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Helena News with Jay Scott


~~KEYSTONE PIPELINE-MONTANA

Federal, state leaders condemn Keystone delay

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's elected officials condemned a new delay Friday in the decision whether to approve construction of an oil pipeline from Canada that will run through the eastern part of the state.

The U.S. State Department says it is giving federal agencies more time to review the Keystone XL pipeline, but declined to say how much longer.

Reaction was swift from Democrats and Republicans in Montana who want the pipeline built.

Democratic U.S. Sen John Walsh called on President Barack Obama to show leadership and end the uncertainty by making a decision.

Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, who is Walsh's likely opponent in November's Senate election, accused the Obama administration of basing its decision on politics.

Gov. Steve Bullock says the pipeline has been pending for five years.


Montana unemployment rate holds at 5.1 percent
.
     HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 percent in March as both the number of available jobs and the workforce increased.
 
     Montana has seen the addition of 7,450 jobs in the first three months of the year.
 
     Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy says stronger job growth has drawn more people into the labor force.
 
     Montana added 2,431 jobs in March - including payroll jobs, agricultural jobs and the self-employed - while the labor force increased by 2,450 workers.
 
     The national unemployment rate in March was 6.7 percent.
 

BALLOT INITIATIVE
 
     Court rejects attempt to alter initiative wording
 
     HELENA, Mont. (AP/KBLL) - The Montana Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by opponents of Medicaid expansion to rewrite the language of the proposed ballot initiative.
 
     Attorney General Tim Fox had agreed with initiative opponents who said the measure's estimated costs were misleading as presented.
 
     Fox and the plaintiffs sought a court order to revise the fiscal statement and void all existing signed petitions.
 
     The court's 6-0 decision Thursday said there is no clear and unmistakable error in the fiscal statement and pointed out that the original fiscal note was written by Attorney General Fox, who is now opposed to it.
 
     Sponsors have until June 20 to gather 24,175 voter signatures to place Initiative 70 on November's ballot.
 
     The justices say the plaintiffs can still file legal challenges if the measure makes it to the ballot or becomes law.

   NORTHWESTERN ENERGY-DAMS
 
     NorthWestern says changes would nix $900M dam deal
 
     (Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)
 
     BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A NorthWestern Energy executive says the utility would have to walk away from a $900 million deal to buy 11 hydroelectric dams in Montana if forced to make changes recommended by the state Consumer Counsel.
 
     NorthWestern vice president John Hines said Thursday the company would go to the open market to get more power if the deal with PPL Montana falls through,which could drive up rates.
 
     The Montana Consumer Counsel is a state agency that represents consumers in utility hearings. It says the deal would increase electricity bills more than twice as much as South Dakota-based NorthWestern claims.
 
     The Public Service Commission must approve the dam sale. Commissioners on Thursday in Billings held one of a series of listening sessions on the proposal.
 
     A public hearing is planned in July.


Bartender guilty of lesser charge; jury hung on two others

HELENA (KBLL) -- A Helena jury was unable to decide if a Helena bartender charged with  of overserving alcohol to a woman who later killed two people in a drunken driving crash had in fact done so. William Gleed was found guilty Wednesday of obstructing a peace officer. The jury could not reach a verdict on the charges of overservinb

Gleed was the bartender at O’Tooles Bar and Lounge in downtown Helena the night Arielle Schescke killed a grandmother and her 16-year-old granddaughter in a head-on crash on U.S. Highway 12 east of Helena.

Schescke pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide. She testified during Gleed’s trial that she was given five or six free mixed drinks while at O’Tooles and that she was severely impaired when she left the bar.

Gleed faces up to six months in jail and a $585 fine for the obstruction conviction. A state trooper testified that Gleed was not forthcoming when interviewed during the investigation.

Casino robbery reported

HELENA (KBLL) -- Lewis and Clark County authorities are investigating robbery that ccurred at the Lucky Lil's Casino in East Helena on Monday night, just after midnight. A male suspect entered the casino, approached an employee, and demanded the employee "give it to him." The employee handed him a casino wallet containing cash and the suspect immediately exited the building.

The male is described as being approx. 5'10"-6' 190 pounds, wearing a dark colored jacket with a hood over a red shirt. The red shirt has some type of writing visible on the front. The suspect was wearing a light colored ski-type mask, blue jeans, and lighter colored boots.
A four door gold colored car, unknown make or model, was seen in the area of the casino during the same time frame as the robbery.

Kyle Sampson to coach Flathead

KALLISPELL (KBLL) -- Kalispell Flathead has hired a former Capital High Bruin,  Kyle Samson,  as  football coach.

Samson was an all-state quarterback at Capital High in his playing days, and has been an assistant coach with the MSU-Northern football program.

He played QB at Northern from 2004 to 2006 after transferring from the University of Montana, where he played quarterback and wide receiver as a true freshman.

Samson was the high school Gatorade Player of the Year for football in Montana in 2002, when Capital finished an  with a state title.

Samson will  replace head coach Russell McCarvel, who resigned last month after seven seasons leading the Braves.

Montana News and Sports


~~PRIEST-WIRE FRAUD

Former priest charged with stealing from church

(Information in the following story is from: Havre Daily News, http://www.havredailynews.com)

HAVRE, Mont. (AP) — A former Havre priest has denied federal charges that allege he took nearly $65,000 from St. Jude Thaddeus Church.

Dale Yurkovic pleaded not guilty to wire fraud and money laundering during an April 8 hearing before U.S. Magistrate Keith Strong in Great Falls. The U.S. Attorney's Office says Yurkovic's trial is set for June 18.

The Havre Daily News reports Yurkovic served as pastor at the Havre parish from July 2009 to late 2011 and lives in Las Vegas.

The indictment alleges that in December 2009, Yurkovic deposited a $50,000 donation to the church into a credit union account he opened without the church's knowledge, then transferred the money to his personal account. Prosecutors allege he also transferred just over $14,500 from a church account to his account in February 2010.

MONTANA POLICE SHOOTING-BURGLARY

Billings woman sentenced for burglary, standoff

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

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings woman who broke into a house with her husband and engaged police in a standoff that ended with his shooting death has been sentenced to prison for felony burglary.

The Billings Gazette reports that District Judge Ingrid Gustafson sentenced Heather Lynnae Brawley on Friday to five years in the custody of the Department of Corrections with two years suspended. She also ordered Brawley to pay $27,000 in restitution.

Brawley, 26, pleaded guilty in October to her role in the January 2013 break-in.

She and her husband were arrested after negotiations with a SWAT team. However, Daniel Brawley slipped out of his restraints and climbed into the driver's seat of a police car, hitting an officer as he tried to drive away. That officer shot and killed Daniel Brawley. An inquest found the shooting was justified.

BILLINGS JUDGE

Bullock appoints lawyer to Billings district court

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock on Friday appointed Billings attorney Michael Glen Moses to a vacant district judgeship in Yellowstone County.

The 61-year-old Moses will take the place of Susan Watters, who resigned in December to become a federal judge. Bullock spokesman Dave Parker says Moses and the court will work out the date he'll be sworn into office.

Moses has been in private practice in Billings since 1978 and specializes in criminal law. He is a principle in the two-member firm Moses and Lansing PC and received a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Ore.

Moses will serve in the 13th Judicial District until an election is held in 2016.

 

     RAVALLI COUNTY TAXES
 
     Dispute in treasurer's office costs $70K so far
 
     HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) - The Ravalli County attorney is recommending commissioners wait for the full results of an audit before filing an official misconduct lawsuit against the county's embattled treasurer. The lawsuit would allow the county to remove her from the payroll.
 
     County Attorney Bill Fulbright said Thursday he believed it would be prudent to wait before suing Valerie Stamey, who was appointed interim treasurer in September and placed on paid leave in January after failing to file several reports.
 
     Commissioners say the dispute and investigation has cost taxpayers $70,000, including Stamey's ongoing pay and pay for a retired Beaverhead County treasurer to help sort through the backlog of work.
 
     Commissioner J.R. Iman said he was frustrated by the county's inability to address the issue, but said he agreed that "a little bit of caution" was a good idea.
 
     STILLWATER MINING
 
     Stillwater Mining production up, but VP resigns
 
     BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Montana's largest mining company says its precious metals production rose modestly while recycled metal volumes dropped sharply in the first quarter of 2014.
 
     Stillwater Mining Co. reported that platinum and palladium production from the company's two mines in the Beartooth Mountains increased by more than 3,000 ounces. That's up 2.8 percent over the same period last year.
 
     But volumes of precious metals recycled fell by more than 50,000 ounces. The company blamed the 34 percent decline on temporary, weather-related issues.
 
     The Billings-based company this week also announced the resignation of Kevin Shiell, vice president of mining operations since 2011. No reason was given except that Shiell would be pursuing other interests.
 
     A conference call with investors is planned for May 1.
 
     EMPLOYEE BENEFIT THEFT
 
     Bozeman man sentenced for employee benefit theft
 
     BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - A 61-year-old Bozeman businessman has been sentenced to five years on probation and ordered to repay just over $74,000 for failing to deposit money into an employee benefit plan.
 
     The U.S. Attorney's Office says Steven C. Munson pleaded guilty in November to theft from an employee benefit plan and was sentenced last month by U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon.
 
     Prosecutors say Munson owned DDCS Express Inc., which operated mail routes under contract with the U.S. Postal Service.
 
     The company's employee benefit plan received fringe benefit contributions from the Postal Service contracts and voluntary contributions from employees through salary deductions.
 
     After an employee complaint in July 2010, an investigation found Munson didn't make any plan deposits from January 2007 through June 2010 and failed to pay his employees all of the fringe benefits due them.
 
     PROBATIONER-DUI
 
     Man convicted in DUI death returned to prison
 
     (Information in the following story is from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com)
 
     GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) - A Browning-area man who has served federal prison time for involuntary manslaughter in a DUI case is being returned to prison for violating his probation by drinking and driving.
 
     The Great Falls Tribune reports U.S. District Judge Brian Morris on Thursday sentenced David Bear child to a year in custody, six months in a residential re-entry center and nine months of supervised release for a March 22 DUI in Glacier County. Court records say he nearly struck a pedestrian in East Glacier.
 
     Bear Child pleaded guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charge after unintentionally backing over his 2-year-old nephew in 2008 and served more than two years in prison. His probation was revoked for driving under the influence and striking another vehicle in December 2011. He was returned to custody and released on supervision in September 2012.
 
     SEX OFFENDER-PAROLE REVOKED
 
     Sex offender returned to prison for stalking girls
 
     (Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)
 
     BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A 56-year-old man who was on supervised release after serving prison time for sexually assaulting a teenage girl at a shoe store in 1997 has been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for following young girls around a Billings mall.
 
     The Billings Gazette reports Timothy Thomas Luplow appeared in District Court Thursday, where he admitted violating the conditions of his supervised released by following girls around the mall three times in March. District Judge Randal Spaulding revoked the remaining time of Luplow's suspended sentence, which a prosecutor says is 12 years and seven months.
 
     The state's petition to revoke Luplow's supervised release said his "adjustment to supervision has been abysmal" and that he engaged in "grooming" behavior by talking to the young girls.