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Montana News

Three Killed In Northwestern Montana Collision

Monday, June 24th 2019

POLSON, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say three people have died in a two-vehicle collision in northwestern Montana.

Lake County Sheriff Don Bell and Lake County Director Emergency Services Mark Clary tell KERR-AM radio that the crash happened Monday morning on U.S. Highway 93 between Ronan and St. Ignatius.

Montana Highway Patrol logs show troopers responding to the fatal crash after 7 a.m.

Bell and Clary say the highway is expected to be closed for several hours near the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge between Eagle Pass Trail and Montana Highway 212.

No details were immediately available on the crash or the people killed.
Information from: KERR-AM, http://www.750kerr.com/


Associated Press Montana News

Monday, June 24th 2019

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A second white-tailed deer in the northwestern Montana town of Libby has tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The Missoulian reports that Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks personnel will be sampling deer killed by staff to investigate the spread of the disease in the Libby area.

DENVER (AP) — A 46-year-old Colorado man has received a lifetime ban on hunting, fishing, and trapping in Colorado and most other states for various wildlife violations. Colorado Parks and Wildlife says Jeff Bodnar, of Hartsel, recently pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon by a previous offender and unlawful possession of two black bears and a mountain lion.

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road has opened for the season after delays caused by snowfall. The National Weather Service says motorists should drive carefully due to fog. Ice and snow drifts have closed Trail Ridge Road in Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Hiking and mountain biking groups in Montana are at odds but say they're committed to dialogue after a recent mountain bike race. The group Helena Hikes questions the safety and speed of competitors during the recent Helenduro mountain bike race in Helena's South Hills.


Associated Press Montana News

Monday, June 24th 2019

WASTING DISEASE

2nd deer with chronic wasting disease found in Libby

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

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A second white-tailed deer in the northwestern Montana town of Libby has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

The Missoulian reports that Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks personnel will be sampling deer killed by staff — and deer, elk and moose killed by hunters — to investigate the spread of the disease in the Libby area.

The deer found in Libby in late May and on June 14 mark the first time the disease has been detected west of the Continental Divide in Montana. Most other incidents have been reported in northeastern Montana.

The deadly brain wasting disease can affect the nervous systems of deer, elk and moose. It can produce long-term population declines in affected herds if left unmanaged.

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WILDLIFE VIOLATIONS

Colorado man loses privileges over wildlife violations

DENVER (AP) — A 46-year-old Colorado man has received a lifetime ban on hunting, fishing, and trapping in Colorado and most other states for various wildlife violations.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife says Jeff Bodnar, of Hartsel, recently pleaded guilty to possession of a weapon by a previous offender and unlawful possession of two black bears and a mountain lion.

Bodnar was fined nearly $4,600 and sentenced to 10 days in jail, which has been suspended pending successful completion of probation.

The agency says Bodnar's hunting, fishing and trapping privileges had been suspended twice previously for past wildlife violations.

At its June meeting, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission approved a lifetime suspension of Bodnar's hunting, fishing and trapping privileges in Colorado and other states.

ROCKIES WEATHER

Glacier's premier road opens after late-season snow

(Information from: Daily Inter Lake, http://www.dailyinterlake.com)

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road has opened for the season after delays caused by snowfall.

The National Weather Service advised motorists on the 50-mile (80-kilometer) road Sunday to drive carefully due to fog.

The Daily Inter Lake reports travelers on the Going-to-the-Sun Road also should be aware of possible rock falls, especially west of Logan Pass.

Late-season high-altitude snow has closed the Beartooth Highway south of Red Lodge into Wyoming.

In Colorado, icy conditions and snow drifts up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) closed Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Park officials say they're not sure when the road might open.

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MOUNTAIN BIKE RACE

Hike, bike groups at odds over Montana mountain bike race

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

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Hiking and mountain biking groups in Montana are at odds but say they're committed to dialogue after a recent mountain bike race.

The group Helena Hikes questions the safety and speed of competitors during the recent Helenduro mountain bike race in Helena's South Hills. The group also worries about trail damage and suggests some other site might be better for the race.

Hikers use the same trails where bikers practice ahead of the race.

The Montana Bicycle Guild issued a recent rebuttal calling the concerns unfounded. The bike group says bike races have been held on the trails for 25 years without incident.

The Helena Independent-Record reports Helena's parks and recreation director walked the course with both groups Thursday and says she didn't see any obvious damage from the race.

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INTERNET TROLL LAWSUIT

Woman estimates "troll storm" losses at over $1.3M

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana woman estimates she will have lost at least $1.3 million as the result of a neo-Nazi website publisher telling his followers to unleash an anti-Semitic "troll storm" against her in 2016.

Tanya Gersh of Whitefish asked a judge Friday for a default judgment in her civil lawsuit against The Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin.

She says Anglin caused her pain and suffering beyond the $1.3 million in economic losses. She also is seeking punitive damages for what she calls Anglin's malicious campaign of harassment and terror.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch has scheduled a July 11 hearing in Missoula. Anglin did not immediately return an email seeking comment Saturday.

Gersh and her family received threats after Anglin accused her of trying to force the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer to sell her property.

MONTANA DOUBLE HOMICIDE

Man gets 4 life prison terms for double slaying in Montana

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A man convicted of a double slaying at a rural home in western Montana has been sentenced to four life terms in prison.

The Missoulian reports 52-year-old Caressa Hardy was sentenced Friday for the 2013 deaths of 62-year-old Thomas Korjack and 37-year-old Robert Orozco in Frenchtown. Hardy was convicted of two counts of deliberate homicide.

Prosecutors say Hardy shot the men because he thought they were going to cut him off financially from the life they shared after moving to Frenchtown from Wyoming. Investigators believe Hardy burned the bodies.

No one reported either man missing until Karen Hardy, the mother of Hardy's children, told police she witnessed the slayings.

Caressa Hardy also was convicted of solicitation for murder for seeking out inmates to kill Karen Hardy after his arrest.


Associated Press Montana News

Sunday, June 23rd 2019

MOUNTAIN BIKE RACE

Hike, bike groups at odds over Montana mountain bike race

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

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Hiking and mountain biking groups in Montana are at odds but say they're committed to dialogue after a recent mountain bike race.

The group Helena Hikes questions the safety and speed of competitors during the recent Helenduro mountain bike race in Helena's South Hills. The group also worries about trail damage and suggests some other site might be better for the race.

Hikers use the same trails where bikers practice ahead of the race.

The Montana Bicycle Guild issued a recent rebuttal calling the concerns unfounded. The bike group says bike races have been held on the trails for 25 years without incident.

The Helena Independent-Record reports Helena's parks and recreation director walked the course with both groups Thursday and says she didn't see any obvious damage from the race.

___

INTERNET TROLL LAWSUIT

Woman estimates "troll storm" losses at over $1.3M

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana woman estimates she will have lost at least $1.3 million as the result of a neo-Nazi website publisher telling his followers to unleash an anti-Semitic "troll storm" against her in 2016.

Tanya Gersh of Whitefish asked a judge Friday for a default judgment in her civil lawsuit against The Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin.

She says Anglin caused her pain and suffering beyond the $1.3 million in economic losses. She also is seeking punitive damages for what she calls Anglin's malicious campaign of harassment and terror.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch has scheduled a July 11 hearing in Missoula. Anglin did not immediately return an email seeking comment Saturday.

Gersh and her family received threats after Anglin accused her of trying to force the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer to sell her property.

ROCKIES WEATHER

Start-of-summer snow closes high-elevation Rockies roads

(Information from: Daily Inter Lake, http://www.dailyinterlake.com)

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Snowfall is delaying the annual opening of a road through Montana's Glacier National Park.

High-elevation snowfall also closed the Beartooth Highway south of Red Lodge into Wyoming and Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado on Saturday.

Springtime plowing of Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier officially ended June 5 but the road has remained closed for pavement preservation work.

Park officials say they're not sure when the road might open.

The Daily Inter Lake reports Going-to-the-Sun Road opened on June 22 in 2018. The road opened on June 28 in 2017.

___

MONTANA DOUBLE HOMICIDE

Man gets 4 life prison terms for double slaying in Montana

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A man convicted of a double slaying at a rural home in western Montana has been sentenced to four life terms in prison.

The Missoulian reports 52-year-old Caressa Hardy was sentenced Friday for the 2013 deaths of 62-year-old Thomas Korjack and 37-year-old Robert Orozco in Frenchtown. Hardy was convicted of two counts of deliberate homicide.

Prosecutors say Hardy shot the men because he thought they were going to cut him off financially from the life they shared after moving to Frenchtown from Wyoming. Investigators believe Hardy burned the bodies.

No one reported either man missing until Karen Hardy, the mother of Hardy's children, told police she witnessed the slayings.

Caressa Hardy also was convicted of solicitation for murder for seeking out inmates to kill Karen Hardy after his arrest.

SLEEPING BEAR

Bear enters Montana home, settles in for nap in closet

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say a black bear somehow locked itself inside a Montana home and then nestled onto a closet shelf that wasn't too hard, wasn't too soft, but just right for a nap.

Missoula County sheriff's officials say the bear just yawned when deputies knocked on the window and unlocked the door in an attempt to coax it to leave Friday morning.

They had to call Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department officials, who tranquilized the bear so it could be re-located.

Sheriff's officials say in a Facebook post that deputies responded at 5:45 a.m. to a call that a bear opened the door to the Butler Creek's mudroom and somehow locked the deadbolt once inside.

They say the bear "began ripping the room apart" before climbing up the closet for a nap.

NORTHERN CHEYENNE RESERVATION-DEATH

Montana man sentenced to prison for reservation killing

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced a Montana man to six years in prison for the stabbing death of another man on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

U.S. District Judge Susan Watters handed down the sentence Friday against 29-year-old Darrell Lee Whiteman Jr., who previously pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme says the sentence also includes three years of supervised release.

The Lame Deer man was drinking at the victim's house on March 4, 2017.

Court documents say Whiteman grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed the victim in the chest during an argument that erupted after Whiteman accused his girlfriend of having sex with his half-brother.

The victim is not named. Authorities previously said the FBI was investigating death of 32-year-old Dana L. Shoulderblade at a residence on March 4, 2017.


Associated Press Montana News

Friday, June 21st 2019

SCUBA DEATH-POLITICAL AD

Producer drowns while filming political ad in Montana

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say a film producer from Massachusetts accidentally drowned while scuba diving in a Montana lake during a video shoot for a prospective U.S. Senate candidate.

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says prospective candidate John Mues tried unsuccessfully to help 40-year-old Jesse Hubbell before Hubbell went under Monday in the lake near Helena.

Dutton says the men were filming an ad for Mues. Divers searched Canyon Ferry Lake for two days before finding Hubbell's body.

The sheriff says the death has been ruled an accident and investigators are still looking into the cause, including whether it was an equipment malfunction or hypothermia.

Mues was treated and released at a hospital after trying to help Hubbell.

Mues is considering running against Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines next year.

HIGHER EDUCATION COMMISSIONER-AUDIT

Audit: Education commissioner overspent on hotels, travel

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — An audit of the office of the Commissioner of Higher Education found the agency overspent on hotels, travel and meals, including hotel rooms for members of the Board of Regents and staff the night before Cat-Griz football games in 2017 and 2018.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports Commissioner Clayton Christian agreed with recommendations by legislative auditors to better monitor spending of the agency that oversees the Montana university system.

The Board of Regents holds meetings on the Thursday and Friday before the Montana-Montana State rivalry football games in the city where the games are held. The meetings adjourn on Friday morning, but auditors found the commission paid for 10 hotel nights on the Fridays before the 2017 and 2018 games.

Auditors also found officials flew instead of drove to events in eastern Montana and exceeded meal costs at times.

RESERVATION DEATH

Woman gets 10 years for running over, killing husband

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A woman who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for running over her husband with her minivan on Montana's Crow Indian Reservation has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

The Billings Gazette reports 36-year-old Vernelle Badbear, of Garryowen, was sentenced Thursday for the November 2016 death of 38-year-old Freman Bends, of Benteen.

Prosecutors say she drove over Bends because she was angry with him for drinking when he was supposed to be watching the children. Bends left the house near Wyola and began walking down a road before Badbear followed him with her van.

A highway worker found his body eight days later.

The defense argued Bends had physically abused Badbear for years, and the judge described the woman as "at the end of her rope."

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CHILD PORNOGRAPHY SENTENCE

Former KTVH general manager sentenced for child porn

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A former general manager of the KTVH television station in Helena has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for receiving child pornography.

U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell sentenced 63-year-old William Sears Stebbins on Thursday in Helena. He was ordered to pay $21,000 in restitution.

Stebbins pleaded guilty in April to receipt of child pornography. Investigators found his email account held about 6,000 images of child pornography and a tablet contained another 900 images.

Stebbins was given a five-year sentence with the Department of Corrections in 2014 for violating the terms of a deferred sentence he received for stealing checks in 2011 and writing at least one of them to himself. The violations included using meth.

Department of Corrections records say Stebbins has been held at the state prison in Deer Lodge since January.

NORTHEASTERN MONTANA-CELL SERVICE

AT&T drops cellphone customers in rural northeast Montana

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — AT&T has started dropping cellphone customers in northeastern Montana, citing customers' regular data use outside its service area.

The Billings Gazette reported Wednesday that the company began notifying customers earlier this year that they would lose their mobile coverage.

AT&T spokeswoman Suzanne Trantow says the company can no longer be the primary provider for a "small number of customers who live or have a billing address outside our owned network coverage area."

She declined to give the specific area or the number of customers dropped.

Verizon dropped the rural Montana customers in 2017, citing the costs of customers using data while roaming off its network.

Scobey-based Nemont Telephone Cooperative has become the only provider for some parts of the region, but T-Mobile has been expanding operations.

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JOB CORPS-MONTANA-OPEN

Montana's US Forest Service Job Corp centers to remain open

(Information from: Ravalli Republic , http://www.ravallirepublic.com)

HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) — Montana Job Corp centers operated by the U.S. Forest Service will remain open following a federal government reversal.

The Ravali Republic reports that the Trapper Creek and Anaconda centers will continue operating in the state's western region.

The Trump administration announced Wednesday that 25 forest service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers will not be closed or transferred to the U.S. Department of Labor.

A joint statement from the labor department and the federal Department of Agriculture Wednesday says the decision followed "robust engagement with stakeholders and members of Congress."

The U.S. agriculture and labor secretaries announced in May that the centers would be shuttered or possibly privatized.

Residents and officials rallied in support of staff members who were told they would lose their jobs.

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