The Billings Gazette from Billings, Montana on October 2, 1990 · 9
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The Billings Gazette from Billings, Montana · 9

Billings, Montana
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 2, 1990
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Legislative races. 2B Budget reactions......... 3B New bacteria tested .... 3B Section B Tuesday, October 2, 1990 7ii2 c::lv place to be Nurses: CCeepimi imp wifilh deinncainidl City Stat m hi ii in, mniiiu ii . i up an , , i i .l twmmm mmmmm mmmmm n in I ""' ' ' '" ""' ' ' V J-'v Ii mi nn i -i r i mi tiiimiwrimnMiii n In mm. - n ir 'in n i m mi MlriMii m inniiii in Steven St. John found the perfect place to spend a warm afternoon Monday as he fishes from a rock in the Yellowstone River near phoio Dy Larry Mayer Coulson Park. Forecasts calling for cooler temperatures may soon make the warm afternoons on the river a thing of the past. Fire cripples county court services By ROBERT EKEY Gazette Bozeman Bureau BOZEMAN Gallatin County authorities Monday were trying to keep the criminal justice system operating in the wake of a fire that swept through the basement of the Law and Justice Center Sunday night. Although there was only smoke damage in the offices of the clerk of courts, district courts, county attorneys office and the sheriffs department, the fire caused substantial damage to the plumbing, heating and electrical systems in the building, rendering it useless to the public. The Gallatin County commissioners Monday declared an emergency as a result of the fire and said all the offices in the Law and Justice Center would be closed for the remainder of the week. They will re-evaluate when to reopen the offices on Friday. Meanwhile, offices are trying to do as much work as possible : The Sheriffs Department dispatch center is operating out of the Emergency Operations Center in the basement of the county courthouse. The Montana Supreme Court will issue an order suspending all time limits that might fall on both civil and criminal cases while the clerk's office is closed. District Judge Larry Moran is conducting court hearings in a special conference room at the Farm Bureau building adjacent to the Law and Justice Center. All clients and defendants have been notified of the hearings, he said Monday. County office holders are trying to get their computers cleaned so they can start back to business as soon as possible. All said their computers were vital to conducting business. Lorraine Van AusdoL clerk of courts, said that the fire couldn't have happened at a worst time for the 400 people who depend on child support payments that are made through the office. Many of the payments are due on the first of the month the day after the fire. "Look at my mail today. I've got 40 payments here, but there isn't anything I can do with them without the computer," she said. Fire investigators probe debris BOZEMAN Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will assist Gallatin County and the state fire marshal's office in investigating the cause of the fire that struck the basement of the county's Law and Justice. Center Sunday night Authorities say they still don't know what caused the fire, although they have narrowed the ingnition point down to an area of four-square-feet. Fire Chief Al Shearman said the fire was of "suspicious origin". Some law enforcement officers said the fire was ruled of unknown origin. Sheriff Ron Cutting said ATF was being called in because of the amount of damage and to help all authorities agree on the source of the blaze. ATF has more sophisticated equipment and can help determine the cause, he said. No formal estimate on the amount of damage has been made, but informal estimates at the scene of the fire range from $1 million to S3 million. An insurance adjuster will be on the site Tuesday to make a formal estimate. Shearman said that many of the beams supporting the gymnasium floor and roof were burned or twisted by the heat and would no longer support the building. County authorities said the gymnasium portion of the building may have to be torn down and replaced. In addition, the plumbing, heating and electrical systems in the building were substantially damaged. County Attorney Mike Salvagni said it was still undetermined how much evidence was destroyed that will be needed for pending criminal cases. "We just don't know what that is yet," Salvagni said. Shearman said firefighters had a difficult time fighting the blaze because it was a "maze" in the basement, with storage areas partitioned by wooden walls or chain link fences. He said some drugs burned in the fire, but firefighters were protected because they were each wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus. Shearman said that fire officials had warned the county recently that the basement of the Law and Justice Center was a fire trap because of all the goods stored there and had recommended that sprinklers be installed. County Commissioners, though, said they had never received such a recommendation about the Law and Justice Center. While the building is closed, many office holders intend on conducting work elsewhere, either in donated office space or at the county courthouse. County officials were given a quick tour of the Law and Justice Center Monday morning. The tour was quick on the orders of Bozeman Fire Chief Alan Sherman, who said the levels of toxic substances in the air was still high from the fire. The level dropped some by Monday afternoon. The county has hired two cleanup companies to begin the arduous task of cleaning the building, including all the equipment and furniture. The larger task will be having the plumbing, heating and electrical systems repaired. Much pipe used for those systems was melted in the fire, according to Sheriff Ron Cutting. County employees who work in the building will be paid for Monday, but will be given the option of taking comp time, vacation time or working in another county office for the remainder of the week, the commissioners said. By PAT BELLINGHAUSEN Of the Gazette Staff The city's two hospitals and the Montana State University College of Nursing have united to help educate more non-traditional nursing students who will practice their profession in Billings. "The health-care community and not just the hospitals is very interested in the nursing supply in the community," said Elaine Watkins, vice president for patient services at Deaconess Medical Center, which hires about 100 registered nurses a year. Nursing education has not been able to keep up with changes in service because care providers, such as hospitals, and educators haven't spent enough time talking about what they need, particularly in management and leadership training, said Rita Turley, vice president for patient services at St. Vincent Hospital. The current dialogue between the hospitals and nursing school will help solve that problem, she said. Both Turley and Watkins said the MSU College of Nursing and its new dean, Kathleen Long, have been willing to look at new ideas. And both of the hospital representatives said they recognize the college's budget constraints. Since early summer, Deborah Bockmon, education director and associate professor on the MSU Billings campus, has been gathering ideas for enhancing services to Billings-area students while finances are tight. The study sponsored by Deaconess and St. Vincent Hospital will be considered as the MSU College of Nursing formulates a proposal for aiding nursing education in various parts of the state. The college plans to prepare the report by June 1991. Among the ideas under discussion is the possibility of "joint appointments," hiring qual ified master's degree nurses who could fill a job at the hospital and teach a nursing course. "Sharing resources is not an uncommon practice nationwide, especially at larger hospitals associated with universities," Watkins said. Watkins said hospitals are willing to consider financial support, perhaps in the form of donated space for classrooms and other in-kind contributions. The hospitals have asked MSU to look at additional master's degree programs in nursing leadership and medical-surgical clinical work, Watkins said. The hospital current master's program emphasizes rural nursing. In the bachelor's degree program, graduates are as likely to be starting a second career as to be starting out in their first job, Turley said. Thirty-five is the average age for new bachelor of nursing graduates hired at St Vincent. Nurses who already hold an associate nursing degree or a diploma from a hospital school can earn a bachelor's degree without leaving Billings. Also, bachelor's degree nurses can stay in town and complete a master's degree in rural nursing. But Billings doesn't have a complete curriculum for educating new registered nurses. Students can fulfill all requirements of a bachelor's degree in Billings, except for 18 credit hours of basic nursing classes taught in the sophomore year. In her hospital-sponsored study, Bockmon is looking at the possibility of adding 10 more students at both the junior and senior levels. In the 1989 Legislature, a proposal to bring ' those five courses to Billings died in committee. The issue was raised earlier this year when the state Education Commission for the Nineties and Beyond held a hearing in Billings. The answer is more complicated than bringing five classes to Billings, according to Kathleen Long, dean of the MSU college of nursing. Even if money were available for the additional faculty, there are only so many patients for the nursing students to work with. Clinical placements are close to their practical limits in pediatrics, maternity and psychiatry. Lack of money remains a major problem for the college three years after state budget cuts that forced it to close Butte campus and halve its Missoula campus. "We cannot serve all students who want our services," Long said. Filling the needs of older students Before Eastern Montana College started fall quarter, some of its classrooms already were filled with Montana State University nursing students. On the third floor of Petro Hall, sandwiched between the residence hall table tennis room and EMC dorm rooms, MSU's nursing school is quartered in offices that were once dorm rooms. Its sole classroom on the premises still looks like the dorm floor lounge, except that now it's filled with student chairs. Other classes are held at various locations on the EMC campus. "The majority of our students are married, older than the just-out-of-high school students," said Deborah Bockmon, education director and associate professor at the Billings MSU campus. "Many have other careers, other jobs. Many have children and they may be single parents." With slightly more than 520 students, the MSU College of Nursing is one school spread across four cities. All of the junior or senior students . study at either Billings, Missoula or Great Falls. All freshman and sophomore classes are available in Bozeman. MSU's extended campus in Billings will educate more upper-level nursing students this year than any other campus in the state. About 120 junior and senior nursing students are in Billings. Their training, under the direction of 16 Billings faculty members, will include pediatrics and maternity care at St. Vincent Hospital and psychiatric care at Deaconess Psychiatric Center and Rainbow House. The campus will gain a new faculty member this year, thanks to funding from the Veterans Hospital in Miles City. Bockmon said she hopes the new professor will be on campus next month. In return for the hospital's support the MSU college will take some of its master's degree-courses to Miles City so Veterans Hospital nursing staff can pursue an advanced degree. The Billings campus has taken another step this fall toward meeting community demand for nursing education, Bockmon said. Eight RN slots have been added at the junior level to accommodate an increased number of local registered nurses who want to earn bachelor's degrees. The students may be nontraditional in one sense, yet they have maintained a tradition of excellence, according to Kathleen Long, who became dean of the college in July. Graduates have one of the nation's highest rates of success on nursing board exams. Long said 98 percent of the 1990 class passed, and the college consistently has had a pass rate of 96 percent or better for 10 years. After graduation, the nurses tend to stay in Montana, Long said. An MSU survey showed that the nursing school produced more 1989 graduates who stayed in Montana than any other MSU program. Seventy-eight percent of the nursing graduates took jobs in Montana. Crowded field seeks job of police chief By DENNIS GAUB Of the Gazette Staff A throng of people want to become police chief of Billings, according to a city official. City Administrator Alan Tandy said on Monday that 137 job applications had been received. The deadline for having applications postmarked was Sunday, so that total could grow. The tally includes "7 or 8" ; applicants from Montana, including 4 from within the Billings department, Tandy said. Because applicants were promised confidentiality unless they become finalists, he said he could not release names on the initial list City Personnel Director Carle ne DeVeau said last week that she will categorize the applications as "yes, no and maybe." Tandy win then review the three lists and may make changes. Depending on its length, the "yes" list may be shortened before it is given to a screening committee that will select finalists to be interviewed. Committee members are City Attorney Jim Tfflotson, Public Works Director Ken Haag, Assistant Fire Chief Phil Frank, Finance Director Nathan Tubergen, Patrolman Dave HinkeL who is president of the police union. Great Falls Police Chief Bob Jones, Tandy and DeVeau. Tandy will interview the finalists and, after background checks by DeVeau, select the new chief. The new chief will replace Gene Kiser, who retired on Sept 2L ending a 29-year stint on the force, including 13 as its head. The advertised salary range for the job was $42,000 to $52,000. A survey of local officers indicated overwhelming preference for hiring a new chief from outside the department The survey found that 91 percent favored chief with no current ties to the department compared with 9 percent who favor promoting a chief from within the department 'Unsolved Mysteries' in Miles City 1 988 disappearance of Spokane man on 1-94 highlighted in national broadcast -I 1 1 ..U kn.tA AmioAsI 17i1l By JILL SUNDBY Of the Gazette Staff On Wednesday at 7 p.ia, NBCs "Unsolved Mysteries" wiU air the story of a man who disappeared and whose car was found along Interstate 94 near Miles City. The segment filmed June 29-30 in Great Falls, features Custer County Sheriff Tony Harbaugh and Deputy Mark Lester. Harbaugh was involved in the original search for the man and Lester was standing in for former deputy Ray MaUey. In August of 1988, a 1987 Chevrolet Spectrum, a white two-door compact car, was discovered along 1-94, 15 miles east of Miles City. Montana Highway Patrolman Stub Ames had noticed the empty car, sitting on the roadside one day and unmoved the second day, so the car was towed. The car was traced to Dan Wilson, 35, of Spokane. Wilson, who was divorced, had disappeared 24 hours earlier. There was no evidence of foul play in the car or around the car, and an area-wide search turned up no trace of Wilson. According to Harbaugh, Wilson supposedly was recognized four or five months later at the Billings Rescue Mission by a man who had seen on a flyer the picture of the 5-foot Sinches, 150-pound Wilson, with brown hair and blue Ayes. "I caUed. a couple detecm checked it out and someone by the name of Daniel Wilson had checked in and stayed there one aay, saia nar-baugh. "After that, the tnul went cold." "Unsolved Mysteries" hopes to help Wilson's mother find him by airing the story of his disappearance. The scenes were shot in Great Falls, where the TV crews were filming another mystery. "Mark and I went to Great Falls and recreated a scene where I took the mother and two of the missing man's cousins to a towing company where the car was," said Harbaugh. "It wasjnade to look like a wrecker company in Miles City." Then the crews shot a scene at the Great Fans Rescue Mission, representing the Billings Rescue Mission, Mowed by a scene shot on a highway west of Great Falls. That scene focuses on the discovery of the missing man's vehicle, and includes an interview with Harbaugh leaning on the back of a patrol car. The car in the TV clip is the actual car found near Miles City, Harbaugh said. "His mother and cousins drove the car from Longmont Colo, to Spokane (where other scenes were shot) and then to Great Fans." "I'm anxious to see how it aU coordinates on the show," said Harbaugh, who is apprehensive about some of the theories the program analyzes. One theory suggests Dan Wilson picked up a hitchhiker, who harmed him; another explores whether a carbon monoxide leak could have caused Wilson to get amnesia. Harbaugh pointed out that Wilson had a mental breakdown one-and-one-half years before his disappearance, and that according to one the-, ory, Wilson may have wanted to escape from his situation and start a different life. ; Two other lives were nearly ended during the search for Wilson. Harbaugh and pUot KeUy Reid were flying low to the ground, scanning below bridges for signs of Wilson. At this time, in August of '88, it was hard to see due to smoke drifting down the YeUowwstone VaUey from the YeUowstone Park fires. The plane flew below a powerline, and the vertical tail section caught on the line. "It snagged there and hooked. It started to nose up, and the power line broke at the pole," said Harbaugh. "It (the powerline) was like a giant slinky coming toward us. "It wrapped around the wing and pitched us to the right As the wing tore away, we were free of the line, and we made an emergency landing on I-94," he said. Those minutes, however, when they were "staring straight into a creek fun of trees and rocks," he said, were terrifying. Harbaugh said be' told the "Unsolved Mysteries" crews "Tn cooperate with you in any way, but I win not fly through another powerline just so you can get it on Elm."

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