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KRTV Morning News - Thu Jan 29

Top stories for the morning of Thursday, January 29th, 2015:

- An 8th grader has been taken into custody for allegedly attempting to assault and kidnap a teacher at North Middle School Tuesday prompting a lock down. Click here for more details.

- An 18-year old who had been recently released from Pine Hills School in Miles City was arrested for shooting at motorists Monday night in the Riverview neighborhood of Great Falls. Click here for more details.

- Galen Hawk of St. Ignatius faces up to 20 years behind bars after pleading guilty in the shooting death of a 3-year-old boy. Click here for more details.

- Focus of the oil spill in the Yellowstone River turns to the animals impacted by the spill.

- A bill approving the Keystone XL Pipeline could land on the President's desk by tomorrow.

- Montana lawmakers are considering to increase bans on cell phone use while driving.

- Montana economists say the eastern part of the state has witnessed an economic "miracle" over the past five years due to the boom in the Bakken.


KRTV 10pm Top Stories-Wed Jan 28

State of the State: Governor Steve Bullock outlined his vision for Montana Wednesday night during his second State of the State address.

GOP response: Republicans were critical of several of Governor Bullock's plans discussed in the State of the State address, including his vision for infrastructure.

Middle school lock down update: An 8th grader has been taken into custody for allegedly attempting to assault and kidnap a teacher at North Middle School Tuesday prompting a lock down.   Click here to read more.

Riverview shooter arrested: An 18-year old who had been recently released from Pine Hills School in Miles City was arrested for shooting at motorists Monday night in the Riverview neighborhood of Great Falls.   Click here to read more.

Malmstrom improvments: A year after a major cheating and drug scandal rocked Malmstrom Air Force Base, leaders have implemented new measures to make sure it doesn't happen again. MTN went on special assignment to investigate.


Athlete of the Week: Malta's Sophia Stiles

MALTA -- The Malta M-Ettes are undefeated and dominating district 2B. Coach Hammond gets contributions from everyone on his roster, but it's an unassuming underclassman who holds the keys to the efficient Malta offense.

Sophia Stiles is your typical high school sophomore; she says her favorite musical artist is Beyonce and she doesn't take the court without her signature pink shoes.

But her play on the court is anything but typical.

"She just brings a lot of energy," said 2nd year head coach Nate Hammond. "On the defensive end and offensive end both, she just makes things happen. Sometimes she only gets 15-20 minutes of playing time per night but she sure makes things happen when she's in there."

Stiles' 2014-15 numbers jump off the page even for a program as stories as Malta. Thirteen games into the season Stiles is averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and an eye popping 5 steals per game. Not to mention shooting at a 57% clip. She had a triple double in her first game of the season (12 pts, 12 assists and 11 rebounds vs. Havre) and has had three or more steals in every game she's played.

"I like to consider myself a defensive player," said Stiles. "I think defense creates the offense, so if I can get a steal I like to think I can probably get to the basket and make a layup."

The sophomore leads the team in scoring, but it's her unselfishness with the ball that has the M-Ettes once again among the favorites in Class B.

"I love getting assists probably more than I like getting points," Stiles said. "I love that all of our bench can get in, and I like that a lot more than me just scoring."

She's humble, but definitely confident in her team. When asked where she ranks Malta in this year's Class B basketball - she doesn't mince words.

"I think we're a contender. I wouldn't say we're the best but I would say we're top five."

(Malta vs. Roundup footage courtesy of GazPrepSports)


Governor Bullock delivers "State Of The State" address (livestream)

HELENA -- Governor Steve Bullock will deliver his "State of the State" address beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

He will give the speech to a joint session of the Montana Legislature; it's Bullock's opportunity to make the case for his top priorities.

Lawmakers and political analysts expect to hear about Medicaid expansion, early childhood education, and the governor's big infrastructure bill, which has plenty of projects designed to attracting support across the the state and across the aisle."

MT State Representative Roy Hollandsworth (R-Brady) said, "Looking at my part of the state that I represent, I hope that he really talks about Build Montana. We need to do work on our inner structure- infrastructure and I hope that we do a combination of bo nding and cash."

A couple of Republican lawmakers also said they expect Bullock to take credit for the strong economy and low gas prices. They also expect some talk maybe about campaign campaign finance, and Bullock is now at the middle of national big-time fundraising as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association Association.

Montana PBS is providing a livestream of the event; if the video below does not play, click here.

KRTV Evening Top News - Wed Jan 28

GREAT FALLS -- Top news on KRTV for the evening of Wednesday, January 28, 2015:

- Following Tuesday's lockdown at North Middle School, an 8th-grade student has been charged with felony attempted kidnapping. Click here to read more. 

-  Zachary Clark is facing several felony charges after reportedly firing a gun in the Riverview neighborhood of Great Falls on Monday. Click here for details.

- Some students at Montana State University are about to have their groundbreaking work launched to space. Graduate student Seth Berardinelli has been working on the Fire Bird project since 2010: "I'm one of the few people who can say that I have something in space. Not very many people can say that they have done something like that." Click here to read more. 


Box Elder man convicted on charges of rape and assault

GREAT FALLS --  Dallas Lawrence of Box Elder has been convicted of two rapes, two strangulations, two assaults with intent to commit murder, and assault with a dangerous weapon.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office says that Lawrence, 32 years old, now faces a maximum of life in prison for the rapes, 20 years on the assaults with intent to commit murder, and 10 years for the strangulations and assault with a dangerous weapon charges.

He also faces a $250,000 fine on each count, and up to five years of supervised release.

Evidence presented at trial by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Weiss showed that Lawrence and the victim were in a relationship where Lawrence became increasingly physically and verbally abusive.

In September 2013, Lawrence stabbed the victim in her calf. She was found walking around Havre, and was taken to a hospital where doctors treated her stab wound.

The woman told the doctors her boyfriend had stabbed her in the leg and that she was in an abusive relationship. She said Lawrence had also tried to break her arms and legs to keep her from leaving.

The evidence also showed that in March 2014, Lawrence strangled the same victim with a humidifier cord after asking her, "How do you want me to do you in, fast or slow?"

The woman was able to slip two fingers under the cord, but she still couldn't breathe. She managed to escape the cord.

Lawrence continued to control her after that by making her stay in her room, and controlling where she went and who she was around. He kept the keys to the car, and made threats to her about trying to leave him.

In May 2014, Lawrence again strangled her after beating her, and asked her again if she wanted to die fast or slow. He gripped both hands around her neck and began to strangle her. She tried to slide away, but he kept strangling her to the point that she blacked out.

Lawrence later told her he thought he had killed her and was going to hide her body in a crawlspace until he could find a place to bury it.

During the same time period in early summer 2014, Lawrence forced the victim to have sex with him on two occasions.

Sentencing has been scheduled for April 30.

Satellite built by MSU students will be launched Thursday

BOZEMAN -- Students at Montana State University are about to have their groundbreaking work launched to space.

Graduate student Seth Berardinelli has been working on the Fire Bird project since 2010: "I'm one of the few people who can say that I have something in space. Not very many people can say that they have done something like that."

Berardinelli explained that the Fire Bird project is a student-based project with very little contribution from outside of MSU students. It is a hands-on approach that gives students some valuable experience to launch their careers.

"Almost the entire team that originally worked on this firebird mission have all subsequently graduated," said Keith Mashburn, MSU's Senior Research Engineer for the Space Science & Engineering department. "Even in the last six months, we lost our longest surviving six team members who have all gone onto very lucrative careers in the aerospace industry."

The students have an exact working replica of the satellite to work with in the lab. They are able to engineer the custom components and test the output. The data is sent directly from the lab to an antenna on the roof of Cobleigh Hall, where it is then transmitted to a computer lab. It will work the same way when the satellite is actually launched and operational, with one big exception.... It will come from space as the satellite passes over southwest Montana.

The satellite itself is not very big. In fact, you could hold it in your hand. But the amount of technology involved is astounding. Armed with a flight computer, batteries that are charged via solar panels, radio transmitters, and a custom designed computer board that will interface with the science experiment.

What are they doing? Well, let's just say it is complicated. According to Mashburn, the are measuring energetic electrons known as ‘killer' electrons. The electrons are hazardous to astronauts. Researching how the ‘killer' electrons work could give some insight to future space exploration.

The lifespan of the satellite is expected to be about one year, though it depends on the elements in space. While they shoot for a year, they can often get a longer lifespan. NASA plans to launch the satellite on Thursday at 7:20 a.m. (Montana time) if the weather cooperates.

The students don't know exactly when they will get their first communication from the satellite. That will depend on when and where in orbit the satellite is actually set in space and when it will cross over southwest Montana.

'Zombie cat' presumed dead was found alive five days after being buried

(CNN) -- It's like a plot line ripped from the scripts of "The Walking Dead" -- if the show's cast were made up of cats and took place in Florida.

A Tampa, Florida, cat found seemingly dead after he was hit by a car showed up alive in a neighbor's yard five days after he was buried.

"We have seen many amazing cases at our full-service veterinary clinic, but this situation may take the cake," the Humane Society Tampa Bay, where the cat underwent surgery Tuesday, said in a release.

Bart, or "zombie cat" as the feline is now being referred to on social media, was discovered "unresponsive" by his owner last week lying in a pool of blood. His body was cold and his face was severely disfigured.

"If we'd seen that cat on the road, we'd assumed he was dead," Nash McCuthchen with the Humane Society told CNN.

Bart's owner, Ellis Hutson, along with the help of a neighbor, buried his beloved pet in his yard.

Five days later, a different neighbor found Bart walking in her yard, after he seemingly clawed his way out of the grave.

The neighbor returned the cat to Hutson, who called the Humane Society for help.

Bart was in bad shape, McCutchen said, with maggots covering open wounds on his body, and he had difficulty walking. The cat was dehydrated, his left eye ruined.

But remarkably, McCutchen said, the kitty had no internal injuries, making the Humane Society able to treat him. Bart had surgery Wednesday to remove his left eye and wire his jaw shut.

"He seems to be a little fighter," McCutchen said.

Despite all the trauma of getting hit by a car, being presumed dead and buried alive, McCutchen said Bart is a very friendly and affectionate cat. He loves to be petted and purrs at visitors, she said.

Bart is expected to recover and could return to his owner as early as next week.

-- The-CNN-Wire™ & © Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Clark charged for firing gun at car in Great Falls

GREAT FALLS -- Zachary Clark is facing several felony charges after reportedly firing a gun in the Riverview neighborhood of Great Falls on Monday.

Court documents released on Wednesday state that several cars were parked in the CMR (high school) parking lot.

Four males were in a black truck and a red car. Two females were in a silver SUV. Clark was in a black car. Two of the males in the black truck drove away from the parking lot. The red car followed the silver SUV as it left the parking lot. Clark got out of the black car and into the SUV.

At some point the red car stopped following the SUV, and the SUV then began following the red car "in a reckless manner." As the vehicles came to a stop, Clark got out of the passenger seat and fired three rounds at the red car; one was fired directly into the red car, and a trajectory rod showed that the bullet was on a "perfect trajectory" toward the driver's head.

The two female occupants of the SUV told police that Clark was the person who fired the gun.

When interviewed by police, Clark confessed firing the three rounds, and indicated that he did it to scare the people in the red car; he said that two of the rounds were fired into the air.

Damage to the car was estimated at more than $1,500.

Court documents note that Clark was released from the Pine Hills juvenile detention facility in eastern Montana four days before this incident, and he has several juvenile convictions and probation violations.

Clark is charged with two felony counts of assault with a weapon, one felony count of criminal endangerment, and one felony count of criminal mischief.

Prosecutors have requested that bond for Clark be set at $100,000.

(Tuesday, January 27, 2015) Great Falls police officers responded to a report of gunshots fired at about 10:50 p.m. on Monday.

The incident began in the area of CMR High School.

No information about that initial confrontation has been released except that it involved three juvenile males in a vehicle and another driver.

Police say the suspect vehicle followed the three juveniles to the area of Skyline Drive and 5th Street NE in the Riverview neighborhood.

That is where officers say the suspect got out of his vehicle and fired three shots, hitting the juveniles' vehicle once.

Investigators collected shell casings at the scene and say they are looking for the suspect vehicle, but they are not releasing a description at this time.

No one was injured in the incident

We will update you as we get more information.


Hawk admits to shooting death of 3-year-old Lake County boy

POLSON -- Galen Hawk of St. Ignatius faces up to 20 years behind bars after pleading guilty in the shooting death of a 3-year-old boy.

Hawk appeared in a Polson courtroom on Wednesday and as part of a plea agreement admitted to charges of negligent homicide and DUI in connection with the October 2014 incident.

The boy was shot and killed in a home on Eagle Pass Trail in the Ninepipes area on October 22.

Hawk had previously told a Lake County judge that was intoxicated at the time of the shooting and said that he thought the gun was unloaded.

Hawk will be sentenced on March 25 in Polson and faces up to 20 years in prison, as well as a possible $50,000 fine.

(October 25, 2014) Galen Hawk of St. Ignatius has been charged with negligent homicide in the shooting death of a 3-year old boy on Wednesday.

Authorities say it was an accidental shooting.

The Lake County Attorney's Office charged Hawk, 26 years old, on Friday afternoon when he made his initial court appearance in Polson.

Hawk told a Lake County judge that he was intoxicated at the time of the shooting.

Hawk also told the judge he thought the gun was unloaded.

The child, whose name has not yet been released, was shot Wednesday evening at a home on Eagle Pass Trail in the Ninepipes area.

Authorities say dispatchers were called just before 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday and were told a child was being taken by personal vehicle to St. Luke's Medical Center in Ronan with a gunshot wound; the boy died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Lake County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Karen Sargeant says Hawk is not related to the victim, but lived in the house where the shooting happened.

A state medical examiner has concluded that the 3-year-old died from a single gunshot wound to the torso from a small-caliber handgun.


2014 Predictions

As promised here are my 2014 mid-term election predictions. Just a reminder, I was 100% in 2012 predicting Obama’s re-election, Tester beating Rehberg, the GOP not gaining U.S. Senate control, Bullock winning the governorship and Daines winning the House seat. So without further adieu or a-don’t:

THE GOP WILL WIN THE U.S. SENATE taking at least 6 seats away from the Dems; Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa and Arkansas. The GOP could flip as many as 10 states adding Alaska, Louisiana, Colorado and New Hampshire to the mix. Oregon, Michigan and Minnesota are in play according to some but I doubt those will go red.

STATUS QUO IN THE HOUSE. No significant change in the U.S. House unless the GOP wins 8-12 Senate seats, then it’s a wave similar to 2010 and they’ll pick up an additional 10 or so House seats.

Daines will easily beat Curtis for the open Montana Senate seat by 10-20 percentage points or more. The Zinke-Lewis House race will be much tighter, though I think Zinke pulls it out by 3-5 points due to the big Republican voter enthusiasm advantage. The Dems have the President to thank for that.

The GOP will maintain it’s big majority in the Montana House and a slimmer majority in the state Senate, though it’s hard to predict due to this being the first election with new state legislative districts. The entrance of Amanda Curtis into the Senate race is likely to hurt down-ticket Democratic candidates statewide unless she crafts and communicates a much more middle-of-the-road, positive message. So far she is not inspiring independents and is angering conservatives who will take it out on Dems at the ballot box. The only constituency she is currently energizing is the far, far left who would turn out and vote anyway.

It looks like a very good year for the GOP statewide and nationally but things could change pretty quickly. There’s only about 9 weeks until Election Day and actually in MT folks will begin to vote in about 5 weeks. Not a lot of time to change the positive GOP trajectory but here are a few wild cards that could change things either way:

1.) Obama could take executive action on immigration that would anger and energize a bigger conservative turnout OR energize a bigger Dem turnout. I’m sure the White House is calculating and polling on that as we speak.

2.) When the GOP led House comes back next week they could form the circular firing squad they’re so famous for and decide to “shut down the government” in response to an Obama action like the one mentioned above. If they do that then they will not retake the Senate and will LOSE House seats.

3.) It’s possible that Louisiana will have a run-off election in December to determine which party will control the U.S. Senate. They have a weird set of procedures down there and if a candidate doesn’t get at least 50% in the general then it goes to a run-off. I don’t think this scenario is likely to determine Senate control but you never know…

4.) International problems could get very ugly and much, much worse in the coming days and weeks. If so, it will most likely make things much worse for Dems, but could benefit them if the President shows some exceptional leadership and courage.

There you have it friends, and delivered before Labor Day. Have a great holiday weekend!

Fair questions about fairgrounds

Good observations and questions about Expo Park here in Cascade County from a listener to the radio show:

“The financial situation at the Fairgrounds is very concerning. It seems the most fundamental  accounting procedures to ensure employee accountability and prevent theft have not traditionally been in place. Since the Fairgrounds is a public entity, this is very surprising. Along with proper daily procedures of cash handling, an annual audit is the rule.

I applaud whoever “blew the horn” on the situation and brought these unfortunate circumstances to light. I can only hope that as we move forward, the County continues to remain transparent, and inform and reassure the public that the correct procedures are in place.

Will we see an annual audit from a private accounting firm, and will the audit be publicly noticed and available to voters? And has anyone estimated the total amount of loss to taxpayers from this situation?”

Worse than Nixon? Wow!

Obama is the worst President since WWII.
Worse than Bush.
Worse than Nixon.
According to FOX News? No, according to 1446 registered voters in a new Quinnipiac poll. And the numbers get worse and worse as you look further into the poll. It’s devastating for the President and his party.

The President could turn it around though if he would stop behaving like a third grader with the taunting, mocking, “so sue me” cocky attitude and start behaving like the adult in the room.

Democrats will start jumping ship pretty quickly now because the Presidents antics and woeful lack of anything remotely resembling leadership will not yield the intended results of sufficiently firing up the base for November. Captain Obama is steering the Titanic directly at the iceberg and will sink his party and this country if not checked. Apparently he’s too arrogant and confident in his golden lifeboat waiting in 2016 to give a rip.

Wednesday radio show featuring former GOP state senator Jerry Black

This Wednesday, June 25th live in the studio will be former GOP state senator and longtime north central Montana broadcaster Jerry Black. Topics will include state and local politics and issues, political polarization and the state of the Montana Republican Party.
As always the show features listener call-ins and emails. The call-in number is 452-1073 and the email is

Two good reasons for war no more

We should all hope and pray that our great country is not sucked into another foreign war for two reasons:

First, we should have all learned the lesson that nation building and trying to solve ancient feuds when the people directly involved don’t want us to is impossible and not worth even one drop of American blood or one penny of American treasure. Thanks to the blindness and ignorance of neo-cons like Cheney and the inept prosecution of the war by the then CINC G.W. Bush that lesson was learned at the expense of our brave young soldiers and an economic debt we may never pay off.

Second, the notion of engaging in another war under the “leadership” of Obama should frighten the crap out of all of us. The weakness, indecision and incompetence of the current CINC would make W look like a military genius by comparison. Just imagine a war-time president like Obama who thinks global warming or climate change or whatever they’re calling it this week is the greatest threat facing us and who can’t even manage a web site…or his own State Department. Imagine a CINC who has no idea whats going on in the world, or his own administration for that matter, until he learns about it from the newspaper after it’s too late.


Let’s bake a bigger pie

It’s distressing to see this community being divided once again over a school levy vote. Political vendettas, personal attacks, name calling and disrespect on all sides. Folks who oppose the levy have legitimate reasons and aren’t trying to hurt the community and those who support the levy do so for noble reasons as well and aren’t trying to rip off taxpayers.

Instead of squabbling over how to divide up the crumbs and thin slices of a shrinking pie we should be WORKING TOGETHER TO GROW THE PIE. I want to hear the sound of hammer and saw building new homes, businesses and infrastructure. I want to see a thriving economy where lot’s of people have good full time jobs, where shops and restaurants are so busy they can barely keep up.

We can have a growing community where we don’t even think twice about paying a little more for public schools because we’re prosperous and student enrollment is expanding because people want to move here and live here and raise their kids here.

We CAN be that. Why not here? Let’s get to work!

GFPS levy issue: BOTH sides need to compromise

When it comes to funding our schools at the local district level we need to find common ground and make arguments based on facts rather than casting aspersions on those we disagree with. We have to come to some kind of a consensus on funding education so we can build and maintain a prosperous economy and attract and keep good jobs here. It’s not rocket science; unless we show we are able to agree and make a commitment to excellence in public education we have little chance of growing and developing a thriving economy in Cascade County. Unfortunately many levy proponents always make the same silly mistake: they just can’t seem to stop themselves from referring to levy opponents as “haters” and “gripers” etc. This kind of name-calling really hurts the pro-levy cause. I’m not sure why those who favor a levy don’t seem to understand that most of those who oppose a levy have good reasons for doing so and are not “against kids” or “cheapskates” or “selfish” or “vandals” or “naysayers” – all terms I’ve heard and read recently referring to the “anti-levy crowd” which recently has been the majority “crowd”. Instead of characterizing opponents negatively try understanding their point of view. Instead of putting all of the responsibility on local taxpayers to buck up and just “hand over the money because it’s for the kids”, why not suggest, no DEMAND, that administrators and teachers also make some sacrifices. Most levy opponents I’ve spoken with are FOR more transparency, FOR more accountability, FOR more frugality, FOR more shared responsibility between taxpayers and district employees.

The district is asking for about $500,000 of this levy request to pay for the increase in health insurance premiums for district employees which is largely due to ObamaCare mandates. A 2% raise was just approved for teachers. The GFPS Athletic Director makes $96,569 per year. Where are the sacrifices being made by district employees? Where is the compromise and attempt to find common ground? We’re still waiting for information on how much of our property and money was stolen from OUR school district by a district employee. How can we be expected to give more money to an administration that doesn’t do everything possible to account for the money we have already given?

I want to make sure we provide a world class education to our kids, my own daughters got that education here and I am proud of our community and school system. That’s why I am urging the pro-levy voices, along with their advocacy for good public education, to ask for some accountability, responsibility and shared sacrifice by the GFPS and employees. I believe this is the key. If we want to see the levy pass there has to be a GENUINE attempt by the school board, the administration and the teachers union to compromise, find solutions and work together, otherwise everyone will suffer the consequences. I stand ready to help in the effort in any way I can.

A couple of random musings

Cynical political tip #113:  Draft a bill, it can have anything at all in it as long as you’re sure the opposing party will vote against it, then call it either the “Fairness and Equality For The Kids Act” or the “America Super Patriot Hero of the Republic Act”. Then when all of your political foes vote against it because of the actual content of the bill (if they actually read it) you can say that they’re against “Fairness and equality for children” or they’re against “American patriotism” in your stupid, lying-ass, hypocritical, selfish, evil, cynical, expensive campaign ads.

Cost of the ACA – According to Great Falls Public Schools Superintendent Tammy Lacey about $500,000 of the proposed $1.6 million dollar school funding levy will be used for increased health insurance premiums for district employees. The increase, according to Lacey, is mostly due to the ACA mandates which lead to more claims thus requiring the districts insurance provider, Signa, to raise premiums. You can hear all of Ms. Laceys remarks on my radio show podcast here.  This is not necessarily a reason to vote against the levy but it is necessarily a reason to question all of the pie-in-sky claims originally made to sell ObamaCare



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