Thursday: Barkus Hearing, Prostitution, Hardin Concerns, No Smoking

By Beacon Staff

Good morning; on the Beacon today, a hearing is scheduled for tomorrow in Flathead County to suppress evidence in the case of Sen. Greg Barkus‘ Aug. 27 boat crash. A 22-year-old Columbia Falls woman faces prostitution and forgery charges after a man who said he’d paid the woman for sex reported his checkbook had been stolen. Flathead County is home to the four remaining mint operations in the state, but even those farmers know there is more history to Montana’s mint farms than there is future. And Beacon columnist Dave Skinner wonders how Judge Donald Molloy became Montana’s Chief Biologist, Forester, and overall Grand Plenipoteniary Poobah of Everything for Life – at least when it comes to returning animals to the endangered species lists.

An Associated Press investigation reveals that the man proposing to fill the Hardin Jail, Michael Hilton, is a convicted felon with a number of aliases, a string of legal judgments against him, two bankruptcies and a decades-long reputation for deals gone bad. But for citizens of Hardin, they are reserving judgment and hoping for the best until all the facts are known. Montana’s full smoking ban goes into effect today, banning smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces. As the new state law to encourage construction of a horse-slaughter plant in Montana takes effect this week, its sponsor said he’s exploring whether Chinese investors might be interested in building a plant here to export horse meat to the Far East.

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