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Friday, May 16, 2003

Lab studying threat against Martz HELENA — A threatening letter found on the grounds of the governor's mansion has been sent to the state crime lab for review, Helena Police Chief Troy McGee said Thursday.

State Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks employees found the printed letter attached to a birdbath Wednesday while mowing the lawn on the grounds of the governor's mansion.

McGee said he considered it a threatening letter aimed at Gov. Judy Martz, although it didn't mention her by name or by office.

He declined to reveal the content of the letter because the case remains under investigation.

It was a printed, one-page letter.

Police Department officials believe that the letter was left on the grounds between Tuesday and Wednesday, he said.

The Fish, Wildlife and Parks grounds crew turned the letter over to Capitol security officers Wednesday morning.

They gave it to Martz's security officer who called the Helena Police Department.

Man survives murder-suicide try FRENCHTOWN — A Frenchtown school bus driver called 911 dispatchers at noon Thursday and said he had killed his wife and was planning to kill himself.

Ron Newman, 67, was flown to St. Patrick Hospital, shortly after a Missoula County sheriff's tactical team entered the couple's house.

Cathy Newman, 51, was found dead inside, Sheriff Mike McMeekin said.

Deputies had tried to negotiate with Newman for about three hours, with no response, before they went in, McMeekin said.

"We had tried bullhorn, and we had tried everything else, so we sent the tactical team in," he said.

The tactical team includes a medical unit with an on-call doctor.

"We had medics on him within seconds, literally, when we went inside," the sheriff said.

Newman was in critical condition Thursday night. McMeekin said he could not say where or how many times either had been shot.

Cathy Newman's body was taken to the state crime lab for an autopsy.

Officers found a .38-caliber revolver in the house. They also said one of the couple's three dogs had been shot to death.

Company signs fairground contract GREAT FALLS — Cascade County commissioners have signed a contract allowing Philadelphia-based Strategic Management Group Inc. to manage Montana ExpoPark for the next three years.

Under the deal, signed Tuesday, the county agreed to pay SMG $150,000 a year and put another $200,000 toward operating the fairgrounds.

Great Falls has managed the fairgrounds for the past 15 years and it has been a money-losing proposition.

Fairgrounds Manger Bill Ogg said he expects SMG's management expertise to be a big asset.

Suit alleges clamp left in patient BUTTE — A suit filed against St. James Healthcare and two Butte surgeons alleges the doctors left a surgical clamp inside a woman's abdominal cavity during surgery three years ago.

The suit by Marie and John Cashell names Drs. Maria Huntley and Richard Gould and the hospital.

Documents filed in District Court Wednesday note Marie Cashell was diagnosed with uterine cancer in April 2000.

She underwent surgery later that month to remove a tumor with Gould assisting Huntley.

Following the surgery, Cashell began experiencing pain in her stomach and Huntley prescribed more pain medication but didn't take X-rays, the documents say.

In June 2000, Cashell was scheduled to begin radiation therapy and X-rays showed the surgical clamp.

Three days later, Huntley performed surgery on Cashell again and removed the instrument attached to the woman's bowel, documents contend.

The suit alleges negligence because the doctors and hospital staff didn't follow procedure when they failed to count the instruments following the surgery and didn't adequately address Cashell's complaints of stomach pain.

The suit seeks an undetermined amount of money.