Thursday: Barkus Charged, County Sleuths, Walt Schweitzer

By Beacon Staff

Good morning; on the Beacon today, three felony charges were filed against Kalispell state Sen. Greg Barkus Wednesday after his alleged driving of a boat under the influence of alcohol led to an Aug. 27 crash on the shore of Flathead Lake, but shortly after making an initial court appearance, Barkus’ attorney issued a statement disputing the alleged blood alcohol content (BAC) levels upon which the charges are based. We take a closer look at the firm hired by Flathead County to look into allegations of misconduct within the county’s planning and zoning department: the Moonlighting Detective Agency. And Wild Bill Schneider lashes out at road rage directed toward bicyclists.

Sen. Max Baucus says the final committee vote on health care legislation will take place next week. An investigator says that she found no wrongdoing by Deputy State Auditor Walt Schweitzer, the governor’s brother, amid allegations he used the office to raise political money. A former Secret Service agent named as the would-be operator of a Montana jail and law enforcement training center served 14 months in prison for stealing money from the government. Health departments around the state are making decisions about who will receive the first swine flu vaccines expected this week. Creditors are trying to foreclose on the Bitterroot Resort ski area west of Florence. The head of New West Health Services, Montana’s second-largest private health insurer says it could lose a few thousand customers because of big rate increases in 2010 for state employees choosing its plan – and that he’s perplexed by how the state came up with the change.

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