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Noteworthy Helena-area stories that didn’t make the Top 10 list

2005-12-30T23:00:00Z Noteworthy Helena-area stories that didn’t make the Top 10 listThe Helena IR - 01/01/06 Helena Independent Record
December 30, 2005 11:00 pm  • 

The Independent Record has been running its list of Top 10 local stories, leading up to the number one story, which is featured in today's newspaper. The Top 10 include:

1 -- Growth in the area; 2 -- Soldiers and Guard members from Montana return from deployment in Iraq; 3 -- Fallout from Asarco's bankruptcy continues; 4 -- Controversy of a proposed road through a portion of the Downtown Walking Mall; 5 -- Meth continues to become more of a problem in the community, including a possible role in a homicide. A statewide advertising project begins to battle the problem; 6 -- The city begins to ponder ways of addressing the large number of deer in Helena; 7 -- The Historical Society mulls a move to the Capital Hill Mall; 8 -- The Westboro Baptist Church, an organization that many say preaches hate toward homosexuals, announces it plans to picket the Montana Supreme Court and several churches following a court decision. The community meets and forms a counter demonstration when the group arrives; 9 -- a 5.6-level earthquake strikes. The quake's epicenter is near Dillon, but C.R. Anderson School suffers some damage that postpones the first day of class at the school; 10 -- Visitors to the area include President Bush's trip to Great Falls and John Kerry's visit to the Capitol. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and GOP political advisor Karl Rove also make trips to Helena.

Other significant area stories during 2005 include:


Officials break ground for the Lewis and Clark Experience at the Great Northern Town Center.

A report is released showing the Mike Horse Dam near Lincoln is slowly deteriorating. Helena National Forest officials say there's no imminent danger, but heavy spring rains wash out a section of the road and prompt calls for removal of the dam and heavy metals behind it.

Helena resident Jamie Bristow receives 30 years in Montana State Prison with 10 years suspended for the December 2003 slashing death of Jason Grandy.

The dismantling of Asarco's smelting operations in East Helena continues, with the demolition of the 350-foot zinc smelter stack.

Helena resident Jared Rosling receives life in prison for the February 2004 murder of Jessica Dooley.

Michael L. McCroskey is charged with attempting to hire an undercover detective to murder his wife and dog.

The Helena School District didn't make Adequate Yearly Progress in 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Education standards. However, it did improve its status from the previous year.


Officials with Helena's Friendship Center announce a $1.72 million fundraising effort to expand and renovate their facility for the community's victims of domestic violence and their families.

Roger Caryl -- who killed four people at the Whitetail Ranch near Ovando in 1973 -- is paroled by the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole despite protests by the families of his victims.

There are proposals to ask the Legislature to raze the Montana State Training School in Boulder. The funds are switched to mothballing the building.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer brings the inaugural Governor's Ball back to Helena.

After almost a decade of analysis that was interrupted by a major wildfire, Helena National Forest officials finish travel their plan for about 230,000 acres in the North Big Belts mountain range.

Controversy arises over a proposed sports complex at the Montana City School. Some say the proposal contributed to the school's levy request being turned down by voters in May.

A grant for the project from Fish, Wildlife and Parks is later returned because work the district had claimed as a match for the grant is deemed ineligible.


Helena-based nonprofit Community Health Center closes its Lincoln clinic due to sudden gas shortage, forcing residents to travel for routine medical care.

Yacht Basin marina operators Kathy and Bill Frazier and Bureau of Reclamation officials sign a 20-year contract. The deal was at least five years in the making.

Suncor Energy of Canada begins drilling a wildcat natural gas well on Flesher Pass. In August, after spending $10 million to drill 16,000 feet, the company capped the well and left, saying it had come up dry.

Former Helena resident Kelly Allen Frank is charged with plotting to kidnap late night talk show host David Letterman's son and the boy's nanny from the entertainer's ranch near Choteau.

Montana officials convene a strategic planning committee after the government of sister-state Kyrgyzstan is ousted.

The Archie Bray Foundation unveils a new 12,000 square-foot studio and residence.


Urlich, the Helena Police Department's bomb-sniffing dog, is put down as a result of serious health problems. Rex, the drug-sniffing dog purchased at the same time as Urlich in 1999, is euthanized later in the year, also as a result of health problems.

UM-Helena College of Technology receives $7.5 million in funding from the Legislature for remodeling and expansion of the colleges two campuses.

Junichi Matsumoto, a Japanese diplomat and director of Helena's Kumamoto Plaza, turns his post over to new director Kiyomichi Nagata.


East Helena's $125,000 technology levy fails by one vote.

President Bush rescinds former President Clinton's roadless rule, which environmental groups fear could open up nearly one-third of all remote national forest lands to road building, logging and other ventures.

A Montana Department of Transportation plan to rebuild a scenic but accident-prone stretch of Highway 69 south of Boulder meets opposition from ranchers and residents of the rural area.


East Helena Mayor Ed Murgel dies after a yearlong battle with a brain tumor. Murgel, 56, was an ardent East Helena advocate and community booster.

County commissioners OK a long-range fairgrounds plan in June, which likely signaled the end of horseracing on the century-old track. Opponents of the plan file subsequent legal challenges.

The Lewis and Clark County Health Department joins with the Helena School District to screen children in schools for pertussis, or whooping cough. They hope to identify infected children before they started their summer vacations, potentially spreading the highly contagious disease to other segments of the community.

The county logged almost 200 cases in 2005, well above the approximate five cases reported in an average year.

The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Department begins phasing in its new $5.9 million communications system, providing much-needed county-wide communication for emergency service personnel.

Kevin Riordan, an Iowa native who has spent much of his career working for the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado, is named the new supervisor of the Helena National Forest.

City of Boulder officials find that the city budget is in the red by nearly $25,000. The shortfall is blamed on faulty bookkeeping.

Mary Schweitzer, a Helena native, makes international news after her research finds dinosaur DNA and proves one Montana T-Rex was a female laying eggs.


The wettest June since 1892 fills Canyon Ferry Reservoir -- and then some. Four inches of rain fell in 30 days, falling short of 1892's 5.6 inches.

Amy Rolfe, mother and Lewis and Clark Library employee, was found murdered in her parents' home on July 22. Joshua Giddings was charged with her murder and is scheduled to go to trial in 2006.

State wildlife officials convince Lewis and Clark commissioners to reverse a ban on fishing at the fairground's duck pond.

About 10,000 acres of formerly private land becomes public property with the acquisition by the Bureau of Land Management of the McMaster Ranch in the Spokane Hills.

Also, The Conservation Fund purchases the 5,600-acre Iron Mask property in the Elkhorn Mountains. The land is eventually sold to the BLM.

The celebration of the centennial of Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery tour comes to Lewis and Clark and Broadwater County.

A 5.6 magnitude earthquake rocks southwest Montana.


Software mogul and part-time Montana resident Thomas Siebel announces the creation of the Montana Meth Project through a $5.6 million donation through the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation. The first wave of the project involves a series of hard-hitting radio, television and billboard advertisements designed to discourage Montana's youth from experimenting with methamphetamine.

Because of an ongoing dispute in the community, Jefferson County commissioners dissolve the Basin Fire Board. Later in the month, the commission reverses its decision.

An earlier arson fire stoked the controversy, although law enforcement officials drew no connection between the fire and the dispute.

Longtime director of the Archie Bray Foundation, Josh DeWeese, announces his plans to resign.


The beheading of a Butte family's dog in a campground near Bernice in Jefferson County draws international attention. A Butte man is charged in the incident.

Carroll College removes two panelists who had been invited to an ethics conference, including one from Planned Parenthood.

Daniel Bingham takes over the reigns at UM - Helena College of Technology.

The Jefferson County Health Board fires its supervisory public health nurse.

Helena resident Donna Stryker accidentally shoots 18-year-old Shandi Griffin with an SKS assault rifle. Griffin dies from her wounds and Stryker pleads guilty to negligent homicide in connection with the incident. She is awaiting sentencing.


A public meeting is held to discuss possible "energy corridors" for power lines and pipelines throughout the West. At this point, however, no one is sure where the lines are proposed to be.

Operators of the Montana Tunnels mine suspend mining after a number of small slides along a pit wall sent rocks crashing into equipment. Some workers are laid off, and others continue the mine's milling operation.

Lewis and Clark County's Chief Public Defender Randi Hood resigns the post she has held for 17 years to accept a position as the state's first chief public defender.


Lewis and Clark County's Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Dick Meeker retires after 29 years assisting youths in trouble with the law.

Lincoln resident Shelby Baumberger is killed in an apparent shoot-out at the intersection of Highway 200 and Hi Sign Road. No one has been charged with causing Baumberger's death. However, three men have been charged with counts ranging from tampering with evidence in the case, to several unrelated thefts and burglaries.

Townsend voters approve zoning regulations for sexually oriented businesses in the community.


The Jefferson County Health Department is back to full staff after a number of controversies over the past two years, including the temporary closure of the office in 2003; voter approval of a special mill levy in 2004, and the firing of the supervisory public health nurse earlier in 2005.

Tish Fortier, a new nurse supervisor was hired in November.

A Great Falls man is killed in an accident near Marysville when his pickup apparently roll, trapping him beneath.

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