The Montana Bankers Association recently elected new officers at the 116th Annual Membership Meeting, including the election of Bill Bickle as Vice Chairman o the Board of Directors and Bill Lucas as immediate Past Chairman.

Bickle is Chief Credit Officer  at Stockman Bank of Montana, Miles City. Bickle will serve two years as a policy maker andl represent the Southeastern Region. 

Bickle is a graduate of Montana State University and of the Pacific Coast Banking School.  He was an examiner with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis for six years before joining Stockman Bank in 1987.  He is a Director of Stockman Financial Corporation and continues with his family ranching corporation, Bickle Cattle Co. 

Lucas is Market President, U.S. Bank, N.A., Billings. Lucas will continue to serve as a policy maker andl represent the Large Banks Membership on the board. 

Lucas started with US Bank in 1988. In 2013, he was named Market President, Billings and South Montana District Manager, a position he currently holds. He is a graduate of the University of North Dakota and the BAI Graduate School of Banking. Bill and his wife, Kim, enjoy spending time with their two grown children, Alexa and Sam and with their grandson, Lucas. 


Big Elmo Investments Llc/Sunleaf, Steve – General Contractor, 1602 4th Ave N, Com Addition, $265,000

Church Of Jesus Christ Of LDS/Knife River-Billings – General Contractor, 3548 Rachelle Cir, Com New Parking Lot/Non-Building Structure, $239,856

Lindsey, Lee/Paulson, Cal – Service, 122 N 12th St, Demolition Permit Commercial, $10,000

Stahley, Kenneth R & Linda H/Bradford Management Inc – General Contractor, 1106 29th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $100,330

15th Street Investors Llc/Sunset Construction Llc – General Contractor, 1504 Broadwater Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $13,790

Sweetacres #1 Llc/Allgayer, Philip John – General Contractor, 2325 Central Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $4,000

Starchland Property I, Llc/Billings Sign Service Inc, 401 Main St, New Other, $6,170

McDonalds Real Estate Company/Billings Sign Service Inc, 525 Wicks Ln, Com New Other, $6,170

Larson Family Properties Llc/Hardy Construction Co.,Rex Hotel Building – Phase 3:,2401 Montana Ave, Com Remodel, $248,500

Yellowstone County/Hardy Construction Co., 217 N 27th St, Com Remodel, $124,781

Bal5 Lp/Lagreca, Brice – General Contractor, Com Remodel, $16,000

Boardman Westpark Llc/Plan/Builder Construction Inc., 1595 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $40,000


Infinity Home Wanner, Levi – General Contractor, 1442 Topanga Ave, Res New Single Family, $221,692 

Copper Ridge West Inc/Double Dutch Construction, 3127 Forbes Blvd, Res New Single Family, $290,938

Double Dutch Construction/Double Dutch Construction, 3133 Forbes Blvd, Res New Single Family, $341,736

Justine Mays Thompson/William – General Contractor, 1509 Topanga Ave, $220,556

Colter Carpentry, Inc/ Thompson, William – General Contractor, 1425 Topanga Ave, Res New Single Family,                  $220,703

Boyer Land Llc/Design Builders, Inc., 62514 Blue Moon Ct, Res New Single Family, $284,036

Design Builders/Design Builders, Inc., 2518 Blue Moon Ct, Res New Single Family, $343,115

Formation, Inc./Helgeson, S. D., 2505 Mountain Range Ct, Res New Single Family, $268,457

Currie, Trentnew, 206 S 31st St, Res New Single Family, $142,736

South Pine Design/Blatchford, Kevin – General Contractor, 2525 Strapper Ln, Res New Single Family,             $258,687

NMTP 002 Llc,/Lively, Robert – General Contractor, 6324 Ridge Stone Dr, Res New Single Family,                 $254,000

NMTP 002 Llc/Lively, Robert – General Contractor, 6318 Ridge Stone Dr, New Single Family, $207,549

McCall Development/ McCall James, – General Contractor, 1645 Walter Creek Blvd, Res New Single Family,               $107,309

Pearce, Bradley G & Cynthia M/Jeff Engel Construction, Inc, 320 Annandale Rd, Res New Single Family, $409,815

True North Homes, Llc/Baillie, Steve – General Contractor, 1727 E Thunder Mountain Rd, Res New Single Family,              $360,493

David B Heine Irrevocable Trust/Longtine, Justin – General Contractor, 1619 Hollyhock St, New Garage, $4,200

McCall Development Inc/Mccall James, – General Contractors, 1918 Walter Creek Blvd, Res New Single Family,         $329,386

BCJM Properties Llc/Blatchford, Kevin – General Contractor, 2605 Strapper Ln, Res New Single Family,     $301,266

High Sierra Ii Inc/Wanner, Levi – General Contractor, 1406 Topanga Ave, Res New Single Family, $224,414

Oakland Built Homes Inc/Leep (Vice President), Landy – Service, 2945 70th St W, Res New Single Family,                       $205,886

McCall Homes/McCall, Greg – General Contractor, 1641 Walter Creek Blvd, Res New Single Family, $124,376

Double Dutch Construction/Double Dutch Construction, 6128 Canyonwoods Dr, Res New Single Family,     $417,600

McCall Development/ McCall, Greg – General Contractor, 1633 Walter Creek Blvd, Res New Single Family,                         $124,301

McCall Homes/McCall James, – 637 Walter Creek Blvd, Res New Single Family,                $124,926

Art-Work Builders/Art Work Builders, 1315 Watson Peak Rd, Res New Single Family, $243,526

Ahl/Ahl, Art, 1329 Watson Peak Rd, Res New Single Family, $243,526

Magnus Land Development/Brown Builders Inc., 6421 Signal Peak Ave, Res New Two Family, $327,260

Marsich Investments Inc/Mbmd Llc, 4220 Limber Pine Ln, Res New Two Family, $435,340

The City County Planning Department is submitting an application to the Federal Highway Department in the hopes of getting a $25 million grant to help fund the building of the Inner Belt Loop road in the Heights and to complete the system of bike trails that encompass the City of Billings.

If they should get the grant, called the “2019 BUILD Grant”, portions of the project could begin construction as soon as, 2020 or 2021 at the latest, according to Wyeth Friday, who heads the Planning Department. Friday made presentations to the Billings City Council and the Board of County Commissioners this week to get letters of support for the application. They will also be seeking support from Montana’s Congressional delegation.

The $25 million cost of the project that is detailed in the application includes $7 million as matching dollars from the City of Billings. The application is complex, said Friday, and they are using a consultant to help put it together, especially in regard to determining a cost/benefit analysis.

Notice as to whether they win the grant will be announced by the end of the year.

Most of the project and hence most of the cost – about $14 million – is focused on building the Inner Belt Loop, design for which is about 90 percent complete. It would probably be the first portion of the project to be built.

The bike/pedestrian trails that are included in the project are portions of the 26-mile Marathon Loop Trail that has long been in the planning to encircle Billings. Once those sections are built the route will be completed; they include Stage Coach Trail, a portion of Skyline Trail, Garden/Sugar Trail and Zoo to Riverfront.

The trails are in various stages of development, and some must still obtain right-of-ways, said Friday.

Looking to the future – anticipating what space will be needed and figuring out a strategy of how the county will be prepared to meet those needs, is a primary focus of the coming year’s budget, for Director of Finance Kevan Bryan.

While Yellowstone County has accomplished much over the past two years in meeting substantial demand for space there will be demand for more space and adjustments in the future, said Bryan. To successfully rise to that challenge without having to raise taxes requires planning budgets now, and to start addressing those needs in FY 2019-20. Bryan said that the proposed budget he is presenting to county commissioners this week recommends the movement of discretionary mills that will “allow us to focus dollars where best needed, while retaining flexibility for future fiscal years.”

This week’s itinerary for the commissioners and most county department heads has been a daily series  of scheduled discussions involving every nook and cranny of county government and what will be needed to be done in the next year – and beyond.

“…we wish we didn’t have to …recommend continuing to spend on these issues,” said Bryan, “But they did not develop overnight, and it is clear they are not going away. Ignoring or delaying continued efforts will just cost more down the road, collapse our window of getting this done the right way vs. in a crisis mode, and likely compel us to need additional help from our taxpayers.”

Looming as the biggest challenge are infrastructure needs for Metra Park. During the past year the commissioners authorized an assessment of what those needs will be. Bryan urged tackling the list of needs that were identified in that assessment, beginning in the coming year. “This addresses underground issues fsor power, water, waste water, data – what is broken down and what needs to be upgraded. Remaining needs there are significant, and in our view remain largely unfunded as are many items that may be on this Board’s or the Metra Board’s wish list for enhancements on that campus.”

Bryan noted that the county “has successfully moved several departments into the Stillwater Building, and we have remodeled the 4th Floor of the Courthouse for District Court use. But I dare say we are not even halfway through what needs to be done…It will take a multi-year effort, and you will see in this budget that we are working to advance that.”

Bryan said that in the next five or six years, the commissioners will need to commit to a long-term path for the occupancy issues the county will face. “We can extend our lease here at Stillwater, including more square footage; we can look at an already-discussed option to purchase two floors in a condo arrangement; or we can look at the possibility of removing the old ‘round building’ previously occupied by the Sheriff and build a new office structure.”

Bryan said that his budget draft proposes more work on the Courthouse, and allowing for the eventual movement of others to the Stillwater Building. “In our judgement, that work must begin in FY20, and will likely not be completed soon.” The plan addresses anticipated needs of Justice Court, Clerk of the District Court, the County Attorney, “and yes,” eventually more space for district Court.

The detention facility, while nearing final completion of what was approved two years ago, by the county commissioners, uncovered unstable underground waste lines that are being fixed, still has needs. Sheriff Mike Linder is asking for an expansion and remodel to the booking and administration area of the facility to make it more secure. If his request is approved, said Bryan, the expenditure will consume what is left of the Sheriff’s capital improvement fund. “But, with that done and the relatively new headquarters down the street plus the State’s and County’s financial commitment to the new morgue, the Sheriff should be in the best ‘facility shape’ in perhaps three decades, and set for many, many years to come,” said Bryan.

Bryan presented a list of the diversion of funds that have happened this year and that he proposes for next year, to shift available funds to higher priority needs. They include for FY 2019-20:

—$500,000 from the bridge fund to Metra Park’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP);

— $53,500 from the Weed Fund to Metra’s CIP;

—$106,800 from the Liability Fund with $35,600 going to the Extension Fund, and $71,200 to the Museums.

For FY 2020-21 the proposed shifts are:

—$500,000 from the FY2019 Bridge Fund to the General Fund;

—$700,000 from the Liability Fund to the General Fund;

—Continued $71,200 from the Liability Fund to the Museums;

—Discontinue diversion from the Weed Fund and diversion to the Extension Fund.

In assessing the health of the various departments or funds in county government, a useful barometer is their level of reserves. Sound fiscal policy includes having reserves at capacity, which by state law is set at a maximum of 30 percent of each fund’s total budget. Many reserve fund balances dropped as the heavy capital improvement projects of the past couple of years made demands upon them, but they are recovering.

Anticipating a total county budget of about $116.5 million, reserves for all county funds totals $57 million, which is slightly below past levels which ranged as high as $61.5 million.

According to Bryan agencies with full reserves for FY 2020 are:

—General Fund

—Road Fund

—Bridge Fund

—Liability Fund

—Mental Health Fund

—Weed Fund

—Museum Fund

Those close to being fully reserved are:

—Public Safety (Sheriff)

—Public Safety (County Attorney)

(The probability, given crime rates and demand on those two agencies, that their reserves will decline.)

County departments that are short on reserves are:

—Metra Park

—Metra Park Capital Improvement Program

—Lockwood Pedestrian Safety District

Montana recently welcomed the first member of its own FEMA Integration Team (FIT), Adrianne Michele.

FITs allow FEMA staff to be directly embedded with state emergency management agencies to provide improved coordination and collaboration. In Montana, the FIT will help Montana Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) stay closely connected with FEMA Region VIII in Denver, Colorado.

The Montana team lead is now in place and is the first of what will eventually be a four-member team working in Helena alongside Montana DES staff. The FIT program is an initiative FEMA started last year, the first effort to have staff permanently

co-located working with state partner agencies. 

An Air Force veteran, Michele has a Master’s Degree in Emergency Management and a passion for disaster planning and response.

In addition to three deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, she worked for several years integrating planning efforts between North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command.  She also has education and experience as a news photographer and editor.

The makeup of each FIT team is determined through discussions between FEMA and individual states, and varies according to local needs.  The Montana team, which is expected to be in place by late summer, will include specialists in preparedness, recovery and emergency communications.

“We were able to identify these areas as being especially helpful for Montana,” said Delila Bruno, Director of Montana Disaster and Emergency Services. “Having FIT members here with their boots on the ground will increase our capacity to help Montanans not only prepare for disasters, but recover when they happen, making our partnership with FEMA even stronger.”

 “By putting skilled, knowledgeable personnel with our partners in Montana, we can help build a culture of preparedness and support Montana emergency management before, during, and after disasters,” said Lee K. dePalo, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region VIII. “The FEMA Integration Team helps FEMA and Montana DES to plan, train, and respond to incidents together.”

FEMA Integration Teams are currently in the second stage of rollout and Montana is the 19th state to receive a FIT. The program will be implemented to states by 2020.

Four new businesses will be locating in Rimrock Mall – a brewery offering two food concepts, a men’s clothing store, a tattoo studio, and an art academy.

The businesses are following a trend at Rimrock Mall, 300 S. 24th St. W. in Billings, of being a community destination and hub, said Daron Olson, marketing director of Rimrock Mall, at a press conference where the newcomers were announced. Rimrock Mall is “now a place to ‘do’ rather than simply a place to ‘shop.’”

Brewery, Celebrity Music and Food

Freefall Brewery will occupy a long-vacant space, bringing with it one of the state’s largest tasting rooms and two food concepts: Audrey’s Pizza and FinnBrooks Monster Subs by Freefall Brewery. 

Opening this fall, Freefall Brewery is owned by Steve Schlegel, a songwriter and musician with deep roots in the rock and country music scenes. Schlegel has worked with ZZ Top, Van Halen, REO Speedwagon, Huey Lewis and Bryan Adam as well as Garth Brooks and Keith Urban.  He will also tap his connections in the music industry to perform in Freefall Brewery’s musical area.

“Some of my closest friends play with Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire and Keith Urban,” Schlegel said. “You can count on seeing and meeting those band members in person at Freefall.”

The brewery will provide area residents with one of the largest tasting rooms in Montana and showcase beer brewed without harmful chemicals including chlorine that can affect the beer’s taste. 

“Around Billings, people like a crisp, fresh beer without the aftertaste,” Schlegel said. “We know it will be very popular among the microbrew fans as well as the traditional beer drinkers and we’re excited to bring music and great food to the area to go along with our excellent beer.”

Freefall will be joined in its new location by Audrey’s Pizza, which Schlegel purchased after Audrey Anderson retired. FinnBrooks Monster Subs by Freefall Brewery will also be located next door.

Singing, Dancing and Theater 

For 42 years, CDS Performing Arts Academy (opening in June in a temporary space, then moving to a permanent space in July) has educated area students in singing, dancing and theater. CDS students have gone on to earn their Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, work in the dance and theater industry and appear in world tours of “The Beauty and The Beast” musical and on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”

Now owned by Samantha and Danny Sandefur, CDS also includes a black-box theater in which theater program students will regularly stage plays. 

“We are excited to be a part of Rimrock Mall’s vision to bring more entertainment businesses, restaurants and shopping to families of Billings and surrounding areas,” said Samantha Sandefur. “CDS is very excited to be a part of the Rimrock Mall community with the mall’s new direction in family activities.”

Menswear in the Mall

Mainstreet Menswear opens later this summer in the former White House | Black Market space. The high-end clothing store for men, owned by Steve Johnson, will carry men’s formal and casual wear, whether dressing for a wedding, job interview or night out. The new space will have a graciously masculine décor, with shiplap paneling and a rustic color palette. 

Shockwave Tattoo 

Shockwave Tattoo will open a new space next to Dillard’s offering customized, one-of-a-kind, artistically crafted tattoos.  Shockwave is founded by local award winning tattoo artist Jason  “Ox” Radtke and his wife Tara Radtke, who have been in the business for more than 20 years. In addition to offering customized, hand-drawn tattoos, Shockwave will sell “shopshirts” and sweatshirts that can be customized to match an individual’s tattoo.  In addition, the store will sell the Shockwave brand of  eye and lip liner.

U.S. Worker Production Dwarfs Most Countries – big time!

By Bethany Blankley, The Center Square

American workers out-produce workers worldwide, a fact that is readily reflected in gross domestic product (GDP) numbers.

The U.S. GDP is more than $21 trillion, dwarfing the economies of most other countries in the world. China’s GDP hovers over $14 trillion; Japan’s over $5 trillion.

The U.S. is neither the largest country by land mass nor population (4.4 percent of the world’s population) yet its GDP represents 24.2 percent of the global GDP.

“That’s a testament to the superior, world-class productivity of the American worker,” says Mark J. Perry, professor of finance and business economics at the University of Michigan-Flint and scholar at The American Enterprise Institute.

Most Americans can’t appreciate or comprehend how large these GDPs are, explains Mark J. Perry, professor of finance and business economics at the University of Michigan-Flint and scholar at The American Enterprise Institute. That’s why he creates a map every year comparing economies of states to countries to “help people understand how enormously large the U.S. economy is,” he told The Center Square.

Four states, California, Texas, New York and Florida, produced more than $1 trillion in output. If they were each countries, they would have ranked in the world’s 16 largest economies in 2018.

California’s GDP was greater than the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (U.K.); Texas’ was larger than Canada’s; New York’s was larger than Russia’s, and Florida’s is comparable to Indonesia’s.

Combined, they produced nearly $7.5 trillion in economic output in 2018, which would be the third-largest economy in the world.

GDP broadly measures a nation’s overall economic activity, representing the monetary value of all completed goods and services produced in that country within a specific time period. GDPs are calculated annually and quarterly.

Samuel Stebbins and Grant Suneson at the financial website 24/7 Wall St. point out that the majority of U.S. states are smaller in both population and landmass than their GDP comparable-countries. They also compared state GDPs to countries in a similar report to Perry’s.

Because U.S. states have far more developed economies, their GDPs per capita are higher, they note. U.S. consumer spending and highly developed industries backed by advanced technology also contribute to states’ economic advantages over their country counterparts.

Perry’s analysis compares the nominal GDP of each state and the District of Columbia to the nominal GDP of a country over the same time period based on Bureau of Economic Analysis and International Monetary Fund data.

The state with the greatest GDP is California.

With $3 trillion worth of economic output in 2018, California as a country would have been the 5th largest economy in the world, greater than the UK’s $2.81 trillion, France’s $2.79 trillion, and India’s $2.61 trillion worth of economic output.

California’s economic output is greater despite the U.K.’s labor force being nearly double. Perry argues the U.K. would need a 75 percent larger labor force of 14.5 million more people to produce the same economic output last year as California.

The second largest state economy and the world’s 10th largest economy last year was Texas’ $1.8 trillion worth of economic output. The Lone Star’s GDP was slightly greater than Canada’s $1.71 trillion GDP. In order for Canada to produce the same amount as Texas, it would need 6.2 million more workers, Perry notes.

Despite California’s output, California leads the nation in out-migration, and more of its residents are leaving for Texas. It costs more to leave California for Texas than it does to leave Texas for California, Perry found.

“There is a huge premium for trucks leaving California for Texas and a huge discount for trucks leaving Texas for California,” he says.

A one-way truck rental from Los Angeles to Houston costs $3,965; from Houston to Los Angeles, $967. A one-way truck rental from San Francisco to Dallas costs $4,275; from Dallas to San Francisco, $1,282.

U-Haul’s one-way truck rental rates are market-based, he argues, which is why truck shortages in California increase costs. There are also more trucks in Texas and there is a relatively low demand to go to California from Texas.

In the same analysis conducted in 2016, the ratios for the same matched cities were much smaller, 2.2 to 2.4 to 1, which he says suggests that “the outbound migration from California to Texas as reflected in one-way U-Haul truck rental rates must have accelerated over the last three years.”

The third and fourth largest GDPs were New York and Florida, respectively.

Pennsylvania’s GDP of $788 billion and Illinois’ GDP of $864 billion were greater than oil rich Saudi Arabia’s $782 billion.

Officials from The City of Billings, fund raisers, media and dog lovers gathered last week at the corner of 32nd Street and St. John’s Avenue for a ground breaking for a new city park that will cater especially to dogs. It will be the first regional park developed by the city in 38 years, pointed out Mayor Bill Cole, in his comments.

The park will be built in phases. The City Council was convinced by supporters to direct $2.46 million in this year’s budget to developing the first phase of the 23 acres that was designated to be a park in 2015. Grading of the site has already begun. The first phase includes installation of an automated irrigation system and sidewalks and hyro-seeding of grass. First Mark is doing the construction.

Centennial Park has taken awhile to happen because, while the City imposed the creation of a dedicated park mill levy, as Mayor Cole noted, many of those funds over the past years were directed to public safety.

The last large, regional park built by the city was Castle Rock Park in 1982, although Amend Park, a multi-use soccer complex, was launched in 1992 and built through private donations on city-owned land.

Centennial Park will have a designated area especially for dogs, which will include a fence, the $80,000 cost for which has been pledged by Friends of Billings Dog Parks. The contribution will also include the cost of special drinking fountains.

Evelyn Pyburn, Editor

Our governor made a comment recently in regard to the announced closure of Colstrip Units 1 & 2 that deserves to be scrutinized.

Gov. Steve Bullock said, “Markets and consumer preferences continue to move away from coal, yet this news comes quicker than anticipated. Today our priority is taking care of workers and their families who will be impacted by these closures.”

It’s a very typical political statement. Kind of shallow and hollow. But in examining it closely, it isn’t as benign as the Governor probably hoped it would sound – for two reasons. One, it continues to propagate a myth that the Left loves and has down pat; and two, it is an insult to every working person who wants to earn their way in this world.

To hear our Governor even mention “markets” is a first, and that alone should raise an eyebrow. But his official comment is a slight of hand — or of words – aimed at diverting attention to what has really happened and the role he has played. Now that the destruction of their manipulations are strewn before us, he wants to change the subject.

It’s a strategy that the Left and other statists have used to some success in the past. Every time an industry or business fails because of political policies and regulations and legal attacks — once the piling-on of those obstacles succeeds in bringing it down, the ant1s-business politicians, environmentalists and statists suddenly discover “markets,” and claim that it’s nothing more than the free market at work — and we are all supposed to be dumb enough to believe it.

Are we to forget President Obama’s “war on coal?”  Are we to forget the many years in which they have done everything they could to circumvent the market? Are we to forget witnessing consumer choice being displaced by political gangs swinging the biggest clubs possible to change the direction of markets?

We heard the same claim when they finally brought the Corette plant in Billings to its knees. Immediately the pundits started declaring, its closure had nothing to do with the regulations that were piled upon it! It was “market forces”, said its tormentors, as we watched dozens of people leave their jobs for the last time, and company owners dismantle what had once been a thriving, taxpaying business in Billings.

The first time, I became aware of this propaganda tactic was back when political forces destroyed Montana’s timber industry in the name of the Spotted Owl. The attacks on timber were loud, vociferous and at times violent, for several years; but as soon as timber mills began to close, the mantra became “it is nothing more than the market at work” – even as timber imports from Canada were booming.

One has to really wonder why the Governor and so many others who worked so hard to impose their will, are so reluctant to claim victory. Why aren’t they celebrating and shouting about their success, rather than muttering and mumbling about “markets” and shuffling on to their next target?

In a sense, their claim about markets is correct. The market is looking at the political policies being imposed and declaring “this is stupid!” What that looks like in “the market” is investors fleeing the field and finding less risky places to put their money. That is indeed the market speaking, but that isn’t to say there has been a free market at play. This is exactly the dynamics of controlled markets. It is exactly how markets are destroyed in socialist regimes.

The insult that comes from the Governor is the idea that all those losing their jobs and livelihoods, will now be taken care of by government. Even this lament is not original. Hillary Clinton made the same condescending offer to the coal miners of West Virginia, when she told them not to worry there were government programs that would take care of them.

A few years ago, a Crow tribal leader voiced his indignation during an energy summit in Billings, about having been told the same thing when he went to Washington DC to beg the politicians to back off the “War on Coal,” because of what it would do to his tribe’s coal business and their jobs. Government welfare programs, he said, is not what they wanted – and he, too, was insulted at their words.

Model T aficionados will be descending on Billings with their antique cars, arriving from all over the country and Canada. Members of the Rimrock Model T Chapter of Billings hope their visit will prompt a bigger event from the National Model T Club of America, according to Chapter Chairman Steve Shelton.

The group will be in Billings on July 16 -21. The city will be a hub for tours of the area which will include visits to Pompeys Pillar, Big Horn Battlefield, a swing through Columbus and Red Lodge, and a “back roads” tour. They will be visiting the Huntley Project Museum and the Yellowstone County Museum.

The Ford Model T, the first affordable automobile for middle-class America, was produced by Ford Motor Company from October 1, 1908, to May 26, 1927.  The automobile was made affordable through Ford’s innovation of assembly line production.

As of last week, the group had 50 antique cars “signed up,” according to Shelton. Most car owners are expected to transport their vehicle to Billings and then drive them on their tours. A couple, however, plan to drive their vehicles, said Shelton.

Shelton said that attendees of the event will have an influence on future site selections for larger gatherings, and if they have a good time and find the community welcoming, Billings could be chosen as a site for another event.

Shelton was joined by a couple other Rimrock Model T Chapter members last week to ask for a contribution to help the club host the event, from County Commissioners. The commissioners suggested that they ask the Billings’ Chamber of Commerce’s Visit Billings for support, since to support and encourage such visitations is their purpose. The club members said they received a $1500 contribution from Visit Billings, but  are in need of more.

Commissioners indicated that they would discuss making a contribution, probably from PILT funds, but noted that making those kinds of contributions is problematic for them because it pushes the boundaries of the appropriateness of using taxpayer dollars, and creates a quandary as to how to decide what public interests to support since they cannot support all of the requests that will surely come.