By Beacon Staff

Columbia Falls’ girls and boys basketball teams head to state on a high note after winning Divisionals. Meanwhile, crews are searching for mail that may have fallen out of a plane en route to Kalispell.

COLUMBIA FALLS – The boys and girls basketball teams win the Divisional tournament after a dominant season.
CANADA HOCKEY – We ranked them in the “Low” category last week after losing to the U.S. in an early round, then they win the gold in an incredible OT victory. So we’ll eat crow and offer congratulations.
WILDLIFE AGENCIES – The rise in gun sales, due to (so far unfounded) fears of gun control measures by the Obama Administration, have dumped millions into a fund financed by excise taxes on firearm sales dedicated to wildlife agencies.
HOUSING MARKET – Home sales in the West inched 3 percent higher last month.

STATE BUDGET – At a Feb. 18 legislative meeting in Helena, budget analysts told lawmakers state tax collections would begin to improve this year, indicating an economic recovery, and Montana’s current cash position is strong. However, revenues are coming in far below predictions, meaning the state budget is in better shape than most, but deteriorating.

ROGER KOOPMAN – This former Bozeman Republican lawmaker’s “Conservative Alliance” test of ideological credentials was widely ignored and/or criticized by most Montana GOP members.
CHILE – More than 700 are dead, as of this writing, after a magnitude-8.8 earthquake struck this South American nation over the weekend.
BIGHORN SHEEP – Pneumonia outbreaks have killed hundreds of wild bighorns across the West with wildlife officials unsure how to manage the crisis.
ALPINE AIR – Crews are searching the Bob Marshall Wilderness for mail that may have fallen out of a cargo plane en route to Kalispell.