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Montana in brief

Claim your lossesVictims of the Broadus hail torm Wednesday can reclaim their losses, State Auditor John Morrison said.

There are some steps Montanans must take to ensure their properly is protected, Morrison said. The steps also will make the claims process easier.

Steps for Montana consumers to take after this or any other severe storm include:

Survey the damage and take photographs or video of the damaged areas.

Report the damages to your agent or insurance company as soon as possible. Make a note of when you called and the name of the person with whom you talked.

Make only temporary or emergency repairs as needed to protect your properly from further damage. This includes boarding up broken windows, placing plastic over the roof where it is leaking and drying wet carpets and furniture. Keep all receipts for materials used and a note of hours spent making repairs.

Do not make permanent repairs until you are authorized to do so by the claims adjuster.

Do not discard damaged items until a claims adjuster sees them. If you must move out of your home, keep your receipts from hotels and restaurants. Your policy may reimburse these additional living expenses.

“If you have any questions about how your claim is being handled by your insurance company, please let us know,” Morrison said, by calling the Department of Insurance in the State Auditor’s Office at 1-800-332-6148.

Get off the gridLIVINGSTON – Worried about rising gas and energy prices? Want to learn how to get off the grid?

The Corporation for the Northern Rockies’ Sustainability Fair 2001 will feature a day of exhibits, activities, speakers and performances about everything from recycled building materials to strategies for cutting energy costs.

The free fair is 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at Livingston’s Depot Center.

Tickets will be sold for the kickoff Celebrity Chefs Tasting Party, set for Aug. 24 at the Depot Center. The dinner is a benefit for CNR and features the area’s world-class chefs, who will serve appetizers prepared from sustainably produced meats, produce and dairy products.

CNR is a Livingston-based nonprofit providing education and technical support to sustain the Northern Rockies landscape and way of life.

Speaker Bob Stevens, of Helena, and his wife, Hopie, have built a rural house that’s off the grid. He will speak about the strategies they used to design and fuel an independent house that is both beautiful and comfortable to live in.

In addition to the energy theme, the fair will feature more than 60 vendors and eight speakers covering a variety of topics including sustainable ranch management, local food, drought tolerant landscaping, alternative building materials, and the newest electric hybrid cars.

The fair will close with a presentation on biomimicry, which studies how nature solves problems and applies these lessons to human situations. Science writer Janine Benyus will talk about how science and business are mimicking nature to develop more efficient solar cells, nontoxic paints, hearing aids that distinguish directions and more.

For more information about CNR’s Sustainability Fair 2001, call Lill Erickson at 222-0730 or email her at

2 traffic deaths reportedThe deaths of a Texas woman and a Bozeman motorcyclist were reported Friday, both the result of highway accidents earlier this month.

Mary Ella Secrest, 54, of Austin, Texas, died Thursday of injuries she sustained in a one-vehicle accident on Interstate 90 on July 7.

Secrest was alone in a new pickup truck when it rolled over that afternoon west of DeBorgia, apparently after she fell asleep, the Highway Patrol said. The truck rolled four times, but the woman remained in her seatbelt.

She was airlifted to St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula for treatment.

In Bozeman, motorcyclist Andrew Ng, 23, died Monday evening of head injuries from an accident at a city intersection. Officials said Ng was on his way to see his probation officer July 11, shortly after being cited for speeding in his pickup truck. He was on probation for writing checks to himself and forging his mother’s name, officials said.

Police Officer Matt Collar said a sedan pulled in front of Ng, who was traveling 40 mph in a 25 mph zone, and had no time to react. He hit the passenger’s door and vaulted over the car. Collar said Ng was not wearing a helmet.

The deaths boosted the Montana fatality count to 111, compared with 125 on July 20, 2000.

Insurance license takenHELENA – The state auditor’s office has revoked the license of a Great Falls insurance agent.

Gary M. Brandt, owner of Armor Insurance Agency Inc. in Great Falls, lost his license and was fined $5,000 for failing to provide proof of insurance coverage on a home mortgage policy, Auditor John Morrison said.

Brandt didn’t respond to Morrison’s requests to supply the proof of insurance to a client, which the law requires him to do, Morrison said.

The order was mailed July 12, but Brandt said Friday that he wasn’t aware of any action against him. He has 30 days to appeal.

Last April, Morrison suspended Brandt for 30 days for allegedly taking insurance premium money, then issuing the client fake proof of insurance cards.

Martz talks to Albertson’sHELENA – Gov. Judy Martz is asking to meet with Albertson’s executives to urge them not to close any of its stores in the state.

In a letter Thursday to Larry Johnston, chief executive officer of Albertson’s, Martz said she wants to know if any of the chain’s Montana stores are scheduled for closure.

Albertson’s announced Wednesday that it would close 165 stores in 25 states. It has so far declined to release any specifics.

“Albertson’s has been a responsible corporate citizen in Montana, and we need every single job, charitable contribution and tax dollar you provide,” Martz wrote. “It is my sincere hope there are no planned closures in Montana.”

Park visitors declineGLACIER NATIONAL PARK – The number of visitors to Glacier National Park for the first six months of the year fell about 3 percent from the same period a year ago.

The park’s east entrance was hit hardest by the decline, down 16 percent from the first six-months last year, officials said.

The number of visitors to Yellowstone National Park is also down, with June’s count 4.3 percent lower than the first six-months of last year.

Linda Anderson, executive director of the Glacier Country Regional Tourism Commission, said the decline reflects a lagging national economy.

MSU sells houseBOZEMAN – Montana State University has sold its former president’s house to a Bozeman businessman and his wife, who lost her job at MSU last year.

Dale and Kath Williams paid $423,000 for the place that school presidents called home for 30 years.

The couple’s bid was the highest of two public bids recently submitted. The state Board of Regents approved the sale of the home earlier.

Money from the sale will be used to fix up the new president’s house, which was given to MSU by Henry Gardiner. The university will use any remaining money for on-campus services.

Kath Williams was hired by MSU to raise $20 million for a building to feature new environmentally friendly technologies. When her efforts failed, the school didn’t renew her contract.

She said her relationship with the school wasn’t a factor in the decision to buy the house. She needs office space for her work as a consultant to the Environmental Protection Agency, Holnam Cement Plant and other universities, she said.

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