Great Falls hospital interested in possible medical school
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Benefis Health System and the Great Falls Development Authority are asking a New Mexico entrepreneur to consider building a private medical school in Great Falls.
The Burrell Group is conducting a feasibility study on a proposed school. It announced last week that it had halted talks about a partnership with Montana State University to open a medical school in Bozeman.
Benefis CEO John Goodnow was named interim president of the medical school during the feasibility study. He says now that negotiations with MSU have been suspended, Great Falls would be crazy not to express interest.
Burrell spokeswoman Joanie Griffin tells the Great Falls Tribune that Great Falls will be considered, but that the group widened its geographical search to include possibly locating the school in Wyoming, Idaho, North Dakota or South Dakota.
Tentative agreement reached in dispute over endangered fish
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife advocates have reached a tentative agreement with the U.S. government in a dispute over an endangered fish in the Yellowstone River along the Montana-North Dakota border.
The case centers on a proposed irrigation dam and fish bypass northeast of Glendive, Montana. Federal officials say it would allow pallid sturgeon to reach upstream spawning grounds that they’ve been unable to access for decades.
A federal judge blocked construction of the $59 million project in September. That came after Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council said there was no proof the fish bypass would work.
Attorneys for the two sides said in a court filing that they plan to finalize by Dec. 30 an agreement that would allow the case to move forward.
Terms were not disclosed.
Donors to dark-money group include media mogul, broker
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Donors to a secretive conservative group accused of breaking Montana’s campaign laws to influence the 2012 elections include a media mogul, a famous investment broker and leaders from the energy industry.
The Montana Growth Network run by former state Sen. Jason Priest was registered as a tax-exempt issue-advocacy group not required to report its spending or donors.
Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl says the group played a significant role in the 2012 state supreme Court election won by former District Judge Laurie McKinnon.
In his investigation, Motl found 14 donors gave a total of $978,000 to the group between 2011 and 2013.
The biggest donation was $200,000 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Charles Schwab of Charles Schwab Corp. also gave $200,000.
James Cox Kennedy of Cox Enterprises donated $100,000.
Man gets 25-year prison term for 2013 house fire
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A man found guilty of trying to frame a Yellowstone County detective for a fire at his parent’s home has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The Billings Gazette reports District Judge Blair Jones sentenced 56-year-old Lionel Scott Ellison on Monday. He received consecutive sentences of 10 years each for two counts of felony tampering with evidence and five years for impersonating a public servant.
Prosecutors said investigators found evidence indicating Ellison staged the March 2013 fire and tried to implicate detective Frank Fritz as a suspect. Fritz had investigated a criminal case involving Ellison in 2009.
Prosecutors argued Fritz wasn’t in the area the night of the fire, and charges were brought against Ellison. Ellison was acquitted of arson.
Jones designated Ellison a persistent felony offender.
Montana sells oil and gas lease — in North Dakota
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Land Board has approved a $126,000 oil and gas lease sale — in North Dakota.
The board on Monday approved the sale to Davis Exploration LLC for Montana’s 8 percent ownership interest in more than 11 acres in North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields.
Montana regularly holds lease sales for oil and gas rights on state land. But rarely, if ever, has Montana sold mineral rights outside its own borders.
William Kamps of Kalispell donated his partial ownership in seven tracts of land in western North Dakota to Montana when he died in 2011.
Kamps’ donation came with the condition that any proceeds go to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Hooked on Fishing Program in northwestern Montana.