Edward O'Brien

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: Joel Sartore, National Geographic and Wade Fredenberg USFWS

The leader of a Montana conservation group says it’s prepared to file an eleventh lawsuit if the federal government doesn’t change its bull trout recovery plan.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies has successfully sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over bull trout recovery ten times in the past.

Bull trout are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in the lower 48.

Dan Boyce

The chairman of the agency that regulates Montana's public utilities says he supports Northwestern Energy's $870-million-dollar proposal to purchase 11 hydroelectric dams from PPL Montana.

The PSC board is scheduled to cast a vote on the purchase tomorrow.

Public Service Commission Chairman Bill Gallagher says there's … risk... associated with an acquisition of this size, but adds the potential benefits are substantial.  

Gallagher says not only would the purchase stabilize rates but bring diversity to power production in Montana:

MCPS

Missoula County Public School officials have suspended Sentinel High School principal Tom Blakely and Vice Principal Libby Oliver.

The unusual move comes barely a full week into the start of the 2014 school year.

Edward O'Brien spoke with M-C-P-S spokeswoman Hatton Littman to find out more.
 

Scott Davidson (CC-BY-2.0)

Montana Highway Patrol officers who cover Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli and Sanders Counties took 13 drunk drivers off the road during the week leading up to Labor Day weekend.

Edward O'Brien

The Missoula County Sheriff’s/Coroner’s Office has identified the victim in yesterday's FoxClub Cabaret shooting as 23-year-old Christopher Michael Hymel, of Louisiana.

A sheriff's department press release says: "The cause of death was due to a single gunshot wound to the chest by manner of homicide."

It's September 1st and that means another school year's underway.

Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Denise Juneau, has kicked off a series of back to school visits which she'll continue over the course of the next several weeks.
Juneau says she enjoys meeting with faculty and administrators  - and especially students - to figure out what's working in our schools and what could use some improvement.

Edward O'Brien

An early morning dispute in the parking lot of a Missoula strip club has left one man dead. Police officers responded to a report of a shooting incident at the FoxClub Cabaret at 2006 Ernest Avenue at about 1:15 this morning. Sergeant Travis Welsh says they found a 23-year-old man suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. Another 27-year-old man identified himself as the shooter and immediately surrendered himself and his weapon to officers.  Welsh says the man continues to cooperate with police and other witnesses are being interviewed.

Josh Burnham

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Curtis was in Missoula yesterday presenting a six-point-plan that she says would help Montanans struggling with student debt.

After her prepared remarks, Curtis spoke with Edward O'Brien about a few topics including conservative criticism of her family's association with an organization some say has radical leanings.
First though, Curtis offers her assessment of the campaign-building effort:

Marilyn Bruya

Earlier this week we told you about the passing - the death (he HATED euphemisms) - of University of Montana Professor of Drama Emeritus, Bill Raoul.*

Thanks to our friends at the UM School of Theatre & Dance we can now pass along details of his memorial service:

Tanya Chapple

The Associated Press reports a California man who went missing while traveling from his summer job in Idaho to the University of Montana died in a car crash northeast of Boise.

Josh Burnham

Democratic U.S Senate candidate Amanda Curtis presented a six-point plan today that she says would help Montanans who are struggling with student debt.

The high school math teacher from Butte visited the University of Montana's mountain campus in Missoula to outline the plan she says would serve as an investment in students.

Curtis told the crowd of about 30 people that rising student loan debt has become an economic crisis that's deterring young people from furthering their education and saddling graduates with insurmountable debt.

Montana Repertory Theatre

University of Montana Professor of Drama Emeritus, Bill Raoul, was not only a loved instructor, but a respected professional set designer who published several textbooks on the topic.

Bill's knowledge and love of opera and classical music was second to none. In fact, he researched, wrote and anchored several classical music programs for Montana Public Radio.

And that sense of humor! Bill was a wickedly funny man; but woe to those on the receiving end of his ribbing. No one - no topic - was too sacred to be spared from his quick (and at at times, ferocious) wit.

Gorgeous weather, right?!

Enjoy it now, because today's  National Weather Service weather discussion for western Montana includes this interesting nugget:

Edward O'Brien

A new report asserts Montana's minimum wage of $7.80 an hour isn't nearly enough to cover day-to-day needs, much less student loans, credit card and medical debt.

In fact, the "Families Out of Balance" report maintains a minimum wage is barely over half of what a single adult needs to make ends meet.

The report, released today by the Montana Organizing Project in conjunction with the Alliance for a Just Society says a "living wage" would help working families transition from debt to stability.

Tanya Chapple

Lucius Robbi has been missing since Wednesday 8/20/14.  He planned to travel from Banks, ID to Missoula to start school at the University of Montana.

Law enforcement, family and friends are looking for him. 

Robbi's blue green Subaru station wagon with two orange kayaks on top was spotted on route 75 on Tuesday. Family members say he most likely headed north on route 93 and may have taken a dirt road detour to Panther Creek. His license plate is CA 6CC P540.

Robbi was supposed to arrive in Missoula this past Wednesday, but did not arrive as planned.

Edward O'Brien

University of Montana President Royce Engstrom presented the annual "State of the University" address today.

As firefighters scrambled to tackle a new fire in Lewis and Clark County, fire crews working the 1,060-acre Seepay west of Dixon are now starting to demobilize.

That lightning-caused fire was first reported on August 13th. It's been fought by over 200 people and is under the jurisdiction of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes.

Public information officer, Bob MacGregor, says the original plan was to have Incident Commander Diane Hutton's Type II fire management team turn the effort over to a tribal Type III team:

stateparks.mt.gov

The 7-year-old girl who was injured this weekend at Wild Horse Island State Park was hand-feeding fruit to one of the wild horses.

The young lady should be fine. Fish, Wildlife & Parks Warden Brian Schwartz says she was treated at Polson's St. Joseph Medical Center and has been released.

According to FWP Investigator Brian Sommers,  it appears that one of the horses struck the girl in the back with a hoof, knocking her to the ground.  She sustained a bruise to her back and abrasions on her face as a result of the incident.  The investigation continues. 

Edward O'Brien

A report of an explosive device drew the Missoula police and fire departments as well as the local bomb squad this afternoon to a home near Playfair park .

Police Detective Sergeant Jim Klawitter says the incident at 919 Spartan Drive started at about 3:00:

 "Officers arrived and saw what they thought could be a pipe-bomb (and) called for the bomb-disposal team. We obtained a search warrant and they used the robot to move a suspected pipe bomb and destroy it.

flickr user terkel110 (CC-BY-2.0)

A family is mourning the loss of their little girl after a terrible accident this weekend in Yellowstone National Park.

Park spokesman, Al Nash says the accident occurred yesterday morning in Yellowstone's Grand Canyon area:

State of Montana

Three legislative candidates and two candidates for county commissions will be removed from the November fourth  ballot after they failed to file campaign finance reports.

Edward O'Brien has more with Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, Jonathan Motl, who explains how - and why - the investigation started:

Josh Burnham (CC-BY)

The soaking rain that fell in parts of Western Montana dramatically cooled temperatures yesterday and came as welcome respite from the very hot and dry conditions of the past few weeks.

Fire officials, however, caution the rain by no means qualifies as a "season-ending" event.
       Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation's Jordan Koppen says the rain storm that parked over the Missoula valley yesterday was great to see:
      

KRMC

Kalispell Regional Medical Center's emergency department was built in the mid 70's, last expanded in 1991 and now, officials say, is in desperate need of a $14-million-dollar renovation.
     Kalispell Regional Healthcare Foundation president, Tagen Vine, says the emergency department records about 23,000 patient visits annually.

8/05/14, 2:20 p.m.
Colorado Gulch Fire update: Fire officials with the Lolo National Forest say the Colorado Gulch fire, located just northwest of Missoula in the Grant Creek Valley, has been contained. The fire started at approximately 4 p.m. Monday and a combination of ground crews and water dropped from helicopters limited the fire to 2 1/2 acres. No structures have been damaged.
 

NIAID

Presidents from the West African countries hit by the Ebola outbreak are meeting with world health leaders to come up with ways to stop the spread of the deadly disease.
 

There are 5 different strains of Ebola and the one responsible for the current outbreak has a 70 to 90-percent fatality rate. 

The World Health Organization is launching a new joint $100-million-dollar response plan to the outbreak that's killed at least 729 people in four countries.

Scott Davidson (CC-BY-2.0)

Law enforcement officers from Montana and 14 other states are stepping-up patrols of over 56-hundred miles of highway for the next several days.

I-90 and I-94 are two of the nation's most highly-traveled and dangerous interstates.

From August first through the fourth over the past three years, I-90/94 averages:

Charting the Path of the Deadly Ebola Virus in Central Africa. PLoS Biol 3/11/2005: e403 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030403 (CC-BY-2.5)

An important part of the global effort to develop a vaccine for the deadly Ebola virus is taking place at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in western Montana's Bitterroot Valley.

A specific strain of Ebola has so far killed over 670 people in West Africa.

Death by Ebola is a terrible fate that starts with unremarkable symptoms; fever, sore throat, chills and muscle aches.

Northwestern Energy

The Montana Public Service Commission earlier this month held two weeks of hearings on Northwestern Energy's proposal to pay $870-million-dollars to purchase a dozen hydroelectric dams.

Rob Saldin

The Walsh campaign began yesterday by touting a new poll showing Walsh gaining ground against his Republican opponent, Steve Daines in the U.S. Senate race. By the afternoon, Walsh was facing serious allegations of plagiarism that University of Montana Associate Professor of Political Science Rob Saldin says "totally undermines his credibility."

Professor Saldin, has been following the Walsh plagiarism story and visited with Edward O'Brien today about the latest developments.

 

MT DoJ

The Department of Homeland Security has granted Montana an extension to comply with stringent federal driver's license rules under the REAL ID Act.

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