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Around the Region

| January 12, 2023 12:00 AM

Former right-wing radio host dies in house fire

Former right-wing radio host John Stokes, 71, was found dead in his home near Ferndale on Dec. 28 after neighbors noticed mail piling up and asked for a welfare check.

Lake County Sheriff Don Bell said in a media release Wednesday that his office received a call requesting a welfare check at a residence in Ferndale at around 1 p.m. on Dec. 28. Responding deputies investigated and determined the homeowner was deceased and that there had been a fire in the home. Authorities identified the man as Stokes, the release stated.

Lake County officials determined that the fire was contained to one room of the home where Stokes was found. A preliminary investigation identified the fire and death occurred sometime in the morning hours of Dec. 13. Consultation with the state fire marshal and state medical examiner indicated the fire was accidental and caused the death of Stokes.

His KGEZ radio station, often criticized for anti-semitic and anti-environmentalist comments, was confiscated from Stokes in 2009 due to millions in unpaid debt and taxes

– From The Daily Interlake, Jan. 5

Hagadone publisher retires Jan. 31

Rick Weaver, the longtime regional publisher at Hagadone Media Montana, will retire at the end of January.

In his role, Weaver oversees eight newspapers serving Northwest Montana, including the flagship Daily Inter Lake, as well as the Lake County Leader, Hungry Horse News, Whitefish Pilot, The Western News, Bigfork Eagle, Clark Fork Valley Press and Mineral Independent.

His final day with the company will be Jan. 31.

Weaver’s professional newspaper career started at the Daily Inter Lake in 1975.

His career path took him to Pioneer Newspapers group, where he stayed for approximately 20 years, holding publisher roles at the Havre Daily News, Bozeman Daily Chronicle and finally at the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa, Idaho.

He rejoined the Hagadone Corporation as Montana’s regional publisher in 2010, at the time saying he cherished the opportunity to lead his hometown newspaper.

In announcing Weaver’s retirement, Hagadone Corporation President Brad Hagadone named Hagadone Media Montana Regional Advertising Director Anton Kaufer as the newspaper group’s next regional publisher.

Kaufer joined the Daily Inter Lake and Hagadone Media Montana in January 2017 as regional advertising director. Prior to moving to Montana, he was director of advertising for the Shreveport Times in Shreveport, La.

He is a board member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Glacier Country and also Glacier AERO, and the current vice president of the Montana Newspaper Association board. In 2021, Kaufer was honored as volunteer of the year by the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce.

Superior man sentenced for starting fires

A Superior man who admitted to setting fires on Forest Service lands was sentenced Jan. 5 in U.S. District Court to eight months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $3,323 restitution.

Jeremy Johannes Hennick, 52, pleaded guilty in September 2022 to timber set fires on state and federal land in Mineral County.

In court documents, the government alleged that between 2013 and 2021, more than 40 suspected arson fires were set, and in 2021 alone, 22 fires were documented and investigated.

Law enforcement identified Hennick as a suspect after a vehicle he drove was spotted in the area of some of the fires. When agents interviewed Hennick, he admitted to setting fires for four to five years, primarily by igniting trash and throwing it out the window of whatever vehicle he was driving.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service.

Kalispell lawmaker proposes Congressional study of reservations

A white state lawmaker in Montana is questioning whether land set aside long ago for Native Americans should exist anymore.

Republican Sen. Keith Regier is proposing asking Congress to study alternatives to reservations. The measure, submitted this week and riddled with racial stereotypes, is unlikely to pass and would have no practical effect if it did. But it’s causing tensions to surface at the Republicancontrolled Montana Legislature that kicked off this week.

Native American lawmakers say they’re now spending time responding to the proposed resolution rather than focusing on their own legislative priorities, including extending the state’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Task Force for another two years, creating a grant program to train community-based groups to search for missing people and encouraging the state to determine the economic impact of reservations on the state’s economy.

“I hate spending energy and time on this kind of stuff because I feel like it sidetracks us,” state Sen. Shane Morigeau, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, said Thursday. “But at the same time, it clearly signals to me that we have a lot of educational work to do in this state.”

– Amy Beth Hanson, Associated Press

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