Weekend: Red Ants Pants, Safeway Salmonella, Sage Grouse Decision

By Beacon Staff

Good morning; on the Beacon today, local baristas show off their skills at a Latte Art Competition at Colter Coffee Roasting on March 14. On Saturday, March 6, Red Ants’ “Tour de Pants” will pass through Whitefish, with a fashion show at the Hell Roaring Saloon, on Big Mountain, at 4 p.m. Safeway Inc. said Thursday it is voluntarily recalling potato salad products over concerns about possible salmonella contamination. The Natural Resources Conservation Service says Montana mountain snowpack is below average, especially west of the Continental Divide. Mick Holien questions the effectiveness of some of the cost-cutting measures in the Big Sky conference. And Warren Miller recalls how a loyal cameraman got his start.

A pilot program intended to reduce drunken driving by requiring twice-daily breath tests for those accused of a second or subsequent DUI will take effect in Helena and Lewis & Clark County in May, officials said Thursday. Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s administration told lawmakers Thursday that a proposed 5 percent cut in spending is just the first of many tough budget decisions, but he and other leaders immediately shut the door on talk of any tax increases. An idea to set aside more than 2.5 million acres in northeastern Montana and possibly create a new national bison range met opposition Thursday when the state’s only congressman proposed limiting the president’s ability to create national monuments there. The Hamilton City Council has unanimously approved interim zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries. Montana’s commissioner of higher education has recommended a nearly $75,000 raise for University of Montana President George Dennison, who retires in August. Following a spectacular fire at a former plywood plant in Libby, residents are being advised not to clean up the large chunks of ash that fell around town, as many have tested positive for asbestos. The Interior Department plans to announce whether it will pursue endangered species protection for sage grouse, a decision with major ramifications for the West’s renewable energy and oil and gas industries. With the economy on the rocks, Montanans tempered their thirst for alcohol last year, according to state sales figures showing a rare growth decline.

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