Blog Cabin

Outspoken rancher to discuss property rights during weekend rally

Gage Skidmore photo (PARADISE)- It's an appearance expected to sound a note of opposition to public land management policies. 

But a weekend appearance by outspoken Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy could generate more attention because of his controversial past than what could change in the future. 

A federal judge ordered charges dropped against Cliven Bundy on accusations that he federal authorities in a dispute over grazing rights. He'd been in prison for the past couple of years facing charges for the standoff at his Nevada ranch, along with his sons and Ryan Payne of Anaconda.  

Bundy was also a central figure in the armed standoff at an Eastern Oregon wildlife refuge two years ago. 

 The meeting Saturday evening in Paradise in Sanders County is expected to touch on the thorny issue of federal management of public lands. It's being sponsored by the Coalition of Western Property Owners. 

Other speakers include Shawna Cox, who participated in the Malheur standoff and Montana State Senator Jennifer Fielder.

The Montana Wilderness Association is criticizing Fielder for aligning herself "with a dangerous fringe group that is violently trying to bring an end to public land ownership." 


Keith Urban to make Western MT stop on new '18 tour

image from (MISSOULA)- Country superstar Keith Urban will include a Missoula tour stop when he hits the road in 2018, with a single show scheduled for early this fall. 

Rumors of the show had been circulating for several weeks, and promoters made the official announcement this morning.

Urban will appear in the Adams Center on September 29th, with opening act Kelsea Ballerini. Tickets will go on sale through GrizTix, the Adams Center box office and the usual outlets next Friday, January 26th at 10 a.m. 

Urban, who was born in New Zealand, rose to prominence in Australia with the release of his first album in 1991. He made his solo American debut in 1999, selling millions of records in the following years with hits like "Days Go By", "Better Life" and "Somewhere in My Car". In addition to being an accomplished guitarist who has played on other stars' recordings, he's also been a judge on the final seasons of "American Idol." 

Urban's "Graffiti U" tour will support his new album, kicking off in St. Louis on June 15th with 58-shows in the U.S. and Canada through November. 


Study recommends more work on Lake County Jail problems

(POLSON)- With crime rates and adult arrests climbing, a new study suggests Lake County leaders should renew efforts to develop plans for building a new jail. 

The report, requested by Sheriff Don Bell and prepared by the National Institute of Corrections, is aimed at helping the county re-boot plans to deal with the aging jail and overcrowding. 

The report, conducted in November, found serious violent crimes had declined in Lake County between 2007 and 2011, averaging 55-crimes per 1000 residents. But since then, the crime rate has soared to 73-crimes per 1000, driven largely by substance abuse. In fact, over 51-percent of the inmates were in custody because of alcohol and drugs. The authors say longer jail stays in recent years have also pushed the 46-bed facility to hold as many as 100 inmates, a number that's been limited by court orders. 

The report also found many of the building elements at the Lake County Jail "pose safety and security risks" with portions of the building that are "out-of-date and dysfunctional." 

The report recommends Lake County leaders should continue discussions about building a new jail, reorganizing the Justice System Coordinating Council to head the effort. And the authors say those talks should lead to a formal needs assessment, visiting other similar size jails to see what's possible.

At the same time, the report recommends Lake County use more community "sanctioning and supervision" programs for inmates to ease pressure on the existing jail. 


Flathead County among the leaders in Montana flu cases

DPHHS graphic (HELENA)- Flathead County is now among the leading counties in Montana with flu cases, as the outbreak of influenza continues to soar statewide. 

The latest report from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services shows how the numbers of cases have been climbing since the holidays. Flathead, Gallatin and Yellowstone counties show the highest numbers of new influenza cases through January 6th. Flathead County leads the way with 94-new, confirmed cases reported to the state. 

However, DPHHS says the flu is now widespread across the state, with all but three counties reporting at least some cases through last week. 

Over 230-people have been hospitalized this flu season and a dozen people have died from flu-related complications. 


Glacier National Park sets new yearly visitor record

Dennis Bragg photo (WEST GLACIER)-  Glacier National Park visitation not only breaks the 3-million mark for visitors, but easily crushes that mark. The final report on park visitation from the National Park Service shows over 3.3-million people went through the park gates in 2017, a solid 10% increase over the previous year. The park passed 3-million visitors this year in September, even with the fire season cutting access on the west side of the park. 

The new record wasn't unexpected.  For the first time in Glacier's history, more than 1-million people had come through the gates in the month of July alone. That was a jump of more than 23%. And park visitation was already up 11% through the first half of the year. 

St. Mary was by far the most active entrance to the park, largely driven by the fire closures of Going-to-the-Sun on the west side of the park in August and September.