Special for the Missoulian Wednesday, April 19, 2000

No sign of plane missing over Glacier

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK - The search continued Tuesday for a Plains man whose aircraft disappeared over Glacier National Park last weekend.

Dale Laird left Polson on Sunday for a business meeting in Lethbridge, Alberta, but never arrived. According to Mike Rogan, Laird's aircraft was last seen on radar over Glacier's eastern mountains, part way between the Many Glacier Valley and the Canadian border.

Rogan, an official with the Montana Aeronautics Division, said Laird was flying a fixed-gear, four-passenger Maule, which is a small single-engine aircraft.

A signal from an emergency locator was heard early in the search, Rogan said, but the signal has not been heard since and might have been an error rather than a true emergency message. Tuesday, several fixed-wing planes and one helicopter from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls flew over the area where Laird's craft was last seen by radar.

North of the border, the Canadian military is overseeing a search of the mountains south and west of Lethbridge. Laird's last radar location, park officials said, put him near the border and well west of the normal flight course between Polson and Lethbridge.

"It's pretty rugged country up there," Rogan said.

Michael Jamison, Missoulian

Wreck victim upgraded to serious condition

The condition of a Stevensville man has been upgraded from critical to serious after a two-car collision that killed his daughter Sunday.

Bradley David Letzig, 34, remains in St. Patrick Hospital following the wreck on the Eastside Highway near Corvallis.

His daughter, Brandilyn Marie Letzig, 7, was killed when Letzig's 1994 Geo Metro collided with a 1992 Ford Ranger pickup near the North Birch Creek Road intersection, according to the Montana Highway Patrol.

Letzig was passing a second pickup truck that was slowing to turn right when the accident occurred, according to MHP Officer Tom Hamilton.

The accident still is under investigation

Mick Holien, Missoulian

Recent fires boost need for donations

Three structure fires this month have prompted the Western Valleys Chapter of the American Red Cross to remind Montanans it's a good time to think about helping others in their times of need.

The Red Cross already has helped some of the families with immediate needs, according to Dot Northcutt, but that has depleted the agency's resources.

"We really would appreciate the support," she said.

For further information, call the Red Cross office at 549-6441, or mail your donation to 1001 E. Broadway, Missoula MT 59802.

Mick Holien, Missoulian

Slide show features African wildlife

Graduate students and faculty from the University of Montana will tell stories and show slides from their trip to East Africa during a presentation at 4 p.m. Thursday in Room 304 of UM's Journalism Building.

Open to the public, the program will feature the wildlife and scenery of Tanzania, where the UM group identified nearly 300 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, and numerous plant and insect species.

Stops along the way included Tarangire Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Arusha Park, Serengeti Plains, Lake Manyara, Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Victoria.

Sherry Devlin, Missoulian

State looks to snowbirds to claim Montana home

HELENA (AP) - Montana officials fear that snowbirds, the Montanans who travel south in the winter, may end up being counted by the Census Bureau as residents of the Sunbelt.

They note that people with two homes may have received a census form at each.

And because census forms are not forwarded, respondents could simply complete the Arizona form and return it, not realizing they would then be counted as an Arizona resident.

Also, the Census Bureau, in an effort to shorten census forms, removed the question asking if the mailing address is the respondent's permanent residence. Instead, the form asks what the respondent's address is on April 1. Many people don't return to their home state until after that date.

The snowbird problem is of special concern in Montana, which lost its second congressional seat as a result of the 1990 census. Besides determining representation in Congress, the census also serves as the basis for apportioning various kinds of government money.

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