Ups and Downs gives a quick take on news of the week.
DUI court. Newly elected District Court Judge Mary Jane Knisely has brought the DUI treatment and accountability court she established in Billings Municipal Court to the countywide District Court where she will deal regularly with felony offenders. With the concerted efforts of district and municipal courts, repeat offenses will be reduced over time.
Burglary bump. Billings police received 134 burglary reports in December and January, a 13 percent increase from the same months a year earlier, which had posted an increase over the year before that. Some burglars have entered homes simply by walking through an unlocked door. Get information on how to protect your property, including how to start a Neighborhood Watch by calling the Billings Police Department's Crime Prevention Center at 247-8590.
Voting for Billings. Billings isn't a big city in the United States, but its people pulled together to finish 17th out of 309 projects vying for a $250,000 grant in the national Pepsi Refresh Everything Grant Campaign. The Billings Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau and Bikenet led the local campaign in an effort to raise money for Swords Park. With the enthusiasm and publicity from the Pepsi online/text voting, the chamber and other friends of Swords Park are planning further fundraising efforts.
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24/7 Sobriety. On a vote of 96 to 3, the Montana House approved legislation to help keep DUI suspects from drinking while awaiting trial or other court action. The bill would allow all Montana counties to establish a program of alcohol breath testing as a condition of release from jail.
Off the PACE. As noted in the Billings Gazette opinion on Jan. 25, a program that is helping to keep 52 frail, disabled or elderly Yellowstone County residents safe at home is in danger of losing all state funding. The program would cost the state just $314,000 for the next two years. But a majority of the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services voted against funding the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. Thanks are due, however, to Rep. Don Roberts, R-Billings, the only subcommittee member to support PACE.
Nasty stomach flu. Norovirus is back, according to Yellowstone County public health officials. They have received an increase in reports of people suffering this bug, which causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, creating risk of dehydration. The best prevention for this virulent virus? Wash your hands often and make sure the children wash, too.
More hungry horses: Carbon County authorities were investigating reports of 70 starving horses. Answering Carbon County's call for help, the NILE was sharing some of the feed that had been donated to save several hundred horses on the range east of Billings.