The Montana Farm Bureau announced that it is pleased with a federal court ruling that says the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule is unlawful under the Clean Water Act because of its “vast expansion of jurisdiction over waters and land traditionally within the states’ regulatory authority.” The court for the Southern District of Georgia found the agency overstepped not just the CWA, but also the Administrative Procedure Act, which lays out the most basic rules governing how agencies may propose and establish federal regulations.

The Georgia court kept in place a preliminary injunction preventing the rule from becoming effective in the 11 states involved with the lawsuit while the Environmental Protection Agency finalizes its own repeal and replacement of the 2015 rule.

The ruling was a victory not just for the plaintiff states, but a broad coalition of more than a dozen private sector groups, including the Montana and American Farm Bureau Federations.

The Montana Farm Bureau Federation has been actively opposing WOTUS for the past five years.

“Today’s ruling is excellent, long-awaited news for Montana’s farmers and ranchers,” said MFBF National Affairs Director Nicole Rolf. “Montana Farm Bureau has been pushing back against this rule since it was released back in 2015, for the exact reasons the court ruled it is unlawful. It expanded EPA’s jurisdiction far beyond their authority under the Clean Water Act, it disrespected state’s rights, and violated important rulemaking procedures. It’s time for full repeal and complete replacement of this illegal rule.”

“The court ruling is clear affirmation of exactly what we have been saying for the past five years,” AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen said. “The EPA badly misread Supreme Court precedent. It encroached on the traditional powers of the states and simply ignored basic principles of the Administrative Procedure Act when it issued this unlawful regulation. The court found fault with the EPA’s interpretation of some of the most basic principles of the CWA, most importantly which waters the federal government may regulate, and which waters must be left to states and municipalities.”

Jurists repeatedly criticized the EPA’s handling of the rulemaking, in particular its interpretation of the Supreme Court’s “Rapanos” decision, which laid out guidelines for determining where federal jurisdiction begins and ends.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with a coalition of groups, urges repeal and replacement of the 2015 rule to ensure clean water and clear rules.

Do you have a question about how the Federal Reserve System affects you as a business professional, community leader, student or consumer? Wondering about economic disparities, regulating big banks, or the Fed’s recent interest rate decisions?

On September 26, Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari will discuss these topics and more in Billings at MSU-Billings’ Petro Hall.

Kashkari is a member of the Federal Open Market Committee, the body of the Federal Reserve System that sets national monetary policy.

Since taking over as president of the Minneapolis Fed in January 2016, he has spearheaded several initiatives, including releasing a plan to end the too big to fail problem and launching the Federal Reserve’s Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute, housed at the Minneapolis Fed. Doors for the program will open at 11:30 am, with opening remarks by Neel Kashkari beginning at 12 pm, followed by questions and answers at 12:15, ending at 1 pm. 

Free parking for attendees is available in the Virginia Lot (located on the corner of Virginia Lane and Rimrock Road on the west end of campus).

TC Energy Corporation announced last week that the Nebraska Supreme Court has affirmed the November 2017 decision by the Nebraska Public Service Commission that approved the Keystone XL Pipeline route through the state.

The Montana Chamber of Commerce greeted the news declaring, “This is exciting news, as the Keystone XL pipeline is critical infrastructure that will enhance the energy sector in Montana and North America.” Todd O’Hair, Montana Chamber of Commerce president /CEO, stated, “In addition to providing safe, good-paying and local jobs in Montana, it will be a great economic boost for the state. We are excited to see this project continue moving forward.”

The Keystone XL section of the pipeline, is a $8 billion project that would between Alberta, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska.

Despite having gone through three major federal environmental reviews, the project has confronted delaying legal hurdles by opponents since 2008. Three more lawsuits still stand in the way of construction.

Keystone XL has permits to construct in all three states along the route, along with a presidential permit.

“The Supreme Court decision is another important step as we advance towards building this vital energy infrastructure project,” said Russ Girling, TC Energy’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We thank the thousands of government leaders, landowners, labor unions and other community partners for their continued support through this extensive review process.  It has been their unwavering support that has advanced this project to where it is today.” The pipeline would carry oil from Canada through Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, where it would connect to an existing pump station in Steele City, Nebraska. From there it would continue through Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas until it reaches Gulf Coast refineries. Business groups and some unions support the project as a way to create jobs and reduce the risk of shipping oil by trains that can derail.

The pipeline faces intense resistance from environmental groups, Native American tribes and some landowners along the route who worry about its long-term impact on their groundwater and property rights. But in Nebraska, many affected landowners have accepted the project and are eager to collect payments from the company. The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the decision of state regulators who voted in November 2017 to greenlight a route through the state. The court sided with the Nebraska Public Service Commission saying it is the agency responsible for determining which pipeline route is in the public interest, and that it did so after months of consideration. “We find there is sufficient evidence to support the PSC’s determination that the (alternative route) is in the public interest,” Justice Jeffrey Funke wrote for the court.

An attorney for the opponents said they were weighing their legal options, including a possible federal lawsuit challenging the route the PSC approved.

As the Districting and Apportionment Commission begins their work, I am encouraged by the leadership of the Commission’s presiding officer – Sheila Stearns. After speaking with her early on, I believe the Montana Supreme Court did a fine job in selecting her for this important role.

 The Commission’s work is more critical than ever. They will be tasked with drawing constitutional districts that are compact, contiguous, and as equal as practicable. In this spirit, Senate Republicans voted to support a citizenship question on the next Census. In Montana, and across the nation, Democrats have aggressively opposed this idea, whose sole purpose is to ensure the American people receive the proper representation they are entitled to under the Constitution.

 For years, Democrats have pushed the nauseating narrative that a citizenship question is racist. Citizenship is not a racist angle – it gives Montana a fair shot at receiving a second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. If we do not get a second congressional district, it will be directly attributable to Democrats wanting to give illegal aliens representation in states like California.

 Regrettably, Democrats have used this allegation with nearly all matters surrounding election security. This is yet another offensive example of the left telling their base what to think – and using their media machine to push their narrative. Liberal dark money groups have successfully positioned themselves to have their base believe just about anything.

 In May, a Rasmussen poll showed two-thirds of Democrats believe the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez faction’s assertion that we have just twelve years to fight alleged “global warming” or else there will be disastrous and irreparable damage to the country and the world. Many Democrat leaders, and their dark money financiers, are banking on this crowd to continue their opposition and to amplify their efforts to create sanctuary cities and abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). All of this underscores their aversion toward citizenship and national sovereignty.

As a rural state, the stakes could not be higher. Access to public lands, providing reliable baseload power, protecting our agriculture industry, and fighting the drugs pouring into our struggling rural and Native American communities are all on the line. A second seat in Congress would be another vote for Montana Values in the sometimes-tone-deaf halls of government in Washington, DC.


Rimrock II, LLC/Jones Construction, Inc, 4040 King Ave W, Com Addition, $1,737,080

Tande, Bradley C & Leeann/Jones, Tim O – General Contractor, 768 Fallow Ln, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $16,000

Sysco Food Services Of Montana/Centimark Corp, 1509 Monad Rd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $915,000

City Of Billings (Airport)/Larsen, G. A. Inc., 2903 Overlook Dr, Com New Other, $615,000

 Rimrock II, LLC/Jones Construction, Inc, 4040 King Ave W, Com New Parking Lot/Non-Building Structure,  $75,000

West End Commercial Properties/Jorden, Ed – General Contractor, 3737 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $40,000

NA/Jorden, Ed – General Contractor, 27 Shiloh Rd, Com Remodel, $85,000

1400 S 24th LLC/Sunleaf, Steve – General Contractor, 1400 S 24th St W, Com Remodel, $700,000

City Of Billings/Ace Electric, Inc. – Electrical Contractor, 401 S 29th St W, Com Remodel, $596,530

Helvetica Billings 27 LLC/Kenco Enterprises, Inc., 1537 Avenue D, Com Remodel, $10,000

Helvetica Billings 27 LLC/Hintt, Kevin – General Contractor, 1537 Avenue D, Com Remodel, $20,000

Sisters Of Charith Of Leavenworth/Alberts (Sr Vp/Cfo), Dave – General Contractor, 1233 N 30th St, Com Remodel,   .$2,021,342

Jay Foley Properties, L.L.C/Jones Construction, Inc, 1720 Lampman Dr, Addition, $1,515,540 

First Southern Baptist Church/Murray, Ryan – Roofing Contractor, 328 S Shiloh Rd, Roofing, $66,500

Town And Country Supply Association/ Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 2490 Gabel Rd, Roofing, $44,000

Sisters Of Charity Of Leavenwo/Bauer Construction, 44 Wicks Ln, Roofing, $32,000

Youth Dynamics Inc/Simons, Cory – General Contractor, 1250 15th St W, Roofing, $15,808

Windmill Properties Llc/Bradford Management Inc – General Contractor, 1540 13th St W, Roofing, $25,780

GMD Development Homeword, 311 Starner Ln, Remodel, $18,500

GMD Development Homeword, 305 Starner Ln, Remodel, $18,500

GMD Development Homeword, 237 Starner Ln, Remodel, $18,500

GMD Development Homeword, 231 Starner Ln, Remodel, $18,500

NA, 225 Starner Ln, Remodel, $18,500

GMD Development Homeword, 219 Starner Ln, Remodel, $18,500

GMD Development Homeword, 211 Starner Ln, Remodel, $18,500

GMD Development Homeword, 205 Starner Ln, Remodel, $18,500

Rimrock Owner Lp/Cucancic Construction Inc, 316 S 24th St W, $25,000

Sisters Of Charity Of Leavenwo/Merry, Andy – General Contractor, 1141 N 28th St, Remodel, $40,000

Sysco Food Services Of Montana/Centimark Corp, 1509 Monad Rd, Remodel, $915,00

City Of Billings/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 2801 3rd Ave N, Com Addition, $7,360,000

RPS, Llc/Ferch, Timothy – General Contractor, 2505 Montana Ave, Com Remodel, $6,500

NA/Stock Construction Company, 223 Shiloh Rd, Com Remodel, $67,900

NA/Stock Construction Company, 223 Shiloh Rd, Com Remodel, $59,001

NA/Stock Construction Company, 223 Shiloh Rd, Com Remodel, $150,000

NA/Stock Construction Company, 223 Shiloh Rd  Com Remodel, $40,000

Tru 2005 Re I Llc/Langlas & Assoc., Inc.640 S 24th St W, Com Remodel – Change In Use, $1,000,000

Western Livestock Reporter/Cop Construction Llc – General Contractor, 112 S 18th St, Demolition Permit Commercial, $36,510

Phillips 66 Company/Cop Construction Llc – General Contractor, 1910 Minnesota Ave, Demolition Permit Commercial, $285,00


Eddleman, Terri J & Robert L/Van Arsdale, Kim – General Contractor, 711 N 32nd St, Res New Garage, $43,152

NA/Mccall James, – General Contractor, 6005 Catherina Ct, Res New Garage, $41,472

Jesse Arstein/Jesse’s Old To New, 844 Governors Blvd, Res New Single Family, $326,648

Trailhead Builders Inc/Kowalski, Angela – General Contractor, 4538 Payton Trl, Res New Single Family,      $239,844

Coffin, Stacy T & Brandy J/Dirk Arnold Construction, 1121 N 32nd St, Res New Accessory Structure, $37,632

Infinity Homes/Wanner, Levi – General Contractor, 1422 Topanga Ave, Res New Single Family, $200,614

Rimrock Builders/Fuchs, Shane – General Contractor, 4642 Elk Ridge Trl, Res New Single Family, $375,000

Copper Ridge West Inc/Fortner, Lanissa – General Contractor, 7010 Copper View Way, Res New Single Family,   $313,62

Burke, Michael & Sherril F, 2101 Locust St, Res New Garage, $32,400  

Sinhold, Nikolas, 1025 Cottonwood Blvd, Res New Garage, $43,776

J & J Boyer LLC/Design Builders, Inc., 2140 S Stone Creek Trl, Res New Single Family, $343,115

Haney, Bill D & Mitzie L/Cougar Construction, 330 Annandale Rd, Res New Single Family, $476,168

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) will be constructing sidewalk along approximately 0.76 miles of Becraft Lane in Lockwood, starting Sept. 9 The project begins at the intersection of Becraft Lane and Old Hardin Road and runs east on the north side of Becraft Lane to the intersection of Becraft Lane and Noblewood Drive.

Work includes construction of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant concrete sidewalk. The purpose of the project is to provide safety and pedestrian protection that is needed in the Lockwood community.  The sidewalk on Becraft Lane will remove pedestrians from the roadway and alleviate current vehicular conflict with pedestrians.

The project is being funded with Federal Highway Administration Transportation Alternative funds and Lockwood Pedestrian Safety District funds.  The project is being constructed by Riverside Contracting, Inc.

Construction is anticipated between September 9 and November 29.  Sidewalk construction across driveways may, for a short period of time, limit access to these driveways.  An attempt will be made to coordinate this activity with homeowners.  Those using Becraft Lane should anticipate flaggers and lane shifts.

For more information, please contact Billings Construction Engineer Ted Thronson at (406) 657-0210 or Billings Engineering Project Manager Christopher Trautmann at (406)  657-0277.

Whether the TEDD in Lockwood will be able to move forward in the development of a successful industrial park is currently in doubt.

The TEDD (Targeted Economic Development District) is a tax increment finance district created to help fund the creation of a “turn –key” facility for industry to locate and expand in Yellowstone County. It is located at the intersection of Johnson Lane and Interstate Highway 89, outside the city limits of Billings.

Concern about whether the City of Billings will be able to capture property tax revenue, as the industrial park develops in the future has prompted Billings City Administrator Chris Kukulski to insist that property owners within the TEDD waive their right to protest any future annexation proposal, before agreeing to expand the boundaries of the Lockwood Water and Sewer District. Acquiring water and sewer service will be essential to facilitate the success of the industrial park, which therefore necessitates expanding district boundaries to include it.

Property owners are refusing to relinquish their protest rights, which leaves the future prospects for the TEDD uncertain, according to Woody Woods, a member of the TEDD Advisory Board. Woods explained the situation in a report to county commissioners about the next year’s work plan for the TEDD.

Woods told the commissioners that the TEDD Advisory Board will be sending them a formal letter expressing their concerns and asking that they take up the matter with the city. The County Commissioners hold the ultimate authority in administering the TEDD.

Formation of the TEDD / industrial park was spearheaded by Big Sky Economic Development in a process that began some three years ago. The project was initiated by BSED following a feasibility study which identified the need for an industrial park in Yellowstone County that would provide the infrastructure that would give potential new industry the ability to locate quickly and easily in the Billings area.

The Lockwood site was identified as the best prospect for such development, located as it is with easy access to transportation such as the railroad and the interstate, as well as utilities. The proposed Billings bypass which will begin construction this fall will advance construction over the next two years to pass through the TEDD.

The development plan for the industrial park is dependent upon the LWSD expanding its boundaries to include it within its service area. However, the Lockwood Water and Sewer District has an agreement for sewage treatment with the City of Billings that requires city approval to expand the district’s boundaries.

Under that agreement the Lockwood sewer district pays the city for sewage treatment based upon the level of use, and in addition the district pays the city a monthly reserve capacity fee for potential future expansion. That fee has fluctuated since the agreement went into effect in 2008, but is currently $21,491 a month, plus a monthly surcharge of six percent, which brings the total monthly payment to about $23,000.

In a conversation the county commissioners had with Kukulski a couple months ago, they posed a unified front in opposing the idea of annexation.

Woods said that the BSED will also be sending a letter to the City Council expressing their opposition to  efforts to force the property owners to accept future annexation.

Several years ago the City of Billings declined the idea of annexing Lockwood after conducting an assessment of the costs involved to bring its infrastructure up to standards. City officials at that time said the expense would greatly exceed any potential tax revenues they would receive from Lockwood property taxes.

County Commissioner John Ostlund replied to Woody Woods that “it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to incorporate industrial properties into the city because it takes away the opportunity to recruit business to develop in areas of lower taxes. If they are going to do that, what is the point of having a TEDD?”

He said there is a reason that the state legislature exempted industrial properties from forced annexation into cities.

In something of a déjà vu, renovations have begun on the former Evergreen IGA grocery store at 1540 13th St West, to convert it into a new King’s Ace Hardware Store. It will be owner Skip King’s sixth store in the Billings area.

But having a hardware store in mid-town Billings, is not a new idea. In the early 60s, the Odegaard family operated, quite successfully, a hardware store at the same location. King believes a need for a hardware store to serve that neighborhood still exists and he has set aside other business plans, so as not to lose an opportunity to locate a hardware store there. “We are excited to build on a traditional legacy, and to be a part of that community,” said King.

Recognizing that people who live in the heavy residential area between Grand Avenue and the Rims must travel some distance to get to a hardware store, King had long contemplated the idea of locating a store in the area. When he had an inkling that the IGA store might be closing, he initiated negotiations to lease the building. The plan fell into place so quickly and easily, King said he was left asking himself “what have I done,” because it hadn’t really been part of his immediate plans. He is enthusiastically forging ahead, however, with the goal of being able to open the store in February.

To open Evergreen King’s Ace Hardware in time for the spring growing season is important because the new store will feature an extensive lawn and garden center.

With some 34,000 square feet, the store will end up being the largest King’s Ace Hardware store.  It will certainly have the largest parking lot.

Evergreen King’s Ace Hardware will be similar to the Zimmerman Trail store – a full service hardware store, but also featuring a Hallmark gift store and a Montana-made boutique. It will also have a huge pet department, outdoor power equipment, a “big grilling and patio section”, with space to spare, about which King said, “we are going to grow into the space.”

Contractors are currently removing the cabinets and flooring, and will soon be installing new flooring, new doors, a new roof and a new HVAC unit. Painting will start in a couple of weeks and new LED lights will be installed. Signs have been ordered and will go up as soon as they arrive. The parking lot will be crack seal and coated.  Merchandising will begin in December.

In the meantime eight employees for the new store have already been hired. Mike Albertson has been named store manager and the assistant manager will be Tyler Powers.

The store will employ a total of some 20 to 25 people, who will be trained and ready to go at the opening. One of the advantages of having other stores, said King, is that employees can be training in advance.

Said King about his business, “I want to be the best hardware store we possibly can be. Our business model at Ace is to have good help and to be helpful to our customers. We live by that, because there are too many other places people can go. We have to be helpful.”

 King announced that the company’s store at 4170 State Avenue has been undergoing extensive renovation this summer and is nearing completion. They have doubled the size of the parking lot, modernized it and added another register – and “it’s stuffed full of inventory.”

Next year the Laurel King Ace Hardware Store will be remodeled. “Laurel is growing too,” said King.

By Evelyn Pyburn

Have you noticed how as soon as the true meaning catches up with some terms or words, the wording gets changed? There are dozens of words that were perfectly good terms at one point in time, and not only do they get changed but sometimes it becomes anathema to continue to use the old term.

Terms that have changed are things like employees becoming “associates”  or “staff”.  Now its  “team members” and a supervisor or boss becomes a “team leader.” One has to surmise that that change is to try to give stature to people who somehow felt being an employee or to be gainfully employed is demeaning, and at the same time it assuages any inner unease they might have about being a responsible individual, and affirming that they are part of a cozy collective.

No one is a sales person any more, they are marketing specialists or advisors or consultants. Heaven forbid that someone should actually “sell” something, it’s more socially acceptable to steal things than to persuade people to purchase. And, yet it is, that there isn’t a company out there who wouldn’t give their eye-teeth for a good salesperson. No one has a more guaranteed career path than a good salesperson – um, I mean, marketing specialist.

“Profitable” has come to be called “sustainable.” That name change is perfectly understandable in a day when capitalism has become the evil and yet making money is still the goal. The contradiction is missed by such politically correct individuals. There has emerged a lot of enterprises (wouldn’t want to call them businesses because they don’t like that term either), that refer to a customer’s payment for their service or product as a “contribution” – so painful it is, for them to come to terms with the necessity of making a profit to remain a functioning entity (again, not to be called a business). One can be assured when encountering anyone in BUSINESS who cannot come to terms with the reality of what they are doing – who accept contributions for the community service performed by their team in order to be sustainable – be assured they will not long be in “business” because their avoidance of reality will inevitably lead them to make serious errors in the daily decision-making that “business” requires.

But for all these instances of re-labeling – and there are many more, many which have nothing to do with business – there is a new one which is simply delightful. For the first time this week I encountered the term “social entrepreneurs.”

This is most surely a case of latching onto a term that has suddenly become more politically acceptable than ever before and very much in vogue. “Entrepreneur.” Business startups have always… ALWAYS … been vital to a strong and vibrant economy – but suddenly the fact has been discovered by the intellectually elite, and they are so excited about it, they are promoting it in every way. Not to take away from that, at all — because it really is a wonderful development, and it should be encouraged as much as possible, for as long as possible, because the day is surely coming when they will discover that entrepreneurs really do expect to make a profit and the gig will be up; but in the meantime this is a serendipitous moment to be enjoyed. 

But really! “social entrepreneur” sounds for all the world like “community organizer,” which of course was another surrogate term coined in place of the more accurate ,“political activist.”

I could be wrong, but giving me confidence that that is exactly what is meant, in the same paragraph that that term is used, it was further stated, “…and other changemakers (who) … launch new, innovative social change projects.”

I’m just saying…

Alter Ego will be the headline entertainment at the Billings Clinic Foundation’s Street Party on Broadway Ave. for the 2019 Billings Clinic Classic, Saturday, Aug. 24. The theme of this year is Urban Classic, playing on the street party setting and classic downtown Billings elements. Proceeds benefit the Sustainable Fund for the Psychiatric Services Residency Program at Billings Clinic, Montana’s first and only psychiatry residency program. Alter Ego, from Montreal, Canada, is North America’s top party band.  Kicking off the evening will be Arterial Drive, a six-member band from Billings, who will perform during a festive cocktail pre-party. The 2019 Classic will be held outside on Broadway Ave., between 3rd Avenue North and 4th Avenue North. Billings Clinic Classic tickets range in price from $100-$200.

Registration is now open for the 16th Annual Young Ag Leadership Conference (YALC)! The conference is set for October 4-6 at the Copper King Convention Center in Butte. YALC is a collaborative effort between nine of Montana’s agricultural organizations, offering attendees a chance to discuss current ag issues, take part in various workshops, meet with industry leaders, and network with fellow young people. Anyone aged 18-40 and interested or involved in agriculture is encouraged to attend. The cost of registration is $50 including all meals provided. After the pre-registration date of September 25, fees increase to $60. To register, go to   and search Young Ag Leadership Conference.  Contact Leah Johnson at (406) 733-2079 or for questions.