STEER Sober. Congratulations to the nine newest graduates of the STEER (sobriety, treatment, education, excellence and rehabilitation) court. We also commend the treatment court team, led by District Judge Mary Jane Knisely, for helping 63 DUI offenders (mostly felons) become drug-free, working citizens since the court started in 2011.
Another library delay. Demolition of the old library building hit another obstacle as the general contractor and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality disagreed about how to remove asbestos-contaminated debris and awaited the arrival of expensive new equipment to do the job. The demolition delay will push back completion of the new Billings Public Library main entrance and parking garden, which might not be paved till 2015.
Supreme justice. The Montana Supreme Court censured District Judge G. Todd Baugh, delivering a rare public reprimand for Baugh’s remarks blaming a 14-year-old Billings girl as he sentenced the former teacher who raped her to serve only one month in prison. Baugh’s judicial career will end on Nov. 30, when he begins a one-month suspension ordered by the Supreme Court.
Healthy agreement. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services came to agreement with Xerox to fix problems in the Medicaid computer system that Xerox is under contract to complete. The $70 million contract was awarded in 2012.
Canine cops. The Montana Highway Patrol has added K-9 teams to its patrol in an effort to more effectively detect illegal drugs being transported across Montana. The growing flow of drugs into Billings and the Bakken fully justifies this investment.
Red flag days. Hot wind and temperatures soaring toward 100 degrees quickly raised fire danger to extreme last week and more red flag days can be expected. Be extremely careful to avoid sending even a spark into Montana’s dry, summer landscape.