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A small plane crashes in Montana, killing the pilot and a passenger

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A small plane crashes in Montana, killing the pilot and a passenger


BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A single-engine airplane crashed in southeastern Montana, killing the pilot and the passenger, the Federal Aviation Administration reported.

The Piper PA-18 crashed near Tillitt Field Airport east of the town of Forsyth at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the FAA said. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.

Rosebud County Sheriff Allen Fulton said they have identified the victims but weren’t releasing their names yet. The crash did not start a fire, he said.

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Something's rotten at Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks • Daily Montanan

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Something's rotten at Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks • Daily Montanan


Something’s very rotten in Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 

A good guess would point to the Gianforte administration’s attitude toward informing the public about what’s wrong – or likely to go wrong – with the environment.  But “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a dead-end strategy for the state’s future — and a damning trademark of a governor who sees Montana as a “product” to be sold as quickly as possible. 

The latest case involves Dr. Eileen Ryce, the Administrator of the Fisheries Division who was mysteriously placed on “administrative leave” as of May 17.  As reported by the Missoula Current’s Laura Lundquist: “Sources inside FWP said Ryce was publicly escorted out of FWP headquarters in Helena on Friday. Sources asked that they not be identified out of fear of retaliation.”  And when reporters asked for the reason, Gianforte’s appointee FWP director Dustin Temple, hid behind the administration’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” tact and has “refused requests for comment.”

Looking at Ryce’s performance running the Fisheries Division, some things stand out that might have something to do with the director’s action. Put bluntly, Ryce has been telling the truth about some fisheries issues that do not paint the Gianforte administration in a good light — especially in an election year.

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Just recently Ryce released the agency’s analysis of the levels of toxic substances in the fish in the Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers. The news was not good, to put it mildly. In a nutshell, the fish in the 148-mile stretch of the Clark Fork are so contaminated with the known and potent carcinogens PCB, dioxin and furans, that Ryce’s division has recommended not eating any of the fish since there is no “safe consumption level” for those toxins. 

Montanans owe Ryce a debt of gratitude for telling us the truth — and protecting not only our health, but especially that of our children.  Nonetheless, is seems apparent the Gianforte administration does not want the truth revealed when the state spends millions of dollars every year touting Montana as the trout mecca of the nation.  Nor is it the kind of news that speaks well of our regulatory agencies and the failure to heed the Montana Constitution’s “inalienable right to a clean and healthy environment.”  Just the opposite, in fact. 

Ryce’s truth-telling was highlighted earlier this year, too, when she appeared before a legislative interim committee and raised a red flag about the number of private ponds being permitted by the agency.  As Ryce detailed, the state has 10,000 private ponds already and is currently permitting at least 200 a year…basically one every working day for the agency. 

The concern is that those ponds are usually stocked with fish bought from both in-state and out-of-state private hatcheries. Shipping in fish from private hatcheries presents a significant chance for introducing diseases or non-native invasive species into state waters from the ponds, many of which are in flood plains close to major rivers. 

Montanans owe Ryce a debt of gratitude for that truth-telling, too.  Once invasive species or diseases are released in Montana waters it is very, very expensive and difficult, if not impossible, to get rid of them. 

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Sure enough, just this week the department sent out an alert that it had discovered the first Mystery Snails in Montana near Finley Point on Flathead Lake.  Further proving Ryce’s concern for what gets dumped in private ponds, an angler reported catching a Dojo Loach, or “pond loach” native to East Asia, “in a small pond” near Bozeman.

Those who have been keeping track of the Gianforte administration’s approach to our environment, fish, and wildlife are well aware of the efforts to cut the public out of government decision-making with ever-shorter or totally non-existent opportunity for public review and comment.

All Montanans should be concerned when an honest and competent state employee like Ryce gets muzzled and put on administrative leave for telling the public the truth and raising red flags about potential disasters from private ponds and imported fish and diseases.  

Election year or not, nothing stinks worse than rotten fish — and right now, the stink is coming from the governor’s office and his Fish, Wildlife and Parks director.

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Montana presidential primary gives option for “no preference” votes

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Montana presidential primary gives option for “no preference” votes


HELENA — Only two names are appearing on Montana’s presidential primary ballots this year: Joe Biden and Donald Trump. However, voters do have another option.

For 50 years, Montana law has required that voters in the state’s presidential primaries have a choice to vote “no preference” instead of for a candidate.

One group actively encouraging voters to support “no preference” is Montanans 4 Palestine, which has organized protests against Democratic and Republican politicians because of their stances on Israel’s war in Gaza. Several weeks ago, they announced they would campaign for a “no preference” vote in the Democratic primary as a way to protest the Biden administration, saying it hasn’t done enough to stand up against what they describe as a genocide.

“Ultimately, this is an expression of disgust with the president’s policies,” said co-founder Brendan Work.

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Last weekend, Montanans 4 Palestine members were knocking on doors in Bozeman and Missoula to get out their message, and Work said they’ll be canvassing again this weekend. They’ve also distributed yard signs in several cities across the state.

Work said they’re making the case voting “no preference” is a low-risk way for people to show they’re unhappy with the administration.

“Biden has already won the nomination pretty much, and this vote is not like a vote for Trump,” he said. “So it’s a good way for people to express their feelings – and it’s easy to do: It’s right on the ballot; it says ‘Joe Biden,’ and ‘no preference.’ And that’s an easy choice for a lot of us.”

Jonathon Ambarian

A yard sign in Helena urges a “no preference” vote in Montana’s Democratic presidential primary, to protest the Biden administration’s policies on Gaza.

Work estimates his group has around 300 members, and he says it’s grown significantly since the start of the war in Gaza. He said their initial goal is to get 5,000 “no preference” votes, which he said would demonstrate there’s a “pro-peace constituency” that leaders need to listen to, especially in the closely watched race for Montana’s U.S. Senate seat. Their higher target is to crack 15% of the Democratic primary vote, which would allow for the selection of “no-preference” delegates for the Democratic National Convention. Work said that would likely take 20,000 votes.

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This campaign follows visible efforts to encourage “uncommitted” votes in Democratic primaries in a number of other states, including Michigan, Washington and Wisconsin. That vote has often ended up between about 8% and 15%, reaching as high as nearly 19% in Minnesota’s primary and 29% in Hawaii’s caucus. However, Biden has won the overwhelming majority of delegates – projected by national analysts to be more than 3,600, compared with just over 30 uncommitted delegates.

A spokesperson for Biden’s campaign released a statement to MTN Thursday.

“The President believes making your voice heard and participating in our democracy is fundamental to who we are as Americans,” they said. “He shares the goal for an end to the violence and a just, lasting peace in the Middle East. He’s working tirelessly to that end.”

2024 will be the first time in 40 years that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have multiple candidates listed on their Montana primary ballot. In recent election cycles, the highest “no preference” vote totals have generally come when there’s only one candidate on the ballot – like in 2012, when “no preference” got 9.4% of the Democratic primary vote in Barack Obama’s reelection year, and in 2020, when Trump was the only Republican candidate and 6.2% of the vote was for “no preference.”

The largest share of “no preference” votes for both Republicans and Democrats in Montana came in 1992: 16.6% and 24%, respectively.

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Montana “No Preference” Vote History:

1976:

Republicans: 2.2%, 1,996 votes
Democrats: 3.6%, 3,820 votes

1980:

Republicans: 3.8%, 3,014 votes
Democrats: 11.9%, 15,466 votes

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1984:

Republicans: 7.5%, 5,378 votes
Democrats: 28,385 votes (Montana Democrats held a caucus and no candidates appeared on the primary ballot)

1988:

Republicans: 7.5%, 6,520 votes
Democrats: 3.6%, 4,083 votes

1992:

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Republicans: 16.6%, 15,098 votes
Democrats: 24.0%, 28,164 votes

1996:

Republicans: 7.2%, 8,533 votes
Democrats: 10.0%, 9,176 votes

2000:

Republicans: 4.1%, 4,655 votes
Democrats: 22.1%, 19,447 votes

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2004:

Republicans: 5.6%, 6,340 votes
Democrats: 7.4%, 6,899 votes

2008:

Republicans: 2.4%, 2,333 votes
Democrats: 2.4%, 4,358 votes

2012:

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Republicans: 3.8%, 5,456 votes
Democrats: 9.4%, 8,270 votes

2016:

Republicans: 4.7%, 7,369 votes
Democrats: 4.2%, 5,415 votes

2020:

Republicans: 6.2%, 13,184 votes
Democrats: 2.8%, 4,250 votes

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Montana Veterans Memorial hosts annual ceremony Monday

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Montana Veterans Memorial hosts annual ceremony Monday


Authors Tony and Janet Seahorn, who co-wrote “Tears of a Warrior, a Family’s Story of Combat and Living with PTSD,” will speak at the 19th annual Memorial Day Ceremony in Great Falls, scheduled for 2 p.m. on Monday.

The Seahorns — Tony, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, and Janet, who teaches on neuroscience and literacy at Regis University in Denver and at Colorado State University — provide education counseling, team building and outdoor adventures through their business, and their book was selected as the military book of the year in 2014. They will participate in a book signing at the VFW Post 4669, at the Black Eagle Community Center, from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday.

The Memorial Day ceremony will also include personnel from Malmstrom Air Base, Montana Veterans Memorial Association President Starnell Darko, Jesse Callendar from the Great Falls Pipe Band, Great Falls Municipal Band and Boy Scout troops from the area. In addition, Army veteran and Blackfeet Community College professor Marvin Weatherwax Sr. will introduce the Blackfeet Veterans Honor Guard. Following the ceremony members of the Blackfeet Nation will conduct a blessing at the Agent Orange Monument at the Montana Veterans Memorial.

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The Montana Veterans Memorial is at 1025 25th St. N in Great Falls. Monday’s ceremony will also be broadcast on the Montana Veterans Memorial Facebook page, and on 89.9 KGPR Great Falls Public Radio.



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