Nelson’s Ace Hardware of Whitefish is celebrating 75 years in business. The family broke ground for a new location in July 2018 and opened the doors in March 2019 on US Highway 93. Ace Handyman is a new service that began operating in October.
The Lucia de Brito Franco Art Gallery has opened in Columbia Falls. The Gallery is located at 638 Nucleus Avenue, Suite 103. It contains the works of de Brito Franco but also that of local artists. De Brito Franco has displayed work in Portugal, the Azores and Switzerland.
Café Zydeco is for sale as its owner looks to move on from his 25-year career at the restaurant. Listed for sale last spring the cafe’s owners hope to sell the property and the business for close to $3 million. Café Zydeco’s menu features a variety of Cajun-style items.
NorthWestern Energy customers will see rate increases in January. Montana’s Public Service Commission voted unanimously to allow NorthWestern the opportunity to recover $2.9 million under terms approved by commissioners last fall. At issue is the $208 million base cost used to determine whether customers have paid too much, or too little for power over the previous year.
Restaurateurs Shadd and Amanda Cullinan have finalized the purchase of Sidney’s Rodiron Grill at 520 N. Central Ave., completing the sale on Dec. 14. Soon thereafter the crowds formed a line waiting in anticipation of trying restaurant’s menu. Renamed Saloon 27, owner Shadd Cullinan, expects to supply great service with quality food.
Williston Basin International Airport has recorded an almost 32% increase in boardings during last month compared to a year ago. According to statistics provided by the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, the airport saw 8,461 enplanes in November 2023, up 2,041 passengers from the 6,420 enplanements recorded in November 2022. 8,030 passengers deplaned up from the 6,011 number of passengers who deplaned in November 2022.
After years of new arrivals swelling Montana’s population and straining its housing supply, new data released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the volume of net migration into the state has declined. As of July 1, 2023, the agency estimates Montana had 1,132,800 residents. That’s about 9,900 more than a year prior, or a 0.9% increase. Data published by the Census Bureau estimates that, as of July 2023, Montana had about 527,800 housing units — one potential home for every 2.1 residents. Since the 2020 census, however, the agency’s figures indicate Montana’s housing supply has grown by a comparatively slim 13,000 units, adding only one home for every 3.7 residents of population growth.
The Teton Airport Commission has signed a five-year lease with Scapegoat Aviation L.L.C. of Choteau to operate a fixed-base operation at the Choteau airport. Scapegoat Aviation’s owners are Ben and Chrissy Hodgskiss and Bill and Heather Hodgskiss. Scapegoat Aviation approached the Airport Commission last fall with a proposal to lease property at the airport for the operation of an aviation-based business that will provide initially jet fuel and aviation fuel sales, hangar and ramp rental.
A ballot initiative to change how elections are won in Montana to a majority vote system is a step closer to appearing on the ballot. Legislators took a 9-1 vote to support the proposed change in a special State Administration and Veterans’ Affairs Interim Committee meeting. Proponents now need to gather enough signatures for the issue to go to the voters this November. Some committee members expressed concern about what they see as lack of clarity in some of the definitions– including to which elections this Constitutional amendment would apply.
The Heart Butte School Board is set to terminate 31 staff members at an upcoming meeting next week likely in order to cut district costs. The board will also decide whether to accept five resignations. Terminations include 11 teacher’s assistants, two mental health professionals, a substitute art teacher, the sub-administrative secretary, a truancy officer and 15 custodial, maintenance and kitchen staff members. Resignations include two teachers, the athletic director, a truancy officer and Augare.
Starting Feb. 5, the U.S. Postal Service will be delivering the Great Falls Tribune as part of an effort to improve delivery consistency and optimize resources amid ongoing labor challenges, fluctuating fuel prices, competition for workers from door-to-door delivery services and increasing digital demand. The Great Falls Tribune will continue its coverage of local news, high school sports and other issues of interest to Cascade County readers from our journalists based in Great Falls and state partners.
According to a press release from the Williston Fire Department, they received an initial report of an explosion at a site with multiple injuries and dispatched at 6:11 p.m. The site was located southeast of 13 Mile Corner at the intersection of 131st Avenue NW and 62nd Street NW. The fire department responded to the scene. There, it was determined there were five workers present, with three sustaining injuries. The three injured parties sustained burns and were transferred by fixed-wing air medical services to Swedish Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado.
Hoping to preserve dwindling native bull trout populations, state wildlife officials are looking to remove lake trout from Swan Lake. Bull trout, which are native to the valley, have struggled since the introduction of invasive species like lake trout, rainbow trout and mysis shrimp in the region. The decision to develop a plan to remove lake trout came after state biologists observed a historically low number of bull trout redds, or spawning nests, in the Swan’s watershed system in 2023. The first step, which residents can comment on until Jan. 23, requires seeking the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s permission to initiate a public MEPA process where the removal of lake trout from Swan Lake will be evaluated.
According to Coal Zoom, Federal mine regulators have rejected a “citizen’s complaint” concerning state regulation of the Signal Peak Energy’s Bull Mountain Mine near Roundup. The complaint is a request for intervention, filed by Northern Plains Resource Council, Moms Clean Air Force, Montana Environmental Information Center, 350 Montana, Citizens for Clean Energy, Families for a Livable Climate, Montana Health Professionals, Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians. The groups asked the OSM to inspect the mine or require DEQ to open the mine to public inspections.
Talks of consolidating Glendive City Court with the Dawson County Justice of the Peace have entered the sphere of the Dawson County Commission, as Mayor Deb Dion was present at its first meeting of 2024 to provide information regarding the effort. According to Dion, consolidating the courts and authorizing Justice of the Peace Stacey Nerison to preside over all respective hearings is one way the City of Glendive and Dawson County could potentially save money and resources. The idea to consolidate courts was first introduced by Dion during the meeting of the City of Glendive’s Ordinance Committee on Dec. 20, where she explained reasons for considering a consolidation of courts stem from a need to free up funds for better animal control in Glendive, at least within the city’s limits.
A low snow year is impacting local businesses and tourism to Yellowstone National Park, with the park temporarily barring some roads to snowmobile travel due to the lack of snow. The park’s winter season kicked off on Dec. 15 with a limited coating of snow on the roads but still enough to allow for snowmobile travel. But on Dec. 27, the park closed roads in the west side of the park to snowmobiling, specifically the popular 30-mile route from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful.
Take 5 Oil Change has opened at 52 N. Main St. in Kalispell. The opening marks the first of eight planned stores within Montana, currently making Last Best Oil Change, LLC the exclusive operator of Take 5 Oil Change garages in the Treasure State.
With a new $26.7 million grant from the U.S. Air Force, Montana State University will establish a facility with the mission of moving advanced quantum technology applications in cybersecurity, communications technology and national defense from concept and testing to market. The 20-month grant from the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, New York, will support MSU’s Applied Quantum CORE facility, to be located within the INDUSTRY Bozeman building, which is currently under construction. The grant funding will purchase equipment to test prototype quantum components in the extremely cold environments in which they operate.
Construction of the Great Falls Civic Center is nearly finished, following three years of construction. The original infrastructure was built in the 1930s and a recent $5.7 mil investment will help preserve the civic center for decades to come, say officials.
Leavitt Great West Insurance, with office locations across Montana and an affiliate of the national brokerage firm, Leavitt Group announced a recent role transition at their Helena office. Shelby Dangerfield, who has been with Leavitt Great West for over a year recently transitioned into the new role of commercial insurance advisor.
Doralyn Rossmann, a longtime faculty member in the Montana State University Library who has been serving as the library’s interim dean since August 2022, has been selected as the library’s new dean after a national search.
Montana has submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for funding to build a sixth cottage at the Southwest Montana Veterans Home (SWMVH) in Butte. The SWMVH is a licensed and certified skilled nursing facility with five, 12-bedroom cottages currently home to 44 veterans and their spouses. A sixth cottage will increase the facility’s maximum capacity to 72 veterans. In its application to the VA State Home Construction Grant Program, DPHHS requested the sixth cottage, estimated at $5.7 million, be paid for with 65% federal funds and 35% state dollars. The governor secured $2 million in state dollars for the project.
The University of Montana Western was recently recognized as the #1 best college in Montana by BestColleges.com. The rankings take into account affordability, enrollment, retention, and graduation rates.
Bozeman Health has named Billings physician Dr. Chris Spoja as the health care system’s new chief medical officer. A Helena native Spoja currently serves as the chief medical officer of Inpatient Services at Intermountain Healthcare in Billings. In his new role Spoja will facilitate clinical affairs with physician and lead administrative leadership across the health system. Spoja will begin his new role on Jan. 2, 2024.
Curt Rasmussen of Conrad was named the Northern Rodeo Association’s Announcer of the Year for 2023 recently. Rasmussen is the third generation of his family to become an award-winning rodeo announcer, following in the footsteps of his father, Will Rasmussen now of Salmon, Idaho, and his grandfather, Stan Rasmussen of Choteau. Curt Rasmussen lives and works in Conrad as a truck driver.
Teton County’s unemployment rate as of Sept. 30 stood at just 2.6% with 2,677 workers in the county, which lost 32 jobs over the past year, according to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. Teton County ranked 32nd among the state’s 56 counties for its unemployment rate, tying with Flathead, Pondera and Ravalli counties. Gianforte recently announced that Montana reached its 23rd consecutive month of unemployment below 3%.
Among other things, the EPA is critizing the clean up plan for the Clark Fork River by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the state’s Natural Resource Damage Program. The EPA found fault with plans to leave more wastes in place along the river because of budget constraints.
The Missoula Valley Winter Market opened in the Southgate Mall on Saturday, Nov. 11. near the indoor entrance to Scheels. The market’s hours are 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. through Dec. 30. There will be over 40 local vendors selling food, beverages, arts and crafts.
A new Mexican restaurant is in the process of opening at Missoula’s Southgate Mall. The team from the Pangea restaurant in downtown Missoula plans to open the new restaurant, called Elote, in the old Red Robin restaurant space. Opening is scheduled for March of 2024. They’re hiring both full- and part-time employees.
A Norwegian battery materials company that secured local tax breaks. The company has announced that it could be months longer before it chooses Butte, or a city in Washington state or Oregon as the site of its factory. Butte-Silver Bow commissioners approved millions of dollars in tax abatements for Cenate in June. Cenate — pronounced Sin-NAH-Tah — is developing silicon-based materials for higher-density batteries with faster and longer-lasting charges. Cenate says it would employ 100 to 250 people here and county officials estimate annual pay for the first 100 jobs at about $70,000, based on the job mix and average wages for such positions in southwest Montana.
The median home in Cascade County listed for $404,000 in October, down 10.2% from the previous month’s $450,000. Compared to October 2022, the median home list price decreased 7.2% from $435,500. These statistics pertain to houses listed for sale in Cascade County, not houses that were sold.
When the pandemic hit, Andrew Fountain began looking for a project he could do from home. Fountain began counting glaciers. Fountain, a geology professor emeritus at Portland State University, and research assistant Bryce Glenn have released a revised inventory of glaciers in the American West that will soon be added to the U.S. Geological Survey’s national map. The new inventory by Fountain and Glenn shows that 52 of the 612 officially named glaciers are no longer glaciers because they are either too small, no longer moving or have disappeared altogether. In Montana, six named glaciers have been added to the “missing” list.
Fountain said their effort focused on the named glaciers across the western half of the continental United States because those were the most culturally significant. However, their inventory found that since the mid-20th century — about the time the USGS first started mapping the entire country — about 360 glaciers have either disappeared or become permanent snowfields. Fountain said the disappearance of glaciers shows just how much climate change is impacting the landscape across the American West.
Bozeman, home of Montana State University, has been named the No. 3 college town in America, according to the website BestColleges.com. The ranking points to the growth in the city’s population and the campus enrollment in recent years, “which means a bustling downtown and campus.” The ranking also notes the nearby natural amenities as key to making Bozeman a “paradise for outdoorsy students.” MSU’s enrollment set an all-time record this fall at 16,978, making it the largest university in Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. Its incoming class was the third largest in history at 3,634.
Montana ranks #7 in the nation for interest in homeschooling (1.58 per 100,000 residents), according to Age of Learning. are
Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission has voted to approve the acquisition of a new wildlife management area proposed for the Lower Yellowstone River. The Wildcat Bend Wildlife Management Area is located in Rosebud County. The property is about 2.5 miles downstream from the Far West Fishing Access Site east of Forsyth. It is a 328 acre site
The Missoula Airport has announced that Sun Country Airlines, will make its debut on June 26, 2024. The airline will offer nonstop flights to their Minneapolis/St. Paul hub twice a week, every Wednesday and Saturday, until late August.
Mazevo Coffee is constructing a 1,614-square-foot building that will be located at 2500 Brooks Street in Missoula. This will be the 6th Mazevo Coffee location in Montana.
Sun Country Airlines is also coming to the Billings Logan International Airport with new seasonal air service to Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Sun Country is a Minneapolis-based airline known for providing affordable travel options. Beginning in June, passengers can book Sun Country flights between Billings and Minneapolis-Saint Paul on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The complete renovation and rebuild of the iconic Wagon Wheel Bar in Choteau is nearing completion with the opening coming soon, The new “Wagon Wheel Bar and Grill” will feature a full-service bar and restaurant.
The Gallatin County Commissioners recently approved a dormitory-style employee housing building in Big Sky. The Powder Light Subdivision will have another residential building for affordable employee housing at Big Sky. The new structure will offer 12 residential units and one commercial space.
Montana’s Trail to the Stars, a project that guides visitors to sites where they can view the night skies, has received a national award for collaboration. Montana’s Trail to the Stars won the Excellence in Tourism Collaboration Award, presented at the 2023 National Extension Tourism Conference.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus was first detected in wild birds and domestic poultry in Montana in spring 2022. While HPAI cases in wild birds declined over the summer, but it has been detected in some parts of Montana this fall. HPAI viruses are extremely infectious and fatal to poultry and some species of wild birds. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is testing wild birds that display symptoms
Despite an even broader reservation system in 2023, visitation to Glacier National Park is up over last year. Overall visitation through August was 2.249 million, which is an increase of 1.7% over last year.
In 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were 48,165 new residents that moved to Montana from other places, an 8.1% increase from the 44,531 new residents that came in 2021. Washington topped the list of states where new Montana residents came from in 2022. Montana also lost 38,483 people to other states in 2022, for a net population gain of less than 10,000.
The sting of high natural gas prices to heat your home over the past two winters is expected to ease for the upcoming heating season, which runs November through March. Montana-Dakota Utilities anticipates natural gas prices to be about 30 percent less than last winter. The company projects that the average residential customer will pay about $450 for the five-month winter season, or $90 a month; that is down about $200 from last winter, or a decrease of $40 a month.
Fire was discovered at the historic Jordan Inn property in downtown Glendive last week with the Dawson County Dispatch Center receiving a call at approximately 10 p.m. The Glendive Fire Department determiend that the entire 3 story building was compromised. The Jordan Inn had been condemned for 10 years, and was shuttered since 2013.
Jessie and Kyna Williams haved opened Switchback CrossFit gym at 33 Second Avemue East in Kalispell. The building was previously an abandoned truck repair shop.
Montana has a new draft plan to guide its management of wolves, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has announced. The Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan drafted by FWP would replace the 20-year-old document that’s guided Montana’s approach to managing wolves since 2011. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks will be taking comments on the plan through Dec. 19 and is hosting a series of meetings around the state to answer questions related to the plan starting Dec. 7. The plan can be found at https://fwp.mt.gov/wolfproposal
Missoula City Council and Missoula County Commissioners have each allocated $1 million toward the acquisition of Marshall Mountain, a former ski area and now popular recreational area in Missoula County. The property is being sold for $3.2 million. The area is expected to serve backcountry skiing and other year-round recreation.
Williston, ND has been awarded the 2027 14-year-old Babe Ruth World Series to be held at Ardean Aafedt Stadium. This will be the sixth time that Williston has hosted the series.
Gov. Greg Gianforte presented his annual Forest Products Award to J. Shar Timber Harvesting, a family-owned and operated cut-to-length timber enhancement company in Libby. J. Shar, Timber Harvesting sustainably harvests timber using tethered logging equipment. The Forest Products Award recognizes an outstanding person or entity for their work to actively manage Montana forests, responsibly develop forested resources.
A regional seed sales company operating in North Dakota and Montana is taking the first step towards developing a seed-crushing plant in northwest North Dakota. Buckshot Seeds was recently awarded grant funding from local government to do a feasability study. Buckshot Co-Owner Mark Erickson said the plant would mainly crush canola, creating a high-quality feed for cattle. The oil produced from the crushed canola would be sent to overseas fish farms, which are in high demand.
The Young Automotive Group held a grand opening for Young Mazda Missoula dealership. Young Automotive Group president Spencer Young Jr. said. “Our group is new to Montana and the city of Missoula.” It was previously Flanagan Motors Mazda.
Nicholas Lynn is the current owner of Montana Action Paintball in Kalispell. Lynn built a new facility in 2020. Montana Action Paintball hopes to find an indoor space for foam-based weaponry battles or paintball using rubber paintballsduring bad weather.
The Fish Consumption Advisory Board has issued a consumption advisory on all fish species in the Yellowstone River from Indian Fort Fishing Access Site near Reed Point to the Highway 212 bridge in Laurel. That stretch of the river is near the site of the June 24 train derailment.
Stack Financial Management of Whitefish was ranked No. 72 in the 2023 CNBC Financial Advisor 100. In assembling this list, CNBC considers the firm’s number of years in business, compliance record, number of investment advisors registered, and assets under management. Stack Financial Management manages over $1.8 billion in assets for individuals and businesses across the U.S.
Blackfoot Communications, Missoula, announced the completion of a project to install over 380 miles of fiber optic cable on the Flathead Reservation in the St. Ignatius area. The project, begun in 2018, cost over $11 million. Nearly 1,000 locations throughout the St. Ignatius area are now served by high-speed fiber optic cable. The company is also building out fiber networks in Thompson Falls, Plains, Philipsburg and Georgetown Lake, with other areas in the planning phases.
The New York Times published its annual list of its 50 most intriguing restaurants. Campione, located on Main Street in Livingston was on the list. Campione’s was the only eating establishment in Montana to make the list.
As a part of continued efforts to lower costs to reliable air service for rural communities, the U.S. government has secured $1,000,000 in funding for Billings to attract new air carriers and secure additional routes to the west coast. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Tester secured funds through the 2023 government funding bill. He was the only member of the Montana delegation to support the legislation.
Montana manufacturing will be in the spotlight until Oct. 24. Manufacturers, economic development organizations and educational partners will showcase industry innovations and inspire the next generation at events coordinated by Montana State University and collaborators. Manufacturing Day, also known this year as MFG Day, is a national event held annually to inspire the next generation of workers and industry leaders, improve people’s perception of manufacturing and build the workforce of the future.
At the recent annual convention of the North Dakota Dental Association a Williston-based dentist named Dr. Kami Dornfeld was announced as the association’s president for the next year.
Along with their son and daughter, the Horning family of Whitefish dedicates their craftsmanship to niche profession, custom hat making. Glacier Rim Hats is based out of the family’s home. From crepes to photography, the Horning’s have been in business since 2005.
Stylist Kae Briggs has opened a new salon in Choteau. “K’s Salon and Boutique” will offer services for hair and nails. The staff includes Briggs and Peggy Archer, who is a long-time stylist and the former owner of Archer’s Country Classics Hair Design.
Alpha Loading Systems in Stevensville celebrated an expansion of its plant that will triple its work force.. The company, created by Bitterroot Tool & Machine in 1999, is a manufacturer of ammunition loading and priming machinery. The company expanded to accommodate increased demand for their American-made machinery and ammunition.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deleted the Anaconda Co. Smelter site from Superfund’s National Priorities List. NPL site deletion helps communities move forward in reusing and redeveloping properties by making it clear that cleanup is complete.
The Finally Restaurant Group, announced the opening of its newest Rib & Chop House restaurant in Great Falls, which will hire upward of 100 people in the coming weeks. Burke Moran, is the owner and President of Finally Restaurant Group.
Chick-fil-A will debut on the campus of Montana State University. Currently, the Union Market in the Strand Union Building is under construction as they prepare to open the new franchise in spring 2024. According to the Culinary Services department, Chick-fil-A is still pursuing a new full location at 19th Avenue and I-90.
Florence Crittenton Family Services in Helena has reopened its Youth Maternity Home having had to close during COVID restrictions and employee shortages.
In Park County a 3,360 square foot building in which to accommodate the Windrider Transit Facility has opened. The building includes two office spaces, an entry area, a driver /training kitchenette area, janitor rooms and a ADA compliant bathroom. Five years ago, Park County started Windrider to provide fare-free fixed route services for county residents, including the elderly, disabled and youth who had no other means of transportation.
Gallatin Association of Realtors newly elected Director and Officers are:2024 President-Elect, Hattie Graham, Graham Realty; GAR Vice President, Mark Corner, Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties; 2024-2026 GAR Board of Directors: Tyler Garrison, ERA Landmark Real Estate, Jody Savage, Savage Real Estate Group, Kathleen Vaughn, Bozeman Real Estate Group.
An analysis found that 14.1% of workers in the Billings metro area are union members, compared to 10.1% of workers nationally. In 2022, the median wage for full-time union workers was $1,216 per week, compared to only $1,029 per week for full-time non-union workers.
The annual facelift of MSU’s “Rockin’ the M,” on the Bridger Mountain, took place as usual on Sept. 17, but more work is being done to shore up the landmark. Timbers needed to construct a retaining wall at the base of the “M” will be airlifted to the worksite by helicopter.
The Montana Highway Patrol commissioned nine new troopers at a graduation ceremony held Sept. 29 at the Civic Center in Helena. They came from as far away as California, Texas and Virginia. Three of them are from Montana..
Ten years after opening its first North American store, Fjällräven, the Swedish-heritage outdoor gear retailer opened its first store in Montana, in Bozeman. Fjällräven (pronounced Fyall-rev-en) offers hiking and camping gear. Before 2020, Fjällräven was primarily known in North America for its popular Kånken backpacks.
The Mexican family restaurant, Rio Sabinas, located at Shiloh Crossing, closed their doors for good September 24.
Montana State University’s fall student enrollment is the largest in its 130-year history, with 16,978 students pursuing the many benefits of higher education at the state’s largest university. The new enrollment is up 2% over last fall’s headcount, an increase of 290 students. MSU’s previous enrollment record of 16,902 was set in the fall of 2018. MSU’s enrollment solidifies its position as the largest university in the four-state region of Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas.
The Gallatin County residential real estate market saw continued strong demand in August. According to statistics median sales prices in the single-family market increased 7.6% compared to last August, from $775,000 to $834,000. Closed sales fell slightly by 1.9%, from 107 to 105. The median number of days homes spent on the market decreased 41.7%, from 36 to 21 days. The average percent of list price received ticked up slightly by 0.7%, from 97.4 % to 98.1%. The median price per square foot sold increased 1.9%, from $373 to $380. Pending sales increased 1%, from 103 to 104. The number of new listings increased 11.8%, from 144 to 161. End-of-month inventory decreased 11.9%, from 413 to 364. The month’s supply of inventory fell 10.2%, from 3.86 to 3.47 months.
The Montana Chamber of Commerce has warned, “If a government shutdown does occur, it is likely to be significant in duration with no clear path for reopening the government.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that Cape Air will continue to provide Essential Air Service (EAS) from Billings to five communities in eastern Montana, which include Havre, Glasgow, Glendive, Sidney, and Wolf Point. The new four-year contract runs from January 1, 2024-December 31, 2027. Cape Air will continue to use its 9-passenger Cessna 402, Tecnam P2012 Traveller, and Cessna Caravan to serve the region.
With little private market interest, again tax dollars are subsidizing the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. Montana State University’s first Level 2 EV charging stations were installed this summer on the west side of American Indian Hall and on the south side of Hyalite residence hall. A third station is slated for installation on the southwest corner of the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse parking lot later this year. MSU Parking Services said EV drivers will be able to access the stations on a first-come, first-served basis and will be charged $3 per hour to park, payable at the charging station. University officials will closely monitor station usage and other factors to determine where to best locate additional chargers in the future. They also will assess whether there is a need to provide chargers for electric bikes.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the approval of a Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) project for the Smurfit-Stone Mill site in Frenchtown, Montana. CVAs help EPA project managers design Superfund remedies that are resilient in the face of a changing climate, taking drought, severe weather, temperature, wildfire and other factors into account. The site, a former paper and pulp mill located three miles south of Frenchtown, Montana, covers 3,200 acres and is divided into three operable units spanning agricultural lands, the former mill site and parts of the Clark Fork River floodplain. Efforts are currently underway to characterize and understand risks related to prior site activities and waste disposal practices.
Two environmental groups are suing the state of Montana over wolf trapping regulations they say violate federal law by failing to protect grizzly bears from unintentional trapping. At issue are Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks regulations that allow trapping of wolves in grizzly habitat. Traps set for wolves and other species like coyote and marten can unintentionally trap grizzlies instead. Grizzlies in the Lower 48 states are protected as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Tamus Gannon and Lisa Gannon, owners of Swan River Gardens in Big Fork are celegrating their 25th year in business. Swan River Gardens has four greenhouses dedicated to custom growing and another dedicated to deer-resistant plants.
Cynthia Koch, Three Rivers Bank of Montana’s Assistant Controller, has been named the 2023 Montana Independent Bankers Association, Outstanding Young Banker. This award is to recognize young, upcoming leaders in Montana’s banking community.
The BLM Montana-Dakotas State office will wrap up 2023 with a December lease sale in North Dakota. This was the first full year of federal leases offered under regulatory reforms championed by President Joe Biden. There were concerns in the fossil fuel industry ahead of the new rules that tougher leasing standards would discourage interest in low-production areas, like Montana. In June, Montana parcels nominated for a September sale were withdrawn following concern by an environmental group that the new lease terms were being ignored. Yet lease sales continued .
Whitefish Westside Market, most recently a gas station and market in the west side of Whitefish, has undergone a major renovation of purpose and owner ship. The new owners, Bill and Sharon Kahle along with partner Joe Hess have added hundreds of new items and services.
Officials at Glacier National Park are proposing fee rate changes to most front country campgrounds in 2024. Front country campgrounds are accessible by car or RV. According to a release from park officials, the proposed rates for campsites would increase between $3 and $10, depending on the type of site. Some group sites could potentially increase up to $30. Public comments on the proposed fee increases will be accepted through Sept. 8.
The Kalispell City Council has considered a new downtown banner policy. Under the proposed policy, banners flying over the Parkline Trail and downtown streets should advertise events sponsored by the city or the associated business improvement districts and “highlight activities, general messaging or seasonal displays occurring in or around the city of Kalispell.
Bitterroot National Forest has approved the Gold Butterfly Project. The Gold Butterfly Project is a vegetation management and fuels reduction project in the Sapphire Mountains east of Corvallis. The Gold Butterfly Project is designed to, improve forest resilience to insects, and diseases; improve water quality and bull trout habitat; manage timber to provide forest products, jobs, and income to local communities.
Soma-Dis Deli, in Glascow, celebrates 25 years of business this year. Hope Jones-Farr, who was one of the original owners, alongside her husband Kevin Farr, sold the Deli in 2022 to Kyle Bilger. The deli opened on June 8, 1998.
The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority has opened its 30 day public hearing for its $231,128 fiscal year 2023-24 preliminary budget. This budget is 48% below last year’s adopted FY23 budget.
As reported by the Daily Montanan the residential electricc customers of Montana-Dakota Utilities will be paying nearly $100 a year more in electric rates. The Montana Public Service Commission voted 3-2 to approve the rate increases. Commissioners Pinocci and O’Donnell in voted opposition.
The Montana Department of Transportation has closed the Interstate 15 Wolf Creek Interchange (Exit 226) southbound on-ramp from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., weather and other factors permitting. To access I-15 southbound from Wolf Creek, take Recreation Road south to Exit 219. Construction began this spring to refurbish 7 miles of I-15 through Wolf Creek.
A century ago thousands of Ukranians migrated to North Dakota, as they are doing now. Arriving this month to work in the oilfields were 16 Ukranians who are part of a trade group’s pilot effort through the Uniting for Ukraine humanitarian program to recruit refugees and migrants during a workforce shortage. Twelve more Ukrainians are scheduled to arrive by Aug. 15 as part of the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s Bakken Global Recruitment of Oilfield Workers program. Some workers want to bring their families to North Dakota while others hope to return to Ukraine. Workforce issues in North Dakota have become “very acute” in the last 10 months. There are roughly 2,500 jobs available in an oil field producing about 1.1 million barrels per day.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Montana announced that Akilah Maya Deernose, J.D. will lead the organization as its next Executive Director.
The Rocky Boy Health Center (RBHC) broke ground on their new Youth Wellness Center on August 3. The project has been named the My Pimtisiwinkamik Youth Center, or My for short. The preliminary program for the My includes a 25,000sf to 30,000sf building with offices, exam rooms, multi-purpose classrooms, commercial kitchen and cafeteria, gymnasium sized for two basketball courts without bleachers, fitness instruction room, open gathering/ flex space, and much more.
The National Center for Appropriate Technology’s (NCAT) Board of Directors announced it has selected Fred Bahnson to lead the organization. NCAT was created in the 1970s in response to concerns about a possible energy crisis and an effort to build more sustainable energy sources. With staff in 12 states, NCAT is headquartered in Butte. Bahnson is the founding director of two environmental non-profits. In 2005 he co-founded and directed a congregation-supported agriculture project in North Carolina, and in 2012 he founded the Food, Health, and Ecological Well-Being Program at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.
DiamondRock Hospitality Company has purchased Chico Hot Springs Resort in the Paradise Valley for $33 million. Chico, a historic landmark and popular get-away for Montanans, is a 117-room resort on a 748 acres ranch at the base of Emigrant Peak, near the northern entrance of Yellowstone National Park. DiamondRock is a Maryland-based hospitality company that owns 35 hotels and resorts in 13 states and the District of Columbia. Chico Hot Springs Resort was founded in 1900 run by William and Percie Knowles as the Chico Warm Springs Hotel.
Governor Greg Gianforte appointed Sarah Swanson to head the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (DLI). Swanson has served as the Director of Strategic Engagement for DLI. Swanson served as an owner and General Manager for Farm Equipment Sales, Inc., a four-store John Deere dealer organization headquartered in northeast Montana.
Williston State College in North Dakota has announced plans to build a state-of-the-art healthcare training facility. Health care professionals will be needed with the news that Sanford Health is planning to bring a clinic and hospital to Williston. It was noted that there is a workforce shortage in the healthcare industry throughout northwest North Dakota and northeast Montana.
The North Dakota Industrial Commission approved $6.3 million in Outdoor Heritage Fund and Renewable Energy Program matching grants. Both programs are funded solely by oil and gas production tax revenue. The Outdoor Heritage Fund was established in 2013 to provide grants for projects that enhance outdoor conservation practices in the state. The Renewable Energy Program was established in 2007 to promote research and utilization of North Dakota’s renewable energy resources, including advanced biofuels.
The Milwaukee Bridge west of Terry has been ordered closed immediately by the Montana Department of Transportation as the deteriorating deck conditions have been deemed a significant hazard for public safety. The sudden closure has left a lot of questions both for people who use the bridge to reach the other side of the Yellowstone River. The Prairie County commissioners declared the main concern is finding a way to get the bridge reopened. Several people who operate agriculture land on the other side of the river, reminded the Commissioners that the use of the bridge will increase greatly when harvest and cattle roundup arrive.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is advising anglers that portions of the Beaverhead River, Bitterroot River and the entire Jefferson River are closed to fishing daily from 2 p.m. to midnight. The hoot-owl restrictions are issued for: Jefferson River – from the Missouri River to the confluence of the Big Hole River and Beaverhead River, Beaverhead River –from the confluence of the Big Hole River to Anderson Lane. Bitterroot River – from Veterans Bridge at Hamilton to the confluence of the East and West Forks Bitterroot River
The Break Room, a beer and wine bar on West College Street near 11th Avenue, in Bozeman, opened recently. The menu features 10 draft beers, four draft wines, an old-school soda fountain, and bar comfort food including pasties, nachos and beer brats. The lounge was opened by Seth Cooper and Cassie Colombo, who owns Colombo’s Pizza.
The Richland County Sports Complex has a new home in Sidney. It was relocated from the cattle barn at the Richland County Fairgrounds to the Cenex-Western Choice. The official opening date is August 7. The sports complex is used for baseball and softball practices year round.
A group of business organizations in Kalispell are raising funds to pay for private security guards to patrol the downtown area of the City in an effort to deter vagrancy, plus customer and employee safety. The guards would protect business interests and connect people in the midst of mental health or addiction issues with social service providers. A notice being circulated describes the business groups are exploring ways to redirect funds that might be given to panhandlers to fund the community patrol efforts and additional homeless outreach.
Paddle Board Outfitters in Somers has grown from a modest start renting out paddle boards to a into a full-service paddle board, kayak, wave runner, and boat rental business. N Owner, Chris Hogan, began the company seven years ago.
Yellowstone National Park hosted 847,864 recreation visits in June 2023. This is a 61% increase from June 2022, the month of the historic flood (525,363 recreational visits), and an 8% increase from June 2019 (781,853 recreation visits). Thus far in 2023, the park has hosted 1,493,510 recreation visits, up 19% from 2022 (1,258,834 recreation visits), and up 10% from 2019 (1,358,629 recreation visits).
406 Cakes and Cravings, of Polson, opened recently and is owned by Aurora Doll.
The Big Hole River is experiencing a large algal bloom. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has taken water quality samples and expects to have results back by the end of August. A visual assessment of algae growth reports moderate to high growth from Melrose to Glen.
Butte Central Catholic Schools has introduced Denise Chrest as its new high school principal. A Butte native, Chrest has been the superintendent and K-12 principal in Moore for the last 13 years. Chrest replaces J.P. Williams, who was principal of the high school from 2018-2022.
New federal oil and gas leasing rules proposed by BLM would have a negative effect on Montana’s marginal oil plays. The long-anticipated rules changes announced recently include a cleanup bond of $150,000 per well, up from $10,000 per well. Conservationists and the petroleum lobby say the higher bonding amount would hamper leasing in low-probability areas, which is make up most of Montana oil opportunities.
Montana native Jared Swarthout, is the current owner of Ping-A-T Lures, a company originally started in the late 1960s by his late grandfather, Gerry Swarthout, in Pinckney, Michigan, a city west of Detroit. Grandfather Gerry received a patent for the unique, self-righting lures in 1971 after perfecting its design. The lure is designed to flip upside down the faster an angler reels a line in order to better prevent snags under the water. The company is now located in Fallon
The Gallatin Association of Realtors recently named Cindi Siggs as its new Chief Executive Officer following a nationwide search. Siggs previously worked with the Realtors of South Central Kansas (RSCK) and the Kansas Auctioneers Association.
The Museums Association of Montana (MAM) announced the retirement of Executive Director Deb Mitchell after 16 years of service. Coinciding with her retirement, Mitchell has accepted a new position as the Executive Director of WorldMontana. Mitchell also retired from the Montana Historical Society eafter 23 years of service.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte wants the federal government to declare natural disaster areas in 11 counties due to drought. With unusually low snowpack and hot, dry conditions in northwest Montana. The 11 counties are Flathead, Lincoln, Glacier, Toole, Sanders, Lake, Pondera, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli and Sheridan counties.
In North Dakota, Vertipads Inc. is constructing the ground infrastructure needed for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to drop off and deliver packages beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). The company is designing two vertiports to service drones used for package deliveries. Vertipads will utilize Vantis, North Dakota’s statewide UAS network, to fly BVLOS. Vantis provides the ground infrastructure for UAS, such as radar, air traffic control, and operations centers.
The North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) is bringing its annual meeting back to Watford City September 19-21.
Five years ago, Flathead Valley United began planning to develope an indoor training facility. The land purchase was finalized in 2021 and the soccer club is moving forward with development. The planned 16,800-square-foot indoor sporting facility will be located in Evergreen, where it will be located next to Evergreen Middle School. The indoor facility space will be maximized to allow for a 7v7 or 9v9 field, with a mezzanine seating area.
Owner Kyle Pemberton formed the idea of Man of the Woods after making house calls to cut clients’ hair. The mobile barbershop, Man of the Woods, is the first in the state of Montana. This year, they cut hair in temperatures as low as 30 below zero. Man of the Woods operates seven days a week in Big Sky and around Bozeman
“The Amenity Trap: How high-amenity communities can avoid being loved to death,” focuses on four broad categories in which tourism destinations increasingly struggle: housing, infrastructure and public services, fiscal policy, and natural disasters. The report was produced by Headwaters Economics of Bozeman. The report examines how increasing levels of outdoor-recreation tourism can become stressors in those areas, and how some communities have addressed the challenges .
Wade Fellin is owner of the Big Hole Lodge in Wise River Montana and fishing guide. For years, trout in the Big Hole and other area rivers have seen population declines, with some sections reporting less than 1,000 trout per mile. The declines prompted Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks to issue emergency angling restrictions on the Big Hole, Ruby, and Beaverhead Rivers this June. FWP has acknowledged that low stream flows and high-water temperatures are stressing fish to the point of population decline. Fellin and other Montana anglers and outfitting businesses created the Save Wild Trout Campaign this June. The campaign aims to raise at least $500,000 in its first year to hire a team of private and independent scientists to study the fish declines.
The Bookshelf in downtown Kalispell was purchased by Stephanie Pius in June of this year. When Stephanie, a lover of books herself, bought the business on Main Street, she said it never occurred to change the store away from a bookstore. Pius looks forward to making the store her own .
The Gaul family recently began a “glamping” business.Bridger and Annie Gaul, have opened a luxurious form of camping on property they own on Flathead River near Paradise.
A long-awaited grant of $30.5 million for a road construction project on U.S. Highway 93 south of Ninepipe Reservoir in the Mission Valley has gained momentum. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will receive the funding as part of a larger pot of $130.5 million disbursed by the Federal Highway Administration. The 3 mile project includes a multi-span bridge over Post Creek with an uphill passing lane, and a multi-use bike and walking path. It will also include infrastructure to reduce wildlife collisions and other safety improvements .
The Missoula Urban Transportation District was selected to receive $39.1 million through FTA’s FY 23 Low- or No-Emission Vehicle Program and Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration, which recently announced 130 awards totaling nearly $1.7 billion from the Infrastructure Law for transit projects in 46 states and territories
The Whitefish City Council is considering holding a public hearing in August to ask voters to reallocating a portion of the city’s resort tax toward funding affordable community housing development and programs. Any change to resort tax allocations would require voter approval, with the council having the final say on whether to ask voters to weigh in at the ballot box during this fall’s elections.
Sun Mountain Lumber, Deer Lodge, has purchased the R-Y Timber mill in Livingston and plan to reopen the facility
The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and KLE Construction Inc. have substantially completed the Hardin-South project. The Hardin-South project was a roadway reconstruction project?focused on?improving State Secondary Highway 313 (S 313) by addressing wear and tear and improving the service life of the roadway. Additionally, there is a new structure?over?Williams Coulee, and the Two?Leggins?Canal structure has been updated with new guardrail.
After being acquired by the Young Automotive Group, Flanagan Motors Mazda has become Young Mazda of Missoula. Paul Byron is Young Mazda Missoula’s new general manager, Founded in 1925 by Jack Olsen, the Young Automotive Group has 29 locations across northern Utah and southern Idaho. Young Mazda Missoula will be their first Montana dealership. Flanagan Motors Mazda opened 47 years ago.Once the acquisition is completed, current owner Shannon Flanagan will take on a new role as the community service representative manager.
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission has voted to implement emergency fishing restrictions on three southwest Montana rivers. The restrictions on the Beaverhead, Big Hole and Ruby rivers come as the agency records declining trout populations. The restrictions generally address closures for spawning season, limiting some fish to catch-and-release, and implementing some gear restriction changes for fish hooks.
The EPA has released its proposed plan for cleaning up the Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. Superfund site. The main thrust is to contain the worst dumps by fully surrounding them with a slurry wall to stop contaminated groundwater from leaching out. The wells at the former wet scrubber sludge pond and the west landfill have the worst contamination. Test wells near them show very high concentrations of fluoride and cyanide. A public meeting will be held on June 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Columbia Falls Town Hall, City Council Chambers, 130 Sixth St. W., Columbia Falls, to describe the proposed plan and solicit comments.
Three generations of bike and adventure lovers have contributed to Montana E-Bikes and More. Josh Houser, whose parents owned a bike shop, has joined forces with his son Matthew Houser to provide unforgettable trips and a high-end e-bike shop. In addition to rentals, the shop also sells e-bikes and provides full service. The father-son duo will also rent e-bikes during the winter months. Montana E-bikes and More is the only shop to provide this service in the valley.
Mayor Jordan Hess of Missoula unveiled Missoula’s 2024-2026 Strategic Plan. Equity, housing and engagement all figured prominently in the guide for Missoula’s next three years. The plan looks at city operations through three lenses: climate resilience, equity and housing. Some of the priorities outlined in the plan include program ideas, partnerships and internal operations.
A modular home manufacturer from San Diego held a ceremonial groundbreaking at Butte’s business park recently to showcase a foundry the size of six football fields that could employ hundreds. Dvele (pronounced deh-VELL) hopes to get infrastructure hook-ups and other prep work done this year and begin construction on the factory next spring. The goal is to begin initial operations by January 2025. The Dvele facility will make modular homes that can be built in months. According to the company they can be built at 30% to 40% less cost than traditional houses.
Benefis Helena Specialty Center leadership reports that the 60,000-square-foot clinic will be built on 3.25 acres of the site that runs parallel to Prospect Avenue at a total cost estimated to be $50 million. Benefis Health System broke ground on the site March 10, 2022, and is expected to open in spring 2024.
Businesses looking for guidance about resources to improve their operations can attend one of the upcoming Assistance for Business Clinics sponsored by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, local chambers of commerce, economic development groups and Job Service Centers. The Glendive Assistance for Business Clinic will be held Wednesday, June 21 at Dawson Community College.
The Stockman Bank location in Whitefish opened recently, The new facility on U.S. 93 is equipped with a drive-up, ATM and night depository. The public is invited to attend grand opening celebrations featuring refreshments, prize drawings, and tours of the building. On June 13, at 4 p.m. a grand opening celebration begins with music from local singer Halladay Quist, refreshments, and door prizes,
Logan Health officials say plans to integrate with Billings Clinic continue, but some employees are questioning the advantages of creating a new health care organization amid a “significant staffing shortage. Members of the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, 1199NW are skeptical that integrating is the right move for Logan Health employees and patients.
Citizens Alliance Bank has completed its acquisition of Granite Mountain Bank and its branches in Butte, Drummond and Philipsburg. Citizens, an independent community bank headquartered in Clara City, Minnesota, says the acquisition was completed June 2. Existing Granite Mountain Bank customers may continue to use their existing debit cards and check stock until Aug.5. Starting Aug. 5, customers will be transitioned onto Citizens Alliance Bank’s core system computer platform.
A local Glendive hotel that has gone through a series of rebrandings in recent years has rebranded once again. This time with a full renovation as it joins a national corporation. The establishment has joined the Best Western family of hotels and rebranded itself as the SureStay. The building was bought in 2021 by Alex Allgood and Stan Wang, investors based in Texas, who have been continued the renovation. They will continue to own the business as it operates under the Best Western umbrella.
In Montana, there are 8,549,170 acres of farmland. The county with the most acerage in production is Rosebud. It has 766 farms with 2, 342, 527 acres.
Dvele modular home manufacturing plant in Butte has opened with projections to create nearly 500 good-paying Montana jobs. Representing an $80 million investment by Dvele, the new facility will support the production of affordable workforce housing in Montana. Founded in 2018, Dvele has designed, manufactured, and built over 270 modular homes throughout the U.S. and Canada. The homes are built and shipped out for placement in a shorter timeline than traditional housing construction, costing about 30% to 40% less.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced it has awarded $400,000 to the state of Montana in Railroad Crossing Elimination (RCE) Grant Program funding. The funds will pay for a study of the Whitefish Rail Corridor Crossing Study. It will study three at-grade crossings and one viaduct along a three-mile corridor of BNSF’s Kootenai River Subdivision. Possible upgrades would alleviate blocked crossings that might cause safety concerns and disrupt freight movements to and from BNSF’s Whitefish Yard. The City of Whitefish and BNSF railway are contributing funds totaling a 20 percent non-Federal match.
Two Montana Supreme Court Justices Mike McGrath and Justice Dirk Sandefur have announced that they will not run for re-election in 2024. McGrath will be concluding his second eight-year term; and Sandefur is in his first.
Felco Industries in Missoula expanded to a new 20,000 square foot manufacturing facility. Founded in 1983, Felco Industries manufactures excavator products for utility, infrastructure, and energy sector installation and replacement projects. According to Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the equipment manufacturing industry supports more than 850 jobs in Montana and contributes $79 million to the state’s economy annually.
Montana-Dakota Utilities, a subsidiary of MDU Resources Group, Inc. received approval from the North Dakota Public Service Commission on an electric service agreement (ESA) to provide power for Applied Digital Corporation’s data center near Ellendale, ND. At full capacity, the data center will require 180 megawatts of electricity, which is the equivalent of about 28% of Montana-Dakota’s generation portfolio. The Applied Digital load will be purchased from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) market and will not impact Montana-Dakota customers’ power supply. The project provides an array of benefits to the Ellendale area, the transmission grid, Montana-Dakota customers and MDU stockholders.
Billings businessman, Skip King, who owns all the local Ace Hardware stores, has opened another Ace Hardware in Sidney. It will be managed by Reece Gairrett. The store has had a ‘soft opening’ in order to embrace the growing season. Although not quite fully stocked it is fully staff and close to having a grand opening.
For the third consecutive year, the Montana Department of Justice’s Forensic Science Division (FSD) is among only 14 laboratories, worldwide, to earn the Foresight Maximus Award from the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. FSD, most commonly referred to as the State Crime Lab, houses Montana’s forensic science laboratories and medical examiner system and is the sole source of forensic services for law enforcement in the state. The Foresight Maximus Award is presented to forensic laboratories operating at 90 percent or better of peak efficiency as evidenced by Foresight business metrics during 2022.
Western Montana Mental Health Center, Missoula, has not renewed its contract with Levi Anderson, who has been CEO for the past five years. Anderson’s last day was May 19. Western has contracted with Cascadia Management Group to help with the administrative transition for the next two to three months. The president of that group, Colleen Rudio, is overseeing Western as the interim executive administrator.
To protect Montanans’ personal, private, and sensitive data and information from intelligence gathering by the Chinese Communist Party, Governor Greg Gianforte has signed a bill that bans TikTok from operating in Montana. He also directed the state’s chief information officer and executive agency directors to prohibit the use of all social media applications tied to foreign adversaries on state equipment and for state business in Montana. The governor signed Senate Bill 419, making Montana the first state in the nation to ban TikTok and prohibit mobile application stores from offering TikTok within the state.
Reclamation announces lifting the closure of Reclamation lands on and adjacent to Joe’s Island on the south side of the Yellowstone River in Dawson County, 15 miles north of Glendive, Montana. The temporary closure was in place to ensure public safety during the construction of the Lower Yellowstone Fish Passage Project. Construction of the fish passage project was recently completed, and the land closure is no longer needed.
Of the three metro areas in Montana, Great Falls has the lowest housing costs. According to the EPI’s Family Budget Calculator, a modest two-bedroom rental in the metro area will cost an estimated $9,696 in 2022, including utilities. The statewide average cost of a comparable apartment is estimated at $10,972. Rent prices often reflect the overall real estate market in a given area, and this pattern appears to hold in Great Falls. Just as rents in the area are lower than the statewide average, so too, are home values.
With the world facing helium shortages, news that Montana has helium resources that mining companies are exploring is good news for the economies of some of the state’s most remote areas. Two helium drilling companies are drilling wells in the areas of Toole, Hill and Liberty counties. The activity is an extension of helium drilling that is occurring just across the Canadian border. Helium is the radioactive decay of uranium and thorium, and while it can be found everywhere, it is rare that it is found in geological formations that are capable of capturing and holding it in pockets large enough to make recovery feasible. The lighter-than-air element that gives balloons their buoyancy also powers vital medical diagnostic machines, enables the operation of superconducting magnets, and is vital to the military.
Brinkman Real Estate, a Colorado-based multifamily investment company with expertise in Intermountain West markets, closed on the acquisition of The Highline Apartments in Columbia Falls. This purchase marks their third acquisition in Montana and the largest to date with 180 Class A units across six buildings. The company also owns properties in Billings and Missoula. Brinkman Real Estate’s capital markets team, in partnership with CBRE’s Institutional Debt and Restructured Finance team comprised of Brady O’Donnell, Jeff Halsey, Jill Haug, and Alex Scott
The fastest growing city in Montana is the Missoula metro area. Its population grew by 11.3% from 2010 to 2020 to 121,630 residents. During that same time, the population of Montana grew by 9.2%. The Missoula metro area has a median annual household income of $57,347, slightly above Montana’s median of $57,153.
The fastest shrinking county in Montana is Fergus County. The county’s population declined by 4.2% from 2010 to 2020. The population of Montana overall increased by 9.2% during that same time period, and the U.S. population increased by 6.7%. Fergus County’s population declined by 486 people during the decade, from 11,590 in 2010 to 11,104 in 2020. This is due in part to negative net migration as 88 more people moved away from the county than moved to it during that decade.
Quinn Pacini, vice president and general manager at KBZK in Bozeman, and KXLF in Butte, has been named vice president of broadcast operations for Scripps Sports. Jon Saunders, a vice president of Local Media operations, will serve as interim general manager at both stations while The E.W. Scripps Company searches for Pacini’s replacement.
Montana Highlights June 1, 2023
Downtown Bigfork has a new space, The Nook, where artists and wellness practitioners can interact and mingle. The Nook offers Aiology Works, an acoustic and vibral studio and Bluebird and Honeybee, a mercantile offering local artisan gifts and goods. The mercantile stocks products including wellness apothecary and kitchen items. The Nook offers over 40 local artisans. Not only does the brick-and-mortar space allow them to local goods, it also provides the opportunity for art and wellness workshops.
Cenate, a Norwegian battery company, is considering Butte and two other sites for a manufacturing plant. Tax incentives will be a factor in its decision. Two of Butte’s largest employers and two economic development organizations are backing the Norwegian company’s request for millions of dollars in tax abatements. Officials with the Butte Local Development Corp., St. James Healthcare, the Montana Carpenters Union and Northwestern Energy spoke in favor of the abatements. The company is developing silicon-based materials for higher-density batteries with faster and longer-lasting charges.
Dave’s Sushi in Bozeman reopened recently after a month long closure following a severe food poisoning outbreak that sickened dozens and has been linked to two deaths.
Backers of a multibillion-dollar proposal to build a giant reservoir for energy storage in rural south-central South Dakota are no longer pursuing the project. The two entities involved, MidAmerican Energy and Missouri River Energy Services, said the decision not to pursue the project was made following their evaluation process.