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Saturday, May 3, 2003

McGrath undecided on candidacy HELENA — Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath said he hasn't yet decided whether to run as a Democratic candidate for governor next year.

"I don't anticipate I would have any decision before the end of the summer," McGrath said. "I like what I'm doing. I think it's a decision that doesn't need to be rushed."

Meanwhile, Brian Schweitzer, an unannounced Democratic candidate for governor, had raised $254,903 as of March 31 for his 2004 race. His campaign reported spending $25,526, leaving a cash balance of $229,377.

Republican Gov. Judy Martz has not yet announced whether she intends to run for re-election next year. Former state Sen. Thomas Keating, R-Billings, has announced his candidacy for governor in 2004.

Free State planners to meet MISSOULA — Plans to load Montana or another sparsely populated state with thousands of limited-government advocates will be up for discussion later this month when Montana Libertarians hold their Grand Western Conference.

The event is set for May 24-25 in Missoula.

Jason Sorens, a Yale doctoral candidate in political science who came up with the Free State Project, is the scheduled featured speaker.

Project organizers hope to persuade 20,000 people who believe in Libertarian ideals to centrally locate in one state with a small population.

Other states under consideration include Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.

Free Staters say they will work to end laws regulating drugs, gambling, prostitution, guns and other activities they call "individual issues." They also support cutting taxes and privatizing many government functions, such as schools.

Tom Petty to play in Bozeman BOZEMAN — The rock group Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers has scheduled its only performance in the northern Rockies this year for Saturday, July 5, at Montana State University.

The Heartbreakers, with hits including "Refugee" and "Free Fallin," sold out five concerts in Chicago last month.

Tickets for the show in Brick Breeden Fieldhouse are scheduled to go on sale May 9. Tickets are $39.50 and $49.50.

Tire burning comment extended BOZEMAN — Residents will have longer to comment on a southwest Montana cement plant's proposal to burn tires for fuel.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality decided Thursday to extend the plan's public comment period to May 30. It was to have ended May 9. The extension came at the request of the Gallatin City/County Health Department.

Holcim Inc. applied in October 2001 to burn more than 1 million tires a year. Draft air and solid waste permits were issued in March.

Man pays state for fire MISSOULA — A Reed Point man paid more than $23,000 in reimbursement to the state for a 1,500-acre blaze that started with a trash fire.

More than 50 firefighters from as far away as Billings and Livingston were called to the May 2001 fire. Costs were paid by rancher Sven Svenson.

Pat Cross of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation said the agency tries to recoup costs for fires started intentionally or resulting from negligence.

Man who shot horse fined GREAT FALLS — A New Mexico man who shot a horse and left it in the Lewis and Clark National Forest must pay almost $4,500 in federal fines and restitution.

Russell A. Theroux of Cedar Crest, N.M., pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors including a firearms charge, abandoning personal property and violating the grizzly bear food storage order. U.S. Magistrate Carolyn Ostby added $500 to Theroux's costs because she said he was "less than truthful."

Theroux previously paid $1,750 to the owner of the borrowed horse.

Groups get cash for clean water efforts HELENA — Montana groups seeking to improve watersheds and water quality have received a $1 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Clark Fork-Pend Oreille watershed includes the Clark Fork-Flathead river basins in Montana and Idaho's Lake Pend Oreille. It covers 26,000 square miles and is the largest watershed chosen for funding this year.

Several groups have joined to work on restoration projects that include managing dairy waste and restoring waterside habitats.

Organizations involved include the Flathead Basin Commission, Blackfoot Challenge, Bitterroot Partnership, Watershed Restoration Coalition of the Upper Clark Fork and the Tri-State Water Quality Council. The groups are matching the grant with $1 million.

Copyright © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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