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Latest Montana News
Saturday, June 24th 2017
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. MDT

Governor declares drought emergency in eastern Montana

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock has declared a drought emergency in 19 counties in eastern Montana and two Native American reservations.

The governor's office said in a statement Friday that those areas have seen record low precipitation, high temperatures and excessive wind over the last two months.

Bullock says farmers and ranchers are feeling the effects after a winter of below-average rain and snow.

Oats, wheat, peas, sugar beets and other crops have suffered. Pasture and range conditions are poor and dust has made it difficult for ranchers to keep track of cattle.

The governor is also requesting that federal officials make agricultural producers eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture emergency livestock and conservation assistance programs.

The federal agency authorized emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program lands in Montana earlier Friday.


Man found alive after 4 days missing in Montana wilderness

CHOTEAU, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say a U.S. Forest Service official found a Pennsylvania man who had been missing in Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness since Monday.

Rocky Mountain District Ranger Mike Munoz says 21-year-old Eric Hellmuth was found alive on Friday.

The Choteau Acantha first reported Hellmuth's discovery, describing the man as tired and dehydrated but in good condition. Meanwhile, The Helena Independent Record reported Hellmuth suffered injuries to his feet, was unable to walk and was not dressed for the elements.

A backcountry outfitter says Hellmuth walked away from camp northwest of Augusta on Monday afternoon and hadn't been seen since. The Bensalem, Pennsylvania man was participating in a guide and packer school.


Eco-group billboard blitz to greet Interior chief in Montana

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Environmental groups are planning to give President Donald Trump's Interior Department secretary an unexpected homecoming when he returns to his Montana hometown next week.

Ryan Zinke is scheduled to address the Western Governors Association's annual conference Tuesday in the town of Whitefish.

He'll be welcomed by billboards that urge him not to touch the Upper Missouri River Breaks, one of two dozen national monuments he's reviewing to eliminate or scale back protections.

Television ads will tell him to leave alone a conservation plan by the Obama administration and 11 Western states to protect the sage grouse, an imperiled bird.

Public land advocates also will speak in a park the day before Zinke's address.

Various groups are hoping to get the attention of Zinke and 11 governors gathering Monday through Wednesday.


Fourth Montana Republican enters Senate race against Tester

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A fourth Montana Republican has filed to run for U.S. Senate in 2018.

Ron Murray of Belgrade filed his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on June 17.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports that Kalispell state Sen. Albert Olszewski, Scott Roy McLean of Missoula and Troy Downing of Big Sky are also running for the Republican nomination.

The winner will challenge incumbent Democrat Sen. Jon Tester.

Murray lost in the primary for a state House seat in 2010. He was later investigated along with eight other Republican candidates accused of coordinating their campaigns with and taking illegal donations from a national anti-union group.

Murray settled with the commissioner of political practices, agreeing to pay a $6,000 fine and perform $14,000 worth of community service.


Montana officials identify woman after body found in river

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Law enforcement officials in northwestern Montana have released the name of a woman whose body was found in the Flathead River this week.

The Flathead County sheriff's office says 68-year-old Kassy Lynn Browning's family reported her missing from the Hungry Horse area on June 10. Her body was found 10 days later near Columbia Falls.

Sheriff's officials said Friday that Browning's cause of death is still under investigation.


Body of missing California camper found in Montana lake

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The body of a California man missing from a Montana campsite has been found in a lake just north of Yellowstone National Park.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin says the man's body was found Friday under water and about 300 feet from the shore of Hebgen Lake, near his campsite.

An investigation indicates the 68-year-old man from Burbank, California, may have gone into the water to retrieve a pontoon fishing boat that had blown away.

Searchers began looking for the man on Thursday afternoon after receiving a report of a vehicle parked in a day-use area. Investigators found a pontoon boat beached nearby.

Officers did not release the man's name. The cause of death is still under investigation.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Friday, June 23rd 2017
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

US officials to lift Yellowstone grizzly bear protections

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — U.S. government officials say grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park region are no longer threatened, and that they will lift protections that have been in place for more than 40 years.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Thursday that the recovery of Yellowstone's grizzlies is one of the nation's great conservation success stories.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will turn over grizzly bear management to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming by late July. The states plan to allow limited bear hunts outside park boundaries.

The ruling does not affect threatened grizzlies living in other areas of northwestern Montana and northern Idaho.

Grizzlies have been listed as a threatened species since 1975 when just 136 bears roamed in and around Yellowstone.

There are now more than 700 grizzlies in the Yellowstone region.


Man who killed exchange student appeals to US Supreme Court

(Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man convicted of fatally shooting a German exchange student who was trespassing in his garage is asking the United States Supreme Court to consider his case.

The Missoulian reports https://goo.gl/n7WDBD Markus Kaarma's attorneys are asking the high court to consider if their client's requests to have his trial moved because of intense media coverage should have been granted and whether certain jury instructions given at trial should have been allowed.

The Montana Supreme Court decided in February to uphold Kaarma's 70-year prison sentence.

Kaarma was convicted of shooting 17-year-old Diren Dede in Missoula in April 2014. The teen had apparently gone into Kaarma's garage to steal beer.

Even if the U.S. Supreme Court declines to take up his case, Kaarma could continue to challenge his conviction with a lawsuit.



Officials ID remains of airman who vanished in Montana

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

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Air Force investigators have identified the remains of a New Mexico-based airman who vanished in the mountains of Montana in June 1974.

The Independent Record reports (bit.ly/2t03Rnp) the family of Rudy Redd Victor in Littleton, Colorado, recently received word from the Air Force that investigators believed Victor died not long after he fled from a car between Helena and Great Falls during a fight with his girlfriend.

A brand inspector found the skull in 1982. Tests at the time were unable to identify the person and the remains were cataloged and shelved.

Last year, an Air Force cold case unit reviewed the file and dental records concluded the skull belonged to Victor. The coroner's office determined he likely died the day he leapt from the car, or soon after.


This story has been corrected to show that dental records were used to identify the remains.



City of Missoula takes ownership of water utility

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The city of Missoula has taken ownership of the water utility that serves its residents after a three-year court battle.

The city bought Mountain Water Co. for $83.86 million and paid another $6.8 million to developers who had a claim against the company. Those amounts do not include attorneys' fees.

Missoula won the right to buy the utility in an eminent domain case.

Missoula had been the last incorporated town in Montana that did not own its water system.


Montana businessman charged with wire fraud

(Information from: Flathead Beacon, http://www.flatheadbeacon.com)

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A Montana businessman has pleaded not guilty to wire fraud and nine other federal charges after being charged with taking more than $2 million from people who believed they were investing in oil and gas leases.

The Flathead Beacon reports (bit.ly/2sV9BOO) John "Kevin" Moore of Bigfork entered his pleas during a hearing in Great Falls on June 12.

Prosecutors said Moore established two businesses, one to buy oil and gas leases and another to obtain and sell fine art. Prosecutors say he collected $2.7 million from 36 investors and made payments to earlier investors with money from later investors.

Records indicated he spent about $1.4 million himself.

Moore has previous criminal convictions for defrauding a person of $75,000 in a gold coin scheme and defrauding someone else in the sale of a painting.



Governors wary of Medicaid cost shift in Senate health bill

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Governors in several states that opted to expand Medicaid are wary of the Senate Republican plan to end the added federal funding for it within seven years.

The proposal released Thursday calls for a slower phase-out of the Medicaid expansion than a bill adopted by the House. Yet it still would force those states to figure out what to do about the millions of lower-income Americans who used it to gain health coverage.

The doubts about the latest plan are coming from Republicans, Democrats and the nation's one independent governor.

Among the Republicans voicing concern are Ohio Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sihk) and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. They say the GOP plan could leave hundreds of thousands of people in their states without coverage, including those dealing with chronic health problems.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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