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Latest Montana News
Tuesday, July 26th 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

Tribal official goes to trial over contaminated water probe

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The former head of the Chippewa Cree Tribe's water department is going to trial over allegations that he lied to federal authorities investigating a contaminated drinking water tank.

Jonathan Jay Eagleman has pleaded not guilty to making false statements to a federal agency. He demanded a jury trial, which is scheduled to get underway Monday.

Federal prosecutors say a tribal water department employee found wooden boards, concrete and animal feces had been thrown into the tank on Aug. 30, 2012.

The department did not notify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as is required whenever a drinking water source is compromised. The tank was shut down, but the existing water remained in the system for nearly a month.

Prosecutors say Eagleman lied by telling EPA officials that the break-in was only discovered on Sept. 24.


Third person charged in woman's death on Crow reservation

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A third person has been charged in the death of a woman who was beaten and burned on the Crow Indian Reservation.

The Billings Gazette reports Frank James Sanchez pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court on Monday, as did co-defendants Dimarzio Swade Sanchez and Angelica Jo Whiteman.

All three are charged with first-degree murder for the April 17 attack that left 28-year-old Roylynn Rides Horse with burns over 45 percent of her body. She died in a Salt Lake City hospital.

The indictment alleges that Rides Horse left a bar with the 18-year-old Dimarzio Sanchez, 23-year-old Whiteman and four others. Investigators say an argument ensued and Rides Horse was beaten and choked before being doused with gasoline and set on fire in a field east of Crow Agency.



Drone operator who flew over wildfire under investigation

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Authorities are considering criminal charges against the operator of a drone that hampered firefighting efforts during a wildfire near Billings.

The Billings Gazette reports that the unmanned aircraft had been seized after it interfered with firefighting aircraft on Friday. Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder says the aircraft had to be grounded and the incident cost firefighters several hours of air support.

Authorities located the drone operator, who Linder says seemed to know he had been doing something illegal. A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration says the man faces fines of up to $27,500 in addition to criminal prosecution.

The fire, which began Friday, quickly burned more than 2 square miles and was determined 90 percent contained Sunday. It destroyed one home and forced the evacuation of several others.



Helena man accused in shooting death sets jail cell on fire

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

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Helena man accused of fatally shooting another man has appeared before a judge for setting fire to his jail cell.

KTVH-TV reports Monday that Austin Kroll-McLaughlin told Justice of the Peace Mike Swingly that he lit the fire on Sunday.

Firefighters responded and put out the fire, which detention officer say was set with a paper clip and a battery.

Kroll-McLaughlin told the judge he had been experiencing mental distress. Swingly sentenced him to 10 days with five days suspended.

The 18-year-old Kroll-McLaughlin is charged with deliberate homicide for the shooting death of 20-year-old Ryan Eakin on July 7. He also is charged with tampering with evidence for trying to get rid of the gun.

He is awaiting arraignment.



Sheriff: Hiker collapses, dies in Stillwater County

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Stillwater County authorities say a hiker collapsed and died while hiking on a trail near the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

Sheriff Cliff Brophy said in a statement Monday that 47-year-old Scott Marchant collapsed Saturday afternoon near the Mystic Lake area.

Other hikers stopped and attempted to resuscitate Marchant until a search and rescue team arrived and moved him to the trailhead.

Brophy did not say what caused Marchant's death, and the sheriff did not immediately respond to a query Monday afternoon.


Appeals court blames founder for Montana club's bankruptcy

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An appeals court has reversed a lower court's ruling that reduced the damages owed by a former billionaire real estate mogul in the bankruptcy of a Montana resort for the ultrarich.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a previous determination that banking firm Credit Suisse was equally at fault in the 2008 bankruptcy of the Yellowstone Club near Big Sky.

Credit Suisse loaned the ski and golf resort $375 million in 2005, knowing founder Tim Blixseth intended to take most for himself.

Attorneys for the club's creditors said Monday that the ruling puts Blixseth on the hook for $286 million in damages.

Creditors' trustee Brian Glasser says Blixseth is running out of options to delay payment. Blixseth could not be reached immediately for comment.

Monday, July 25th 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT

Montana wildfire forces evacuations

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A wildfire burning south of Billings has destroyed a home and a garage and forced people out of their homes.

The fire began Friday afternoon and scorched 2 square miles by Saturday.

According to the Billings Gazette , residents around the Duck Creek area remained evacuated.

The fire started in wheat fields and crossed over the Yellowstone River Friday night.

Authorities said firefighting efforts were hampered by someone flying a drone aircraft that interfered with firefighting aircraft.

Authorities say they captured the drone and are investigating.



State, federal officials come to dedicate Libby dam

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

LIBBY, Mont. (AP) — City, state and federal officials attended the dedication of the Flower Creek Dam to celebrate the completion of the structure in Libby.

The Daily Inter Lake reports that dam, which is 74 feet high and 320 feet across, was completed earlier this year but had its official dedication Wednesday.

The dam was built after the Department of Natural resources and Conservation discovered in 2009 that the original structure was on the verge of collapse if an earthquake occurred. The new dam cost $11.5 million and included fixing Libby's leaking water distribution project.

Libby Mayor Doug Roll thanked all who worked on the project at the dedication. Other officials in attendance included Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation John Tubbs, Lad Barney of Rural Development and contractors who built the dam.



Search underway for biker who tried stunt across reservoir

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Rescue crews are searching for a 19-year-old man who disappeared in the Canyon Ferry Reservoir after trying to ride a modified dirt bike across the water.

The Billings Gazette reports crews on jet skis and boats did not find any signs of Blake Becker or his dirt bike Sunday. The search for the Clancy man, who disappeared in the water late Saturday, is now considered a recovery effort.

Lewis and Clark County sheriff's Capt. Jason Grimmis says Becker had attempted to ride from the east shore to the west shore when he went down near Cemetery Island, where the water is about 140 feet deep.

A Montana Highway Patrol aircraft and sonar equipment have been used to aid the search efforts.

Becker had reportedly been wearing a life vest.



New biohazard facility to test Wyoming wildlife

(Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com)

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — An important addition to the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory is under way for a biohazard facility, focusing on some nasty diseases that can be found in Wyoming wildlife, like the plague and rabies.

Director William Laegreid says a biosafety level 3 laboratory operated under the supervision of the University of Wyoming will allow veterinarians to keep the main facility from having to shut down when an animal shows up with a serious disease.

When that happens, people have to put on special suits and decontaminate the laboratory before routine work can resume.

According to the Laramie Boomerang , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still has to give its approval before the new laboratory can become operational.



Dog being used to protect wildlife in Glacier National Park

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — The dog bark patrol is on the job at Glacier National Park, notifying wildlife managers and herding mountain goats and bighorn sheep to keep them away from strangers.

Officials say the wild animals are attracted to salt that drips off vehicles, and they pose a danger to people in parking lots who could get too close and provoke an attack.

Rangers tried using shotguns with non-lethal ammunition, sirens and whips, but they say dogs are better. The canines are already being used in other parks to keep the peace between humans and wildlife.

Glacier natural resource program manager Mark Biel says a dog named Gracie has been trained not to come in contact with the wild animals and to avoid hazing or harassing the wildlife.


Montana ranch dispute with federal government settled

LEWISTOWN, Mont. (AP) — A dispute between the owners of a Montana ranch company and the federal government has been settled.

Wilks Ranch Montana Ltd. has agreed to rehabilitate land that it fenced off and that destroyed trees, and will reimburse the Bureau of Land Management about $70,000 to cover costs for the inquiry and a survey.

The fence was built at the NBar Ranch in Fergus County in the Durfee Hills.

The Bureau of Land Management surveyed nine miles of a new fence and said about a third of it was on federal land. The survey was ordered after elk hunters complained.

Ranch spokesman Darryl James says the portion of the fence that was encroaching on federal land has been moved and the issue has been resolved.

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