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THOMPSON FALLS - Ronald Earl Cook set a Sanders County record for the most tickets received related to a single offense.

Then, even after five of the citations were dismissed, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The Sanders County Ledger reported this week that Cook, of Sioux Falls, S.D., earned the sentence for an Oct. 14 "vehicular rampage" in the Noxon area. Cook was originally charged with 11 offenses, including four felonies.

District Court Judge Kim Christopher handed down the sentence for felony criminal mischief. It included a five-year "enhancement" because Cook was declared a habitual offender, and 10 years were suspended on the condition he attend and complete chemical dependency and mental health counseling.

Cook also received lesser sentences for partner assault, misdemeanor assault, reckless driving, driving with a revoked license and driving under the influence, and was ordered to pay fines and restitution in excess of $2,500.

The Ledger reported that public defender Kirk Krutilla called Cook's mother to the stand, and she said a head injury suffered by her son eight years ago may have contributed to his behavior on Oct. 14.

Asked by County Attorney Coleen Magera if she was aware her son had been convicted of six prior felonies, some that occurred before the alleged head injury, the woman said she wasn't.

"One doesn't tell Mother everything," she said.


Skiers find their way out of Missions without rescuers' help

ST. IGNATIUS - A "massive" rescue operation didn't get far after three people skied out of the Mission Mountains uninjured, the Lake County Leader and Valley Journal reported this week.

The 40-person operation was quickly assembled after a Columbia Falls man called Flathead County authorities to say he'd received a call from one of the skiers saying they'd had to spend the night at an elevation of 9,500 feet after a blizzard came up, had awakened to find their tents nearly buried in snow, and that a teenager on the trip was losing feeling in his extremities.

Lake County Search and Rescue public information officer Monte Jenkins told Leader reporter Sasha Goldstein the report of the rough night might have prompted an "over-reaction" from the man who called authorities.

"I suspect he was pretty concerned," Jenkins said.

About 40 people assembled at the St. Ignatius airport, and a helicopter search and rescue team from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls was put on standby, for a possible rescue mission.

Lake and Flathead County search and rescue teams, the Lake County Sheriff's Office, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Police and Tribal Fish and Game personnel, Flathead County Nordic Ski Patrol and Mountain Rescue team, plus a Life Flight helicopter from St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, were all involved.

However, Goldstein and Melea Burke of the Valley Journal reported, the Life Flight helicopter was able to locate the skiers and lower a bag with emergency supplies and a radio to the three people.

The skiers used the radio to report they were fine, and would continue their trip down from St. Mary's Peak on their skis.


Philipsburg woman to help Santa with lottery winnings

PHILIPSBURG - Gwen Vose had an inkling her time was coming.

The Philipsburg woman has been playing the Montana Lottery for 20 years and never scored big until last month. Vose bought $5 worth of Quick Pick tickets at Huffman's Grocery on Feb. 13, reports Michael Stafford of the Philipsburg Mail. The next day she went to Helena on a date and happened to drive past the state lottery building.

"I said to my boyfriend, ‘It's good to know where the building is because I'm going to win and now I know where to go,' " Vose said.

One day later, Vose was in Missoula with her son when she got a call from a friend who told her that a winning ticket worth $20,000 had been sold at Huffman's.

"We came back and I ran into Huffman's to get the winning numbers and told them that I had one," she said.

Santa Claus will be one beneficiary. Vose received $13,000 in cash after state and federal taxes were taken out. She used some of it to buy fabric to sew Santa a new suit for his annual visit to Philipsburg. She also paid off all her bills, bought a washer and dryer, and wants to buy a couple of used four-wheelers and birthday presents for her two kids, she told Stafford.

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"It's so nice to be out of debt and positive thinking brings positive things to happen," Vose said.


Bigfork girl keeps it all in F-A-M-I-L-Y in Flathead County bee

BIGFORK - When sixth-grader Marley Sande spelled "rotisserie" to win the Bigfork schools spelling bee last month, she extended a family tradition.

When she placed third in the Flathead County bee and earned a ticket to the state bee in Billings on March 27, she set a precedent.

Jasmine Linabary of the Bigfork Eagle writes that Sande was the fifth generation to represent her school in the county bee, dating back to her great-great-grandmother Regina Sauer Ryding. Great-grandmother Bernadine Ryding Thingvold followed, and Sande's grandmother, Susan Thingvold Sande, represented the one-room South Valley School at the Flathead County bee.

Next came Marley's father and uncles, who won bees at Edgerton School in Kalispell in 1978, 1979, 1983 and 1986. They were inducted into the school's hall of fame, Linabary wrote.

Grandmother Susan came closest to making it to state. Like Marley this year, she was a sixth-grader when the county bee came down to a spelldown between an eighth-grader and her. Alas, Linabary reported, the announcer couldn't pronounce the final word. Judges figured Susan had chances to win in future years, so the eighth-grader was proclaimed the winner and the county's lone entry at state.

Sande's take on competing at the county spelling bee echoed that of many spellers over the years.

"It's kind of creepy with a whole bunch of people staring at you," she said. "But it's kind of fun, too."

Weeklies Reader is compiled by reporters Michael Jamison, Vince Devlin and Kim Briggeman.


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