West Coast states meet to share spill-response efforts
SEATTLE (AP) — Washington and Oregon environmental regulators said Tuesday that regional coordination and planning exercises such as drills aided their response to the fiery train derailment along the Columbia River earlier this month.
The Northwest officials briefed their counterparts from other states on the June 3 train accident in Mosier, Oregon, at the annual meeting of the Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force.
The task force, consisting of members from British Columbia, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii, collects and shares data on oil spills and works together on oil spill prevention projects. They were in Seattle to update each other on their spill response efforts and other projects.
Dale Jensen, Washington’s Ecology spills program manager, says the Oregon derailment is a reminder of how vulnerable the region is to oil spills and underscores the need for states and federal agencies to continue to work together to improve spill prevention and response.
Montana governor unveils energy plan in bid for re-election
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has unveiled an energy plan, a blueprint for what he calls a “balanced and responsible energy future,” that includes a call for new legislation and funding for wind and solar power.
But there’s a huge sticking point for his plan to move forward — re-election.
With about six months left in his first term, Bullock’s proposal assumes he will win a second term. He is proposing a $5 million revolving fund for energy conservation projects that would require approval by the 2017 Legislature.
Bullock also wants legislation and funding to promote a host of clean-energy initiatives such as expanding wind and solar power, while promoting cleaner ways to burn coal.
His Republican opponent, Greg Gianforte, questioned the timing of the announcement, saying it took Bullock four years to come up with a plan.
Missoula woman jailed for offensive behavior toward judge
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Missoula woman will be behind bars for at least one month after cursing and shouting insults at a judge.
KGVO-AM reports that 30-year-old Tiffany Ortega had appeared in court via video from the Missoula County jail on DUI and careless driving charges.
Judge Karen Orzech had started asking questions when Ortega became verbally abusive toward her.
Orzech had initially given Ortega a two-day jail sentence and set her bail at $5,000, but she added more time after Ortega continued cursing and made an obscene gesture.
Ortega was found in contempt of court and sentenced to a total of 30 days in jail for “calling me that word,” Orzech said.
Ortega is scheduled to appear before Orzech again in August.
Body of woman found in western Montana identified
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Authorities say a body found in a remote area of Deer Lodge County has been identified as that of a 20-year-old resident of a prerelease center in Butte.
Investigators had found Kaitlyn Mary-Faith Grover’s remains near Moose Creek on June 12. The cause and manner of her death have not yet been determined.
Grover had reportedly walked away from the Women’s Transitional Center on April 21.
State records show she was sentenced to two years in prison for a drug possession charge in September 2015.
Grover’s death remains under investigation.
State office in Deer Lodge, 35 jobs moving to Helena
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — The state office that handles car titles and registration is moving from Deer Lodge to Helena later this year.
The Montana Standard reports the Title and Registration Bureau’s move in November will affect 35 employees, who mostly reside in Deer Lodge, Anaconda and Butte. Montana Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes says the employees will have to make the hourlong commute to Helena if they want to keep their jobs.
Barnes says the current building provides more space than employees need, putting it out of compliance with state law.
He says the state pays $180,000 a year for the building, and that figure would nearly double and come with a 10-year lease if they stayed.
A note sent to employees says the move will save Montana $216,000 each year.
Work group unveils plan to address Alzheimer’s in Montana
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Alzheimer’s/Dementia Work Group says the state needs to better help residents with Alzheimer’s and related dementia and their families and be prepared to address an expected increase in patients over the next decade.
The volunteer work group says Montana needs more high-quality, affordable home and community-based services for patients as well as tools to help health care providers make accurate and early diagnoses. The group also wants to see training and support for family caregivers and training for respite workers to lessen the stress on caregivers.
Lynn Mullowney is the executive director of the Montana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. She says 19,000 Montana residents have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, and that number is expected to increase to nearly 27,000 by 2025.
Mullowney says some of the recommendations will be forwarded to the legislature while others will require community response.