St. Patrick’s: Fire Hazards, House Budget, Butte Celebration

By Beacon Staff

Good morning and HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY! The word from my friends in New York City is that the subway is already crawling with tipsy, green-clad Irishmen as of 8 a.m.

On the Beacon today, in the wake of the Bozeman explosion, fire departments in Whitefish and Kalispell are taking a closer look at the aging structures in their downtowns. A second finalist has backed out of the running for the Kalispell city manager job. The biggest fish in the history of Mack Days was caught on Saturday by Captain Bob Orsua of Lakeside’s Mo Fisch Charters. In the W.R. Grace trial, a former financial analyst testified that top executives knew their products contained asbestos.

State officials say they plan to extinguish nine fires smoldering in underground coal seams in the eastern part of the state. The state House passed on a mostly unchanged budget yesterday, with a bipartisan consensus beating back more than 20 amendments proposed by conservative Republicans. U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg are proposing a bill to undo the ban on mini-bikes and parts. The Montana Department of Transportation is reducing the night speed limit on Highway 83 through the Swan Valley and Seeley Lake down to 55 miles per hour. A student group at the University of Montana is planning a law school debate on the First Amendment over a controversial sex column in the student newspaper. Funding for the recently shelved coal-fired power plant near Great Falls could instead go to a natural gas project. Reports of gas odors continue to pervade Bozeman, keeping authorities busy. The Ash Grove cement plant near Helena is temporarily shut down as it investigates a potentially harmful mineral, tremolite, found in one of its quarries.

And finally, festivities are almost underway in Butte. Check out the Montana Standard for a lineup of activities. Here’s a video of one of my favorite Irish musicians, Christy Moore, playing a rowdy version of Spancil Hill with the Pogues’ Shane MacGowan. Skull a few jars but keep it safe out there.