All of the 52 six-pane windows at Sperry’s Chalet at Lake McDonald Lodge at Glacier National Park are installed. The  interior walls and doors are stained a rich chocolate brow and it looks like the construction crews will meet their goal of wrapping up the rebuilding of the historic dormitory before the snow sets in.

Results from a water-quality sampling project on the Kootenai River indicate there are elevated levels of selenium in water and fish tissue and elevated nitrates in the water. Findings the United States Environmental Protection Agency says are caused by upstream mining sources in Canada’s Elk Valley and at Lake Koocanusa. The study  is based on water chemistry and fish tissue samples taken on the river in Montana and Idaho. Aside from looking at chemical levels in the water, the study evaluated 142 fish for selenium and mercury as well.

Sarah Davis has been named the first female chief ranger in Yellowstone National Park’s history and the 18th chief ranger to manage the Park for the National Park Service. Davis will start in her new job in December.  Davis, whose official title is Chief of Resource and Visitor Protection, is a 20-year NPS veteran. She currently is the chief ranger at Natchez Trace Parkway. In her new job Davis  will manage more than 275 employees.  

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall will headline the 100th Montana Farm Bureau Convention. Duvall plans to attend the entire convention, allowing him time to network with members and provide updates on national ag issues. The Convention will be held November 11-14 at the DoubleTree

Reports released by Montana State University’s Montana Manufacturing Extension Center highlight the strength of Montana’s manufacturing sector.  According to the report, manufacturing was equal to tourism and ahead of mining and farming in statewide earnings in 2018. The petroleum and coal sector accounted for the largest share of these earnings, followed by wood products. The fastest-growing sector, meanwhile, was “beverages and tobacco.”

406 Brewing Company is moving to a larger facility on East Main Street in Manhattan. The business will move into a 7,000 plus -square-foot space. 406 Brewing Company is best known for a few specialty mainstays, including Hop Punch IPA, Putin’s Revenge Imperial Stout, Big Blonde Ale, and Jamber Ale. 406 might be able to offer barrel-aged beer. The larger building also will enable the business to purchase more tanks, a canning line and the keg line.

Owner Robin Chopus has sold the Emerson Grill in Bozeman. It will close at the end of October. The fine-dining, Italian food restaurant and catering business opened in 2005 and sources food from local producers.

Town Pump Charitable Foundation is matching $750,000 in contributions during its 18th annual fundraising campaign for food banks across Montana. A record-setting 85 food banks are participating in the statewide “Be A Friend in Deed, Helping Those in Need” campaign this year. The campaign has raised about $33 million for Montana food banks in 17 years, including about $6.25 million in matching grants from the Town Pump Charitable Foundation. Donations are being collected at local Town Pumps, Lucky Lil’s, Montana Lil’s and Magic Diamond casinos.

On behalf of the state of Montana, Attorney General Tim Fox is petitioning federal district court in Great Falls to intervene on behalf of the defendant in a lawsuit that seeks to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipeline, which will begin in Alberta and connect to an existing pipeline in Nebraska, will run through Phillips, Valley, McCone, Dawson, Prairie, and Fallon Counties in Montana.

The Montana Department of Transportation announced that it is seeking public comment on a proposal to mill and overlay 8.5 miles of US-191, west of Roy, Montana. The proposed project begins 8.5 miles west of Roy, and extends east for 8.4 miles. The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in 2021, depending on completion of all project development activities and availability of funding.

MDU Resources Group, Inc. has acquired the assets of Pride Electric, Inc., an electrical construction company in Redmond, Washington. Founded in 1993, Pride Electric provides high-end commercial, industrial and tenant improvement electrical construction, along with tele-data and security system installation. “Pride Electric will provide complementary electrical services in Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond,” said David L. Goodin, president and CEO of MDU Resources. Pride Electric will be operated as a division of OEG, Inc., which is a subsidiary of MDU Construction Services Group.

Next March Lewis and Clark County is planning to separate from PureView Health Center. PureView will become the employer of 63 former county employees because of the disassociation, which means they will no longer be members of the Montana Public Employees union. Since any organization that separates from the union must pay the total of the unfunded liability that would have been paid in the future to cover the organization’s commitments, Lewis and County will face a payment of up to $5 million.

The Missoula County Airport Authority is now seeking proposals from concessionaires that are interested and capable of providing service  in its new terminal. Proposals are due in mid-December and the board is expected to reach a recommendation in February. The airport currently holds a beer and wine license that also comes with a gaming license. The airport will likely lease the beer and wine license to the winning bidder. The board hasn’t decided whether the gaming license will be included

Kaiser Health News reported that Medicare has cut payments to nine Montana hospitals as part of a federal program aimed at incentivizing hospitals to reduce how many patients return for a second stay. That’s the most Montana hospitals that have been penalized in one year. 14 Montana hospitals were evaluated by the feds.

A Belgrade-based company says they are set to become the leading company in water-scooping aircraft in America.. Bridger Aerospace will receive their first two CL-415 Enhanced Aerial Firefighter (EAF) airframes, which are used to gather water to dump on and suppress wildfires, in time for next year’s 2020 fire season. Four more scooper planes will join the company’s fleet over the following two years. The company is already a leader in aerial firefighting nationwide and a major force for aerial tracking and suppression of wildfires. Bridger Aerospace Chief Operating Officer Darren Wilkins says the acquisition of the airframes is an important move not only for the company, but for firefighting nationwide. Wilkins pointed out that Bridger Aerospace’s six new scooper planes will help build the American fleet size for aircrafts that drop water, since there aren’t many water scoopers in use in the U.S.

The first flight landed at the new $275 million Williston Basin International Airport at its opening on Oct. 10. It replaces Sloulin Field, which served as Williston’s airport for nearly 60 years. 

North Dakota’s taxable sales and purchases for the second quarter of 2019 are up nearly 8.4%. Second quarter taxable sales and purchases were up 6.34% in Williston and 6.09% in Williams County. Williams County’s taxable sales and purchases rose from $423,659,194 in 2018 to $449,451,615 in 2019 while Williston’s increased from $402,042,984 to $427,535,297.

The First National Bank and Trust Co. of Williston  will be converting to a state chartered financial institution.  The bank currently operates branches in Williston, Crosby and Ray. As part of the conversion process, the bank will be rebranded as First State Bank & Trust, pending regulatory approval. 

Since 2012, Montana’s state liability system has improved from 45th in the country to 7th overall this year, according to a biennial report released by the Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The ILR recently released its 2019 Lawsuit Climate Survey, which included its ranking of the states. Montana ranked higher than Idaho and South Dakota, but was ranked below Wyoming (No. 4) and North Dakota (No. 6). Moving up 20 spots since the 2017 survey, Montana experienced the largest jump of any state.

“We are excited about Montana’s rise in this legal environment ranking,” said Bridger Mahlum, government relations director of the Montana Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a reflection of our work to achieve a legal system that consistently follows the rule of law. The Montana Chamber will continue to serve as a leading voice in this policy arena for years to come.”

The Montana Chamber and its Justice Coalition have delivered positive results for the state’s legal climate that influenced this ranking. Recent victories for justice include the passage of legislation to amend judgement interest laws, in addition to the Montana Chamber’s participation as an amicus party in the landmark BNSF v Tyrrell decision.

According to the ILR survey, 89 percent of respondents reported that a state’s litigation environment is likely to impact business decisions such as where to locate or do business. Survey respondents evaluate each state based on overall treatment of tort litigation, damages, venue enforcement, and more. Montana now ranks among the top five legal climates for damages, proportional discovery, and scientific and technical evidence.

The survey, based on feedback from general counsel, senior litigators/attorneys, and senior executives, reflects the attractiveness of each state’s legal climate when it comes to conducting business.

Billings was ranked as the #4 medium city where Americans are most likely to start a new business, according to a new AdvisorSmith study.

Billings had 3.8 new businesses started per 1000 people, which was 65% above the national average.

Billings ranked #6 nationwide, beating out Great Falls (#23), Lewiston, ID (#25), and Boise, ID (#28).

There were approximately 5400 businesses in Billings with at least 1 employee.

The top medium cities for new business starts were:

  1. Boulder, CO
  2. Coeur d’Alene, ID
  3. St. George, UT
  4. Billings, MT
  5. Bend, OR
  6. Bellingham, WA
  7. Naples, FL
  8. Barnstable Town, MA
  9. Wilmington, NC
  10. Midland, TX  

After work, tonight, take a walk – around your neighborhood or through a nearby park. It’s a simple way to claim your neighborhood and discourage mischief, vagrancy, and crime.

Unused neighborhoods can easily become targets for mischief makers. Vacated or empty areas that become overrun by criminals or vagrants can be reclaimed by citizens simply by using and caring for them. Such responsibility falls to everyone in a community, residential or business.

Some years ago there was a neighborhood park that had been taken over by hoodlums who hung out destroying property, threatening and even attacking lone wayfarers. By the time cops arrived the culprits were gone. Nothing seemed to be resolving the problem, until people in the neighborhood decided to make a statement. Large numbers of them just simply began walking around the park. They spent time visiting and getting acquainted, and in general disrupting the sense of anonymity or invisibility that the vagrants and trouble makers had come to count on. Suddenly it was not an empty unclaimed space, but a neighborhood park which was unconducive to criminal activity.

Such is essentially the bases of the strategy that city leaders are pursuing to improve the level of safety in Billings. It’s an approach that costs very little, if anything; and everyone can play a role.

As one businessman explained, at a public meeting that was hugely attended by concerned citizens, it has been easy and inexpensive for him to make a difference around his place of business – – a place that, at first, he thought was just fine. Taking a critical look at it at night and walking around himself, he realized improvements could be made. He has made changes and can already see a difference.  What he did amounted to little more than cleaning and sprucing up the perimeters and extensively improving lighting. If every property owner did the same, the difference would be dramatic.

But it is more than just business owners. Residents in their neighborhoods can and should do much the same.

Walk around your property during the day and at night, asking yourself what could be done to make it look like someone is aware and what would make it is safer.

Remove any trash, and as much as possible items that create clutter or that seem to say, “no one cares about this place.” And, understand that it isn’t just your property that makes a difference, but that of the entire neighborhood, so pick up the trash at the corner of the block, too.

Keep windows clean and uncluttered  to improve visibility.

Keep weeds cut down, trim shrubbery along fences and around buildings. Remove weeds from planters and perhaps (here’s a novel idea) plant planters with plants. Remember, unattended planters outside of a business, and weeds in boulevards or in corners, convey a message to customers, as well as mischief makers. What message does the exterior of your property convey not just to villains, but maybe prospective customers, as well?

Replace burned out bulbs and if necessary increase outdoor lighting to discourage people seeking an opportunity to obscure themselves, and to allow good visibility for passersby and yourself.

Walk frequently throughout your neighborhood to get acquainted with what is normal, so as to be able to easily spot something that is out-of-place or suspicious.

Get acquainted with your neighbors. Explain to them what you are doing and why. It may encourage others to do the same.

Who knows it may all become an enjoyable experience, and for businesses, it might even improve business.

Take advantage of the Chamber’s offer to have a free Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) assessment done of your property.

There may be more to be achieved by this kind of community engagement than just crime prevention.