Regional News Briefs

The Associated Press

University of Montana offers buyouts to non-faculty workers

MISSOULA (AP) — In a continued effort to reduce personnel costs, the University of Montana has offered voluntary severances to non-faculty employees.

University interim President Sheila Stearns said in a news release that the school must reduce the percentage of the budget spent on personnel.

Stearns said the offer is similar to the Voluntary Employee Retirement Incentive Program offered to qualifying tenured faculty members earlier this year.

The voluntary severance offer will be detailed in campus meetings on Wednesday. The meetings will be live-streamed on Montana Community Access Television.

The University also is in the midst of a program prioritization effort that Stearns said will further inform the overhaul of academic programming and administrative services offered at the institution.


Federal agency backs Montana tribe’s ouster of its president

LAME DEER (AP) — The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs says officials with a Montana Indian tribe acted within their authority when they removed the tribe’s president from office for reportedly neglecting his duties.

The Billings Gazette reported Tuesday that the federal agency declared its backing for the decision to remove President Jace Killsback in a letter to the Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council.

The council said in a statement that the BIA decision “removes any doubt” that its members were within their rights to remove Killsback. His ouster came Oct. 5 on a 9-1 vote.

Killsback has said he will continue opposing the action, which he contends was illegal because it went against a judgment by the Cheyenne Constitutional Court.


State announces program to crack down on organized crime

HELENA (AP) — Law enforcement officials have announced a program to crack down on organized crime in Montana, mainly through increased efforts to stop drug trafficking.

Attorney General Tim Fox said Tuesday that six Montana Highway Patrol troopers, including trained K-9s, and two Division of Criminal Investigation agents will work together on a criminal interdiction team to not only seize drugs as they move into or through the state, but to determine their source.

The Legislature appropriated $1.7 million over the next two years for the program, which also will target human trafficking and firearms trafficking.

Law enforcement will use intelligence from other agencies to keep on top of new trends and patterns in drug trafficking. DCI Administrator Brian Lockerby says agents also will look to stop drugs from coming into the state via air, rail and the mail.


Coroner: Wyoming man killed by falling tree in NW Montana

HELENA (AP) — Authorities say a 61-year-old Wyoming man was killed earlier this month when a tree fell on him in western Montana.

The Helena Independent Record reports that records released Tuesday by the Powell County coroner’s office identify Berwyn Conroy, of Gillette, Wyoming, as the victim.

Conroy was injured Oct. 7 on Ogden Mountain. He died in the ambulance after the incident, and his cause of death is listed as blunt force trauma.

Coroner Lee Jewell declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding the incident.


Man hospitalized after Billings police officer shoots him

BILLINGS (AP) — A Billings police officer shot a man outside a motel early Wednesday.

Officials have not said what led to the shooting. Lt. Shawn Mayo says the man was taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds. Mayo did not know the man’s condition.

Police say the shooting happened at about 1 a.m. in the parking lot of the Lazy K-T Motel. Officers are still investigating.


Hay bale fire shuts down I-94 

in southwestern North Dakota

GLADSTONE, N.D. (AP) — A hay bale fire on a semitrailer shut down a portion of Interstate 94 in southwestern North Dakota for about four hours.

The Highway Patrol says the bales on the semi started on fire Tuesday 3 miles east of Gladstone. The driver was able to disconnect his cab from the trailers and wasn’t hurt.

The westbound lanes of the interstate were closed at the Taylor exit, and traffic was rerouted until the fire was out and the scene cleared.


Harvest of South Dakota row crops continues to be slow

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The harvest of row crops in South Dakota continues to remain well behind the average pace.

The latest crop report from the federal Agriculture Department says there was considerable advancement in the soybean harvest over the past week, but rain in the west central and northern regions stopped harvest for many farmers late in the week.

The soybean harvest is about half done, but about three-fourths of the crop should be harvested by now. The corn, sorghum and sunflower harvests also lag behind.

The planting of winter wheat is 89 percent complete, with 67 percent of the crop emerged.

In the ranching community, pasture and range conditions are rated 55 percent poor or very poor. Stock water supplies are 46 percent in those categories.