Butte man who inspired Our Lady of the Rockies has died
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — A man whose gratitude for his wife’s recovery from a serious illness inspired the creation of a 90-foot statue of the Virgin Mary on the Continental Divide overlooking Butte has died.
Family members said Bob O’Bill died Sunday in Great Falls, where he had been hospitalized since Friday. He was 83.
O’Bill originally envisioned a 5-foot statute to thank God for his wife’s recovery in 1979. His enthusiasm and the work and contributions of many others led to the much larger project being installed on the mountain a week before Christmas in 1985. Our Lady of the Rockies is lighted at night.
O’Bill was a U.S. Navy veteran and retired electrician who volunteered time at the Butte Emergency Food Bank.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joyce; two daughters, a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter.
Coroner identifies couple in Butte murder-suicide
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Butte-Silver Bow County officials have released the names of a husband and wife that died in a murder-suicide.
Sheriff Ed Lester says 41-year-old Keith Peck called 911 on Monday morning to report he had shot his wife. When officers arrived, they found both of them dead.
Coroner Lee LaBreche says 36-year-old Amanda Peck died of a gunshot wound to the torso while Keith Peck died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Officers said a high-powered rifle was used in the shootings.
Fish kill in Montana river estimated at more than 10,000
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — State wildlife officials say the death toll of whitefish in the Yellowstone River could be much higher than what’s already been counted.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks had counted about 1,000 dead fish as of Monday. But agency spokeswoman Andrea Jones says there could be more than 10,000 dead fish, as some may have sunk to the bottom or been eaten by scavengers.
The mountain whitefish, which is a native species to Montana, have been found dead on both the river’s east and west banks.
Officials are still working to determine what’s been causing the die-off.
Kristi Ponozzo with the Montana Department of Water Quality says fish samples have been sent to a lab for testing and results are expected in coming weeks.
Panel votes against judicial redistricting proposals
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A state commission won’t recommend re-drawing any of the state’s judicial districts as a way to ease the Montana court system’s growing caseloads.
The Judicial Redistricting Commission on Tuesday approved its final report to the state Legislature. The panel considered and rejected six proposals to re-shape the state’s 22 judicial districts.
The commission determined that redistricting is not necessary and is not the appropriate way to address the need for more judges.
In all, 46 district judges now handle more than 56,000 cases. The commission report says models found six districts need at least one additional judge.
Court officials say it would cost about $250,000 a year to add one new district judge.
The seven-member commission is made up of judges, legislators, county officials and an attorney.
Montana lawmakers craft measures to deal with plant closure
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — If some Montana lawmakers have their way, shutting down two of the Colstrip power plant’s four coal-fired units won’t be cheap for the plant’s owners.
The Energy and Telecommunications Interim Committee has drafted seven bills that would impose millions of dollars in fees on Colstrip’s owners for 10 years following the units’ closure.
The proposed legislation also would raise taxes on all electricity producers in Montana to pay for grants to communities that lose natural resource jobs. The bill package also requires the state Department of Environmental Quality’s approval of any decommissioning and remediation plans for coal-fired plants.
The two older Colstrip units’ closure by 2022 is required in a legal settlement filed last month.
The committee will decide next month whether to file the bills for the 2017 legislative session.
Attorney General Tim Fox wants to hear from crime victims
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s attorney general is giving victims of crime a platform to share their experiences with the criminal justice system.
The Billings Gazette reports that Attorney General Tim Fox is hosting a crime victims forum Thursday in Billings.
A news release from Fox’s office says victims will be able to discuss their personal experiences with the justice system and how they were treated by law enforcement and prosecutors. They will also have an opportunity to tell officials what changes could be made to improve the system.
Fox will be at the forum along with Montana Department of Justice officials, local law enforcement agencies and victim advocates.