Montana, Wyoming both claim gains in water case
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Montana Attorney General’s Office says it sees some areas of victory in an official’s recent recommendation on how the U.S. Supreme Court ought to rule to resolve a dispute over allocation of water on the Tongue River.
Monday’s report by special master Barton Thompson Jr. recommends the U.S. Supreme Court hold Wyoming shorted Montana in water deliveries in two recent years. Wyoming officials say damages are minimal.
Deputy Montana Attorney General Cory Swanson emphasizes Thompson calls for recognizing that Montana can demand Wyoming cut off irrigation to lands with water rights established after the 1950 if Montana lands with pre-1950 rights aren’t getting fully irrigated.
Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael says nearly all Wyoming water rights on the Tongue river are too old to be affected by the requirement.
US Sen.-elect Daines to be sworn in Jan. 6
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Steve Daines will move to the U.S. Senate next week and will take the oath of office as part of the 114th Congress.
The Montana Republican will serve on the Senate Committees for Energy and Natural Resources, Commerce, Indian Affairs and Appropriations.
Daines says his role on those committees will allow him to focus on developing Montana’s energy resources, managing public lands, jobs growth and supporting the state’s American Indian tribes.
Daines was elected in November to replace U.S. Sen. John Walsh, who dropped out of the race following revelations he’d plagiarized a college paper. Republican Rep.-elect Ryan Zinke will take Daines’ seat in the U.S. House when Zinke is sworn in next week.
Gov. announces staffing changes, hires new senior advisor
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock has announced Adam Schafer will join his team as senior advisor and director of public engagement.
Schafer is currently deputy commissioner of securities and insurance and chief of staff to Auditor Monica Lindeen. He is a graduate of Billings High School and North Central College in Illinois.
Bullock says Schafer will advise him on public policy among other duties and will earn $85,000 in the position.
In other moves, Bullock’s deputy chief of staff Kevin O’Brien says he’s leaving for Washington, D.C. in the coming weeks where he’ll serve as senior adviser in Bullock’s new role as chair of the Democratic Governors Association.
O’Brien was manager of Bullock’s 2012 campaign for governor and says gubernatorial candidates can learn from Bullock’s practices.
Helena attorney appointed to parole board
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Helena attorney Mark Staples has been appointed to the state Board of Pardons and Parole.
Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Staples, effective Jan. 1, to replace Mike McKee of Hamilton, who resigned as chairman on Dec. 17. Staples’ appointment must be approved by the state Senate.
Bullock spokesman Mike Wessler said the governor hasn’t nominated a chairman for the seven-member board.
McKee said much of the opposition to his reappointment came from supporters of Barry Beach, who is serving a life sentence for a murder he says he didn’t commit.
A legislative interim committee has recommended bills that would give the governor power to grant clemency even if the board recommends against it. A three-member panel of the board, including McKee, recently declined to forward a clemency recommendation to the governor on behalf of Beach. Bullock had supported commuting Beach’s sentence.
Arizona man arrested in Montana officer stabbing
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — An Arizona man is charged with stabbing a Montana police officer in the leg as officers tried to take the suicidal man into custody.
The Great Falls Tribune reports 33-year-old Jason Richard Corbitt of Bullhead City, Arizona, made an initial court appearance Tuesday on three counts of felony assault on a peace officer along with obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest. District Judge Kenneth Neill set his bail at $500,000. Corbitt did not enter a plea.
Great Falls police responded Monday to a report that Corbitt was suicidal and had cut his wrists. He allowed a woman and child to leave the residence and then officers forced their way in.
Court records say Corbitt ran out with a knife and stabbed Officer Anthony Munkres in the thigh as officers tried to arrest Corbitt. Both men were treated at the hospital.
Bail reduction rejected in fatal stabbing case
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A judge has denied a request to reduce the bail amount for a 22-year-old woman accused of stabbing another woman to death outside a Billings bar.
The Billings Gazette reports District Judge Michael G. Moses determined Tuesday that Jamie Jo Broken Rope’s $350,000 bail is appropriate given the circumstances of her case.
Broken Rope has pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide in the Sept. 5 death of 29-year-old Ruthie Martinez. She also denied an evidence tampering charge for allegedly having a friend dispose of the knife in a storm drain. Police recovered the knife.
Charging documents say Martinez was stabbed five times, with the fatal injury to her neck.
Trial set for Augusta man charged with shooting neighbor
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A July trial date has been set for an Augusta man charged with shooting his neighbor to death in a long-running land access dispute.
Joseph G. Campbell was charged in June with deliberate homicide for the October 2013 shooting death of 53-year-old Timothy Newman of Great Falls.
John Barnes, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, tells the Great Falls Tribune that a status hearing is set for Jan. 8 and the trial should begin in July in Helena.
Campbell told investigators that he shot Newman in self-defense after Newman pointed a gun at him. Prosecutors say Newman was first shot in the back, severing his spinal cord.
Court records said in the six months before the shooting, Newman twice reported cutting locks on gates on Campbell’s property that he thought were barring public access.
Man, son overdue on SW Wash. outing are OK
VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — A southwest Washington man says he and his 9-year-old son are OK after their pickup truck got stuck in snow and left them outdoors overnight during a trip in the rural eastern part of Clark County.
Sheriff’s detectives and search and rescue officials started looking for the two after they failed to return as expected Monday evening from what was to be a day-long target shooting and hunting trip.
KATU-TV reports that 44-year-old Michael Rudolph of Battle Ground texted relatives Tuesday afternoon to say he and his son freed the truck and started driving home. They had been in an area without cell phone service.
Officials said Rudolph and his son Aaron Rudolph of Missoula, Montana, left Monday morning on their trip. They reportedly had limited cold weather gear.
Winning Montana Millionaire ticket sold in East Helena
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The winning ticket in the Montana Millionaire raffle was sold at the Town Pump on Lane Avenue in East Helena.
Montana Lottery officials announced Tuesday the winning number was 133618.
Runner-up prizes of $100,000 were won by tickets sold at Markus Foods in Whitefish and McFiny’s in Billings. Those numbers were: 102423 and 073435.
The East Helena Town Pump also had a $10,000 winner, ticket No. 105720. The other $10,000 prizes were won by tickets sold at PS Mini Mart in Missoula (046003) and Hardin Express Center in Hardin (054774).