Tuesday: Barkus Trial, Schweitzer Swank, Smurfit Closing

By Beacon Staff

Good morning; on the Beacon today, Gov. Brian Schweitzer announced Monday he was blocking an appropriation of state money to Swank Enterprises intended to compensate the construction firm for the cost of environmental cleanup at the former site of the Kalispell Pole and Timber Yard. The trial of Kalispell state Sen. Greg Barkus for three felony charges stemming from a Flathead Lake boat crash is scheduled for April 5, 2010 – but that’s if the trial happens at all. A 28-year-old Montana State Prison inmate, Brandon John Orr of Polson, who murdered his mother three years ago apparently committed suicide by hanging himself with a sheet, the prison announced Monday. Landowners in the Kalispell area say vandalism of private property is on the rise during hunting season, especially as more people use all-terrain vehicles. The chairman of Montana’s Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes says he has been invited by the White House to participate on a climate change panel this week in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I) of Connecticut has emerged as perhaps the key player in the fate of healthcare reform legislation in the Senate – infuriating many Democrats, who accuse him of acting less out of a sense of principle than a desire to protect insurance companies, a key industry in his state. Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. announced on Monday the permanent closure of its linerboard plant in Frenchtown, effective Dec. 31. The former director of Great Falls’ 1,000-member soccer club was charged Monday in District Court with embezzling at least $20,000 from the organization. A Bozeman woman from South Korea has had her car repeatedly vandalized with white supremacy symbols. A Yellowstone County District Court judge has been asked to decide whether a Butte High School student’s civil rights were violated when she was banned from speaking at graduation ceremonies last year because she refused to remove religious references from her speech.

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