​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​A daily digest of Montana news

July 26, 2017



State to cut services, lay off more than 20 workers as revenue falls short

Resources pour into Lodgepole complex fire, the nation's biggest

Eastern MT rancher wonders how he'll feed cattle after fire rips range

Garfield County lifts evacuation order for 50 homes in fire's path

Feds reject Montana's request for funds to fight wildfires

Prosecutors seek life sentence for man who abducted, raped girl, 4

Bookkeeper sentenced to prison for forging former clients' signatures

Superior-area fire bumped up to nation's No. 2 concern

Reinforcements arrive to help fight spate of Montana wildfires

Medicaid providers upset with state's proposed budget cuts

Bozeman man pleads guilty to charges his dogs killed his landlady

Helena judge orders officers to round up almost 2 dozen missing jurors

Roundup man dubbed the 'AK-47 Bandit' denies charges in Nebraska

2 more newspapers join the groups that are challenging Marsy's Law

Appeals court sides with wildlife activist in bison protest case

Bozeman man recalls how he survived grizzly attack last fall

Bullock declares emergency as Lodgepole fires hit 200K acres

Dozen homes destroyed by Lodgepole fires

Fire south of White Sulphur Springs balloons to 7,000 acres

UM student talks of his experiences after he's released by China

Glacier Park visitor dies after falling into creek

Young Billings man suffers West Nile virus, spotted fever at same time

Hundreds gather to honor young firefighter killed by fallen tree

Republicans name Patrick Webb as new director of state party

Hamilton attorney says he has a right to criticize Ravalli Co judge

Missouri Breaks wildfire explodes to more than 52,000 acres

Missoula-area fires creep closer to homes

Hi-Line farmers feel the sting of long-lasting drought

Pilot who was MIA in Vietnam finally buried in Butte 48 years later

MT wind farm may be killing more birds, bats than expected

Helena driver survives rollover, only to be killed by passing vehicle

Boy endures long recovery after surviving Swan Lake boat explosion

Legislators shocked Fox didn't testify in case about Colstrip closure

Fire near Lincoln grows to more than 2K acres, more resources sent

Missouri Breaks fires consume more than 52K acres

State officials worry about firefighting fund running dry

After 4 decades, daughter reunites with father with help of Facebook


Attracted by scenery, tourists coming to Montana in droves

Legislators: PSC's short contracts for renewable energy may break laws

New 129-room hotel going up at Big Sky

PSC approves gas rate hike for NorthWestern

Montana grower plants first crop of industrial hemp; hopes to see more

Bozeman property values skyrocket in past 2 years

Missoula's Washington Co. wants to buy Canadian diamond mine 

Feds new BLM drilling permit mandate generates debate


UM linebacker Connor Strahm arrested for DUI

Former Bobcat pleads guilty to possessing Xanax

Sophomore QB Murray likely to be a key for Bobcats

As he enters 3rd years, UM coach Stitt vows to 'stay the course'

North Dakota 1st, UM in 6th, MSU in 8th in preseason Big Sky poll

3 Grizzlies, 1 Cat earn preseason Big Sky honors

Event at Rebecca Farm, USA's biggest equestrian event, starts 19th



Secretary of state eroding voters' trust in elections

Daines must listen to what Montanans say about health care

How to address the public access controversy in the Crazies

Mom: The Giving Tree who never complained

When it comes to delisting of grizzlies, science should prevail

Conflict-of-interest law for legislators needs reform

Bozeman Chronicle turns off online commenting due to vitriol

Yellowstone: The park where you can see people chase the grizzlies


The bloody battle with the badger up Hail Columbia Gulch

Apple boom helped build the Bitterroot

Museum that highlights Forest Service history opens near Missoula

Book tells story of Mary Fields, 1st African American rural mail carrier

Young Belgrade artist rising star in world of Native American art

This yoga less about finding inner chi and more about getting your goat

18th-century shotgun discovered in bank of Blackfoot River

Young author pens 'epic' dinosaur graphic novel



A rundown on Montana's beer festivals in 2017​​

Red Ants Pants lineup to include Lucinda Williams, Bellamy Brothers

Brett Eldredge, Old Dominion performing at State Fair in Great Falls

Comedian Paula Poundstone appears in Bozeman Aug. 11

Decemberists to headline indie music fest in Missoula Aug. 12-13

Florida Georgia Line, Nelly coming to Missoula, Bozeman in September

Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com

Tim Weyer surveys damage to his Calf Creek Cattle Ranch in Missouri River Breaks country, which has been ravaged by the Lodgepole complex of fires. He's now wondering how he'll feed his 350 cattle in the days and weeks ahead. (Great Falls Tribune)



HOPE TO be the lucky motorist who snags a personalized Montana license plate with President Donald Trump's mystery word: "covfefe?"

Sorry, but you won't be able to get it. Nor will any other Montana motorist, according to Phil Drake of the Great Falls Tribune.

Drake says the Montana Motor Vehicle Division has decided that the word isn't appropriate for a state license plate. Go to the link above for an explanation why. After Trump tweeted "covfefe" -- he apparently meant to say press coverage -- motorists in at least 21 states attempted to see if they could get it on their license plates. 

SURPRIZE....err... suprise ... err ... Many Montanans aren't sure how to spell surprise.

​Google Trends has produced a study of the words that Americans have the most trouble spelling in each state. It can do this by looking at searches folks do in each state that start with "how to spell..."

And in Montana, believe it or not, that word is surprise. In the United States as a whole, "beautiful" is the word misspelled most often. If you want to see a map showing the top words people have trouble spelling in each state, you can go here.


​GREG GIANFORTE's body slam of a reporter inspired a lot of outrage. It's also inspired a new dance track called, of course "Gianforte (Bodyslam)."

The track was put together by Nick Ferrington, a full-time DJ and producer living on the East Coast who grew up in Montana. Ferrington, also known as DJ Nick Minaj, says the track is a "mix between a parody and just kind of taking notice of what happened in Montana..."

If you want to hear "Gianforte (Bodyslam)" you can find it here. Or you can also look for Ferrington's four-city tour of Montana in July.

ON ALL the national weekend talk shows, pundits were rightly condemning newly elected Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte for his body slam on Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. What they couldn't believe was that Gianforte attacked Jacobs simply because the reporter asked him about the GOP health-care bill in the wake of a new CBO estimate of its impact.

It does seem crazy that such a thing would set off Gianforte. But what if Gianforte wasn't upset with that question, but with a previous Jacobs' article on his investments? Back in April, Jacobs wrote a story claiming that Gianforte had "financial ties to a number of Russian companies that have been sanctioned" by the United States. The article said Gianforte had invested a little under $250,000 in two ETF funds that bought Russian stocks, some of which had been sanctioned by the U.S. government.

The story didn't get a lot of play in Montana, but Gianforte's campaign opponent, Rob Quist, jumped on it --who knows, his campaign might have been the source of it -- and demanded that the Republican dump his "secret Russia" stocks. 

While the Guardian headline and lede rang alarm bells, the story itself did quote a former State Department official who dealt with sanctions policy, Richard Nephew, who said that while “there is definitely a question here ... my initial reaction is that this is not something to freak out about." The article also noted the ETFs were just a small portion of Gianforte's total assets, which could be as high as $315 million.

So, was Gianforte set off by Jacobs' health-care question, or was he still smarting from the Russian investment story, when he went crazy on Jacobs? He hasn't explained himself, probably because he wants to leave well enough alone. Meanwhile, he's still got a lot of work to do to repair the damage he's caused.

SHORTLY after getting word that the U.S. House race had been called in his favor, Republican Greg Gianforte took the stage in Bozeman to join his allies in a celebration -- and to apologize for his attack on a journalist the evening before.

Gianforte admitted he made a "mistake" by body slamming Guardian Ben Jacobs, who had entered his campaign headquarters to ask about the GOP health-care bill. "I took an action I can’t take back and I am not proud of what happened,” he said. He then turned to the cameras and apologized directly to Jacobs.

Jacobs had demanded an apology, but when it came he was having none of it. He told CNN that Gianforte's apology was in "some ways far worse than the assault."

Meanwhile, politicians weren't the only ones behaving badly. Bozeman Chronicle reporter Whitney Bermes made a good case that New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin lifted her photo of Gianforte's citation for assault without giving her credit. As the controversy unfolded on Twitter, most folks were coming down on the side of the 'small-town' reporter.

In another smackdown over the Gianforte smackdown, Butte native Rob O'Neill -- also known as the guy who shot Osama bin Laden -- sympathized with Gianforte on a Fox News show.  He noted he had his own problems with reporters hounding him and his family after news came out of his role in bin Laden's death. “We have a saying up there [in Montana]: ‘You mess around, you mess around, you might not be around,'” said O'Neill.

Keith Olbermann, who got famous on MSNBC for verbally lashing President George Bush a few years back, didn't care for O'Neill's remarks. On Twitter, he called the retired SEAL an "idiot," "snowflake," and "Clownboy."

O'Neill replied that, if Olbermann could afford bus tickets to Montana, he'd provide him free "body slam lessons."

Doesn't appear that Olbermann, who now does a podcast, is ready to take up O'Neill on his offer.