Jan. 2 Montana News Briefs

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Corey Stapleton announces candidacy for Montana governor

HELENA (AP) — Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton has announced he is running for governor in 2020. The Republican from Billings said Wednesday he’d like to see Montana become a state with stronger families and higher wages, lower taxes and smaller government. Stapleton, 51, is a U.S. Navy veteran and financial adviser who served in the state Senate from 2001 through 2008. He ran for governor in 2012, coming in second to Rick Hill in a seven-candidate primary. Stapleton ran for U.S. House in 2014, losing to Ryan Zinke in a five-way primary. Stapleton said as secretary of state his office has reduced spending while increasing election security and making it easier for small businesses to operate. Term limits prevent Gov. Steve Bullock from seeking re-election. Montana has had a Democratic governor since 2005.

3-year-old missing after falling into central Montana river

HELENA (AP) — Authorities say a 3-year-old boy from Canada is missing after falling into a river in central Montana. KTVH-TV in Helena reports the boy went into the Musselshell River near Roundup late Monday morning. His name and hometown haven’t been released. The search began Monday and resumed Tuesday. Musselshell County Undersheriff Shawn Lesnik says parts of the river are covered with ice up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) thick. Crews used chain saws and drills to cut holes and insert cameras. A 5-year-old girl who was with the boy was unharmed. Roundup is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Billings.

Montana inadvertently built public latrine on private land

BILLINGS (AP) — The Montana parks department says it inadvertently built a public latrine on private land, and it might be cheaper to buy the land than to move the facility. The Billings Gazette reported Tuesday that Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks built the $15,000 latrine for a public fishing access site on the Madison River at Ennis. The department is looking into buying about 8 acres (3 hectares) of private land where the latrine was built. The price was expected to be about $18,000. Department officials say they weren’t aware of the trespass until the landowner notified them. The state currently owns 60 acres (24 hectares) at the site.

Former Auditor named executive director of Montana Democrats

HELENA (AP) — Former state auditor and legislator Monica Lindeen has been named the executive director of the Montana Democratic Party. Party chairwoman Mary Sexton announced the appointment Monday. Lindeen succeeds Nancy Keenan, who is retiring. Lindeen served four terms in the House of Representatives, representing the rural eastern district between Billings and Miles City, starting in 1998. She was elected to two terms as state auditor and insurance commissioner serving from 2009 to 2016. She has served as executive director of YWCA Helena for the past year. Lindeen says she’s excited to get to work electing candidates who protect health care rights, defend public lands and help create jobs that pay well.

Montana prosecutor moves to dismiss homicide charge

KALISPELL (AP) — A Montana prosecutor moved to dismiss a deliberate homicide charge just days after a judge cited the defendant’s criminal record in rejecting a plea agreement that recommended a 10-year suspended sentence for negligent homicide. Flathead County Attorney Travis Ahner filed the motion Monday citing a lack of forensic evidence, uncooperative witnesses and the fact that 48-year-old James Quen of Martin City had a strong argument for selfdefense in the April death of 33-year-old Bradley Allen Winters. The Daily Inter Lake reports Ahner noted that “all of the individuals involved were on meth,” which would bring eye-witness testimony into question. Court records say Quen fired a gun and Winters was shot in the chest during an altercation over money and clothing inside Winters’ residence in Hungry Horse. District Judge Heidi Ulbricht did not immediately rule on the motion.