December 2013 1
Montana man dies in avalanche while skiing
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — A southwestern Montana man died in a backcountry avalanche over the weekend. Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Coroner Jerry Thomas says 46-year-old Ron Russell was backcountry skiing Saturday morning outside Anaconda when he was overtaken by an avalanche.
The Montana Standard reports Russell was able to dig himself out and call for help, but he died of his injuries. He was skiing alone.
Russell was a longtime math teacher at Anaconda High School. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, he was the sixth person to die in an avalanche in Montana this winter and the 27th in the United States.
Ex-GOP chairmen take aim at US House candidate
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Three former Montana Republican Party chairmen have taken the unusual step of uniting to publicly oppose former state Sen. Ryan Zinke’s U.S. House bid.
State Sen. John Brenden of Scobey, former U.S. Rep. Rick Hill and former gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller released a statement Monday saying the Whitefish Republican’s views aren’t conservative enough.
They take issue with Zinke’s past legislative votes on issues such as natural-resource development and question his ties to a political-action committee he founded.
Zinke says the three see him as a threat to win the five-candidate primary over their favored candidates. He says he is fiscally conservative, pro-business, anti-abortion and supports gun rights.
Brenden and Hill are supporting other candidates in the June 3 primary. Miller says he supports any candidate other than Zinke.
Absentee ballots shipped ahead of June primaries
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Early voting is underway for the June 3 primary elections with more than 185,000 absentee ballots shipped to voters across Montana.
Secretary of State Linda McCulloch cast her absentee ballot in Helena Monday. She says absentee voting has grown exponentially since the law changed in 2000 allowing anyone to mail in a ballot.
McCulloch says 61 percent of the votes cast in the 2012 primaries were through absentee ballots.
The regular voter registration period for the primary elections closes Monday at 5 p.m. People can still register and cast a ballot up through the close of polls June 3.
Late voter registration must be done in person at a county election office or at a designated polling place.
Motorcyclist dies after collision in Billings
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 21-year-old Billings man has died after his motorcycle collided with a car at a city intersection. Assistant Yellowstone County Coroner Chad Fehr tells The Billings Gazette the victim of Friday’s collision was Craig Sowerwine.
Authorities said Friday that a car pulled out in front of Sowerwine’s motorcycle on Friday. He laid down the motorcycle and slid under the rear of the car, suffering fatal injuries.
Police say Sowerwine wasn’t wearing a helmet and was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic before the crash. The driver of the car told police she didn’t see the motorcycle.
The crash is still under investigation.
Butte man charged with felony DUI
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — A Butte man on probation for a felony DUI faces another felony DUI charge after being stopped on Interstate 90 near Bozeman. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports 53-year-old Craig Lee Barth was pulled over by a Gallatin County sheriff’s deputy who spotted his pickup truck drifting between lanes and driving 45 mph in a 75 mph zone. Charging documents say a breath test showed Barth’s blood-alcohol level was 0.246, more than three times the limit at which a person is considered legally intoxicated. Court records in the weekend case say Barth has at least eight prior DUI convictions dating back to 1985. However, the Montana Supreme Court’s Sentence Review Division upheld Barth’s five-year commitment to the Department of Corrections for a 2008 DUI, which records said was his 13th conviction. Barth remained jailed Monday in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Billings man dies of burns suffered in fire
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings man who suffered burns in an apartment fire has died at a Utah burn hospital. Assistant Billings Fire Marshal Bill Tatum tells The Billings Gazette that Frank Grayson died Saturday. He was in his 70s. Grayson was critically injured in an April 22 fire in his second-floor apartment. Tatum says the man’s cause of death would be determined after an autopsy. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Tatum says as of Monday afternoon, it wasn’t a criminal investigation.
Governor appoints Shea to Montana Supreme Court
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock has appointed Montana Workers’ Compensation Court Judge Jim Shea to a vacancy on the state Supreme Court. Bullock said in a statement Monday that Shea has a reputation of being a fair and intelligent judge and lawyer. He says Shea’s understanding and respect for the state and federal constitutions make him well-suited for the Supreme Court.
The 48-year-old Shea has been on the workers’ compensation court since 2005. He will replace former Justice Brian Morris, who appointed at the end of last year to the U.S. District Court in Great Falls. Bullock’s office says Shea will be sworn in soon, but a date has not yet been set. He must be confirmed by the Montana Senate next year and then elected by the voters in November 2016.
Woman dies in crash near White Sulphur Springs
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 19-year-old woman has died after her sport utility vehicle crashed into a creek in central Montana. The Meagher (marr) County sheriff’s office on Monday identified the victim as Alivia Stewart of Lewistown. The Montana Highway Patrol reports Stewart’s body was found shortly before 6 a.m. Saturday near U.S. Highway 89 about 25 miles from White Sulphur Springs. Investigators believe the crash occurred hours earlier. Stewart was southbound when she swerved into the northbound lane for an unknown reason. She overcorrected and lost control of the SUV, which went off the road into a ditch. Stewart was ejected from the vehicle as it rolled. The SUV ended up in a creek. The patrol is investigating whether another vehicle may have been involved.
Brockton man pleads guilty to stabbing death
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A 50-year-old Brockton man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for stabbing a 21-year-old man to death during an argument. The Great Falls Tribune reports David J. Lewis entered his plea Friday for the January death of Armon Boyd. Prosecutors say Boyd was stabbed at least 19 times and that his body was found in Lewis’ residence. Court records say one of Boyd’s arms was nearly cut off. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris scheduled sentencing for Aug. 15. Lewis has been in custody since his arrest.
10 entities apply to get Yellowstone bison
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Ten entities have submitted proposals to take bison from Yellowstone National Park that came through an experimental program to establish new herds of the animals.
Applicants include wildlife agencies in Utah and Minnesota, three American Indian tribes and private conservation groups in Montana, Nebraska, New York and Colorado. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks released details of the proposals on Monday. Spokesman Ron Aasheim said the agency hopes to relocate the roughly 135 bison by the end of November. The bison were captured in the last decade, put into quarantine and tested repeatedly to make sure they don’t have the disease brucellosis. They’ve been held for the past several years on behalf of the state at a Bozeman-area ranch owned by philanthropist Ted Turner. Livestock groups have opposed previous Yellowstone bison transfers.
Montana Tech hires athletic director
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Montana Tech has named David Lau as its next athletic director. Lau has been assistant director of athletics for development at Missouri Western University, his alma mater, since 2003. Chancellor Don Blackketter says Lau accepted the job on Friday and is expected to start on June 1. Lau replaces Charles Bradley, who was fired in January. Montana Tech paid the rest of Bradley’s contract, plus a $40,000 settlement after Bradley claimed he was unfairly fired. After playing three years of baseball at Missouri Western, Lau signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets. He spent three years with the Mets before returning to Missouri Western to complete his degree.