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Tuesday, June 28th 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT
FOREST SERVICE-FIRE CHIEF

New Forest Service fire chief takes post as season heats up

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service's new fire chief for the region that includes Montana has taken his post just as the fire season is heating up in the West.

Ralph Rau was previously the deputy forest supervisor for Idaho's Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest. The Missoulian reports he became the Forest Service's Region 1 fire and aviation manager based in Missoula earlier this month.

He will oversee firefighting over 39,000 square miles in Montana, North Dakota and parts of Idaho and South Dakota.

Rau served four years in the Marine Corps and has spent 33 years with the Forest Service.

Rau says fire activity is already picking up in the eastern part of the region, and all of the Hotshot crews are committed.

Fire forecasters are predicting an average fire season for the Northern Rockies.

AP-US-UNACCOMPANIED-CHILDREN-LAWYERS

Judge OKs class action for children in deportation hearings

SEATTLE (AP) — A federal judge has approved class-action status for a lawsuit over whether poor children are entitled to lawyers during deportation hearings.

The order by U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly in Seattle comes in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and immigration advocates. It challenges the government's failure to provide lawyers.

The plaintiffs in the case are now expected to represent thousands of children throughout the West who are under 18, can't afford legal representation, and are potentially eligible for asylum or U.S. citizenship.

Matt Adams, the legal director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, said in a statement Monday that under the ruling, the merits of the practice will be argued in a single case, and the government will have to defend a system that, in his words, "pits unrepresented children against trained federal prosecutors."

MISSING MAN-RESERVOIR

Body of Havre man found in Hi-Line reservoir

(Information from: Havre Daily News, http://www.havredailynews.com)

HAVRE, Mont. (AP) — The body of a man who was reported missing last week has been found in Fresno Reservoir on the Hi-Line.

Hill County Sheriff Don Brostrom told the Havre Daily News on Monday that a volunteer on a jet ski discovered Jerry Donoven's body.

Brostrom says the body was some distance from where Donoven's boat had previously been found.

Donoven was last seen Thursday. More than 100 volunteers and officials from the sheriff's office, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Border Patrol participated in the search.

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FLAGS LOWERED-THATCHER

Governor orders flags lowered to honor Doolittle Raider

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock has ordered all flags in Montana to be flown at half-staff Monday to honor one of the last members of the Doolittle Raiders, the airmen who helped change the course of World War II.

Retired Staff Sgt. David Jonathan Thatcher died earlier this month in Missoula at age 94.

Thatcher was one of 80 airmen whose mission bombing factory areas and military installations in Japan in 1942 lifted American spirits five months after Pearl Harbor.

Afterward, their planes headed for airfields in mainland China, realizing they would run out of fuel.

Thatcher's death leaves Retired Lt. Col. Richard "Dick" Cole of Comfort, Texas, as the only living member of the Doolittle Raiders.

KAYAK FATAL

Man who drowned in Storm Lake kayaking accident identified

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

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Authorities have identified a 38-year-old California man whose body was recovered from a southwestern Montana lake after he drowned in a kayaking accident.

The Montana Standard reports that Matthew Boehler's body was recovered from Storm Lake near Anaconda on Sunday. The San Diego man had been camping with friends on Saturday when he drowned in the incident.

Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Assistant Police Chief Bill Sather says Boehler and another man had been paddling on the lake when a gust of wind overturned their kayaks.

The one man freed himself and was able to get to shore. However, the victim never surfaced.

Rescue crews had searched the lake Saturday night for Boehler, but their efforts were unsuccessful. The victim wasn't found until Sunday morning.

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ELK-CROSSING PROBLEMS

State works to stop crashes at common elk-crossing on I-90

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

DRUMMOND, Mont. (AP) — Montana transportation officials are working to solve a decades-old problem on elk in Interstate 90 in Granite County.

The Missoulian reports that the Montana Department of Transportation is considering a $1.5 million fencing project to funnel roaming elk under the interstate at existing underpasses in the eight-mile stretch between Drummond and Jens.

MDT Director Mike Tooley says the fencing project would serve as both a safety measure and interstate maintenance.

The project comes after Duane Carlton, of Bozeman, died on June 6 when his motorcycle collided with an elk in the stretch.

Wildlife officials say more elk are on highways as the most recent elk count was over 1,200 in the hunting district quarter in the Drummond area, well above the movement goal of 800 to 1,200 for the whole hunting district.

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

Monday, June 27th 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT
MONTANA GOVERNOR-DEBATE

Montana Gov. Bullock, challenger Gianforte hold first debate

BIG SKY, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock and his Republican challenger, Bozeman businessman Greg Gianforte, tussled over the economy, infrastructure, river access and an array of other topics during their first gubernatorial debate.

Gianforte, who is making his first run for public office, used Sunday's debate to further introduce himself to Montana voters. Gianforte called himself a successful businessman with the know-how to develop jobs and raise wages.

Bullock cast himself as a Montana native who is running on his record of protecting public lands and access to fishing streams while touting his efforts on the state's economy.

The race is expected to garner national attention with large amounts of money flowing into the race.

The debate was hosted by the Montana Broadcasters Association. More debates are likely, but none are now scheduled.

KALISPELL AIRPORT

Pilots, supporters fighting to keep Kalispell airport open

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

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Pilots and airport supporters are fighting to keep the Kalispell airport open.

The Kalispell City Council says it will discuss a plan on July 5 on whether to close the city-owned airport in South Kalispell.

Supporters of the airport say it would be difficult to use the land for other purposes because of problems with the soil and a high water table.

According to the Daily Inter Lake , city officials are worried there won't be enough money available to maintain the airport.

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WILD HORSES-SLAUGHTER

Agency to sterilize mustangs for first time to slow growth

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A federal agency is on a path to sterilize wild horses on U.S. rangeland to slow the growth of herds — a new approach condemned by mustang advocates across the West.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management also continues to resist calls from ranchers and western Republicans to euthanize or sell for slaughter the animals overflowing holding pens so as to clear the way for more roundups.

Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director Steve Ellis delivered those messages at an emotional congressional hearing this week. He offered a glimpse of the challenges facing the agency that has been struggling for decades with what it describes as a $1 billion problem.

Highlights of the hearing included Nevada's state veterinarian calling for the round-up and surgical sterilization of virtually every mustang in overpopulated herds and a protester who briefly interrupted with shouts denouncing "welfare ranchers" turning public lands into "feedlots."

JET NOISE

More noise reductions sought for Jackson Hole Airport

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

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Commercial jets landing at Jackson Hole Airport may be changing course to reduce noise over the Snake River.

Up to a dozen commercial jets land at the airport over a period of a few hours in Grand Teton National Park, disturbing sports enthusiasts and visitors.

A professional planner is being hired to draw up new flight plans, which could take two years.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports recent changes are not enough because more jets are using the airport.

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MONTANA ELECTIONS-TRIBES

Native Americans turn focus inward for political empowerment

BROWNING, Mont. (AP) — Native Americans account for 8 percent of Montana's residents and growing, but they have yet to realize their political clout.

After generations of tearing down the external barriers that barred their people from the ballot box, Native American activists are increasingly focusing inward to promote a culture of voting across tribal lands.

The Native vote could be especially crucial in what could be tight races in this year's election for governor and in Denise Juneau's bid to become the first Native American woman to win a seat in Congress.

Advocates are also hoping that 13 new satellite elections offices in Indian country have boosted the number of Native Americans registered to vote.

COAL-JOBS VS AIR POLLUTION

Coal terminal plan pits jobs against environmental concerns

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The promise of good, blue-collar jobs in a depressed area is running headlong into environmental sensitivities as officials in Northern California consider a plan to build a marine terminal that would serve as a gateway for Utah-mined coal heading to Asia.

The terminal is in West Oakland, a historically black neighborhood that's among the poorest and most polluted in the region. Detractors highlight the environmental dangers of bringing millions of tons of coal through the area while supporters tout the economic benefits.

On Monday, the eight-member Oakland City Council is scheduled to vote on whether to ban the transport of coal because it would present a public health or safety hazard. A yes vote could scuttle the project.

California is well-known for its commitment to environmentalism and clean energy.


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

Sunday, June 26th 2016
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT
JET NOISE

More noise reductions sought for Jackson Hole Airport

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

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Commercial jets landing at Jackson Hole Airport may be changing course to reduce noise over the Snake River.

Up to a dozen commercial jets land at the airport over a period of a few hours in Grand Teton National Park, disturbing sports enthusiasts and visitors.

A professional planner is being hired to draw up new flight plans, which could take two years.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports recent changes are not enough because more jets are using the airport.

___

MONTANA ELECTIONS-TRIBES

Native Americans turn focus inward for political empowerment

BROWNING, Mont. (AP) — Native Americans account for 8 percent of Montana's residents and growing, but they have yet to realize their political clout.

After generations of tearing down the external barriers that barred their people from the ballot box, Native American activists are increasingly focusing inward to promote a culture of voting across tribal lands.

The Native vote could be especially crucial in what could be tight races in this year's election for governor and in Denise Juneau's bid to become the first Native American woman to win a seat in Congress.

Advocates are also hoping that 13 new satellite elections offices in Indian country have boosted the number of Native Americans registered to vote.

BOAT DOCK DEATH-INVESTIGATION

Report: Ramp caused child's death at Canyon Ferry Reservoir

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

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Bureau of Reclamation has concluded that an improperly positioned ramp caused a dock stored at Canyon Ferry Lake boat launch to partially collapse in April, pinning a 3-year-old boy and causing fatal injuries.

The Independent Record reports that the report, released Friday, is focused on the death of Landon Haight, who as injured April 22.

According to the report, an access ramp had been left in an upright position following maintenance and has not been cordoned off rom public access. Landon was found pinned between the access ramp and dock surface.

Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Tyler Johnson says it is unclear how the ramp fell on Landon.

The bureau will next review the facts, interview witnesses and determine if any administrative actions against employees are necessary.

___

MISSOULIAN LAWSUIT

Former Missoulian editor drops wrongful discharge lawsuit

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

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A former editor of the Missoulian has dropped her lawsuit claiming she was wrongfully discharged by the newspaper.

Sherry Devlin had alleged the newspaper's publisher and parent company, Lee Enterprises, demoted her, cut her pay and hired a younger and less qualified man to replace her. The Missoulian reported Friday that publisher Mark Heintzelman and Devlin attorney Eric Henkel declined to comment on whether the sides had agreed to an out-of-court settlement.

In May, a Montana Human Rights Bureau investigation concluded that Devlin was not discriminated against based on her age and gender.

The 61-year-old Devlin worked at the Missoulian for 31 years. Matthew Bunk, who replaced her as editor last August, resigned in April.

Bunk will be replaced by former Seattle Times editor Kathy Best, who begins her new job on Monday.

___

LABOR LEADER-MONTANA

AFL-CIO leader vows union support for Bullock, Juneau

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is rallying Montana union members as they convene in Helena for their annual convention.

Trumka urged the members Friday to stay vigilant against those seeking to weaken unions, and said his federation would work to defeat anti-union office seekers in November's elections.

He vowed to help re-elect Gov. Steve Bullock and to prevent Montana from becoming a right-to-work state. Trumka said the AFL-CIO plans to spend money in the Montana governor's race, and in support of Denise Juneau's bid for U.S. Congress.

He would not say how much money could pour into those races.

Bullock's Republican opponent, Greg Gianforte, said the AFL-CIO's endorsements of Bullock and of Hillary Clinton for president are a "slap in the face" to coal workers, some of whom are union members.

EDITOR-MAYOR RECALL

Editor resigns amid questions about mayor's recall petition

LIBBY, Mont. (AP) — A northwestern Montana newspaper editor has resigned amid questions about his involvement with an effort to recall Libby's mayor.

Bob Henline resigned from The Western News on May 26. The Libby newspaper reports Henline was clearing his desk on June 2 when he told General Manager Suzanne Resch that he helped write two drafts of a petition to recall Mayor Doug Roll.

Resch says she does not condone newspaper employees taking part in the stories they cover. Henline says he believes the newspaper's role is to better its community.

Roll tells the Flathead Beacon he had suspected Henline of being involved with the recall effort. He accuses Henline of manipulating the news to further his own agenda.

Petition organizers have until Sept. 17 to gather enough signatures to force a recall election.

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