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Monday, April 27th 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
LAND REBELS

'New rebels' seek state control of federal land

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

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A growing movement to transfer federal land to state control in western states is being debated in Montana and other states amid concerns from conservation and sportsmen groups over who should control millions of acres managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

State Sen. Jennifer Fielder, a Republican from Thompson Falls, wanted a study of land transfer from lawmakers, but got a bill calling for the study of federal land instead. That bill is still pending.

According to the Great Falls Tribune, conservation groups and hunting and angling organizations are worried land used for recreation will be opened to development and possibly sold.

WATERLINE SNAGS

Major Miles City water line project hits snags

(Information in the following story is from: Miles City Star, http://www.milescitystar.com)

MILES CITY, Mont. (AP) — The East Valley Waterline Project is almost complete, but has run into some unexpected snags.

The first was an unanticipated review from the state fire marshal that changed the required pressure the water lines need to deliver because of fire ratings.

Now, the Big Sky Trust Fund is reluctant to release funds that were intended for the project because of questions whether all the jobs created at Sanjel are Montana jobs.

The Miles City Star reports Sanjel sent a letter to the Big Sky Trust Fund verifying the jobs are in Montana.

Officials now say the water pressure and other issues could take some time to fix.

MISSING GIRL

Search to resume for missing girl near Bozeman

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The search for an 8-year-old girl who fell into the river while playing at Headwaters State Park will continue Sunday after rescuers failed to find any sign of her on Saturday.

The girl has been missing since April 19.

On Saturday, about 70 people, mostly volunteer searchers, started scouring the Missouri River Headwaters looking for the girl.

The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office says a smaller scale search is planned for Sunday.

HINDI STUDIES

Hindi professor will come to UM

(Information in the following story is from: The Kaimin, http://www.montanakaimin.com)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The South and Southeast Asian studies department at the University of Montana is offering Hindi for the first time next fall.

According to the Montana Kaimin, the department was awarded a Fulbright professor from India to teach the language for the 2015-2016 school year. The course counts toward the language general education requirement and the South and Southeast Asian studies minor.

The Fulbright program is an educational and cultural exchange program established by the U.S. government to increase understanding between the U.S. and other participating countries. The program includes over 160 countries.

WHITEWATER RAFTING

Low snow pack may be a win for some outdoor enthusiasts

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The low winter snow pack may have some positive consequences for some outdoor enthusiasts.

The Spokesman-Review newspaper reports river rafters may get to see some new territory this spring and summer with lower river flows.

Peter Grubb of ROW Adventures in Coeur d'Alene says high water isn't always the best for whitewater rafting. That's because high water forces guides to avoid some areas because they are too dangerous. When the water is lower, more territory can be navigated and river rafters may see some new vistas this year.

Grubb says a lot of rapids disappear in high water and reappear at medium and low water.

A guide's job is to know how to find the best runs no matter the flow level.


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

Sunday, April 26th 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
INFRASTRUCTURE

House defeats infrastructure bill, will reconsider Monday

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Lawmakers wrestling with a $150 million state infrastructure bill have voted it down multiple times but plan to take another look at it Monday.

Representatives defeated Senate Bill 416 twice Saturday morning with a final vote of 60-34 before agreeing to reconsider. The bill requires 67 votes to pass because it involves bonding.

Lawmakers have been debating the measure since endorsing it Thursday on a 70-30 vote.

Republican Rep. Nancy Ballance of Hamilton had been torn but changed her vote to "no" Saturday, saying she didn't want to bond when the state has money in the bank that could be spent.

The measure was worked on by a bipartisan group and introduced by Republican Sen. John Brenden of Scobey about a month ago after other proposals appeared unlikely to gain traction.

ATTORNEY GENERAL-SCAM

Nigerian man sentenced for scamming women using AG's image

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Nigerian man has been sentenced for setting up an online dating profile using a photo of Montana's attorney general and scamming an Indiana woman out of thousands of dollars.

The Kosciusko (KAHS'-ee-ess-KOH') County, Indiana, attorney's office says 45-year-old Kazeem Owanla was sentenced to 36 months in jail with 26 suspended for felony theft and paid $16,300 in restitution to two women. He was turned over to immigration authorities.

Owanla was charged in October after an Indiana woman reported sending more than $100,000 to a man who represented himself as John Tony Hagan, an electrical engineer who ran into financial difficulties while working in Egypt.

The photo used on "Hagan's" fake profile was taken from Montana Attorney General Tim Fox's campaign website without his permission.

CHILD METHAMPHETAMINES

Helena man pleads not guilty to exposing baby to meth

(Information in the following story is from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Helena man accused of endangering his 5-month-old with methamphetamines has pleaded not guilty in district court.

Jacob Smith is charged with felony endangering the welfare of children. He could face five years in prison and $10,000 in fines if convicted.

According to the Independent Record, police received a report April 11 from the state Department of Public Health and Human Services saying the infant tested positive for meth.

Investigators tested a sample of the infant's hair, and authorities arrested Smith after the baby tested positive.

MISSING GIRL

Search continues for missing girl near Bozeman

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The search for an 8-year-old girl who fell into the river while playing at Headwaters State Park is continuing.

The girl has been missing since April 19.

On Saturday, about 70 people, mostly volunteer searchers, started scouring the Missouri River Headwaters. The searchers are using a helicopter, a Civil Air Patrol plane, nine boats, eight dog teams and 10 all-terrain vehicles.

The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office is leading the search.

CLARK FORK RIVER-BODY

Transient pleads no contest to camp murder

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

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A transient who prosecutors say killed a homeless man and dumped his body in the Clark Fork River has pleaded no contest to a deliberate homicide charge.

Kevin Lino pleaded no contest to shooting Berry Gilbert in the head. The plea means he agrees prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him, but he doesn't acknowledge guilt.

According to the Missoulian, Lino's plea was based on his inability to remember what happened.

Kenneth Hickman has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for his role in the man's death.

Authorities say Gilbert was beaten, stomped, tortured and shot before being thrown into the river.

Saturday, April 25th 2015
Associated Press Montana News Summary
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Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

NUCLEAR MISSTEPS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Air Force is charging two nuclear missile launch officers with illegal drug use.

The cases at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana were linked to a separate Air Force investigation of exam cheating by Minuteman 3 nuclear missile officers.

The Air Force announced Friday that a week ago it charged 1st Lt. Michael Alonso and 1st Lt. Lantz Balthazar with a range of drug offenses. Each will be reviewed at what the military calls an Article 32 hearing, which is similar to a civilian grand jury proceeding, to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a court martial.

A spokesman at Malmstrom, Josh Aycock, said no hearing dates have been set.

Another Malmstrom missile officer, 2nd Lt. Nicole Dalmazzi, was court-martialed in January on drug charges.

TEACHER-RAPE-CASE

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A group of Montana lawyers says it is giving a lifetime achievement award to a state judge for his many years of service, despite the judge being censured last year for comments about a 14-year-old girl raped by her teacher.

The Yellowstone Area Bar Association on Friday issued a statement from its board of directors explaining its decision to honor former District Judge G. Todd Baugh of Billings.

The statement said Baugh's three decade career was worthy of recognition even though he made a "very public mistake" when he suggested the teen rape victim shared responsibility for the crime. Baugh sentenced perpetrator Stacey Dean Rambold to a month in prison in a decision overturned by the Montana Supreme Court.

Rambold was re-sentenced last year to a 10-year term. He's appealing.

BUDGET

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Legislature has approved a two-year state budget after a committee added some $78 million to House and Senate proposals. The measure will go next to Gov. Steve Bullock for consideration.

Representatives passed House Bill 2 on third reading Friday morning by a vote of 81-19. Senators suspended procedural rules and voted twice to support the measure Friday afternoon. The final vote was 34-15.

A conference committee of House and Senate members charged with reaching a compromise approved about 30 amendments Thursday including adding $67 million to raise state employee wages. The two year budget totals about $10 billion, including federal spending.

The House passed a budget in March that Bullock said failed to fund critical services. The Legislature is required to pass a two-year state budget each session.

MOTL CONFIRMATION

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana senators have confirmed Jonathan Motl as the state's commissioner of political practices.

The Senate confirmed Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock's appointment on a vote of 29-21 Friday. Motl's term will end Dec. 31, 2016.

The Helena attorney has decided 120 campaign practice cases since he was appointed by Bullock in 2013. Motl has come under fire during those two years for what opponents call a bias against Republican candidates.

Republican Sen. Frederick Moore of Miles City said Motl has ruled against Republicans 11 percent more often than he's ruled against Democrats. Republican Sen. Jedediah Hinkle of Bozeman said Motl has registered as a lobbyist and emailed Democrats about how to vote this session.

Democratic Sen. Jon Sesso of Butte said the one-person ethics commission appointed by the governor is inherently partisan.

BIG SKY-RENO

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The Big Sky Conference and the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority have reached a three-year deal to play the men's and women's basketball tournaments at Reno Events Center.

The agreement was announced Friday. The deal will start next season.

All 12 schools will participate in the tournaments that will extend over six days.


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

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