Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

Attorney General Tim Fox is asking the Montana Supreme Court to prohibit a District Judge from holding a resentencing hearing this Friday on the 30-day prison sentence a former Billings teacher received for raping his 14-year-old student.

The case has prompted widespread criticism from around the country.

Katrin Frye

The Flathead Valley Community College becomes the first stand-alone 2-year college in the state to offer a health clinic for students. The FVCC Student Health Clinic opened in the new Rebecca Chaney Broussard Center for Nursing and Health Sciences with the beginning of the fall semester.

Physicians Assistant Shelley Naomi said she can treat patients for a range of ailments from preventative care like well-woman annual exams to flu shots, treating the common cold, and sexually transmitted disease testing.

University of Montana

The University of Montana's Legal Counsel presented a campus lecture today examining Title IX's impact in America over the last four decades.

Sally Mauk

Tribal leaders from around Montana gathered in Missoula this afternoon, to tell the chairwoman of the Senate Indian Affairs committee what they think is needed to boost economic development in Indian country.

David DeSilva

The Smuin Ballet will celebrate its 20th anniversary with performances in Missoula and Great Falls this month.

Sally Mauk

You get that craving say mid-afternoon, when the computer is down, and dinner is still hours away; you go to the vending machine and punch the Cheetos button.

The Montana Department of Livestock has confirmed several new cases of West Nile virus in Montana horses over the past week.

Adriana Toural

A Cuban historic preservation expert and journalist is in Montana this week, speaking about the effort to restore historic buildings in Havana.

AG blasts proposed BLM 'fracking' regulations

Aug 30, 2013

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox is formally protesting new proposed ‘fracking’ regulations from the Bureau of Land Management. He signed a letter last Friday to U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell along with four other Attorneys General—from Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma and West Virginia expressing strong objections to these new hydraulic fracturing rules being considered by the BLM.

The largest union of Montana University System employees announced this week a bargain has been reached with the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education over pay raises for the next two years.

The Montana Public Employees Association represents nearly 1700 ‘classified employees’ of the university system. Executive Director Quinton Nyman said the tentative agreement includes the following raises:

·        Effective Oct. 1, 2013: all MPEA bargaining unit members will receive a 46-cent per hour base pay raise.

CSKT Wildlife Program

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are calling their Trumpeter Swan reintroduction program a success. The Tribes have been releasing swans bred in captivity since 2002 on the Flathead Reservation in the Mission Valley.

Wildlife Program Manager for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Dale Becker says the swans were historically hunted for food and for marketable goods.

The population was wiped out. The Tribes have released 239 swans since 2002. They count 87 successful nesting attempts with 146 fledgling cygnets since the releases started.

The History Press

Beer lovers have no shortage of choice in Montana.

Institute of Tourism and Recreation Research

Most people visiting Montana - and who chose to participate in a recent survey - seem to have overwhelmingly positive comments about their experience here.

Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica Lindeen clarified Tuesday that workers who will be helping citizens enroll in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) must follow the same state privacy laws as insurance companies.

Community Health Centers are a health care option for those without insurance. Many of these Centers are taking a lead role in signing people up for insurance through the state health exchanges starting in March.     In Libby, the Northwest Community Health Center has expanded in the past few years, with plans to continue to grow to meet the ongoing demand. Executive Director Maria Clemons said they served nearly 2000 patients in 2003. By 2012 that number jumped to more than 6,000.

Sally Mauk

Five homes have been lost in the Lolo Creek Complex fire but hundreds more were saved when firefighters managed to stop the fire's progress along Highway 12 and eastward toward Sleeman Gulch.


The Department of Interior has recently published a report citing some flaws in how the federal government manages coal leases. The June report from the Office of Inspector says the government is at risk of not getting the full value for the coal it sells.

A nonprofit environmental group, The Northern Plains Resource Council, believes this is especially true for coal in Montana and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. The group thinks the federal government should be getting a lot more money for that coal.

Thomas Kempton

Firefighters from around the country are helping fight the Lolo Creek Complex fire west of Lolo, and some, like New York City assistant fire chief Ron Spadafora are there to learn more about how fires are fought in the West.

Sally Mauk

Firefighters on the ground and from the air continue to wage what they're calling "a slugfest" on the north edge of the Lolo Creek Complex fire.

Highway 12 has been reopened to all traffic and the evacuation order for all residents along and off the highway has been lifted. Those residents however remain under an evacuation warning because of the nearby Lolo Creek Complex fire. There is a 45 mph speed limit from mile marker 20 to mile marker 32 on Highway 12 and motorists should be alert for fire traffic.

Sally Mauk

Lolo Creek Complex fire incident commander Greg Poncin says crews are making excellent progress and if that continues over the next 24 hours, Highway 12 may reopen and evacuees may be allowed to return home - but not before tomorrow at the earliest.

In an extensive interview this afternoon with News Director Sally Mauk, Poncin said up to a tenth of an inch of rain fell on parts of the fire early this morning, and crews have made great progress.


Officials with the Lewis & Clark City-County Health Department report West Nile Virus has been detected in eight Montana counties so far this Summer:

·        Blaine

·        Cascade

·        Hill

·        Lewis & Clark

·        Phillips

·        Prairie

·        Sheridan

·        Teton

Sally Mauk

Cooler temperatures and some rain showers (!)  are helping firefighters corral the Lolo Creek Complex fire, which was 30 percent contained as of this morning. Over 650 firefighters from around the country are now working the fire that has destroyed five homes, displaced hundreds of residents, and closed Highway 12 from Lolo to Graves Creek. Here are some of the images of the fire's destruction, and the firefighters working hard to keep it from doing more.....

Katrin Frye

Right now people living with Asbestos related diseases contracted from the W-R Grace mine in Libby and living in Flathead or Lincoln Counties receive additional Medicare benefits. These benefits include compensation for medical-related travel expenses and medicine not traditionally covered through Medicare.

But, if they now live outside of Lincoln or Flathead Counties, those benefits are not available.

Dan Boyce

US Sen. Max Baucus hashed out ideas for federal tax reform Wednesday with a council of Montanans representing a number of different industries. The Democratic leader of the powerful Senate Finance Committee is making broad tax overhaul a major priority before leaving office in 2014.

The federal tax code has not been overhauled since 1986. Baucus said about 15,000 changes have been made to the code since that time, making it overly-complex and causing the US to lose some of its competitive edge in a global marketplace.

Sally Mauk

MTPR News Director Sally Mauk was given a tour of the Lolo Creek Complex today.  Here are  few shots she's sent back to us...

Sally Mauk

At Lolo Elementary School lower gymnasium at 8 pm.

From the Montana Department of Transportation, this is an alert for travelers on US-12 south of Missoula between Lolo and the Idaho State Line on Thursday August 22, 2013 at 11:00 am

The road is closed from Graves Creek at milepost 16 to the junction with US 93 at Lolo due to wildfires. The duration of the closure is unknown at this time.

Sally Mauk

The Type One Incident Command team now in charge of the Lolo Creek Complex fire are the best in the business - assigned to only the top priority fires in the country. Yesterday they briefed Governor Steve Bullock and Senator Jon Tester on their plan of attack, which includes contingency plans for burnouts if the fire continues its push toward homes in Sleeman Gulch and the town of Lolo. They're hoping the weather - and heavy retardant drops on the eastern flank of the fire - will make those burnouts unnecessary.

Montana schools are improving school lunches at one of the fastest rates in the nation.

The US Department of Agriculture says Montana is one of six states where 98 percent of schools or more are meeting new meal standards set by the federal government.

In this feature interview, Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce speaks with USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon about the intent of these major revisions.