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Wednesday, May 14, 2003

MSU-Billings to add degrees Montana State University-Billings has received a $696,000 federal grant to create two new computer degrees at the College of Technology.

The new degrees are a desktop networking support associate of applied science degree scheduled to begin fall semester and an associate of applied science degree with an emphasis in computer programming that may begin later this academic year, said John Cech, dean of the College of Technology.

That grant also will be used with a earlier $1 million federal appropriation to develop an outreach center that will have two new state-of-the art classrooms and a community conferencing facility.

Construction on the center is scheduled to begin before the end of May and be completed in early January 2004.

Montana's congressional delegation — Sens. Conrad Burns and Max Baucus and U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg — helped MSU-B get the grant.

On May 20, the college will host information sessions about the new desktop degree at 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. at the college, 3803 Central Ave.

For information, call the college at 656-4445.

Man accused of stealing truck James Bennett, 24, of Wyola, accused of stealing a truck and of transporting a stolen truck, pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges.

Bennett was charged by indictment with larceny and with interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle. If he is convicted, the maximum penalty for larceny is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine while the maximum penalty for transporting a stolen vehicle is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to the indictment, Bennett stole a 1984 Ford F150 pickup truck belonging to Kirby Bromley on July 19, 2002, near Wyola. The second count alleges that, on July 20, 2002, Bennett transported a stolen 1992 Ford F150 pickup truck belonging to James Ruegamer from Wyoming to Lodge Grass.

U.S. Magistrate Richard Anderson remanded Bennett into custody pending a detention hearing. The case will be heard by U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull.

Man admits sex-abuse charge An Ashland man accused of having sex with a 14-year-old girl pleaded guilty on Tuesday to federal charges.

Heath Kenington Kaline, 21, also known as Heath Medicine Bull, was indicted on charges of sexual abuse of a minor. Kaline faces possible penalties of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ed Laws said proof at trial would show that Kaline had sex in August 2000 with a girl who was 14 at the time and that he was at least four years older. The offense happened near Birney on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

Senior U.S. District Judge Jack Shanstrom set sentencing for Aug. 20 and ordered Kaline to remain in custody.

Sentencing set in meth case Gary Frances Perez, 45, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to two drug charges involving methamphetamine.

Perez was charged with possession of meth with intent to distribute and with distribution of meth within 1,000 feet of a protected area. He could receive a maximum sentence of five to 80 years in prison and a $4 million fine on possession with intent to distribute and up to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine on the distribution charge.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Seykora said proof at trial would show that an investigation by Drug Enforcement Administration agents and officers with the City-County Special Investigations Unit led to a confidential informant buying a quarter-gram of meth from Perez on April 28, 2002.

After receiving continued complaints from neighbors and monitoring Perez's residence at 209 S. 29th St., law enforcement conducted a search on Aug. 1, 2002, and found more than 40 grams of meth that constituted more than 5 grams of pure methamphetamine. Officers also found packing and weighing materials and drug paraphernalia. The drugs and items were for redistribution of meth, Seykora said.

Perez's residence also was within 1,000 feet of public housing owned by the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 410 S. 30th St.

Senior U.S. District Judge Jack Shanstrom set sentencing for Aug. 20 and ordered Perez into custody.

Boaters may be able to launch Boaters should be able to launch on Bighorn Lake by Thursday, the first time since last July.

Based on current inflows into the 70-mile-long lake straddling the Montana-Wyoming border, enough water should cover newly extended boat ramps to allow access by then. The lake level has to be at 3,580 feet to launch boats.

Darrell Cook, superintendent at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, said the lake will be accessible from Barry's Landing on the southern end and from Ok-A-Beh on the northern end.

The lake is still about 60 feet below the full mark, but work has recently been completed on a project to lower the ramps 15 vertical feet. The ramp extensions allow boat launching at low water levels.

Cook said boaters should be aware that, at current levels, rock outcroppings, debris and other boating hazards may pose problems not obvious in the past.

Courtesy docks will be available at Ok-A-Beh and will be installed at Barry's Landing when the lake level rises another five feet. Bring your own gas. None is available on the lake yet.

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