80 MPH Bill Passes MT Senate

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana senators have endorsed the only surviving bill to raise highway speed limits.

Senators voted 31-19 to pass Senate Bill 375 on second reading Wednesday. Sen. Scott Sales’ measure would raise highway speed limits from 75 mph to 80 mph in certain areas where the Montana Department of Transportation deems that speed to be safe.

It would also raise speeding fines from a maximum of $100 to $200.

Three other proposals to raise highway speed limits have died this session after the Montana Highway Patrol spoke against those bills. The patrol favors Sales’ measure, which is the only proposal to include increased fines.

>> Read more at Helena IR >>

MT Students Start Taking Common Core Tests

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s public school students will start taking a new standardized test this week to gauge how well they’re meeting the new Common Core educational standards.

The reading and math tests are considered more difficult than the older, multiple-choice tests. Under the Common Core tests, students will be asked to find the answers to problems and, in some cases, explain their reasoning.

The Smarter Balanced exam will be given to students in grades 3 through 8 and high school juniors in 17 states this spring.

The Billings Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/1COW1eg ) the exam is administered by computer and questions will adjust in difficulty as students answer previous ones to indicate more precisely what they know.


>> Read more at Helena IR >>

Auschwitz Survivor Forgives Former White Supremacist

When German-born Thomas Adams was 9 years old, he taped swastikas around both his arms and wore them to the American elementary school he attended.

In his young mind, it was a way of boasting about his Nazi heritage.

When Eva Kor, a Romanian Jew, was 10, she and her identical twin sister were one of the 1,500 pairs of twins subjected to the inhumane experiments of Dr. Josef Mengele at Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp.

In the mid-1990s, Kor found the strength to forgive the Nazis and Mengele, who had inflicted so much terror and pain on her and her people. On Tuesday night, she extended that same kindness to Adams, who eight years ago rejected his neo-Nazi skinhead past.

>> Read more at Helena IR >>

Immigration Changes Jeopardize Montana Shepherd’s Job

MISSOULA — A long-standing immigration policy allowing migrant workers to take agricultural jobs in the U.S. could undergo changes if a proposal by the Department of Labor becomes law.

Local opponents say the changes would jeopardize Missoula’s sheep-grazing project on Mount Jumbo and cost Enrique Marquez Banda — the city’s seasonal shepherd from Chihuahua, Mexico — his job.

John Stahl, a Missoula rancher who employs Banda on a seasonal basis to run sheep across Mount Jumbo in a weed-fighting effort, said the Labor Department wants to change its H-2A visa program this April.

In place since the 1950s, the program allows employers like Stahl to hire foreign nationals like Banda to fill temporary agricultural jobs. It allows the workers to live in campers or wagons and earn a monthly salary.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/immigration-changes-jeopardize-montana-shepherd-s-job/article_ac4474b5-17b2-569e-a99f-ba0a0348246e.html#ixzz3VSnGDzOr

How Transparent is Montana? 92%

State government in Montana received a score of 92 percent, or an A-minus grade, in new ratings from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group on how the state provides transparency in government spending.

The group’s “2015 Following the Money” report showed Montana’s spending transparency rating mark has improved from 86 percent last year and 57 percent in 2013 when Gov. Steve Bullock took office.

The report was released last week during Sunshine Week, a week to promote public access in government.

“An important part of building a more effective government is ensuring a transparent government,” Bullock said.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/government-and-politics/state-gets-in-transparency-in-government-spending/article_604620ea-90b9-5a56-b9ec-2b6e49f70c34.html#ixzz3VMQCleQJ

Dillon 8th Grader Wins Montana Spelling Bee

T’iel Lochridge, of Dillon, is the Scripps Spelling Bee champion for Montana.

The Dillon Middle School eighth-grader won the state bee on Saturday in Billings.

She will go on to represent Montana in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington in June.

Defending Montana champion Erik Hovland, of Canyon Creek, placed second.

At the beginning of the competition, 60 students labored to unravel tongue-tying words, but after two rounds nearly half the field was knocked out.

>> Read more at Helena IR >>

Montana Honey Production Second Nationally In 2014

Here’s some sweet news for Montana beekeepers: As honey prices hit record highs in 2014, Montana ranked second for honey production.

Treasure State beekeepers produced 14.26 million pounds of commercial honey in 2014, second only to North Dakota, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Friday.

The state had 162,000 honey-producing bee colonies. The value of the state’s honey crop was $29.23 million.

“It was a pretty good year. We made probably a million and a half pounds,” said Dean Egebakken of Harlowton’s Steve E Park Apiaries.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/montana-honey-production-second-nationally-in/article_ad267c87-1176-50ed-bd40-6982fd82d05b.html#ixzz3VB2gyoFz

Montana Western Holds Off Benedictine, 80-77

image001KANSAS CITY, Mo. — (Box Scores) Stephen McCall scored a tournament-high 36 points to lead Montana Western to a 80-77 win over No. 16-seeded Benedictine (Kan.), Wednesday evening in the first round action of the 2015 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship in Municipal Auditorium. The Bulldogs will take on No. 1-seeded Hope International, which knocked off Philander Smith (Ark.) in its first round game, on Friday, March 20 at 6:15 p.m.

McCall hit all 15 of his free throw attempts and hit nine of 13 three-point attempts to record the most points by a player in this year’s national championship. Dexter Williams Jr. was also perfect at the charity stripe, hitting seven attempts on the way to 17 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. Continue reading

All Are Welcome to Attend Hospice Volunteer Training

If you are interested in helping others live with comfort and dignity during a difficult time, consider learning skills to become a Hospice volunteer. Training for Hospice volunteers will take place March 26th and 27th from 6:00 – 9:00 PM and continuing March 28th from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. All three sessions will take place in the conference room of the Foundation/Home Health & Hospice Building on Barrett Hospital & HealthCare’s North Campus (next to the Clinic building).

For more information about becoming a Hospice volunteer, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Nancy Thompson, LPN at (406) 683-9221 or (406) 925-0362.

Consumer Alert: Deceptive Notices from a So-Called “Motor Vehicle Division”

Dear Friends:
The Office of Consumer Protection at the Montana Department of Justice wants to make  Montanans aware of deceptive vehicle service contract “notices” that claim to be issued from the “Motor Vehicle Division.”

The notice, which demands an immediate response on the part of the recipient, is deceptive because neither the Montana Motor Vehicle Division nor the Motor Vehicle Division of any other state is mailing these notices.  These governmental entities are not in the business of selling vehicle service contracts.

Consumers should be advised that if they respond to these notices by calling the number provided on the letter, they would not be dealing with a government entity. Continue reading