Mart building in Evergreen to house the county jail.

The county has hired experts to study the feasibility of using the 130,000-square-foot former box store for a jail as well as to conduct an environmental study on the 14-acre site.

The Wal-Mart building was constructed in 1995 and the company is paying on a lease through the end of this year. The company closed the Evergreen store about five years ago when it opened a new Wal-Mart north of Kalispell.

County administrator Mike Pence said the building is owned by RIC Kalispell Trust of Brooklyn, New York. The city has agreed on a $2.8 million purchase price.

GLENDIVE WINDS

Glendive battered by 120 mph winds during thunderstorm

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

GLENDIVE, Mont. (AP) — Crews are working to restore power to Glendive after a severe thunderstorm with up to 120 mph winds knocked out much of the city's power.

The Billings Gazette reports that powerful straight-line winds damaged buildings, tipped over grain bins and flattened power lines Monday night. Wind speeds were measured at 90 mph before the measurement instrument was blown off the roof of the airport and an airplane hangar was destroyed.

Repair crews from towns in North Dakota were brought in to supplement two contract crews with Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.

Wednesday, July 29th 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
ATTEMPTED RAPE TRIAL

Trial begins for man accused of trying to rape a woman

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

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The attorney for a man who escaped from police custody after being arrested for trying to rape a woman in February 2014 said he choked her because she was trying to attack him with knives.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that opening arguments in the trial of Kevin Briggs began Tuesday. Briggs faces several felony counts, including attempted sexual intercourse without consent and assault on a peace officer.

The woman alleged Briggs drugged, assaulted and tried to rape her.

However, defense attorney Annie DeWolf told jurors that Briggs and the woman had played some music, drank smoothies and both recreationally injected a prescription sleep medication before they got into a fight and the woman lunged at Briggs with a knife.

Briggs escaped from police after his arrest. He was apprehended in Portland, Oregon, three weeks later.

TRIBAL CORRUPTION

Chippewa Cree official pleads guilty in corruption probe

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Chippewa Cree tribe's former roads department head and environmental health leader has pleaded guilty to taking bribes and stealing tribal funds.

Timothy Rosette entered his guilty pleas to three criminal counts Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Great Falls.

Prosecutors say Havre businessman Shad Huston gave Rosette cash in exchange for awarding contracts to Huston's companies for work on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation.

Huston has pleaded not guilty to bribery and to submitting fraudulent invoices for the work the company did.

Prosecutors also accused Rosette of accepting bribes and gifts from another contractor and one of its owners, James Eastlick Jr. Eastlick was previously convicted in the wide-ranging federal corruption investigation on the reservation.

Rosette is to be sentenced on Oct. 29.

MOUNTAIN WATER-MISSOULA

Regulators to press ahead on Missoula water sale review

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's Public Service Commission has denied a request by Missoula officials to reject a Canadian company's proposed purchase of the city's drinking water system.

The five-member regulatory panel voted 5-0 Tuesday to continue its review of The Carlyle Group's proposed sale of Park Water Co. to Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. The $327 million deal includes Missoula's Mountain Water Co. and two water systems in California.

The city recently won a court ruling allowing it to purchase Mountain Water, but the condemnation case has not been finalized and Carlyle is still the owner.

The PSC also rejected the city's request to force the Ontario-based Algonquin to participate directly in the review instead of its U.S.-based subsidiary.

The panel will hold a hearing on the proposed acquisition in October.

MT-RETIREMENT BENEFITS LAWSUIT

Public employee retirees settle lawsuit with state

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state of Montana has settled a lawsuit with retired state and local government employees that will allow them to keep a 3 percent annual increase in pension benefits.

Retirees sued after the 2013 Legislature cut the increases in an attempt to restore financial stability to the pension system.

A Helena judge ruled in March that the law violated a constitutional contracts clause and said the reductions weren't necessary because other pension system remedies were available.

The retirees said the case was dismissed last week after both sides agreed to drop their appeals to the Montana Supreme Court. The settlement affects about 20,000 retired workers.

A Helena judge in July blocked the 2013 law that cut annual pension increases for retired teachers after the state teachers' union filed a similar lawsuit.

GLACIER WILDFIRE

Glacier park officials to reopen Logan Pass access

ST. MARY, Mont. (AP) — Glacier National Park officials say they plan to reopen access to one of the park's main attractions that had been closed due to a nearby wildfire.

The west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road will open Wednesday to Logan Pass on the Continental Divide.

The east side of the 50-mile road will remain closed from Logan Pass to St. Mary. The 5-square-mile wildfire is burning around the roadway near Lower St. Mary Lake.

Park officials warned visitors to expect delays and traffic congestion with just one way to and from Logan Pass, and they encouraged use of the park's shuttle buses or guided tours.

Cool weather, rain and high humidity have helped firefighters contain nearly half of the fire, but warmer temperatures Tuesday were expected to increase the fire activity.

STILLWATER MINING

Union workers again reject contract with Stillwater Mining

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Union workers have again rejected a proposed four-year contract with the only company mining platinum and palladium in the United States.

Stillwater Mining Co. employees voted down a contract Monday night that would keep the pay and benefits of about 900 Montana miners mostly consistent with the contract that ended in early June. They rejected the same proposal June 10.

United Steelworkers Local 11-0001 announced the vote on its website. No vote tally was published and union representatives were not immediately available Tuesday.

Stillwater says in a Tuesday news release the company will consider all long-term alternatives following the workers' decision.

Workers were outraged this year to learn that Stillwater CEO Michael "Mick" McMullen received an 8 percent raise while the company cuts elsewhere to cope with declining precious metal prices.

HIT-AND-RUN ARREST

Suspect arrested in Bozeman hit-and-run

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Police in Bozeman have arrested a suspect in a weekend hit-and-run that seriously injured a 72-year-old man.

Police say 31-year-old Jerry Edwards Dickson was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of tampering with evidence and not reporting an accident involving an injury. He is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Justice Court on Wednesday.

Investigators say William Kasun was struck early Saturday while trying to cross the street in Bozeman and thrown about 110 feet. Kasun was spotted by passing motorists and taken to the hospital. He suffered a head injury, broken ribs and fractures to his face and neck. He was listed in serious condition at a Billings hospital on Tuesday.

Dickson's roommate went to police Monday after hearing about the collision to report that Dickson had damaged her vehicle after borrowing it early Saturday.

MISSOULA-SHOOTING DEATH

Officials ID shooting victim found outside hospital

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

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Missoula County officials have released the name of a Washington state man who was found dead in a vehicle outside a western Montana hospital.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Brenda Bassett said the victim was 25-year-old Jake Colvin, of Valley, Washington.

Colvin was found dead in sport utility vehicle outside St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula early Sunday afternoon.

Police are investigating whether Colvin may have been shot in Spokane, Washington, and are trying to determine when he died during the drive to Missoula.

The Missoulian reports the driver, 34-year-old Leo Rodriguez, of Spokane, Washington, was charged Tuesday with tampering with evidence. On Tuesday, he made an initial court appearance, where his bail was set at $100,000.

Police from Missoula and Spokane continue to investigate the shooting.

FATAL CRASH-ROUNDUP

Police identify woman killed in rollover crash near Roundup

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Musselshell County sheriff's officials have identified the 31-year-old North Dakota woman who was killed in a single-vehicle rollover crash east of Roundup.

The Billings Gazette reports that Melissa Victoria Lane, of Bismarck, North Dakota, died Wednesday after she swerved to miss a deer on U.S. Highway 12. The Chevrolet Trailblazer she was driving went off the side of the road and rolled through a barbed wire fence.

Those injured in the wreck include five children ages 5 months to 12 years, as well as a 32-year-old man. Officials say Lane and two passengers were ejected from the vehicle. The current status of the passengers is unknown at this time.Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
ATTEMPTED RAPE TRIAL

Trial begins for man accused of trying to rape a woman

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

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The attorney for a man who escaped from police custody after being arrested for trying to rape a woman in February 2014 said he choked her because she was trying to attack him with knives.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that opening arguments in the trial of Kevin Briggs began Tuesday. Briggs faces several felony counts, including attempted sexual intercourse without consent and assault on a peace officer.

The woman alleged Briggs drugged, assaulted and tried to rape her.

However, defense attorney Annie DeWolf told jurors that Briggs and the woman had played some music, drank smoothies and both recreationally injected a prescription sleep medication before they got into a fight and the woman lunged at Briggs with a knife.

Briggs escaped from police after his arrest. He was apprehended in Portland, Oregon, three weeks later.

TRIBAL CORRUPTION

Chippewa Cree official pleads guilty in corruption probe

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Chippewa Cree tribe's former roads department head and environmental health leader has pleaded guilty to taking bribes and stealing tribal funds.

Timothy Rosette entered his guilty pleas to three criminal counts Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Great Falls.

Prosecutors say Havre businessman Shad Huston gave Rosette cash in exchange for awarding contracts to Huston's companies for work on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation.

Huston has pleaded not guilty to bribery and to submitting fraudulent invoices for the work the company did.

Prosecutors also accused Rosette of accepting bribes and gifts from another contractor and one of its owners, James Eastlick Jr. Eastlick was previously convicted in the wide-ranging federal corruption investigation on the reservation.

Rosette is to be sentenced on Oct. 29.

MOUNTAIN WATER-MISSOULA

Regulators to press ahead on Missoula water sale review

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's Public Service Commission has denied a request by Missoula officials to reject a Canadian company's proposed purchase of the city's drinking water system.

The five-member regulatory panel voted 5-0 Tuesday to continue its review of The Carlyle Group's proposed sale of Park Water Co. to Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. The $327 million deal includes Missoula's Mountain Water Co. and two water systems in California.

The city recently won a court ruling allowing it to purchase Mountain Water, but the condemnation case has not been finalized and Carlyle is still the owner.

The PSC also rejected the city's request to force the Ontario-based Algonquin to participate directly in the review instead of its U.S.-based subsidiary.

The panel will hold a hearing on the proposed acquisition in October.

MT-RETIREMENT BENEFITS LAWSUIT

Public employee retirees settle lawsuit with state

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state of Montana has settled a lawsuit with retired state and local government employees that will allow them to keep a 3 percent annual increase in pension benefits.

Retirees sued after the 2013 Legislature cut the increases in an attempt to restore financial stability to the pension system.

A Helena judge ruled in March that the law violated a constitutional contracts clause and said the reductions weren't necessary because other pension system remedies were available.

The retirees said the case was dismissed last week after both sides agreed to drop their appeals to the Montana Supreme Court. The settlement affects about 20,000 retired workers.

A Helena judge in July blocked the 2013 law that cut annual pension increases for retired teachers after the state teachers' union filed a similar lawsuit.

GLACIER WILDFIRE

Glacier park officials to reopen Logan Pass access

ST. MARY, Mont. (AP) — Glacier National Park officials say they plan to reopen access to one of the park's main attractions that had been closed due to a nearby wildfire.

The west side of Going-to-the-Sun Road will open Wednesday to Logan Pass on the Continental Divide.

The east side of the 50-mile road will remain closed from Logan Pass to St. Mary. The 5-square-mile wildfire is burning around the roadway near Lower St. Mary Lake.

Park officials warned visitors to expect delays and traffic congestion with just one way to and from Logan Pass, and they encouraged use of the park's shuttle buses or guided tours.

Cool weather, rain and high humidity have helped firefighters contain nearly half of the fire, but warmer temperatures Tuesday were expected to increase the fire activity.

STILLWATER MINING

Union workers again reject contract with Stillwater Mining

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Union workers have again rejected a proposed four-year contract with the only company mining platinum and palladium in the United States.

Stillwater Mining Co. employees voted down a contract Monday night that would keep the pay and benefits of about 900 Montana miners mostly consistent with the contract that ended in early June. They rejected the same proposal June 10.

United Steelworkers Local 11-0001 announced the vote on its website. No vote tally was published and union representatives were not immediately available Tuesday.

Stillwater says in a Tuesday news release the company will consider all long-term alternatives following the workers' decision.

Workers were outraged this year to learn that Stillwater CEO Michael "Mick" McMullen received an 8 percent raise while the company cuts elsewhere to cope with declining precious metal prices.

HIT-AND-RUN ARREST

Suspect arrested in Bozeman hit-and-run

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Police in Bozeman have arrested a suspect in a weekend hit-and-run that seriously injured a 72-year-old man.

Police say 31-year-old Jerry Edwards Dickson was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of tampering with evidence and not reporting an accident involving an injury. He is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Justice Court on Wednesday.

Investigators say William Kasun was struck early Saturday while trying to cross the street in Bozeman and thrown about 110 feet. Kasun was spotted by passing motorists and taken to the hospital. He suffered a head injury, broken ribs and fractures to his face and neck. He was listed in serious condition at a Billings hospital on Tuesday.

Dickson's roommate went to police Monday after hearing about the collision to report that Dickson had damaged her vehicle after borrowing it early Saturday.

MISSOULA-SHOOTING DEATH

Officials ID shooting victim found outside hospital

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

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Missoula County officials have released the name of a Washington state man who was found dead in a vehicle outside a western Montana hospital.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Brenda Bassett said the victim was 25-year-old Jake Colvin, of Valley, Washington.

Colvin was found dead in sport utility vehicle outside St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula early Sunday afternoon.

Police are investigating whether Colvin may have been shot in Spokane, Washington, and are trying to determine when he died during the drive to Missoula.

The Missoulian reports the driver, 34-year-old Leo Rodriguez, of Spokane, Washington, was charged Tuesday with tampering with evidence. On Tuesday, he made an initial court appearance, where his bail was set at $100,000.

Police from Missoula and Spokane continue to investigate the shooting.

FATAL CRASH-ROUNDUP

Police identify woman killed in rollover crash near Roundup

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Musselshell County sheriff's officials have identified the 31-year-old North Dakota woman who was killed in a single-vehicle rollover crash east of Roundup.

The Billings Gazette reports that Melissa Victoria Lane, of Bismarck, North Dakota, died Wednesday after she swerved to miss a deer on U.S. Highway 12. The Chevrolet Trailblazer she was driving went off the side of the road and rolled through a barbed wire fence.

Those injured in the wreck include five children ages 5 months to 12 years, as well as a 32-year-old man. Officials say Lane and two passengers were ejected from the vehicle. The current status of the passengers is unknown at this time.

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