Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment
Governor lauds regents for tuition freeze
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The governor is lauding the Montana Board of Regents for implementing a college tuition freeze.
The regents voted Friday in Great Falls on a plan to freeze college tuition over the next two years at college campuses for Montana residents.
Gov. Steve Bullock says it was important for him early in the budget process to negotiate the tuition freeze with the university system.
There is one exception. The plan does allow for a small tuition increase of about 2 percent each year at Miles City Community College that was requested locally.
Nonresident tuition will increase up to 3 percent each year at the colleges and universities.
The regents also approved fee increases of up to 3 percent at the universities and as much as 9 percent at the two-year colleges.
9th Circuit panel rules 2011 raids constitutional
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A panel of appellate judges has upheld the 2011 federal raids on Montana medical marijuana providers as constitutional.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel on May 15 affirmed U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy's dismissal of a lawsuit claiming the raids violated the providers' constitutional rights.
Fourteen providers and associations sued after federal authorities raided 26 businesses, warehouses and homes in as part of a drug-trafficking investigation.
The plaintiffs claim they were operating under a voter-approved Montana law and the government interfered with the rights and powers given to the states by the Constitution's 10th Amendment.
Molloy ruled the providers are bound by federal law making marijuana an illegal drug. The 9th Circuit panel agreed the federal government did not overstep its authority.
Judge blocks logging project in southwestern Mont.
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has blocked a logging project in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen wrote in his ruling Friday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service used a procedural shortcut to conclude lynx habitat would not be harmed by the project.
Christensen ordered the agencies to conduct a new analysis using the proper standard under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The Forest Service also must conduct a new biological assessment on the project's effect on threatened grizzly bears and study whether temporary roads would harm elk.
The Fleecer Mountains Project would clear cut and thin more than 3,000 acres within 102,000 acres of the forest.
The Forest Service says many of the trees are dying because of pine beetles or drought.
Judge to settle oil leasing dispute in Montana
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge will decide if almost 80,000 acres of oil and gas leases in Montana should be canceled after environmentalists sued over climate change worries.
U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon took the case under advisement Friday after attorneys for the government and industry moved to have it dismissed.
Plaintiffs led by the Montana Environmental Information Center say the Bureau of Land Management should have forced companies to address greenhouse gas emissions as a condition of sale for 120 leases at sites scattered across the state.
BLM and industry representatives contend the amount of methane and other greenhouse gases released from oil and gas fields is minuscule on a global scale. That includes emissions from leaks in pipelines and other equipment, venting of excess gas and the operation of machinery.
Billings man pleads no-contest in meth coffee case
(Information in the following story is from: Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 35-year-old Billings man has entered a no-contest plea after being charged with putting methamphetamine in the coffee maker at his mother's business in February 2012.
The Billings Gazette reports Craig Charles Benedict entered his plea to felony criminal endangerment during a District Court hearing on Friday.
Benedict worked at the business and prosecutors say he spiked the coffee out of anger after another employee asked him to take a drug test.
Toxicology tests found that one employee and three customers had ingested the meth-laced coffee.
Under a plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend that Benedict be sentenced to five years in state custody with placement in a state drug treatment program. Sentencing is set for July 23 before District Judge Russell Fagg.
St. Ignatius boy released after psych evaluation
POLSON, Mont. (AP) — A 10-year-old St. Ignatius boy once held on $500,000 bail for a probation violation has been released to his grandmother's care after the completion of a psychological evaluation.
The boy's case made news when District Judge Kim Christopher ordered him held in a juvenile detention center until he completed an evaluation that had been scheduled and missed three times. He was later released to a residential treatment center.
On Thursday, Christopher released the boy to his grandmother on several conditions, including attending a May 29 mental health appointment in Polson.
The boy was on probation after a deferred prosecution agreement for a 2012 break-in at a Polson business. He was cited for disorderly conduct for an outburst at school, leading to the latest court case.
Deputy fatally shoots man outside Worden bar
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Yellowstone County sheriff says a man shot by a deputy during a confrontation near a Worden bar has died, and investigators found a woman's body in the area after the shooting.
Sheriff Mike Linder tells The Billings Gazette deputies responded to a report at about 2:30 a.m. Friday of suspicious activity near the 406 Bar. Deputies located a man in a car. They were talking with him at about 4 a.m., when the man allegedly pulled a gun. At least one deputy shot the man.
Linder did not know how many shots were fired. He says the man later died at a hospital.
The woman's death was being investigated as a homicide.
Autopsies on the man are woman are planned for today.
POLICE CAR SIDESWIPED
Woman charged with DUI after police car sideswiped
(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A 29-year-old woman faces a felony DUI charge after the vehicle she was driving reportedly sideswiped a Missoula police car.
Court records say Kristy Lee Augare was supposed to have an interlock device on her car that prevents it from moving if she's intoxicated, but there was no such device on the minivan she was driving early Friday.
Charging documents say officers were responding to a noise complaint at about 2:30 a.m. when they heard a crash coming from the area where their cars were parked.
Court records say police stopped the vehicle and found Augare was driving with a suspended license. Her blood-alcohol level was 0.117 percent, above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
The Missoulian reports Augare was scheduled to appear in Justice Court Friday.
Man surrenders after day-long chase
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A man suspected of breaking into a house and stealing three vehicles in the Belgrade area during his effort to outrun law enforcement officers finally surrendered in the mountains west of Pony.
Madison County sheriff's spokesman Steve DiGiovanna says about 25 deputies and state troopers were about to call of the search Thursday evening when the man walked out of the woods with his arms in the air. Deputies arrested him.
KTVM-TV reports Matthew Brandemihl was expected to appear in court Friday morning on three counts of theft, one count of burglary and one count of criminal endangerment. All the charges are felonies.
BUTTE FIRE DEATH
Man dies after house fire west of Butte
(Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Butte-Silver Bow fire officials say an 82-year-old man has died after escaping a burning trailer house west of Butte.
The Montana Standard reports a motorist on Interstate 90 called 911 after noticing the fire at about 2:40 a.m. Friday. The house was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
Butte Director of Fire Services Jeff Miller says it appears the man escaped out a back window. Firefighters found him unconscious and with a faint pulse. He was pronounced dead at a Butte hospital.
The victim's name hasn't been released.
Investigators suspect the fire started because some combustible material was too close to a wood burning stove. Miller says the fire has been ruled accidental.
COYOTES KILLS DOG
Coyotes kill dog near Bozeman
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — State wildlife officials say a dog was killed by two coyotes on the south end of the Bridger Mountains near Bozeman.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials released a statement Friday saying a Bozeman woman saw her dogs being attacked by animals Thursday evening. Wildlife officials determined coyotes were responsible.
FWP says there may be a coyote den with pups near the "M'' on the mountain and urged residents to be cautious and keep their animals close and under control when in rural settings.
Missoula woman injured by moose
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A woman walking several dogs on a forest trail southwest of Missoula was injured when she was kicked by a female moose with a calf.
The attack happened between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thursday on Blue Mountain. Officials say the dogs started barking at the moose and the woman was trying to get the dogs away when the moose knocked her down and kicked her.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say the moose was protecting her calf. FWP Sgt. Joe Jaquith says the agency is not taking any action against the moose.
The woman was taken out of the area on a stretcher, but Jaquith says she is going to be OK
He says the moose and her calf appeared unharmed when FWP workers checked on them after the attack.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.