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A huge avalanche buried five people near Calgary Sunday, crushing some of the machines but sparing all 14 members of the snowmobiling party, Bob Keating writes in a special report to the Helena Independent Record.

One of the worst-injured was Melisse Phelan of Helena, who got a broken leg. Her husband, James Phelan had a strained knee. The avalanche, about 100 miles north of the United States border in the Selkirk range mountains, "snapped trees like twigs" and stretched for three-quarters of a mile, Keating reported.

Butte officials worry that shrinking traffic numbers may trigger cutbacks in airline service at Bert Mooney Airport, Leslie McCartney of the Butte Montana Standard writes. Boardings are down 16.3 percent for the January-April period, compared to the same period in the past three years. Similar decreases occurred in the 1980s after mine closures rocked the city's economy. The airport now receives seven flights a day. While the economy is a serious concern, there are also worries that travelers are forsaking Butte's flights for cheaper fares in Missoula or Bozeman, the SARS outbreak is discouraging travel and the increased security is frustrating travelers. The airport authority is seeking a $500,000 federal grant to help improve its service.

Nearly half of the dozen dean's offices at Montana State University are vacant, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports. The lack of administrators stems from a combination of retirements and losses to better-paying positions out of state.

Havre High School may have the fastest man in Montana, according to the Havre Daily News. Senior Steve Heberly holds the state championships for the 100- and 200-yard dashes, and has clocked better times than Montana State University cornerback Joey Thomas, who runs 4.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Heberly is heading for MSU himself, where he plans to major in engineering while competing in college track and field.

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