Archives for May 2018

N. Billings Man Gets 10 Years on Drug, Weapons Charges

36-year-old Jimmy Walker of North Billings, who engaged law enforcement in a four-hour standoff in 2016, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and three years supervised release by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Watters. He pleaded guilty in federal court to possession of a firearm used in methamphetamine trafficking. Walker holed up in his garage for four hours in August of 2016, after federal and state agents showed up at his residence on suspicion he was supplying methamphetamine to another man. Walker was on parole at the time Huston Curran was arrested and found with meth and a short-barreled shotgun in his possession. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, along with Montana Department of Probation and Parole, approached Walker, who fled to his garage. He surrendered after Billings SWAT was called to the scene.

Tester in Billings

Q2 reports Montana Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is looking to pass bipartisan legislation that would provide certain exemptions for those hauling livestock. In Billings this week, Tester said [quote] “We have to be able to get those cows to market and the rules in Washington, D.C., don’t allow us to do that.” [end quote] The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act would allow those who haul livestock more time on the road. Tester met with ranchers Wednesday at the Public Auction Yards to discuss the legislation. The proposed bill would allow ranchers to load cattle before their electronic logging device is running. The device would also not turn on until the driver is outside a 300-mile radius from the place the cattle originated, and would allow 15 hours of drive time. Tester is running for reelection this November.

Yellowstone Voting, Democratic Ad Buy

With a week to go before Montana’s June 5 primary election, more than 25,000 ballots have been returned in Yellowstone County, according to elections officials as of late Tuesday. Ballots must be postmarked as of today to ensure delivery, and to be counted in the primary. They can be dropped off at the Yellowstone County Courthouse at 217 North 27th St. in Billings. Polls close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5th.

A political group that reportedly wants to elect more scientists to Congress is making the first major outside-money ad buy in Montana’s crowded Democratic U.S. House primary race, supporting former land-trust director Grant Kier. The 314 Action Fund spent $52,000 in the past two weeks on direct mailers supporting Kier, one of five candidates competing for the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte.

Billings Water Quality OK, Flood Warning Lifted

Q2 reports that the city of Billings hopes to quiet unfounded rumors of contaminated municipal drinking water after a post circulating online claiming sewer water was mixing into the city’s drinking water. It started with a Facebook post shared hundreds of times, saying [quote] “The Yellowstone and sewer systems are flooding into the city water and it is not safe to drink.” [end quote] The post also claimed that people were getting sick from drinking the water last week. Louis Engels, systems engineer with the city”s water quality division, that is simply not true.

According to an update posted as of 6:49 p.m. Tuesday; Flood warnings have been canceled on the Yellowstone River in Billings, but authorities are still watching Miles City and Livingston. Flooding concerns also remain along the Clarks Fork River and along the Musselshell River.

Yellowstone Flood Outlook Downgraded, Kayaker Identified

Q2 reports that while the Yellowstone County flooding outlook has been downgraded, there continues to be a flood warning for the Clarks Fork and Yellowstone River after heavy rain on Monday afternoon. According to Brad Shoemaker, Director of Yellowstone County Emergency Services, the Yellowstone is expected to hit a minor flood stage today. Chief Meteorologist Keith Meier of the Billings National Weather Service said the rain they thought could cause historic flooding missed Billings. Go to KTVQ.com or billingsgazette.com for detailed information in your area.

The Gazette reports the 66-year-old man who died while kayaking south of Red Lodge on Sunday has been identified as Edward Conning of Cody, Wyoming. Carbon County Sheriff Josh McQuillan also confirmed in a Monday press release that Conning had died from drowning after he became entangled in a downed tree in Rock Creek.

Memorial Day Ceremonies, Musselshell River Breach

Memorial Day ceremonies were held in Yellowstone County on Monday morning at Veterans Park, to remember those who died in service to our country. Hosted by VFW Post #6774, the ceremony included a volley salute, taps, wreath laying and presentation of the flag. Ceremonies were also held at Riverside, Mountview, Sunset Memorial and Yellowstone Valley Cemeteries. A noon ceremony was scheduled for Yellowstone National Veterans Cemetery in Laurel.

The Musselshell River breached its bank about a mile east of Roundup, flooding the low lying area Sunday night. According to Undersheriff Shawn Lesnik, traffic was closed from the intersection of Bakery Road and Number 4 Road to the river bridge. Accessed was obtainable from Parrott Creek Road. The sheriff’s office Facebook page advised people not to drive past the road closure signs, which had been placed there for public safety.

Climate Scientist at Billings Library, Heenan Talks Colstrip

MTN News reports the lead author of last fall’s Montana Climate Assessment discussed the sensitive subject on Thursday night at the Billings Public Library. Montana State University earth science professor Dr. Cathy Whitlock addressed climate change before a crowd at the Royal Johnson Community Room, saying the report is unique, with stakeholders helping to determine what went into the 300-plus pages. The report gives addresses the effects of a warmer climate on water, forests and agriculture.

Democratic congressional candidate and Billings attorney John Heenan talks about representing people wronged by corporate bad actors– and represented environmental groups who sued the Colstrip power plants in 2013– which led to a settlement calling for two plants to be shut down by 2022. He told MTN [quote] “I’m on the side of Montanans that get abused by those corporations.” [end quote]

Record Flooding Forecast

Q2 reports that Yellowstone County officials have declared a flooding emergency following significant rainfall this week. According to Brad Shoemaker, the county’s emergency services director,the main Yellowstone River and the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone could rise above record 1997 levels by mid next week. Residents should expect flooding in smaller tributaries including Canyon, Blue, Alkali and Pryor creeks. Shoemaker also warned of potential breaches and failures of irrigation ditches and water systems. The Yellowstone is expected to rise another 4 feet from its current level to over 16 feet. The Clarks Fork should rise more than 2 from its current level of nearly 11 feet. Sandbags and sand will be available to residents at the Huntley Fire Station; the Worden Fire Station; Blue Creek Fire Station; and at the Laurel Soccer Field at Fir and East Maryland Road.

Soft Lockdown in Lockwood, Bishop Milone Dies

Lockwood schools attendance is optional for students today and Friday due to a threat against the school. In an email to parents, Superintendent Tobin Novasio said the school will be in a “soft lockdown” for the rest of the week.

Former Bishop Anthony Michael Milone died on Thursday, May 17th at the age of 85. Pope John Paul II appointed Father Milone as auxiliary bishop in 1981, and he became the sixth bishop of the Great Falls-Billings Catholic Diocese in 1988. When Milone retired in 2006, he moved back to Omaha to continue the work he began at his first parish. Milone will be laid to rest not far from Omaha’s “Little Italy” neighborhood, where he grew up. A Burial Mass will be held at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, with his Montana successor, Rev. Michael Warfel presiding.

Billings Chemist on Trial, MT Sexual Harrassment Policy

Q2 reports that a former chemist at the city of Billings Water Treatment Plant laboratory is accused of contaminating water test samples in 2015, costing the city its state certification. 35-year-old Michelle Henderson was scheduled to appear in Yellowstone County Justice Court Wednesday on one count of tampering with public records or information. Henderson worked in a lab with two other chemists, who separated testing duties. A supervisor determined the chemist was conducting tests properly. Henderson was captured on surveillance video contaminating a fellow chemist’s samples with an unknown substance.

A bipartisan group of Montana lawmakers are meeting in Butte to address the development of a clear sexual harassment policy in the legislature. While there have been no public reports of sexual harassment in the Montana State House, incidents in other state legislatures have led Montana lawmakers to be prepared.