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Montana news shortsPosted on Dec. 22

Montana news shortsPosted on Dec. 22

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MISSOULA (AP) - Outgoing Missoula Mayor Mike Kadas said Wednesday he'll continue to serve as chairman of the board of Montana Public Power Inc. after he leaves office next month and moves to Central America.

Kadas' last day as mayor is Dec. 31. After that, he plans to join his family in San Ramon, Nicaragua, for 10 months.

His term as MPPI chairman is up at the end of March. Incoming mayor John Engen will then nominate someone to represent Missoula, subject to approval by the City Council.

On Wednesday, Kadas told council members that when his term as chairman is up, he'll assess whether he's been effective during his time in Central America and decide whether to apply to continue.

"It really depends how well I'm going to be able to communicate," he said.

However, "MPPI goes on whether I'm here or not," he said.

MPPI is a coalition of Montana cities that wants to buy NorthWestern, which operates as NorthWestern Energy to sell electricity and natural gas in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. Its offer of $2.1 billion has twice been rejected by NorthWestern.

KALISPELL (AP) _ An Evergreen man accused of trying to strangle his girlfriend with a bathrobe belt has pleaded not guilty to a half-dozen charges.

Christopher Dyer, 51, is in jail on $500,000 bail.

He is charged with attempted murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, obstructing justice and tampering with evidence.

Court records say Dyer got angry when the woman asked him to leave her house near Columbia Falls on Nov. 28.

He punched her, threatened to kill her and wrapped a bathrobe belt around her neck and strangled her until she passed out, court documents said.

Dyer eventually left, and the woman drove herself to the hospital.

His trial is set for March 13.

BOZEMAN (AP) _ The Natural Resources Conservation Service on Wednesday announced more than $23 million for conservation projects in Montana in 2006.

The funding is through the agency's Environmental Quality Incentives Program, which helps farmers finance changes that can lessen erosion or allow their farm to pollute less.

"Implementing conservation practices under EQIP allows us to work with individual landowners in addressing resource concerns on their property," said Dave White, NRCS state conservationist.

This year, EQIP funds also will be used to address several statewide resources concerns and for special initiatives, he said.

Funds that will be set aside at the statewide level include $2.3 million for animal feeding operation projects, $2.3 million for conservation on tribal lands, $500,000 for Conservation Innovation Grants and $4.1 million for special initiatives.

Each county in Montana also receives between $100,000 and $350,000, which will be allocated according to local conservation priorities, according to an NRCS news release.

The funds are distributed to counties based on a formula that takes into account the number of agricultural acres in the county and the number of producers.

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