Aug. 6 Regional News Briefs

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Evacuations ordered for subdivision near wildfire

HELENA (AP) — Montana authorities have ordered residents of a rural subdivision to leave their homes ahead of a fire spreading through dense forest filled with beetle-killed trees. Lewis and Clark County Undersheriff Jason Grimmis said Tuesday that it isn’t immediately clear how many of the residents in Flesher Acres east of Lincoln have complied with the evacuation orders issued the day before. The homes are located near a windy mountain highway that leads to Flesher Pass. The fire started Monday and quickly grew to 500 acres due to hot, dry and windy conditions pushing the fire through trees killed by insects. Fire officials say it consumed another wildfire burning a couple of miles away. The cause is unknown. Fire crews plan to assess what structure protection measures are needed on Tuesday.

Plane crash in eastern Montana kills 2 men

WOLF POINT (AP) — A Cessna 182 crashed in a northeastern Montana field, killing the pilot and a passenger. Roosevelt County Undersheriff John Summers says two men died in the crash, which happened at about 2:45 p.m. Monday. Summers says the men on the plane were surveying land to find a site to build a grain silo. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating. FAA records indicate the plane was registered in Wyoming. Officials have not released the names of the men on board.

Montana pushes back timeline for new election system

HELENA (AP) — The Montana secretary of state has pushed back the timeline to roll out a new election system. The Independent Record reported Monday that Secretary of State Corey Stapleton had planned to implement the new ElectMT system before 2020, but county elections administrators raised concerns about the feasibility of meeting that timeline. The deputy secretary of state says the new system will likely be ready in 2021 and rolled out in stages. The state received $3 million in federal funding following the 2016 election to update elections software and replace voting equipment. Montana Association of Clerks and Recorders President Stephanie Verhasselt says her organization is pleased with the decision. She says they did work to meet the timeline but as the project progressed it became clear it wasn’t going to happen.

Complaint over governor’s security detail dismissed

HELENA (AP) — Montana’s political practices commissioner has dismissed an ethics complaint accusing Montana Gov. Steve Bullock of using public resources to campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. Commissioner Jeff Mangan wrote Monday there is no evidence that Gov. Steve Bullock directed members of his executive protection detail to engage in activity supporting his campaign. The Montana Republican Party filed the complaint over the Montana Highway Patrol security detail that travels with him during campaign trips to Iowa and elsewhere. Mangan writes in his order that the GOP complaint didn’t state a potential violation of Montana’s ethics code. Last month, Bullock reached a deal with Attorney General Tim Fox to reimburse Fox’s office for the detail’s expenses on campaign trips.

Montana county seeking help prosecuting deputy’s death

BUTTE (AP) — A small Montana county is seeking help to pay for prosecuting a man charged with accountability to the May 2017 shooting death of a sheriff’s deputy. Broadwater County asked for $25,000 from counties involved in the chase that led to the arrest of Lloyd Barrus near Missoula after his son killed Deputy Mason Moore near Three Forks. Marshall Barrus died after a shootout with officers. The Montana Standard reports Granite County contributed $25,000 and Beaverhead County offered an unsolicited $5,000. Requests are still out to Butte-Silver Bow, Anaconda-Deer Lodge, Powell and Jefferson counties. Broadwater County’s prosecution costs have totaled $241,000. In May, a judge ordered Barrus to be forcibly medicated so he is mentally fit to stand trial. The Department of Justice is providing two prosecutors while Missoula and Lewis and Clark counties have provided other services.

Adult film actress pleads guilty to trying to hire hit man

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — An adult film actress has pleaded guilty to trying to hire a hit man for $5,000 to kill the father of one her children. The Spokesman-Review reports Katrina Danforth pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Prosecutors say Danforth of Post Falls mailed half the payment to the hit man’s address in Montana in November 2018. The person she hired for the killing was an undercover police officer. Danforth, who films under the name Lynn Pleasant, planned to send the rest of the money after the job was done. Court documents identify the target only as “R.H.” Danforth was arrested in Spokane, Washington in December on five counts of using interstate commerce in the commission of murder for hire.

Signs for missing, murdered native women go up in Wyoming

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Billboards drawing attention to the thousands of murdered and missing American Indian women are being placed in Wyoming. The Casper Star-Tribune reports one billboard is off Interstate 25 in Casper and a second will go up in Riverton next week. The billboards are part of a campaign launched by the Global Indigenous Council and other groups. The signs say “5,712 Native women were reported murdered or missing in 2016,” and they picture a woman with a red handprint across her face.