Aug. 23 Montana News Briefs

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Drone used on wildfire in Yellowstone National Park

BOZEMAN (AP) — A drone assisted crews with a wildfire in the northwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports an unmanned aircraft system was used Monday on the fire, which has burned more than three square miles (nearly eight square kilometers) in the park and on the Lee Metcalf Wilderness south of Big Sky. Fire spokesman Jeff Gildehaus says it was the first drone to be used on fires in both Yellowstone National Park and the Custer Gallatin National Forest. Gildehaus says the drone took photos, mapped the perimeter and took infrared data showing the fire’s hottest spots, all work usually done by manned aircrafts. Gildehaus says the drone reduces firefighters’ exposure to hazards.

Montana lawmakers to take up new sexual harassment policy

HELENA (AP) — A panel of Montana lawmakers is taking up a new policy proposal meant to prevent sexual harassment or discrimination. The Legislative Council will consider the proposal Thursday at its meeting in Lewistown. It’s the culmination of a process that began in December amid accusations of sexual misconduct in other statehouses across the nation. Earlier this month, a subcommittee gave initial approval to the policy that defines sexual harassment, calls for mandatory training, creates a process for investigating complaints and makes substantiated cases available to the public. The male leaders of the House and Senate previously questioned the need for a new policy because no complaints have been filed. If the council approves the policy, it still must pass a rules committee before it can be implemented for January’s legislative session.

VA Montana Health Care again has temporary chief of staff

BILLINGS (AP) — The Veterans Affairs Montana Health Care System has a temporary chief of staff for the eighth time in as many years. The Billings Gazette reports Deputy Chief of Staff Marilyn Lajoie took over as interim following William Campbell’s retirement in April. Campbell joined the Montana VA system in September 2016, first as interim chief of staff before taking the permanent position.VA spokesman Patrick Hutchison says the VA Montana System has had four “permanently assigned” chiefs of staff going back to 1986. There’s been a similar level of turnover among VA Montana hospital directors. The Gazette reports the Montana VA system has had five directors since 2009.