Archives for April 2017

St. Vincent Volunteers Anniversary

St. Vincent Healthcare has been training and sending out volunteers for 60 years. Its volunteer services program officially began in 1957 when it was just a small collection of women from the neighborhood who would bring their garden-grown vegetables to the hospital and help the nuns where they could. They also helped out in the laundry.
The Billings Gazette reports that 20-year-old Kara McDonald is still trying to figure out her future, but one thing is clear; The hours she spends volunteering at St. Vincent Healthcare each week feed her soul, and the best way to figure out her life is to get grounded by helping other people. Linda Adams, the director of volunteer and guest services, has been with the hospital since 1980 and she said the volunteer program is constantly evolving and growing. Happy 60th Anniversary.

Mermaid Statue Stolen reports that a Billings man is not pleased with whomever made off with a statue depicting a mermaid that has sat outside his property for approximately fifty years. Billings property owner Michael Walker claims that a tenant at a property which he owns on Poly Drive reported the mermaid statue missing early Thursday morning. Walker told the authorities and local media that the statue is quite heavy and would have required more than one person to lift it. Walker is asking whoever stole the statue to return it, no questions asked. The thieves, however, did not manage to make a clean getaway. Walker reported that he found evidence on the property indicating the statue was dropped. No details of any additional eveidence at the scene, such as tire tracks or eyewitness accounts of the robbery of Walker’s half-century-old keepsake.

Drones for Dummies at MSUB

MSUB says ‘Welcome to the next big thing.’
Montana State University Billings will be hosting two new classes this spring and summer for beginners and intermediate skill levels of drone operation. Nerd alert; It’s not flight school– don’t wear a jumpsuit…
The university announced a beginners’ class in May and a more advanced class in July. Registration is open for both. The small, buzzing contraptions are all the rage, having become popular in activities ranging from recreational videography to official search-and-rescue operations.
The Gazette reports the first class is called “Drones for Dummies” and, as the name implies, it’s geared toward novice users. The university says drones for use in the class are included in the fee. The instructor will be Aaron Wilson, who runs a drone sales company, and is knowledgeable about the legalities of drone usage.

Woman Sought in Casino, Hotel Robberies

Billings Police are seeking the public’s help in locating a woman involved in a robbery at the Western Executive Inn on King Avenue West early Wednesday morning. reports that a suspect said she had a gun and demanded money, then fled prior to officers arriving. A white passenger car was involved with the Lucky Lil’s casino robbery, and officers located a similar car shortly after the hotel robbery. They detained two female suspects, identified as 35-year-old Meadow Bighorn and 40-year-old Heather Thompson, both of Billings. The women admitted to being involved in the hotel robbery and casino robbery on April 25. Bighorn was incarcerated at the Yellowstone County Detention Facility, but Thompson, who was left unattended, simply walked out at around 6:30 a.m. Anyone with information about Thompson’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Billings Police at 657-8200.

Billings PM News Thursday

Billings Police are investigating a rash of recent casino hold-ups. A woman attempted to rob Lucky Lil’s Casino at the Rimrock Mall around 9 pm Wednesday, but left with no money. It was the fourth attempted holdup at a Billings casino in less than 48 hours. The suspect reportedly entered the casino and attempted to rob an attendant, ostensibly at gun point. The suspect held an object that was wrapped up to look like a weapon.

The Gazette reports Montana’s U.S. House candidates have been blasting each other on TV, but only one is licensed to hunt, according to state records. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks records show that Democrat Rob Quist hasn’t had a hunting or fishing license for at least 16 years. Republican Greg Gianforte has had multiple fishing and hunting licenses during the same time period.

Phillips Refinery Temporary Shut Down

The Billings Phillips 66 refinery is about to shut down in preparation for major maintenance, renovations and improvements, including the addition of a process to enable more heavy crude oil production.
The Billings Gazette reports that the overhaul, known as a “turnaround,” occurs every five years, and the total number of employees and contractors on site this year will be about 2,500 people during its peak, according to Ryan Wegner, the refinery’s finance and public affairs manager.
Wegner said on Wednesday that Phillips 66 is spending several hundred million dollars on the turnaround.
The gradual plant shut down began on April 15, with total shut down by the beginning of May, and the turnaround will take approximately 56 days. The refinery is scheduled to be back online by June. It includes Phillips’ Vacuum Improvement Project, which began in 2015.

Billings Man Accused in Stabbing

Elliott Bradley of Billings is accused of stabbing his friend in the neck while they were getting drunk at a home in Laurel on Monday. Bradley was set to appear in Yellowstone County Justice Court Wednesday on charges of assault and theft. Three of the charges he faces are felonies and two are misdemeanors. reports that Yellowstone County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the Billings Clinic around 11 a.m. on Monday to investigate the reported stabbing. The unidentified 19-year-old victim said he had fallen asleep and awoke to find Bradley trying to slit his throat and stab him in the neck with the knife. When the victim yelled and attempted to defend himself, Bradley pulled a handgun from his waistband and threatened to shoot him if he said anything. He’s being held at the Yellowstone County Jail.

Tribal Leaders Oppose Keystone XL Route

The controversial Keystone XL Pipeline to connect Tar Sands from Canada to U.S. oil refineries has President Trump’s seal of approval for entry into Montana via the Port of Morgan in northern-most Phillips County. In an exclusive report, shows that TransCanada CEO Russell Girling believes the pipeline is a done deal, but tribal leaders oppose the project. Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure says water is the main concern. Their groundwater was poisoned by oil field waste dumped on the Reservation, dating back to the 1950s, forcing the Tribe to build its own state-of-the-art water system. The $300 million Fort Peck Rural Water system provides clean water to five counties, but the pipeline would cross under the Missouri River within a few miles of the dam’s spillway They’ve asked TransCanada to consider moving the crossing downstream of the dam’s water intake.

Montana Roads, Drivers Dangerous

Motor vehicle accidents happen in every state, but if you’re wondering how does Montana compare to other states as far as safe driving, the answer is not good. The national home security brand SafeWise is ranking Montana among the most dangerous states for drivers in its 2017 report; coming in just behind North Dakota and New Mexico. reports that SafeWise concluded Montana’s total fatalities per 1,000 drivers is .186. North Dakota scored a .256 per 1,000 drivers. The site said security on the road is ranked by factors like seat belts, road conditions and other drivers. While ranking among the highest in most dangerous states in which to drive, Montana also records among the most speeding fatalities and drunk driving fatalities. Two serious accidents happened in Billings Tuesday morning: one on Airport Road and one on 19th and Broadwater.

Rollover Wreck in Laurel Tuesday

A woman was hospitalized after her vehicle rolled off the interstate near Laurel on Tuesday night. Authorities said it appears she was driving too fast to negotiate the turn on the exit ramp. The Montana Highway Patrol tells the Billings Gazette that shortly before 7 p.m., MHP Sgt. Eric Gilbert recorded the SUV speed reading of approximately 95 miles per hour while traveling eastbound on Interstate 90. He soon lost sight of the vehicle, before reaching the east Laurel exit near mile marker 434, according to MHP spokesman Trooper Justin Moran.
Gilbert observed the overturned SUV on the hillside next to the exit. The unidentified woman inside, believed to be in her early 20s, was unable to exit the vehicle. Laurel Volunteer Fire Department responders were able to get the woman out through the rear of the vehicle.