By EBS Staff

Vehicle wrecks into grocery store near Big Sky Resort

BIG SKY – Just after 2 p.m. on Dec. 4 a man who allegedly suffered a seizure lost control of the Hyundai Sonata he was driving and crashed into the C&P Grocery store next door to the Black Bear Bar & Grill.

Two C&P employees were in the grocery store at the time of the accident. One sought medial attention for back injuries and the other said she was shaken up by the ordeal but otherwise uninjured.

Two onlookers pulled the driver from the vehicle according to a witness.

“I don’t think the car made contact with anybody [in the building],” said Montana State Highway Patrol Trooper Zachary Gold who investigated the accident. “Everybody was up and walking around. Obviously, it did a lot of damage to the building.”

The car was near the intersection of Sitting Bull and Moose Ridge roads when it veered off the road and into the grocery store.

The owner of the vehicle, said it appeared the driver had suffered a seizure. She said he lost consciousness before the accident and didn’t come to until he was in the back of an ambulance bound for Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital.

The vehicle was removed from the building by a tow truck later that afternoon.

NorthWestern underestimates tax hike after $900M dam buy


HELENA (AP) – NorthWestern Energy officials say they won’t appeal a big increase in the company’s Montana property taxes after last year’s $900 million purchase of 11 hydroelectric dams.

Instead, the company’s customers will pay for most of the nearly $23 million tax hike.

Public Service Commission members questioned NorthWestern and Department of Revenue officials about the taxes on Dec. 7. They expressed frustration about the amount and the utility’s ability to simply pass most of it on to its customers.

The increase is primarily a result of NorthWestern’s $900 million purchase of 11 hydroelectric dams last year from PPL Montana. The dams boosted NorthWestern’s assets and drove up its stock price, which factor into how the utility’s taxes are calculated, Revenue Director Mike Kadas said.

“NorthWestern paid considerably more than what we had valued that property at under PPL ownership,” Kadas said.

NorthWestern underestimated the final tax increase by about $5 million. Attorney John Alke says the utility decided against an appeal because the Montana Tax Appeal Board does not favor corporate taxpayers.

Alke says the hikes will amount to about a 4.5 percent increase in the typical electricity customer’s bill and a 4.9 percent average increase for natural gas customers.

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