News Buffet: Streamside Setback Complaint, Record Insurance Profits, Ski Crash Lawsuit

By Beacon Staff

Good morning and happy Bah Humbug Day.

On the Beacon this morning, editor Kellyn Brown writes about the abuse of power by regulatory boards cracking down on, among other businesses, a Whitefish cosmetologist. The Northwest Montana Association of Realtors is challenging the county over the public hearing process to develop a streamside setback policy. Jack Hanna relates his favorite Christmas memory and explains how he ended up bringing a donkey to college. And I don’t know why the holidays have got folks acting crazy, but this week’s Police Blotter has to be the laugh-out-loud best ever.

The omnibus spending bill passed this week by Congress contains some cutbacks in Drug Task Force funding, and could jeopardize the existence of several such task forces across the state. In Missoula, the high school student accused of stomping a homeless Navy veteran to death pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide. The state’s largest health insurer, Montana Blue Cross/Blue Shield, reported profits in the first nine months of this year that were eight times higher than this time last year – at $22 million. In Butte, the body of Daren Smith, who died Dec. 13 while serving in Iraq, was brought home.

And finally, be careful if you’re out on the slopes this holiday season. People are feeling litigious. Just ask this 8-year-old boy being sued in federal court over a ski collision. I’m off next week and traveling home for Christmas. Please have a great and safe holiday.