Billings Gazette reporter Jim Gransbery is following reports that the largest private owner of coal in the United States is proceeding with plans to build new coal-fired generating plants in Mile City and Dickinson, N.D. Officials of Great Northern Power Development of Denver and Kiewit Mining Group of Omaha announced the plans Tuesday. The projects are expected to cost $900 million each. They are not associated with the Otter Creek Tracts near Ashland, although Great Northern Power Development owns some of those coal reserves.
The Helena Independent Record follows an Associated Press report that Plum Creek Timber Co. loggers illegally cut trees and built short segments of roads on sections of Idaho's Clearwater National Forest without permission.
The company must appear before a federal judge May 20 in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, to answer nine citations stemming from the violations, which occurred between 1999 and 2001.
A third big shopping center may be coming to Kalispell's north side, the Daily Interlake reports. The Spring Prairie Center could appear just west of the Home Depot/Mountain View Plaza development, on a 60-acre site near the intersection of Highway 93 and West Reserve Drive. A Lowe's hardware store could be the anchor client, continuing the national chain store's pattern of building close to Home Depot locations.
Bozeman officials won't talk about an incident that has resulted in the apparent firing of a city police officer and criminal charges against a probation officer. The probation officer is on leave with pay pending investigation, state Department of Corrections Director Bill Slaughter told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. But he would not release the names of either officer or other details of the investigation.
The Chronicle also reports that Cutthroat Communications has laid off about 20 percent of its workforce in Bozeman. The company provides high-security Internet services that protect the privacy of financial transactions on the web. The layoffs affected five full-time and one part-time worker, leaving the company with 21 workers in its Bozeman office. An undisclosed number were also laid off at Cutthroat's Alaska operation.