Governor declares flood emergency for Montana
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Gov. Steve Bullock has declared a flood emergency for the state of Montana after recent snowfall and warm temperatures triggered widespread flooding.
The declaration Monday allows Bullock to mobilize state resources including the National Guard to help with flood response efforts.
Swollen rivers and impassable roads left hundreds of people cut off in rural areas of central Montana.
The Musselshell River near Roundup rose to levels not seen since severe flooding damaged hundreds of homes in 2011.
Authorities warn the flooding could get worse with more rain and snow expected early Tuesday.
Bullocks' office says 30 of Montana's 56 counties are under a flood watch, warning or advisory. The declaration covers the entire state.
Montana primary election field takes shape
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The field for Montana's June 3 primary elections is taking shape as candidates file their last-minute paperwork with the Secretary of State's office.
Democratic and Republican primaries will be held to choose party nominees for the state's open U.S. Senate and House seats.
Multiple candidates from both parties filed to run for those two seats before Monday evening's deadline.
Democrats say they have at least one candidate for each of the 125 state House and Senate seats up for election for the first time in recent memory.
Republicans now control both chambers.
There also will be a competitive race for Montana Supreme Court, with Justice Jim Rice defending his seat against challenger W. David Herbert.
Three Republicans are competing to be the nominee for an open Public Service Commission seat.
Attempted rape suspect back in Bozeman
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - A man who fled the state after walking out of a police interview room has been returned to Bozeman to face charges that he assaulted and tried to rape his former girlfriend.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports 28-year-old Kevin A. Briggs was booked into the Gallatin County jail on Monday afternoon and was scheduled to make his initial appearance in Justice Court Tuesday. He faces charges of aggravated assault, attempted sexual intercourse without consent, assault on a peace officer and escape.
Briggs was arrested early on Feb. 1 after his former girlfriend reported she believed he may have drugged her, tried to rape her and strangled her when she resisted.
Briggs walked out of the police station when no officers were watching him. He was arrested in Oregon on Feb. 21.
COLD CASE ARREST
Butte man makes initial appearance in dad's death
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) - A former Butte man charged with killing his father more than five years ago made an initial appearance in Justice Court Monday.
Adam Hatfield is charged with deliberate homicide in the late 2008 death of 49-year-old Matt Hatfield. Authorities say they have forensic evidence to prove Adam Hatfield killed his father at a cabin south of Butte, but have not provided details.
The 24-year-old Hatfield was arrested at a South Dakota convenience store on Feb. 19 and was returned to Butte to face trial.
The Montana Standard reports Hatfield's bail was set at $500,000.
Hatfield appeared in court with public defender Walter Hennessey.
Montana's Jordan Sullivan honored by Big Sky
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana forward Jordan Sullivan, who helped the Lady Griz to three wins last week, has been named the final Big Sky Conference women's basketball player of the week for the 2013-14 season.
Sullivan, a senior from Sidney, averaged 17.3 points and 11 rebounds per game as Montana beat Montana State, Sacramento State and Northern Arizona to earn a third-place seed in the league tournament, which starts Thursday at North Dakota. Montana will be playing Montana State for the third time this season.
Sullivan had 21 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots in Montana's 87-76 win over Sacramento State and added 22 points and 11 rebounds in an 83-66 win over NAU. Montana finished 10-0 at home against league teams this season.
Montana man pleads guilty to construction fraud
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - A 41-year-old Montana man has pleaded guilty to three federal charges for taking millions of dollars in down-payments to build steel buildings and instead using the money for his personal benefit.
The U.S. Attorney's Office alleged that between October 2010 and December 2011, Jonathan Lee Oliver of Missoula received $7.88 million from customers mostly in Montana and North and South Dakota, but only completed one building.
Prosecutors alleged he spent nearly $686,000 on a house, three new vehicles, a 42-foot motorhome and two personal watercraft. He also was charged with making 17 withdrawals from his bank account in amounts just under the $10,000 threshold at which banks are required to file a federal report.
Oliver pleaded guilty on Feb. 25 to wire fraud, money laundering and structuring. Sentencing is set for June 20.
FATAL POLICE SHOOTING-ID
FBI IDs Blackfeet Reservation shooting victim
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The FBI has released the name of a 19-year-old man who was shot and killed by a tribal police officer on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation last week.
Special Agent Bill Facer says Clay Spotted Bear died March 3.
The agency says officers responded to a report of a man with a gun that evening. Officers found the man and shots were exchanged.
Spotted Bear was dead upon arrival at the hospital.
Officials have not said if any officers were injured.
Facer said Monday that the shooting is still under investigation.
Ballot proposal cleared for signature-gathering
HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Montana Secretary of State's office has approved for signature-gathering a proposed ballot initiative that would bar Montana from funding or enforcing the nation's health care law.
The proposal by Bozeman attorney and state House candidate Matthew Monforton also would prevent Montana from participating in a health-insurance exchange and would prohibit the expansion of the state's Medicaid program.
A separate proposed ballot measure would expand Medicaid, and Montana already participates in the federal health insurance exchange that is part of the Affordable Care Act.
A fiscal review says Monforton's proposal would save Montana about $1.9 billion in state revenue but cost $4.75 billion in lost federal revenue over five years.
Monforton has until June 20 to collect 24,175 voter signatures to place it on November's ballot.
Missoula firefighters finish 1-2 in stairclimb
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - For the sixth straight year, a firefighter from Missoula has won a stair-climbing competition in Seattle.
Missoula city firefighter Andy Drobeck won Sunday's Scott Firefighter Stairclimb for the third straight year, posting a time of 11 minutes, 5 seconds. Co-worker Benjamin Brunsvold was second in 11:34. Brunsvold finished third last year.
The stairclimb, a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, requires firefighters to race up 69 flights of stairs in the Columbia Center in full combat gear. Missoula rural firefighter Kory Burgess won the event from 2009-11.
Miles City firefighter Sarah Young was fourth in the women's division, climbing the 1,311 steps in 16 minutes, 44 seconds. Gary O'Brien of Bozeman was eighth in the master's division for firefighters age 40 and over. He finished the climb in 14:28.
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