Judge says Montana coal mine expansion lacked enough review
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge says the U.S. Interior Department should not have approved the expansion of a Montana coal mine before taking a closer look at its environmental impacts.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby says work at the Spring Creek Coal mine near Decker will not be shut down immediately. Rather, the judge recommended in a Friday ruling that federal officials go back and reconsider the environmental effects of the expansion by Wyoming-based Cloud Peak Energy.
Environmental groups sued the Interior Department following its 2012 approval of the expansion.
Cloud Peak spokesman Rick Curtsinger says the company is disappointed in the ruling and plans to work with federal officials to defend the expansion.
Similar cases involve the San Juan coal mine in New Mexico and the Colowyo and Trapper mines in Colorado.
Singer Wayne Newton close to resolving property dispute
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton appears to be close to resolving a dispute with the neighbors of his vacation home in Montana.
The 73-year-old singer appeared in court Thursday in Polson, Montana, for a hearing in the lawsuit filed in September 2014.
Property records show Newton and his wife own a 5,300 square-foot home on more than three acres along Flathead Lake.
The owners of the adjacent property sued after Newton put up a chain blocking the road that leads to his home from U.S. Highway 93.
The neighbors, who are suing as Gromko Family Vacation Property LLC, say the chain prevents them accessing their property, where they had built a garage.
A settlement agreement calls for Newton to sell the land the neighbors need to access their property.
Doctor accused of hiding assets in bankruptcy proceedings
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings neurosurgeon accused of malpractice who filed for bankruptcy last year has been accused of hiding his assets from creditors.
The Billings Gazette reports that a bankruptcy trustee has accused Dr. John H. Schneider of transferring his property and money to his wife, his children’s trusts and other places.
According to court documents, Schneider claimed to have a net worth of $17 million in 2011. After filing for bankruptcy in 2014, Schneider claimed virtually no assets.
Schneider has denied the allegations in court records and is requesting a jury trial.
Schneider has been in legal trouble since the 2011 death of a Billings man who died after being released from a Cody hospital. The Wyoming Board of Medicine revoked his medical license after operating on the man. His Montana medical license is current.
Amber Alert issued for 2 children after Billings abduction
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana authorities have issued an Amber Alert for two children police say were abducted by their parents, who lost custody of them.
Authorities say 2-year-old Gabriella Stratton and 4-month-old Abbigail Stratton were abducted Monday by their mother, 33-year-old Maria Sandoval, during a supervised visit at the Center for Children and Families.
Billings Police Lt. Casey Hafner says the children’s father, 34-year-old Donald Stratton, is believed to be traveling with them.
Authorities described their abduction as life-threatening. Hafner says the children were in state custody because of their parents’ drug use.
Both children were described as American Indians with black hair and brown eyes.
Officials say they could be traveling to Great Falls in a 1994 blue and gray GMC Suburban with license plate 3C9021H.
Initial reports had them in a Kia, which was later found.
Proposal calls for EMTs to aid in veterans’ health care
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A 2016 ballot initiative proposal has been submitted that would allow emergency medical technicians to be licensed to provide basic health-care services to Montana military veterans.
Helena resident Ed Lesofski filed the proposal Sunday with the Secretary of State’s office. It must pass a legal review before the sponsor is allowed to gather signatures.
Lesofski says in his proposal that veterans’ basic physical and mental health needs are not being met.
Lesofski says EMTs could provide those services with additional training. His proposal calls for a test for EMTs to be licensed as community veteran emergency medical technicians under the direction of a doctor or physician’s assistant.
Among their duties, they would be able to conduct health assessments, suicide interventions, mental health support, chronic disease monitoring, nutritional education, palliative care and even acupuncture.
Helena nursing home on federal watch list
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Helena nursing home is on a federal watch list for having a history of serious quality issues.
The Independent Record reports Cooney Convalescent Home has been listed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as a Special Focus Facility since April.
Home owner Brendan Foley says he inherited problems when he bought Cooney in 2012. He says he believes Cooney Home is providing the best care in Helena.
An inspection in June found one patient received a dislocated arm and broken elbow during care. A staff member who dressed the patient said she hadn’t received specific instructions on how to care for the patient’s condition.
The inspection also found that staff failed to investigate a report of residents fighting and failed to note and investigate negligent care.
Manhattan rancher donates $70,000 to local fire departments
(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A Manhattan rancher has donated $70,000 to area fire departments in the wake of the Cottonwood Gulch grass fire that burned around her property.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that Helen Deborah Van Dyke King of the FDD Ranch west of Manhattan donated $70,000 to be divided among 13 responding fire departments.
The fire burned 13 square miles north of Manhattan earlier this month. Only one building was burned.
The Manhattan fire department will receive $10,000 and the other departments will each receive $5,000.
Robbie Knievel completes stunt to celebrate sobriety
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) — Motorcycle daredevil Robbie Knievel successfully jumped over 30 golf carts to celebrate sixth month of sobriety, but his friend says he slammed into a crash wall of hay bales.
The Montana Standard reports that Knievel jumped over the colorful, double-stacked golf carts in Palm Springs, California, on Saturday afternoon. The 53-year-old planned the stunt to celebrate his newfound sobriety following a DUI arrest in April.
His friend Kathy Faroni says Knievel was down for a moment after the crash but then got up, saluted the crowd and gave a short speech thanking his father, Butte native Evel Knievel.
Faroni says Knievel sent the ambulances away after hitting the wall.
Knievel couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday night.
He pleaded guilty to the DUI in July.
Woman arrested after shot fired into neighboring home
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Great Falls authorities say a woman was arrested after a shot was fired into a neighboring home.
Police Sgt. Rob Beall says a woman got angry and fired a gun early Sunday. He says a bullet went out of her house and into a neighbor’s home.
Beall says there were no injuries.
Ashley Bergstad faces a charge of felony criminal endangerment.
Prosecutors say in a court document the 29-year-old Bergstad argued with her husband after a neighbor drove them home from a bar.
The report says the gun was fired twice while Bergstad was in the bedroom and her husband in the kitchen.
The report says the neighbor who drove them home found a bullet in his bed next door.
The Great Falls Tribune reports Bergstad is scheduled to appear in court Monday.