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Powell County Sheriff Scott Howard wants state help for an investigation of Powell County High School's superintendent and the state-sponsored Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities grant, the Montana Standard reports today. Some Deer Lodge parents and school employees say issues over accountability, credentials and salaries continue to be avoided by the trustees and administrators.

The idea of sending a highway bypass around Kalispell may be outrun by the city's growth, according to the Kalispell Daily Interlake. Three shopping mall projects with about 2 million square feet of retail space are underway right at the northern edge of the $30 million bypass route. Local planners fear the project could simply divert traffic away from Kalispell's core and into its new commercial center.

Bozeman officials are reconsidering proposals to create a public access television channel in exchange for letting a cable company use the city's rights-of-way. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports the deal could allow viewers to watch local government proceedings, similar to Missoula's MCAT productions. It would also speed up improvements to the city's fiber-optic lines and high-speed Internet access. A similar proposal moved forward in 1995, but collapsed because the city didn't want to hire a cable technology consultant to help with the negotiations.

Petitions to rearrange the shape of Ravalli County government stalled last week, Jared Miller of the Ravalli Republic reports. One petition would create two new seats on the Ravalli County Commission. In addition, one commissioner would become chief executive officer for the county, and the remaining four commissioners would work on a part-time basis. The Commission now has three full-time members. The second petition would shorten the terms for county commissioners from six years to four. The Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder rejected both petitions for failure to meet legal requirements.

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