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Associated Press Montana News
Monday, February 8th 2016 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
JUDGE RETIRES

Montana bankruptcy judge announces retirement

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Montana's longtime U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Ralph Kirscher is retiring.

It was announced this weekend that Kirscher will retire effective Jan. 31, 2017.

The 64-year-old Kirscher has been Montana's only full-time bankruptcy judge for the last 16 years. He was first appointed to the bankruptcy bench in 1999 and reappointed to a second term in 2014.

He maintains court chambers in Butte, but travels much of the state in conducting court business.

In addition to his Montana court duties, Kirscher also has serves on the Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, which hears appeals of decisions by bankruptcy courts in nine western states and two Pacific Island jurisdictions.

Kirscher most recently has overseen the bankruptcy proceedings of the Yellowstone Club and resulting litigation against its co-founder Tim Blixseth.

VA-BRAIN INJURIES

Vet's three-year battle with Montana VA ends in victory

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

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) A Missoula veteran has won a victory in his three-year battle with the Veterans Administration over his traumatic brain injury.

Charles Gatlin says the VA's Appeals Management Center has overturned the VA's initial rating decision in his case.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that Gatlin suffered head injuries when a car bomb exploded near him in Iraq in 2006.

The Army concluded that his injuries were permanent and discharged him with a 70 percent disability rating.

But the VA dropped Gatlin's brain injury rating from 70 percent to 10 percent.

MALMSTROM AWARD

Malmstrom Air Base wins top ICBM award

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

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) The 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base has been recognized as the best missile wing within U.S. Strategic Command.

Malmstrom was among the winners of the 2015 Omaha Trophies, representing the intercontinental ballistic missiles leg of the nuclear triad.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that the Omaha Trophy dates back to the Air Force's Strategic Air Command. It was originally created by the Strategic Command Consultation Committee in 1971.

It recognizes the top units in the ICBM wing, ballistic missile submarine, strategic bomber wing and global operations.

GLACIER MAINTENANCE

Glacier Park maintenance backlog still growing

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

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) The National Park Service estimates the cost of necessary improvements in Glacier National Park has grown to $179.8 million.

Glacier's so-called deferred maintenance costs grew by about $1.3 million over the last year. Nationwide, the park system added $440 million in unfunded maintenance obligations since last year, bringing the U.S. total to $11.9 billion.

The Daily Inter Lake reports that paved roads in Glacier account for the lion's share of the park's backlog at $123.5 million. That obligation has grown by about $8 million since last year.

Another $27.6 million is needed for building maintenance, nearly identical to the figure reported last year.

Other ongoing work around Glacier includes replacing decades-old, inefficient windows and doors on buildings that house park employees, working on interpretive exhibits and upgrading electrical systems.

TETON RANGE

Where Tetons grow, continents once collided

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

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) Geophysicists are still trying to determine how the continents have drifted around over the Earth's history.

However, recent research finds that about 2.68 billion years ago there were two continents that collided on the tectonic plates that now underlie the Teton Range in northwest Wyoming.

University of Wyoming geophysicist Carol Frost tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide that the research has found the oldest continental collision on Earth.

A National Science Foundation grant acquired about a decade ago enabled Frost and her students to pour their energy into studying the Teton Range formation.

The culmination of their work was an academic paper that published in January.

Frost calls Wyoming a geologic treasure-house on studying the origins of the Earth because of accessible rock formations.

MOUNTAIN GOATS-LA SAL MOUNTAINS

Groups file suit to keep goats out of La Sal Mountains

(Information in the following story is from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Plant protection groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service, saying mountain goats released in the La Sal Mountains in southeast Utah are damaging rare species of plants.

KSL-TV reports that the Denver-based Grand Canyon Trust and the Utah Native Plant Society this week filed a claim in the U.S. District Court of Utah, asking that the nonnative mountain goats be removed from the Mount Peale Research Area and that no more goats be released.

Utah sought to release mountain goats in the La Sal mountains in the 1980s, but the Forest Service concluded that they would damage the sensitive vegetation. According to the lawsuit, the Utah Wildlife Board introduced the goats to the region in 2013 without federal approval.

A Utah Division of Wildlife Resources official said he could not comment on the litigation.


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

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Sunday, February 7th 2016 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
EVERGREEN CHILD DEATH

Evergreen man reaches plea deal in death of 2-year-old boy

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) A 22-year-old Evergreen man charged in the death of his girlfriend's 2-year-old son has reached a plea agreement.

An attorney for Brandon Newberry filed a notice saying a change-of-plea hearing will be held on Feb. 10. The details of the plea agreement were not filed.

Newberry had pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide for the February 2015 death of Forrest Groshelle.

An autopsy determined the boy had been hit in the stomach, causing a lacerated small intestine that slowly poisoned him.

The child's mother told deputies that she had left Groshelle with Newberry during the day while she worked. Newberry reportedly told investigators he had been "roughhousing" with Groshelle a day prior to the child's death.

STATE EMPLOYEE CHARGED

Theft charge filed against ex-state employee

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A felony theft charge has been filed against the former head of the Montana Job Service Operations Bureau.

The charge against Tiffany David was filed Wednesday by the state Attorney General's Office in the Montana 1st Judicial District Court in Lewis and Clark County. Her initial court appearance is Feb. 24.

Her attorney, Carlo Canty, called the charge an "unfortunate situation," saying David made some mistakes but was doing everything she can to resolve the matter.

David resigned last November.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that officials with the state Department of Labor and Industry declined to comment.

In an affidavit, David is accused of making nearly $18,000 in charges for items the state contends it did not receive, including trips to conferences and gift certificates.

POWER PLANT-FUTURE

Washington puts a price on closing oldest Colstrip units

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) Shutting down and cleaning up the two oldest units at the Colstrip power plant in southeast Montana would cost $130 million to $200 million.

That's the estimate provided by Washington-based Puget Sound Energy, which owns half of Colstrip Units 1 and 2. The company says the two coal-fired power plants can be shuttered and dismantled for $49.7 million. Cleaning up the contaminated water and coal waste at the site will take another $85 to $142.7 million.

The Billings Gazette reports that this is the first time since the debate about shuttering Colstrip began that real numbers have been put to paper.

BACKCOUNTRY SKIER DEATH

Montana State student dies while backcountry skiing

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) A Montana State University student from Anchorage, Alaska was found dead after failing to return from a back-country ski trip in the Hyalite Canyon south of Bozeman.

The Gallatin County sheriff's office says the girlfriend of 20-year-old Nathaniel "Alex" Wright reported him missing about 10:45 p.m. Thursday. Searchers found his body at about 6:30 a.m. Friday.

Sheriff Brian Gootkin said it appeared Wright had an equipment malfunction that led to a series of events that ended with his death. He had been skiing alone. An autopsy was planned to determine his cause of death.

ELECTIONS-STATE AUDITOR

Senate majority leader enters race for state auditor

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Montana Senate Majority Leader Matthew Rosendale says he will run for the open seat of state auditor.

The Glendive Republican said Friday that he decided to run after being encouraged by GOP leaders. He says he would focus on opening the health insurance market if he is elected. Rosendale joins former Republican state Rep. Champ Edmunds in seeking the Republican nomination for the position. Edmunds' campaign had just $386 in cash at the end of December.

The winner of the Republican primary will likely face Democrat Jesse Laslovich, who is the auditor's chief legal counsel. Laslovich's campaign had more than $123,800 in the bank at the end of the year.

WRONGFUL BIRTH LAWSUIT

Montana mother acknowledges not reading medical brochures

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) A Montana woman who is suing her medical providers for failing to diagnose her unborn daughter's cystic fibrosis testified that she did not read all the information a nurse gave her about the disease.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports defense attorneys cross examined Kerrie Evans of Gardiner on Thursday. She said if she had known her daughter had the disease she would have had an abortion.

Her lawsuit seeks $14.5 million in damages. Evans has testified that she was not given any information on cystic fibrosis carrier screening, but said she did indicate she wanted her unborn child tested for CF and Down syndrome.

YELLOWSTONE BISON SLAUGHTER

Judge denies bid to halt Yellowstone bison slaughter

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A federal judge has denied a request to halt the planned capture and slaughter of bison migrating from Yellowstone National Park. U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl on Friday turned down an injunction sought by a wildlife advocate and a journalist who sued to gain access to the slaughter program. Federal and state officials plan to kill up to 900 bison this winter through slaughter and hunting. It's part an effort to prevent the spread of brucellosis, a disease carried by many bison. During the capture operations, portions of the park are closed near its border with Montana.

SKULL FOUND

Skeletal remains found near Ulm at least 200 years old

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) Officials with the Montana Burial Preservation Board say skeletal remains found along the Smith River in Cascade County are at least 200 years old and could be many thousands of years old.

A landowner contacted the sheriff's department Monday afternoon after finding a skull about 19 miles south of Ulm.

Burial Preservation Board chairwoman Ruthann Knudson, who is a paleontologist, says the skull and additional remains found on Tuesday are likely those of an indigenous woman, possibly in her 30s. The Burial Preservation Board will decide what to do with the remains.

 
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