State history, culture showcases at march

By SARAH SNEBOLD/Montana State News

HELENA – All of the recent women’s marches around the country that followed the day after President Trump’s inauguration had a focus on human rights issues, such as women’s reproductive health, clean water, and access to healthcare.

But the march in Helena had a unique twist, with a focus on Montana history and culture. March organizers worked to actively include the indigenous population. Both the Cheyenne and Blackfoot tribes were represented, with speakers and march participants.

Janna Weaselboy-Caplette sang a Cheyenne veterans honor song. He said, “Women are the backbone of Native North America and we can say that to all women of this world…[We] recognized that the women needed their own flag and honor song.” As Janna sang, the significance in the words pointed to the woman beside him, Lauren Small Rodriguez Tsitsistas. She is the first Northern Cheyenne woman to join the U.S. Coast Guard. Continue reading “State history, culture showcases at march”

Montanans face future trouble on Real ID

By JORDAN SPARR/Montana State News

In less than a year, a Montana drivers license will be insufficient identification for getting on a domestic airline flight.

And according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, this month Montana issued drivers licenses will not be enough to get into military bases, federal agencies and nuclear facilities due to state’s non-compliance with the federal Real ID Act.

The Department of Homeland Security’s website for Real ID compliance says that the Real ID Act, “… established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards.”

Starting Jan. 30, the extension granted the state by the federal government will cease, and identification cards issued by the state of Montana will no longer be accepted as valid forms of ID.

The Motor Vehicle Division of Montana website states that state Legislature rejects the Real ID Act over concerns of federal overreach and privacy. Continue reading “Montanans face future trouble on Real ID”

Legal Washington pot coming into Montana

By JACKSON NOLDE/Montana State News

The legalization of recreational marijuana in the state of Washington is bringing more and more of the drug into Montana, according to authorities.

In a recent bust, police say they confiscated more than $1 million in marijuana headed for Montana.

According to Idaho State Police, a Chevy Tahoe on Interstate 90 near Kellogg, Idaho was pulled over last Friday around 9:30 a.m. During the traffic stop, a drug detecting dog alerted the officers of the marijuana. After the troopers received a search warrant they found 378 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $1 million. Continue reading “Legal Washington pot coming into Montana”

Bill would ban bikes on two-lane roads

By SAMANTHA SUNDLY/Montana State News

Bicyclists and joggers would be banned from most two-lane roads in Montana if a bill under consideration in the state Legislature is approved

Republican Rep. Barry Usher is sponsoring the bill, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, which concerns local bicyclists about the future of their hobby and method of transportation.

As of now, the guidelines for bicyclists on two-lane roadways require that “every person operating a bicycle upon a street or roadway shall ride as near to the right-hand side of the roadway as practicable” and that “whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street or roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street or roadway,” according to the city of Bozeman’s bicycle municipal codes. Continue reading “Bill would ban bikes on two-lane roads”

Medical marijuana restrictions contested

By ADAM SCHREUDER/Montana State News

Unlike the 23 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized medical marijuana, Montana maintains its illegality.  The efforts to keep medical marijuana available to patients have been ongoing since 2011, when legislators restricted caregivers to a three patient maximum.  This tight restriction forced many caregivers out of business and sent many patients back to pharmaceutical remedies.

“I just don’t know if I can deal with those side effects again. I don’t feel like myself when I’m on a constant cocktail of Oxycontin and Valium, or whatever antibiotics they think works these days,” said Trevor Swahn, a victim of Crohn’s disease.

Although legislators technically restricted the availability of marijuana in 2011, activists continually delayed the restriction through legal  appeals until .  Medical marijuana supporters were not shocked that the procrastination tool of appeals was eventually defeated by the legislature, but they are now faced with the reality of taking the now illegal industry back underground.

Continue reading “Medical marijuana restrictions contested”

Billings swine flu death raises local concerns

By JENNY BRYAN/Montana State News

Tragedy struck Billings when a 9-year-old girl died Monday after being diagnosed with swine flu.

Although the definite cause of death is still unclear, parents and students throughout the city are on alert for health risks.

According to the Mayo Clinic, H1N1 also known as swine flu first appeared in April 2009 and has never completely dispersed. Despite popular belief the type A influenza is transmitted between people, not pigs.

The Center for Disease Control’s website reported that in the region of the country that includes Montana, along with five other states, there have been 1,502 cases of the swine flu since Oct 4, 2015.

However, according to an interview with the Billings Gazette, John Felton, the CEO of Riverstone Health said, “We are not aware of any [health] threat to anyone.”

Continue reading “Billings swine flu death raises local concerns”

Access to care key to preventing suicide

By MIKAL OVERTURF and NATHANAEL JOHNS/Montana State News

Montana had the highest suicide rate in the nation in 2014, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Montana’s Suicide Review Team revealed that only 40 percent of these suicides had an identified mental health disorder, but it is likely that many of these cases had undiagnosed or untreated mental illness according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Some 39,000 adults and 10,000 children in Montana live with a serious mental illness, according to the U.S. Public Health Service. This is out of about 1 million residents, which leads to a prevalence rate of 4.9 percent. According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, this is slightly higher than the national average of 4.2 percent.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a “serious mental illness” is described as “A mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (excluding developmental and substance abuse disorders) that is diagnosable currently or within the past year, of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within the 4th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, resulting in serious functional impairment, and which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.” This differs from people who, say, have had periods of brief depression or anxiety, or have mild depression and anxiety.

Continue reading “Access to care key to preventing suicide”

Bullocks raise money for kids’ breakfasts

By ANSON NYGAARD/Montana State News

Gov. Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock have announced $100,000 in privately raised funds for Montana schools looking to put breakfast in the bellies of more students. The announcement came last Thursday on a visit to Kessler Elementary School in Helena.

The money, intended to cover start up equipment costs, is available to schools wishing to implement so-called Breakfast After the Bell programs by way of $5,000 mini grants from the Montana No Kid Hungry Campaign to Fight Childhood Hunger.

Continue reading “Bullocks raise money for kids’ breakfasts”

Group forms to resettle refugees in state

By BRITTANY WALLACE/Montana State News

Soft Landing Missoula, a volunteer-run organization formed by moms inspired to help by media coverage of the Syrian refugee crises, is trying to bring a refugee resettlement field office to Missoula.

According to the organization’s Facebook page, “Soft Landing Missoula’s mission is to open our city, arms, and hearts in a sustainable way to refugees from around the world, as catalyzed by a desire to help those affected by the Syrian refugee crisis. Currently, we are working toward opening a refugee resettlement field office in Missoula, in order to aid refugees in the long term.”

In spite of the increase in refugees attempting to enter the U.S., according to the American Immigration Council, the U.S.’s refugee ceiling has actually gone down from 80,000 in 2009-2011 to only 70,000 each year since 2013, and none of those refugees have settled in Montana to this point. Soft Landing Missoula is hoping to change that; a refugee resettlement field office would open Montana up to receiving refugees from all over the world.

Continue reading “Group forms to resettle refugees in state”

Locals dubious about El Nino effects on farming

By TYLER WORTHEN/Montana State News

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the impact of El Niño is supposed to bring a 2-degree Celsius temperature increase to Montana.

But temperatures aside, snowfall has been plentiful

Local farmer, Cliff Schutter, said the snowpack this year as looking very hopeful for crop growth. With the snowpack at 96 percent of the entire winter average already this year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, Schutter is right.

Continue reading “Locals dubious about El Nino effects on farming”

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