Nov. 13 Regional News Briefs


Daines withdraws endorsement of embattled Roy Moore

HELENA  (AP) — Montana Sen. Steve Daines has pulled his endorsement for Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

The Republican tweeted his decision Friday, joining Utah Sen. Mike Lee in withdrawing support for Moore amid allegations of decades-old sexual advances on girls.

Other Republicans officials have called for Moore to leave the race if the allegations are true. Moore has vehemently denied accusations that he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl and pursued three other teenagers when he was an assistant district attorney in his early 30s.

Alabama holds a special election on Dec. 12 to fill the U.S. Senate seat previously held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Moore is opposed by Democrat Doug Jones.


Man faces felony charges in alleged assault on officers

GREAT FALLS (AP) — A Great Falls man is expected to make an initial court appearance Monday to face charges in the alleged assault of three police officers.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that 29-year-old Jordan Lopez was arrested Nov. 10 after he allegedly became violent when asked to leave the Extended Stay America hotel.

Police say Lopez assaulted three officers before he was taken into custody. The officers received medical attention for injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

Lopez is charged with three felony counts of assault on a peace officer and misdemeanor counts of obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest. It was unknown if he’s hired an attorney.


Judge temporarily stops 

Pondera County sheriff recall

GREAT FALLS (AP) — A judge has temporarily stopped an effort to recall the Pondera County sheriff.

The Great Falls Tribune reported Friday that District Court Judge Bob Olson issued the order in response to a challenge of the recall petition by Sheriff Carl Suta.

Resident Stacy Welker collected enough signatures to ask county voters to recall Suta for alleged incompetence. However, Suta alleges the information in the petition’s accompanying statement was obtained second-hand, that it doesn’t amount to incompetence and that it exceeded a word limit.

Welker’s lawyer, Penny Oteri, says state law allows for some wiggle room for technical errors in recall petitions. She believes the petition is valid. The judge will hold a hearing to consider Suta’s claims on Dec. 11.


Standing Rock casino sees recovery after pipeline protest

FORT YATES, N.D. (AP) — Finances at a casino run by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are slowly improving, after facing a $6 million shortfall during the peak of the Dakota Access oil pipeline protest in February.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that blizzards and the protest’s closure of the Prairie Knights Casino’s main access road led to a decline in visitors and revenue over the end of 2016 and beginning of this year.

The tribal chairman says the casino funds programs in all eight of the reservation’s districts, including food distribution, insurance and bonding, programs for the elderly and veterans, fire and ambulance services, waste management, health programs, and K-12 education.

The casino saw a return in the number of visitors in late October, and the general manager says that they’re getting back to their peak numbers from 2015.


North Dakota corn, soybeans down; sugar beets, potatoes up

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Production of corn and soybeans in North Dakota is expected to be down this year, but sugar beet and potato production is forecast to be up from 2016.

The Agriculture Department’s latest estimates put North Dakota’s corn crop at 427 million bushels, down 17 percent from last year, and the state’s soybean crop at 249 million bushels, down just slightly.

Sugar beet production is forecast to be up 4 percent to 6.5 million tons and potato production up 16 percent to 25.2 million hundredweight. Those two crops are primarily grown in the Red River Valley, which was not hit as hard by drought during the growing season as other areas of the state.


Federal court rules in favor 

of National Park Service

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (AP) — The U.S. Court of Appeals decided that the National Park Service does not need to substantively assess the elk hunt every year to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide reports the court found last week that a decade-old plan, a 2007 environmental impact statement, was adequate.

Jackson Hole residents Tim Mayo, a realtor, and Kent Nelson, a wildlife advocate, sued the park service in 2014 for how Grand Teton National Park assesses its annual elk hunt. Mayo dropped out after a district court ruled in the agency’s favor in 2016, but Nelson appealed. The federal appeals court did not issue a ruling on another of Mayo and Nelson’s arguments: That the National Elk Refuge’s failure to reduce supplemental elk feeding was unlawful.


Improvements expected for nuclear missile system

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The military is expected to spend between $4 billion and $5 billion over the next 10 to 20 years to modernize the intercontinental ballistic missile system at Wyoming’s F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the spending could more than quadruple the typical amount of construction spending in Cheyenne.

The upgrades include concrete pours for new missile silos and buildings to house improved communications systems for the ICBM network. They’re part of a $140 billion effort to replace the nation’s aging Minuteman nuclear missiles.
Wyoming’s congressional delegation and some policy makers view the project as needed to keep America safe. Others see it as a risky gambit that could push the world closer to nuclear war.