Montana town cuts hours, considers bankruptcy
BROWNING, Mont. (AP) — A northwestern Montana town has cut back its hours of operation and is considering filing for bankruptcy after running short on funds.
Browning is a town of about 1,000 people on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
Lee Newspapers of Montana reports that town officials blame their financial problems on a dispute with the Blackfeet Nation over management of a water utility that serves the city.
Blackfeet leaders say the town owes the tribe money and must accept responsibility for its poor fiscal management.
Over the past two years, town officials in Browning have reduced their operations to four hours a day, four days a week.
Body man missing at Montana ski hill found
HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) — Ravalli County officials have found the body of a Corvallis skier who had been reported missing at a ski hill on the Montana-Idaho border since Dec. 22.
The Missoulian reports that Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman says the body of 65-year-old Bart Pickard was found by a Lost Trail Powder Mountain ski instructor on the south side of the mountain Saturday.
Hoffman says high winds in the area moved some of the snow that had been covering Pickard’s body.
Search and rescue crews spent two days searching Lost Trail after Pickard, an experienced skier, wet missing. They called off the search on Christmas Eve after consulting with his family.
Pickard’s body has been taken to the state crime lab in Missoula to determine the cause of death.
Polson prepares for annual international film festival
POLSON, Mont. (AP) — The northwest Montana city of Polson is gearing up for its fourth annual international film festival.
The Missoulian reports that the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest will open Friday. The festival will feature short and feature-length movies from Montana and the rest of the world.
The festival received about 80 submissions this year, and festival chairman David W. King says interest in the festival has been growing since it began.
King says there are hopes that the cinemafest will become a destination film festival, but that would require building a theater for Polson to accommodate more films.
Bishop says church accepted responsibility for sex abuse
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Helena Bishop George Leo Thomas says the church had a duty to step up and accept responsibility for former priests and other employees who were accused of sexually abusing children.
Thomas tells the Independent Record the church could have fought claims by people in Montana who said they were abused, but it would not be right and they might never have seen a resolution to their cases.
Last year, the church posted a list online of the names of those accused. That was one condition of settling lawsuits filed by hundreds of people who said they were abused by priests, nuns and others dating back to the 1940s.
The diocese also agreed to set aside $20 million for more than 360 victims named in two lawsuits.
Officials say elk population stable after years of decline
(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Officials say the elk population in the northern part of Yellowstone National Park and southern Montana is stable after dropping over the past few years.
The Northern Yellowstone Cooperative Wildlife Working Group counted 4,900 elk in the region this winter. That’s up from last year’s count of 4,840 elk, but still down sharply from the highest count in recent years, when biologists saw more than 6,000 in 2010. That’s down from 19,000 in the mid-1990s.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the new trend toward stability comes after a set of mild winters, and that there’s a possibility that harsher winters could change that in the future.
Fire destroys mobile home near Roundup
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A man and woman got out safely when a fire in a garage spread and destroyed their mobile home on Sunday.
Musselshell County fire warden Adam Carlson says the fire was reported around midnight.
According to the Billings Gazette, both structures are a total loss.
A wood stove in the garage is suspected to be the cause.
Suspicion over federal wolf plan spreads to Colorado, Utah
DENVER (AP) — Suspicion over federal plans to restore endangered wolves in the Southwest has spread to Colorado and Utah, where ranchers and officials are fiercely resisting any attempt to import the predators.
About 110 Mexican gray wolves roam parts of Arizona and New Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 11 wolves there about 20 years ago after the population nearly vanished.
The agency hopes to complete a recovery plan for the Mexican wolf in 2017, and officials say they’ve made no decision about releasing them in Colorado or Utah.
But neither state is waiting. Their governors accuse the agency of using flawed science and biased experts. Utah and Colorado wildlife commissioners also spoke out against releasing Mexican wolves.
The Fish and Wildlife Service defended the experts and the process.