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


April 21, 2018

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WEATHER

A frontloader navigates its way down a flooded road south of Chinook. The Milk River and its tributaries have overflowed their banks across the Hi-Line, flooding roads and threatening homes this week. Gov. Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency in seven counties due to the flooding. (Great Falls Tribune)

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A GREAT horned owl is keeping a close eye on proceedings in the courtroom of District Judge Mike Menahan from its nest just a few feet away from the Lewis and Clark courthouse.

And Menahan, an avid bird watcher, and a court clerk have been closely watching the owl, which they dubbed Ollie. They've set up a watching station in the courtroom, complete with binoculars and a camcorder that can record Ollie's activities.

Ollie took over a crow's nest, and Menahan believes she's a young mother. If so, that wouldn't necessarily be a good thing. "There's not a lot of food around here," he noted.

Moreover, the nest is near busy Broadway Avenue, which would be dangerous territory for any young owls that flutter out of the nest toward the street.

Sometimes even a judge can't keep the streets safe for younger ones.


AS AN INCUMBENT, Sen. Jon Tester will enjoy a number of advantages as he runs for re-election: Name recognition, the ability to raise campaign funds, the backing of Democratic allied groups, no significant primary challenge, and so on.

Tester has won statewide elections twice before, but he will now have to run in a state that President Donald Trump won by 20 points. That helps explain why Tester just came out with a campaign ad that touts how he sponsored or co-sponsored 13 bills that passed, and then were signed by Trump.

Despite some advantages, Tester will be no shoo-in. A recent national poll showed that Tester is the most vulnerable Democratic senator seeking another term. The survey done by SurveyMonkey for Axios showed Tester would lose by a 55-42 margin to a Republican opponent if the election were held now.

Of course, a lot could change between now and November. The Republicans haven't even picked their nominee yet from among the four men who have filed for the job.


IT IS not unusual to hear a fellow Montanan say we live in the middle of nowhere. And now there's some proof for that claim.

Especially if you live in Glasgow. Here's why: A team of researchers at Oxford University -- working with the Washington Post -- analyzed all the places on the map in the contiguous United States to determine the points that were the most distant from populated places, or most anything else. Or to put it more simply, they wanted to know, what was the middle of nowhere?

Their evidence pointed to Glasgow.

"Of all towns with more than 1,000 residents, Glasgow, home to 3,363 people in the rolling prairie of northeastern Montana, is farthest — about 4.5 hours in any direction — from any metropolitan area of more than 75,000 people," said the Post..​​


WHERE DO you go when you're a celebrity and you want to lay low after going through a bitter divorce? Well, the solitary mountains of Montana might be a good choice.

That's just what Ashton Kutcher did after his official split from Demi Moore, taking a weeklong "spiritual" visit to Big Sky. Kutcher, the former star of 'That 70's Show' and 'Punk'd,' claims he lived on just water and tea for the week. “I started to hallucinate on day two, which was fantastic … It was pretty wonderful,” he told his old friend and fellow actor Dax Shepard in a podcast interview.

Kutcher also had a pen and notepad, so he wrote down all his regrets about past relationships, and then wrote the women letters expressing how he had been wrong. He's now married to actress Mila Kunis, and they have two children.

While news accounts of Kutcher's trip to Montana imply he spent his week roughing it in the wilderness, Buzz bets his "spiritual" visit took place at one of the million-dollar homes at Big Sky's Yellowstone Club. Kutcher worked as a model before beginning a long, successful career as an actor. He's also becoming well-known as a venture capitalist.


JIM MESSINA, the University of Montana graduate and 2012 manager of Barack Obama's presidential re-election campaign, raised eyebrows the other day when he appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and knocked the relevance of public polls so early in an election campaign.

"I think all public pollsters should be shot," he declared.

Messina, who graduated from UM's journalism school in 1993, has been honored by the university on several occasions. He was named a distinguished alumni in 2013, and also was the university's commencement speaker that same year. 

After graduation, he worked for US Sen. Max Baucus before he became a top official in the Obama Administration, and then ran Obama's re-election campaign manager. He was hailed by the media as the "Fixer" for his work on the Obama campaigns and political promotions.

But in more recent years his political success has been more decidedly mixed. After leaving the Obama Administration, he set up a political consulting firm that has put much of its focus on campaigns in Europe, where he suffered a series of defeats that included the Brexit vote and the Italian reform plan.

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THE BUZZ

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Motorist trapped by Hi-Line floodwaters calls her rescue a 'miracle'

House hopeful buys ads on Sinclair stations to blast the owner

Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI, to campaign in MT

Manhattan police look for suspect who shot marbles at vehicles

Bozeman man accused of threatening district court judge

Passing motorist rescues woman stranded by Hi-Line floodwaters

Hi-Line communities battle floodwaters from Milk River

Republicans seek removal of attorney assisting ethics commissioner

Proposed initiative calls for tobacco taxes to fund Medicaid expansion

Man released from prison on murder charge says he's not angry

MT students plan another demonstration against gun violence

Moss dropping out of US House race

Commission rejects crowd-control plan for Madison River

Flooding wreaks havoc on Hi-Line, worst yet to come, forecasters say

Harlem mayor orders evacuations of some homes

3 Billings police officers disciplined for having sex in city hall, police car

Supreme Court hears Billings rape case applied under new law

Missoula has some of country's worst air, mostly due to wildfires

Conservative PAC spending $560K to attack Tester in ads

Bullock launches tour to tout benefits of Medicaid

Accountant for Downing amended returns after he said he was resident

Microsoft co-founder finds wreckage of World War II's USS Helena

UM president wants to cut 50 faculty slots over next 3 years

Faculty quizzes UM president on proposed changes


BUSINESS / ECONOMY


State Revenue Department Director Mike Kadas leaving post

Herberger's kicks off closing sales Friday in Montana stores

Union chief outlines goals for newly merged organization

Future of 6 MT Herberger stores uncertain as parent faces liquidation

Company with MT coal leases not talking about future plans

Great Falls crowd pans plan for slaughterhouse

With help of unremitting snow, Big Sky resort sees record season

Great Falls construction firm closing after 7 decades in business


SPORTS / OUTDOORS 

Canadian speed skating team fires Butte-based coach after probe

Brown trout caught on Kootenai River raises alarm bells

Ryan Leaf ready to offer advice to younger players on what not to do

Jack Williams, 6-8 grad transfer from Pacific commits to Griz

QB battle takes center stage in Grizzly's spring game

Stevensville's Jesse Sims tagged to wear No. 37 for Griz this season

Barta taken in 3rd round by Las Vegas, then traded to Minnesota


OPINION

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What's a Maryland accent got to do with MT's Senate race? A lot

The state is an economic 'bad actor' in effort to crush Hecla

State's public foundations can't operate in secret

More must be done to reduce slaughter of Yellowstone bison

Environmental groups should withdraw ambiguous anti-mining initiative

State must reverse its weakening of felony DUI penalties

Feds should do more to reduce methane emissions


FEATURES


Psychedelic album made by Billings group 50 years ago finally released

Singer Hallady Quist goes mermaid for video filmed at Sip 'n Dip

UM professors direct new music video for Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament

Diner '20 miles from anything' draws big crowds with tasty food

Livingston to join 2 other MT libraries in offering seed packets to visitors

Montana's devastating 1964 flood explained in story and photos

Butte man achieves firefighter dream after getting hand-me-down


CALENDAR​​

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A round-up of this year's Montana concerts

Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers to play in Missoula June 9

Imagine Dragons set for MSU stadium show July 26

Dwight Yoakam to headline Red Ants Pants Festival in late July

Chris Stapleton to play in Billings Aug. 2, Missoula on Aug. 3

Magic City Blues Fest to includes ZZ Top and Phillip Phillips

Jeff Foxworthy joins State Fair lineup Aug. 3 in Great Falls

Lineup set for Decemberists' Travelers' Rest Festival Aug. 4-5

Pearl Jam plans concert at Missoula's UM stadium Aug. 13

Alice Cooper to play KettleHouse Amphitheater Aug. 18

Another round of guitar greats slated for Bigfork's Crown festival

Jason Isbell appearing at Bonner Sept. 8

Montana International Film Festival slated Sept. 13-17 in Billings

Avett Brothers to headline Sept. 16 Missoula concert

Rod Stewart moves his Billings concert to Oct. 24

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