John Orizotti dies at 82
Longtime Butte business man John Orizotti died at his home in Butte on Monday. He was 82.
For decades, Orizotti owned and managed Pork Chop John’s. All seven of John and Mary Carol Orizotti’s children worked at the restaurant at some point.
Orizotti bought world-famous restaurant in 1969, when sandwiches sold for 65 cents. Pork Chop Johns started in 1932 when John Burklund began selling sandwiches for 20 cents from a horse-drawn cart in Uptown Butte.
Pork Chop John’s is now run by Ed and Tom Orizotti.
A funeral mass for Orizotti will be held Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Ann’s Church. A wake will be held at St. Ann’s from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday. A vigil will begin at 7.
Barrasso questions Jewell on raising cost of federal coal
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming U.S. Sen. John Barrasso and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell are sparring over whether charging more for federal coal would kill the coal industry. Jewell testified Tuesday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a three-year moratorium on federal coal leasing. The federal government will use the moratorium to study whether taxpayers are getting a fair return on federal coal. Barrasso says demand for coal has collapsed. He asked Jewell whether higher federal royalties are a good idea because they could drive demand to zero. Jewell says companies are paying a very low price for coal.
Amid coal market struggles, less fuel worth mining in US
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An exhaustive government analysis says that at current prices and mining rates the largest coal reserves in the U.S. will be tapped out in just a few decades. The finding upends conventional wisdom on the lifespan for the nation’s top coal-producing region. It also reflects the harsh economic realities for companies seeking to profit off extracting the fuel: Mining costs are rising, coal prices are falling, and political pressure growing over coal’s contribution to climate change. U.S. Geological Survey coal geologist Jon Haacke says the Powder River Basin along the Montana-Wyoming border has about 40 years of coal at current prices.
Defense seeks to block competency exam in double-slaying
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Attorneys for a Wyoming teenager charged in a double slaying on Montana’s Crow Indian Reservation are fighting attempts by federal prosecutors to have the suspect examined for competency to stand trial. Jesus Deniz Mendoza could face the death sentence if convicted in the July 2015 shooting of a couple who stopped to help him along a roadway near Pyror. His attorneys say Mendoza has a significant mental illness. But they say there’s no indication Mendoza is incompetent to understand the charges against him and assist in his own defense. The request for Mendoza to be examined was revealed in court documents filed by the defense on Monday.
No retrial for Helena man in home invasion shooting
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Lewis and Clark County prosecutors have decided not to re-try a Helena man for shooting a burglar in his home May 2013. The first trial for James Stiffler ended with a hung jury on Feb. 11. The Independent Record reports County Attorney Leo Gallagher filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss the felony deliberate homicide charge. District Judge Kathy Seeley accepted the motion. Stiffler shot and killed Henry Thomas Johnson, who broke into his house and ransacked the residence. Prosecutors argued Stiffler shot Johnson in the back as he was trying to escape the house. Stiffler’s attorneys argued he acted in self-defense and the shooting was a justifiable use of force.
Work continues on eastern Montana crime lab
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The opening of a crime lab in eastern Montana has been pushed back due to contract negotiations and construction costs. Officials had expected the lab to be up and running by January. Mike Milburn is deputy chief of staff to the attorney general. He tells Lee Newspapers of Montana that the facility may not open until April. The lab for testing and identifying drugs will be housed at Billings Clinic, where construction work is still being done to accommodate the new facility and make it more secure. Milburn said Monday that contract negotiations are taking longer than expected because the clinic is new to state leases.
Former assistant coach pleads guilty to sexually assault
BIG TIMBER, Mont. (AP) — A former assistant football coach at Sweet Grass County High School in Big Timber has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. The Big Timber Pioneer reports 25-year-old Mitchell Buerkle entered his plea Tuesday in an agreement that calls for a six-year deferred sentence. He acknowledged the “significant disparity in maturity and power” between himself and the girl. Buerkle was initially charged with sexual intercourse without consent. Under state law, minors under the age of 16 cannot legally consent to sex. The teen told investigators that she met Buerkle behind the high school after a football game in September 2014 and they drove out of town, where they had sex.
New charge filed in sex assault case at Billings day care
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Prosecutors have filed an additional charge against a man accused of sexually assaulting children at a Billings day care center owned by his mother.
The Billings Gazette reports 40-year-old Addison Terhune pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the newest count of sexual intercourse without consent.
Terhune is now charged with sexually assaulting five children ages 2 to 13 while they were at his mother’s day care, which closed in August 2014.
He was initially charged in November with assaulting four children.
Court documents say Terhune would sometimes supervise the children when his mother, Sunshine West, wasn’t present.
He also faces charges of possessing child pornography.
His trial is scheduled to begin in April. He’s being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
Border Patrol cuts back on Port of Raymond hours
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have announced plans to operate the Port of Raymond at the Canadian border at reduced hours for a 60-day testing period.
The Billings Gazette reports that the agency’s announcement Tuesday affects the only 24-hour port from Montana to Saskatchewan. The border crossing will be open for only 18 hours each day, from 6 a.m. to midnight, starting April 18.
According to the Border Patrol, only about three cars normally pass through the port during the hours that the agency has cut out.
Border Patrol is accepting public comment on the reduced hours through the end of the 60-day testing period.
The Port of Raymond is situated north of Plentywood and south of Regina, Saskatchewan. The closest 24-hour crossing to the port is at Portal, North Dakota.