AP NEWS

Mail-ballot popularity, High school powwow, Mussels invade Montana

November 11, 2016

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More voters. More Montanans than ever before voted in the Nov. 8 elections: 504,409, according to Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. Nearly 497,600 Montanans voted in the November 2012 elections.

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Ballot options. Statistics from McCulloch’s office confirm that both early voting and same-day registration are important options for Montanans. Statewide, 354,897 absentee ballots were issued, and 93.67 percent were returned. An estimated 25,657 voters used Montana’s late voter registration period (last 30 days before the election) to register and vote, including about 10,357 who registered and voted on Election Day.

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All-school powwow. The Billings Tribal Youth Council, whose membership includes students from Skyview, Senior and West high schools, hosted a powwow Saturday at Senior. Congratulations to the students who organized this great event and to the educators supporting them.

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Contract corruption. Billings contractor Kevin McGovern and his company, CMG Construction, were convicted by a U.S. District Court jury of defrauding the Chippewa Cree Tribe and bribing tribal officials to obtain $2.5 million in federally funded contracts without competing. The maximum penalties are 20 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.

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Monster mussels. Glacier National Park officials took the precaution of closing all park lakes to boating temporarily after the larvae of invasive Quagga and zebra mussels were found in other Montana waters. Larvae were found in Tiber reservoir and suspected larvae were found at Canyon Ferry. These invasive species hurt native fish populations by consuming their food. The mussels also can clog water pipes.

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Veteran mentors. The veteran’s treatment court in Yellowstone County, led by District Judge Mary Jane Knisely, is recruiting veterans to volunteer as mentors for court participants working to stay in recovery. For more information about helping local veterans through Court Assisting Military Offenders, call Michelle Shaw at 406-867-2500.

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Veteran drivers. The VA Montana transportation program runs on volunteer power with vans donated by the Disabled American Veterans and local people volunteering to drive the vans to take veterans to and from medical appointments. More volunteer drivers are needed in Billings, Columbus, Glasgow, Lewistown, Malta and Miles City. Phone VA Montana at 406-447-7345 to find out how to help.

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Ag income shrinks. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City reported that demand for farm loans continues to grow as agriculture producers’ income shrinks. The Kansas City Fed covers Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, northern New Mexico and western Missouri. Eighty-seven percent of bankers in that region reported declines in farm income for the third quarter.