Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An illustrated guide to oil drilling on the Blackfeet Reservation

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 1:30 PM

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The images that jump out the most show a drill pad located a half-mile from the new Browning High School, adjacent to residential homes and the Lodgepole Gallery and Tepee Village, and with Glacier National Park in the background. There's an aerial shot that puts the proximity of the pad in perspective. Two on-the-ground photos put Glacier's Summit and Littledog peaks firmly in the backdrop.

You can see these images—as well as many others—on a new interactive project created by East Glacier-based photographer Tony Bynum. In 2010, Bynum started to document where drill sites and fracking activity popped up across the reservation. The pads would go up for a couple weeks at a time, then disappear. Before they were gone, Bynum would take a shot—and take the time to set up the shot to show just how close the drilling was to surrounding landmarks.

"There's really no other way to show, and no one else showing, the rest of the country and those who care about this place, what is happening here," he said in an interview last week.

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The Rockies Today, Jan. 31

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Headwaters News.

Montana county commission to consider bounty on predators at meeting today
Ranchers in Jefferson County have been reporting an increase in wolf and mountain lion attacks on their livestock, and that county's commission will consider a measure at a meeting today that would allow livestock owners to impose a tax upon themselves to fund a bounty program for removing wolves and mountain lions, a measure that is allowed by state law that is in conflict with other state and federal laws.
Helena Independent Record; Jan. 31

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Happiest Hour: The Bierstube

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 2:00 PM

We heard Whitefish was supposed to get snow this weekend. And they certainly did. Nine inches in 24 hours and it was light, fluffy and made for darn good skiing. Of course, we couldn't help taking a trip to Whitefish's premiere apres-ski hub...

This week: The Bierstube

The Stube was a bit steamy...
  • The 'Stube was a bit steamy...

Why you’re here: Whitefish got dumped on last weekend. Again. And up at Big Mountain, that means one thing: party at the ’Stube. When the snow starts falling, you can be sure the place will be packed with thirsty powder hounds by 4 p.m. There’s hardly room to breath on the patio when the warm spring days and skimpy ski outfits descend. A combination of live music, good humor and great pizza make the ’Stube the de facto stopping point on the long trek back to town.

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Max Baucus, "the one-man caucus," pressured on Keystone pipeline

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 11:00 AM

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Montana voters know all about power Sen. Max Baucus and his influence on key national issues. In 2001, he (in)famously crossed party lines and voted in favor of President Bush's tax cuts. A few years ago he stood in opposition to single-payer healthcare reform and helped usher in a more complex, and some argue less effective, alternative.

The senior senator holds significant power as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and The Hill reports Republicans are now trying to use that standing to push through another controversial policy decision.

Republicans are pressing Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to buck his leadership and use his authority in the payroll tax conference to green-light the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

The Keystone XL would run from Alberta's tar sands, through Montana, all the way to the Gulf Coast. Montana's entire delegation has supported the pipeline, including Baucus, despite concerns from conservationists and high-profile protests. President Obama, who's been torn on this election-year issue, rejected the current proposal Jan. 18.

According to The Hill, Baucus has the juice to make the whole thing happen. The article mentions his past voting record, and his pledge to make the pipeline a 2012 priority.

Republicans say Baucus, as co-chairman of the payroll tax conference, has the power to include Keystone language in must-pass legislation and will pressure him to act.

“The quickest and surest way to get the pipeline going is for the Democratic chairman of the conference committee to put it into a must-do piece of legislation, the payroll tax package,” said a senior Senate Republican aide.

...

A Baucus aide said the lawmaker would try to get the Keystone project started using whatever tools or legislative vehicles are at his disposal, including the payroll tax bill, available.

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What it's like to be the only student in a one-room Montana school

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Amber Leetch, 11, has a tough gig for a sixth grader. As reported in The New York Times, Leetch is the sole student in Greenough's one-room school, located about 30 minutes from Missoula. She plays volleyball at Seeley Lake Elementary and was part of the Christmas pageant in Ovando. Otherwise, Leetch is with her teacher, Toni Hatten, for every lesson, every lunch and every recess, for every day of school.

There are folks who pay big money for that kind of student-teacher ratio. But the situation provides obvious challenges to Leetch, Hatten and the tiny Sunset School District. For one, just keeping the school open is a tough sell.

“It ruffles some feathers with other districts who say it’s a lot of money for one student,” Darlene Troutwine, the Sunset district clerk, tells the Times. The district's entire annual budget is $83,000.

Interestingly, the Sunset district is far from alone. While this story provides a wonderful window into a single one-room school, it also makes clear there are many others.

Sunset is the smallest one-room school in Montana (a second room was added, but it is only used for physical education and storage), which has 62 of them, ranging from one to 18 students. It is the only one-room school in the state with a lone student, though there are some with two or three. About 20 small schools have closed in the last decade in the state.

Read the full articles here.

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The Rockies Today, Jan. 30

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Headwaters News.

Management of endangered salmon in Idaho could change with agency move
President Obama first proposed moving the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration out of the Commerce Department and into the Interior Department, but the idea isn't a new one, and environmentalists are still concerned about having NOAA in the same agency as the Bureau of Reclamation.
Idaho Statesman; Jan. 30

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Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 9:00 AM

In this week's installment, meet the worst door-to-door salesman ever.

Curses, Foiled Again
Police identified Keith A. Rebori, 23, as their suspect in the robbery of a pharmacy in East Stroudsburg, Pa., after they found a backpack near the scene that matched the one a surveillance video showed the robber carrying. It contained the holdup note and Rebori’s birth certificate. (Pocono Record)

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Get appraised at the Dana Gallery today

Posted By on Sat, Jan 28, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Haven't you always wanted to be on Antique Roadshow? Noted art and antique appraiser Timothy Gordon will be down at the Dana Gallery this morning at 10:30 am to 2 pm to provide verbal evaluation of works of fine art including paintings, ceramics and sculpture as well as rare antique items, Native American and Chinese Artifacts.  Gordon has appraised private and museum collections worldwide, including Kensington Palace London and he's appeared as an expert appraiser on national television. 
The Indy did a story on him in 2009, and about the rush of having your wares appraised. It's worth a trip down there for the fun.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lake County Undersheriff Karey Reynolds resigns

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Lake County Undersheriff Karey Reynolds, the subject of a perjury investigation in the state department of justice, announced his resignation today.

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In an interview this morning with the Indy, Reynolds said the decision has nothing to do with the state’s investigation, but rather “restructuring of the [sheriff’s] office.”

“It was decided that the office of the undersheriff was going to handle different roles,” he said, “and to be honest with you, I am not the best man for that job…I think there is another individual who can handle that better. And I’m not going to stand in the citizens’ way of getting things accomplished.”

Reynolds said the complaint against him—that he misrepresented his work history prior to Lake County Sheriff Jay Doyle choosing him as undersheriff last year—is “totally unfounded.”

It’s the latest incident in a string of controversies surrounding Lake County law enforcement.

Early last year, the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council, or POST, the state body that polices the police, requested records to verify Reynolds’ employment with the Ronan Police Department. To be eligible for undersheriff, he couldn’t have had a break in service exceeding 36 months. Ronan Police Chief Dan Wadsworth provided the documentation.

“However,” POST Director Wayne Ternes wrote to Doyle on May 19, “due to the recent incident at [the Montana Law Enforcement Academy] where a student was ‘sponsored’ by Ronan Police Department to attend MLEA and documents were falsified by Chief Wadsworth (mainly stating that the student was hired by Ronan when he was not), I decided that further investigation into Mr. Reynolds’s employment was necessary.”

POST couldn’t verify Reynolds’ work history. So it ordered him to complete a 12-week basic-training course at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy, in Helena. He graduated Dec. 9.

Meanwhile, Doyle asked the state attorney general’s office to conduct an investigation, which is underway.

It appears Reynolds could have perjured himself on search warrant applications he signed, such as one in a rape case. In that document he claims “20 years prior law enforcement experience” and that he had “received training in recognizing and investigating sexual assault and crimes in general.” Reynolds' POST records do not show training in investigating sex crimes.

"We are pursuing the allegation from a criminal standpoint and nothing changes by Mr. Reynolds resigning as undersheriff," Montana Department of Justice spokesman John Doran said.

Lake County Detective Dan Yonkin will take over as undersheriff on Feb. 14.

Below is Reynolds' statement announcing his resignation, in which he calls the allegations of misconduct in Lake County "spiteful mud-slinging of an unhappy minority."

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The Rockies Today, Jan. 27

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Headwaters News.

Canada again declines to implement emergency plan to protect caribou
Environment Minister Peter Kent said Wednesday that he again declined to put an emergency plan into place to protect caribou, because the health of some herds in Canada had improved, thus there's no fear that the species will disappear entirely, even though some experts predict the species will be gone from Alberta within a generation if immediate measures aren't taken.
CBC News (Canadian Press); Jan. 25

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