Archives for January 2018

Teacher Arrested with Gun on Campus

The Billings Gazette reports that an art teacher at Hardin High School has been arrested for having a gun on campus, tampering with evidence and obstruction of justice in connection with a weapon found in a school classroom over the weekend. An arrest warrant has also been issued for an unidentified male student for attempted armed robbery, carrying a concealed weapon and having a gun on school property. The teacher arrested is Nora Block, according to Big Horn County Undersheriff Michael Fuss. The charges stem from an incident that began Friday, when school officials responded to a report that a student had a gun at school, and found him in Block’s classroom. No gun was found, but sheriff’s deputies returned to the school Saturday and were told that Block found the gun while cleaning the classroom, according to reports.

Daines, Gianforte in Virgina GOP Train Wreck

A train carrying Republican members of Congress, including Montana Sen. Steve Daines and Congressman Greg Gianforte, to a retreat in Greenbrier, West Virginia, hit a truck on Wednesday morning. Q2 reports that the lawmakers were scheduled to spend the next few days at the West Virginia resort for their annual issues conference. Neither Gianforte nor Daines were injured. Sen. Daines tweeted from the train that he’s ok, but called for prayers for the driver of the truck. The specially chartered Amtrak train departed Union Station in Washington, D.C. at about 8:30 a.m., and hit the back of a garbage truck at about 11:20 a.m. in Crozet, Virginia. The impact reportedly threw several train passengers from their seats, but so far, none of the lawmakers appear to have sustained major injuries. Many were also traveling with their spouses and staff.

Crash Fatality in Billings Monday

The Gazette reports that 33-year-old Douglas Dewitz Jr. of Billings was the sole victim in a fatal, head-on crash on South Frontage Road on Monday evening, according to the Montana Highway Patrol. Dewitz died of multiple blunt force trauma injuries sustained as a result of the crash, according to Yellowstone County Deputy Coroner R.L. Hoffman. No one else was injured in the two-vehicle crash, according to the MHP report. It occurred near the road’s intersection with Harnish Boulevard. Dewitz was driving a Honda Civic eastbound in the wrong lane, according to the incident report, when he hit a westbound semi truck head-on. The crash trapped Dewitz in the vehicle. The uninjured, unidentified driver of the truck, who’s also from Billings, tried to avoid the oncoming Honda. He lost control of the semi, which ended up on Interstate 90.

MT Leaders React to SOTU

Q2 reports that Montana’s top elected officials reacted to President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, predictably falling mostly along party lines. Republican Sen. Steve Daines said [quote] “…we heard the President speak of a nation that is strong and secure.” [end quote], while GOP Congressman Greg Gianforte said he agreed with Trump’s assertion that the state of the country’s union is strong, and [quote] “America is special.” [end quote] Democratic Sen. Jon Tester said he heard some things he liked but lamented lost opportunities, saying [quote] “I’m concerned the President did not once mention our state’s top industries, so I’ll hold him accountable to address the issues facing family farmers and ranchers, and to protect our public lands.” [end quote] Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock warns that Trump’s tax law could pose a threat to the state’s finances.

Miles City Victim Identified

The Billings Gazette reports a 21-year-old woman killed in a shooting Thursday northeast of Billings has been identified as Shania Raymond of Miles City. She was pronounced dead at the scene of last week’s shooting after suffering multiple gunshot wounds, according to Custer County Sheriff Tony Harbaugh. Law enforcement personnel responded on January 25th, shortly after dispatch received a call at 10:30 a.m. from a person in the Moon Creek area that a shooting had occurred at his residence, reportedly about 30 to 40 miles outside of Miles City, about two hours from Billings. Harbaugh told The Gazette that a 21-year-old man named Travis Doss was arrested in connection with the shooting. Doss also sustained a gunshot wound to his head, and was taken to the Custer County Detention Center last week following his release from Holy Rosary Healthcare.

Pimp Claims Escort Service was Legal

35-year-old Terrance Edwards, on trial Monday for allegedly promoting several young girls and women for prostitution in Montana, denied being a pimp and claimrd he operated a legal escort service and website for a handbag company he founded, while serving prison time for an earlier prostitution conviction. Edwards was charged in U.S. District Court in Billings with a 10-count indictment including sex trafficking by force, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in prostitution, tampering with evidence and distributing marijuana to a minor. Prosecutors declared in opening statements Monday that Edwards is [quote] “100 percent a pimp.” [end quote] Edwards allegedly targeted women, including three minors, for work in the commercial sex industry, using methods of intimidation, rape and violence to make the victims cooperate. Defense attorneys told the jury that Edwards operated a legal escort service.

Search for Reckless Driver, More MT Mental Health Cuts

The Billings Gazette report police continued to search for the man who nearly ran over a Yellowstone County Sheriff’s deputy on Friday night during a high-speed pursuit from downtown Billings to the Heights. At about 10:45 p.m., the driver of a white 1998 Honda Accord was observed weaving through traffic and running stop lights. After a chase, they got stuck in the snow and fled on foot. The passenger was found and arrested, while the driver remained at large.

Already struggling with cuts to Medicaid reimbursement rates, the South Central Montana Regional Mental Health Center– with offices from Billings to Lewiston– is facing even deeper cuts. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services is proposing revisions to three codes related to chemical dependency services that will affect reimbursement rates. A hearing on the changes will be held Thursday.

Upstanders Unite Sunday, MT GOP Reacts to Wynn

After Swastika graffiti and anti-LGBTQ fliers surfaced this week, Not In Our Town Billings met at Grace United Methodist Church on Sunday. Grace painted its windows with the messages “All are Welcome” and “Love Wins.” The church invited Not In Our Town members to a meeting called “Upstanders unite! Billings Mayor Bill Cole spoke to those in attendance.

Q2 reports on Montana Republicans’ reactions to casino magnate, big donor and former GOP finance chair Steve Wynn’s resignation from the Republican National Committee over sexual misconduct allegations. Freshman Montana Republican Congressman Gianforte’s office said [quote] “Greg believes the allegations, if true, are reprehensible. The campaign will donate the $2,700 received(from Wynn) to charity.” [end quote] A spokesman for Montana Sen. Steve Daines echoed that sentiment; saying [quote] “The allegations are disturbing, and we need to get the facts.” [end quote]

Mall Vigilante Gets Deferred Sentence

The nearly-year-long saga of a pistol-packing mall vigilante came to an anticlimactic conclusion, as the man who fired a gun at suspected shoplifters last year received a deferred sentence on Thursday. The Gazette reports that 30-year-old James Newman got a cumulative one-year deferred sentence and a $500 fine for misdemeanor charges of negligent endangerment and unlawful discharge of a firearm. He will not be allowed to possess a firearm while serving that sentence. The hearing was held before Billings Municipal Court Judge Sheila Kolar. On February 25, 2017, Newman opened fire on two people he suspected were shoplifters. When they got in their vehicle at the Rimrock Mall parking lot, he confronted them while the vehicle was parked and pointed a handgun at them. He fired six shots at them as the car sped around a corner in the lot.

Tester Seeks Bipartisan Border Deal

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester announced this week that he’s getting more involved in bipartisan negotiations over border security. The Montana Democratic lawmaker reportedly met Tuesday with Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen and senators from both parties to develop an agreement before the February 8th deadline for another possible federal government shutdown. Tester had voted against the bipartisan deal reached on January 22 that reopened the government for three weeks to allow lawmakers and the White House to reach a settlement on border security and immigration. Tester says he prefers a long-term agreement, and wants border security in the deal, with provisions including up to 500 additional Border Patrol officers hired annually until the Border Patrol shortage is addressed; an investment in new technologies, equipment and facilities; as well as fiber optic detection technology. Read the whole story at;