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Associated Press Montana News Summary
Tuesday, July 29th 2014 

Man denies charges in Billings-area shootings

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A Billings man has denied felony charges filed after an apparently methamphetamine-fueled shooting spree in Billings and at a nearby state park.

The Billings Gazette reports 52-year-old Kelly Dee Megard pleaded not guilty Monday to attempted deliberate homicide, four counts of felony criminal endangerment and one count of assault with a weapon.

Megard appeared in District Court via video. His public attorney, Roberta Drew, did not object to the judge's decision to maintain Megard's bail at $500,000.

Megard is charged with pointing a gun at a man early on July 15, shooting at a sport utility vehicle carrying a woman and her two children early that afternoon and a short time later firing shots at Pictograph Cave State Park.

Court records say Megard told officers he had used meth and believed people were trying to kill him.


Missing firefighter found in Bitterroot forest

HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) A Bitterroot National Forest firefighter who went missing while hiking to the site of a small, lightning-caused fire east of Hamilton has been located.

Forest spokesman Tod McKay says the man was a member of a hand crew that contained the fire on Saturday and was going back in on Sunday for mop-up work.

McKay says the missing man trailed behind the crew and eventually told them he would catch up. However, he didn't show up at the fire and did not respond to radio calls.

Up to 50 people along with aircraft searched for the man on Sunday and Monday. He was spotted Monday afternoon walking along a forest road several miles from the fire.

McKay says he was taken to the hospital and his condition was not known.


Former tribal official sentenced for embezzlement

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A former director of the Rocky Boy's Wellness Center has been sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to repay more than $19,700 after being convicted of embezzlement.

Wilbur Harlan "Huck" Sunchild was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris after a jury convicted the 49-year-old Sunchild in April.

Federal prosecutors say Sunchild deposited more than $26,000 meant for the Chippewa Cree tribe's wellness center in 2012 into a bank account he had created.

Prosecutors say he emptied the account over three months, including ATM withdrawals at casinos in Havre, Chinook and Great Falls.

Sunchild had pleaded not guilty to the charges of theft from a tribal government receiving federal grants, theft from an Indian tribal organization and theft from a health-care facility.


Longtime lawmaker William 'Red' Menahan dies at 78

HELENA, Mont. (AP) William "Red" Menahan, a 30-year legislator from Anaconda and a former educator, has died at age 78.

District Judge Mike Menahan says his father died Saturday in Billings of pulmonary fibrosis.

Red Menahan was born in Anaconda in 1935. He was a school teacher and principal before being elected to the state House as a Democrat in 1970.

He served until 2000, when voter-approved term limits went into effect.

Menahan was known for a quick wit that he used to diffuse tension and make a political point.

Mike Menahan recalls one budget hearing in which then-Rep. Francis Bardanouve lectured his fellow lawmakers about spending too much money.

Menahan says his father told Bardanouve, "I don't want to die tomorrow with today's lunch money in my pocket."


Authorities identify boy who drowned in Bitterroot

HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) Ravalli County authorities have identified a 3-year-old Stevensville boy who drowned last week in the Bitterroot River.

Sheriff and coroner Chris Hoffman said Monday that Tristan Iverson was pronounced dead at a hospital after the raft he was in capsized.

The boy was with his father and older brother in the inflatable raft Friday. They survived, but Tristan was trapped underneath a log jam.

Hoffman says the sheriff's office and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are investigating.


Belgrade man charged with trying to suffocate baby

(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) A 29-year-old Belgrade man is charged with assault on a minor after his cousin reported he tried to suffocate her baby during an argument over the use of a pacifier.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Mickey Lee Wallace made an initial appearance in Justice Court on Monday. He did not enter a plea. District Judge Bryan Adams set Wallace's bail at $100,000.

The baby's mother told police that Wallace was holding the baby Thursday night when she tried to give her son a pacifier. The woman said Wallace got mad and yelled that pacifiers were addictive.

She said Wallace squeezed his arms around the baby and then pinched the baby's nose closed and covered his mouth. She was able to get the baby away from Wallace after about 15 seconds.

Wallace was arrested on Sunday.


Osprey study looks for pollutants in birds

REED POINT, Mont. (AP) Researchers are using blood samples from osprey to determine whether pollutants from industrial sources are contaminating the birds' food supply along Montana's Yellowstone River.

The three-year-study of the fish-eating birds of prey is being conducted through the Yellowstone River Research Center at Rocky Mountain College.

Rocky associate professor Kayhan Ostovar said Monday that the project will allow scientists to compare the health of the Yellowstone to other rivers across the country.

Researchers so far have collected blood samples from osprey in 63 locations. Ostovar says that data will be analyzed in coming months.

More than 50 percent of osprey chicks do not survive. In recent weeks, hail storms in southern Montana killed at least two chicks. Another was killed by a golden eagle.


State: Mountain pine beetle infestation continues

HELENA, Mont. (AP) State forestry officials say while the mountain pine beetle epidemic has passed its peak, survey results show it's not yet over.

Department of Natural Resources Forestry Division Pest Management Specialist Amy Gannon told the Board of Land Commissioners Monday more than 526,000 acres of pine trees were infested with the beetle in 2013. Gannon says that amount is still significant as the insects continue to leave stands of dead trees in their wake.

The most active outbreaks remain in the southern part of the Bitterroot National Forest and in the Big Hole area in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

Since 2000, the epidemic has spread across more than 6 million acres, or 23 percent of the state's 26 million acres of forest on private, state and federal lands.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Monday, July 28th 2014 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Small wildfires keep Montana firefighters busy

UNDATED (AP) __ Firefighters attacked and monitored several wildfires around Montana over the weekend.

The Shoestring Fire on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest was 50 percent contained after it was spotted Friday and burned 15-20 acres. Firefighters also quickly contained a nearby, smaller spot fire.

The Lodge Grass Basin fire in the Bighorn Mountains of the Crow Reservation did not grow over the weekend after burning about 165 acres since last Tuesday. Firefighters could only drop water from helicopters because the inaccessible terrain.

In Treasure County, firefighters and others contained a wildfire that broke out Saturday afternoon between Interstate 94 and the Yellowstone River. It burned about 500 acres.

A fire burning southwest of Hamilton in the Bitterroot Mountains grew to 40 acres Sunday.

Another small fire was burning northwest of Helena.


Yellowstone finds traffic safety violations

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) Yellowstone National Park rangers issued 10 citations and arrested four people for various traffic safety violations last month.

Rangers conducted traffic safety checkpoints in the park on three days in June, looking for traffic violations, safety violations and impaired drivers.

They made contact with 328 drivers.

Violations cited by rangers included driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


Bobcat fur farm looks to move from ND to Montana

(Information in the following story is from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) The owners of a commercial bobcat fur farm are looking to relocate from the bustling oilfield region in western North Dakota to a quieter area in central Montana.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is taking public comments on the proposed 150-foot-by-140-foot animal facility where bobcats would be housed in separate pens inside the facility near Roy in Fergus County.

Larry Schultz, who owns the business with his wife, says the facility would raise bobcats for their furs, which would be sold in the commercial fur industry worldwide.

Schultz tells the Great Falls Tribune that bobcat fur is used for trim, hats and coats in some countries.

Schultz says noise and dust from oil drilling near their farm in western North Dakota isn't good for raising bobcats.


Texas hiker involved in bear encounter in Montana

WEST GLACIER, Mont. (AP) National Park Service rangers are searching for a bear wounded in an encounter with a hiker in Glacier National Park.

The agency says the encounter occurred Saturday morning on the Mt. Brown Lookout Trail on the west side of the park in Montana.

A 57-year-old hiker from Texas says he was hiking alone when a bear charged him from an area below the trail.

The hiker deployed his bear spray and then discharged one round of his handgun. The bear ran away.

The hiker, whose name was not released, wasn't hurt.

It's not known whether a grizzly or black bear was involved. Park rangers found evidence that the bear was wounded.

The trail has been closed until further notice while rangers search for the bear.


3-year-old dies in Bitterroot River accident

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) A 3-year-old Stevensville boy is dead after a rafting accident in the Bitterroot River in Ravalli County.

Sheriff Chris Hoffman says the boy was on an inflatable raft with his father and 6-year-old brother around 3 p.m. Friday when the raft hit a log jam and flipped over, tossing them into the river.

The father and older brother surfaced, but the young boy was trapped underneath the jam.

Hoffman says the father extricated the boy from the jam and began CPR.

The boy was taken to Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, but was pronounced dead early Saturday morning.

Hoffman attributed the death to drowning.

The boy's name is being withheld until all family has been notified.


Tribes bring bison plan to legislative panel

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Blackfoot Confederacy tribal members say they want to bring free-ranging bison back to their land just east of the Northern Rockies in Montana and Canada.

Tribal members of the Blackfoot Confederacy in Montana and Canada have told a Montana legislative panel they want to work with them to make it happen.

Intertribal Buffalo Council President Ervin Carlson of the Blackfeet Tribe told the State-Tribal Relations Committee that the group behind the initiative is taking the process slowly. Carlson says they want to engage in a lot of dialogue and hope to avoid the recent controversy surrounding the relocation of bison from Yellowstone National Park.

Carlson says restoring bison to the reservation would also help restore a big part of the Blackfoot history and culture.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Sunday, July 27th 2014 

Glacier Park visitor center reopens

(Information in the following story is from: Daily Inter Lake, http://www.dailyinterlake.com)

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Mont. (AP) The St. Mary Visitor Center at Glacier National Park has reopened after being closed because of water damage from the center's sprinkler system.

A furnace malfunction early Thursday morning caused the sprinkler system to activate, causing water damage to the building, furnishings and some interior utilities.

The Daily Inter Lake reports that contractors and park employees worked through the day and most of the night so that the center could reopen on Friday.

Some employee offices have been relocated to the nearby park administrative area. Some office equipment, furniture and computers will need to be replaced, along with some drywall and flooring.

Some of the Glacier National Park Conservancy's sales materials were also damaged.


Remains of 7 veterans interred in Montana

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) The unclaimed remains of seven veterans from various conflicts are being given proper burials at Yellowstone National Cemetery in Montana.

The effort by the Missing in America Project seeks to provide proper interment for those who served their country.

A brief ceremony was held in Bozeman on Friday at a funeral home where the remains of veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam had been kept after not being claimed by anyone. The urns were then taken to Billings for an interment ceremony Saturday at the cemetery in nearby Laurel.


Gov. Bullock touts forest management effort

(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)

BONNER, Mont. (AP) Gov. Steve Bullock says a new state forestry management effort is more than about improving timber mills and forest health.

Speaking at Milltown State Park on Friday, Bullock said the initiative is about managing state parks, looking at restoration strategy and working with federal agencies to make sure projects are done right.

The Missoulian reports that in Milltown's case, a small-scale project set for this fall would thin young Douglas fir and lodgepole pines and give more space to larger ponderosa pine and larch.

Larger efforts in the $3 million initiative include road culvert repair work for fisheries in Fish Creek west of Alberton and near Red Lodge.


Fire damages sawmill in eastern Idaho

(Information in the following story is from: KIDK-TV, http://www.kidk.com)

MARYSVILLE, Idaho (AP) A fire has damaged a closed sawmill in Fremont County in eastern Idaho.

North Fremont Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Keith Richey says the fire occurred Thursday night at Fisher Logging in the small community of Marysville, which is near Ashton.

Richey tells KIDK-TV that the fire burned stacks of firewood and timber, causing an estimated $250,000 in damage.

Richey says there were reports of downed power lines in the area before the fire, but the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The sawmill had not operated for the past six months.

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