Anti-marijuana initiative sponsor won’t appeal judge’s order
HELENA, Mont. (AP) â The sponsor of a proposed initiative to repeal Montana’s medical marijuana law says he won’t appeal a Flathead County judge’s order denying his request to place the measure on November’s ballot.
District Judge Heidi Ulbricht on Tuesday rejected Billings car dealer Steve Zabawa’s request to intervene after he claimed thousands of signatures gathered for the measure were lost or improperly invalidated.
Zabawa said Wednesday there is not enough time to appeal to the Montana Supreme Court before the Secretary of State’s Office certifies the ballots and sends them for printing.
Instead, he says his organization Safe Montana will focus on opposing another ballot initiative that would ease restrictions on medical marijuana distribution.
He says he will lobby the Legislature in 2017 to pass a bill that bans marijuana and all Schedule 1 drugs in Montana.
Montana city seeks to limit water use to help coal plant
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) â Residents of an eastern Montana city are being asked to limit their water use so one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the western U.S. can continue to safely operate.
Colstrip Mayor John Williams asked the city’s 2,300 residents to minimize their use of water for sprinkling and irrigation through the end of August.
The notice came at the request of Talen Energy, a Pennsylvania company that operates the 2,100-megawatt Colstrip power plant.
Williams says low water levels and high temperatures have been causing problems with Talen’s water intake system on the Yellowstone River.
The company uses the water to cool its plant. It also provides water for the city under a longstanding agreement.
Talen spokesman Todd Martin said Tuesday there is no danger of the plant shutting down.
This story has been corrected to show that Talen spokesman Todd Martin spoke Tuesday, not Wednesday.
Hilton settles lawsuit over seized tips for servers
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) â Hilton Garden Inn and the hotel’s management company have settled a lawsuit alleging the hotel chain failed to give its servers their tip money.
The Billings Gazette reports that the Hilton and the Gateway Hospitality Group agreed to pay $4 million in lost wages and penalties after it was found that Hilton hotels in Billings, Bozeman, Missoula and Kalispell were keeping a service fee.
About 550 people will receive compensation from the lawsuit, with checks for lost wages ranging from $7 to $86,000.
According to the lawsuit, when Hilton ran the banquet service a 15 to 18 percent service fee was paid to servers but once management changed and Gateway operated the service an 18 to 20 percent fee did not make it to the staff.
Missing North Dakota man found dead after Montana crash
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) â Officials have identified a motorcyclist found dead in northeastern Montana as a North Dakota man who went missing in June.
The Roosevelt County Coroner’s Office says Zackary Baldwin, of Williston, died of blunt force trauma resulting from a motor vehicle crash. The 30-year-old man was found dead Friday and is believed to have died on June 26, the day he went missing.
The Billings Gazette reports that a road cleanup crew had spotted the man’s motorcycle in a ditch off Highway 2. Authorities responded and discovered Baldwin’s body nearby.
The Montana Highway Patrol says Baldwin had veered off the side of the road and rolled at least once down an embankment.
He had been wearing a helmet but it came off at some point.
The incident remains under investigation.
Montana high court denies convicted rapist’s appeal
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) â The Montana Supreme Court has rejected an appeal brought by a man sentenced to 22 consecutive life sentences for raping three women and attempting to rape a fourth.
The Billings Gazette reports that Toby Eugene Griego appealed his case over claims that he didn’t receive a fair trial because of pretrial publicity in Yellowstone County. He argued that the trial should’ve been moved because of articles from the Billings newspaper, including ones that gave women safety tips in the weeks before Griego’s arrest.
The state’s high court ruled Tuesday that relocating the trial would have had no merit.
Griego was convicted of 27 felony counts in 2014 after three women reported being bound and gagged and threatened with various weapons.
New Hampshire man’s plea delayed in Nevada in Bundy standoff
LAS VEGAS (AP) â A former New Hampshire sheriff candidate’s guilty pleas to federal charges in an armed confrontation with U.S. land management agents near cattleman Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada have been delayed.
Defense attorney Brian Smith said Tuesday that a paperwork snag caused the postponement of Gerald “Jerry” DeLemus’ plea date to Thursday.
DeLemus (de-LAY’-mus), of Rochester, New Hampshire, will face prison time on federal conspiracy and interstate travel in aid of extortion charges.
The charges relate to a gunpoint standoff involving Bundy backers and federal agents in April 2014 about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
Blaine Cooper of Humboldt, Arizona, is also due to plead guilty Thursday to reduced charges.
DeLemus and Cooper are among 19 people to face charges that include obstruction, weapon possession and use, and threatening and assaulting federal officers.