July 18 Montana News Briefs

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Yellowstone park lookout tower burns after lightning strike

BOZEMAN (AP) — A fire lookout tower in Yellowstone National Park has burned after being struck by lightning. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the employee manning the Mount Holmes Fire Lookout reported the fire Tuesday. Officials say the tower sat on top of Wyoming’s Mount Washburn, more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) south of Bozeman. A photograph taken from a helicopter Wednesday shows the structure burned to the ground, leaving only its stone foundation. The tower was built in 1931 at an elevation of about 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). A radio repeater was also damaged. Officials say staff members were unable to fly to the site by helicopter Wednesday because of high winds, but plan to try again soon. The park has temporarily closed the summit and part of the Mount Holmes Trail.

Army Corps opens Fort Peck spillway as reservoir level rises

BILLINGS (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has partially opened two of the Fort Peck Dam’s spillway gates to relieve the rising water level in the reservoir. The Billings Gazette reports Fort Peck had been holding back water on the upper Missouri River because of this year’s flooding downstream in South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. The water in the dam had reached an elevation of nearly 2,247 feet (685 meters), with the top of the gates at 2,250 feet (686 meters). Opening the gates on Monday brings the amount of water moving through the dam to 15,000 cubic feet per second (425 cubic meters per second). The corps’ Darin McMurry says that will likely be the level through August. Last year’s peak releases from Fort Peck dam were 20,000 cubic feet per second (566 cubic meters per second).

Bullock to take part in Democratic presidential debate

HELENA (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock says he’s excited to be taking part in the next Democratic presidential debates. The 20-candidate field was finalized Wednesday for the televised debates in Detroit on July 30 and 31. It includes Bullock, who didn’t make the cut for the first debate last month. This time, he’ll replace Rep. Eric Swalwell, who dropped out of the race after having been in danger of missing the cutoff based on polling and donor qualifications. Bullock said in a statement released by his campaign Wednesday that he’s excited to add his voice and that Democrats need to talk about the realities people face in their everyday lives. A drawing will be held Thursday to decide which 10 candidates will debate on the first night and which 10 the second night.

Man to be evaluated after crashing into federal building

BOZEMAN (AP) — A man accused of intentionally crashing his car into a federal building in Montana will undergo a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Tuesday that 54-year-old William Hutton appeared in federal court Friday but did not enter a plea to charges of destruction and attempted destruction of government property. Hutton’s attorney John Rhodes says he requested the evaluation last week after he believed Hutton was exhibiting mental and emotional problems. Judge Jeremiah Lynch says the report should determine if Hutton is competent enough to understand the charges. Lynch has prohibited prosecutors from using statements Hutton makes in the evaluation as long as Hutton and his attorney do the same. Federal authorities say Hutton caused more than $14,000 in damage in the attempt to destroy the downtown Bozeman building.

Talc plant union leader elected president of Montana AFL-CIO

BOZEMAN (AP) — A union leader who led workers through a lockout at a talc-milling plant has been elected president of the Montana AFL-CIO. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Wednesday that International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local D-239 President Randy Tocci assumed the statewide office earlier this month. Tocci led about 35 union members on the picket lines during the 90-day lockout at the Imerys Talc America Mill in Three Forks last year. The union members went back to work in November after reaching a three-year contract. Tocci says the Montana AFL-CIO is focusing now on organizing and getting more members into unions. Tocci was elected during the organization’s convention in Missoula last month. He ran unopposed.

Montana authorities say missing teen may be endangered

BIG TIMBER (AP) — Authorities in Montana have issued an endangered person advisory for a 16-year-old boy who’s been missing for almost three weeks. The Department of justice advisory issued Wednesday said Marshall Dammann was last seen June 29 in Big Timber. The Sweet Grass County Sheriff’s Office says there is growing concern that the teenager may be endangered. Dammann was last seen wearing a gray or white sweat shirt and white tennis shoes, and may have been heading to Great Falls or Livingston. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sweet Grass County Sheriff’s Office at (406) 932-5143.