Dec. 6 Regional News Briefs


Man becomes council member without running for office

BILLINGS (AP) — A Laurel man has become a city council member without running for office.

Richard Klose says he got a phone call after the Nov. 4 election telling him he was the winner of the race for the Ward 4 position, a race he didn’t know he was in.

The Billing Gazette reported Monday the post opened up after outgoing council member Tom Nelson decided to run for mayor this year.

Klose secured the position as a write-in candidate with just three votes.

He was the only candidate running in Ward 4 and received a plurality out of the 52 votes cast in Ward 4.

Klose has accepted the position and will be sworn in on Jan. 2.


Teen victim of apparent 

overdose identified

HAMILTON (AP) — Officials have released the name of a 16-year-old Hamilton boy who died over the weekend of an apparent prescription drug overdose.

Caden Fowler, a junior at Hamilton High School, was found dead in his home Sunday morning. A 15-year-old boy who had also apparently overdosed was hospitalized.

Brandi Fowler told the Ravalli Republic her son was a good kid who did something stupid. She says she hopes others who may be seeking a high through the illegal use of prescription drugs will learn from her son’s death.

She says she wants to shock and scare them to spare another mom from going through “this horrible pain that’s not going to go away.”

Police Chief Ryan Oster says he’s awaiting toxicology tests to confirm Fowler’s suspected cause of death.


Walleye illegally moved to Swan Lake came from Lake Helena

HELENA (AP) — State wildlife biologists say walleye that were illegally introduced into Swan Lake in 2015 came from Lake Helena.

The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says microchemistry analysis of the inner ear bones of two walleye that were caught in Swan Lake in October 2015 determined they were introduced to the lake sometime that spring and that they originated in Lake Helena, which is about 10 miles north of Helena.

Walleye are highly predacious and could impact the native bull trout and kokanee salmon in Swan Lake, which is east of Flathead Lake. Any anglers who catch walleye in Swan Lake must kill them and report the catch to FWP.

A reward for information leading to the conviction of whoever is responsible for the illegal introduction is now over $35,000.


Transient guilty of pushing man to death off Montana bridge

KALISPELL (AP) — A jury has convicted a man of pushing another man to his death from a bridge in northwestern Montana.

Jurors deliberated for about an hour and a half before finding 27-year-old Cecil Rice guilty Tuesday of deliberate homicide in the April 26 death of 34-year-old Anthony Walthers.

According to court documents, one witness said he followed Walthers as he was swept down the Flathead River in “obvious distress” before his head slipped beneath the surface. Investigators say Rice was angry because he believed Walthers had made an inappropriate remark about Rice’s girlfriend.

Walthers’ body was recovered more than a month after he was pushed into the river.

Authorities have described all of those involved as transients who were living in the Kalispell area.


Officials say white-tailed prairie dog in no danger

BILLINGS (AP) — U.S. wildlife officials say the white-tailed prairie dog does not need special protections under the Endangered Species Act because it’s in no danger of extinction across the U.S. West.

Tuesday’s announcement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service culminates a lengthy review of the squirrel-sized rodent’s legal status. Its range includes portions of Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and Utah.

Biologists say poisoning campaigns, plague and habitat loss have significantly reduced the white-tailed prairie dog’s abundance versus historical levels. But despite the threats, officials say the animal has proven resilient and adaptable, and therefore is in no danger of extinction within the foreseeable future.

Prairie dogs get their name from a barking sound they use when intruders enter their colonies. White-tailed prairie dogs are one of five prairie dogs species in North America.


North Dakota bill would allow tribes to levy state sales tax

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A newly released draft legislative bill sets the framework for American Indian tribes in North Dakota to levy state sales taxes on their reservations and keep a share of the collections.

State Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger says the legislation comes largely in response to tribes’ concerns about dwindling federal dollars.

It also comes after Three Affiliated tribal officials doubled taxes on non-American Indian retail businesses that sell liquor — leading some to halt sales.

The draft legislation would forbid tribal governments that reach an accord with the state on sales tax collections to impose such taxes.

The bill is the work of the Legislature’s newly formed Tribal Taxation Issues Committee, headed by Gov. Doug Burgum. The Republican governor called the draft legislation “a good starting point for conversation.”