MTPR

Edward O'Brien

News

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

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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.

U.S. Congressman-Elect Greg Gianforte
Bree Zender

Reactions to Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte being charged with misdemeanor assault last night for allegedly attacking newspaper reporter Ben Jacobs is rolling in.

At 10 a.m., Republican Senator Steve Daines tweeted “Greg Gianforte needs to apologize.”

Sen. Jon Tester
U.S. Senate

The U.S. Department of Education will now reconsider the University of Montana’s grant application for a low-income college prep program.

UM’s application for Upward Bound requested just under $2 million to fund the program for 75 students from this year through 2022. But it was rejected because of a technicality; one page was single-spaced, instead of double-spaced.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is updating the bison range’s comprehensive conservation plan and accompanying environmental impact statement.
(PD)

Two federal scoping meetings are scheduled to help shape future management options for the National Bison Range at Moiese. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is updating the bison range’s comprehensive conservation plan and accompanying environmental impact statement. 

Hundreds of first responders, friends and family attended a memorial service Tuesday for Broadwater County Sheriff’s Deputy Mason Moore in Belgrade.
Courtesy Broadwater County Sheriff's Department

Hundreds of first responders, friends and family attended a memorial service Tuesday for Broadwater County Sheriff’s Deputy Mason Moore in Belgrade. Moore was fatally shot May 16 after what started as a routine traffic stop.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
PD

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told Congress this week that American farmers are facing plenty of challenges and deep uncertainty.

“Our farm economy is down by about a 50-percent drop in net income from where it was in 2013 as you all were contemplating the ’14 Farm Bill" Perdue says. "We’ve got several members who – particularly younger farmers – have levered up in this situation where their revenue is not supporting their debt structure and they’re in some dire straits.” 

Gold Butterfly Project vicinity map.
Bitterroot National Forest

The Bitterroot National Forest is holding an open house this evening to get public input on a project aimed at reducing wildfire risk near Corvallis.

"We have mature stands of timber that are kind of reaching the end of their lifespan. They just need a little thinning to encourage additional growth or to reduce the risk of future insect and disease outbreaks and to improve their health and vitality,” says Gold Butterfly Project Team Leader Marilyn Wildey.

Broadwater County sheriff’s deputy Mason Moore was shot and killed on the morning of May 16 near Three Forks.
Broadwater County Sherrif's Dept.

A Montana sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed during an early morning traffic stop Tuesday.

Broadwater County sheriff’s deputy Mason Moore was shot and killed Tuesday morning near Three Forks. Two Belgrade men — a father and a son — are being held after a shootout with police.

Matthew Monforton
Montana Legislature

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday turned away challenges to open primaries in Hawaii and Montana.

Bozeman attorney Matthew Monforton, who served as a Republican Legislator in 2015, concedes this is the end of the line for Montanans who support closed primaries:

2015 photo of the female wolf from Yellowstone's Canyon pack. The wolf was found mortally wounded from a gunshot on April 11 near Gardiner, MT.
Jim Peaco - Yellowstone National Park (PD)

The investigation continues into the shooting of a wolf that was popular with Yellowstone National Park tourists.

Yellowstone spokeswoman Morgan Warthin says hikers discovered the mortally wounded wolf on April 11:

Last September China announced it was ending its ban on U.S. beef imports after a 2003 Mad Cow scare in Washington State.
(PD)

Montana beef producers say they can’t wait to regain access to the enormous Chinese market after a 13-year hiatus.

The Montana Stockgrowers Association’s Errol Rice says today’s announcement that China will resume U.S. beef imports by mid-July is great news:

Methane flaring.
WildEarth Guardians (CC-BY-ND-ND-2)

The U.S. Senate could not muster enough votes Wednesday to undo rules designed to reduce methane pollution.

Senators voted 51-49 Wednesday against an attempt to eliminate an Obama-era rule to limit methane emissions from oil and gas production facilities on federal and tribal lands.

Sen. Jon Tester.
PD

Montana’s senior U.S. senator is calling for a special investigator to look into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

C.R. Anderson Middle School in Helena is closed temporarily due to fire damage.
Dan Boyce

It’s a short school week for students at a Helena middle school that was damaged by a fire Monday afternoon.

Classes were canceled today at C.R. Anderson Middle School and won’t resume until Thursday at the earliest. 

Michael Cotter, former U.S. attorney for the district of Montana.
U.S. Department of Justice

Montana’s been without a permanent U.S. Attorney for almost two straight months. Back on March 10, President Donald Trump fired all 46 of the country’s remaining U.S. Attorneys who had been appointed by Barack Obama.

Montana’s Mike Cotter was one of them.

Marchers, including Sen. Steve Daines, in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Walk in Lame Deer, Montana May 5, 2017.
Courtesy Sen. Steve Daines

U.S. Justice Department data shows Native women are 10 times as likely to be murdered as other Americans. They’re four times as likely to be raped or sexually assaulted.

“It is a human tragedy and it's also a stain on these United States; on the consciousness of this country that allows this to continue to happen,” says Jacqueline Agtuca with the Lame Deer-based National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.

Democratic candidate for U.S. House Rob Quist rallies supporters at the University of Montana Thursday, April 27.
Josh Burnham

Rob Quist has been rallying college students in Bozeman and Missoula this week.

The Democratic candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat was in Bozeman Sunday and Wednesday, and Missoula Thursday. The spring semester at MSU ends May 5, and at UM, May 12, that’s well before in-person voting day in the special election which is May 25.

A recent informal survey of Missoula parents highlights some of the biggest ongoing local childcare needs and challenges.
(PD)

Affordable and easily accessible childcare is just as elusive in Montana as it is everywhere else in America. At a luncheon Tuesday, a Missoula County group called Healthy Start Missoula that’s supported by a federal grant laid out the challenges and offered one potential private-sector solution.

Healthy Start Coordinator, Anna Semple, says parents now have precious few infant childcare options:

The U.S Senate Monday confirmed Sonny Perdue as secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture . USDA oversees ag and forest policies directly affecting rural states like Montana.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

President Trump signed a bill today to temporarily extend a troubled program designed to allow veterans to get medical care in the private sector.

A Whitefish woman is suing the publisher of a neo-Nazi website for orchestrating an online anti-Semitic campaign against her family.

Tanya Gersh says Andrew Anglin used his Daily Stormer website, which uses a mailing address in Worthington, Ohio, to encourage readers to target her family with a barrage of online harassment:

Sen. Daines hand-carried four Montana steaks and a photo of Fred Wacker of Miles City and his cows to China and presented them to Premier Li Keqiang to underscore the importance of opening Chinese markets to U.S. beef imports.
Courtesy Senator Daines

U.S. Senator Steve Daines says he thinks American beef is almost back on the menu in China.

"We’re now engaged at the highest levels in their government and telling them this is a very important issue for the United States," Daines says.

University of Montana's Main Hall
Josh Burnham

The University of Montana this week unveiled the first draft of its new, long-range strategic vision.

The plan is designed to show how UM distinguishes itself from other regional and national campuses. It does that in a number of ways, including reexamining its core curriculum and its relationships with faculty, staff and students.

Lee Enterprises, which owns the Missoulian newspaper and several other papers in Montana, announced Thursday it’s purchased the Missoula Independent. The sale price was not disclosed.

The Independent, a weekly alternative paper, was founded in 1991 and is distributed at almost 500 locations in Missoula, Ravalli and Lake counties. Lee operates papers in 21 states and is estimated to reach almost 3 million readers in print alone.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana
The American Civil Liberties Union of Montana

The American Civil Liberties Union sued Cascade County Wednesday for allegedly failing to comply with several Freedom of Information Act requests.

ACLU of Montana’s Legal Director has had it with Cascade County:

Smurfit-Stone Container mill outside Frenchtown, Montana.
Djembayz (CC-BY-SA-3)

The EPA gave an update Tuesday on their ongoing investigation of pollution levels at the now-defunct Smurfit-Stone pulp and paper mill just west of Missoula.

There’s still a lot to figure out at the former Smurfit-Stone mill in Frenchtown.

The plant that operated on the 3,200 acre site for over 50 years just downstream of Missoula on the Clark Fork River used all kind of hazardous chemicals.

Western Montana sub-basin snow water equivalent.
USDA NRCS

Most of Montana’s high elevation snowpack is looking good. Montana entered April on relatively steady footing when it comes to our snowpack levels. The latest water supply outlook from the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bozeman notes new snowfall bolstered snowpack during March’s first two weeks.

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