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Thursday, July 24, 2003

Jack Burgess dies at 80 HELENA — The former president of the Montana Medical Association has died. John 'Jack' Burgess was 80. After a brief illness, he died suddenly on Saturday.

Burgess was born in Wolf Point in 1922, graduated from the University of Montana, served in the Army, then attended medical school at Duke University.

After marrying Donna Kelly of Butte, Burgess started his medical practice in Townsend in 1954. In 1956 he moved to Helena.

Upon retirement from private practice in 1984, he worked as Mountain Bell's medical director for Montana and Idaho until 1989. Still an Army Reservist, he was activated and served in stateside hospitals during the first Gulf War, later retiring as a colonel. He was active in many civic functions in Helena, as well as serving for a time as president of the Montana Medical Association.

He also founded a volunteer clinic for the uninsured at the Leo Pocha Health Clinic.

Woman dies, 3 hurt in rollover GREAT FALLS — One person died and three others were injured in a one-vehicle rollover on Interstate 15 near the airport Tuesday evening, the Montana Highway Patrol reported.

A woman died, while two adults and a 3-year-old were critically injured, said patrol officer Shellie Babinecz.

The woman who died was thrown from the car while another woman was partially ejected and pinned underneath the vehicle.

Their names were being withheld until their families could be notified.

Babinecz said the car was northbound when the driver lost control and overcorrected. The car rolled through a grassy ditch and stopped upside down in the southbound lanes.

Officers were still gathering evidence Tuesday night and didn't know who was driving or why the driver lost control of the car.

Seat belts, including a safety seat for the toddler, were not used, Babinecz said.

The death raises the state highway fatality toll to 130, or six more than on July 22, 2002.

Woman sentenced in drug case BOZEMAN — A district judge sentenced a former social worker to six days in jail and fined her more than $2,700 for buying cocaine from one of her clients.

Rita Watson Bennet, 49, pleaded guilty in April to possession of dangerous drugs and official misconduct. Her sentence includes a three-year deferred felony sentence and two years probation.

In May of 2002, while employed as a social worker with the Department of Public Health and Human Services, Bennet told one her clients she would allow him to return home to his family if he would provide her with cocaine, court records said.

The client, who has been identified only as a confidential informant, reported Bennet's statements to the Bozeman Police Department.

Police then set up a sting operation at a West Main Street parking lot, where the informant wore a hidden tape recorder and allegedly sold Bennet $300 worth of cocaine.

Bennet was sentenced last week.

Top police officer named KALISPELL — Detective Roger Nasset of the Kalispell Police Department is the state's Police Officer of the Year.

Last weekend, the Montana Association of Chiefs of Police gave Nasset the award, citing his work on several big cases in the Flathead Valley, including arresting a "Project 7" member fitted with a fully automatic machine gun in February of 2002.

Nasset was a team leader with the special response team assigned to the Project 7 case.

Nasset has been with the Kalispell Police Department for nine years. He has served as a patrolman, drug investigator, patrol sergeant, detective sergeant and team leader. The department has given him two Distinguished Service Medals for disarming a man who was threatening to kill his wife with a rifle and for his work at a shootout at a local casino. He also received a Meritorious Service Medal for his work on the Northwest Drug Task Force, which set records in seizing methamphetamine labs.

Artist-priest Hillen dead at 59 HELENA — Nationally known stained glass artist, The Rev. Dan Hillen, died at his workshop over the weekend. He was 59.

Hillen was a faculty member in Carroll College's Fine Arts Department from 1975 until August 2002. He also created and restored many stained glass works and recently opened his own shop "SiOtwo Stained Glass Art," in Helena.

Hillen's body was found Sunday afternoon at his workshop, said Helena Police Chief Troy McGee.

McGee said concerned family members traveled to Helena when Hillen failed to arrive at an engagement in Butte over the weekend.

Lewis and Clark County Coroner Mickey Nelson said Hillen likely died sometime Saturday. He couldn't specify the cause of death, but said foul play is not suspected.

Hillen graduated from Carroll with a bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1965. He was ordained into the priesthood in 1969 and received his master's degree in divinity from St. John's University in Minnesota.

At Carroll, Hillen taught photography in addition to stained glass.

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