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Associated Press Montana News Summary
Monday, March 2nd 2015 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

2 rescued from the backcountry in Gallatin County

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) Two men have been rescued from the backcountry in Gallatin County.

The two out-of-state residents were rescued Saturday night. They were found cold but in good condition.

The Gallatin County Sheriff's Office says it received a call shortly before 9 p.m. from the men who had become lost in Hyalite Canyon while on a snowboard outing.

Though hampered by marginal cell coverage, the men were able to help guide rescuers on snowmobiles to their location by listening to the sound of the machines.

They were found about 10:30 p.m.


Missoula remembers avalanche on 1-year anniversary

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) A film recounting the deadly avalanche that swept through a Missoula neighborhood a year ago highlighted the one-year anniversary of the event.

The documentary about the Mount Jumbo avalanche drew a packed house at its premiere on Saturday at Missoula's Roxy Theater.

"Amplify Kindness," by director Katrina Johnson, had its premiere on the one-year anniversary of the day when an avalanche slid down Mount Jumbo and into the Rattlesnake neighborhood, destroying two homes.

After the avalanche, an army of neighbors rushed to the scene with shovels and snow probes and helped dig out three people.

Two survived but the third died at the hospital.

Johnson says the film is primarily about spreading the message of the community spirit after the avalanche.


Cause of moose deaths in SW Montana investigated

(Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)

BUTTE, Mont. (AP) Biologists are trying to determine the cause of six moose deaths in the Upper Big Hole Valley in southwest Montana since 2013.

So far, laboratory tests have proved inconclusive.

The Montana Standard reports that the six adult female moose died of either disease or malnutrition, but exactly the nature of the disease or what caused the malnutrition is unknown.

Officials say the moose population is not in danger.

In fact, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says mortality rates for moose calves are improving.


Various groups stand against Yellowstone paddling bill

(Information in the following story is from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com)

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is among various groups opposing proposed legislation that would open up more rivers and streams to paddling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

The Yellowstone and Grand Teton Paddling Act was introduced last month by Wyoming Republican U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis.

Caroline Byrd, who directs the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in Bozeman, Montana, says the proposed bill is not the right way to address a new recreational use in a national park.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that the Greater Yellowstone Coalition joins the National Parks Conservation Association and Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance in opposing the bill.

Lummis says her bill allows park managers to manage paddling as they do any other recreational activity in the parks.


Billings man to argue self-defense in homicide trial

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A 28-year-old Billings man accused of the shooting death of a woman while she was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher intends to argue self-defense at his trial.

The trial of Richard Douglas Reinert Jr. is scheduled to start Monday in Yellowstone County District Court.

Reinert is charged with deliberate homicide in death of 25-year-old Jessica Lee French Stephenson at his home in December 2013.

Prosecutors say Reinert shot Stephenson multiple times in the head and chest while she was calling 911 to report he was drunk and fighting with his wife.

The Billings Gazette reports that court documents show Reinert contends that his actions were motivated by fear from statements by Stephenson.


Kalispell assisted living facility is closing

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

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) Residents of an assisted living facility in Kalispell have been given 30 days to find a new place to live because the center is closing.

Greenwood Village Assisted Living is home to 30 elderly and disabled residents.

It will close April 1.

The Daily Inter Lake reports that the closure comes as the Montana Department of Health and Human Services is investigating a complaint filed recently over the care of a woman who suffered a stroke at Greenwood Village and later died.

Agency spokesman Jon Ebelt says the Quality Assurance Division Licensure Bureau has received four complaints related to Greenwood Village Assisted Living within the past 12 months.


Belgrade bail bonds business settles federal lawsuit

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

BELGRADE, Mont. (AP) A Belgrade bail bonds business has reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit against Park County and the county's justice of the peace over issuing jail bonds.

Park County agreed to pay Valley Bail Bonds $6,700 after the business' federal lawsuit was appealed.

In April, Valley Bail Bonds sued Judge Linda Budeski and Park County in U.S. District Court in Billings. The company says Budeski allowed a criminal defendant to post 10 percent of his bail with the court, which deprived the company of its percentage.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, a federal judge ruled judges have discretion and the company was free to write surety bonds for other defendants.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Sunday, March 1st 2015 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Yellowstone park's Boiling River running warmer

(Information in the following story is from: Livingston Enterprise, http://www.livingstonenterprise.com)

GARDINER, Mont. (AP) The temperature of the Boiling River in Yellowstone National Park has been increasing slightly since August.

In August, the temperature of the thermally heated water at the popular swimming hole north of Mammoth Hot Springs was roughly 134 degrees. Over the past seven days, the temperature has ranged from about 136.5 to 139.5 degrees.

Park geologist Henry Heasler tells the Livingston Enterprise that he and his staff aren't absolutely certain what's going on.

One theory is cold water flowing into the Boiling River through underground sinkholes in the underlying travertine is being blocked or diverted.

Another theory could be that less cold water from the Gardner River is diluting the Boiling River water where the two rivers meet.


Phillips 66 improving pipeline over Yellowstone River

(Information in the following story is from: KULR-TV, http://www.kulr8.com)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) While there's been much publicity lately about pipeline failures along the Yellowstone River, some pipeline companies have been quietly making improvements to prevent future pipeline breaks.

For example, Phillips 66 is getting ready to replace a pipe near Billings and bury it deeper below the Yellowstone River.

The company has improved 60 of its pipeline river crossings in recent years and has 40 more to go.

Mike Miller is the Billings division pipeline manager at Phillips 66.

Miller tells KULR-TV that the company has increased efforts to replace river pipeline crossing with deeper crossing to reduce the risk of failure.

He says the pipeline crossings being improved didn't pose imminent concerns, but he notes rivers can meander or get deeper and expose a pipeline that isn't buried deep enough.


AG still reviewing Missoula Community Medical Center sale

(Information in the following story is from: KUFM-FM, http://www.kufm.org)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) State Attorney General Tim Fox says he needs more time to analyze how to use the proceeds from the $65 million sale of Missoula's Community Medical Center.

Fox approved the sale in January.

His spokesman John Barnes tells Montana Public Radio that the review of where the money from the sale should go should be complete by March 13.

Because the hospital was a nonprofit sold to a for-profit partnership, money from the sale by law has to be used for similar charitable purposes.

Community Medical Center's plan would put most of the money into a new health care foundation, but also donate $10 million to the University of Montana Foundation.

Community hospital was sold to Billings Clinic and RegionalCare Hospital Partners of Tennessee.


State senator's aide asked to leave after becoming lobbyist

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

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) A state senator's aide has been asked to quit after his registration as a lobbyist was revealed as a potential ethics violation.

William Richardson had served as aide to Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls, since the start of the legislative session.

Richardson registered with the Office of Political Practices as an American Lands Council lobbyist. Legislative leaders left the decision on whether Richardson should leave or stay to Richardson and the senator.

According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Richardson registered as a lobbyist less than a week before conservation and hunting groups held a rally in Helena against the transfer of federal lands to the state.

Legislative leaders said the aide violated legislative rules by registering as a lobbyist.


Man admits to Billings crash in 10th DUI

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A man who caused a wreck in Billings in December while driving with a blood alcohol concentration four times the legal limit has pleaded guilty to his 10th DUI.

David South also pleaded guilty to felony criminal endangerment for the crash and two misdemeanor traffic offenses. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 4.

Authorities say the collision happened when South hit another vehicle, forcing the driver into the yard of a home.

According to the Billings Gazette, South has nine prior DUIs dating to 1985.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Saturday, February 28th 2015 
AP-MT--Right Now/685
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment


2 adults, 2 students hurt when science experiment goes wrong

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) Two adults and two students suffered minor injuries in an explosion during a science experiment at an elementary school in Billings.

Schools Superintendent Terry Bouck wrote in an email to the school board that a Rocky Mountain College instructor and two graduate students were showing a group of Sandstone Elementary students the experiment Friday afternoon when a glass container exploded.

No harmful chemicals were involved, but flying glass shards injured two students, the instructor and one of the graduate students.

Sandstone Principal Mark Venner tells The Billings Gazette the instructor and two of the students were taken to a hospital. Details about their injuries have not been released.


State re-evaluating its findings in sexual abuse case

HELENA, Mont. (AP) State health officials are rescinding a finding that no sexual abuse occurred in a January incident between two clients at the Montana Developmental Center.

The officials said Friday they will hire an outside expert to re-examine the case.

A client at the center in Boulder reported he had been sexually abused on Jan. 28. The state Department of Justice investigated and determined that abuse occurred.

It said two staff members were negligent for inadequate supervision.

The Department of Public Health and Human Services disagreed with the abuse finding only to announce on Friday that it was reversing that stand.


Legislative session midpoint: Substantial work remains

HELENA, Mont. (AP) With the 90-day legislative session half over, perhaps the most significant bill signed by Gov. Steve Bullock is one to fund K-12 education.

Major bills making their way through the Legislature include a proposed water settlement on the Flathead Reservation and one campaign finance reform bill.

Meanwhile, Medicaid expansion remains up in the air, Republicans have made numerous cuts to the governor's budget proposal, and his infrastructure bill has been chopped into many smaller pieces.

Republican Senate President Debby Barrett says she's pleased with her chamber passing more than 70 bills unanimously, saying bipartisanship is alive and well in the Senate.

Democratic House Minority Leader Chuck Hunter says he expects a tougher second half as they get to the substantial issues.


Native American tribes converge to discuss pot legalization

TULALIP, Wash. (AP) Tribal representatives from around the country are converging in Washington state to discuss the risks and rewards of marijuana legalization.

Tribes have been wrestling with the issue since the U.S. Justice Department announced in December that it wouldn't stand in their way if they want to approve pot for medical or recreational use. The agency said tribes must follow the same law enforcement priorities laid out for states that legalize the drug.

Representatives of dozens of tribes are attending a conference at the Tulalip Indian Tribe's resort and casino north of Seattle.

Topics under discussion include the big business potential for pot, as well as concerns about substance abuse on reservations and the potential creation of a tribal cannabis association.


Former president of tribal college charged with tax fraud

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) The former president of Stone Child College and her husband have denied federal income tax fraud charges.

Federal prosecutors allege Melody and Frank Henry failed to file their 2009 income taxes despite receiving a combined $195,000 in income. It also alleges they fraudulently claimed business losses and expenses averaging $173,000 over each of the next three tax years.

Both pleaded not guilty on Monday to failing to file a tax return and three counts of filing a fraudulent return. Trial is set for April 27.

The Henrys' attorney, Terryl Matt of Cut Bank, did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The couple were acquitted on Feb. 20 of charges they conspired to use federal money to award construction contracts on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation in exchange for $242,000 in kickbacks.

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