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Top stories for the morning of Thursday, August 21st, 2014:
- 40-year-old Adam Sanchez, the man accused of killing Deputy Dunn, will appear in a Chouteau County courtroom this morning. Click here for more details.
- Firefighters had the Blakeslee Fire, which is centered about seven miles northeast of Grass Range, at 70% containment on Tuesday evening. Click here for more details.
- A fire near the Log Gulch campground at Holter Lake has grown to 215 acres. Click here for more details.
- Representative Steve Daines says he'll stay focused on his campaign message in the race for U.S. Senate, even though he has a new opponent, Butte Democrat Amanda Curtis.
- A new poll released Wednesday shows Curtis trails Daines by 20 points.
- U.S. House Majority leader John Boehner made a stop in the Flathead Valley Wednesday to support Ryan Zinke, the Republican candidate for Montana's seat in the house.
- Elaine Olson has been selected to replace Evan Bowser as the Democratic candidate for Montana House District 19.
- Montana State University-Northern has named a new Director of Nursing. Dr. Janice Starr, previously the Director of Nursing and Allied Health at New Mexico State University, has been appointed after an extensive nation wide search.
- Thousands of freshman will continue to move into residence halls at Montana State University - Bozeman this week.
- Countless movies have been made about life on other planets; but two decades of research, conducted by Montana State University, culminated with a discovery that shows life might be found on other planets.
- A new athletics and academic center is in the works at the University of Montana.
MISSOULA -- Two arrests have been made after a pipe bomb that was found in a Missoula garage on Tuesday afternoon.
What started as a probation officer conducting a home visit is what led to the discovery of not only a bomb, but also bomb- making materials inside the home.
The roommates arrested are 27-year old Andrew Charles Ibey and 40-year old Shelly Turbitt.
Ibey has been charged with felony possession of explosives and burglarizing a residence. He is currently being held on $100,000 bail and is expected to appear in court Thursday.
Turbitt, who was found with meth and marijuana in her system, is now on a 72-hour hold as authorities investigate.
State Parole Officer Kathleen Beccari says Turbitt's probation officer, Andrea Bethel, called authorities after she identified the explosive device inside the garage at 919 Spartan Drive at around 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
City and County law enforcement - as well as a bomb squad - responded to the scene, taped off the street, and evacuated four homes.
A police robot was sent into the home to retrieve the device as bystanders gathered along the caution tape.
Bomb technicians were able to confirm the explosive device as a pipe bomb and destroyed it, sending a loud boom through the area, but causing no significant damage.
WHITEFISH -- A 23-year-old Montana woman died after her car was hit head-on by another vehicle on US highway 93 north of Whitefish on Wednesday afternoon.
Montana Highway Patrol Trooper John Underwood says a Mazda SUV was heading south on Highway 93 when the driver swerved off into the right shoulder and then over-corrected.
The SUV then veered into the northbound lane where it struck a smaller Honda car being driven by the 23-year-old woman, sending her car into the ditch.
Trooper Underwood tells us the Mazda that swerved into the northbound lane was being driven by a man from Alberta, Canada.
The woman was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, while the driver of the car from Alberta and a female passenger were flown to Kalispell Regional Medical Center with serious, but not life-threatening, injuries.
The victim's name has not yet been released.
The MHP is investigating to determine whether alcohol or excessive speed were factors, and whether seatbelts were worn.
GREAT FALLS - The first of three Bigge Crane megaloads carrying refinery equipment destined for Great Falls has now crossed from Idaho into Montana.
The megaload is currently east of Libby along U.S. Highway 2 and will next travel to the weigh station just west of Kalispell overnight.
The Montana Department of Transportation says that the load dimensions are a width of 21 feet, 1 inch; and a height of 16 feet, 9 inches. The length and gross weight will vary depending on the number of push and pull trucks, for example additional trucks may be needed when it is moving uphill. The maximum permitted length is 400 feet 5 inches, and the maximum gross weight will be 1,086,500 pounds.
The two other modules will travel a route along I-15 with loading taking place south of Dillon; the travel date for those departures has not yet been set.
All three megaloads should be at the Calumet Refinery in Great Falls by the end of August; officials hope to travel up to 100 miles a day.
The move, which has been planned for seven stages, will travel at night to minimize travel disruptions. Drivers traveling at night along the route may experience traffic delays of up to 10 minutes.
Here is the scheduled route of the first megaload:
Entering Montana on MT 200
Here are some frequently-asked questions and answers about megaloads from MDT:
What if an emergency
vehicle needs to get around a mega load?
Carriers have to submit a transportation plan to MDT as part of the permit process. In most cases, procedures for emergency vehicles are included as part of the transportation plan. Local law enforcement is notified of any load travelling through their jurisdictions. In some cases, a load may be traveling with a law enforcement escort.
Will the mega load
traveling interrupt traffic and adversely impact
The administrative rules of Montana require that loads over 18 feet wide, 17 feet high, or 150 feet long not delay traffic in excess of 10 minutes. In developing a transportation plan for the movement of mega loads, carriers examine the route and develop a system to clear traffic using pilot cars and existing turnouts that will comply with the 10 minute rule. MDT has the authority to revoke permits and issue fines if the carrier does not comply with the ten minute maximum traffic delay rule set forth in § 18.8.1101, ARM. MDT also implements time and date restrictions on the travel time to avoid conflicts with weekend, holiday and commuter traffic.
Will the highways be able to carry the weight of the loads?
Prior to granting a permit for a mega load, MDT analyzes the potential impact to bridges along the route by listing each bridge location and "design live load capacity" for each structure based upon the proposed load configuration. Based upon in service design, structure condition, bridge span and other load allowances for the structures, MDT determines those bridges with most limited capacity for the proposed configuration and identifies those structures as "controlling bridges." MDT then analyzes the proposed configuration for those controlling bridges, and applies appropriate load and travel restrictions. If the bridge live load capacity is less than the overload, the permit is not approved.
Below is a more detailed route for the first megaload; click here to read more at the MDT website.
Day 1 - Start at ID/MT state line on SR200. The preferred stopping Point is in front of the MDOT Maintenance Station at M.P. 35.3 on US2 right after Granite Cr. Barrels will be placed around the combination on both sides since traffic will have to move around it to access the State Facility. The Power Units can be removed if it is necessary to provide access. There are several large parking areas before Libby that can be used (refer to the Route Study), but this one puts us close to the Construction Area around M.P. 45 to 48 to simplify coordination for the following night. The night's travel will be 63.8 miles
Day 2 - Start at M.P. 35.3 and park at the Weigh Station at M.P. 115.7 on US2. Barrels will be placed between any potential traffic and the load. The night's travel will be 78.1 miles.
Day 3 - Start at M.P. 113.4 on US2 and park at the turnout at M.P. 77.7 on SR83. Barrels will be placed between any potential traffic and the load. The night's travel will be 51.4 miles.
Day 4 - Start at M.P. 73.5 on SR83 and park at the turnout at M.P. 00.3 on SR83. The load will be parked as far away from the travel lanes as possible and barrels placed between any potential traffic. The nights travel will be 77.4 miles.
Day 5 - Start at M.P. 00.3 on SR83 and park at the turnout at M.P. 93.5 next to the MDT Maintenance Station on SR200. Barrels will be placed between any potential traffic and the load. The night's travel will be 63.0 miles.
Day 6 - Start at M.P. 93.5 and travel to the Calumet Site in Great falls. The nights travel would be 66.3 miles
HELENA -- Montana Department of Environmental Quality discontinued use of its Last Chance Gulch location last year because of lead contamination. The building is still empty and will probably stay that way as the state seeks funding for remediation.
Nearly 100 DEQ workers moved out of the historic Art Deco building last October.
Testing of the building was completed in March and showed high lead levels in ceilings and on some surfaces, but not in the air.
State officials say that there's no indication so far that any state workers have suffered health effects from the lead. Officials are looking for the funds to pay for the cleanup in the what used to be a National Guard armory with a firing range in the basement.
"The lead dust has migrated from the old firing range that is in the basement, just over years of use and it's made its way into the ceiling tile above the ceiling tile and into the light fixtures," said Russ Katherman, engineering manager and contract officer with the Montana Department of Administration.
Remediation of the lead (inlcuding replacement of some items that cannot be cleaned, like ceiling tiles) will be "quite a chore," but needs to be done, Katherman said.
Before the serious work of remediation can begin the state needs to find funding.
HELENA -- The Helena Police Department is asking for help in recovering a POW-MIA memorial flag that was stolen from its holder near Highway 12 East and 18th Street over the weekend.
The section of Highways 12 and 287 running from Helena to West Yellowstone were designated as a POW-MIA Memorial Highway in May.
The road was decorated with flags embroidered with the names of 55 Montana service members who remain unaccounted for since the time of World War II. The flags were put up on Friday, August 15, in preparation for the inaugural "Ride To Remember" from Helena to West Yellowstone.
The stolen flag is a black POW MIA flag with the words "William Wesley Bjork US Army Korea" embroidered on it.
The flag was located along Highway 12 in the area between Trico Federal Credit Union and Burger King.
The flag was discovered missing on August 17 and witnesses say that they saw two white men, one standing on the other's shoulders, stealing the flag on Saturday night. The two men then went across the highway toward the Montana Department of Transportation. The witnesses were unable to follow the suspects at that point and lost track of their location.
Anyone with information that may help in recovering the flag is asked to call the Helena Police Department at 406-447-8233, or Crimestoppers at 406-443-2000.
WOLF CREEK -- A wildfire broke out north of Log Gulch campground on Holter Lake on Wednesday.
The fire was reported around 12:30 p.m. and several fire crews were on scene including three helicopters and two retardant planes.
Log Gulch campground has been evacuated and a law enforcement checkpoint has been set up just south of Holter Lake campground.
Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says that the public is welcome to continue use of Holter Lake campground, but cautions boaters to stay away from the areas where helicopters are dipping from the lake.
Log Gulch campground remains closed at this time.
Area residents may access their property but have been notified to be ready in case they are ordered to evacuate.
The fire has burned approximately 215 acres as of Wednesday evening.
Suppression efforts are continuing, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
A public information phone line has been set up at 406-447-1605.
Dunn funeral Thursday: Cascade County Sheriff's Deputy Joseph Dunn, killed in the line of duty last week, will be laid to rest Thursday with full military honors. Click here to read more.
Blakeslee Fire: A lightning-sparked fire in Fergus County has now burned over 1,100 acres. Click here to read more.
Log Gulch fire: A fire near the Log Gulch campground at Holter Lake has grown to 215 acres. Click here to read more.
Journalist killed: U.S. officials say a chilling and cruel video released online showing the execution of kidnapped American Journalist James Foley is authentic.
Daines focused on campaign: Representative Steve Daines says he'll stay focused on his campaign message in the race for U.S. Senate, even though he has a new opponent, Butte Democrat Amanda Curtis.
Curtis faces uphill battle: A new poll released Wednesday shows Curtis trails Daines by 20 points.
Boehner stumps for Zinke: U.S. House Majority leader John Boehner made a stop in the Flathead Valley Wednesday to support Ryan Zinke, the Republican candidate for Montana's seat in the house.
New Montana House candidate: Elaine Olson has been selected to replace Evan Bowser as the Democratic candidate for Montana House District 19.
BELT - Belt Head coach Jeff Graham called Friday's practice the best first day ever. And after eight seasons as head coach, that says a lot about the expectations for this year's Huskies.
"Everything was good," Graham said. "The seniors we've had the past couple of years have set the tone for practices. This year we have seven seniors and seven juniors and they just follow the path. We just look sharp. You can tell they had a good summer."
That's because the Huskies have a lot on their minds this summer. Belt was four points short of a trip to a state championship, falling 18-14 to Wibaux in the Class C 8-man semifinals. Since then there's been a drive to get better in the offseason.
"The guys have been talking about it since November, so that's been kind of cool," Graham said. "Hopefully that's back there in the back of our minds making us practice good every day."
With several all conference players returning, another Northern C title and playoff run would appear to be in the works for these Huskies.
"We might rotate four or five different offensive linemen but we feel in the third and fourth quarter we'll be fresh so the depth is a blessing."
GREAT FALLS -- Adam Sanchez Jr. has been charged with deliberate homicide for the death of Cascade County Sheriff's Deputy Joe Dunn.
Cascade County Attorney John Parker made the announcement on Wednesday evening.
Sanchez is currently being held in the Chouteau County jail, and is scheduled to make his initial appearance in a Chouteau County courtroom on Thursday at 8:30 a.m.
Court documents allege that Sanchez led officers on a high-speed chase on Thursday, August 14th, from Great Falls to Geyser, and then turned around and began heading back to Great Falls. At approximately mile marker 77, Sanchez's vehicle hit Dunn, fatally injuring him, and Sanchez then continued driving at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour back toward Great Falls.
The chase ended near 15th Street and Smelter Avenue in Black Eagle, where witnesses say that officers drew their guns on Sanchez, yelling at him to get out of the car, and one of the officers then broke out a car window and used a Taser on Sanchez. Officers then called for an ambulance and held Sanchez down until EMTs arrived; he was then taken to Benefis hospital, and later transferred to the Chouteau County jail.
Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT) has ordered all flags flown in the State of Montana to be flown at half staff on Thursday, August 21st, to honor Deputy Joe Dunn.
Dunn, 33 years old, had served with the Sheriff's Office for 2 1/2 years, and also served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is survived by his parents, two siblings, a wife and two small children.
Here is the funeral procession information from Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards:
Deputy Dunn's Funeral will be August 21st at 1:00 at the Montana ExpoPark (Four Seasons Arena)
The procession after the funeral will start between 2:00PM and 2:30PM. The times are contingent on the length of the service.
- After the funeral we will exit the Expo Park through the north gate onto the NW Bypass eastbound to 3rd Street NW.
- Turning southbound on to 3rd Street NW to Central Avenue West turning East to go over the 1st Avenue North bridge.
- From the 1st Avenue North bridge, we will turn right on to River Drive and up and over flag hill (Overlook Drive) to 10th Avenue South where we will merge to go eastbound
- We will then proceed to 13th Street South and proceed southbound on 13th to 33rd Avenue South where we will turn left and proceed eastbound to Highland Cemetery.