US officials revive oil train safety order after complaints
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. transportation officials are extending an order for railroads to notify states about shipments of hazardous crude oil shipments.
Emergency responders had raised worries over a new rule that did away with the requirement.
Trains hauling crude from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana have been involved in multiple fiery derailments in recent years, including a 2013 derailment that killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.
Thursday’s action revives a 2014 order for railroads to give emergency officials oil train routing and volume information to better prepare for accidents.
The Transportation Department had moved this month to replace the mandate with a rule that would require states to request the information.
Agency spokeswoman Artealia Gilliard says federal regulators “heard loud and clear” the concerns raised by emergency responders.
Rules aim to protect imperiled bird’s habitat in 10 states
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has revealed plans to preserve habitat in 10 Western states for an imperiled ground-dwelling bird, the federal government’s biggest land-planning effort to date for conservation of a single species.
The proposal announced Thursday would affect energy development. The regulations include locating oil and gas wells and power lines to avoid disrupting habitat for the greater sage grouse.
The chicken-sized birds are found from California to the Dakotas, but their numbers have declined sharply in recent decades. Some warn they’re at risk of extinction.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service faces a court-ordered deadline of Sept. 30 to decide whether the greater sage grouse needs protection as a threatened or endangered species.
The new measures would apply to federal lands only. U.S. officials expect to adopt them by late summer.
New charges against Havre man in tribal corruption case
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Federal prosecutors have filed new charges against a Havre businessman for his alleged role in defrauding the Chippewa Cree Tribe.
Shad James Huston pleaded not guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit theft and theft from an Indian tribal organization and wire fraud.
Huston had pleaded guilty last August to theft, failure to file currency transaction reports and bribery of a tribal official. However, he withdrew the pleas in March, saying prosecutors tried to punish him for crimes not included in the plea agreement.
Huston’s previous plea acknowledged he received $120,000 from the tribe in October 2011 for $4,000 worth of road work and spent $25,000 to benefit the former chairman of the tribal business committee.
Prosecutors have alleged that key players in the conspiracy occasionally met at Huston’s pawn shop in Havre to decide who would receive federal contracts and how large they had to be to cover kickbacks to tribal officials.
Mining company reaches tentative agreement with union
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s largest mining company has reached a tentative labor agreement with union leaders.
Thursday’s announcement from Stillwater Mining Co. follows complaints from workers that company executives received pay raises even as they sought to cut miners’ pay.
Members of the union are slated to vote on the proposed agreement next week.
United Steelworkers local president Scott McGinnis says there would be no wage cuts, but some production incentives for miners would change. He says the agreement covers roughly 900 workers at Stillwater’s platinum and palladium mine near Nye and smelter and refinery in Columbus.
Stillwater operates the only platinum and palladium mines in the U.S.
Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer has served as chairman of the board for Stillwater since 2013, shortly after completing his second term.
Lee Enterprises sues former publisher over marketing info
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The parent company of the Missoulian has sued a former publisher and four former advertising employees, alleging they stole confidential client information from the newspaper to form a competing marketing agency.
Lee Enterprises Inc. filed the lawsuit in Missoula County District Court on Tuesday. It seeks a court order to prevent former publisher Jim McGowan and the former employees from using trade secret information.
The suit also asks a judge to prevent two marketing companies where McGowan works from soliciting business from existing or recent customers of the Missoulian or the Montana Marketing Group. McGowan left the newspaper in March.
The defendants’ attorney, Bob Terrazas, told The Associated Press the complaint makes “largely inaccurate accusations” against his clients.
Jeffrey Roth, attorney for Lee Enterprises, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Man charged in fatal 2013 shooting pleads not guilty
(Information in the following story is from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com)
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A man charged in a fatal shooting at a Lewis and Clark County home in 2013 has pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide.
The Helena Independent Record reports 66-year-old James George Stiffler entered his plea Thursday for the May 22, 2013, death of 37-year-old Henry Thomas Johnson. Stiffler is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 19.
According to court documents, he says he returned home to find Johnson ransacking his home and trying to steal his property. Stiffler later called authorities to report he had shot and killed the man.
Prosecutors say Stiffler’s story is not supported by forensic evidence. They say Stiffler shot Johnson as he was exiting a window.
Man charged in stabbing at casino pleads not guilty
(Information in the following story is from: Daily Inter Lake, http://www.dailyinterlake.com)
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A man charged in a late-night stabbing at a casino in Kalispell has pleaded not guilty to attempted deliberate homicide.
The Daily Inter Lake reports 36-year-old Justin Michael Gallery entered his plea Thursday in connection with the May 9 stabbing at the Black Angus Casino. He initially faced a less serious charge of assault with a weapon.
Police found the victim lying on the ground, bleeding profusely from multiple stab wounds.
Investigators say the victim told them he had an argument with Gallery’s girlfriend. Later, Gallery allegedly approached the victim in a van, broke out the windows and stabbed him multiple times.
Jail records do not indicate if Gallery has hired an attorney.
Whitefish man wants to withdraw ‘no contest’ plea to arson
(Information in the following story is from: Flathead Beacon, http://www.flatheadbeacon.com)
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A 35-year-old Whitefish man is asking to withdraw his “no contest” plea to an arson charge after the judge rejected a plea agreement that called for a six-year deferred sentence and about $2,500 in restitution.
James Wallace Langley was charged with felony arson after prosecutors said DNA evidence connected him to an October 2013 fire at the home of his former girlfriend.
Langley entered his “no contest” plea in January, but Allison said he would not follow the sentencing recommendation because of the seriousness of the crime.
The Flathead Beacon reports Langley filed a motion to withdraw his plea on April 20. Defense attorney Jack Quatman argued Allison displayed bias when he likened setting someone’s house on fire to firing randomly into a house with an assault rifle. Flathead County prosecutors are opposing Langley’s motion.
Deer Lodge woman sentenced for embezzling from museum
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — The former director of operations for the Old Prison Museums in Deer Lodge has been ordered to pay $136,000 in restitution for embezzling from the museums.
The Montana Standard reports District Judge Kurt Krueger suspended all but 106 days of a 20-year sentence for 55-year-old Julia Kaye Brewer. She has served 16 days.
Prosecutors allege she deposited more than $25,000 in revenue from the museum into her personal bank account. There was a shortage of about $70,000 from the 2013 operating season.
Court records said Brewer forged the signature of the president of the Powell County Museum and Arts Foundation to obtain a credit card. She used it to make personal purchases and paid the bill from the museum account.
Brewer pleaded guilty to felony forgery and theft by embezzlement in August 2014.
$10K Montana Millionaire prize remains unclaimed
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Lottery officials say a $10,000 Montana Millionaire prize remains unclaimed — and it expires in a month.
The ticket, No. 054774, was sold at the Hardin Express Center in Hardin. The drawing was held on Dec. 30, so the ticket expires on June 30.
Winners have already claimed the $1 million prize, two $100,000 prizes and four other $10,000 prizes.