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MT: Gazette Oipinions: Ups And Downs

August 8, 2010

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Billings Gazette / 7 August 2010 / Staff

Gazette Opinion: Ups & Downs

Ups and Downs gives a quick take on news of the week.

UP: Residency requirement.

Montana’s burgeoning medical marijuana registry will only sign up Montana residents from now on. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services decided to require patients to have Montana identification after finding several medical marijuana applications from people who live out of state.

UP: Preventing violence.

Domestic and Sexual Violence Services in Carbon County has been awarded a grant of $200,000 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The grant, which must be matched with local support over three years, will develop a teen violence prevention curriculum for rural communities. The project aims to provide a needed resource for stopping teen dating violence, a problem that has victimized 13 percent of Carbon County teens and 9.6 percent of all Montana teens, according to a recent state health survey. (Violence was defined as being hit, slapped or physically hurt by their girlfriend or boyfriend within 12 months before the survey.) According to the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 13.7 percent of Montana high school girls and 4.8 percent of boys said they had been “physically forced” to have sexual intercourse.

DOWN: 1-way traffic.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was scheduled to spend $8.5 million to upgrade the Port of Whitetail on the Montana-Saskatchewan border. However, the Canadian government said last week it plans to close its side of the border at the same point because it averaged five travelers per day and no commercial traffic. The next nearest ports are 17 and 34 miles away. Homeland Security ought to pull the plug on this soon-to-be one-way route, and talk to its Canadian counterparts about plans for other remote entry stations before more money is spent on them.

DOWN: Chief arrest.

Roosevelt County sheriff’s deputies arrested the Poplar city police chief on charges of illegally growing marijuana. Chief Chad A. Hilde says the eight plants are a friend’s legal medical marijuana. But arresting officers say neither he nor his friend are registered Montana medical marijuana caregivers.

UP: Pipeline plans.

The Canadian company that plans to build an oil pipeline from Canada through Eastern Montana to the Gulf of Mexico dropped its request for a special exemption from U.S. safety standards. Responding to critics, TransCanada announced that it won’t seek to build a higher pressure line than standard. That decision removes a safety concern and should help the project move forward.

UP: Second Chance

. Some Carbon County folks treated a group of wounded U.S. veterans to world-class fly fishing, rafting and horseback riding in Montana’s Rocky Mountains. Kudos to Operation Second Chance and the nonprofit organization’s donors and volunteers who extended great hospitality to give veterans a break from their medical care routines.

DOWN: Bear burglary.
A series of more than 20 Red Lodge break-ins is under investigation by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks because the suspect is a black bear. Food is the main draw for this furry intruder. Wildlife officials have reported bear problems south of Bozeman and in the Jackson, Wyo., area, too. One way to lessen the risk of bear raids is proper use of bear-proof garbage containers, closing them and not overfilling them.

DOWN: Officer offense.

Yet another local law enforcement officer has been arrested this summer for allegedly breaking the law. Yellowstone County Deputy Christopher Romero was off duty when arrested by Billings police. Both Romero and the man he was allegedly fighting were charged with disorderly conduct. Romero is one of three deputies who recently won a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office.

UP: Serving veterans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has boosted its Montana staff to help process veterans claims for disability and other benefits. According to a spokeswoman at Fort Harrison in Helena, six local people have been hired with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

 

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