More Montana schools identifying homeless students
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — State education officials say Montana schools are doing a better job of identifying homeless students and getting them the support and services they need.
The Montana Office of Public Instruction says the number of school districts identifying homeless students has increased from 40 to 105 since the 2010-11 school year.
State Superintendent Denise Juneau says the number students identified as homeless has increased from 1,487 to 3,075 during that time, in part due to broader definitions of homelessness.
Juneau says most homeless children and families in Montana live with friends or relatives because of financial hardship.
States receive federal grant money to ensure homeless students have equal access to public education, including addressing transportation needs and immunization requirements. Local organizations also provide assistance to homeless students and their families.
Western avalanches make January the deadliest in decades
DENVER (AP) — Ten people have died in avalanches across the West in the last 10 days, making this month the deadliest January for slides in nearly 20 years.
The Colorado Avalanche Information Center says 11 people have died in slides this month, including four over the weekend, for a total of 14 so far this snow season.
On Sunday, one person was killed and another was injured in Washington state in an avalanche near the Mount Baker ski area, and two skiers died in Wyoming after being caught in a slide just outside the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in a popular place for out-of-bounds skiing.
On Saturday, one of three snowmobilers riding in the Whitefish Mountain range near Olney, Montana, died after being buried.
NorthWestern Energy rate hike becomes permanent
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A NorthWestern Energy rate hike that reflects the utility’s increased property taxes has become permanent.
The Public Service Commission on Monday approved the $22 million rate increase, a 38-cent average increase on customers’ monthly bills.
That is in addition to an average $4 per month temporary rate increase approved by the PSC last week.
The company’s state taxes increased after it bought 11 hydroelectric dams from PPL Montana for $900 million.
State law allows NorthWestern to automatically pass tax increases to its customers.
However, the PSC will require NorthWestern to tell its customers what portion of their bills goes to pay the utility’s taxes.
The commission also wants NorthWestern to propose a way to recover its taxes based on each customer’s electricity usage, and not as a fixed rate.
Report details Unabomber’s handwritten prison correspondence
FLORENCE, Colo. (AP) — A new report describes Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s handwritten letters to hundreds of supporters and curiosity seekers.
The correspondence was described in a report published by Yahoo News early Monday.
In them, he expresses shock over the 9/11 attacks and wrote that he preferred Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic presidential race.
Kaczynski also wrote to pen pals from federal prison in Colorado asking for more information about Osama bin Laden and the origins of al-Qaida, and has relied on others to inform him about the rise of the Internet and social media.
A Yahoo reporter spent several weeks looking through Kaczynski’s letters, which now fill more than 90 boxes at the University of Michigan Library.
Kaczynski was convicted in 1998 after planting or mailing bombs that killed three people and injured more than two dozen others over several decades.
Man gets 10 years for transporting meth to Montana
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Seattle man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for sending methamphetamine from Washington to Missoula.
The Missoulian reports that 36-year-old Albert Pedro Jaquez was sentenced on Friday in U.S. District Court after pleading guilty to felony conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. His accomplice was sentenced to five years for the same charge.
According to court documents, Jaquez would supply meth in Seattle that his accomplice would then take across state lines.
At his sentencing, Jaquez apologized for his actions and blamed his drug dealing on the fact that he couldn’t get a job after being released from prison after a 2000 murder conviction.