Oct. 15 Montana News Briefs

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Montana city pays $23K for tree damage caused by heavy snow

GREAT FALLS (AP) — Heavy snow in Montana has cost a city tens of thousands of dollars in cleanup work after widespread tree damage. Great Falls Tribune reported Monday that a recordsetting September snowstorm brought more than 19 inches of snow to Great Falls causing trees to bend and break. City officials say the 16-day cleanup effort cost more than $23,000 after eight forestry workers accumulated 130 hours in overtime on top of 557 regular hours. Foresters say that doesn’t include hours and costs of Park and Recreation Division workers who cleaned up trees in city parks and a city-hired contractor who worked 13.5 hours. Foresters say cleanup of downed branches and the trimming of damaged limbs are expected to wrap up Monday, the same day foresters are scheduled to begin leaf pickup.

Regulators ask for expedited power grid reliability study

BILLINGS (AP) — Utility regulators from three states used nearly identical language in letters urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to speed up its study on the effects of upcoming coal-fired power plant closures on the U.S. power grid. The Billings Gazette reports the language appeared to originate from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a coal lobbying group. FERC is studying whether the U.S. energy grid would remain reliable with the closures and whether the government should subsidize some energy sources. The letters asking FERC to expedite the study were signed by Montana Public Service Commission Chairman Brad Johnson, Wyoming PSC Chairwoman Kara B. Fornstrom and two members of Alabama’s PSC. Johnson told the Gazette the letter was given to him to sign by the Montana PSC communications director, but he agrees with its content.

State considering 5 sites for Montana history museum

HELENA (AP) — The state is considering five sites for a new Montana history museum. Lee Newspapers of Montana reports the possibilities include upgrading the Montana Historical Society building and adding another building nearby or purchasing property at the former site of the Capital Hill Mall in Helena. Other candidates include a spot east of St. Peter’s Health, land the state owns near the Department of Transportation building on the east side of Helena and property available for long-term lease near the airport. The 2019 Legislature approved an increase in the state’s lodging tax to help pay for the project, which would allow the Montana Historical Society to display a larger share of the state’s collection. John Lewis, director of the Department of Administration, will make the final decision on the museum’s location.