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Associated Press Montana News Summary
Wednesday, October 22nd 2014 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Daines, Curtis clash on government role in energy

SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) Republican Steve Daines and Democrat Amanda Curtis clashed over energy and the government's role in the industry during the first U.S. Senate debate in Montana's oil patch.

Tuesday night's event in Sidney was only the second meeting of the candidates. It's likely to be the last ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

Daines, a first-term congressman from Bozeman, hammered on a theme of Washington, D.C., bureaucratic overreach. He singled out the Environmental Protection Agency for hindering coal, oil and gas production.

Curtis sought to play up her working class roots, as she did during a Monday debate in Billings.

The Butte math teacher and state legislator stressed her support for coal miners and refinery workers, while warning that large corporations shouldn't have excessive influence over the state's natural resources.


US House candidates meet for final debate

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) Republican Ryan Zinke and Democrat John Lewis sparred over the nation's health-care overhaul in their final debate in Montana's U.S. House race.

They were joined Tuesday by Libertarian Mike Fellows, who advocated for cutting government.

They met in Great Falls in the third debate with all three candidates before the Nov. 4 election to replace U.S. Rep. Steve Daines. Daines is leaving the seat to run for U.S. Senate.

Zinke supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, and he attempted to place the blame for the health law squarely on Lewis' shoulders. Zinke says Lewis must have at least helped draft it as a longtime aide to former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, the bill's sponsor.

Lewis denied writing any part of the law as Baucus' state director, calling the idea ridiculous.


Man plans to plead guilty in oil patch killing

SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) A Colorado man plans to plead guilty to killing a Montana teacher in a case that drew attention to the darker side of the Northern Plains' oil boom.

A plea agreement with prosecutors filed Tuesday calls for a 100-year sentence for 25-year-old Michael Spell on a charge of deliberate homicide.

Spell is charged with the 2012 murder of Sherry Arnold, a 43-year-old Sidney high school teacher who disappeared while jogging. Her body was found buried in a North Dakota field.

Spell is due in court Wednesday before District Judge Richard Simonton in Sidney.

Prosecutors want Spell to serve his time in prison. The defense will ask for him to be sentenced to the state health department, which would allow Spell to be sent to a facility for the mentally disabled.


Judge sets November hearing in gay marriage case

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A judge has set a Nov. 20 hearing in Great Falls for arguments in a lawsuit challenging Montana's ban on gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris scheduled the hearing Monday after four gay couples filed a motion for summary judgment that asks the judge to decide the case without a trial.

The couples are backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana. ACLU officials have said that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to strike down similar gay-marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada should mean a favorable ruling for the Montana couples.

Montana Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes has said the U.S. Supreme Court could still take up the issue in the future, so state attorneys plan to continue to defend the state's constitutional ban.


Montana's unemployment rate down to 4.6 percent

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Montana's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage point to 4.6 percent in September.

The national unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent last month.

The Department of Labor says payroll estimates show the state added 1,900 jobs in September, but the increase was 983 jobs when taking agricultural workers and the self-employed into account. Montana's labor force increased by 694 workers in September while the number of unemployed declined by 289 workers.

Montana's unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in January. Payroll employment has added 9.700 jobs so far this year.


Widow wants new prosecutor in deputy's death

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

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) The widow of a Cascade County deputy who was struck and killed during a car chase wants someone other than the county attorney prosecuting the case against the driver, who reportedly swerved and intentionally struck her husband.

Robynn Dunn told the Great Falls Tribune on Monday that County Attorney John Parker was the reason Adam Sanchez Jr. was out of jail at the time of the chase in which her husband suffered fatal injuries while trying to place stop sticks.

Sanchez is charged with deliberate homicide in Deputy Joe Dunn's death on Aug. 14.

Sanchez had been released from jail just two weeks earlier after he reached a plea agreement that called for a probationary sentence in another chase and Parker dismissed separate drug and firearms charges in anticipation of federal charges being filed.

Parker says he intends to prosecute the case.


Weatherman's opponent seeks equal radio time

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A Billings lawmaker whose demand for equal time cost his challenger his job as a weatherman on a local radio station is now seeking equal time from a Miles City radio station where Democrat John Pulasky delivers the weather several times a day.

The Billings Gazette reports Republican Rep. Clayton Fiscus is asking KATL for air time equal to that spent by Pulasky when he gives weather reports just under 10 minutes per day.

KATL station manager Donald Richard says Billings isn't part of the area in which the station provides city-grade service and he won't grant Fiscus' request.

Fiscus' May complaint cost Pulasky his job with Northern Broadcasting, where he had worked for 24 years. Pulasky is now doing the weather for radio stations in Lewistown, Miles City, Plentywood and Wolf Point, but is making less money.


Tobacco products stolen from shipping company

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) A Missoula-area shipping company has reported the theft of about $30,000 in tobacco products.

Missoula County sheriff's spokeswoman Paige Pavalone says when North Park Transportation employees reported to work Monday morning they found a back door to one of their shipping platforms was open.

Pavalone says the thieves took 17 cases of products including, tobacco, chewing tobacco, cigarettes and cigars.

Company officials believe an employee or someone with a key may be responsible.


Shooting trial delayed, witnesses doesn't show

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A Billings woman who did not show up to testify at her husband's deliberate homicide trial was arrested on a material witness warrant and another warrant charging her with possession of drugs with intent to distribute.

The Billings Gazette reports 26-year-old Tricia Marie Scott was arrested Monday, just hours after the trial for 27-year-old Martin Pond Jr. was vacated and rescheduled for Dec. 1. Witnesses and dozens of potential jurors were sent home.

Pond is charged with shooting and killing 52-year-old Allen Douglas Alderman at Alderman's residence in Lockwood on Jan. 3. Charging documents say Scott was at Alderman's house when Pond showed up and the two men got in to an argument.

Pond remains jailed with bail set at $500,000.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Tuesday, October 21st 2014 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

Senate debate reveals contrasts between candidates

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Curtis sought to cast Republican Congressman Steve Daines as a conservative ideologue out of step with Montana voters during their first face-to-face meeting.

But Daines largely didn't rise to his opponent's frequent jabs during Monday night's debate in Billings.

The former technology executive instead stuck close to his message of more jobs and less government. He repeatedly invoked President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act as an example of bureaucratic excesses.

Curtis countered with promises to protect Medicare and oppose corporate influences in Washington, D.C. populist themes aimed at denting Daines front-runner status.

Libertarian candidate Roger Roots was not invited to the event.

The last debate scheduled ahead of the November 4th election is on Tuesday in Sidney.


Judge strikes down Montana exempt-well rule

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A judge has struck down an administrative rule that allowed developers of residential subdivisions in Montana to drill multiple small, unconnected water wells without permits.

District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock said that the rule violated the intent of the Legislature when it set limits on permit exemptions in the 1980s.

Sherlock on Friday ordered the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to come up with a new rule.

The case stems from a long-running dispute over whether developers of subdivisions have used the small-well exemption to skirt protections for water sources and the rights of other users.

Under the old rule, permits were not required for individual wells that flow less than 35 gallons per minute. Court documents indicate there are more than 110,000 exempt wells in Montana.


Man accused of choking, hitting girlfriend

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A 29-year-old man is accused of choking his pregnant girlfriend last week before hitting her in the back with the blunt end of a hatchet.

Gary Hollister Ainsworth appeared in Yellowstone County Justice Court by video on Monday on one felony charge each of aggravated assault and theft and two felony assault with a weapon charges.

According to The Billings Gazette (http://tinyurl.com/lcb4gdd ), Judge Pedro Hernandez set Ainsworth's bond at $20,000 and ordered him to appear in District Court for arraignment on Oct. 28.

The woman told police Ainsworth hit her in the back with the blunt end of the hatchet on Thursday, then demanded that she drive him to work in Columbus.

The woman's injuries and condition were not available Monday night.


Loma man dies in rollover crash near Belt

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A 48-year-old man has died in a single-vehicle rollover crash near Belt.

Lieutenant Bob Rosipal with the Cascade County coroner's office said the victim was Joe Bramlette of Loma.

The Montana Highway Patrol reports Bramlette was westbound on U.S. Highway 87 at about 1 a.m. Monday when he failed to negotiate a right hand turn.

His sport utility vehicle crossed the center line and the fog line on the left hand shoulder. Bramlette overcorrected to the right and to the left, sending the SUV into a broadside skid. It then rolled about three times, coming to rest on its wheels in the ditch.

Bramlette was ejected from the SUV and died at the scene.


Former Washington state man dies in Montana crash

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

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) Authorities have identified a 36-year-old man who died in a one-vehicle crash in southwestern Montana over the weekend.

The Montana Highway Patrol tells the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that Jason Titmus of Big Sky was westbound on Montana Highway 64 near Big Sky at about 11:20 p.m. Sunday when his sport utility vehicle drifted off the right side of the road.

The patrol says Titmus overcorrected, the SUV crossed the center line, slid into a ditch and rolled down a steep embankment.

Titmus was ejected and died at the scene. Officials say he is from Kettle Falls, Washington, but had been living and working in Big Sky.


Child bitten by wolf at ZooMontana

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) A 3-year-old child was bitten by a wolf after climbing over a secondary fence at ZooMontana in Billings.

Zoo director Jeff Ewelt says it's not clear how the child got over the fence and was able to approach the main fence. He said the zoo did not learn about the bite until Sunday afternoon when the zoo received a call from the clinic that was treating the child.

Ewelt says he's been told the wound is not severe and is being treated as a minor dog bite.

The zoo's two wolves will be under a 10-day quarantine, as required by animal control regulations.

Ewelt tells The Billings Gazette he's troubled by the incident and wants to find out how it happened and if increased safety measures need to be put in place.


Montana ranked 7/6, MSU 10/11 in football polls

HELENA, Mont. (AP) The three teams that are unbeaten in Big Sky Conference play remain ranked in the top 11 of the Football Championship Subdivision polls.

Eastern Washington is ranked second in both The Sports Network and the coaches' polls, behind three-time defending national champion North Dakota State.

Montana is ranked seventh by the media and sixth by the coaches after beating UC Davis 42-28. Montana State is ranked 10th by the media and 11th by the coaches after a 23-13 win over Weber State.

Montana is at Cal Poly on Saturday while the Bobcats have a bye.

In the NAIA, Carroll College held onto its third place spot after edging then-fourth-ranked Southern Oregon 42-40 on Saturday. SOU fell to seventh. Rocky Mountain College moved up two spots to 13th after a 35-21 win over the College of Idaho.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press Montana News Summary
Monday, October 20th 2014 
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment

US House candidates debate in Kalispell

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) Republican Ryan Zinke and Democrat John Lewis are emphasizing their differences as they attempt to win over undecided voters in Montana's U.S. House election.

The wild card is Libertarian candidate Mike Fellows, who says the party candidates are compromised by big money and only he would work for more liberty and less government.

They met Sunday in Kalispell in only the second debate that featured all three candidates.

Lewis attempted to paint Zinke as waffling on issues from gun restrictions to his partial support of the budget by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Zinke says voters have a clear choice. He pointed at Lewis and said they can vote for big government. He pointed at himself and said they can vote for little government. Or, he said, they can vote for no government, pointing at Fellows.


2 tribes miss deadlines to open election offices

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

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) Tribal officials on the Fort Belknap and Northern Cheyenne reservations have missed a deadline to open satellite election offices meant to improve access to early voting.

A dozen plaintiffs from the two reservations, along with the Crow reservation, won the right to open the satellite offices in a lawsuit settlement with state and local elections officials.

The June settlement called for counties moving their election administration offices to tribal buildings at the reservations two days a week during the month leading up Election Day. The tribes had until Aug. 1 to notify the counties whether they wanted the offices.

The Great Falls Tribune reports the offices are running on the Crow Reservation, but Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap tribal officials missed the deadline.


Senate control could come to a few races

HELENA, Mont. (AP) Control of the state Senate could come down to a half-dozen key races in the Nov. 4 elections.

Republicans hold majorities in both the state Senate and House. Their 29-21 edge in the Senate is much narrower than their 61-39 advantage in the House.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports control of the Senate may hinge on races in Billings, Helena, Bozeman, Great Falls and the Hi-Line.

If Democrats win four Republican-held seats and hold onto their own, that would mean a 25-25 tie in the Senate. Majority control would then go to the party of the governor, who's a Democrat.

Republicans in the House are expected to maintain a slightly smaller majority, at worst.

Leaders from both parties say they are confident their sides will make gains in November's elections.


Walsh says he has no regrets in Senate run

HELENA, Mont. (AP) U.S. Sen. John Walsh says he does not regret an election campaign that ended abruptly following a report that he plagiarized a paper while at the U.S. Army War College.

The Helena Democrat tells Lee Newspapers of Montana it has been an honor to serve and he still has work to do before his term ends in January.

The former lieutenant governor announced his Senate campaign last year after Max Baucus said he would not run for a sixth term. Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Walsh to the post when Baucus resigned early to become ambassador to China.

Walsh dropped his campaign to keep the seat for the next six years after The New York Times published a story showing he plagiarized parts of a paper required for his master's degree.


Group awarded domestic violence prevention grant

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

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) A coalition of Gallatin County agencies has received a $550,000 federal grant to help victims of domestic and sexual violence.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the Gallatin Project was awarded the three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Project members say the grant will fund a number of existing positions and programs, but they also hope to use a portion to address violence against lesbians, gays, transgender people and immigrants.

Bozeman Deputy Police Chief Rich McLane says the grant also will allow officials to help find longer-term transitional housing for domestic violence victims.


Student accused of trying to enter woman's shower

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

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) A Montana State University student has been arrested after a woman said he tried to enter her shower stall on campus.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Alexander Nicolai Moreno was booked into Gallatin County Jail on Saturday on charges of misdemeanor assault, minor in possession and criminal trespass.

Police say Moreno twice tried to enter a woman's shower stall in her dormitory. The woman says she struck the man, who fled.

Police say Moreno also is a resident of the dormitory.


Ending Election Day registration sees no support

HELENA, Mont. (AP) A referendum on the November ballot could repeal Election Day voter registration, but voters have yet to see campaigning in support of the measure.

The only group rallying around the measure is pulling out all the stops to urge voters to say no to the repeal.

Montanans for Free and Fair Elections has ads, mailers and people on the ground in 17 cities with support from more than two dozen organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, Montana Women Vote and the AARP.

If referendum LR-126 passes, people could not register to vote on Election Day in future elections. The voter registration deadline would move to 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day.

Republican Sen. Alan Olson who sponsored the referendum says supporters haven't organized.

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