Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Chuck Johson with Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
William Marcus

As you might have heard, the Lee newspaper chain, which publishes most of Montana’s larger papers, is closing its state bureau in Helena. Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison, the two veteran reporters who staff the bureau, are leaving the company.  The news stunned many Montanans who follow politics. Johnson and Dennison have been honored with blog posts on the internet and speeches on the floor of the U. S. Senate.

Recently I sat down with Chuck Johnson in his Helena office to talk about his 43 years covering the state of Montana, starting with how he found out it was coming to an end.

Fewer state and federal dollars are filling Montana school district coffers, so school officials are turning to local voters for help.

Bob Vogel of the Montana School Boards Association says bonding requests are becoming more common.

Bill Gallagher, former Montana Public Service Commission Chairman
Montana Public Service Commission

The chairman of the Montana Public Service Commission remembers his predecessor, Bill Gallagher, as a man of courage and grace.

Gallagher died of pancreatic cancer late last week.

Eric Whitney

More than two hundred people gathered at the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Missoula to mark Memorial day. It was one of dozens of ceremonies across the state.

Evening Newscast 05-22-15

May 22, 2015
MTPR Evening Newscast
Josh Burnham

On tonight's evening newscast: The state Board of Regents today formally approved renaming the University of Montana Law School in honor of Great Falls Attorney Alexander Blewett the third, following Blewett and his wife’s gift of $10 million to the school announced this week.

Two adult male grizzly bears have been euthanized for killing calves on a private ranch southeast of Red Lodge.

Montana’s new campaign finance law still has at least one loophole that needs to be addressed. That’s according to state Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl.

A 90-year-old Butte woman was killed when she was hit by her car after a trip to the grocery store.

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a petition from Yellowstone Club founder Tim Blixseth to be released from a Montana jail after he was found in contempt of court.

American paddlefish
Timothy Knepp - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

One week into Montana’s paddlefish season on the the lower Yellowstone river, biologists say they’re not seeing any negative impacts from an oil spill on that stretch of river in January.

Jonathan Motl, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices speaks during a forum about the "Disclose Act" in Missoula, MT
Josh Burnham

Montana’s new campaign finance law still has at least one loophole that needs to be addressed. That’s according to state Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl.

Pending the approval of the Montana Board of Regents today the University of Montana School of Law will take on the name of its biggest donor.

Alexander Blewett’s gift of $10 million was announced yesterday to the regents. The donation is the largest in UM law school history, and among the largest individual gifts in UM history.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

Late Thursday afternoon a news story broke on the Great Falls Tribune website that spread across Twitter like wildfire, and struck some people like a death in the family: Lee Newspapers, which owns five of Montana’s largest papers, is closing its state bureau, and its two reporters, Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison, are leaving the company.

Sen. Jon Tester (D) Montana
Courtesy photo

Senator Jon Tester says the Veterans Administration’s new Choice Card program got off to a  “shaky” start. The Choice Card is a new program that lets veterans use private medical care if their nearest VA facility is too busy or too far away.

Montana Senator Jon Tester hopes Wednesday’s 10-hour filibuster over the Patriot Act will convince his colleagues that the controversial law needs a full Senate debate.

Tester says Patriot Act supporters usually bring up the re-authorization vote just before the law expires, forcing the Senate to rush through the process, instead of taking the time for a full discussion.

New data says Montana does a good job at placing placing kids in its child welfare system with relatives or foster families, which is seen as preferable to placements in group homes.

Forest Service helicopter crews practicing medical evacuation west of Missoula, MT.
Lane Lamoreaux (PD)

Two Forest Service helicopter crews are practicing medical evacuation maneuvers this week west of Missoula.

The teams are training for "Emergency Medical Short-Haul" missions.

Alexander Blewett III
Courtesy photo

A Great Falls trial lawyer is giving the University of Montana law school $10 million, and the school is one step away from being re-named in his honor.

Helena Teens Found Safe In Missoula

May 20, 2015

Police issued an alert this morning for two teens from Helena they believed were in danger after they left the city this morning. They were later found safe in Missoula, and the alert was canceled at 2:40 pm. 

Paxon Elementary School in Missoula
Missoula County Public Schools

Missoula voters are being asked to approve two major school bond issues. They haven’t said yes to school debt of this magnitude since 1952.

Supporters of the bond questions that will appear on November's ballot say it’s time to update badly deteriorating local public schools.

A Wisconsin man was fined more than$2,000 Monday for accidently killing a grizzly bear in Northwest Montana.

Public Domain

The public is getting a chance to ask state and federal wildlife managers about bison management in and around Yellowstone National Park.

Montana Department of Transportation

Montana law-enforcement agencies are stepping up traffic enforcement ahead of the Memorial Day holiday. They’re also turning to “new media” to spread their message to drive safely.

Local police, County Sheriffs, and the Montana Highway Patrol are putting extra patrols on the road from now through Memorial Day. State Transportation director Mike Tooley says in the next two weeks, officers around the state are working together to catch speeders and other unsafe drivers.

A Montana lawmaker is praising President Obama’s decision to restrict the kinds of military surplus equipment that go to local police departments.

The World Trade Organization has again ruled against United States labeling on packaged steak and other cuts of meat that detail where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered.

USDAgriculture State Director of Rural Development Anthony Preite awards a check to NACDC Financial Services Executive Director Angie Main.
Corin Cates-Carney

Small businesses in and around the Blackfeet Reservation now have access to a little more help. This week, for the first time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture extended support to a Native American community development group, to make “micro-loans” to boost the local economy.

A restoration plan for the Upper Clark Fork Basin's largest wetland is now up for public review.

The Atlantic Richfield Company's draft wetland restoration plan is designed to address wetland loss related to mining and smelting contamination in the Clark Fork River Basin.

An estimated 22 million Americans act as caregivers for someone with a chronic medical condition.  Typically, it’s a son or daughter taking care of an aging parent. It can be rewarding, but often it’s also stressful and draining, especially for caretakers who neglect to take care of themselves.

Gov. Bullock Signs Tax Breaks For Pollution Control Equipment

May 14, 2015
Rep. Mike Miller and Governor Steve Bullock at a ceremonial bill signing for House Bill 156, tax cuts for pollution control equipment, at the Billings-area Chamber of Commerce.
Jackie Yamanaka - Yellowstone Public Radio

A tax cut for industry to install pollution control and carbon sequestration equipment is good for industry, jobs, and public health.

That’s the message from Governor Steve Bullock during a ceremonial bill signing Wednesday in Billings.

If you go to the doctor with a cough and fever, odds are you're not thinking you could have an unusual fungal infection — and neither is the doctor.

That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants to get the word out that they found more people sick with histoplasmosis in Montana and Idaho.

Greater Sage Grouse
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Region (CC-BY-2)

Montana will spend about half-a-million dollars annually to assemble a team to oversee management of sage grouse. The bird is a candidate for listing as a threatened or endangered species.

For the second time in two years, a Missoula hospital is entering a joint venture with a hospital in Billings. Last year, Billings Clinic and a for-profit partner bought Missoula Community Medical center. The new joint venture announced this week isn’t a merger, but it does have Missoula’s other hospital, St Patrick, joining with St. Vincent hospital in Billings.

The Governor’s Conference on Aging wraps up Thursday, with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s disease, and the effect it’s having on society. Steve Jess reports.

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