Alli Friedman

KCFW Reporter

POSTED: 3:26 PM Jul 01 2014   UPDATED: 2:05 PM Jul 02 2014
alli

Alli Friedman is a reporter for KCFW in Kalispell. She was born and raised in southern California, and is excited to be living in northwest Montana.

Alli earned her BFA in Television and Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University in Orange County, CA. 

While in school, she interned for NBC LA, KTLA-TV, and PBS SoCal. 

When Alli isn't in the newsroom, she loves to travel, work out, watch hockey and hang out with friends and family.

Being new to Montana, Alli is excited to adventure and explore the outdoors. 

If you have any questions, comments, concerns or story ideas please contact Alli by email.

Interact With Alli

Alli Friedman's Latest Stories

Father, son in prison after conspiring to distribute cocaine

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:29 PM Aug 01 2014   UPDATED  2 hr
Visitor trapped in jail
KALISPELL, Mont. -

A Flathead father and son duo is headed to federal prison for dealing cocaine in the Flathead.

Court documents say that Scott Hineman and his son Benjamin Hineman sold 5 kilograms of cocaine over 3 years. That amount has a street value of a half a million dollars.

The two were caught by federal agents after dealing cocaine to people in Flathead County.

NBC Montana looked through the court documents and found out that in March 2013, members of the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force received information from an informant saying that Ben Hineman was dealing cocaine. Later that month, the informant started purchasing four ounces of cocaine from Hineman under the supervision of the Northwest Montana Drug Task Force.

The documents show that a search was conducted and authorities found 68 grams of cocaine and a firearm.

The Flathead County sheriff says that the dealing of drugs, especially cocaine, does happen often in the Flathead.

"Certainly it exists here and is a problem here," said Sheriff Chuck Curry.

Curry says it could have been any drug.

"It’s a matter of supply and demand. Where there’s a demand there will be a supply. Or, conversely what there’s the most supply of will sometimes be the drug that's the biggest problem," Curry said.

The Hinemans' ties to the Flathead run deep. They owned a carpet and floor covering business in Whitefish, called Oriental Secrets.

NBC Montana went to the location but found it empty. People who work in the building say they remember the Hinemans' business but haven’t heard anything from them in years.

Newspaper archives also show the Hinemans' last few years weren’t easy. In 2008, Scott’s son Ian died from carbon monoxide poisoning. The family launched an effort called Ian’s Challenge to help keep other people safe.

However, NBC Montana could not find anything current on the family. Neighbors around the Hineman residence say it’s been quiet. There is even a for sale sign out front of the home.

Scott Hineman was sentenced to 10 years in prison and his son Benjamin was sentenced to 5.

Both are in custody at the Missoula County jail.

Population growth sparks Flathead library expansion plan

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:39 PM Jul 31 2014   UPDATED: 11:18 PM Jul 31 2014

Population growth sparks Flathead library expansion plan

KALISPELL,Mont. -

Flathead library workers say there are so many new people in the Flathead that libraries in Bigfork, Columbia Falls and Kalispell aren’t cutting it. They want to change that, and they showed NBC Montana a population study to prove their point. It shows a 60-percent increase in population in the last 24 years. Between 2000 and 2014 the population grew 25 percent.

Consultants used those numbers to analyze public library size. They say 1 square foot per capita is the norm, but libraries in the Flathead are down to an average of less than half a square foot per person.

"We get asked a lot when are we going to get a new library," said library Director Kim Crowley.

People in the library told NBC Montana that an expansion is needed.

"I think expanding would be a great thing for the community," said Kalispell resident Laurie Smith.

Smith and her daughter go to the library often to do research for school. She says it's sometimes hard to get the books they need, and are often times put on a waiting list.

"The waiting game is hard to do sometimes, when we need to get things accomplished for school," Smith said.

More space means more books, and more room for children’s activities -- also a big part of the plan.

"We'd like to have a bigger footprint, we need parking, we don't want to be on three floors like we are now because it makes for very inefficient delivery of service," Crowley said.

A graph in the master plan shows the increase in population over time, but the size of the libraries has stayed the same.

"We've been serving the Flathead Valley out of the same square footage since about 1974 and the population has doubled since then," Crowley said.

Up to 1,000 people a day visit the library in Kalispell. That number could soon double.

Crowley says she has tried to conserve space in the library by getting rid of staff work areas and putting in self checkouts.

Consultants think the other two libraries, in Bigfork and Columbia Falls, should do the same.

Some people who visit the library don't think an expansion is necessary.

"I like how the size of the library is small and comfortable. It kind of gives you that cozy feeling," said Kalispell resident Zulma Fernandez.

Even though Fernandez does see a problem with parking, she doesn't see a problem with the influx of people.

"I come here often and I have never come to the library where I have to wait in line or I can’t find a computer access. So yeah, the city's growing but I don't think it’s a need for such a big expense,” said Fernandez.

The project is estimated to cost around $22 million. The library hopes to fund-raise for a third of that and bond for the other $16 million.

"Raising taxes is not going to be palatable. So we want to do this as thoughtfully as we can," Crowley said.

The plan does not call for additional branches, rather moving three current branches to a bigger building.

Officials have to do a lot more work before deciding when to expand.

U.S. 93 reroute could alter famous Kalispell couplet

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:21 PM Jul 30 2014   UPDATED: 11:01 PM Jul 30 2014

U.S. 93 reroute could alter famous Kalispell couplet

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Downtown Kalispell’s iconic historic couplet around the Flathead County Courthouse could be removed.

Pedestrian safety has the Montana Department of Transportation trying to come up with a plan to reroute the highway.

There has been an ongoing project to rebuild the highway between Somers and Whitefish -- it's the last area of land that needs to be fixed.

Currently, the highway condenses into two-lane traffic, one lane going to the east of the courthouse and the other, southbound lane going to the west.

MDT wants to replace the southbound traffic lane with a pedestrian path. This will connect the main courthouse and the other county buildings across the street, similar to a mall layout.

The reroute would put two or even four lanes of traffic all to the east of the courthouse, two north and two southbound lanes of U.S. 93.

"I really like the driving around there and I like the view of the courthouses," said Kalispell resident Georgia Parson.

NBC Montana spoke with Kalispell city planners to learn more about the plan.

“The couplet is the last piece of highway between Somers and Whitefish to be reconstructed. That reconstruction project started 20 years ago. So, it’s a piece of highway that needs to be reconstructed. MDT is concerned about that so they're pushing it forward on their priority list,” said the Tom Jentz, director of city planning.

Businesses have voiced concerns about there already being heavy traffic. They feel adding lanes around the courthouse would make downtown Kalispell chaotic and not very calm.

“Their concern is, should Main Street continue to be a major highway or should it become a main street again?” Jentz said.

The Flathead County Commissioners' office is in favor of the change. They feel that putting all traffic lanes to one side of the courthouse will eliminate pedestrian safety concerns.

"They're investing in a lot of employment in that island. It’s also a historical component of our community. They're concerned about how they get their employees across to the rest of the county campus,” Jentz said.

Pedestrians are often seen running across the street to avoid getting hit by a car. Longtime Kalispell residents have lived through it.

"I can understand the need for change because I've tried to cross it many times and people don't slow down and they don't stop for the crosswalks," Parson said.

There is a U.S. 93 bypass already being built that offers an alternate traffic route around the west side of Kalispell. That project is supposed to be completed within the next couple of years. The City of Kalispell is encouraging MDT to wait until that bypass is completed to see how it affects traffic. Then, further planning can be discussed.

The reroute project is in the early stages of development and it could be a long time before any construction begins.

Bachelor's degree program comes to FVCC

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 4:55 PM Jul 29 2014   UPDATED: 9:16 PM Jul 29 2014

Bachelor's degree program comes to FVCC

KALISPELL, Mont. -

College students in the Flathead Valley can soon be a student at the University of Montana without physically being there.

The Flathead Valley Community College has partnered with the University of Montana so students can earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education, and they can do it without ever leaving the Flathead.

It's just like transferring from a community college to a four-year university, but this time students don’t actually have to go anywhere -- the University of Montana is coming to them.

“Education is so important,” said FVCC student Jesse Diamond.

Diamond plans to transfer after this year. However, it’s welcome news to others who are staying at the college, that they can earn a Bachelor's degree.

“The more we invest in it, and the more that it’s available to everyone, job opportunities are more available,” Diamond said.

Last year, the college asked students what Bachelor's degrees they were interested in pursuing. Elementary education was at the top.

NBC Montana spoke to the president of the FVCC who said people really wanted the program.

"I’ve heard for a number of years from community members, questioning when are we going to have more partnerships on campus with the Montana University system,” said FVCC President Jane Karas.

Karas says the partnership is about meeting those needs

"We know that many people, because of family or work or other circumstances, can’t move to continue their education and get that four-year degree. So, partnering with the university system is really providing more opportunities at a very affordable cost,” Karas said.

"It’s really important. If I were here and I had limited options and I had kids, it'd definitely be something that I’d be interested in and it’s a really great opportunity for the Flathead,” Diamond said.

Students pursuing a degree in elementary education will be FVCC students for the first two years. Then, just like transferring to another university, those students will apply to the University of Montana. If accepted, they will be considered U of M students. They will pay the university's tuition fees and will take courses taught by U of M professors -- all without leaving the FVCC campus.

Diamond feels this opportunity is not only great for students but great for the college's image.

"I think it just legitimizes community college. Community college has this stigma of being your last option, but I think that really it’s showing that it’s a resource for the community," said Diamond.

The deadline to apply for the program is on August 7 at 5 p.m. There are academic advisors available to help with the application process.

Horses susceptible to injury in Rebecca Farm cross-country course

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 3:20 PM Jul 26 2014
Horses susceptible to injury at Rebecca Farm cross country course
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Today the elite riders in The Event at Rebecca Farm competed in cross-country. It’s a four mile course that involves jumping over fences and wooden barriers. It’s the most challenging event of the weekend and the most dangerous, for both the horse and the rider.

To learn more about the risks, NBC Montana talked to the person in charge of injury prevention and aid.

It’s a course that tests combines speed and endurance with the challenge of jumping. All of which translate into a fair share of danger

“Cross-country is the event horses are most likely to get hurt,” Dr. Bob Genovese said.

Dr. Genovese is one of the treating veterinarians at Rebecca Farm and is familiar with the hazards of Saturday’s cross-country course.

“The only thing we get worried about are wounds and injuries with cross-country and jumping over fences,” Dr. Genovese said.

Before the horses are cleared for the course, they need to pass an inspection. The veterinarians, doing the inspections, look for any type of condition where the horse fails to trot or walk in a regular manner.

“The biggest concern they have is lameness problems because if they have a horse with a lameness issue, then the rider is at risk on the cross-country course and over jumps,” said Dr. Genovese.

However, it is not just the courses that can cause injury. Dr. Genovese says that he sees more sick horses than injured ones because of the travel it takes to get to the event.

One horse wasn’t feeling well because he was stuck in a trailer all the way from Washington D.C., a long trip for anyone.

“Horses can develop colic and gastrointestinal issues with weather changes and stress, also changes in some of the feeding,” he said.

To treat the abdominal pain and stress, the veterinarians on site use anti-inflammatory medicines and fluids.

“We try to reduce the stress down. I guess it depends on the nature of what’s causing it, but basically fluid therapy is the most important thing,” Dr. Genovese said.

All to make sure the horses are ready for competition.

The last day of this year’s event is Sunday, July 27th. It’s the show jumping phase for all remaining levels, along with an awards ceremony at the end of each division.

Workers put finishing touches on new Whitefish High School

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:24 PM Jul 25 2014   UPDATED: 11:12 PM Jul 25 2014

Workers put finishing touches on new Whitefish High School

KALISPELL, Mont. -

It’s been a little over a year since renovations began on the new building at Whitefish High School and it’s almost complete.

With the school year just around the corner, workers are putting the finishing touches on the new building.

NBC Montana got a tour of the new facilities and got to see the rooms that are move-in ready.

"The school is set up kind of like a college, with collaborative areas," said project manager Dow Powell.

Each wing of the building has seven classrooms and three collaborative learning areas. These areas allow classes to split up so students can work together, or even have classes work together in a common area.

Powell says this improvement was much needed.

"They just had outlived their time and Whitefish needed a new school and we want to be in the 21st century and beyond learning," Powell said.

Each classroom will have a laptop so students don't have to go the computer labs. Instead, they can work with a teacher in real time.

It has been 15 months since construction began and students and faculty can’t wait to move in.

"Everybody is very excited. The administration of the high school gave all the classes last winter tours through the school so these students would see what was coming up. Everybody's very excited about it," said Powell.

They aren’t the only ones -- parents who live in the area are also thrilled.

"I think it will be great for our kids when they're older,” said Whitefish resident Darcie Blanden.

They say it is money well spent.

“It’s nice to see our tax money go towards something for the children,” Blanden said.

In the meantime, boxes from the old building are waiting to be unpacked. Teachers will start organizing their new classrooms after August 1. The building will be ready for students this September.

The project has a $22.5 million price tag. Some of the money came from the school district, with help from private donors and the City of Whitefish.

Olympic hopefuls compete in Event at Rebecca Farm

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:10 PM Jul 24 2014   UPDATED: 8:40 PM Jul 24 2014

Olympic hopefuls compete in Event at Rebecca Farm

KALISPELL, Mont. -

The stakes are high for competitors in the country’s largest equestrian triathlon. Olympians from the United States and Canada, as well as Olympic hopefuls are competing in the Event at Rebecca Farm. They told their stories to NBC Montana.

"Oh my gosh.  It’s a week away, two days away, one day away," said Kayde Undraitis.

NBC Montana found Undraitis on the field getting ready to compete. This is an event she’s been waiting all year for.

“I never really thought, like I hoped it would happen, but now that it’s actually happening it’s crazy and I can’t believe it,” Undraitis said.

Undraitis and her horse, Ice Charger, have been taking lessons and training multiple times a day to keep herself and the horse healthy and in shape.

"It's a lot of hard work. Getting up early, staying up late, riding when you don't want to ride," Undraitis said.

All to compete at the training level on the cross-country course, one of the hardest courses in the triathlon. It’s an event that requires focus and precision from both the horse and the rider.

Undraitis can’t believe the competition is already here -- she knows that this is just one step towards her dream.

"It would be a dream of mine to go to the Olympics," Undraitis said.

It's a dream most of these riders share.

"I want to get there and I’m going to do it," Undraitis said.

NBC Montana spoke to Hawley Awad, an Olympian competing at Rebecca Farm, about Undraitis’ dreams. She couldn’t help but smile.

"Seeing kids with dreams is pretty cool," said Awad, a Team Canada Olympian.

Awad has been a member of the Canadian Olympic team since 2003. She's competing in the Event at Rebecca Farm to prepare for the World Equestrian Games.

Her advice to people like Undraitis is to never give up.

"If you're willing to work hard, people will recognize it and help you out, and hard work pays off," said Awad.

That's exactly what Undraitis plans to do.

"I’m definitely going to keep riding as much as I can and do all that I can to get to my dream," she said.

Undraitis will start competing on Friday, July 25 in the dressage event.

Businesses get ready for Rebecca Farm event

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:22 PM Jul 23 2014   UPDATED: 11:10 PM Jul 23 2014

Businesses get ready for Rebecca Farm event

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Thousands of people from all over the country are in the Flathead Valley this weekend to either compete or support those riding in the Event at Rebecca Farm equestrian triathlon. It’s the largest equestrian triathlon in the nation.

NBC Montana got a preview of some of the courses. The course designer says its important to take full advantage of the terrain, combining both uphill and downhill jumps. The combination of the two will test the skills of both the horses and the riders.

Businesses around the Flathead are preparing for the crowds of people that are in town for the event.  

“We are crazy busy, probably the busiest we’ve ever been,” said Kim Shirley.

Shirley works for Five Star Rentals and she says every house is booked. People have been putting in rental requests as far as three to four months ago for this specific weekend. She says it’s great for business and great for people who come into town.

"It allows a lot of other people to experience what we get to experience every single day," Shirley said.

It’s not only the rental properties and hotels that are gearing up for the crowds, but also local restaurants. Restaurants in the Flathead see crowds of hungry customers during event days.

Bullman’s Pizza is only a few minutes from Rebecca Farm. The manager told NBC Montana that even though it’s chaotic, it’s the best weekend to work.

"We get large crowds brought in and it’s fun -- it’s a lot of fun," said Brad Holmgren, manager of Bullman’s Pizza.

Businesses around town are excited for the crowd, and say it’s always great to be busy. They know they have to be prepared.

"We're stocking up the schedule with employees, just having people on backup, just in case our food orders and beverage orders are increased, so we're not running out of anything," Holmgren said.

“We put together little rental bags, with chocolates and local information and I’ve had to run over to the Chamber and get a lot more information because we ran out of stuff," Shirley said.

Both Shirley and Holmgren agree that this weekend could get hectic, but they are ready for what's to come.

“We have to brace ourselves and go with the onslaught and just kind of do what we can to get through,” said Shirley.

“We're looking forward to embracing the chaos," Holmgren said.

The Event at Rebecca Farm is a three-day event that starts Thursday.

Admission for spectators is free but donations are welcome. The money raised will support Halt Cancer-X, an initiative to raise money for breast cancer awareness and community outreach projects.

Swan River access remains closed

LAKE COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 2:04 PM Jul 19 2014   UPDATED: 10:50 PM Jul 19 2014

Swan River access remains closed

KALISPELL, Mont. -

It's been a month now since Lake County officials closed a popular fishing access on the Swan River.

It's usually the place to be in the summer for tubers, rafters and fishermen. It was temporarily closed because of constant parking violations.

There was nobody in sight at the Swan River access today, only a locked gate.

The Lake County commissioner’s office closed the river access about a month ago to try to come up with a solution to the parking violations.

The roads are narrow and because people were parking on both sides of the road, officials say it became dangerous for through traffic.

Neighbors, in the area, were fed up with the congestion and felt something needed to be done.

"Yeah, there’s no question there’s an issue with parking," Swan River resident, Mike O’Hearn said.

O'Hearn lives on the river and even though he noticed the problem, he is surprised that the access is still closed.

"They've got to make a correction to the way it is now," O’Hearn said.

The commissioners don’t want to keep the area closed permanently because they think the congestion will go elsewhere. That’s why they are working on coming up with a solution.

"What they should do, in my opinion, is expand the parking off the road on busy weekends,” O’Hearn said.

There is talk about buying the adjacent five acres of land to be developed for parking. However, officials say there is little funding to do so.

That's why people are worried the congestion might go elsewhere, like a small path near the bridge over the Swan River. Even there, still no place to park.

O'Hearn thinks that closing the access is unfair and that they should open it sooner rather than later.

"I think with it being July, they should move on as quickly as they can and maybe open it up for this season. There won’t be much traffic after mid September anyways and then deal with it over the winter and if they have to expand the parking do so," said O’Hearn.

But for now, a locked gate and no parking signs are still keeping visitors away.

The Lake County commissioners will meet Monday, July 21, 2014 to discuss the issue further. They say they are open to suggestions on how to solve this problem.  

 

Dispute over huckleberry patch ends in gunfire

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 4:59 PM Jul 18 2014   UPDATED: 11:17 PM Jul 18 2014

Dispute over huckleberry patch ends in gunfire

KALISPELL, Mont. -

It’s huckleberry season and many are spending their days out picking. But, an argument between two people over an area of land in a huckleberry patch has left people in shock.

Two men were out picking near the North Fork of the Flathead River. One of them claimed the other was picking too close, and picking in his territory. He then fired gunshots in the air, but nobody was hurt.

NBC Montana wanted to find out why pickers are becoming protective over huckleberry patches.

Sheri Mallard is the manager of a local produce store that buys huckleberries from local pickers. She was shocked to hear what happened.

“You have to worry about bears, not people,” Mallard said.

Mallard has been picking and selling huckleberries for 15 years, and has never heard of a fight over a huckleberry patch ending in gunfire.

Until she had heard about the fight from one of the guys who was involved, the one who says he did not fire the gun. He came to her store to sell the huckleberries he picked that day.

"He was still a little upset, he had explained what had happened, that somebody shot at him because he was apparently picking in his area" said Mallard.

Everyone’s been out picking, and they often times like to be secretive as to where they pick.

That’s why when Mallard hears stories of people following other pickers, finding the popular spots to huckleberry pick, people get angry and protective.

That’s exactly what happened in this disagreement.

“The argument apparently started over whose territory was whose. One of the individuals didn't want somebody picking in what he considered to be his area. It was public land, and it escalated from that point,” said Flathead County Sheriff, Chuck Curry.

Nobody was injured, but the Curry tells NBC Montana that this was a situation that could have escalated, leaving someone hurt or even dead.

"This certainly does seem like a fairly minor incident to involve some gun fire, but people are protective over their huckleberry patches they’re protective over a lot of things," Curry said.

They’re protective because everyone is picking to make money. Huckleberries can be bought from pickers for $40 a gallon.

Other huckleberry pickers say that because everyone is out there trying to make extra money, it’s important to maintain picking etiquette. In other words, try to avoid the areas where people are already picking.

This may help people keep an eye out more for bears, than people.

This case will be turned over to the Flathead County Attorney’s office for the possibility of charges.

Glacier Park officials urge visitors to take safety precautions

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
kevinl By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:36 PM Jul 17 2014   UPDATED: 11:18 PM Jul 17 2014

Glacier Park officials urge visitors to take safety precautions

KALISPELL, Mont. -

There has been safety concerns at Glacier National Park after several accidents happened in a matter of days.

On Saturday, a 33-year-old woman slipped into McDonald Creek and was swept over some waterfalls. Rescuers took her to the hospital but she since then she has died.

Then, on Tuesday a 12-year-old boy fell into the same creed while playing on a log. A passerby jumped in after him, and both survived without injuries.

That same day, Glacier National Park Rangers responded to a raft accident on the North Fork of the Flathead River after a family from California flipped their raft. A boat picked them up and took them to safety.

All of these incidents have happened very early on in the season. That's why NBC Montana wanted to find out why and experience first-hand the dangers that go along with being in the outdoors.

"People come out here on vacation and they're here to have a good time but sometimes they forget to use a little common sense," said Glacier National Park Ranger, Steve Dodd.

That's the answer he gave in response to all the accidents that have happened. He says the two leading causes of death in Glacier National Park are falls and cold water drownings.

Dodd says the reason is because of loose ground and slippery rocks. Glacier National Park is sedimentary rock, causing portions of rock to constantly peal off and fall to the ground, making your footing unstable.

"Edges of the water are very slippery and wet, very hazardous, and you can go into the water within a fraction of a second," Dodd said.

NBC Montana wanted to find out just how dangerous those edges could be. There were spots along the McDonald creek that were evident accident prone areas.

But, it's not just paying attention to where you're walking but what's around you.

Park rangers say that people often find themselves in danger along the hiking trails, not knowing they may encounter a bear, moose, elk, or deer. All animals that can be unpredictable.

For these reasons, officials want to remind everyone to read the safety signs and just be aware, because there won't always be park rangers around to keep everyone safe.

"Remember we have 700 miles of trails to cover in Glacier National Park and not as many rangers as we'd like," Dodd said.

As the summer months move along, more high elevation trails are starting to open up. Trails that bring on different types of safety concerns.

So, officials ask you to match your skill level with what you are doing. This will help prevent an accident.

Woman unexpectedly gives birth on transit bus

LAKE COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:47 PM Jul 16 2014   UPDATED: 11:02 PM Jul 16 2014

Woman unexpectedly gives birth on transit bus

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Every mom has a story about the day her baby was born, but not every mom can say her baby came into the world on a bus.

Thanks to the help of strangers, it’s a story almost everyone involved wanted to share with NBC Montana.

The Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes bus driver, Anthony Plant, has been driving buses for 12 years. He will never forget what happened this week.

"I went to pick up my passenger and she’s standing by the door and she said she wasn't feeling good. She had tears in her eyes," Plant said.

But that wasn’t all.

"Then she got on the bus and said ‘my water broke’ and I jumped out of the bus and went to look for help," said Plant.

The woman, Sharon Buckskin, started having contractions early in the morning. That's when she knew she needed to get to the hospital, so she hopped on the bus.

Plant alerted CSKT dispatchers because he didn’t know what to do. That’s when the dispatcher called 9-1-1.

“He was hysterical. So I called and had them dispatch an ambulance up there and not even 10 minutes later [Plant] got on the radio and said they had a baby boy," CSKT dispatcher Leroy Black said.

Bystanders saw the bus and the bus driver looking for help. They immediately grabbed towels from their homes and got on the bus to help with the delivery.

"She’s lucky people were there, and if it was my daughter I would want people to be there for her," Dana Hewankorn said.

NBC Montana met Sharon Buckskin in the hospital, where she was recovering. She says the moment happened so quickly and she never thought it could happen to her.

“I always had fast labors and this is my fourth child and the fastest that it had ever happened," Buckskin said.

But, she can't imagine it happening any other way.

“I’m glad that it happened this way, because it's his story,” said Buckskin.

For Plant, it's a story he will never forget. 

Family reacts to murder-for-hire case dismissal

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:39 PM Jul 15 2014   UPDATED: 11:23 PM Jul 15 2014

Family reacts to murder-for-hire case dismissal

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A judge dismissed a case against a man accused of trying to hire someone to kill his ex-wife and a victim's advocate. We spoke with the family of Matthew Heuer's ex-wife, and they say they're outraged.

Prosecutors accused Heuer of offering a truck and some cash to his cell mate if the man would kill Heuer’s ex-wife, Tarsha, and another woman. The case hinged on a recorded conversation between Heuer and the inmate.

It turns out the audio wasn’t clear enough. Prosecutors sent that tape to the FBI to get cleaned up, but even then it was still inaudible.

Prosecutors then asked for a continuance and to dismiss the case without prejudice, meaning they could have re-filed charges. Instead, the charges were dismissed with prejudice.

The charges were dismissed only 40 minutes before a jury trial was set to begin.

Sean Hinchey, Heuer’s attorney, says it was dismissed because the lack of evidence.

"I think, in this case, justice sort of dictated that it had to be dismissed...The only evidence that the state had turned to out to be two unreliable jailhouse informants," Hinchey said.

NBC Montana looked through court documents and tried to get a hold of that audio recording, but heard no response from the prosecutor’s office.

The court documents detailed the case against Heuer. In those documents it says Heuer had asked his cell mate to inject Tarsha Heuer with methamphetamine, so she would overdose.

“It’s literally hell. I’ve never seen my sister the way that she has been lately. I’ve never thought for sure that something would happen, but she's told me over and over that 'he's going to kill me,'” said Tarsha Heuer’s sister, Kimisha Waller.

Tarsha’s sister and other family members can’t believe the case is over. They are all worried.

“I think it's a joke. I don't think we were ever given a chance to prove our side and to tell our story and to get Tarsha the justice she needs," Waller said.

Tarsha did get an order of protection. But family members feel Heuer is still a dangerous man and can be capable of anything.

Flathead fishing access site closes temporarily for repairs

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 3:38 PM Jul 12 2014
Flathead fishing access site closes temporarily for repairs
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Anglers and boaters looking to cool off in the Flathead River will soon have to do without a popular boat access area near Kalispell.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks plans to replace the bumpy gravel boat ramp, at McWenneger Slough Fishing Access, with concrete ramps.

This area is located four miles east of Kalispell, off of Highway 35.

Perch, bass and native pike fill these waters, making it a popular place to fish in the summer and ice fish in the winter.

But starting next week, fishermen will have to hold off on fishing here for a little while.

The FWP plans to put in a brand new concrete boat ramp to replace the bumpy gravel ramp. This will temporarily close the fishing access.

People who go to the area say the gravel tears up the bottoms of their boats. But, because this is already a popular place to fish, people fear the crowds.

 "I suppose for general access it’s a good idea. It’ll make it a whole lot more accessible to a whole lot more people. But with anything, if you make it easier to get there then a lot more will show up. So, I’m sure it will get a little more crowded," said Nick Frucci, McWenneger Slough kayaker.  

Nick Frucci is also worried that since the first couple of changes were made to McWenneger Slough a few years, he's already seen more people come.

Changes like adding a parking area and a bathroom that did not exist a few years ago. This has made the access more of a destination.

NBC Montana spoke to other fishermen who said they aren't worried about the crowds.

They say they fear that with a legitimate boat ramp, it will allow for more motorized boats which will affect their fishing.

Frucci agrees. He says even though it may end up looking nicer, it will make it easier to get in and out of the water, which in turn might not be a good thing.

"I understand that it will make it easier for some folks but there may come a day when my little kayak can’t go out there because there's just too many boats," Frucci said.

The ramp will be closed periodically starting Monday, July 14, 2014 and construction will continue until August 15th.

Phase two of reconstruction project begins in Whitefish

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:03 PM Jul 11 2014   UPDATED: 8:55 PM Jul 11 2014

Phase two of reconstruction project begins in Whitefish

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Last year crews worked on a $7.5 million project to improve the road conditions along Highway 93 in Whitefish.

A second phase of this project is set to start up again Monday, July 14, 2014. It will extend an additional mile from last years construction. This past spring phase one of reconstruction was completed, from Baker to Karrow Drive. This coming week, construction will continue from Karrow Avenue west to Mountainside Drive.

New sidewalks, bike paths, water and sewage systems are in the construction plan. In addition, crews will plan to build pedestrian tunnels at the Whitefish Golf Club and add street lighting and landscaping to the area.

Schellinger Construction Company is in charge of this phase of the project. They told NBC Montana this construction is much needed.

"The road has been there a long time. It’s in pretty poor shape.," said Marc Blanden from Schellinger Construction.

Blanden also mentioned that this project will provide a safer route for people to get in and out of town.

Businesses near the construction site are excited for this.

"Well it’s a long needed improvement. It’s very dangerous to ride your bike or to walk along this road up here, so the improved access to state park and the Whitefish trail and the golf course is going to be unmeasurable," said Doug Reed, owner of the Whitefish Lake restaurant at Whitefish Golf Club.

Just down the road, sidewalks and bike paths are already completed from phase one. This made one local gas station see more foot traffic than ever before.

But people know that with construction, comes delays.

"It’s going to be a little bit of a pain, but there's no other way around it and we're going to make the best of it,” Reed said.

For  those who are worried about the traffic delays construction workers say to be patient, stay calm and plan ahead.

The road will be down to one lane traffic and workers say they will do their best to keep the waiting to a minimum.

The project is said to be completed by July 2015, with a winter shutdown from November through April. It is also estimated to cost around $10.2 million.