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Jan. 9, 2018

(West Yellowstone, Mont.) On 01/07/2018 at  3:47 p.m. a forest service law enforcement officer was contacted at Lionhead Trailhead by a wayward snowmobiler who said his three companions had entered an area that he was uncomfortable riding in because of the steep slope and deep snow conditions.  The 16 year old male from Bozeman decided not to enter the area and instead stayed on the trail and followed it to the trailhead.  He had been texting with his companions who provided GPS coordinates of their location however indicated they had become stuck and were attempting to extricate their snowmobiles. By  5:16 p.m. it had become apparent that they would be unable to get their snowmobiles unstuck and find their way out of the steep canyon they had entered. Volunteer Rescuers from Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone, and the Forest Service responded to assist.

Information received via text message with the snowmobilers indicated that they were located in a deep canyon near Lionhead Mountain approximately 15 miles west of West Yellowstone. They reported that they were getting cold but had been able to get a fire going.  Rescuers split into two teams attempting to find the best way into and out of the area. When found the two MSU students from Bozeman and one 22 year old male from Denver Colorado were escorted out of the canyon. Due to the steep terrain and deep snow present in the canyon, rescue teams had an extremely difficult time getting the snowmobiles unstuck and back out to the trail.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers that it’s not uncommon to become disoriented and/or stuck in steep mountainous terrain. Proper equipment and survival gear can make all the difference when faced with the possibility of spending a significant amount of time out in the elements. Snowmobilers are also encouraged to only ride areas within their skill level. 


Jan. 8 2018

(Bozeman, Mont.) The Office of the Sheriff/Coroner identified the victim of the shooting in Belgrade as 35 year old Lauren Walder Dewise of Bozeman.  The case is being investigated by the Belgrade Police Department.


Big Sky Connection

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About 23,000 Montana children will lose their health insurance if funding for CHIP isn't reauthorized. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)


Eric Tegethoff

January 8, 2018

HELENA, Mont. - Healthcare for thousands of children in Montana hangs in the balance despite a temporary funding patch for the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Congress supplied enough money for CHIP to run through March, as part of a last-minute deal before its holiday break.

Nine million children rely on the program nationwide and in Montana, 23,000 will lose coverage if funding isn't reauthorized.

Jennifer Calder, outreach and communications director at Montana Kids Count, says CHIP funds also help another 7,000 children who received coverage in the state's Medicaid expansion in 2015. She says without it, these families will feel the financial strain.

"Many of these families are already on very tight budgets, which is why they qualified for CHIP health insurance, and they would have to make some compromises in their budget," she explains. "We're looking at paying bills, we're looking at food, we're looking at less spending in local economies so that their children could have health insurance."

In the Treasure State, CHIP is known as Healthy Montana Kids. It helps fill a gap for families that make too much to qualify for Medicaid but might not otherwise be able to afford coverage.

CHIP has had bipartisan support since the 1990s when it was authored by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.

Funding for the program originally ran out at the end of September.

In addition to families not knowing from month to month if they'll have the coverage, Calder says there are a number of negative effects for children who don't have access to health insurance.

"They tend to miss more school, but also, they tend to have more crisis - where they have to be rushed to the ER - and that ends up being more costly for the family," she points out. "So, the financial burden can be really dire for families, particularly of children with chronic health conditions."

In Montana, more than 98 percent of the state's $94.7 million for CHIP services in 2016 came from the federal government, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.


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