Good morning; on the Beacon today, at a recent meeting of the Flathead Area Young Professionals – a group dedicated to fostering networking and socializing opportunities within the valley’s younger, working community – interviews with several people revealed observations of a local economy still largely struggling, despite the broad optimism of its workforce. The Mountain Highlanders marched through Kalispell yesterday for its St. Patrick’s Day parade. The public took ownership of 112,000 acres of Plum Creek Timber Co. land earlier this week when the second phase of the Montana Legacy Project took effect. And Dave Skinner notices a trend in taxpayers footing the bill over planning conflicts gone wrong.
Internal e-mails show top officials at the governor’s office and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks knew that a poaching investigation involved a prominent Republican who later went to work for Rep. Denny Rehberg. But the e-mails, released Wednesday in response to a freedom of information request from The Associated Press, show no evidence that political pressure influenced the case. House Democrats are on track for a Sunday vote on sweeping health care legislation that will expand coverage to millions of uninsured while also reducing the federal deficit, leaders said Thursday. The president of Montana Furniture Industries says the company is going out of business, the victim of the downturn in the economy. Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Wednesday that if Montana’s Land Board approves an $86 million bid for state coal leases, the money could be used to reduce pending state budget cuts he is considering. The National Resources Defense Council says the average Montanan will spend more than 10 percent of his or her income on gasoline if prices shoot past $3 a gallon, as they’re expected to as the weather warms. Underage drinking appeared to be down during the St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Butte Wednesday. A District Court jury convicted a 39-year-old East Helena man of two counts of incest Wednesday evening following a weeklong trial.
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