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Edward O'Brien

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Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.

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Left to Right: Clinical social worker Andy Laue; First Step social worker MC Jenni; Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst; Missoula Deputy County Attorney Brittany Williams; Missoula Deputy County Attorney Jordan Kilby
Edward O'Brien

Missoula’s County Attorney says helping victims of violent crime is deeply rewarding work.

But Kirsten Pabst adds there’s also a dark side to the job that’s not talked about enough.

“Prosecutors have a really high incidence of turnover, burnout and a really high incidence of suicide," Pabst says. "What we’re learning now, finally, is that doing this kind of work, which is good work and helping real people, isn’t sustainable unless you take care of it and process the trauma that we’re exposed to every day.” 

Interim Indian Health Service Director Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee
YouTube

Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester wants to know how the Trump administration’s proposed 2018 federal budget will affect the Indian Health Service.

So, on Wednesday Tester turned to the troubled agency’s new acting director, Rear Admiral Michael Weahkee for answers.

It didn’t go well.

Weahkee could not explain how much money IHS is billing Medicaid to help keep the agency running.

inciweb

A mixed bag of news today from the July fire burning south of the Fort Belknap Reservation in Phillips County. 

Old Faithful Geyser
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park took to Facebook today to tamp down ongoing speculation that a cataclysmic seismic event is imminent.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to streamline the process for oil and gas development on federal lands. Zinke signed an order Thursday mandating Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease sales be held in each state on at least a quarterly basis.

Zinke noted during a telephone press conference that under the Obama administration BLM fell far short of that legally-mandated limit.

Missoula County’s fire danger bumped up a notch Monday from "moderate" to "high."
U.S. Forest Service

Missoula County’s fire danger bumped up a notch Monday from "moderate" to "high."

A strong high pressure system has parked itself over Montana which will lead to some of the hottest, driest conditions seen so far this year. It’s already really hot and Montana’s forest fuels are getting dry and crunchy.

Several lawsuits were filed Friday against the U.S. government's decision to lift protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park area.
(PD)

Several lawsuits were filed Friday against the U.S. government's decision to lift protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone National Park area. Some of the groups involved include the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, The Humane Society and Earthjustice.
 
Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso says there’s been a recent spike in local grizzly bear deaths.

Preparations are underway for a fuels reduction project in western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. The Westside Vegetation Management Project and timber sale will take place between Lost Horse and Roaring Lion creeks on the valley’s west side.

“We’ll be doing some thinning, and those logs will be taken to a sawmill somewhere," says Darby District Ranger Eric Winthers. "There’s about 5 million board feet coming out of there – about 680 truckloads total."

Sen. Steve Daines during a June 28 telephone town hall meeting on healthcare.
Courtesy Steve Daines.

Senator Steve Daines says he wants to hear from Montanans before deciding how he’ll vote on the Republican health care proposal currently stalled in the U.S. Senate.

And hear from them, Daines did Wednesday night during his 17th live healthcare tele-town hall meeting.

Daines faced an earnest and sometimes feisty series of questions from Montanans trying to make sense of the complicated healthcare debate:

Greg Gianforte during his swearing in to the U.S. House, Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
CSPAN

Congressman Greg Gianforte has been assigned to serve on two congressional committees — one focused on natural resources, and the other on government oversight. Republican Greg Gianforte announced his committee assignments on Wednesday.

As a member of the House Natural Resources Committee, Gianforte will help craft policy on a wide range of topics, including public lands, mining, wildlife and Indian country.

Trump Administration Working To Roll-Back Water Pollution Regulations
(PD)

The Trump Administration is moving to roll back an Obama-era policy that was designed to protect over half the nation’s streams from pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday, outlined the process to unravel the 2015 rule defining which small waterways are covered under the Clean Water Act.

Senate Republicans issued a revised version of their health care bill Monday.

The U.S. Senate’s original health care bill released last week did not penalize anyone who let their insurance lapse. Under the new package introduced Monday, anyone lacking coverage for at least 63 days in the past year and who then buys a policy would face a six-month delay before it takes effect. 

Montana Republican Senator Steve Daines says the Senate’s draft bill needed that kind of incentive:

Sen. Steve Daines.
Courtesy photo

Montana’s Republican U.S. Senator says that while he has not yet decided if he’ll support the Senate health care bill, one issue would be deal breaker for him.

As written, the Senate health care bill de-funds Planned Parenthood for one year.

And that’s just fine with Montana’s Republican and pro-life U.S. Senator Steve Daines:        

Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in central Montana
BLM (PD)

A new survey suggests broad support for central Montana’s Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.

The poll comes after an April executive order from President Trump ordering a review of some two dozen national monuments designated since 1996.

Tanker 10 on fire duty.
Courtesy Neptune Aviation/Dan Stijovich

Neptune Aviation’s red-tailed Tanker 10 flew hundreds of firefighting missions all over the United States. Tuesday it embarked on its final mission: being placed at the entrance of the Missoula International Airport to greet incoming passengers.

Neptune CEO Ron Hooper says it’s an honor to have that twin-propeller aircraft in such a prominent place:

Representatives of state and federal environmental agencies will give an update on the polluted Smurfit-Stone mill near Frenchtown Tuesday, June 20 at 6:00 p.m. at the fire hall in Frenchtown.

USDA photo by Keith Weller

Montana cattle producers say they’re now a big step closer to getting their beef back into the potentially lucrative Chinese market. American beef has been locked out of China ever since a 2003 Mad Cow Disease scare in Washington State.

Gianforte looks back at Jacobs in Gallatin County Justice Court
Louise Johns

The new chairwoman of the Montana Republican Party says it’s now time to let Congressman-elect Greg Gianforte get to work.

Republican Greg Gianforte won Montana’s special election May 25, 2017.
Rowebotz (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

A University of Montana law professor thinks Greg Gianforte’s likely court appearance Monday morning for assaulting a reporter was probably not the congressman-elect’s main legal worry.

Gianforte talks with Brian Friess of Kalispell during a campaign stop in Columbia Falls, Montana Nov. 4, 2016.
Nicky Ouellet

Greg Gianforte now has five more chances to appear in court to face a misdemeanor assault charge.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle court reporter Whitney Bermes says Justice of the Peace Rick West today granted the extension request filed yesterday by Gianforte’s defense team.

Senator Daines Urged To Protect Medicaid

Jun 6, 2017
Naomi Gerheim spoke at the event Tuesday
Edward O'Brien

About fifty people gathered Tuesday at the Missoula office of Montana Senator Steve Daines. Their message was loud and clear.

The Environmental Protection Agency designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site in September 2016.
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new chief wants to prioritize and streamline the nation’s major Superfund cleanups. And that makes at least one watchdog organization nervous. EPA chief Scott Pruitt says America’s Superfund cleanups take too long to start and too long to finish.

Montana scientists gather in Missoula next week to discuss how climate change is affecting the state.

Dave Dittloff of the National Wildlife Federation says the ‘State of Climate Change Science in Montana’ forum will be both informative and alarming.

St. Charles Hall at Carroll College in Helena, MT.
Dngvandaele (CC-BY-SA-4)

The president of Carroll College is leaving to take a new position in Texas. Dr. Thomas Evans assumed the helm of Carroll in 2012.

Carroll is a private, four-year, Catholic college in Helena with an enrollment of nearly 1,500 students.

Scientists measuring the terminus of Grinnell Glacier, in Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park

Montana Governor Steve Bullock describes President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord as, “short sighted and dangerous.”

Bullock, a Democrat, released a statement Thursday saying climate change is real and poses a direct threat to Montana’s way of life and economy.

A major study released Wednesday now says elk – not bison - are the primary source of new brucellosis infections in Greater Yellowstone Area cattle.
Flickr User Ian Sane CC-BY-2.0

A major study released Wednesday now says elk – not bison - are the primary source of new brucellosis infections in Greater Yellowstone Area cattle.

That’s a significant change in thinking from 20 years ago when the scientific community blamed bison for most of the area’s brucellosis transmission cases. 

Montana drought status by county, May 1, 2017.
Montana DNRC

Drought is not expected to be a major factor this year in Montana.

Here’s something Montanans don’t frequently hear this time of year:

“It’s very unusual for most of Montana to be as wet as it is at this point," says National Weather Service Meteorologist Bruce Bauck.

Jeff Mangan is Montana's new commissioner of political practices.
Corin Cates-Carney

Montana’s commissioner of political practices basically serves as the state’s top political cop. The commissioner oversees campaign finance and ethics laws. It’s a complicated, sometimes controversial job.

In this interview with MTPR's Edward O'Brien, Montana’s brand new Political Practices Commissioner Jeff Mangan says he believes most Montanans are glad the position is there:

Mark Wicks was the Libertarian candidate for Montana's U.S. House seat in the 2017 special election.
Courtesy Mark Wicks

The Libertarian in yesterday’s special congressional election says he’s getting accused of being a spoiler candidate.

Mark Wicks posted on Facebook today that some people upset about Republican Greg Gianforte’s election to the U.S House of Representatives are taking out their frustrations on him:

Voters cast ballots at the Missoula County Fairgrounds, May 25, 2017.
Josh Burnham

Last night, the Republican candidate to fill Montana’s vacant U.S. House seat reportedly body-slammed a political reporter from international news outlet The Guardian.

Greg Gianforte was later charged with misdemeanor assault. But did the “body slam” affect how people are voting today? We sent reporters out to Bozeman, Missoula and the Flathead Valley to find out.

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