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Montana News
Thursday, February 20th 2020

Associated Press Montana News

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AP) — Defense Secretary Mark Esper used his first-ever visit to a nuclear missile field in frigid North Dakota to tout the Trump administration's multibillion-dollar plan for a top-to-bottom modernization of the nuclear force. The administration is asking Congress for $46 billion in nuclear weapons spending for 2021. Esper also called on China to join the United States and Russia in negotiating a new nuclear arms control agreement. At Minot Air Force Base, Esper got an up-close look at two of the three main pillars of the U.S. nuclear arsenal — Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles and B-52 long-range bombers.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Two Veterans Affairs clinics in Montana were renamed to honor prominent area World War II veterans. The two clinics in Billings were named after Benjamin Steele and Joseph Medicine Crow during a Tuesday ceremony. Steele was born and raised in Roundup, Montana. He joined the Army in 1940 and was a Bataan Death March survivor and prison of war in World War II for 1,244 days. He died in 2016 at age 98. Medicine Crow was born on the Crow Indian Reservation in eastern Montana. He joined the Army in 1943 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He died in 2016 at age 102.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings police officer who suffered a leg injury when he was struck by a car during a traffic stop has been released from the hospital. Officer Jeremiah Adams was struck Saturday as he and other officers were giving instructions to a group of teenagers in a car. Lt. Brandon Wooley says surgeons used a metal rod, plates and screws to repair the damage to Adams' leg. He was released from the hospital Wednesday and faces up to six months of recovery before he can return to full duty. The 14-year-old suspected of driving the car hasn't been charged, but is being held on $100,000 bail.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A state law enforcement panel has rescinded a former Cascade County sheriff's decertification in an agreement that would allow him to return to law enforcement in four years. The Montana Public Safety Officers Standards and Training Council revoked certificates held by former Sheriff Bob Edwards in 2018 after a domestic disturbance at a hotel in Helena. Edwards refused to surrender the certificates and appealed the decision. The agreement approved Wednesday requires Edwards to drop his appeal. He said decertification was hurting his ability to find gainful employment. If Edwards seeks another law enforcement job that requires certification, he will have to attend a basic police academy class.

Wednesday, February 19th 2020

Associated Press Montana News

MONTANA METH BUST

Florida man charged after 78 pounds of meth found in van

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 29-year-old Florida man who was pulled over in a speed stop on a Montana interstate faces a federal drug charge after authorities say a trooper found 78 pounds of methamphetamine in his rental vehicle. Officials say it was the largest amount of meth seized in a traffic stop in Montana, equal to over 282,000 individual doses. Nicholas James Imhoff appeared in federal court Tuesday on a charge of possession with intent to distribute meth. He did not enter a plea. Authorities say the vehicle was rented in Las Vegas and drugs were found under floor storage compartments in garbage bags, with some wrapped in duct tape.

WOLF HUNTING SEASON

Wolf hunting season extension rejected in northwest Montana

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commission has rejected a proposal by wildlife managers to extend the wolf hunting and trapping seasons in northwestern Montana. The Daily Inter Lake reported that state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks voted Thursday to maintain the hunting and trapping seasons from Sept. 15 to March 15. The proposal would have lengthened the hunting season by six weeks and increase the individual hunting quota from five to 10 wolves. The two proposals received about 1,000 comments online and dozens during the meeting Thursday from people as far away as Arizona.

ELECTION 2020-MONTANA SENATE

Bozeman man joins Democratic primary for U.S. Senate seat

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Bozeman fly fishing guide Josh Seckinger has announced he is seeking the Democratic nomination in Montana's U.S. Senate race. Seckinger is the fifth Democratic candidate. He joins Cora Neumann and Mike Knoles, both of Bozeman, Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins and John Mues of Loma. The candidates are vying to take on Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines in the general election. Seckinger said Tuesday he's running to provide a voice for working-class Montanans. He says he supports paid family leave, legalizing and taxing marijuana and creating a universal firearms registry and supports working toward universal health care.

INVASIVE MUSSELS

Montana Fish, Wildlife, Parks change invasive mussels rules

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana reservoir that had a suspicious result in testing for invasive mussels in 2016 has been cleared and the state has lifted a requirement for mandatory decontamination stations at the reservoir east of Helena. The Missoulian reported Monday that mussels were detected east of the Continental Divide in Tiber Reservoir and in Canyon Ferry east of Helena. The state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says Canyon Ferry was removed Friday from a list of bodies of water confirmed or suspected for aquatic invasive mussels. Aquatic mussels have no natural predators and can clog water pipes and displace native species.

BODY FOUND-GARBAGE TRUCK

Man's body found in garbage truck at Billings landfill

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Police in Billings are investigating after a man's body was found in a garbage truck at the city landfill. Lt. Brandon Wooley says the Solid Waste Division notified police at about 9 a.m. Tuesday that a body was found among trash in a city garbage truck. Officers later said the victim was a man. No other information was immediately released.

WEST YELLOWSTONE HOMICIDE-VIGIL

Vigil planned for West Yellowstone boy who was killed

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Residents of West Yellowstone plan a candlelight vigil this weekend for a 12-year-old boy who was beaten to death. Organizers say the vigil for James Alex Hurley will start at 5 p.m. Sunday at the West Yellowstone City Park. Attendees are being asked to bring their own candles and to wear blue ribbons for child abuse awareness. Hurley died on Feb. 3 and his grandparents and a 14-year-old uncle face deliberate homicide charges. Investigators said they found cellphone videos showing family members torturing and beating the boy in the months leading up to his death. He had been removed from school in September 2019.

Tuesday, February 18th 2020

Associated Press Montana News

ELECTION 2020-MONTANA-STATE AUDITOR

Third Republican enters race for Montana state auditor

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A third Republican says he will run for the party's nomination for Montana state auditor. Scott Tuxbury announced his candidacy in a news release Monday. He is an insurance underwriter who says he has worked to bring new insurance companies to Montana and design new insurance programs. Once Tuxbury files his paperwork with the state, he will join Nelly Nicol and Troy Downing as a candidate in the June 2 GOP primary. State Rep. Shane Morigeau is the only Democrat running so far for the open seat. Current State Auditor Matt Rosendale is running for U.S. House.

MISSING DOG FOUND

Dog reunited with owner 9 days after running away from crash

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A dog that was missing for nine days after a vehicle crash in Montana has been reunited with his Washington owner. Liz Smith, who lives outside Seattle, tells the Daily Inter Lake that her chihuahua-pug mix named Hank jumped out of an open door after Smith's truck crashed into a rock wall on U.S. Highway 93 on February 5. Smith, police officials and volunteers searched for the dog, which was found Friday in the Montana town of Lakeside. Hank had lost 6 pounds and was missing the sweater he was wearing, but was otherwise OK. Smith calls it a miracle.

COUNTRY CLUB FIRE

'Mystery' fire destroys golf clubhouse in Bigfork

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a fire that destroyed the clubhouse at a country club in Bigfork. Eagle Bend Golf Club membership chairman Jim Fagan II tells The Daily Inter Lake it's a mystery to him how the fire started early Sunday. Fagan says the club and restaurant were closed over the weekend. The fire burned for about 3 1/2 hours before firefighters had it under control. Nobody was injured. Fagan says neither the golf course nor the carts were damaged. He says he anticipates the course will be open for play at the end of March or early April.

CAR STRIKES OFFICER

Billings police officer injured, intentionally struck by car

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings police officer was injured and a 14-year-old boy faces an attempted deliberate homicide charge after the teen reportedly struck the officer with a vehicle during a traffic stop. Police said an officer was giving commands to the occupants of a stopped vehicle early Saturday when the driver accelerated and drove straight at officers. The vehicle struck a 35-year-old officer, causing serious injuries that required surgery. The vehicle crashed nearby and all six occupants fled on foot, but were apprehended. The investigation continues.

METH TRAFFICKING-MONTANA

Jury convicts Billings man in meth trafficking case

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal jury has convicted a 34-year-old Montana man on criminal charges linked to a drug trafficking ring that authorities say brought several hundred pounds of methamphetamine into the state. Nicholas John Montano of Billings was found guilty following a three-day trial on drug distribution and conspiracy charges. U.S. District Judge Susan Watters said Montano was to remain in custody pending sentencing June 24. He faces a mandatory minimum 10 years to life in prison. Defense attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

COLORADO AVALANCHE-DEATHS

Searchers recover bodies of 2 killed in Colorado avalanche

VAIL, Colo. (AP) — Searchers have recovered the bodies of two Colorado men who died in a weekend avalanche in Colorado. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center says three men were riding snowbikes late Saturday afternoon when they were caught in the slide about 10 miles north of Vail. One man was able to dig himself out and call for help. The other men were carried into a gully at the bottom of a drainage area, avalanche debris piled up deeply and they were fully buried. The avalanche center reports the bodies were recovered on Sunday. The victims were identified as 28-year-old Dillon Block and 30-year-old Cesar Almanza-Hernandez, both of Gypsum.

Tuesday, February 18th 2020

Associated Press Montana News

ELECTION 2020-MONTANA-STATE AUDITOR

Third Republican enters race for Montana state auditor

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A third Republican says he will run for the party's nomination for Montana state auditor. Scott Tuxbury announced his candidacy in a news release Monday. He is an insurance underwriter who says he has worked to bring new insurance companies to Montana and design new insurance programs. Once Tuxbury files his paperwork with the state, he will join Nelly Nicol and Troy Downing as a candidate in the June 2 GOP primary. State Rep. Shane Morigeau is the only Democrat running so far for the open seat. Current State Auditor Matt Rosendale is running for U.S. House.

MISSING DOG FOUND

Dog reunited with owner 9 days after running away from crash

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A dog that was missing for nine days after a vehicle crash in Montana has been reunited with his Washington owner. Liz Smith, who lives outside Seattle, tells the Daily Inter Lake that her chihuahua-pug mix named Hank jumped out of an open door after Smith's truck crashed into a rock wall on U.S. Highway 93 on February 5. Smith, police officials and volunteers searched for the dog, which was found Friday in the Montana town of Lakeside. Hank had lost 6 pounds and was missing the sweater he was wearing, but was otherwise OK. Smith calls it a miracle.

COUNTRY CLUB FIRE

'Mystery' fire destroys golf clubhouse in Bigfork

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a fire that destroyed the clubhouse at a country club in Bigfork. Eagle Bend Golf Club membership chairman Jim Fagan II tells The Daily Inter Lake it's a mystery to him how the fire started early Sunday. Fagan says the club and restaurant were closed over the weekend. The fire burned for about 3 1/2 hours before firefighters had it under control. Nobody was injured. Fagan says neither the golf course nor the carts were damaged. He says he anticipates the course will be open for play at the end of March or early April.

CAR STRIKES OFFICER

Billings police officer injured, intentionally struck by car

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings police officer was injured and a 14-year-old boy faces an attempted deliberate homicide charge after the teen reportedly struck the officer with a vehicle during a traffic stop. Police said an officer was giving commands to the occupants of a stopped vehicle early Saturday when the driver accelerated and drove straight at officers. The vehicle struck a 35-year-old officer, causing serious injuries that required surgery. The vehicle crashed nearby and all six occupants fled on foot, but were apprehended. The investigation continues.

METH TRAFFICKING-MONTANA

Jury convicts Billings man in meth trafficking case

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal jury has convicted a 34-year-old Montana man on criminal charges linked to a drug trafficking ring that authorities say brought several hundred pounds of methamphetamine into the state. Nicholas John Montano of Billings was found guilty following a three-day trial on drug distribution and conspiracy charges. U.S. District Judge Susan Watters said Montano was to remain in custody pending sentencing June 24. He faces a mandatory minimum 10 years to life in prison. Defense attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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