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Helena News

The fire in the Birdseye area northwest of Helena -- now officially called the Haynes Fire -- stayed the same size, 17 acres, on Saturday . No roads are closed, and no evacuations have been ordered. The fire is entirely on private land.

Three DNRC helicopters and one slurry bomber were called in Friday, but they have been released. They are on standby.   
Multiple agencies are on scene including the DNRC, the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Department, and multiple volunteer fire departments.


Montana State Prison needs 65 guards

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Department of Corrections officials are searching for creative ways to cover guard shifts at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge while seeking to fill 65 openings for correctional officers.

Corrections Director Mike Batista says guards have been working mandatory double shifts and are being called in on their days off. In May, the prison eliminated two days of visitation due to a lack of staffing.

Last week, Warden Leroy Kirkegard sent a memo to prison employees acknowledging the staffing issue and thanking employees for maintaining safe conditions. He assured staffers that prison leadership is working on it.

MEA-MFT President Eric Feaver says fatigue is becoming an issue.

Batista says the agency is going to attend job fairs and make better use of social media in its recruiting efforts. He says some people get great satisfaction from corrections work.


Court upholds 12-day 'sell-by' rule for milk

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Supreme Court has unanimously upheld a rule requiring that milk in Montana be sold or discarded 12 days after pasteurization.

Thursday's decision dismisses an appeal by food distributor Core-Mark International that tried to abolish the "sell-by" rule. Core-Mark had argued that the processor is in the best position to determine the shelf-life of its milk and the 12-day rule discriminates against out-of-state producers who can print "use-by" dates on milk sold in other states.

Core-Mark sued after the state Board of Livestock kept the rule after an administrative appeal process. District Judge Mike Menahan ruled in August 2013 that the livestock board fairly considered the "use-by" dating method and chose to stick with the current rule.

The justices agreed with Menahan in the 5-0 ruling, saying the board properly exercised its rulemaking authority.

Forgery arrest

A 22-year-old California woman has been arrested and charged with using a fake ID and numerous credit cards associated with the name on the ID to make purchases in the Helena area.

A Montana State Trooper stopped Dashanay Shynique Lane on Interstate 90 after his radar detected her traveling at 89 mph in a 75 mph zone, according to court records.

During the traffic stop, the trooper discovered that Lane, a Stockton, California, resident, was driving a rental car not registered to her and that her driver's license was revoked.

According to court records, Lane's belongings were collected and inventoried by the trooper, and the vehicle was impounded pending return to Budget Car Rental. Among the items found in the car were several items purchased from Target with the tags still attached and $2,000 worth of Nordstrom gift cards

Lane originally told the trooper she was in Montana visiting her aunt and her brother, but neither lives in Montana. She also said she was looking for a Nordstrom store. There are no Nordstrom stores in Montana.

An investigation revealed that Lane rented a car from Budget Car Rental, a room at the Residence Inn, and a purchase at Target using the same fake name,

She was arrested Wednesday and is charged with one count of felony forgery, common scheme. The investigation into the incidents is ongoing.

Court appearances

A man who threatened to shoot two St Peter's Hospital employees was sentenced in Lewis and Clark County District Court Thursday.
Darren Goldsmith was charged with two counts of felony assault with a weapon.
Judge James Reynolds sentenced goldsmith to 20 years in prison with 15 suspended for each charge, and ordered drug treatment for Goldsmith.
A man who prosecutors say tried to kidnap a woman while she was running a half-marathon in Lincoln made his initial appearance in district court Thursday.
According to court documents, Cecil Hale was one of three men who attempted to abduct the runner.
Those documents say the men slowly drove up to the victim and Hale tried to grab and pull her into the van.
A  man who prosecutors say teamed up with another man to rob a Helena residence made his initial appearance.
Brandon Rideout is charged with felony robbery and aggravated burglary along with 11 counts of felony assault with a weapon.
According to court documents, Rideout worked with Jonah Correa. Victims say Rideout held a knife to the throats of residents inside and threatened to rape a female victim.
Rideout will appear again on July 31st.

Walsh may have copied thesis, blames PTSD 

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana Senator  John Walsh's thesis written to earn a master's degree from the U.S. Army War College contains unattributed passages taken word-for-word from previously published papers.

The Democrat said Wednesday he was on medication and being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder from his service in Iraq when he wrote the paper. He said he also was dealing with the stress of a fellow veteran's recent suicide.

Walsh said he made an unintentional mistake and did not intend to plagiarize.

"I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor," Walsh told The Associated Press. "My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment."

Walsh submitted the paper to earn his Master of Strategic Studies degree nearly two years after he returned from Iraq and about a year before he became Montana's adjutant general overseeing the state's National Guard and Department of Military Affairs.

The apparent plagiarism in Walsh's 2007 thesis, titled "The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy," was first reported by The New York Times Wednesday afternoon.

The senator is running against Republican Rep. Steve Daines to keep the seat to which Walsh was appointed in February when Max Baucus resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China. National Democrats said Wednesday they remained "100 percent behind Sen. 

Committee to hire consultant, recomend new jail  

The committee charged with making plans for a new jail has agreed that a new jail is necessary, and will contact five consultants to look into the construction of that new jail

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee has discussed a jail with between 200 and 250 beds,

Sheriff Leo Dutton says the the size of a jail will be based on what voters can afford.

The current detention center was built in the 1980s with 58 beds, but had a inmate count of 104 inmates on Wednesday, according to Sheriff Dutton.

Child assault arrest

A Helena man has been arrested in connection with alleged assaults on a child between May 22 and June 17.

Court documents say 39-year-oldToby John North had custody of his 6-year-old son during that time. On May 29 and June 17, the child was examined by pediatricians for multiple injuries.

The child reportedly had bruising on his hips, his rib cage and his left side.

North said the child sustained the bruises in a fall.

A physician at Partners in Pediatrics examined the child and discussed the possibility of the injuries being the result of "non-accidental trauma," with the child's mother, the affidavit said.

A second incident showed produced "multiple bruises on the child's back and shoulders, a circular bruise on (the child's) right arm, mild bruising on the anterior legs bilaterally," according to the court documents

North said the child fell down the front porch steps, but another physician said the injuries did not align with that story, the affidavit said.

North was arrested Tuesday and charged with one count of felony assault on a minor.

Transient arrested for sex with 15 year old


A transient has been arrested for non-consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl.

According to court documents, 23-year-old Jordan Crooked Foot was arrested in Women's Park in Helena Tuesday.

The girl told officers that two males had sex with her July 8 and 9. and that she was "in fear" while she was with them.

Investigators say Crooked Foot said he had met the female but that the sex was "non-forced," and that he was aware of the girl's age at the time of the incidents, the affidavit said.

Crooked Foot was arrested and charged with one count of felony sexual intercourse without consent and one count of misdemeanor obstructing a peace officer for allegedly lying about his identity.

Driver arrested after using Dust Off

A Helena man has been arrested after witnesses say he crashed his vehicle through a chain-link fence and rolled into a field
 Zachariah Bennett was driving a maroon Lumina traveling eastbound on U.S. 12 between Helena and East Helena, when the vehicle crossed  oncoming lanes of traffic, almost hit another vehicle, and ended up on the north side of the road,
A Lewis and Clark County deputy found two cans of compressed air, or "CNC Dust," in the car after the crash.


Man arrested after death threat 

A Helena man was arrested Friday after a woman reported he threatened to kill her and her boss with a gun

Court documents say 33-year-old Shane Howard made the threats. The woman's boyfriend confirmed that the threats to kill her were made during a phone conversation, and the woman also showed officials several text messages that contained threats.

Police say Howard admitted sending the text messages and threats. Officers found a pipe with marijuana residue in his vehicle.

Howard was arrested for the charges of felony assault with a weapon and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police report

Yesterday was a day for arresting probation violations for Helena police.

2:31am. Officers were called to the 100 blk of Cutler Street concerning a civil situation. While responding, officers were advised a physical altercation was occurring. After an investigation, officers eventually arrested 32 year old Shane Allan Zielie for violating the terms of his probation.

at 10:04am. Officers responded to the state probation and parole offices to arrest 26 year old Jake Daniel Devine for violating the terms of his probation.

 Then at

11:28am. A sheriff's deputy was at an apartment in the 1500 blk of Broadwater Circle concerning another incident, and was aware a male was present on the property who had been previously trespassed from the apartment complex property. Officers responded, located and arrested 25 year old Spencer Scott Nelson for Criminal Trespass to Property, in addition to violating the terms of his probation.

     Montana judge censured over rape comments
     HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded a Billings judge over his comments about a 14-year-old rape victim.
     District Judge G. Todd Baugh appeared Tuesday afternoon for censure, which is a public declaration that he is guilty of misconduct. The Supreme Court has also suspended Baugh for 31 days, effective in December.
     Chief Justice Mike McGrath told Baugh that his actions and comments eroded the public's confidence in the court system.
     Baugh was not asked to speak and declined to answer a reporter's questions.
     Baugh sentenced Stacey Dean Rambold to 31 days in prison last year after Rambold pleaded guilty to sexual intercourse without consent.
     Baugh said during Rambold's sentencing that the teenager was "probably as much in control of the situation as the defendant" and she "appeared older than her chronological age."
     Supreme Court says candidate can appear on ballot
     HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Supreme Court has ruled in a 4-3 decision that former state solicitor general Lawrence VanDyke is eligible as a candidate for the high court.
     The Supreme Court reversed a previous decision by District Judge Mike Menahan of Helena that VanDyke could not run because he had not actively practiced law in Montana for five years before announcing his candidacy.
     But the majority of justices ruled Tuesday that VanDyke's admission to the state bar in 2005 satisfied the five-year eligibility requirement in the state constitution.
     VanDyke went on inactive status with the Montana bar from March 2007 to November 2012 while he worked out of state.
     VanDyke is challenging Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat in November's election.  Wheat recused himself from the court's deliberations of VanDyke's eligibility
     State: Montanans won't lose health care subsidies
     HELENA, Mont. (AP) - State officials say they don't believe Montanans receiving tax credits to buy health insurance are in danger of losing them.
     Two contradictory federal appeals court rulings Tuesday have called President Barack Obama's health-care law subsidies into question.
     Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen says one ruling against subsidies will be appealed and won't be decided anytime soon.
     In that ruling, an appellate court panel in Washington D.C. said credits can be granted only in states that have set up their own insurance markets, or exchanges. Montana is one of 36 states using the federal exchange.
     However, a separate ruling by a federal appeals court in Virginia said regulations allowing consumers in all 50 states to purchase subsidized coverage correctly interprets Congress' will in passing the health care law.
Commission approves tax abatement 

By a 3-2 vote, Helena's City Commission approved a tax abatement for a new aeronautics business

The 10-year tax abatement is for Pioneer Aerostructures. The business will make aircraft parts for companies such as Boeing, Lockheed and Airbus. All sales will be out of state.

Commissioners Katherine Haque-Hausrath and Andres Haladay were opposed to the tax break. Mayor Jim Smith and commissioners Dan Ellison and Matt Elsaesser voted aye.

Tom Hoffman, the president and managing partner of Pioneer Aerostructures, has said the company will create at least 50 jobs during the 10 years of the tax abatement, adding this is a conservative figure.

The city commission's vote comes after the Lewis and Clark County commission voted unanimously in June to grant the tax break that affected county taxes as well as those for Helena's public schools.

Had the tax abatement not been granted, the company's tax bill for the 10 years would have been $1,762,398 . With the tax abatement in place, Pioneer Aerostructures' tax bill for the period will be $1,201,661, according to the state Department of Revenue.

Kids Count report  

Montana has fallen in rankings for child well-being and remains last when it comes to children's health rankings, according to the new National Kids Count Data Book.

The report is being released today as part of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 25th annual Kids Count, which weighs 16 factors in the areas of economic well-being, education, health and family and community.

While Montana retained its rank of 14 in the family and community area and remained No. 50 for children's health, the state dropped from 28th to 31st in child wellbeing, dropped from 15 to 25 for economic well-being and from 13 to 21 in education.

The rankings are based on data from 2008 to 2013

There was some good news for Montana: fewer teen births, fewer teens abusing drugs or alcohol, and more high school students graduating on time, and more youngsters participating in preschool programs.



Montana News and Sports


Glacier Park visitor center reopens

(Information in the following story is from: Daily Inter Lake,

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Mont. (AP) — The St. Mary Visitor Center at Glacier National Park has reopened after being closed because of water damage from the center's sprinkler system.

A furnace malfunction early Thursday morning caused the sprinkler system to activate, causing water damage to the building, furnishings and some interior utilities.

The Daily Inter Lake reports that contractors and park employees worked through the day and most of the night so that the center could reopen on Friday.

Some employee offices have been relocated to the nearby park administrative area. Some office equipment, furniture and computers will need to be replaced, along with some drywall and flooring.

Some of the Glacier National Park Conservancy's sales materials were also damaged.


Remains of 7 veterans interred in Montana

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The unclaimed remains of seven veterans from various conflicts are being given proper burials at Yellowstone National Cemetery in Montana.

The effort by the Missing in America Project seeks to provide proper interment for those who served their country.

A brief ceremony was held in Bozeman on Friday at a funeral home where the remains of veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam had been kept after not being claimed by anyone. The urns were then taken to Billings for an interment ceremony Saturday at the cemetery in nearby Laurel.


Gov. Bullock touts forest management effort

(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian,

BONNER, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock says a new state forestry management effort is more than about improving timber mills and forest health.

Speaking at Milltown State Park on Friday, Bullock said the initiative is about managing state parks, looking at restoration strategy and working with federal agencies to make sure projects are done right.

The Missoulian reports that in Milltown's case, a small-scale project set for this fall would thin young Douglas fir and lodgepole pines and give more space to larger ponderosa pine and larch.

Larger efforts in the $3 million initiative include road culvert repair work for fisheries in Fish Creek west of Alberton and near Red Lodge.


Fire damages sawmill in eastern Idaho

(Information in the following story is from: KIDK-TV,

MARYSVILLE, Idaho (AP) — A fire has damaged a closed sawmill in Fremont County in eastern Idaho.

North Fremont Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Keith Richey says the fire occurred Thursday night at Fisher Logging in the small community of Marysville, which is near Ashton.

Richey tells KIDK-TV that the fire burned stacks of firewood and timber, causing an estimated $250,000 in damage.

Richey says there were reports of downed power lines in the area before the fire, but the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The sawmill had not operated for the past six months.  MONTANA-SENATOR-PLAGIARISM

Veterans' response to senator's PTSD remarks mixed

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The talk among Montana veterans has been about U.S. Sen. John Walsh since the Democrat linked a cribbed research paper he wrote in 2007 to post-traumatic stress disorder.

How those veteran voters respond means a lot to Walsh. He has built his election campaign for the Senate around his 33-year career in the National Guard and his proposals to help veterans and their families.

The reaction so far has been a mixed bag of condemnation, sympathy and shrugs.

Former Army Capt. Dave Mihalic (mih-HAUL'-uk) says only the U.S. Army War College can determine whether PTSD symptoms are an excuse or a legitimate factor in the apparent plagiarism.

The college has launched an investigation into revelations that Walsh extensively used others' work without attribution in the paper required for his master's degree.


Billings man gets 22 life sentences for rapes

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette,

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A serial rapist who did not leave any DNA at the crime scenes, but was undone by his need to photograph them, has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.

The Billings Gazette reports District Judge Russell C. Fagg sentenced 42-year-old Toby Eugene Griego on Friday to 22 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, plus 60 years and six months in prison.

Fagg said he'd never seen a more dangerous criminal or bigger predator in Billings.

Griego was convicted of 27 felony counts in April for breaking into the homes of four women between January and July of last year, repeatedly raping three of them and trying to rape the fourth. The women said they were forced to bathe or shower afterward.

Griego did not make a statement.


Coroner identifies man found in Clark Fork River

(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian,

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Missoula County officials have identified the 60-year-old man whose body was found in the Clark Fork River in Missoula.

Sheriff's Capt. Brad Griffin tells the Missoulian that Jack Pray of Missoula drowned.

Bystanders spotted Pray's body Wednesday evening. Authorities say he had been in the water for several days and police are still investigating how he ended up in the river.


Oregon governor issues oil train safety review

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Gov. John Kitzhaber has released a statewide review of oil train safety that calls for an increase in state rail inspectors, more funding for training, and improved reporting and transparency.

Made public Friday, the review was ordered by the governor this winter following an increase in the amount of highly flammable crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota being transported in Oregon.

The report suggests Oregon should consider a per-barrel fee on crude oil arriving in Oregon by rail to help pay for spill prevention and preparation.

The report says the governor's recommended budget for 2015-2017 will include additional funding for emergency responder training.

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.