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Local Montana News
Friday, January 19th 2018
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. MST
ADDICTED AND PREGNANT
Groups condemn attorney's crack down on pregnant drug use
(Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Advocacy organizations have condemned the Big Horn County attorney's decision to crack down on drug use among pregnant women.
The Billings Gazette reports that the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana and eight other health care, human rights and women's organizations publicly condemned Attorney Jay Harris' plans on Wednesday.
Harris had said his office will begin an "immediate crackdown" on pregnant women using drugs or alcohol, starting with a restraining order. If a woman is found to have violated the restraining order, Harris' office says it will seek jail time.
Harris also called on community members to alert the Big Horn County Sheriff's Office of instances in which pregnant women used drugs or alcohol.
The advocacy organizations say the plan is cruel and will foster a climate of anxiety.
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GRIZZLY BEAR HUNTING
Wyoming wildlife managers to draft grizzly hunting rules
(Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com)
CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department's commission has asked wildlife managers to draft grizzly hunting regulations.
The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the commission's action on Thursday means grizzly hunting could begin this fall in Wyoming.
Brian Nesvik, the department's chief game warden, says the public should be able to comment next month on specifics of the regulations, including hunting areas, season lengths and license distribution.
Grizzlies spent more than four decades on the endangered species list before being removed in June. The greater Yellowstone area population went from an estimated 136 bears in 1974 to just more than 700 bears today.
A hunting season has been one of the most controversial proposals of state management. Idaho and Montana, also part of the greater Yellowstone area, might also allow hunting.
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SCHOOL CHOICE
DOJ weighs in on Montana scholarship program
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief with the Montana Supreme Court in support of three families that sued when the state excluded students at faith-based schools from a scholarship program funded by donations that can be offset by state tax credits.
The brief, filed Thursday, argues excluding such students from receiving scholarships through the Montana School Choice program discriminates against them based on their religious beliefs.
In writing rules for the program, created in 2015, the Department of Revenue said faith-based schools could not be considered "qualified education providers" and the state constitution does not allow appropriations to such schools.
District Judge Heidi Ulbricht ruled in May that the program is funded through tax credits, not appropriations.
The state appealed Ulbricht's decision to the Montana Supreme Court.
WIFE RUN OVER-SENTENCE
Montana man sentenced to 20 years for killing wife
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A 61-year-old north-central Montana man has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for running over his wife with a pickup truck on New Year's Day 2017, killing her.
Thomas Edward Mancha of Browning earlier pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Charlene Mancha on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris sentenced him Wednesday.
Court records say a witness reported seeing Mancha dragging his wife by the hair and assaulting her near a monument along U.S. Highway 2 between Browning and Cut Bank. She was able to run away, but the witness said Mancha chased her down and hit her with his pickup truck, then turned around and ran over her.
Prosecutors say she had recently filed for divorce.
MONTANA DEMOCRATS-BIDEN
Former VP Joe Biden to speak at Montana Democrats' dinner
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Former Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at the Montana Democratic Party's annual Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner in Helena on March 10.
Party executive director Nancy Keenan says the party is excited to have the former vice president help kick off the 2018 election season in Montana.
Biden served as a U.S. Senate from Delaware for 36 years and was vice president to Barack Obama from 2009 to 2017. He considered and ultimately decided not to run for president in 2016.
Since leaving the White House, Biden launched American Possibilities to support Democratic candidates and causes.
The 40th annual dinner will be held at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. Information about tickets and timing will be announced later.
BURGLARY-SHOOTOUT
Montana man gets 45 years for role in cabin burglary
(Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com)
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A 28-year-old Montana man has been sentenced to 45 years in prison for his role in a cabin burglary that was interrupted by the owners and ended with an exchange of gunfire.
The Independent Record reports District Judge Mike McMahon on Wednesday sentenced Jory Strizich of Great Falls for aggravated burglary and drug possession.
The cabin owners interrupted the burglary in the Wolf Creek area in December 2016. Prosecutors say Strizich threateningly approached one of the homeowners, who shot Strizich in the shin. His co-defendant Kaleb Daniels is serving a 120-year prison sentence for shooting at the homeowner.
Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher called Strizich a "lethal, unremorseful, unrepentant offender" who does not deserve another chance in society.
Defense attorney Bryan Norcross argued Strizich deserved a chance to redeem himself.
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Thursday, January 18th 2018
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MST
POLICE SHOOTING-INQUEST
Jury determines Billings police justified in fatal shooting
(Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A jury has determined that police were justified when they shot and killed a man who fired at them during a standoff in Billings.
The Billings Gazette reports a coroner's inquest concluded Wednesday in the May 12 shooting death of 30-year-old Ryan Lowell.
Police had been called after a woman reported her boyfriend was threatening suicide and may be on the Rimrocks. A negotiator spoke to Lowell for nearly an hour without success.
Investigators say Lowell displayed a handgun several times before approaching officers and pointing a gun at them, eventually firing one shot. Four officers opened fire, killing the man.
Coroner's inquests are required under Montana law whenever law enforcement is involved in a fatal shooting.
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YELLOWSTONE BISON ESCAPE
No luck in search for escaped Yellowstone bison
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park hasn't found any of the more than 50 bison that escaped through a cut fence at a containment area where they were being prepared for transfer to the Fort Peck Tribes.
Park staff discovered Tuesday that 52 of the animals had escaped the Stephens Creek facility near Gardiner, and the National Park Service has begun a criminal investigation. Two dozen of the bison had been in confinement since March 2016, and the other 28 since March 2017.
They were being isolated to assure they were free of brucellosis, a disease that can cause livestock to miscarry.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says he is "absolutely heartbroken" for the tribes that have been working with the park and state for years to repatriate the bison.
It appears someone cut the fence with bolt cutters.
YELLOWSTONE-BUSY YEAR
Yellowstone's 2017 visitation almost hits 2016 record
(Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park had recorded its second busiest season last year, lagging just behind the record set in 2016.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Wednesday that the park counted about 4.1 million visits in 2017, just shy of the 4.25 million visits the year prior.
The park said visitation has increased by 40 percent over the last decade and that managers are grappling with the increase.
Dan Wenk, the park's superintendent, says managers have been collecting information on visitor behavior so they can make informed decisions moving forward.
Park officials say they expect annual visitation to stay above 4 million in the future.
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ENDANGERED CHILDREN
Child death review recommends treatment for addicted mothers
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Department of Justice review suggests the state could prevent child deaths by offering more treatment services for pregnant women and new mothers who are battling drug and alcohol addiction.
The Office of the Child and Family Ombudsman reviewed the deaths last year of 14 children whose cases had been reported to the Division of Child and Family Services. Ten of the children were less than 12 months old.
The report, released Wednesday, says three accidental deaths involved an infant sleeping in the same bed with their mother, who was using drugs. Two other deaths were due to medical complications where the mother's drug use may have been a factor.
The Department of Public Health and Human Services recently announced it was expanding a home visiting program to provide education and other services to expectant mothers and young families involved in the child protection system.
MONTANA COAL-JAPAN
Wyoming coal company to supply new power plants in Japan
GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming coal company is planning to export coal from its mine in Montana to power two new coal-fired plants in Japan.
Cloud Peak Energy on Tuesday announced the agreement with Singapore-based JERA Trading to supply the coal over 30 to 40 months beginning at the end 2019.
The coal is expected to be transported by rail from the company's Spring Creek mine near Decker, Montana, to port in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The coal would then be shipped to the plants in the Fukushima Prefecture in Japan.
Company officials say the two 540-megawatt plants are being built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industrials and convert the coal into a synthetic natural gas. The first plant is expected to begin operations in 2020.
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This story has been corrected to show the Montana coal will be taken to port in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
MONTANA MILLIONAIRE WINNER
Butte woman claims Montana Millionaire prize
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — A Butte woman has claimed the top prize in the annual Montana Millionaire raffle.
Montana Lottery officials say Amy Lambert bought her ticket at a Town Pump in Butte. On Tuesday, Lambert claimed her after-taxes winnings of $681,000.
Lottery spokeswoman Jennifer McKee told The Montana Standard that she didn't have an age or any other information about Lambert.
The Montana Millionaire game sells 150,000 tickets for $20 each. It also drew numbers for three $100,000 prizes and five $10,000 prizes on Dec. 29.
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