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Helena News and Sports

Chessman reservoir injunction denied

A federal judge has denied the request of two conservation groups to stop the Red Mountain Flume/Chessman Reservoir timber project.

Judge Dana Christensen in Missoula issued the ruling on Wednesday denying the Native Ecosystems Council and Montana Ecosystem Defense Council's preliminary injunction. The councils sued the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the decision to log 300 acres and build fuel breaks on 158 acres near Chessman Reservoir and the Red Mountain Flume south of Helena.

The lawsuit claims that the project will impact wildlife, including endangered species, that the chance of wildfire in a specific location is low and that the agencies failed to analyze the cumulative impacts from other logging in the area.

In the denial, Christensen said the councils are unlikely to succeed on the merits of their case.

"This is a case where the public interest factor is front and center," Christensen wrote. He continued "Plaintiffs fail to demonstrate that any such species will be measurably harmed by project activities. On the other hand, the threat of wildfire, a constant element of Montana life, is real."

Federal, state and Helena city officials have said the project is necessary to protect the water supply from Ten Mile Creek, which services 30,000 residents of Helena.

Police report cars rifled

Helena police are investigating a number of complaints about unauthorized people entering cars. Three complaints all reported that some time Wednesday morning, someone had entered their vehicle. In one case, some loose change was taken. Nothing was missing in the other two cars, but the contents had been disturbed.

Lt Tory Keltner of the Helena Police says there was a common denominators in the cases:

The cars were all unlocked.

The reports were from 513 State Street, 401 S Davis and 21 S Alta.

Historical Society expansion project receives grant

 The Montana Historical Society has received a $600 thousand dollar grant for the expansion of the Society and Museum. The Greater Montana Foundation  was  founded by legendary Montana broadcaster Ed Craney, and it is giving the money for the Montana Heritage Center, the expansion planned near the State Capital.
Montana Historical Society Director Bruce Whittenberg says the donation will help put more of the collections of the Society out in the open. "Right now the museum is able to exhibit about 8% of what's in the collection. 
Whittenberg says that the State Legislature  will need to approve funding. Governor Steve Bullock already supports the expansion project.

County allows open burning

After consulting with the fire Cordinator, fire behavior analyst and other stakeholders. Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says he is opening up the debris burning for Lewis and Clark County. The Sheriff adds " We do caution you to use good judgment as a wild fire can still start. Please check the weather, and have fire fighting material close at hand. If your fire escapes, you are responsible for the suppression cost."

Dutton continues,  "We have received enough moisture to put the fire danger at a lower level, making it safe to burn. If fire dangers rises, we will again reevaluate the fire danger.

Clancy man denies charges in fatal crash

     BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - A 22-year-old Clancy man has pleaded not guilty to felony vehicular homicide for a fatal crash on Interstate 15 near Montana City.
     Cal Erickson Mullen appeared in District Court in Boulder Wednesday, where he also denied a felony and two misdemeanor counts of negligent vehicular assault.
     Prosecutors allege Mullen had a blood-alcohol level of 0.265 early on June 14 when he crashed his pickup truck. Court records say he left the truck on the highway and didn't warn oncoming vehicles or report the accident.
     A vehicle driven by 42-year-old Jason West struck the wrecked pickup. The collision killed 38-year-old Wyman Hewitt and caused severe injuries to 36-year-old Anne Boster, both passengers in West's vehicle.
     West also faces three counts of criminal endangerment after investigators determined he could have avoided the crash.

 Missing Lame Deer girl found safe

     HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A 14-year-old Lame Deer girl who was the subject of an Amber Alert on Wednesday, has been recovered and is safe.
     Northern Cheyenne law enforcement asked the state Department of Justice to cancel the alert at 3 a.m. Thursday.
     Officials were searching for Mariah Eileen Akeen, believing she had been kidnapped.
     State officials said Akeen was in the passenger seat of a pickup truck without license plates that was stopped at 2 a.m. Wednesday. Officers were arresting the driver when another passenger, 19-year-old Zachary Whiteman, jumped into the driver's seat and left with Akeen still inside.
     Tribal law enforcement didn't release any information about where Akeen was found.


Montana News and Sports

     Officers find sheriff asleep on sidewalk
     (Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette,
     BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Two police officers reported finding the Roosevelt County sheriff asleep on a sidewalk in Wolf Point earlier this month.
     A police report obtained by The Billings Gazette indicates Officer Joey Olson spotted a man lying on the sidewalk at about 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 14, and suspected he was "intoxicated and sleeping."
     The report says the officers identified the man as Sheriff Freedom Crawford and took him to his in-laws' house at his request.
     Crawford wasn't cited. The Gazette says it's unclear if the county took any disciplinary action.
     Crawford declined comment last week and was out of the office on Thursday morning.
     Crawford was given a six-month suspended jail term after pleading guilty to assault for throwing a man through a bar window during a drunken fight in Lewistown in August 2011.
     Man gets 10 years' probation for fatal crash
     COLUMBUS, Mont. (AP) - A 44-year-old Columbus man has been given a 10-year probationary sentence for a drunken driving crash that killed the passenger on his motorcycle.
     The Stillwater County News reports District Judge Blair Jones sentenced John Bryce Newkirk on Aug. 21 for vehicular homicide while under the influence.
     Prosecutors say Newkirk's blood-alcohol level was 0.177 at the time of a June 9, 2013, crash on Highway 10 east of Columbus. His passenger, 48-year-old Natalie LeBlanc, died four days later at a Billings hospital. Court records say neither were wearing helmets.
     Jones also sentenced Newkirk to perform 25 hours of community service and fined him $1,585.
     Whitefish woman pleads guilty to stabbing husband
     KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) - A Whitefish woman who stabbed her husband in the chest during an argument, causing fatal injuries, has pleaded guilty to negligent homicide.
     AnnMari Newton entered her plea Wednesday before District Judge Ted Lympus in Kalispell. Sentencing is set for Oct. 30.
     Newton was arrested in November and charged with assault with a weapon for injuries suffered by her husband, Chad Newton, on Nov. 25.
     His family removed him from life support on Dec. 28 after a judge ruled awarded his father the authority to make medical decisions. He died the next day.
     OSHA reviewing conflicting accounts in fatal fall
     (Information in the following story is from: Missoulian,
     KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) - The area director for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says an employee at the Kalispell Walmart died in a fall from a movable staircase in a storeroom and not a ladder, as was initially reported.
     Jeff Funke tells the Missoulian the investigation is also looking into the time it took an ambulance crew to respond to the store. OSHA regulations require a workplace to "ensure the ready availability of medical personnel" or have employees trained to render first aid.
     Funke says OSHA is sorting out witness statements and the investigation may take four to six months.
     The man's name has not been released.


Jay Scott wins two state awards

WHITEFISH (Montana Broadcasters Association) -- For the ninth year in a row, KBLL Radio's Jay Scott has won several awards from the Montana Broadcasters Association.
Jay finished second for three of the "EB's," the E.B Craney awards: one as Sportscaster of the Year, one for Sports Enterprise of the Year. 
The Enterprise award recognizes contributions both in radio play-by-play and other areas.
Jay has been either first or second for the Newscaster of the Year award for the past 8 years as well, but could not enter this year's contest because of a schedule conflict.
The “EB Awards” are named in memory of Montana broadcast pioneer Ed Craney. The “EB's” recognize excellence in local news, production, promotion and public service. The awards will be presented during the Montana Broadcasters Association convention on Saturday, June 21st in Whitefish.