Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Dan Boyce

Maintenance crews are still cleaning up the state capitol building after a frozen pipe burst and flooded the basement and first floor on December 5th.

Water damaged sheetrock and ceiling tiles and ruined equipment in basement offices. On Monday, the basement hallway was still littered with tables and boxes.

Public Information Officer at the Department of Public Administration Sheryl Olson said the state does not yet have a cost estimate from the flood. Not all the bills have come in yet.

The financial crash of 2008 brought increased scrutiny and louder calls for reform of the financial industry. Some of that has come to pass, but it's also true the financial sector continues to have tremendous influence over government, which is its chief regulator.

As financial policy advocate for the consumer advocacy group "Public Citizen", Bart Naylor tracks that regulation and lobbies for stricter oversight of a financial industry he believes has too much power.

As we told you earlier this week, at least 43 Montana public officials recently signed a letter supporting actions within the President's National Climate Action plan to address climate change.
      Some of those actions include adopting pollution controls, investment in renewable energy research and development and creation of climate adaptation strategies.  
     Democratic  state representative Doug Coffin, of Missoula, is one of those to sign the letter. Coffin is a professor of molecular genetics at the University of Montana.

National Park Service

A panel of wildlife officials says it's time to lift Endangered Species protections for grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.

Beatrice Moritz

This Saturday will mark the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of 20 six and seven-year-olds - and 6 of the school's adult staff.

Last week we aired an interview with UM forestry professor Martin Nie, about the resurgence of a western movement to get federal lands turned over to state and local governments - and why he thinks that's a bad idea. In this feature interview, News Director Sally Mauk talks with one of the leaders of the new Sagebrush Rebellion - Utah state representative, and CEO of the American Lands Council, Ken Ivory - about why he thinks state ownership of federal lands is a good idea.

Sally Mauk

A recent article in the journal "Science" investigates whether decreasing winds in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies are contributing to declining precipitation.

Edward O'Brien

(Update{12/12/13}:  Last week's winter storm in the Northeast kept the Weather Channel busy and this episode of "Freaks of Nature" was preempted for live coverage.  It now airs this Sunday -12/15/13-  at 8:00 p-m, MST.)

While our bitter cold spell is delaying today's scheduled opening of Missoula's Snowbowl ski area, tomorrow's big FCS playoff football game between the University of Montana Grizzlies and Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will go on as scheduled.

The temperature at kickoff could be below zero, with an even more frigid wind chill.

Katrin Frye

It’s not quite the ski patroller Olympics I was hoping for; skiing backwards, jumping through hoops, blindfolded…

In fact, when I showed up to the Whitefish Mountain Resort patrollers are inside, practicing specific stretches shown to them by a local physical therapist.

President of the Big Mountain Ski Patrol Incorporated Ryan Friel was, however, wearing ski boots.

One of the leading historians of 19th century America is in Missoula to speak at the University of Montana. James Oakes teaches history at the City University of New York, and has written several award-winning books on the Civil War and slavery.

In this feature interview, Oakes talks with News Director Sally Mauk about the debate over whether the Civil War was fought over preserving the Union - or over slavery. Oakes says it most definitely was fought to end slavery.

Dan Boyce

(Note: This is the first of a six-part series on "Bakken Spinoffs" airing Thursdays through January 9th on "Montana Evening Edition.")

Sidney’s Mayor, Bret Smelser, stood at the corner of his community’s busiest street, Central Avenue. A steady stream of traffic, punctuated with big rigs, leaves thick white exhaust hanging in the frigid air. Smelser nodded to one truck.

“One of our city crew, collecting twice as much garbage as we did two years ago,” he said.

Attorney General Tim Fox’s office said Tuesday a group of candidates have been nominated for the board of a new healthcare foundation created following the sale of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana to an out-of-state company.

SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations, Flickr

A University of Montana professor of forest entomology and pathology says this prolonged and uncomfortable deep freeze probably won't be enough to kill Mountain Pine Beetles.

The rice grain-sized beetles are a native species that mass-attack trees. U-M College of Forestry and Conservation's Dr. Diana Six says hundreds or thousands of the insects can swarm a single tree, leaving it defenseless and essentially doomed.
      

The movement to get the federal government to turn over its land to state and local governments is resurfacing in the American West. Led by a Utah-based group called the "American Lands Council", supporters argue there is a legal and historical basis for this turnover.
    The movement resembles the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion of the late 70s. In this feature interview, News Director Sally Mauk talks with University of Montana forestry professor and natural resource policy expert Martin Nie about both the old and new Sagebrush rebels.

flickr/mckaysavage

Cultivating organic seeds and genetically modified crops are among the topics farmers are meeting to discuss in the Flathead next week. The annual Montana Organic Association Conference is being held in the Flathead for the first time.

Judy Osowitz of Terrapin Farm in has been farming in rural Whitefish for 36-years.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes, I’ve seen a lot more demand for organic, I’ve seen a lot more supply of organic- which is a good thing, to have both, it’s wonderful,” Osowitz said.

Dan Boyce

Officials with the Montana University System said this week the Affordable Care Act is creating problems for the health insurance plan offered to students at the state’s public universities.

Those students need to have some kind of health insurance. For years, the university plan has offered a reasonably priced alternative for students not on their parents’ plan.

But that may be in jeopardy.

Edward O'Brien

Authors of a new study say it clearly illustrates what so many Montanans already know; that there are precious few well-paying jobs in the state.

With more information than ever before at our fingertips, you would think the American consumer's news literacy - or knowledge of current events - had never been higher. The fact is, that literacy is slipping dramatically.
    University of Montana Radio-Television Professor Ray Fanning teaches a class on news literacy.

In this feature interview, he talks with News Director Sally Mauk about how to become a smarter news consumer - and about why our news literacy is declining.

The state’s Chief Public Defender says workloads for public defense attorneys have improved due to financial help from the Montana Legislature. However, Bill Hooks said his office still needs more help.

The 2013 Legislature gave the public defender’s office *$1.2 million in new money for employee raises, which Hooks said has been very helpful.

"We were able to bring our attorney salaries more in line with what our colleagues were getting in other courts throughout the state,” Hooks said. “So I think that was a significant improvement and we're very appreciative of that.”

We're coming to the end of National Adoption Month.
   Recent celebrations have marked the adoption of at least 29 children in Great Falls and Billings.
     Lutheran Social Services of Montana operates a statewide adoption agency.
     In this interview, executive director Kathryn Sabol tells Edward O'Brien hundreds of more Montana children are waiting to be welcomed into new families of their own.
     Sabol tells us more about Lutheran Social Services of Montana:

YMCA Missoula

Some of us will soon be hitting the gym to work off the weight we've gained as a result of all the holiday treats and feasts.
     The YMCA welcomes people to consider its gym and swim services.

But, Jon Lange, the executive director and chief executive officer of the Missoula Family YMCA says the organization offers much more than health and wellness facilities.
    In tonight's feature interview, Lange details some of those programs. He tells Edward O'Brien the YMCA has always been a part of his life.

Katrin Frye

The idea of farm work as therapy takes root in the Flathead with several working farms opening their doors a couple times a week to people with disabilities. The Flathead Valley has seven Care Farms as of last spring. It’s an effort spearheaded by Maarten Fischer of the A-Plus-Home Healthcare of the Flathead, Fischer also teaches a multifunctional agriculture course at Flathead Valley Community College.

Dan Boyce

Parks in Helena are starting to see new additions to playground equipment, as the city tries to make more enjoyable for kids with disabilities.

Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce looks into this all-inclusive play equipment.

firstcovers.com

Think of your memory as layers upon layers stacked on top of one another. Registered Nurse Jennifer Crowley specializes in working with patients with Alzheimer’s. Crowley said for people with Alzheimer’s new memories are the top-most layers, and they roll right off and get lost. She conducts Memory Screenings which identify risk for Alzheimer’s and other cognitive impairment disorders. The exam tests short term memory and looks at a person’s understanding of the world around them.

Jacob Cowgill, Prairie Heritage farm

Some of you may have already begun thawing the turkey for tomorrow's big meal. The vast majority of Americans get their turkeys from the supermarket, birds that have been mass produced  to meet the mass demand.

Didn’t you know? It’s Turkey Tuesday!

Nov 26, 2013
Dan Boyce

In a feathery showcase of America’s most-celebrated Thanksgiving dish, A Helena education center brought in some live turkeys today. Dubbed “Turkey Tuesday”, the occasion allowed some local kids to see three of the iconic birds in real life, in all their waddley gobbley glory.

“I think that connections really been lost with a lot of kids,” said Exploration Works Education Director Jamie O’Malley. “It’s nice to know where your food comes from.”

Sally Mauk

If you haven't picked up your turkey yet, and you hit a deer with your car, under a new permit system that went into effect this week, you could keep that deer for your Thanksgiving meal.

Dan Boyce

The already-crowded field of candidates vying for Montana’s U.S. House seat continues to grow.

Current Republican Representative Steve Daines announced earlier this month he will be running for the Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Senator Max Baucus in 2014.

Helena Real Estate Investor Drew Turiano says he’s running for the House seat as a Republican. It’s his second time running for office in Montana after coming in last in a four-way Republican Primary for Secretary of State in 2012. He hopes that loss has helped with name recognition for this race.

We may all know in a general sense that the security of information we share online cannot be guaranteed - but that doesn't stop us, or private business or government, from putting  sensitive data online. The hope is that security will hold up against hackers, but in fact, cyberattacks are a growing security threat. David Hamon advises the U.S. government about that threat.

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