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State-Wide Weekend Update – Sunday, April 1, 2012

RYAN LEAF-ARREST

Ex-NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf arrested in Montana

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Police in Montana say ex-NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf broke into an acquaintance’s home and stole a bottle of prescription painkillers.

Central Montana Drug Task Force Commander Chris Hickman says he has reason to believe Leaf may have done the same to others, and he is asking other victims to come forward.

Leaf was arrested Friday in Great Falls after police searched him and his vehicle and found 28 oxycodone pills, a narcotic painkiller for which he did not have a prescription.

Leaf was charged with burglary, possession of a dangerous drug and theft. He is free on $76,000 bond.

Hickman says the arrest capped a monthlong investigation that began when postal workers provided a tip that Leaf was receiving small, cash-on-delivery packages once or twice a week worth $500 or more.

MORMON CONFERENCE-ECHO HAWK

Top BIA official resigns to take LDS Church post

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The top official for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs is resigning to accept a full-time leadership position with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Larry Echo Hawk, assistant secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, is being appointed to the Quorum of the Seventy, which is the Mormon Church’s third-highest governing body. The announcement from the church came Saturday during its semi-annual general conference in Salt Lake City.

The 63-year-old Echo Hawk has overseen the BIA since 2009.

He was elected Idaho attorney general in 1990, the first Native American to be elected to the position in any state. He ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat in 1994 for Idaho governor.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement that he would work with Echo Hawk to ensure a smooth transition with his departure.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE-MONTANA STATE

Condoleezza Rice to speak at MSU in the fall

(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to speak at Montana State University’s 2012 Freshman Convocation on Sept. 5.

Montana State officials tell the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that a limited number of tickets will be made available to the general public in August.

School officials have also selected Rice’s memoir, “Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family,” as MSU’s 2012 freshman summer reading book.

That makes it the featured summer reading for the school’s 2,400 incoming freshmen. The book will be discussed in classes and other school venues in the fall.

MSU Provost Martha Potvin says the memoir shows the value of an education as well as giving a firsthand account of a unique part of the nation’s history.

MSU PROGRAMS

16 Montana State programs to split $1.2 million

(Information in the following story is from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com)

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Montana State University President Waded Cruzado has approved spending $1.2 million on programs ranging from creating a doctoral degree in the College of Nursing to hiring more student mental health counselors.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that the money is being spent on 16 strategic investments for the Bozeman campus.

Money is also being used to give permanent funding to the school’s natural history filmmaking program and allow buses to run an hour later in the evening.

The money is coming from MSU’s record student enrollment and tuition. Colleges and departments submitted 74 ideas on how the money should be used.

School spokeswoman Terry Leist says priority was given to ideas aimed at retaining students and helping them graduate.

BAR-CAR INCIDENT

Police: Man in custody after run-down attempt

(Information in the following story is from: Daily Inter Lake, http://www.dailyinterlake.com)

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — A 34-year-old Kalispell man who police say tried to run down several people in a bar parking lot after his sexual advances were rebuffed by a young woman and then was involved in a collision with another vehicle has been taken into custody.

The Daily Inter Lake reports that Zachariha Dawson has been charged felony assault with a weapon and two counts of felony criminal endangerment.

Police say they were called to Paddy’s Touchdown Lounge Thursday evening, but on the way received a report of a two-vehicle collision nearby.

Police say Dawson ran from the scene but was captured in a swampy area.

Police say Dawson was taken to the Kalispell Regional Medical Center where he continued to be combative, and that he tried to bite a nurse.

SEVERED EAR

Court date set after man’s ear nearly severed

(Information in the following story is from: The Montana Standard, http://www.mtstandard.com)

ANACONDA, Mont. (AP) — A 21-year-old woman who Anaconda police say nearly severed one of her boyfriend’s ears after slamming his head in a car door faces an initial court date this week.

Authorities say Tara Wilkie has not been arrested, but is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Wednesday.

Anaconda Police Chief Tim Barkell tells the Montana Standard that Wilkie left in her Toyota Camry toward Butte after the incident on Thursday.

Barkell says the man went to the Community Hospital of Anaconda before being transferred to St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.

A St. Patrick Hospital spokeswoman says the man has been discharged.

WHITEFISH LAKE-SEPTIC POLLUTION

Study finds septic pollution in Whitefish Lake

(Information in the following story is from: Flathead Beacon, http://www.flatheadbeacon.com)

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Officials with the Whitefish Lake Institute say contamination levels of septic pollution in Whitefish Lake are safe but must be dealt with before getting worse.

The Flathead Beacon reports that institute officials blame the septic pollution on older septic systems on properties around the lake.

A report released by the institute says three confirmed contaminated areas are City Beach Bay, Viking Creek and Lazy Bay. Listed as having a high potential for contamination are Lazy Channel and Dog Bay State Park Seep.

Institute spokeswoman Lori Curtis says the problem could be fixed by having residents hook up to the city’s sewer system or upgrading their septic tanks.

The state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation paid for the study, sponsored by the Whitefish County Water District.

BENTON LAKE

New plan could end flooding of Benton Lake marshes

(Information in the following story is from: Great Falls Tribune, http://www.greatfallstribune.com)

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing ending the annual flooding of Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge marshes as part of a 15-year plan to eliminate invasive vegetation and restore the wetland’s health.

But some waterfowl hunters oppose the plan that if implemented will likely leave the refuge north of Great Falls dry for about half of the next 30 years.

The Great Falls Tribune reports that the federal agency on Friday released the Draft Comprehensive Plan and Environmental Assessment and will take public comments through May.

Refuge Manager Kathy Burchette says Benton Lake has an exotic plant called creeping foxtail that eliminates other plants and reduces diversity needed to keep the refuge healthy.

The refuge also has a problem with selenium that can kill waterfowl.

WILD HORSES-BAIT TRAPPING

BLM uses alternative method to remove wild horses

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Federal land managers are stepping up their use of an alternative method to remove “excess” wild horses from the range in Nevada and other western states.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management for the first time will resort to the widespread use of “bait trapping,” which involves setting up panels and using food, water and salt to lure mustangs to traps.

The move comes after animal rights advocates’ growing criticism of the traditional use of helicopters to drive the animals to corrals.

Activists call the practice inhumane because some horses are traumatized, injured or killed as they are driven for miles across rough terrain to corrals.

BLM officials say bait trapping will allow them to gather horses more effectively in certain areas, while minimizing the impact to the animals.

POACHED DEER-WHITEFISH

Downtown deer shooting leads to arrest

(Information in the following story is from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)

WHITEFISH, Mont. (AP) — A 22-year-old Whitefish man who police say shot two deer within city limits has turned himself in to authorities.

Tarn W. Sandelin turned himself in Friday after the Whitefish Police Department on Thursday issued a warrant for his arrest. Police say he has admitted to shooting the deer.

The Missoulian reports that Sandelin faces misdemeanor charges of negligent endangerment, criminal mischief and discharging a firearm in city limits.

Police say the deer were discovered early in the morning of Jan. 7 after reports of semi-automatic gunfire. One deer was found dead and the other badly injured, and was killed.

Police say bullets also pierced the wall of a pet store, damaging furniture, equipment and bags of dog food.

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