Berkeley Pit on track to overflow soon

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By EMILY SCHABACKER/ Montana State News 

Toxic water levels approach maximum capacity in Butte’s Berkeley Pit, potentially threatening the city’s groundwater system by 2023. Montana’s environmental advocacy groups have started looking for clean up or containment methods for the abandoned copper mine.

After the mine closed in 1982, rain and groundwater flooded underground shafts, forcing contaminated water to accumulate in the pit. The acidic pond stretches one mile long by a half mile wide and reaches down more than 1,700 feet.

Current water levels reach 5,336 feet above sea level, 74 feet below maximum capacity as determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Act, according to the website Pit Watch: Berkeley Pit News and Info. More

Medical marijuana restrictions contested

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By ADAM SCHREUDER/Montana State News

Unlike the 23 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized medical marijuana, Montana maintains its illegality.  The efforts to keep medical marijuana available to patients have been ongoing since 2011, when legislators restricted caregivers to a three patient maximum.  This tight restriction forced many caregivers out of business and sent many patients back to pharmaceutical remedies.

“I just don’t know if I can deal with those side effects again. I don’t feel like myself when I’m on a constant cocktail of Oxycontin and Valium, or whatever antibiotics they think works these days,” said Trevor Swahn, a victim of Crohn’s disease.

Although legislators technically restricted the availability of marijuana in 2011, activists continually delayed the restriction through legal  appeals until .  Medical marijuana supporters were not shocked that the procrastination tool of appeals was eventually defeated by the legislature, but they are now faced with the reality of taking the now illegal industry back underground.


Billings swine flu death raises local concerns

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By JENNY BRYAN/Montana State News

Tragedy struck Billings when a 9-year-old girl died Monday after being diagnosed with swine flu.

Although the definite cause of death is still unclear, parents and students throughout the city are on alert for health risks.

According to the Mayo Clinic, H1N1 also known as swine flu first appeared in April 2009 and has never completely dispersed. Despite popular belief the type A influenza is transmitted between people, not pigs.

The Center for Disease Control’s website reported that in the region of the country that includes Montana, along with five other states, there have been 1,502 cases of the swine flu since Oct 4, 2015.

However, according to an interview with the Billings Gazette, John Felton, the CEO of Riverstone Health said, “We are not aware of any [health] threat to anyone.”


Access to care key to preventing suicide

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Montana had the highest suicide rate in the nation in 2014, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Montana’s Suicide Review Team revealed that only 40 percent of these suicides had an identified mental health disorder, but it is likely that many of these cases had undiagnosed or untreated mental illness according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Some 39,000 adults and 10,000 children in Montana live with a serious mental illness, according to the U.S. Public Health Service. This is out of about 1 million residents, which leads to a prevalence rate of 4.9 percent. According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, this is slightly higher than the national average of 4.2 percent.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a “serious mental illness” is described as “A mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder (excluding developmental and substance abuse disorders) that is diagnosable currently or within the past year, of sufficient duration to meet diagnostic criteria specified within the 4th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, resulting in serious functional impairment, and which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.” This differs from people who, say, have had periods of brief depression or anxiety, or have mild depression and anxiety.


Local obesity rate lowest in Montana

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Fifty percent of the American population age 20 to 74 are projected to be obese by the year 3030, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  One-third of United States citizens are currently obese, according to the CDC. Montana has ranked in the bottom 10 of least obese states for the past five years.

Although Montana’s obesity rate suggests a healthy population, the number of people in the state considered to be obese has increased by 2.6 percent from 2010 to 2014, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

To be considered an obese person, the body mass index must be higher than 30. Among adults residents age 18 to 25, 16.5 percent are considered obese. Among people over the age of 25, an average of 27.6 percent are considered obese, according to the State of Obesity report.

In 2011, the state of Montana had an average obesity rate of 21.6 percent. Gallatin County ranked the lowest in numbers of obese people. Rosebud County ranked higher with an average of 36.9 percent.


Nurse moonlights helping in mental health crises

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By ANNIE WASSAN/Montana State News

Sara Gothard comes home at 11:30 p.m. in her scrubs. She has just finished a shift at Hope House in Bozeman, and she is the on call nurse for the establishment.

She started working at Hope House in October 2016. According to Gothard, “Hope House is a place for people to go who are experiencing a mental health crisis.” She gets called in two to three times a week when someone needs psychiatric stabilization. She also has a full time job as a registered nurse at Bozeman Deaconess Health.

Hope House is part of the Gallatin Mental Health Center. According to their website, their mission is “to assist individuals and communities with the challenges of mental health, substance use and co-occurring disorders to achieve their highest quality of life.”


Beleaguered chain to open restaurant here

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By MIKAL OVERTURF/Montana State News

Bozeman residents will soon be able to experience Chipotle in their own hometown. The “fast-casual” restaurant will be opening its doors at the corner of 19th Avenue and Main Street sometime this spring, bringing its campaign of “Food with integrity” to Bozeman.

This does not come without some controversy, however, as by the end of 2015 over 500 people had reported E. coli poisoning from foods purchased at Chipotle. A norovirus outbreak was also connected to a restaurant in Simi Valley, California.

One MSU student was interviewed about the opening of this chain, and she mentioned her reservations, saying, “I’m not sure if I want to eat there, not after all those people got sick.” This sentiment seems to be shared by many, as evidenced by Chipotle’s falling stock.


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