Montana News – July 26, 2017

Daines, Tester respond to release of UM student

In a press call Sunday afternoon, U.S. Senator Steve Daines announced the release of University of Montana student Guthrie McLean, who had been detained in China for the past four days.

“After two consecutive 20-hours days doing back-and-forth negotiations with the Chinese government,” Daines said, “Jennifer McLean (Guthrie’s mother) just emailed and said, ‘prayers answered, Guthrie is home.'”

Sen. Jon Tester also issued a statement regarding McLean’s release.

“I am overjoyed that Guthrie is safe and sound and will be reunited with his mother.  This really is a testament to what can be accomplished when we turn up the heat and hold government accountable.”


Missoula firefighter killed in Seeley Lake blaze

Trenton Johnson, a 19-year-old firefighter from Missoula, was killed Wednesday, July 19, 2017, when a falling limb struck him while fighting a fire near Seeley Lake.

Sen. Jon Tester mourned Johnson’s passing in a statement.

“This is a tragic day for Missoula and all of Montana as we mourn the loss of firefighter Trenton Johnson.  His bravery and sacrifice will not be forgotten. This is a sobering reminder that every day firefighters put their lives on the line to protect ours.  Sharla and I send our thoughts to Mr. Johnson’s family and friends, and we pray for comfort and healing during this difficult time.”

Gov. Steve Bullock also offered his condolences.

“Firefighters dedicate their lives each day to ensure the safety of our communities. Lisa and I send our deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of firefighter Trenton Johnson. He will forever be remembered as a brave man who exemplifies the courage and selflessness of all our first responders.”


State unemployment steady at 3.9 percent

According to a report from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, the state’s unemployment rate has remained steady at 3.9 percent.

The report indicated 6,700 jobs were added to the state’s economy over the past year, with 220 of those jobs posted in June.

The state’s unemployment rate was a half percentage point better than the 4.4 percent national average. The national unemployment rate was .1 percent higher than the month before.


USDA sending staff to assist Montana counties facing drought

U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced last week that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be sending extra staff to drought-stricken Montana counties.

The USDA will be sending 10 additional employees to Richland, Sheridan, McCone, Daniels, Fergus, Carter/Fallon, Garfield, Prairie, Rosebud/Treasure, and Wibaux counties.   The additional staff will be on hand to help farmers and ranchers apply for disaster assistance.

“As we face some really tough times in Montana agriculture, these additional staff members will bring some much needed relief to eastern Montana,” said Tester. “If farmers and ranchers are having any trouble accessing USDA resources they should reach out to my office, we’re happy to help.”

Last month, Tester requested the USDA prioritize approving applications for producers in extreme drought designated areas.

Farmers and ranchers needing assistance can contact their local Farm Service Agency office or Tester’s Agriculture Liaison Jesse Anderson at 406.449.5401.


Prosecutor asks judge to have Gianforte booked and fingerprinted

Gallatin County Attorney Marty Lambert requested Justice Court Judge Rick West reject a motion by attorneys for Rep. Greg Gianforte that the congressman be exempted from the normal booking procedures for criminal defendants, and that the congressman be booked and fingerprinted like other criminal defendants.

Gianforte pleaded guilty in June to a misdemeanor charge of assault following an incident with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs the day before the May 25 special election.

Gianforte was sentenced to community service and ordered to undergo anger management counseling.