Monday: C-Falls Champs, Legislature Energy, Iraq Shoe Statue

By Beacon Staff

Good morning and happy Groundhog Day; Punxatawney Phil says six more weeks of winter on the way.

On the Beacon today, Columbia Falls speech and debate team brought home the state title for the eighth time in ten years – what an amazing accomplishment. Local author Patrick Lee has finished his second novel, “Canyon Secret,” a mystery set against the Hungry Horse Dam construction in the 1950s. Glacier High School’s Kelbee Sweedman is one of two percussionists selected to play with the All Northwest Ensemble.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer needs Republicans’ help if he’s going to raise taxes on petroleum and natural gas, and the GOP needs him if they will be successful loosening permitting for some new energy development – but can they play nice? A Bigfork man has invented a small fuel cell that he says improves efficiency and reduces emissions on vehicles. The push for ethanol as an alternative fuel has lost serious steam in Montana over the last few years. Lee’s Jennifer McKee has a useful glossary of legislative lingo. The Bonneville Power Administration stands to gain $3.25 billion through the current economic stimulus bill working its way through Congress to boost the power grid in the Northwest. The Great Falls Tribune is reporting that the company behind the Highwood Energy generating station in Great Falls has plans to drop any plans to burn coal altogether. The first of many bills to change the regulation of gravel pits begins working its way through the Legislature this week.

And finally, an Iraqi town has built a large statue of a shoe in honor of the journalist who threw his shoe at President George W. Bush. Have a great day.

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