This Week’s Missoula News Highlights – Week of May 13


Alleged Drunk Driver Kills one Pedestrian and Injures Another

A pick-up truck careened across the center line of North Fifth Street striking two sisters early Thursday morning. One of the women was pronounced at St. Patrick Hospital. The 38 year-old driver was found uninjured inside the cab of his vehicle which was laying overturned in a nearby yard. The name of the driver was not released, but he was arrested and will likely face Vehicular Homicide while Under the Influence as well as Negligent Vehicular Assault. (read more) other links: sisters hit, witness

Wildfire Season is off to an Unusually Early Start

The middle of May is not typically wildfire season in Western Montana, but high winds and warmer temperatures seem to have been the cause of a destructive forest fire southeast of Philipsburg. The fire, which broke out Monday evening, has destroyed five homes in the area and caused the evacuation of nearly 20 others. The evacuation order lasted until Wednesday evening when the fire was thought to be nearly 80 percent contained. Thursday’s rain and cooler temperatures should dampen the early season blaze. Other wildfires burning in the Helena area have been linked to a suspect who was arrested for arson. (read more) other links: Helena arsonist, suspect

Montana Supreme Court Rules against a new Trial for Beach

The Montana Supreme Court ruled against a 2011 decision by District Judge Wayne Phillips to grant convicted murderer Barry Beach a new trial. Judge Phillips decision allowed for the release of Beach, a release that has been revoked with the high court’s decision. Beach was convicted of the June 16, 1979 beating death of Kimberly Nees and sentenced to 100 years in prison after confessing to the crime to police in Louisiana. Beach later stated he was coerced into his confession and steadfastly denied killing Nees. Centurion Ministries of Princeton, N.J. a group that works much like the Innocence Project, worked to exonerate Beach of the killing for a decade. Authorities rearrested Beach, who voluntarily turned himself in. (read more) other links: rearrested, going back, “just unbelievable”

Palace Hotel Remodel is nearly Complete

$8.7 million dollar in restorations can produce dramatic changes to an historic building. The Palace Hotel should know, it is just about ready to have just such a project completed. The residents of the historic building were moved to different floors during the construction and are obviously ecstatic about their newly remodeled apartments. The Palace, which had a reputation in town as being low-cost and low-quality housing, is now one of the nicer residential spaces in the downtown area according to project manager Sam Oliver. The Missoula Housing Authority, which runs the residential part of the building, will be holding tours of the facility on Wednesday next week. (read more) 

Each week, Tom Diddel recaps the week’s most talked-about stories in Missoula. Visit the Make it Missoula News & Opinion section for more talk of the town.


Tom Diddel has lived in Missoula on and off for nearly thirty-eight years. He enjoys skiing, hiking, and many other outdoor activities. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Montana and is currently working as a Freelance Writer and a Para-Educator.