Montana Digest

2001-09-11T23:00:00Z Montana DigestThe Associated Press The Associated Press
September 11, 2001 11:00 pm  • 

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Citizen fires shotgun during police chase HELENA – A Helena resident fired a shotgun into the air as police were chasing a burglary suspect through a west side neighborhood Monday, said Helena Police Chief Troy McGee.

No one was seriously injured. Police officers involved in the foot chase recognized that the gun was fired by someone other than the suspect and the officers did not return fire.

Derrick Allen Davis, 27, was arrested after jumping over a chain-link fence into someone’s back yard.

McGee says he likely faces burglary and other charges. No charges were filed Monday.

Several residents of the west end of Helena reported burglaries Monday morning. At about 1 p.m., a patrolman noticed a man matching the description of the suspected burglar and attempted to pull over the vehicle he was driving.

The man attempted to elude the officer and ended up driving down a steep embankment, narrowly missing a house. McGee said the suspect jumped out of the vehicle – which had Cascade County license plates – and ran through the neighborhood.

McGee said it was unclear why the citizen – who McGee declined to name – fired a shotgun blast during the chase.

He said the city attorney would determine if any citations should be issued for discharging a weapon in a residential area.

Identity of crash victim identifiedThe Big Horn County coroner has released the name of a woman killed Monday in a highway collision near Lame Deer.

Amanda Toineeta, 19, of Lodge Grass, died in the accident, according to Coroner Terry Bullis’s office. According to the Montana Highway Patrol, Toineeta was killed when her car crossed the center line on state Highway 451 about 3 p.m. Monday and crashed head-on with a 1997 Jeep Cherokee.

The passenger in Toinetta’s 1993 Pontiac Grand Prix and the driver and two passengers in the Jeep did not suffer life-threatening injuries, according to the patrol.

Border Patrol upgrades Whitefish stationWHITEFISH – The U.S. Border Patrol is spending $250,000 to expand and upgrade its Whitefish Station.

The addition will nearly triple the amount of space at the station and adds a processing area for illegal aliens, two holding rooms and a mutli-stall garage. Some of the existing space will be converted into a locker and break room and training area.

“We’ve always been cramped here. We just don’t have enough room in the old building,” said Jerry Gillies, patrol agent in charge. “We’re looking to the future and are hoping to add some staff,” he said.

Gillies, an assistant, and three field agents staff the station. The Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the construction project, which should be completed by the end of October.

The Whitefish station is one of several undergoing expansion projects to bring them up to speed with national specifications, assistant chief patrol agent of the agency’s Spokane sector, Steve Garrett said.

The Whitefish station processes an average of 120 to 150 illegal aliens annually.

Kalispell attorney gets early retirementKALISPELL – The Kalispell City Council agreed Monday night to give the city attorney an early retirement package following an embarrassing incident in city politics.

The council agreed to give City Attorney Glen Neier a package worth about $90,000, including 10-months pay, and accrued vacation and sick leave. He was 10 months short of serving 20 years as city attorney.

Neier’s departure follows an attempt by Neier and Mayor Bill Boharski to initiate a criminal investigation of City Manager Chris Kukulski for alleged improper behavior.

Kukulski was cleared of wrongdoing and received a unanimous vote of confidence from the council, including Boharski.

Boharski has announced he will not seek a second term as mayor.

Councilman Jim Atkinson said Neier approached the council with a proposal to leave city employment.

“The city attorney apparently felt there was a lack of support on the council,” Atkinson said.

Bozeman jail backers push ballot issueBOZEMAN – A citizens’ group that is frustrated by the Gallatin County Commission’s slow pace at placing a bond issue for a new jail before voters said Monday that it will gather petition signatures to put the issue on the ballot.

“There are two ways to get a bond issue on a ballot,” said Brian Leland, member of Citizens for a Gallatin County Detention Center. “One is to have the county commissioners approve it, the other by a petition effort by citizens. That’s what we’re going to do.”

Some of the 19 people listed as part of the detention center steering committee are members of the Gallatin Valley political and law enforcement community, including City Manager Clark Johnson and Montana Department of Corrections director and former Gallatin County Sheriff Bill Slaughter.

The committee needs 9,500 Gallatin County voters’ signatures by February in order to organize a mail-in ballot election for late May.

In recent years at least four citizens’ committees have determined that a new jail is needed because the existing jail is overcrowded.

The committee isn’t willing to wait for the commission to move because the cost of building a new jail goes higher the longer they wait.

Dakota water board may extend pipelineDICKINSON, N.D. – The Southwest Water Authority board plans to study the idea of extending this area’s regional water pipeline into McKenzie County and into Montana’s Wibaux and Richland counties.

If more water users sign on to the pipeline, its cost could be lessened, board members said.

In McKenzie County, customers have signed up for 31 connections, said engineering company spokesman Joe Biechler said. Six signups each have been reported in the two Montana counties.

Under State Water Commission guidelines, the estimated cost per connection must be about $31,400. The per-unit cost, in the case of the 31 McKenzie County users, would exceed the state’s guidelines by about $12,000 each, said Biechler.

He also said that for McKenzie County to be connected, a 131/2-mile stretch north of Beach must be covered even though it has no potential users.

The board plans to discuss the idea again in November.

An extension into the Perkins County, S.D., towns of Lemmon and Bison is contingent on congressional funding, officials said. Paul Adcock, manager of the Perkins County Rural Water System, said he hopes the funding issue will be settled by Oct. 1.

Montana’s tourism director leavingHELENA – Matthew Cohn, the state’s tourism chief as director of Travel Montana for nine years, is quitting as of Sept. 28.

The Department of Commerce agency markets and promotes the state’s travel attractions. The office is financed by the state bed tax and has an annual budget of about $7.5 million.

Cohn 51, worked for the Commerce Department as international trade director from 1988 to 1992.

He said he plans to remain in Helena and is interviewing for two jobs. He did not say what the jobs are.

Cohn said as he prepares to leave the job, the greatest challenge for Montanans is to begin to realize that the economy has evolved, and the state is no longer strictly resource-based.

“The Montana of 2001 is very different from when I came on as director,” he said.

Crash near Superior kills Idaho manSUPERIOR – Authorities say a crash near Superior in western Montana has killed an Idaho man.

The Montana Highway Patrol said J.B. Whitmarsh Jr., 51, of Hayden Lake, died Monday afternoon in a crash on Interstate 90.

Officials said Whitmarsh was westbound when his truck drifted into the median. He overcorrected, and the truck overturned several times. Whitmarsh was thrown from the vehicle.

The patrol said Whitmarsh wasn’t wearing a seat belt, and speed was a factor in the crash.

The death brought Montana traffic toll for the year to 166, compared with 169 on Sept. 11 last year.

Copyright © 2001, Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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