News Buffet: Evergreen Superfund Clean-Up, Shepherd Wildfire, Baghdad Snow

By Beacon Staff

Good morning and happy International Thank You Day. Today’s a good day to crank out some of those holiday thank you cards.

Topping news this morning on the Beacon, the two bodies found in Flathead Lake near Wildhorse Island have been identified as a prominent Missoula couple. After decades of delay, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on its plan to clean up the Evergreen Superfund site. In Columbia Falls, the residents of two new Habitat for Humanity homes invited in the crews who helped to build them. Columnist Dave Skinner is looking forward to bagging himself a wolf this year.

Topping state news, a wildfire near Shepherd in eastern Montana has burned between 500 and 1,000 acres since igniting last night. Gov. Brian Schweitzer talked tough to state university officials seeking an additional $74 million in this year’s budget – saying that they, along with other state agencies need to temper their budget expectations. Violent rhetoric at a meeting in Darby has caused Bitterroot National Forest officials to cancel a hearing in Stevensville over updating the forest’s travel management plan. Jennifer McKee of Lee’s Capitol bureau writes about the hidden costs of crime-fighting: hospitals bills for violent offenders injured during their arrest, and the strain it places on health care professionals. And Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., is continuing to push the Bush administration to allow firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges.

And finally, Iraqis were amazed in Baghdad to find snow falling in the city for the first time in, perhaps, hundreds of years. Hopefully it’s a good omen. Have a great Friday and enjoy this beautiful winter weekend.