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The Top Stories Of 2014 On MTPR

Dan Boyce

With a new year just around the corner, it's time to look back at the year's big stories. Here are some of the most popular stories from 2014 on

Ancient Human Remains Come From Montana Ancestor Of Most Native Americans

DNA evidence recovered from ancient human remains found in Montana is providing definitive answers to the origin of Native Americans.

It’s the oldest human burial discovered in the U.S. and the only specimen ever found of the Clovis people.

Remains of the so-called “Anzick boy” show a direct lineage with most native peoples in North, Central and South America.

“The genome shows without any doubt that this child is (more) closely related to all Native American groups in both North America and South America than to any other group of human beings in the world.”

Credit William Marcus
Rescuers at the site of an avalanche in Missoula's lower Rattlesnake neighborhood.

Avalanche Kills One, Destroys Missoula Home

A February avalanche destroyed a home in Missoula's lower Rattlesnake neighborhood, killing resident Michel Colville.

The avalanche on Mount Jumbo followed heavy snowfall in Missoula, and was likely triggered by snowboarders.

Neighbors quickly showed up on scene to help dig out survivors, but Michel Colville died two days later due to injuries sustained in the avalanche.

Grammy award winning trumpeter Chris Botti joined MTPR's John Floridis in the "Musician's Spotlight".

Grammy Winner Chris Botti In The 'Musician's Spotlight'

In this episode of "Musician's Spotlight" Grammy award-winning trumpeter Chris Botti tells John Floridis about the intensity of his jazz training and how it led to his collaborations with a diverse roster of musicians, including Paul Simon, Andrea Bocelli, Sting, Steven Tyler, Gladys Night and Yo-Yo Ma.

Credit Dan Boyce
Williston, ND native Nathan Kleyer (left) said prostitutes are available in the Bakken for people who know where to look.

Sex Trafficking: Another Growing Industry In The Bakken?

The Bakken is booming, but so many high-paying jobs and an over-abundance of men has led to another trend in boom towns, prostitution.

MTPR's Dan Boyce looked into the rumors about a rise in prostitution in the Bakken. While state officials say the evidence is hard to pin down, one Bakken worker says it's common to see prostitutes hopping tables at certain bars and restaurants looking for clients.

Credit Michael Marsolek
"Big" was the operative word at the McCartney concert

Paul McCartney Wows Record Missoula Crowd

Paul McCartney put on a spectacle in Missoula in August, playing for over two hours in the largest concert in Montana history. Over 25,000 people turned out for the show which included songs from McCartney's entire career along with dazzling lights and fireworks. Check out our photo gallery from the concert.

Credit Sally Mauk
Retired Missoula smokejumper Wayne Williams.

Retired Smokejumper Says Firefighter Training Must Change After Yarnell Hill Tragedy

The tragic deaths of 19 hotshots in the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona - almost an entire crew - again shocked the firefighting community, and has many, including retired Missoula smokejumper Wayne Williams, re-evaluating this country's firefighting training and methods.

Williams talks with News Director Sally Mauk about what he thinks needs to change.

Former U.S. Senator John Walsh

How Plagiarism Sank A U.S. Senate Campaign

Montana Senator John Walsh dropped out of the U.S. Senate race due to a plagiarism scandal.

Senator Walsh's initially tried to weather the storm, but withdrew from the race two weeks after the New York Times reported he "appropriated at least a quarter" of his 2007 master's thesis for the U.S. Army War College "from other authors' works, with no attribution."

Democrat Amanda Curtis was chosen to replace Walsh in the Senate race. She was defeated by Republican Steve Daines.

Credit Christopher Allen
"Extremo" dancing with his monkey mask to Michael Jackson tunes that blasted from a speaker built into the side of the "art car."

Montana Folk Fest 2014: Art Car Culture

The fourth annual Montana Folk Festival in Butte, Mont., fulfilled its annual promise of music, dancing, food, and a big hill to climb. Montana Public Radio's Christopher Allen shares this behind-the-scenes recap of not only the music and the performers, but also some quirky examples of folk art never before seen at the Montana Folk Festival.

A major study released Wednesday now says elk – not bison - are the primary source of new brucellosis infections in Greater Yellowstone Area cattle.
Credit Flickr User Ian Sane CC-BY-2.0

'Crowd-Shooting' Incident Raises Ethical, Legal Questions

Elk season began and ended with "crowd-shooting" incidents, questionable hunting practices, and poaching.

A “crowd-shooting” incident on the east side of Canyon Ferry Reservoir in early  Nov. opened a discussion about hunter ethics; specifically, when is it OK to shoot a game animal?

In a second incident in December, hundreds of elk near Townsend were hazed by trucks for at least five miles before getting boxed-in and fired on by dozens of Montanans. Edward O'Brien reports.

Downtown Libby, MT.
Libby, MT.

EPA Says Libby Asbestos Cleanup Is Paying Off

File this under good news. EPA toxicologist Deborah McKean confirmed that things in Libby are very different following the half-billion dollar clean up of the town started in 2002.

"Generally speaking, what this risk assessment says [is] that it is possible to live here without excessive exposure and fear of suffering from asbestos related disease," McKean told those assembled at Libby's town hall. 

Libby was stigmatized in 1999, when it became known that a vermiculite mine here created toxic asbestos dust that killed an estimated 400 people and sickened many more. This risk assessment quantifies what a dangerous level of exposure is, and says – in general – its safe to spend a lifetime in Libby.

Credit Christopher B Allen
Markus Kaarma was convicted of deliberate homicide for the shooting of German exchange student Diren Dede.

Markus Kaarma Found Guilty Despite State's 'Castle Doctrine'

Finally, one of the top stories in Western Montana this year was the trial of Markus Kaarma and the shooting that lead up to it.

Prosecutors contended 30-year-old Kaarma was the aggressor and had purposefully lured an intruder into his garage to hurt him.

Defense attorney Paul Ryan, however, argued Kaarma's use of deadly force was justified because he feared for his life and his family's safety.

A unanimous jury found Kaarma guilty of deliberate homicide. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 11.

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