Christopher Allen

News Anchor, Reporter

Christopher Allen is a news anchor and reporter for MTPR. He can be heard reading evening news most weeknights.

Ways To Connect

Flickr User Ian Sane CC-BY-2.0

Last week, a citizen’s advisory group to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks started fundraising to produce an education campaign in direct response to controversial "crowd-shooting" incidents last November.

Montana has the most tribal colleges in the country, and it’s the only state with one on every reservation. But together, all seven tribal colleges educate hundreds of non-tribal students as well, many of them white students.

Laura John, a tribal analyst with the Montana Budget and Policy Center says non-Tribal student enrollment in tribal colleges is growing.

"The tribal colleges have seen, overall, a 25 percent increase between 2009 and what’s projected for 2016-2017," according to John.

Public Domain

Two mass elk shootings in November and December that angered many in Montana have prompted a hunting group to launch an ethical hunting campaign.

Mike England is with the Bozeman-based Citizens’ Advisory Committee, a public group that gives feedback to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. His says the irresponsible behavior of the hunters who surrounded and shot into elk herds last last year near Helena motivated his group to move from advice to action.

Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.
Cheri Trusler

Attorneys presented their opening arguments today in the city of Missoula’s lawsuit to force the sale of its water utility from current owners, Mountain Water Company and the Carlyle Group. The city filed the suit nearly a year ago, claiming it's in the best interest of Missoulians for the city to operate it instead of a private company.

Josh Burnham

The city of Missoula’s attempt to seize ownership of its water from its current owner will begin in district court tomorrow. The city is suing The Carlyle Group, a global private firm, for ownership of Mountain Water Company.

Gathered in front of the county courthouse Tuesday afternoon, nearly 70 Missoulians sang, spoke and chanted in support of the city's effort.

City Councilman Jason Wiener was quite clear about where he stood on the issue.

Christopher B. Allen

Montana politicians and activists are starting to reach out to the public in new ways, trying to appeal to a younger audience.

In a small apartment, a few blocks from the University of Montana campus, two students prepare to record a video for their YouTube channel. It’s about the latest from the Montana legislature, not exactly a mouse-click magnet for younger viewers. But co-host Lucy Peraino thinks their "Daily Show" style can get their attention.

Nathan Kosted

Governor Steve Bullock’s Medicaid expansion plan gets its first hearing at the state legislature Friday, and that has groups for and against it trying to rally support.

The Koch brothers-funded group Americans For Prosperity, or AFP, unveiled new broadcast ads targeting Montana Republican representatives.

Christopher B. Allen

Markus Kaarma was sentenced to 70 years in prison Thursday for killing a German exchange student in his garage last April.

Before pronouncing sentence, District Judge Ed McLean told a shackled Kaarma he acted like a “hunter” when he purposely left his garage door open that night, not a man defending his family.

Christopher B Allen

A district judge will sentence Markus Kaarma Thursday for the charge of deliberate homicide in the April killing of 17-year-old Diren Dede.

Last December, shackled and wearing an orange prison uniform, Kaarma apologized to the Dede family the day after the verdict was delivered.

“We were so scared. No one was supposed to get hurt or killed. I can’t even imagine the pain you feel," Kaarma said.

USDA

The next generation of Montana farmers might use technologies like Facebook or YouTube to market themselves or learn a skill, but the basics of farming 101 are still the same.

A new federal grant announced this week aims to help younger farmer learn those basics.

Twenty six year old Caroline Stephens only has a few seasons under her belt, but she already knows you need a wide range of skills.

Flickr user Brad Smith (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Some of Montana’s most influential agriculture organizations are lining up to support the Flathead water compact.

Yesterday the Montana Stockgrowers Association said it endorses the compact, which is a negotiated settlement between state and federal government and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Right now, ownership of water on the reservation is disputed, and the compact is an attempt to codify who owns and controls the water without having to go to court.

Christopher B. Allen

The non-profit Nature Conservancy has closed on an $85 million deal, to buy more than 250 square miles from Plum Creek, the nations largest private landowner. The purchase includes a significant portion of the Lower Blackfoot Watershed.

It’s a 117,000 thousand acre stretch located within what’s known as the Crown of the Continent, a portion of the Rocky Mountains extending from northern Montana into Canada.

Christopher Allen

At a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration speech last night in Missoula, a University of Montana professor identified low-income, Native American and other vulnerable communities as the victims of environmental racism and injustice.

Rosalyn LaPier, an environmental studies professor at the University of Montana, gave the keynote address to nearly 300 attendees who packed the pews of St. Paul Lutheran Church.

Christopher Allen

Over 100 veterans met with Montana VA Health Care leaders in Missoula Wednesday night, some to ask, “Why can’t I get care?

The leaders came to Missoula at the direction of VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who’s called for town hall meetings to get feedback from veterans to try to rebuild their trust in the wake of national criticism for long delays in treatment and cover-ups about false scheduling records at VA facilities in Phoenix.

The vets at the meeting in Missoula sounded happy with their VA doctors, but it’s the agency’s bureaucracy that has some frustrated and worried.

Early Head Start programs are coming to Bozeman and Helena for the first time.

The non-profit, AWARE Incorporated will use a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to partner with local child-care agencies to make Early Head Start cheaper for low-income families.

Melinda Wade Corso, Early Childhood Services Director, says infants and toddlers might be too young to read and write, but not to learn to sit quietly in class.

National Weather Service, Missoula, MT

Driving conditions in Western Montana are the worst they’ve been all year. That’s according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Luke Robinson.

“We haven't seen driving conditions like this, probably since last year, so this is pretty bad.”

Robinson says a winter storm warning remains in effect for western Montana through 11:00 a.m. Tuesday.

Montana Department of Transportation crews cleared a wreck involving a semi from Highway 200 near Bonner earlier today.

Christopher B Allen

The parents of slain 17-year-old German exchange student Diren Dede entered a Missoula County courtroom today to applause from an audience, but they expressed only sadness as they gave emotional statements through an interpreter for a judge to consider during Markus Kaarma’s sentencing on February 11.

On Wednesday, a jury found Kaarma guilty of deliberate homicide in the April 27, killing their son.

The 30-year-old Kaarma, who didn't testify during the murder trial, gave a tearful apology to the family.

Christopher B. Allen

MTPR reporter Christopher Allen recaps the Markus Kaarma trial and describes the scene in court when the jury delivered its guilty verdict on deliberate homicide charges.

Christopher B. Allen

At approximately 1:15 p.m. Wednesday the jury in the Markus Kaarma trial returned a unanimous verdict of guilty of the charge of deliberate homicide brought by Missoula County prosecutors.

MTPR's Christopher Allen was at the courthouse and reports "a mix of cries and smiles" in the courtroom after the verdict was read. 

Sentencing is scheduled for February 11.

Christopher B. Allen

Closing arguments finished today in the murder trial of a Missoula man who shot and killed a German exchange student last April.

Markus Kaarma fired a shotgun four times into his garage, killing 17-year-old Diren Dede.

Kaarma’s defense team said he was simply a scared homeowner defending his family against burglars who had already victimized Kaarma twice. Lead defense attorney Paul Ryan said Montana’s Castle Doctrine gives Kaarma special protection.

Senator John Walsh used his last speech on the Senate floor this morning to talk about money in politics, protecting Montana public lands and veteran suicides.

In August, Walsh dropped out of his Senate reelection bid amid a plagiarism scandal.

Walsh said 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

"If this country were losing 22 service members a day on the battlefield, Americans would be in the streets protesting."

On Tuesday, the House unanimously passed a bill to reduce vet suicides, it’s now before the Senate.

Edward O'Brien

Opening arguments began in the Markus Kaarma case today in Missoula. Kaarma’s accused of murdering 17-year-old German exchange student, Diren Dede after the boy entered his garage late on the night of April 27.

The state’s 15-minute opening argument started with Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Clark reenacting a plea from Dede.

“NO NO NO NO PLEASE, that’s what Janelle said Darren was pleading right before he was shot, on April 27th, 2014."

Flickr user Archie McPhee (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Now that a federal judge has struck down Montana’s ban on gay marriage, questions remain about how that affects businesses who object to same-sex marriage for religious or other reasons.

University of Montana Law Professor Anthony Johnstone says civil rights laws that prevent businesses from discriminating against customers don’t include protections for sexual orientation.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox’s appeal of the federal court order striking down the state’s gay marriage ban is due by February 27.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court Appeals will hear the case, and has already ruled similar bans are unconstitutional.

University of Montana Law Professor Anthony Johnstone says Wednesdays’ ruling striking down the gay marriage ban here won’t be final until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issue.

The second year of buying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act starts tomorrow - we've got a couple of stories on that on tonight's Montana Evening Edition. We've also got news from the state capitol, and it turns out a federal judge in Great Falls won't hear arguments challenging Montana's gay marriage ban.

Courtesy of the Defenders of Wildlife

Nearly 2,000 pounds of wild bison lumbered out of a truck and down a ramp yesterday onto a pasture owned by the the Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation as members of the tribe greeted the animals with a song.

Dozens of excited people were there to see workers herd the animals into a 140 acre holding pen. Fort Peck Fish and Game officials said almost 100 bison were unloaded yesterday, with nearly 50 more expected today.

The Democratic party has chosen Jon Tester to lead their campaign efforts for the 2016 election. We’ll also hear from Democrats in the state legislature who are calling for climate change policies, and from folks helping out with the transfer of a herd of former Yellowstone Bison from Ted Turner’s ranch to the Fort Peck Reservation. News about getting Native Americans to buy health insurance, too.

 

Montana FWP is holding public hearings on bison management in the state.
(PD)

A herd of wild bison relocated from Yellowstone National Park arrived at Montana's Fort Peck Indian Reservation today.

The bison were initially captured migrating out of the park, and were kept on media mogul Ted Turner’s ranch for the last five years.

Tommy Christian is a 15-year member of the Assiniboine & Sioux tribal council. He says many tribes, including those he represents on Fort Peck, have a strong relationship with the animals, and have only recently been able to express it since hunters nearly massacred the entire species.

This just in: It’s still really cold. We get a little insight from a meteorologist on that. We’ll also hear what’s new and not-new about buying health insurance in Montana as opening day for healthcare.gov approaches. We also have a story on a new scorecard that ranks Montana cities on their policies regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Forecasters say the current cold snap could break records before things warm back up again. A Kalispell man is charged in a Halloween assault on Whitefish's police chief, and veterans in Missoula and from around Montana talk about what today means to them.

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