Montana News Briefs

Associated Press

University of Montana president search down to 13
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A committee searching for the next president of the University of Montana plans to meet with 13 semifinalists later this month.
Kevin McRae, a deputy commissioner in the Office of Commissioner of Higher Education, told the Missoulian members of the search committee would interview the semifinalists at some neutral location on Aug. 28 and 29.
The committee hopes to narrow the candidate pool to up to five finalists who would be invited for campus interviews in September or October.
After the on-campus interviews, the search committee will forward their recommendations to the Montana Board of Regents, which will make the final decision.
The previous UM president, Royce Engstrom, was asked to step down in December 2016. Former Commissioner of Higher Education Sheila Stearns is serving as interim president.

Glacier National Park’s 1M visitors in July breaks record
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Mont. (AP) — Glacier National Park had more than 1 million visitors in July.
The Daily Inter-Lake reported Monday that last month’s attendance was the first time the park has tallied more than 1 million visitors in one month.
The park’s July 2017 attendance was up 23 percent from last year’s July tally.
The record month has sprung the park into a potential record year. Since the beginning of 2017, 1.9 million people have visited the park, which is about a 19 percent increase from last year at this time.
In addition to increased visitors, the park also saw an increase in the number of emergency medical calls and total calls for ranger service. There has been a 29 percent increase in emergency medical calls the last year.

Superfund designation not needed for Livingston rail yard
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Cleanup of spilled solvents and diesel fuel at the Livingston rail yard has progressed to the point that state and federal regulators no longer believe it needs to be considered for the Superfund National Priorities List.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decided last year that BSNF Railway’s cleanup was progressing adequately under state DEQ supervision. The withdrawal was published in the Federal Register last week.
The train repair and maintenance yard was contaminated over decades with diesel fuel, solvents and other substances that seeped into the groundwater. DEQ began addressing the contamination in 1989 and outlined the required cleanup in 2001.
The DEQ said Tuesday that BSNF has removed sludge, cleaned up solvents and removed petroleum from the groundwater. Other work is expected to be complete by next year.

Drought hay donation lottery program now offered in 3 states
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A hay donation lottery program set up in North Dakota to help drought-stricken ranchers is being expanded to producers in South Dakota and Montana.
The effort was launched last week by North Dakota’s Agriculture Department , North Dakota State University and the Michigan-based nonprofit Ag Community Relief. Officials set up a site near the NDSU campus to accept hay donations that will be doled out to needy producers through a lottery process.
North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring on Tuesday said the lottery will be opened to ranchers throughout the tristate area. The application deadline is Aug. 31.
Ag Community Relief is organizing a large hay donation convoy to North Dakota later this month. The first hay drawing will be in early September. More drawings will be held as donations allow.

Man fit to stand trial in woman’s beating, burning death
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled a Montana man is mentally competent to stand trial for the beating and burning death of a woman on the Crow Indian Reservation.
Dimarzio Swade Sanchez of Busby is one of three people charged in the April 2016 assault that led to the death of 28-year-old Roylynn Rides Horse.
The Billings Gazette reports a U.S. Bureau of Prisons psychologist testified Tuesday that while Sanchez had substance abuse issues along with anxiety and depression, he was able to understand the charges and assist in his defense on the first-degree murder charge.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters has not set a trial date.
Co-defendant Angelica Jo Whiteman of Billings faces trial on Sept. 25 for first-degree murder. Sanchez’ brother, Frank, has pleaded guilty to failing to report a felony and being an accessory after the fact.