Better weather conditions help some Montana firefighters
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Light rain dampened some wildfires in far western Montana, while other fires closer to the central part of the state continued to spread and threaten rural residences.
After most fires grew on Saturday because of warm, windy conditions, Sunday’s weather brought at least cooler temperatures across the state.
Rain fell on a fire burning south of Libby, allowing fire managers to lift an evacuation order issued Saturday for 28 rural residences outside the town.
Rain also calmed fires burning in Mineral and Missoula counties that had destroyed five Forest Service structures earlier.
On the Blackfeet Reservation, no rain fell on a wildfire that forced the evacuation of the community of Heart Butte. In fact, officials recommended Sunday that some rural ranches leave.
Demand for nurses in Montana remains high
Rising patient numbers combined with a booming need for more care has created growing demand for more nurses in Montana.
The situation has put extra strain on health care facilities across the state as they seek to fill the need for nurses.
Casey Blumenthal, of the Montana Hospital Association, tells The Billings Gazette that the nurse shortage is particularly a problem in smaller towns.
Montana’s growing demand is in line with national trends.
But some help may be on the way in the form of new programs designed to seek out, educate, train and retain qualified health care workers.
Man who oversees $16.5B in investments for Montana retiring
(Information in the following story is from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com)
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — About 125 people have applied to replace the outgoing chief investment officer for the Montana Board of Investments.
Clifford Sheets told the Independent Record he plans to retire in October, after 10 years. He guided the state’s investments through The Great Recession, during which Montana’s investments posted a 20.7 percent loss and the pension assets bottomed out at $5.4 billion in February 2009.
Sheets currently oversees about $16.5 billion in assets being invested on behalf of the state of Montana, including just over $10 billion in eight state pension plans that cover 40,000 Montanans.
When Sheets started in 2005, the return on Montana’s public pension plans ranked in the bottom fourth of all equivalent plans in the country. Now Montana’s returns rank in the top 25 percent.
Lame Deer woman identified as hit, run victim
(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)
LAME DEER, Mont. (AP) — A 34-year-old woman has been identified as the pedestrian killed when a vehicle failed to stop at a stop sign in Lame Deer.
Montana Highway Patrol trooper Richard Drake says Daisy Rowland, of Lame Deer, was struck Thursday by a vehicle traveling south on Highway 212 that failed to stop at the intersection with Highway 39.
The vehicle fled the scene.
A pastoral minister tells The Billings Gazette that a woman has come forward to police and said she was riding in the car when it struck Rowland.
Law enforcement was trying to locate the driver
Former newspaper employee charged with stealing change
(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A former contractor for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle is charged with stealing about $6,700 in change from newspaper racks from February through April.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports Lloyd Douglas Walters has pleaded not guilty to felony theft.
Prosecutors say Walters’ contract to fill up the newspaper racks and collect the change was terminated in February.
In late April, Chronicle employees suspected that Walter had been taking money from the racks. The newspaper changed the locks on the racks, but they used old locks and prosecutors say Walters may have kept some old keys.
Court records say that witnesses reported seeing Walters take money from two newspaper racks on April 28 and that Chronicle employees used their phones to shoot video of him taking money from other racks.