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Latest Montana News
Friday, December 15th 2017
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MST
METH IN SPARE TIRE

Montana police find 8 pounds of meth in spare tire

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Law enforcement officers say they found 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) of meth in a spare tire during a traffic stop in Stillwater County.

The Billings Gazette reported Thursday that the officers said the man driving the vehicle claimed he had been visiting Yogi Bear in Yellowstone National Park before being pulled over.

The driver, 31-year-old Manuel Paz Sanchez Jr., was charged with possessing meth with intent to distribute.

Sanchez was originally pulled over for tailing a vehicle too closely.

He waived a preliminary hearing. The case will be presented to a grand jury for indictment.

Sanchez remains in custody and booking documents do not indicate if he has hired an attorney.

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YELLOWSTONE WINTER SEASON-OPEN

Yellowstone National Park to open for winter season

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park is set to open for the winter season.

The Billings Gazette reports that the park will open to the public on Friday for motorized over-snow travel.

Visitors will be able to travel the park's interior roads on commercially guided snowmobiles and snowcoaches from the north, west and south entrances.

Visitors who have proper permits can also participate in the non-commercially guided snowmobile trips.

Travel from Fishing Bridge to Lake Butte is closed until more snow accumulates on the road.

Most stores, restaurants, campgrounds and lodges are closed during winter.

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CHRONIC WASTING-FEEDGROUNDS

Montana wildlife officials ask Wyoming to stop feeding elk

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

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (AP) — Montana wildlife officials are asking their Wyoming counterparts to stop feeding elk after chronic wasting disease has appeared in the state.

Jackson Hole News and Guide reports the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission sent a letter last week to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, saying their elk feeding practices could accelerate the spread of the fatal, contagious disease.

The Montana letter says officials respect how Wyoming handles its affairs, but management of the disease in Montana is affected by what happens in the neighboring state.

Wyoming Game and Fish commissioner Mike Schmid says he had not seen the letter as of Wednesday. He says it requires more discussion before a decision is made.

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MONTANA SUPREME COURT

Billings judge to replace Wheat on Montana Supreme Court

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has appointed a District Court judge in Billings to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court.

Bullock's office on Thursday announced Judge Ingrid Gustafson will replace Justice Mike Wheat, who is retiring Dec. 31.

Gustafson was appointed in 2004 to the 13th Judicial District in Yellowstone County.

She previously worked as a staff attorney for the Social Security Administration and in private practice. Gustafson received her law degree from the University of Montana.

Wheat was appointed to Montana's high court in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. He had five years remaining in his eight year term.

The Bozeman resident announced his retirement in July, saying it was time to start a new chapter in his life.

YELLOWSTONE MINING

Montana Republican gets behind Yellowstone mining ban

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte is sponsoring legislation to withdraw land near Yellowstone National Park from future mining, after describing an identical Senate measure as "dead on arrival" in the House.

Gianforte spokesman Travis Hall said the Republican has been working with other lawmakers to make sure the bill introduced Thursday can pass. Hall would not give further details.

The measure would remove public lands north of the park from future mining claims. An identical bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, had stalled.

Two companies are seeking to develop gold mines north of Yellowstone.

Local residents and businesses say the projects could pollute waterways and discourage tourism.

LOCKED UP-MONTANA

Supreme Court denies re-sentencing in juvenile murder case

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's Supreme Court has ruled a U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibiting mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles convicted of murder also applies to Montana cases in which judges used their discretion to hand down the same sentence.

However, in a 4-3 ruling Wednesday, justices denied a man's petition for resentencing for a murder he committed six weeks before he turned 18.

The majority rejected the argument that Derrick Steilman's 110-year sentence without the possibility of parole was a de facto life sentence because it includes the possibility of time off for good behavior. Steilman pleaded guilty to killing Paul Bischke in Butte in 1997 and is serving a concurrent 26-year sentence for a Washington state murder committed a year later.

Attorney Colin Stephens says he likely will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.


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

Thursday, December 14th 2017
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MST
BONE BOX-CHILDREN'S REMAINS-THE LATEST

The Latest: Police investigating found childrens' bones

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

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Law enforcement officers in western Montana have a "person of interest" they want to interview after a box containing the bones and teeth of three children were found in the shed of a Missoula home in September.

A cleaning crew found the box when a tenant was evicted from the property.

Missoula Police Sgt. Travis Welsh tells the Missoulian the person they want to interview is not a suspect.

Testing determined the ages of the children to be 2-4 years old, 5-8 years old and 6-10 years old. It was unclear when they died.

The remains have been submitted to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Welsh said the agency would try to test the remains for DNA to see if the children are related and if the results match any missing children's cases.

GUN RUNNING-MONTANA

Judge orders Montana man held in illegal gun export case

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A judge has ordered the continued detention of a Montana man authorities captured after he fled to Mexico while facing charges of illegally exporting handguns from the United States.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah Lynch on Tuesday ordered 37-year-old Eric Daniel Doyle of Kalispell held pending further proceedings. He faces 44 counts of illegal gun exports and related crimes. He has pleaded not guilty. A trial date has not been set.

Doyle was captured last month in Sonora, Mexico and returned to Montana.

Authorities allege he ran an elaborate scheme to export handguns to customers in countries with restrictive gun laws.

Lynch said Doyle was a flight risk because he traveled to Mexico shortly after learning about the federal investigation and because he faces a mandatory prison sentence if he is found guilty.

Four alleged accomplices previously pleaded guilty.

OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING

Man shot, killed by police in northern Montana ID'd

(Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Authorities have released the name of a man who was shot and killed by police in northern Montana.

The Great Falls Tribune reports 51-year-old Stacy Micheletti was shot when he brandished a weapon during a confrontation in the city's east side Monday morning. Police were trying to speak with the man about an incident that occurred about an hour earlier.

No officers were injured, and investigators have not said what kind of weapon Micheletti brandished.

State records show Micheletti was convicted of robbery in 1998, burglary in 1985 and rape the same year.

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MONTANA FATAL CRASH

Man ejected in rollover crash, struck by another vehicle

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A man died after he was thrown from his vehicle during a rollover crash and was struck by a passing vehicle on the Crow Reservation in southeastern Montana.

The Montana Highway Patrol tells The Billings Gazette the crash happened just after 5 a.m. Wednesday on Interstate 90 near Hardin.

Trooper Jack Rhodes says the man died at the scene. His name hasn't been released.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is leading the investigation.

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ATM THEFT

Man steals entire ATM from Montana hotel

(Information from: KULR-TV, http://www.kulr8.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The manager of a Montana hotel says police are investigating after a man spent more than 4 hours working to unbolt an ATM from the floor at the hotel and dragged the 300-pound machine out the door.

Gail Linnell tells KULR-TV the surveillance video shows the man walked into the La Quinta Inn and Suites in Billings at about 3 p.m. Saturday, took the stairs to the upper level, walked down the stairs to where the ATM sat and unbolted it from the floor.

Linnell says the man dragged the ATM out of the hotel just before 7:30 p.m. The hotel released surveillance video with images of the suspect.

Billings police spokesman Lt. Neil Lawrence says they aren't releasing the amount of money that was in the ATM. No arrests have been made.

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MONTANA HEALTH CLINICS

State closes health clinic for Miles City-area workers

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Department of Administration officials told lawmakers that Montana's experiment with state employee health clinics has saved an estimated $6.8 million for office visits and lab fees since 2013.

The agency made the response Tuesday after legislative auditors earlier reported the clinics didn't provide adequate data to calculate any savings.

State health plan administrator Marilyn Bartlett said the data was available through another computer system and when treatment codes were compared, the savings could be determined.

The state has spent $26 million on employee clinics, which are run by a contractor.

Administration Director Dave Lewis told the Legislative Audit Committee that the state employee clinic in Miles City was closed due to a lack of use. The state has employee clinics in Helena, Billings, Butte, Missoula and a part-time clinic in Anaconda. Patients are not charged co-payments or deductibles.


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

Wednesday, December 13th 2017
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MST
MONTANA HEALTH CLINICS

State closes health clinic for Miles City-area workers

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Department of Administration officials told lawmakers that Montana's experiment with state employee health clinics has saved an estimated $6.8 million for office visits and lab fees since 2013.

The agency made the response Tuesday after legislative auditors earlier reported the clinics didn't provide adequate data to calculate any savings.

State health plan administrator Marilyn Bartlett said the data was available through another computer system and when treatment codes were compared, the savings could be determined.

The state has spent $26 million on employee clinics, which are run by a contractor.

Administration Director Dave Lewis told the Legislative Audit Committee that the state employee clinic in Miles City was closed due to a lack of use. The state has employee clinics in Helena, Billings, Butte, Missoula and a part-time clinic in Anaconda. Patients are not charged co-payments or deductibles.

OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING

Suspicious 911 call precedes fatal shooting in Great Falls

(Information from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Police officers in north-central Montana were investigating a suspicious 911 call when a suspect brandished a weapon, leading officers to shoot and kill him.

Great Falls police officers shot the man at about 10:30 a.m. Monday. Officials have not released his name or the type of weapon he had.

The officers involved are in paid administrative leave while the case is investigated. No officers were injured.

Sgt. Jim Wells tells the Great Falls Tribune that officers wanted to talk with the suspect about a 911 call made just before 9:30 a.m. An earlier call also appeared to be related.

Monday's was the third officer-involved shooting in Great Falls this year. Police shot and killed a 25-year-old burglary suspect on Sept. 11. Another man was shot and injured in April while holding a knife to a woman's neck.

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SHOVELS-HEART ATTACK WARNING

Clinic provides heart attack warning stickers for shovels

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Snow shovels for sale at some Billings-area hardware stores have stickers to warn buyers about the symptoms of a heart attack.

Billings Clinic provided the stickers, which urge people with symptoms such as chest pain, nausea, dizziness and unusual shortness of breath while shoveling to call 911.

Chest Pain Clinic coordinator Kierra Knox says cold weather constricts blood vessels while the work of shoveling snow puts an increased demand on the heart. The combination can lead to a heart attack.

The Billings Gazette reports clinic employees placed the stickers on shovels at hardware stores in Billings, Columbus, Red Lodge and Absarokee.

Knox also advised reducing the risk of a heart attack by using a smaller shovel, shoveling smaller portions of snow, taking frequent breaks, staying well hydrated and warming up by stretching.

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NATIONAL PARKS-FEES

US national parks to slash number of free days for visitors

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — National parks in the U.S. will sharply drop the number of days they allow visitors to get in for free.

After waiving entrance fees for 16 days in 2016 and 10 days in 2017, the National Park Service announced Tuesday that it will have four no-cost days next year.

They will be Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 15), the first day of National Park Week (April 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept. 22) and Veterans Day (Nov. 11).

It comes after the Park Service said it was considering raising vehicle entry fees at 17 busy parks mainly in the West, including Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Zion.

The proposal would raise the cost from $25 or $30 per week to $70.

The agency estimates the increase would generate an additional $70 million to help address backlogged maintenance and infrastructure projects.

MONTANA RANCH SALE

Massive Montana ranch owned by Mars candy heir is sold

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — One of the largest Montana ranches owned by the late Mars Inc. co-president has been sold.

The Billings Gazette reports Heal Holdings LLC purchased the 187-square mile (484-square kilometer) Diamond Cross Ranch on Dec. 1.

The asking price for ranch — located in Birney in southeastern Montana — was $64.8 million.

According to Florida's secretary of state's office, Heal Holdings is a limited liability company.

The Diamond Cross Ranch was assembled by Mars candy heir Forrest Mars Jr. who died in July 2016 in Sheridan, Wyoming at age 84.

The ranch went on sale in March.

Century 21 BJH Real Estate Agent Bruce Garber says the ranch was likely bought quickly because of its large size.

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SPECIAL HUNT-DEER TESTING

Montana deer licenses sell out for special hunt

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say all 1,200 licenses sold for the special hunt to test deer for chronic wasting disease in Carbon County.

The Billings Gazette reports the licenses went on sale at 5 a.m. Monday and sold out in three hours.

The special hunt begins Friday and is targeting 200 whitetail deer and 200 mule deer. The season could be halted or extended depending on how fast the quota is reached.

The department is aiming to collect a sampling of deer to determine the spread of the contagious, fatal disease in the deer population in southern Montana. Hunters are required to submit their deer for testing if they're successful.

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

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