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.