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Ravalli Co pushing local charges against violent Missoula carjackers

Carissa KoppNick WestThomas Dempsey(HAMILTON)- Ravalli County is pressing charges against three of the robbers who have already been convicted in federal court of robbing a Missoula area convenience store last year and then carjacking a Washington State family. 

Nick West and Thomas Dempsey were sentenced earlier this month to spend decades behind bars for the early morning holdup at Deano's after which they carjacked the family, leading police on a high speed chase as they fired at officers. The pair got away in Evaro, but were arrested later. 

Now, Ravalli County Attorney Bill Fulbright is filling charges of kidnapping and robbery for an earlier holdup at a casino in Stevensville, shortly before the Missoula robbery. Additionally, charges have been filed against Carissa Kopp, who was also sentenced for the Missoula holdup. 

Fulbright says the robbers had held employees of the Stevensville robbery at gunpoint, locking them in a storage room before they left. 

While any state prison time would likely be superseded by the federal conviction, Fulbright's move does open the door for restitution to be ordered for the victims of the Stevensville robbery. 

The trio made their first court appearance in Hamilton Monday and were being held in the Ravalli County Jail. 


Glacier National Park visits off to robust start for 2017

Glacier has seen heavy snows this year, but it hasn't really slowed visitors down -GNP photo(WEST GLACIER)- Can Glacier National Park finally break the 3,000,000 visitor mark in 2017?

That's the question on the minds of park managers and the Northwest Montana tourism industry as the new year is getting underway. Just over 2.9 million people came through the park gates last year, marking the 3rd year in a row that Glacier visitation has set a record. 

It's expected to be mid-summer, and after the opening of the Going-to-the-Sun Road before we have a clear idea of whether GNP is on pace to set another record, and especially to top the 3-million mark. In fact, with the heavy snows this winter, everyone will be watching to see if the road's opening could be delayed.

But so far the snow isn't keeping people home. The park had over 14,000 visitors in January, which is just a little behind last year. 


Uncertain future for old Libby High School after roof collapse

Byron Sanderson shared this photo of the collapsed roof on Facebook(LIBBY)- It's unknown what will happen to the old Libby High School building after heavy snow from the recent storms caused a major portion of the structure's roof to collapse. 

The building, which was sold to a private investment group about a decade ago, is in the heart of Libby, and had been used for a variety of classes before the school district vacated the property. 

This week, the heavy snow load caused a large area of the upstairs roof at the front of the building to collapse, leaving a massive hole behind. 


Montana university leaders gearing up for UM President search

Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christensen(MISSOULA)- Montana's university system leaders are gearing up to find the new permanent president for the University of Montana.

Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christensen will head the special search committee that was announced this week.

The Missoulian reports Interim UM President Shelia Stearns will also work on the efforts to find someone to fill the opening created with the firing of former UM President Royce Engstrom earlier this winter. 

Other members of the committee will represent students, faculty and administrators. 


Weather change should help MT air quality

Helena was the only place showing "unhealthy" air Wednesday afternoon(MISSOULA)- A combination of early morning fog and afternoon haze that's been occurring across Western Montana should be coming to an end, as an incoming system helps to end inversions that were setting up over the valleys. 

Tuesday, warmer air aloft was beginning to trap smoke and other particulates in the valley floors, beginning to create air quality that was unhealthy for young children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems. 

But by mid-day Wednesday, Montana DEQ monitors were only showing air quality problems in the Helena valley. Most other locations, including the Missoula and Bitterroot Valleys, and Northwest Montana were showing "moderate" air quality. 

With the forecast for a return to mix rain and snow Thursday it's expected slick driving conditions will be more of a problem than air quality for the remainder of the week.