Wednesday: Local Layoffs, Schweitzer Ethics Violation, Pudgy Pets

By Beacon Staff

Good morning; today is the anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

On the Beacon this morning, the ongoing layoffs at the valley’s biggest employers are tightening up the job market week by week. Kalispell City Council took action Monday to open up Kalispell’s southern end for development. A Bigfork hunter was fined $135 and given a 6-month suspended sentence after accidentally shooting a grizzly bear. Stillwater Mining Co. executives say they could shutter on of their two southern Montana mines permanently if prices for precious metals continue to slump. The state commissioner of political practices said Gov. Brian Schweitzer violated ethics laws by distributing a public service announcement after he filed for reelection. The slumping housing markets continue to depress employment and production at sawmills around the state. Democratic state House Speaker Bob Bergren is attempting to impose control over the evenly divided House as if Democrats had a majority, and Republicans are already crying foul. Preliminary figures show Montana home values have increased 40 percent to 50 percent since 2002, the last property tax reappraisal, though Schweitzer offered reassurance there would not be any increase in property taxes. The legislative Interim Revenue and Transportation Committee set revenue estimates for the state over the next three years at slightly less than what legislative fiscal division analysts have predicted. In the Yellowstone area, few are satisfied with a federal judge’s ruling to increase the number of snowmobile’s permitted in Yellowstone National Park. And more layoffs at a Livingston sawmill.

Finally, check out this pudgy pet contest in England. These are not healthy animals, but they are funny looking. Have a great day.