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Prairie Lights: Empty charges erode trust in elections

After six months on the job, it’s about time Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton started doing his job.

Among the duties of the secretary of state, surely one of the most important is to ensure that Montana elections are conducted fairly and that votes are counted accurately. A good secretary of state would do everything in his power to accomplish those goals.

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New owners have big plans for St. Vincent de Paul building

Vincent building

The new owners of the Montana Avenue building that houses the Charitable Works Office of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul plan to start renovating the three-story structure as soon as St. Vincent moves out.

Vicki Massie, volunteer coordinator for St. Vincent de Paul, which has been without a director since Ed Zabrocki resigned in January, said the charity office should be in its new building south of the railroad tracks by the end of July. (See related story.) Continue Reading →

St. Vincent gearing up for move into new building

Society

The move of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul charity office and thrift store to a new building south of the railroad tracks began about three years.

Ernie Dutton, who had done some volunteer work for St. Vincent de Paul, was coming out of a Rotary meeting at what is now the DoubleTree by Hilton and decided to walk across Montana Avenue to the charity office. Continue Reading →

Candidates spar over NDO, climate change

It took about an hour into a 90-minute public forum, but candidates for Billings mayor finally found things to disagree about on Tuesday.

Four of six candidates for mayor appeared at the forum, which was sponsored by the Yellowstone Democratic Club. Angela Cimmino and Danny Sandefur were unable to attend, forum organizers said, and a seventh candidate, Paul Bledsoe, has dropped out of the race. Continue Reading →

Camper crushed, baby inside survives, witness says

camper

It was a close call for one family camped at Lake Alva this past weekend when a mature pine crashed down on the fifth-wheel trailer where a baby was sleeping, nearly splitting the vehicle in two.

The incident was reported to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department on Friday evening, shortly after a powerful storm pushed through the Seeley-Swan Valley. Continue Reading →

A lucky man: Reaping the benefits of a forced slowdown

Peaks

I had total hip replacement surgery in the middle of May, and I figured that if I was anything like my coworker, I’d be back to normal in three weeks, four weeks max.

My coworker, who had the same surgery, is 20 years younger and a Special Forces vet. He returned to work a week after his hip replacement, but he later told me that he had made a mistake in coming back so soon and almost passed out numerous times his first week back. Continue Reading →

Lawyer faces sanctions for obstructing political probe

Jones

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Jake Eaton.

A District Court judge has agreed to impose sanctions on a Billings lawyer accused of attempting to obstruct an investigation into a so-called dark money group by the state Commissioner of Political Practices.

The lawyer, Emily Jones, was accused of trying to intimidate potential witnesses by claiming that they could get into legal trouble for disclosing information about a defunct political consulting firm owned by her husband, Jake Eaton, a former executive director of the Montana Republican Party. Continue Reading →

Prairie Lights: Music’s power prevails in troubling times

Band

Marty Stuart, the one-time boy wonder of country music who is now one of its grand old men, did a few surprising things during his performance Friday night at ZooMontana.

He told the audience he first visited the Little Bighorn Battlefield on a trip to Billings a couple of years ago, when he played the Alberta Bair Theater, and he was inspired to write a song called “Custer Wore an Arrow Shirt,” which he sang at the zoo. Continue Reading →