Breached Montana pipeline exposed on river bed
GLENDIVE, Mont. (AP) — Sonar indicates part of an underground pipeline that spilled almost 40,000 gallons of oil into Montana's Yellowstone River and fouled a local water supply is exposed on the river bed.
A news release from public agencies involved with the response says the pipeline is exposed for about 50 feet near where the breach occurred Jan. 17.
The pipeline had been buried at least 8 feet under the river bed, and the depth was last confirmed in September 2011.
The cause of the spill remains under investigation. It prompted a five-day shutdown of drinking water services for 6,000 people in the city of Glendive after oil got into a treatment plant.
Wyoming-based Bridger Pipeline Co. says its pipeline will remain shut down until the river section is replaced.
UM student was person killed by semitrailer
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The pedestrian struck and killed by a semitrailer on Interstate 90 has been identified as a 19-year-old University of Montana student.
A UM spokeswoman says Jake Kallen was junior at the college.
The Montana Highway Patrol and Missoula County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene of the incident at about 2:15 a.m. Friday in the westbound lanes between Missoula and East Missoula.
The driver of the semitrailer was not injured.
Authorities say they do not know why Kallen was on the highway, and the accident remains under investigation.
A patrolman said Friday that evidence from the scene showed that the driver had put on his brakes in the traffic lane and that there was no indication that the vehicle swerved off the road to hit the pedestrian.
New student housing project to be built in Missoula
Developers are planning to build a 500-bed housing project in downtown Missoula that will be designed for University of Montana students.
The complex will include an outdoor pool, music practice rooms, a ski- and bike-tuning room, a fitness center with a yoga studio, a media room, study lounges, extra storage and retail space.
The property also will have full-time on-site management and a secured parking garage with visitor parking spaces.
The project is being financed by Farran Realty Partners and Lambros Developments, both private real estate investment firms based in Missoula.
Pat Corrick, of Farran Realty, said the plan is to have units ready for occupancy by May 2017.
Mayor John Engen says the project will provide safety, security and a degree of affordability.
Bills aimed at assuring access to public lands in Montana
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Legislation has been proposed to levy stiffer state fines on Montana landowners who illegally gate roads and require that they show proof of ownership before blocking access.
The two Great Falls Democratic lawmakers who are sponsoring the bills said in a statement that their goal is to improve public access to public lands by keeping roads they say are public open.
The bills are backed by wildlife and public access groups, and opposed by private property and ranching interests.
The Great Falls Tribune reports that private landowners and hunters and anglers increasingly are butting heads in court over remote roads into the state's forests, mountains and rivers. The roads have become contentious because they often cross private acreage leading to public lands.
JUDGE MCLEAN RETIRES
Missoula County judge retiring May 1
(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Missoula County District Judge Ed McLean is retiring after 26 years on the bench, effective May 1.
The 69-year-old McLean says he wants to have some quality time with his family.
He is currently the longest-serving judge in Missoula County. After a lengthy career as a county prosecutor, McLean was sworn into office in 1988 and took the bench in 1989.
McLean tells the Missoulian that his 26 years on the bench have made him a better person.
McLean has presided over some high-profile trials, the most recent one being the deliberate homicide trial for the Missoula man convicted of fatally shooting a 17-year-old German exchange student.
Large hotel with convention space planned for Polson
(Information in the following story is from: Flathead Beacon, http://www.flatheadbeacon.com)
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Red Lion Inn & Suites has announced plans to build a three-story, 80-room hotel with an attached restaurant on the south end of Flathead Lake at Polson.
The project will include 3,000 square feet of meeting space for conventions and special events, as well as community gatherings.
The project and other recent announced prominent developments are poised to further raise Polson's profile as a scenic resort community tucked along the shores of Flathead Lake.
Polson Mayor Heather Knutson tells the Flathead Beacon that she hopes the developments will continue to provide new jobs and attract additional services and entertainment.
Bison hunt in Jackson Hole sets record
(Information in the following story is from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com)
JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Hunters have killed about 300 bison in the Jackson Hole region during the just-completed hunting season.
The number eclipses the all-time high and helps reduce the number of wild bison to levels closer to where wildlife managers prefer.
The five-month bison hunt season ended Jan. 18.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials say 190 cows and calves were downed by hunters and another 109 bulls were killed.
The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that the previous record harvest for the Jackson Bison Herd was set in 2007, when 267 animals were killed.
Factoring in calves that will be birthed, the year's hunt is expected to dent the Jackson Bison Herd by roughly 100 animals. It last numbered 825.
Wildlife managers want a herd population of 500.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Bill proposed to increase Montana gas tax by a nickel
(Information in the following story is from: KECI-TV, http://www.keci.com)
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A bill has been introduced in the Montana Legislature that would increase the state's gas tax by a nickel.
Democratic Rep. Nancy Wilson, of Missoula, is sponsoring House Bill 275.
The state gas tax is currently 27 cents a gallon. Federal tax adds an additional 18.4 cents per gallon.
Montana hasn't increased its state gas tax since 1994.
Under Wilson's proposal, 3 cents of the new tax would go to repair and maintenance for local roads and 2 cents would help fund public transportation, including additional bus routes between cities and increasing funding for DUI task forces.
Wilson tells KECI-TV that the transportation system in Montana is a mess and local roads desperately need repairs.
The hearing for the bill is set for next Wednesday in Helena.
Woman pleads guilty in 2012 death of child in Billings
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 23-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to child abuse and negligent homicide in the 2012 death of her 3-month-old child in Billings.
Amanda Rose Steffen pleaded guilty Friday to negligent homicide, assault on a minor and common scheme aggravated assault as part of a plea agreement.
She admitted that she hit her daughter in the head and blocked the baby's airway on multiple occasions.
The child, Roseana Fox, had a fractured skull and showed signs of dehydration when she died in June 2012.
Steffen is scheduled to be sentenced by Yellowstone County District Court Judge Mary Jane Knisely on April 2.
Prosecutors are recommending a sentence totaling 40 years.
The victim's father, Jeffrey Fox, has pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide. He's scheduled to go to trial on May 4.
FWP group develops hunter-ethics campaign
(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A citizen's group has taken the first steps toward developing an educational and media campaign to encourage Montana hunters to use good ethics.
The initiative by the Region 3 Citizen's Advisory Council evolved out of reports in several areas of southwest Montana this fall where hunters surrounded herds of elk and shot into them.
The council's efforts are already being noticed.
Region 3 supervisor Sam Sheppard says the Montana's Outdoor Legacy Foundation has indicated it would consider helping part of the campaign.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that other citizen councils in other regions have expressed interest in the campaign.
MISSOULA VA CLINIC
Missoula federal building studied for possible VA clinic
(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The General Services Administration is studying the feasibility of converting the vacant Federal Building in downtown Missoula to a new VA outpatient clinic.
The facility was built as the original post office in 1911 and has been under GSA ownership since 1949.
GSA spokeswoman Sally Mayberry says the VA feasibility study should be complete in June.
Mayberry tells the Missoulian that it's not known what the proposed VA project will cost or if Congress will choose to fund it.
The VA opened a new $6.3 million clinic in Billings last year.
N ARIZONA-MONTANA ST
Balanced Northern Arizona tops Montana State 71-64
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Quinton Upshur hit five 3-pointers and scored 18 points — 14 in the second half — to lead a balanced attack for Northern Arizona in a 71-64 win at Montana State on Saturday.
Kris Yanku had 15 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds for the Lumberjacks (9-11, 4-3 Big Sky). Aaseem Dixon added 14 points, Ako Kaluna had 12 and Jordyn Martin eight points with eight rebounds. Northern Arizona, which shot 46.3 percent from the field but made 10 of 15 3s, only got four points from its bench.
Michael Dison led Montana State (4-15, 1-6) with 18 points, Marcus Colbert added 15 and Danny Robison 14.
The Bobcats trailed 54-53 with 7:02 left but Upshur hit three 3s down the stretch for Northern Arizona. Colbert's layup pulled Montana State within 67-63 with 1:21 left but Martin and Yanku made two free throws in the final minute to secure the win.