Written by Herald-News
The Montana Democratic Party chose a freshman state representative from Butte to replace Sen. John Walsh as the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate seat Walsh withdrew his candidacy for during a special nominating convention in Helena, Saturday, Aug. 16.
Amanda G. Curtis, 34, is a math teacher at Butte High School and represents House District 76.
Curtis has less than three months to convince Montana voters to choose her over Republican Steve Daines, who now serves as the state’s only congressman.
Daines, had been heavily favored to win over Walsh. The GOP has not held the seat since 1913.
Curtis gained notoriety for a pierced nose uploading video updates of the Montana House onto YouTube and Facebook.
Curtis is on record supporting expanded background checks for firearms purchases, purchased at gun shows.
“Amanda Curtis is a force to be reckoned with. In her time in the state legislature, Curtis proved her strength as a voice for hardworking, everyday Montanans. Amanda has a proven record as a communicator and fighter. As a teacher, Curtis has a unique insight into what matters most to Montana families. In Washington, Curtis will work with both sides to champion the issues that matter most to Montanans. Whether she is expanding opportunities for Montana children, keeping our public lands public, fighting for worker’s right, or ensuring women have the freedom to make their own healthcare decisions, Amanda Curtis is the voice Montana needs. We are thrilled to work with her and make sure that she is Montana’s next U.S. Senator,” said Jim Larson, chair of the Montana Democratic Party.
Walsh, 53, announced his withdrawal from the race following accusations of plagiarism. He had been under pressure to withdraw from leading Democrats and some Montana newspapers in the wake of an investigation by the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., where he had obtained his master’s degree in 2007. The New York Times reported in July that portions of Walsh’s thesis had been plagiarized from other sources without attribution.
Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Walsh [then lieutenant governor] to the Senate in February when Sen. Max Baucus resigned to become ambassador to China after serving 35 years in the Senate.
A 33-year military veteran, Walsh held the rank of brigadier general and served as adjutant general of the Montana Army National Guard.
According to a letter from Jim Larson, chair of the Montana Democratic Party, Walsh will continue to serve in the Senate until his appointed term expires in January, 2015.
There was no representation from Roosevelt County at the special nominating convention and only 14 delegates from eastern Montana were eligible.
Written by John Plestina
Five people, including four members of a Wolf Point family, were taken to two area hospitals following a single-vehicle rollover during the early hours of Wednesday, Aug. 13.
The Wolf Point Volunteer Fire Department extricated two adult passengers who were trapped in the back seat.
The Montana Highway Patrol reported that a 1998 Ford Expedition was traveling on Jackson Road 1, a flat gravel road south and east of Oswego in Valley County, when the SUV rolled at about 2 a.m.
MHP trooper Mitch Willett said the driver overcorrected, slid sideways off the road into a ditch, spun around facing the opposite direction, slid down the ditch and rolled, landing on the passenger side.
“Speed was involved but alcohol was not a factor. She was going too fast and it was a right corner. The speed limit was 35 mph,” Willett said.
He said the driver, Abelene Follet, 18, and her 12-year-old brother, who was seated on the back seat, had not consumed alcohol, but the other three passengers had. They included Follet’s mother and stepfather, 43 and 41 respectively [not further identified], and the front seat passenger, Ronald Lambert Jr., 20, a Wolf Point male, who was cited for minor in possession of alcohol into Fort Peck Tribal Court.
Willett said he issued Follet four citations for careless driving, driving without a license, driving without insurance and a seatbelt violation. He said no one in the vehicle was wearing seatbelts.
Willett said Follet, her brother and Lambert were able to exit the vehicle, but her mother and stepfather were trapped. The WPVFD cut off the roof to extricate them.
Three ambulances transported the five people; four to Northeast Montana Health Services-Wolf Point Campus and one to NEMHS-Poplar Campus. Willett said three of the people refused treatment upon arrival at hospitals. He said there were no life threatening injuries.
Written by John Plestina
A Wolf Point woman who was arrested twice on drug charges pleaded guilty in 15th District Court Wednesday, Aug. 13.
Amber Dawn Taylor, 29, withdrew not guilty pleas on five charges and pleaded guilty to felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs under a plea agreement where four charges were dismissed.
Earlier this year, Taylor pleaded not guilty to possession of dangerous drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving under the influence of drugs, driving while privilege is suspended or revoked and driving with no insurance, second or subsequent offense.
The first arrest came after a Wolf Point Police officer and a Fort Peck Tribes Department of Law and Justice drug investigator jointly stopped a car Taylor was driving at the corner of Idaho Street and Sixth Avenue South on Sept. 23, 2013.
The charging documents allege that the officers found crystal methamphetamine, marijuana, paraphernalia, more than 40 small plastic bags, a packaging device and other contraband in the car.
She was charged nearly a year ago with criminal possession with intent to distribute and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
Taylor was free on bond when a Montana Highway Patrol trooper arrested her a second time after a traffic stop at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 2 and Second Avenue North in Wolf Point on March 28. Three passengers were in her vehicle.
According to charging documents, the MHP trooper stated that Taylor smelled of burnt marijuana and that she admitted having a suspended driver’s license and no insurance.
The trooper seized several syringes, 98 small plastic jewelry bags, marijuana, a marijuana pipe and other paraphernalia, according to documentation from the court, that also alleges that one of the syringes contained a liquid that tested positive for methamphetamine.
Taylor pleaded not guilty to possession of dangerous drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving under the influence, driving while privilege is suspended or revoked and driving with no insurance, second or subsequent offense. A trial had been scheduled for July 17, where she was also scheduled to answer allegations that she violated conditions of bail.
According to the plea agreement that Judge David Cybulski accepted last week, the Roosevelt County Attorney is recommending that Taylor be placed into the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections for five years with three years suspended and a recommendation for long-term treatment at Elkhorn Treatment Center, a 47-bed residential treatment-based correctional facility in western Montana serving women, most of which are in DOC custody.
Defense attorney Mark Epperson asked for a reduction in bail, citing that Taylor is a lifelong resident of Wolf Point with family residing in the area.
Cybulski said he wants Taylor to get treatment for her drug addiction and supervision if freed.
Taylor told the court she could be out of jail and not get in trouble.
“I messed up the fourth month I was out,” Taylor said and apologized.
Bond is set at $25,000.
Written by John Plestina
The Montana Highway Patrol reported that an intoxicated 19-year-old girl was driving a pickup that was later reported stolen and crashed it on the Tule Creek bridge on U.S. Hwy. 2 about midway between Wolf Point and Poplar.
Trooper Derek Werner said Ashley Hilliard, 19, of Poplar was driving a 2001 Dodge pickup eastbound just after 5 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13. He said the truck drifted to the opposite side of roadway on the bridge, struck a guardrail, overcorrected, traveled again over the centerline and struck the guardrail on the opposite side. The vehicle became disabled, blocking the westbound lane.
Werner said Hilliard was transported by ambulance to Northeast Montana Health Services-Poplar Campus with non-life threatening injuries.
Werner said he cited Hilliard into Fort Peck Tribal Court for DUI, unlawful possession, acquisition or consumption of alcoholic or intoxicating beverages by a person under the age of 21, and not wearing a seatbelt.
Werner said the vehicle was later reported stolen by the registered owner and that further charges were pending against Hilliard. The pickup was stolen out of Poplar. He said it sustained considerable damage and was possibly totaled.
Written by John Plestina
Several people appeared before Judge David Cybulski in 15th District Court Wednesday, Aug. 13.
Gary Ray Jones, 44, of Mesa, Ariz., was brought in on a bench warrant to answer a petition to revoke bond due to failure to comply with bail conditions.
He had been free on $40,000 bail, which Cybulski said no longer applies. Jones would have to put up an additional $40,000 bond to get out of jail.
He is charged with assault on a peace officer with injury.
A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 27.
Jeremy Sepanski, 30, of Plentywood withdrew not guilty pleas he had entered earlier this year and pleaded guilty to forgery, burglary and forgery by common scheme.
Sepanski is accused of illegally entering a house in Froid when no one was home on Jan. 20, stealing checks from the occupant of the house and attempting to cash them in a store in Froid.
Defense attorney John Wheatcroft said Sepanski is facing similar charges in Sheridan County and requested one pre-sentence investigation for charges in both counties. Roosevelt and Sheridan counties are in the 15th Judicial District.
Cody Daniel Twomey, 20, of Culbertson was arraigned on charges of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, criminal endangerment and being under the influence of an intoxicating substance by a person under 21.
The alleged incidents occurred at a party spot southwest of Culbertson near the Missouri River that is nicknamed “Twights Bottom” on June 22.
Roosevelt County Undersheriff Sheriff John Summers reported that deputies responded to multiple 911 calls at about 3:30 a.m. reporting a male “flipping out and in possession of firearm.”
Summers said several partygoers restrained the male until law enforcement arrived on scene.
A trial is scheduled for Nov. 13.