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Wednesday, August 24th 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

Montana city seeks to limit water use to help coal plant

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Residents of an eastern Montana city are being asked to limit their water use so one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the western U.S. can continue to safely operate.

Colstrip Mayor John Williams asked the city's 2,300 residents to minimize their use of water for sprinkling and irrigation through the end of August.

The notice came at the request of Talen Energy, a Pennsylvania company that operates the 2,100-megawatt Colstrip power plant.

Williams says low water levels and high temperatures have been causing problems with Talen's water intake system on the Yellowstone River.

The company uses the water to cool its plant. It also provides water for the city under a longstanding agreement.

Talen spokesman Todd Martin said Tuesday there is no danger of the plant shutting down.


This story has been corrected to show that Talen spokesman Todd Martin spoke Tuesday, not Wednesday.


Missing North Dakota man found dead after Montana crash

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Officials have identified a motorcyclist found dead in northeastern Montana as a North Dakota man who went missing in June.

The Roosevelt County Coroner's Office says Zackary Baldwin, of Williston, died of blunt force trauma resulting from a motor vehicle crash. The 30-year-old man was found dead Friday and is believed to have died on June 26, the day he went missing.

The Billings Gazette reports that a road cleanup crew had spotted the man's motorcycle in a ditch off Highway 2. Authorities responded and discovered Baldwin's body nearby.

The Montana Highway Patrol says Baldwin had veered off the side of the road and rolled at least once down an embankment.

He had been wearing a helmet but it came off at some point.

The incident remains under investigation.



Montana high court denies convicted rapist's appeal

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Supreme Court has rejected an appeal brought by a man sentenced to 22 consecutive life sentences for raping three women and attempting to rape a fourth.

The Billings Gazette reports that Toby Eugene Griego appealed his case over claims that he didn't receive a fair trial because of pretrial publicity in Yellowstone County. He argued that the trial should've been moved because of articles from the Billings newspaper, including ones that gave women safety tips in the weeks before Griego's arrest.

The state's high court ruled Tuesday that relocating the trial would have had no merit.

Griego was convicted of 27 felony counts in 2014 after three women reported being bound and gagged and threatened with various weapons.



New Hampshire man's plea delayed in Nevada in Bundy standoff

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A former New Hampshire sheriff candidate's guilty pleas to federal charges in an armed confrontation with U.S. land management agents near cattleman Cliven Bundy's ranch in Nevada have been delayed.

Defense attorney Brian Smith said Tuesday that a paperwork snag caused the postponement of Gerald "Jerry" DeLemus' plea date to Thursday.

DeLemus (de-LAY'-mus), of Rochester, New Hampshire, will face prison time on federal conspiracy and interstate travel in aid of extortion charges.

The charges relate to a gunpoint standoff involving Bundy backers and federal agents in April 2014 about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Blaine Cooper of Humboldt, Arizona, is also due to plead guilty Thursday to reduced charges.

DeLemus and Cooper are among 19 people to face charges that include obstruction, weapon possession and use, and threatening and assaulting federal officers.


Park Service seeks minorities' support as it marks 100 years

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) — The National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday Thursday.

The federal agency oversees 131,000 square miles of parks, battlefields and other landmarks across the nation and in four U.S. territories.

It's attracting more visitors than ever but faces some key challenges ahead. Among them is reaching out to minority communities in an increasingly diverse nation and getting them to visit and be invested in preserving national parks.

The National Park Service already has adopted some changes to address the issue, including recruiting minority interns and producing videos and brochures for Spanish-speaking audiences.

But it says it has more work to do to ensure that the national parks and other sites in its care are preserved and protected for generations to come.


The Latest: Evacuation order north of Missoula

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The Missoula County Sheriff's Office has lifted evacuation orders for homes near Upper Grant Creek after firefighters contained a threatening blaze.

The sheriff's office posted the announcement Tuesday afternoon on its Facebook page. Authorities are asking nonresidents to stay out of the area 4 miles north of Interstate 90 to keep the roadways clear.

KECI-TV is reporting the fire that broke out Monday was 100 percent contained.

About two dozen homes had been evacuated.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, August 23rd 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

Missoula man flees probation for 2nd time in 2 months

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A man who was convicted of attempted murder 20 years ago has fled probation for the second time in less than two months.

Missoula County Sheriff's Office officials say 39-year-old Chad Earl Williams cut a GPS monitoring device from his ankle on Sunday and his whereabouts are unknown.

A $100,000 warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Williams had been due to be sentenced on Wednesday after he fled probation the first time in June.

Then, Williams holed up inside a Bozeman home, armed with a 9 mm pistol. He gave himself up to authorities after speaking with negotiators for several hours.

Williams was convicted in 1996 of shooting a man three times while trying to rob him. Williams was sentence to 50 years in prison with 25 years suspended.


Video sheds light on stunt motorcyclist's drowning

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

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say video filmed by a 19-year-old man who crashed while trying to ride a modified motorcycle across Canyon Ferry Lake has helped provide answers for authorities about his death.

Blake Becker, of Clancy, crashed July 23 as he tried to cross the lake east of Helena. His body was recovered from the reservoir about three weeks later.

The Independent Record reports video from a GoPro camera Becker had been wearing shows him attaching his life preserver to a rope connected to buoys intended to facilitate recovery of the bike from the water. Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says the "fatal error" caused Becker to sink with his motorcycle after the engine lost power.

Becker had completed the stunt at least once before and was trying to replicate it at night.



Authorities ID 2 killed, 1 injured in crash near Livingston

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The Park County Coroner's Office has identified two people who died in a crash west of Livingston after the vehicle they were travelling in went off the road and crashed down a steep embankment.

Forty-eight-year-old Jacqueline Suff, of Bozeman, and 47-year-old David Simpson, of Livingston, died at the scene of the single-vehicle crash early Sunday.

A third person, 56-year-old Kim Hartrove, of Essex, United Kingdom, was ejected from the vehicle and taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

The Montana Highway Patrol says Simpson had been driving an SUV when he lost control of the vehicle near an intersection and crashed.

None of the occupants had been wearing seat belts.

The two deaths on Sunday brought the number of crash fatalities in Montana to 125 so far this year.


More disease testing planned for Yellowstone, tributaries

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana wildlife officials are conducting tests on fish from additional areas to see if they are infected with a disease blamed in a massive fish kill in the Yellowstone River.

State officials closed a 183-mile stretch of the Yellowstone to all recreational activities on Friday. The unprecedented move came after thousands of fish were killed by a disease spread by a microscopic parasite.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokeswoman Andrea Jones says the agency is trying to determine how far the parasite has spread.

Agency personnel on Monday began collecting fish for testing downstream of Springdale. Testing also is planned on three Yellowstone tributaries — the Shields, Boulder and Stillwater Rivers.

A community meeting on the closure is set for Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Park County Fairgrounds in Livingston.


Evacuations ordered after Montana fire doubles in size

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say homes in a rural area east of Thompson Falls have been evacuated after a wildfire in northwestern Montana doubled in size in one day.

Fire officials say extreme fire behavior is also expected for the Copper King Fire on Monday, with wind gusts of up to 40 mph forecast to blow across the dry, hot terrain.

The Sanders County Sheriff's Office issued evacuation orders early Monday along Little Thompson River Road. Some 20 homes and structures are threatened, and other residents have been put on notice that the evacuation area may spread.

A shelter has been set up at Thompson Falls High School.

Some 317 firefighters are responding to the blaze, which grew 4 ½ square miles Sunday to nearly 11 square miles as of Monday morning.


$7M Montana tourism marketing contract award criticized

(Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A Montana state agency's decision to award a $7 million tourism marketing contract to a Wisconsin firm is being criticized by some tourism industry officials.

The Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development earlier this month awarded the contract to Milwaukee-based Hoffman York, splitting with the Bozeman advertising agency MercuryCSC after a decade.

Jennifer Pelej is the bureau chief for the tourism department's marketing office. She tells the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that 11 applicants went through a competitive bidding process.

Pelej disclosed that she has a relative who works for Hoffman York, but procurement officials found no conflict of interest.

Montana Lodging and Hospitality Association president Steve Wahrlich says he would have placed more value on the company's knowledge of the tourism industry in the selection process.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Monday, August 22nd 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Monday, August 22nd 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT

County takes over energy company building

(Information from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Butte-Silver Bow County is taking ownership of the former NorthWestern Energy building after buyer couldn't be found, costing taxpayers about $1,000 a month for upkeep until it can be sold.

The city agreed to take the building if NorthWestern couldn't sell it in an agreement to keep the company's Montana headquarters in Butte.

According to the Montana Standard , the power company built a $25 million office building in Butte and more than 200 employees moved to it.

The county agreed to assume ownership of the old building if a buyer could not be found in 18 months.



Wyoming conflict between wolves, livestock up sharply

(Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com)

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Federal officials say the number of conflicts between wolves and livestock in Wyoming is up sharply.

Wildlife managers say wolf-killed sheep and cattle have been found in the Upper Gros Ventre area, in the Salt and Wyoming ranges and other areas of the state.

The number of wolves killed last year was the second highest in the state since they were reintroduced to the Northern Rockies 21 years ago.

This year, the number of kills already has exceeded the 54 kills for all of last year.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports the problems will increase in late summer and fall when pups have grown and demand lots of food, trying to put on fat for the winter.



AT&T adding about 100 customer service jobs in Missoula

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

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — AT&T is adding about 100 customer service jobs in Missoula.

The company bought DirecTV, including its local call center, last summer and says it needs 100 customer service representatives in Missoula.

According to the Missoulian , it could bring the number of AT&T employees in Missoula to about 750.

Company spokeswoman Suzanne Trantow says the company has been adding about 160 more jobs locally and 180 more statewide since the ownership transition.



Native communities get help with health disparities

(Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Montana State University and its partners have received $20 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to address health disparities facing Native communities in Montana and Alaska.

University officials say the new American Indian-Alaska Native Clinical and Translational Research Program includes collaborators from Blackfeet Community College, the University of Montana, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, the University of Alaska-Anchorage, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Southcentral Foundation.

Montana and Alaska both have large Native populations and they have disproportionately high Native health disparity rates.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that American Indian and Alaska Native death rates were nearly 50 percent greater than non-Hispanic whites between 1999 and 2009.



Advisory group recommends gasoline tax hike

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

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — An advisory group is recommending a 2-cent per gallon hike in gasoline taxes in Lewis and Clark County to pay for transportation projects.

The Helena Citizens Council has sent its recommendations to the city commission asking commissioners to ask voters to approve the proposal.

County administrative officer Eric Bryson says the county commission's top priority has been to get funds to reduce overcrowding at the county's detention center.

According to the Helena Independent Record , one county commissioner wants voters need to consider both proposals separately.



Memorial in Montana for Forest Service firefighter

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A memorial service was held Saturday in Missoula for a U.S. Forest Service firefighter who was killed battling a wildfire in Great Basin National Park in eastern Nevada.

The Missoulian reports Hotshot firefighting crews lined a lane to honor Justin Beebe, who died Aug. 13 when he was struck by a tree while fighting a 7-square-mile blaze ignited by lightning Aug. 8 about 200 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Beebe was a member of the Lolo Hotshots based in Missoula, Montana — one of a number of elite Forest Service crews called for the most dangerous wildfires in the West.

Beebe will be buried in his home state of Vermont.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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