Tag Archives: Billings Gazette

Billings Gazette

Montana miners balk at management retention bonuses as pensions go unsecured

More miners are crying foul over $1.4 million per quarter in bonuses proposed to Westmoreland Coal Company mid-level managers, all while union pensions and benefits are in doubt. The International Union of Operators and Engineers objected to the Westmoreland’s “valued employee program,” in which the coal company’s mid-level employees received retention bonuses to stay with Read More…

Montana's education superintendent applauds White House school safety recommendations

Schools should “seriously consider” arming staffers, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said as a federal school safety commission released its recommendations Tuesday. The report lays out dozens of non-binding suggestions on mental health care, school discipline and physical infrastructure aiming to improve safety in America’s schools. President Donald Trump created the commission in March after a Read More…

Billings Gazette

2 deaths reported at Wyoming jails

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Authorities report separate deaths at two corrections facilities in northeast Wyoming over the weekend. The Gillette News Record reports that Felipe Helms was found dead in the shower at the Volunteers of America re-entry facility in Gillette at about 5:45 a.m. Saturday. Deputy Coroner Steve Rozier said an autopsy determined that the Read More…

Hemp legalization may not affect Wyoming

WORLAND, Wyo. — An $867 billion farm bill passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 369-47 on Wednesday (the bill passed the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 87-13) effectively legalized industrial hemp production in the United States, pending President Donald Trump’s signature, although a lack of budget for research in Read More…

Wyoming county assessor implements overlooked tax

JACKSON, Wyo. — Hundreds of Teton County businesses could owe more in taxes this year as the Teton County Assessor’s Office seeks commercial personal-property taxes that have gone uncollected for years. “This is not anything new,” Assessor Melissa Shinkle said. “This is just a matter of catching up because it hasn’t been done for years Read More…

Billings Gazette

Wyoming lawmakers add money for school security, maintenance

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Wyoming legislators have endorsed allocating nearly $5 million for security improvements at K-12 schools. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that the Joint Appropriations Committee added the money to a supplemental school construction bill on Friday. Local districts would identify projects they need. Del McOmie, director of the State Construction Department, says a Read More…

Interior Secretary Zinke resigning, citing 'vicious' attacks; reactions mixed in Montana

WASHINGTON — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, facing federal investigations into his travel, political activity and potential conflicts of interest, will be leaving the administration at year’s end, President Donald Trump said Saturday. In his resignation letter, obtained by The Associated Press, Zinke said “vicious and politically motivated attacks” against him had “created an unfortunate distraction” Read More…

Crews still clearing wreckage from October train derailment in Wyoming

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Union Pacific Railroad Company officials have no definitive timeline for clearing the remaining wreckage from a 56-train-car derailment west of Cheyenne that claimed the lives of two railroad employees. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports the Oct. 4 crash is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, which says it could Read More…

High winds, 50-degree days in the forecast

Southcentral Montana is in for a blustery day, with high temperatures reaching the 50s by Saturday, the National Weather Service forecasts. Wind gusts stronger than 50 mph will scour upper portions of the Yellowstone River corridor Friday and Saturday, with Livingston bearing the brunt of the weather as a cold front passes through the area. Read More…

Westmoreland Coal exec resigns after receiving hefty bonuses in lead-up to bankruptcy

Gary Kohn received $1.2 million in incentive bonuses, in addition to his $472,000 salary, during the year leading up to Westmoreland’s bankruptcy filing. His resignation is effective in early January. Westmoreland, which operates the Kemmerer coal mine in southern Wyoming, has come under fire for its bankruptcy plan, with objections from the Department of Justice, Read More…

Ex-Miles City athletic trainer accused of abusing as many as 100 boys charged with possessing child porn

Former long-time Miles City high school athletic trainer James Eric “Doc” Jensen was arrested Thursday and jailed in Custer County on 10 counts of possessing child pornography. Some of the pornographic images were of boys as young as age 9, the charges state. The 78-year-old Jensen is being held on $100,000 bail. “The criminal investigation Read More…

As Trump replaces Obama-era water rules, Montanans are split

The Trump administration closed the spigot on Obama-era water regulations Tuesday, sparking a mixed reaction from Montana industry and conservationists. Stakeholders have long been split over the EPA’s enforcement of the Clean Water Act, which under President Barack Obama meant traveling upstream to regulate water quality even on some streams and water bodies that didn’t Read More…

Wyoming's Al Simpson among former senators who warn U.S. 'entering a dangerous period'

CASPER, Wyo. — Al Simpson is among a bipartisan group of 44 former U.S. senators who are warning the country is “entering a dangerous period” with challenges to “the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security.” In an op-ed published in Monday’s Washington Post, the senators urged their colleagues now Read More…

Conservationists to Montana regulators: Don't OK bankrupt company's coal mine expansion

Conservationists are warning Montana regulators against permitting a 10-square-mile coal mine expansion in southeast Montana for bankrupt Westmoreland Coal Co. Opponents to the expansion question whether Montana should be giving Westmoreland a green light to break new territory at the Rosebud Mine near Colstrip, given the company’s poor financial condition. The Colorado-based mining company has Read More…

Billings Gazette

Montanans expect no big changes in farm bill

Montanans expect more of the same from the yet-to-be-released 2018 farm bill, and they’re OK with that. Conservation acres are expected to increase slightly, crop insurance is expected to the stay the same, and the food stamp program is unlikely to see stiffer work requirements for able-bodied adults. Montanans who monitor the farm bill’s progress Read More…

Dozens of Montana priests accused of sex abuse were moved to new posts, report shows

A new report outlining abuse accusations against Jesuit priests includes dozens of priests who worked in Montana churches, missions and schools — and shows that at least 11 priests were accused while working in the state.  Many of the accusations are against priests already identified in bankruptcy reports for the Great Falls/Billings and Helena dioceses. But the Read More…

'All hell broke loose': 97-year-old Montanan remembers Pearl Harbor attack with other survivors' family

There are fewer and fewer Pearl Harbor survivors left these days. Montana residents Tom Fultz and Sue Gillespie are intimately aware of that.  Fultz’s father, Wilbur O. Fultz, died in 2001. Gillespie’s father, Ed Chlapowski, died in 2011. Both survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.  On Thursday, Fultz set out from his ranch in Fort Read More…