Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

DEQ closes own building for lead contamination

Oct 28, 2013
Dan Boyce

Nearly 100 Montana Department of Environmental Quality workers were sent home on paid leave Monday after inspections found elevated levels of lead in one of the department’s own buildings.

“The irony is not lost on us,” said DEQ Director Tracy Stone-Manning said regarding contaminants in Helena’s old armory at the north end of Last Chance Gulch, where DEQ now houses its division responsible for environmental cleanup.

The octopus is a very adaptable creature. It can shrink itself to fit into a discarded beer bottle for temporary shelter; can change color, and squirt a cloud of ink to camouflage its escape from danger.

Katrin Frye

“This is a really good place to recruit to,” Dr. A. Craig Eddy works as the Chief Medical Officer at Kalispell Regional Medical Center, and is in charge of recruiting.

Eddy said the Flathead is a great place, but not because of the salary.

Monica Lindeen
Courtesy Monica Lindeen

  The state’s insurance commissioner says Montanans are still having problems signing up for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act online marketplace. Most states, including Montana, opted to let the Federal Government run their Obamacare market. The federal site has been plagued with glitches and technical problems for three weeks now, and it is not clear when they will all be fixed.

Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen said Wednesday that is not acceptable.

Katrin Frye

Barricades came down, open signs switched on, and employees went back to work as Glacier National Park reopened. The partial government shutdown closed the national parks October first.

Public Affairs Officer Denise Germann says the Park had about 20 to 30 people working during the shutdown. As of Thursday about 250 employees were back on.

She said a lot of the work going on right now involves getting housing and lodging buttoned up for the winter.

Sally Mauk

Emmy-award-winning actor Keith David is in Missoula to advocate for the organization "Wood for Haiti", started by Missoula resident Gary Funk and his daughter Angela.

Dan Boyce

The Montana Department of Justice launched a poster campaign Thursday aimed at raising awareness of human trafficking in the state. Five-thousand of the posters will be put up in rest stops and other public locations around the state.

A bill passed by the state legislature created the poster campaign.They are written in both English and Spanish and highlight a toll free number to a national help line and a Q-R code for smart phones. 

Sally Mauk

The state issued an advisory today against eating northern pike caught in a 105-mile stretch of the Clark Fork river from Missoula to Paradise.

Immigration group sues Montana Highway Patrol

Oct 16, 2013

A group focused on the rights of immigrants in the state is suing the Montana Highway Patrol alleging racial discrimination.

The Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance claims the highway patrol has in place a policy of checking the immigration status of Latino drivers during routine traffic stops.

Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce tells us the group believes the practice is unconstitutional.  

Renowned British historian Andrew Roberts is harshly critical of his country's increasingly isolationist foreign policy - and says America is becoming a laughingstock internationally because of its political paralysis.

Flathead County Agency on Aging

Montana’s population is aging, and the number of people aged 65-and older living in Montana is expected to keep growing.

A report from the state Department of Health and Human Services says in 2000 Montana ranked 14th in the nation in the percentage of its population aged 65 or older.

That rank is expected to jump to 5th by the year 20-25.

Connecting this population with the necessary health services is part of an effort that brings together several organizations for seniors.

Dan Boyce

The only Democrat so far to file for Montana's U.S. House seat in 2014 officially announced his campaign Monday. John Lewis, former State Director for Sen. Max Baucus, held the kick-off event for his campaign from a Helena union hall about two months after submitting paperwork for the bid.   

Lewis opened the kick-off by unveiling this campaign video:

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Tamara Jones, knows more than most about the aftermath of tragedy.

If reporters have a question about Glacier National Park, they usually first call the park's public affairs officer, Denise Germann.

Montana DNRC

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation has launched an initiative to update the state's water plan.

William Marcus

The government shutdown has put Washington's paralysis on full display, but if you want more reinforcement of just how dysfunctional the nation's capital has become, you might want to read Mark Leibovich's best-selling book "This Town".

Leibovich is the chief national correspondent for the New York Times magazine, a former reporter for the Washington Post, and now best-selling author. He has lived and worked in D.C. for 16 years, and is a self-described "insider".

A prominent Republican State Senator is leading efforts to qualify an initiative for the 2014 ballot which would require more disclosure of political spending on state elections. The Stop Dark Money initiative is based upon a bill that failed this last legislative session.

Sally Mauk

Western Montana's fire danger is back to a "low" rating, there's been plenty of rain recently - even some high-elevation snow in western Montana. The 2013 fire season is essentially behind us.

When your lab class is 100 feet underground

Oct 8, 2013
Dan Boyce

Montana Tech mining engineering junior Krystal Martin and the eight other students in her lab class were taking turns using a heavy, pneumatic, jack-leg drill to bore six foot holes into a solid rock wall last Friday. It’s definitely louder than the average college lab course, and rather than crisp, white lab coats, students wear mud-soaked work boots, dust streaked faces and hard hats.

About 22,000 men worked the underground mines of Butte at the city’s peak, hauling 20,000 tons of ore back to the surface every day.

But, that was almost 100 years ago.

Joe Newman

Thomas Tamm's career as an attorney with the Department of Justice's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review came to an end during the Bush Administration, after Tamm leaked information to the New York Times that the government was eavesdropping on American citizens without seeking a warrant. The Times story won a Pulitzer prize.

Katrin Frye

A grassroots human rights organization in the Flathead is building upon its anti-hate message, literally. The group “Love Lives Here” teamed up with local artists and people from across the community created ceramic tiles spelling out messages of love and peace through words and pictures. The first step of this project happened with the construction of a tile-lined gazebo in 2008. This month the group is unveiling several tiled-lined benches as an addition to the monument.

  Businesses and organizations have to be innovative and creative to survive - but that maxim is easier said than done.

Montana's Lieutenant Governor, John Walsh has announced he is running for the U.S. seat being vacated by Sen. Max Baucus in 2014. 

Walsh announced his intentions today, launching this website complete with a more than two minute video outlining his 33 years serving in the Montana National Guard, including serving as Adjutant General from 2008 to 2012, when he left the guard to join the ticket of then-gubernatorial candidate Steve Bullock.

Missoula Independent

Missoula city councilwoman Caitlin Copple was among those locked down in the U.S. Capitol for about half an hour today, because of that shootout near the Capitol.

Dan Boyce

The partial shutdown of the federal government is now stretching into its third day.

President Obama is now saying House Speaker John Boehner is the only thing standing in the way of reopening the government. Congressional leaders made no progress on ending the shutdown after a Wednesday night meeting at the White House. 

The Wall Street Journal reports about 800,000 federal employees remain on furlough. 

Courtesy photo

A public hearing will be held later this month before the Missoula City Council on a proposed ordinance that would give Mayor John Engen authority to open negotiations with The Carlyle Group to purchase Mountain Water Company.

Carlyle, a global alternative asset manager, purchased Mountain Water about two years ago, with the stipulation the city of Missoula would get the first shot at buying the utility if it ever went up for sale.

In this feature interview with Edward O'Brien, Engen explains why he thinks it's important to pursue this discussion - and why now.

A new exhibit at the Missoula Art Museum showcases folk art from around the country.

Katrin Frye

Arguably the most visible effect of the government shutdown is the closure of 401 National Parks, including Glacier Park. Glacier counts on an average of 50 to 60 thousand visitors in the month of October. Public Affairs Officer Denise Germann with the Park said there has been confusion, and surprise about the Park being closed.

  Montana employees of the US Department of Agriculture make up the largest piece of the state’s federal workforce.

The Montana Department of Labor and Industry Economist Barb Wagner said latest figures show about 12,600 federal employees work in Montana, not including military personnel—which she says her office does not track. Of that civilian workforce, about 3,000 work for the USDA.

Monica Lindeen
Courtesy Monica Lindeen

State insurance commissioner Monica Lindeen has been traveling a lot lately, answering questions from Montanans about Obamacare, and what it means for them.

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