Maxine Speier

Maxine is a UM Journalism School graduate student working on Montana news for MTPR.

Immigrant populations in Missoula are contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy each year. At a panel held in Missoula today the mayors of both Missoula and Helena talked about the economic benefits of welcoming refugees and immigrants.

For most Montanans, wildfire smoke is ‘out of sight, out of mind’. It’s been almost a year since smoke pollution filled Missoula County, turning the air yellow and creating a public health crisis for residents. But one air quality expert is urging people to start preparing for the smoke before wildfire season arrives.

The Bitterroot National Forest is changing its fire danger level from ‘Low’ to ‘Moderate’ starting Wednesday, June 27.

The shift to ‘moderate’ means that wildfires can now be expected to start from most accidental causes. In addition to lightning, that includes human causes like smoldering campfires left unattended.

The FIFA World Cup kicked off Thursday, and in Missoula, people are preparing for another multinational soccer tournament this weekend.

Soft Landing Missoula is hosting its second annual soccer tournament Saturday at Fort Missoula in honor of World Refugee Day.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks responded to a report of a dead grizzly bear in the Coram area of Flathead County on Saturday. The male grizzly bear was estimated to be approximately two and a half years old. More details have not been released while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is conducting an investigation into the death.

A 24-year old lawsuit over conditions at the Montana State Prison could finally be coming to a close Friday.

The ACLU of Montana and the state Department of Corrections are asking a judge to approve a settlement to address conditions at the prison for inmates with disabilities at a hearing in Missoula.

Alex Rate is the legal director for ACLU Montana.

"It’s an unfortunate reality that prisoners who are disabled face all sorts of barriers to accessing programs and accessing physical spaces," Rate said. "And that’s been the situation for many decades - not just at Montana State Prison, but across the country."

UPDATE: Due to mechanical issues, the "TED" truck will not be making its expected stop in Missoula on Friday June 8th. It will still be making its scheduled stops in Fort Harrison June 11th and Billings June 12th.

The Montana Veterans health care system is encouraging vets to try out telehealth services. This week and early next week it’s sending a special truck to three locations to demonstrate what’s possible.

Telehealth is healthcare provided remotely to patients using technology like computers and phones. Vets in Montana and across the country can and do get care using their home computers and personal phones, but not everyone knows how.

A group called Free and Fair Montana is urging voters to oppose the so-called “bathroom ballot” initiative that would require people to use public restrooms and locker rooms that align with the gender on their birth certificate rather than the gender by which they live and identify.

An invasive mussel prevention plan is creating conflict between some recreational boaters and resource managers over access to Tiber Reservoir.

Tiber is the only lake in the state that’s tested positive for invasive mussels two years in a row.

A newly-released poll says almost three-quarters of Montanans say they would vote to continue a property tax that keeps tuition low for state college and university students. That’s according to the University of Montana Big Sky Poll conducted earlier this year by Sara Rinfret, director of UM’s Master of Public Administration program.

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