The City of Kalispell’s Building Department has issued 234 permits for single family and duplex housing projects. This number is approaching double the 121 permits the department had issued by this time last year. Multi-family permits have increased from 84 multi-family permits during all of 2019 to 132 multi-family housing units approved so far in 2020. compared to 84 multi-family units in all of 2019.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has lodged complaints against four Flathead County businesses alleging the entities violated COVID-19 directives by failing to ensure employees and patrons wore masks and that the establishments displayed proper signage related to COVID-19 protocols. The lawsuits were filed against Sykes Diner in Kalispell, The Remington Bar in Whitefish and the Ferndale Market and Your Turn Mercantile/Your Lucky Turn Casino in Bigfork. The businesses have been given 21 days to respond to the complaints.

U.S. senators have questioned the chief of Amtrak about job cuts and service reductions on the carrier’s long-distance passenger train routes, including the Empire Builder line that serves a dozen mostly rural communities in northern Montana. Amtrak CEO, William Flynn, testified that ridership remains down about 80% due to the coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic forced Amtrak to reduce service on most of its long-distance trains to just three days a week. Flynn sought to assure senators the cuts are intended to be temporary.

Yellowstone National Park announced this week that it will begin testing a low-speed automated shuttle system in 2021. The automated shuttle will serve the Canyon Village campground, visitor services, and the visitor lodging. Canyon Village is a popular area north of Yellowstone Lake. The most popular roads in the park are over capacity by about 29% during July. Those roads include the West Entrance to Madison Junction, Madison Junction to Old Faithful and to Norris Junction, Old Faithful to West Thumb and Norris Junction to Canyon Village. The park has tested out a few different ways to help relieve that congestion, like having extra staff stationed in extra-congested parking areas. A 2019 pilot project at Norris Junction stationed staff to help test the efficiency of the overflow parking on the Grand Loop Road. That project showed that staffing can help visitors safely access areas where parking is limited.

Montana’s unemployment rate returned to a near-normal level of 5.3 percent in September after dropping from 5.6 percent in August. Economists typically consider normal unemployment levels to be between 4 percent to 5 percent. The national unemployment rate has remained higher than Montana’s, at 7.9 percent for September. Montana has the 9th lowest unemployment rate in the nation. 

MSU has received a $498,217 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to help Montana food and beverage manufacturers reduce waste and adopt strategies that can lessen environmental impact. MSU, working with the Montana Pollution Prevention Program and Montana Manufacturing Extension Center, will use the grant to provide small businesses in the food and beverage industry with on-site technical assistance and training on pollution prevention.

Welcome Market Hall, opened in Sheridan, Wyoming last May, a first of its kind concept for visitors and locals to enjoy Sheridan’s finest food and beverage offerings in a unique setting. Market Hall was conceptualized by owner Tom Thomson and Stephanie Stalker who were looking to bring a memorable social experience through good food and great conversation, located inside a historic railroad station originally built in 1912. Renovation of the space was a collaborative effort by Stephanie and her father Dan Stalker, a lifelong Sheridan resident and architect. Guests can choose between six different dining concepts including Scipio’s offering pizza, El Cruce bringing a variety of tacos and tapas, O-Ke-Kai which serves poke bowls and fried seafood favorites; Protein for sandwiches and ribs; WMH Brunch for brunch and lunch.  Beverage offerings include coffee shop Up Café; cocktails by CB&Q Lounge, or Grand Bar for beer and wine.

Negotiations are on-going among recreationists, the Crow Tribe, the Forest Service and private landowners, all with interests in the Crazy Mountains. The discussion is hopefully leading to a solution to a long-term conflict over land use in the Crazy Mountains. A community coalition is hoping that a land swap on the east side of the range will alleviate frustrations for all while allowing for more public access. The proposal will give the Forest Service over 5,200 acres of private land, including a new 22-mile trail, paid for by Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, in exchange for 500 acres of expert ski terrain from the Forest Service in Big Sky. Private landowners would get more than 3,600 acres in the land swap, by consolidating public lands already scattered between private lands.

Whole Foods Market is planning their first Montana store in Bozeman at the Gallatin Valley Mall, managed by Steve Corning, as part of the Gallatin Mall Group. Whole Foods Market will join Macy’s, Barnes & Noble, Regal Cinemas and JoAnn Fabrics in anchoring the 365,000 square foot center. 

Gallatin County’s residential real estate market saw large increases in pending sales, closed sales and average sales prices in October, while the inventory of available homes decreased significantly in both the single family and condo/townhome markets compared to 2019. Median sales price increased 18.9%, from $462,000 in September 2019 to $550,000 in September 2020. Closed sales increased 46.9%, from 130 to 191, and pending sales jumped 56.6%, from 113 to 177. The inventory of available homes decreased 60.1% compared to last year, from 537 to 214, and the month’s supply of inventory dropped 65%, from 4.0 to 1.4. The number of new single-family listings decreased 3% compared to September 2019, from 167 to 162. The average days on market increased 56.8%, from 37 to 58. Sellers received 99.1% of their list price last month, up slightly from 98.4% last year.

By Evelyn Pyburn

It is unspeakable, the assault on Montana’s small business owners that the Governor is perpetrating in what has to be the most disrespectful attack on citizens ever seen in this state.

For going on nine months now, small business owners of every size and industry have been struggling mightily to keep their heads above water, given the extreme restrictions that they have been working under, with claims that their sacrifices and the loss of their businesses are necessary to end the impacts of COVID-19.

Despite wide-spread compliance to the protocols that included months of closures, as well as social distancing, lines on floors, masks, plastic shielding, hand washing stations, constant cleaning, consumers staying home, quarantining  and cancelling of events, the virus has continued to spread. Concluding that the solution must be more of the same, Montana government and Governor Steve Bullock have doubled down and turned on the most vital of our citizens – those who provide the goods and services, jobs and income – and tax revenues —that sustain everyone.

It’s not that our business people don’t have enough pressure on them keeping up with the protocols, responding to divisive snitching, working 24-7, losing money, exhausting their savings and watching their businesses go down the drain – now they have to deal with a specially -designed force of secret police stalking their businesses and lives, who will force them into re-education programs with the threat of criminal charges if they don’t adjust their attitudes. (The enforcers are being called “liaisons,” an attempted slight-of-language that says they fully understand the nature of what they do and want to avoid clearly identifying it.)

As dire as the consequences of the disease, the consequences of governments such as this are far greater. The lack of individual liberty kills just as surely as any lethal virus.

The attack on businesses in Yellowstone County is all the more baseless given that the only rational excuse offered is that they want to reduce pressure on medical facilities that are at capacity, with no consideration given to the fact that more than half of the patients are from outside the county. People are coming to Billings, as they always have for medical care, from throughout dozens and dozens of counties, Wyoming, North Dakota. How is it effective or justifiable to penalize local business people for hospitalizations of people from other areas?

The question deserves an answer.

But more importantly our business people deserve to be treated with more respect. The citizens of the state are autonomous individuals, not vassals of  bureaucrats and political agendas and ambitions.

By Dan Nordberg and Loretta Solon Greene

As the White House Proclamation stated earlier this month, “On National Manufacturing Day, we celebrate our dedicated American workers who carry on this legacy, recognizing that manufacturing is a cornerstone of our economic prosperity and national security.” Manufacturing businesses are essential contributors to our economic health and wellbeing, infusing $2.38 trillion annually into the national economy.

Manufacturing is especially important in rural America, where manufacturing plants and businesses can thrive due to generally lower property taxes, more reasonable land prices, and a unique quality of life. During a time when the coronavirus pandemic has created many challenges, rural economies are looking for new industry options, expanded manufacturing, and enhanced exporting avenues.  New policies implemented by President Trump’s Administration combined with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) resources may provide rural America a boost for what it needs to regain revenues and support communities.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, rural communities experienced an economic surge as manufacturing increased, creating new jobs and attracting top talent. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that President Trump signed into law earlier this year further bolstered their ability to export across North America. Throughout the negotiations, SBA had a seat at the table, giving small businesses an amplified voice in crafting the policy that will drive continental trade for decades to come.

With manufacturing infusing new life into rural areas, streamlined export processes and SBA’s program resources, rural small businesses may now more easily act on their exporting goals. SBA has made a concerted effort to increase trade opportunities, ensuring small businesses access to international markets and the vitality of American manufacturing exports.

Created intentionally to assist small business exporters, SBA’s Office of International Trade offers financial assistance to businesses looking to expand trade opportunities. Through a suite of finance programs, including revolving lines of credit and loans that can be used for working capital, fixed assets, and debt refinancing, these programs are geared toward helping businesses increase their profits, reduce market dependence, and stabilize seasonal sales. Small businesses looking to export can apply for these products by contacting a local SBA Export Finance Manager<>.

The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is another way the SBA assists small businesses. Through STEP, small businesses looking to export goods and products can use the grant funds to participate in foreign trade missions, develop and design international marketing campaigns, translate marketing materials into other languages, and more. Since its creation in 2010 as part of the Small Business Jobs Act, STEP has recorded over $3.8 billion in exports and awarded approximately $157 million in grants to fund export opportunities, increasing the footprint of American small businesses in countries worldwide.

Furthermore, the SBA’s Office of International Trade can help any small business that faces barriers in accessing international markets. The office publicizes the small business benefits of U.S. trade agreements and helps protect the rights of small businesses under these agreements. Small business manufacturers and other rural businesses looking for information and assistance on how to connect with more international customers can explore resources from SBA OIT and its partners at <>.

The SBA has worked diligently to direct financial support to manufacturing businesses critical to rural America throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response. Through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), manufacturing businesses received $54 billion, assisting more than 238,000 small businesses and retaining countless jobs. The impact of this aid was clear in September’s jobs report, which reported growth of 66,000 manufacturing jobs. The industry is bouncing back and driving job creation.

With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside our borders, American products have more potential than ever before when businesses venture into international markets. Now is the time for community leaders to further invest in manufacturing and small businesses to tap into the exporting resources to grow hometown businesses and communities. To talk with someone about your exporting potential or manufacturing idea, visit<>, or to find more resources available for small businesses in rural America, visit<>.

(Dan Nordberg serves as SBA’s National Director for Rural Affairs and Region 8 Administrator based in Denver. He oversees the agency’s programs and services in Colorado, Montana, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.  Loretta Solon Greene is the Associate Administrator for the SBA’s Office of International Trade.)

By Evelyn Pyburn

It’s been rumored for some time now that Billings School District 2 officials are interested in exploring the possibility of building a new stadium at Metra Park.

Although mentioned with some frequency at Metra Park Advisory Board meetings and presented as a possibility in the master planning process, Manager Bill Dutcher reported that both his staff and SD2 officials are now digging into the details and exploring the pros and cons of the idea.

SD2 Superintendent Greg Upham assured that SD2 board members are serious about exploring the possibility, adding that “the motivation is to look for a win-win.” He said, “We are not looking for someone to pay our bill.”

During the Metra Park monthly advisory board meeting on Tuesday, one board member, Mike Mayott stated that he believes other options should be explored because he doesn’t think that a stadium belongs at Metra Park. It gives up too much in other opportunities for Metra Park.

Mayott suggested that SD2 take a hard look at the possibility of locating on city-owned land adjacent to Amend Park, a non-profit soccer complex administered by the Amend Park Development Council (APDC), about which Mayott conceded he has a conflict of interest since he serves as manager of Amend Park.

“We should look at that before settling on Metra,” he said.

One advantage he pointed out is that the area is within the South Billings Boulevard Urban Renewal District (SBBURD), which has funds and bonding authority which could possibly remove the need for a stadium project to have to go out for county-wide bond approval.

Also, at the MP meeting was Jim Tevlin, SBBURD Controller, who explained to the board that the tax increment district has $24 million and it is part of their capital improvement plan to develop a recreation center, which could include the “the possibility of a combined football stadium and a gymnasium of sorts.”

Upham said that while he had some brief conversations about that possibility, he has not had an opportunity to explore it with the SD2 board or others. He said that being a public entity they would be open to exploring all possibilities.

MP Advisory Board Chairman Charlie Loveridge said that it is something to be explored in planning for Metra Park, which is still developing proposals as part of the master plan. “Hopefully we can figure out the stadium and the rest will fall into place,” he said, emphasizing that they want to have community discussions. “We want what the community thinks is awesome.”

Metra Park staff has been asked to stake out a possible area for the stadium on the Metra Park grounds to give everyone an idea of what a stadium might look like on the campus. It was noted, however, in discussions with county commissioners last week that where facilities will be located at Metra Park must await the finalization of plans of the Montana Department of Transportation which is in the process of designing a new intersection at 1st Avenue North, Exhibition Drive and Highway 87. The design is expected to provide a gate into Metra Park while closing two other gates. The new intersection is expected to have some overlap with Metra Park.

“We have a lot of things to talk about,” said County Commissioner John Ostlund.

For example: How a stadium will be financed and what will be the structure of the use agreement between Metra Park and SD2. Whatever agreement they have it will undoubtedly be very different than any other that Metra Park has with other users.

Ostlund emphasized that however it is built it will remain in county ownership.

Ostlund commented that an important financing concern is how it will impact other county taxpayers, most especially those in Lockwood. “Lockwood just built a new facility, and we have heard some concern that they would have to be paying taxes on two facilities.”

County Finance Director Kevan Bryan pointed out that the school district and Metra Park might encounter conflicts with having two mill levies on the ballot at the same time. Coordinating that would be an important part of the planning.

“Are you talking about the school district building it?” questioned Commissioner Don Jones, to which the answer seemed to be “maybe” – that’s among the things that have to be ironed out.

SD2 Athletic Director (AD) Mark Wall said, “We want this to work for everybody.” He reminded how well it worked out for all schools in the South Central area when track and field events were held at Metra Park.  “We believe that a stadium and a track can bring all kinds of benefits to our community….There are all kinds of ways to use the field.”

Wall said he has had discussions with South Central Montana AD’s and “with the exception of Lockwood everyone is well behind this.” He noted that Huntley Project and Shepherd could also use the facility, and expressed confidence something would be workable to accommodate Lockwood’s situation.

Wall suggested that the school district “would be responsible for track repair. It would be our obligation …  we would have to do that any way no matter where it is located.”

One of the biggest benefits of having the stadium at Metra Park would be the availability of parking.

Other issues that must be ironed out are events with conflicting schedules. Metra Park does not want to lose any of its long-standing users or events. A high school’s sport schedule is very busy and intense.

The school would probably be responsible for managing the scheduling of events.

Ostlund emphasized that Metra Park would also be just as adamant as ever about collecting capital improvement fees (CIP) fees as a part of ticket sales or compensated for in some manner. “We charge those for capital repair,” he said, “We have come a long ways and I don’t want to slide back,” referring to Metra Park’s ongoing maintenance program.

Wall explained that the CIP conflict that Metra Park has had in the past has been with the Montana High School Association and their events. It would not be an issue with SD2 and their ticket sales. Capital improvement costs has always been important to the SD2, too, he said and the manner in which SD2 has dealt with MHSA could be applied at Metra Park.

“Our activities are mostly funded by ticket fees and activity fees,” explained Wall. Each school makes about $40,000 a year they use for equipment, etc. 

Jones urged SD2 officials to talk to other school districts in the county to “get their buy in.” He said, “I want to make sure we aren’t undercutting ourselves within the community and we could all work together.”

Charlie Loveridge spoke to other issues that must also be discussed and agreements reached upon such as sharing sponsorships, maintenance fees, ticket sales, concession sales. About concession sales, Loveridge pointed out that having the regular attendance that the stadium would bring, could result in a great opportunity to greatly enhance concessions in a way that “would make it amazing,” generating more revenue and more ticket sales for events.

A “myriad” of issues involving unions and contracts and other legal issues must also be dealt with, reminded Ostlund.

“Help the Hurting”

Anticipating a drop in donations because of the pandemic, the Salvation Army has set aside a day – November 14 – to kickoff the Red Kettle bell-ringing season and to Help the Hurting in Billings.  

The public is invited to join the Salvation Army to help further their mission to provide hope and help to those who are hurting in the community by joining an all-day mediathon Saturday Nov. 14 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Donations can be made by calling 406-245-4659

A live Facebook event will be held at 6 p.m. featuring Mayor Bill Cole, Russ Palmer, Aaron Flint, moderator of Voices of Montana, officers of the Salvation Army and others. To join the livestream event go to

Donations can be made now at, click on the Kettle Kickoff tile.

Since March, the Salvation Army in Montana has provided more than 40,000 meals, 3,600 nights of safe shelter, and emotional and spiritual support to over 7,500 people in need. Now more than ever, they’re making it safer and simpler to donate in order to support the most vulnerable in Montana. The best way to ensure that these vital services continue is to enlist in Love’s Army with a sustaining monthly gift of $25 per month. To help ensure the safety of bell ringers, donors and partners, the Army has adopted nationally mandated safety protocols. Donations can be made digitally with Apple Pay or Google Pay at any red kettle in Montana. Donors can also ask Amazon Alexa to donate by saying, “Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army,” then specifying the amount. 

Donors can give any amount by texting “KETTLES” to 91999

Every donation provides help to those in need, and all gifts stay within the community in which they are given. Visit to donate or learn more about what the Salvation Army is doing in Billings.

With its founders and researchers, “united in free markets and limited government,” the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has come out with results of two studies that show Montana is about middling when it comes to economic prospects and the performance of its governor. And, the authors make frequent points that one ranking might have a lot to do with another.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock scored but 3 of a possible 5 stars and ranked 24th among the 50 governors of the country in the first ever ALEC Governors ranking of the 2020 Laffer-ALEC Report on Economic Freedom. The scorecard ranks governors based on policy performance and result, as well as executive leadership before and after the start of the COVID-19 health crisis.

At the beginning of September the study ranked Montana as 48th in the number of COVID deaths per 1 million population… only Alaska, Wyoming and Hawaii had a ratio of fewer deaths. New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts had the most. Montana also had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.

The ranking shows that good management and balanced budgets have significantly helped states like Texas, Georgia and South Dakota, the governors of which earned five stars.

In their Rich States Poor States ranking, Montana’s best score was 15th in economic performance. Montana comes in 33rd in projecting economic outlook —  six levels higher than last year and the score shows an over-all upward trend from 43rd in 2015. Montana ranked 24th in terms of State Gross Domestic Product , 15th in Absolute Domestic Migration, and 18th in Non-Farm Payroll.

The Economic Outlook Ranking is a forecast based on 15 state policy variables. Each of these factors is influenced directly by state lawmakers through the legislative process, emphasized the authors. Generally speaking, states that spend less — especially on income transfer programs — and states that tax less — particularly on productive activities such as working or investing — experience higher growth rates than states that tax and spend more.

The authors of the studies include Jonathan Williams, ALEC Chief Economist and Executive Vice President of Policy, who founded ALEC Center for State Fiscal Reform in 2011. He co-authors Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer Economic State Competitiveness Index with Reagan economist Dr. Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore and Bill Meierling.

The numbers that help Montana’s standing include the impacts of not having a sales tax. The state is also bolstered by the fact that Montana has no estate or inheritance tax. The ranking is also bolstered by having a low level of debt at 4.6 percent, which taxpayers would otherwise have to be looking at repaying.

These positives are outweighed to a great extent by the fact that Montana’s other taxes are relatively onerous with rankings such as 33rd for top marginal personal income tax rate; 25th which reflects an increase of $18.12 per $1000 of income; or Top Marginal Corporate Income Tax Rate; 37th for Property Tax Burden which is $35.39 per $1000 of personal income. Montana ranks 32nd in terms of the number of public employees per 10,000, at 538.3.

And, Montana gets dinged as being dead-last, for not being a right-to-work state, and it sinks to 34th for not having tax expenditure limits.

Ranking first in economic performance is Utah, which has ranked in first place for 13 years in a row.

Utah is followed by Wyoming and then Idaho.

At the bottom is California, Illinois and New Jersey, Vermont, with New York dead last.

The authors said that they would like to see more states immolate the management policies of Utah, South Dakota or Wyoming. Among the common themes of the states at the top of their ranking is having balanced budgets and being “right to work states.”

So how has Utah maintained top ranking for 13 year? “A lot goes into that,” said Jonathan Williams, “They have kept a disciplined approach to budget and spending. They created a flat tax from a graduated income tax system, and they made innovative property tax reform… And, finally – something the bond agencies point to – they have prepared for the eventuality that the federal government may not keep up their matches on programs.”

“Another story is Wyoming which is No.  2 —  moving up eight spots.” It is unique in that it is one of two sates that does not have a personal income nor a corporate tax.

Idaho is No. 3.  Indiana is No. 4 and North Carolina is No. 5; both states ten years ago were “in the middle of the pack,” but because of cutting taxes and government reformed they have moved up.”

Ranking 6, 7, and 8 is Nevada, Florida and Tennessee – all states without personal income taxes.

New York has ranked 50th for seven years.

“It is interesting to see [Governor Andrew] Cuomo begging people to return to New York after years of chasing them away,” commented Williams.

Other low rankers are Vermont, Illinois, California, Minnesota, Hawaii, Minnesota and Maine – “states that have the biggest pension liability and the ones most lobbying for a federal bailout — a dangerous idea for federalism.”

Pointed out Steve Moore, there are states that want the federal government to grant them a total of some $750 billion to bail them out of deep debt. “It is unfair to states like Iowa, Idaho and Utah who have balanced their budgets.”

“The COVID crisis has “exposed the states who did not save for a rainy day,” said Jonathan Williams.

While it is noteworthy that many of the states that perform well are states without income taxes, Art Laffer pointed out that Washington  state ranks 37th and it has no income tax – “so that tells you other things matter.”

“When you look at the bottom states, they have the highest tax rates, and then they are doubling down on that,” said Laffer, “….if you look at ten year averages it fits just like a glove on a hand.”

The Rich States Poor States study has been reported for 14 years, and over that time it’s become evident that “income tax rates do have a significantl affect, in fact it is indisputable at this point given what is happening ,” said Steve Moore..

“Looking at U-Haul data, shows the continuation of the trend,” he said, pointing out that there is a consistent migration out of the high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

Another example: “Illinois it is a catastrophe . It is so mismanaged … they have a massive unfunded liability in their pension benefits. … these states have put themselves in a big, big hole,” said Moore.

Art Laffer commented on the devolution of New Jersey which in 1965, with neither an income tax nor a sales tax was performing so well economically it was considered a “growth miracle.” But now, “They have flipped completely,” continued Laffer, pointing out that New Jersey has high gift and estate taxes and an inheritance tax.

Weighted down with unfunded government pension programs is one of the greatest problems confronting states that are underwater. “Unfunded pensions are future tax increases,” warned Laffer, and New Jersey has some of the highest unfunded pensions in the US. A prospective business person “sees a sees “a very toxic business environment waiting to hit in the future.”

Pointing out that it is not uncommon for income tax increases to be advanced with the argument that they bring income equality, Steve Moore interjected, “Guess what states that have the greatest income inequality like California, New York or New Jersey, have the highest income inequality.”

Following developments in Washington that could stall NorthWestern Energy’s effort to buy a greater stake in Colstrip Unit 4, the Montana Public Service Commission announced that it will postpone its third scheduled listening session on the proposed transaction.

On December 9, 2019, NorthWestern signed an agreement with Puget Sound Energy, Inc. to buy Puget’s 25% interest in Colstrip Unit 4, including real estate, equipment, facilities, and energy production, for $1.00. That agreement was renegotiated after Talen Montana, LLC, exercised a right of first refusal to buy half of Puget’s interest. As a result, NorthWestern applied for Commission approval to buy a 12.5% interest in Colstrip from Puget, including 92.5 megawatts of energy production, for $0.50.

Puget, meanwhile, sought pre-approval of the transaction from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. On October 2, staff for the Washington Commission recommended denying Puget’s request. If regulators in Washington deny the proposed sale, NorthWestern’s application for pre-approval from the Montana Public Service Commission could be rendered moot.

Because Washington’s pre-approval decision could alter or stop the proposed transaction, the Commission on Tuesday postponed the third in its series of listening sessions on NorthWestern’s application. If Washington grants pre-approval, the Commission will reschedule the listening session and consider scheduling additional sessions so Montanans can provide comments informed by Washington’s decision.

NorthWestern’s application has already generated significant interest from the public. The Commission has received more than 500 comments on NorthWestern’s application, including input from more than 40 Montanans who spoke at the Commission’s listening sessions on October 13 and 20. The Commission intends to provide ample opportunity for Montanans to provide fully-informed comments on NorthWestern’s application, and will continue to accept written comments, which can be submitted by email to or through the Commission’s website,

Dave Peterson, the owner of Proud Cut Saloon in Cody, Wyoming wants to open a meat processing facility in Powell, Wyoming. The City of Powell is considering revising ordinances that would allow the operation of a slaughter plant in certain zones, according to the Powell Tribune.

From the Powell Economic Development and Northwest College to members of 4-H and cattle growers, support has rallied around the privately-funded enterprise.

Peterson plans to work in partnerships with NWC and Powell High School to create educational opportunities so students can learn a trade which might become a career.

The economic benefits such a facility would reach far beyond the jobs and the facility, said one industry spokesman, pointing out that because of a shortage of such facilities, Wyoming and neighboring states can’t get their cattle slaughtered.

Powell is well-positioned geographically to play a significant role in processing cattle, he said.

Anchor Electric LLC, 1239 Wicks Ln, 794-3883, Jeremy Vance, electrical contractors, 59105

Perch – 313 N Broadway, 208-4466, Becca Garrett – Mgr, restaurants, 59101

HMJ Affordable Auto Repair, 4324 Murphy Ave, 591-1982, Howard Amos, service, 59101

Roy Edward Murray, 407 Howard Ave, Roy Edward Murray, general contractor,59101

All Weather Dogs, 13 Nimitz Dr, 927-4695, Lia Munson, service, 59101

Marissa Irene Photography, 3134 Forbes Blvd, 697-9306, Marissa Frichtil, service, 59102

Optimize LLC, 1140 Krumheuer Dr, 861-5407, Lacey Wattles, service, 59101

Bridger Cleaning Services, 1432 Chesapeake Ln, 774-454-9455, Torin Zonfrelli, service, 59101

Billings Kubota, 5548 Holiday Ave, 245-6702, Bruce Rush, retail sales, 59101

River Rat Retail, 1606 Ash St Trlr 5, 861-5800, Kaile Keil, retail sales, Ballantine, 59006

Nathan Blanding, 539 Clark Ave, Nathan Blanding, general contractor, 59101

Homestead Steaks, LLC, 300 S 24th St W, 417-793-5235, Corey Gatin, retail sales, 59102

Clearly Clean, 610 S 44th St W #2301, 861-4027, Kelly Frick, service, 59106

Oring Enterprises, 21 E Almadin Ln, 694-2430, Kemer Oring, service, 59105

Breit Roofing, 1340 Nottingham Dr, 307-337-5207, Nathan Breit, general contractors, Casper Wy 82609

Benchmark Masonry Inc, 223 H Street, 366-6257, Mandi Bailey, general contractors, Lewistown, 59457

Klean Kiwi, 5844 Kit Ln S, 801-505-3161, Denise Morrison, service, 59106

Grumpy Monkey Grass Company, 3098 W Copper Ridge loop, 794-5957, Christopher Flower, service, 59106

Force Solutions Inc, 903 Clough Ave, 801-866-5858, James Vavra, Columbus 59019

Capra Group Inc, 903 Clough Ave, 801-866-5858, Jason Ahlin, general contractors, Columbus, 59019

Promaster Contracting, 5611 Creekview, 850-8515, Luis Gonzalez Moran, general contractor, Shepherd, 59079

Bighorn Financial Inc, 937 Grand Ave – Ste B, 969-1470, Tana Weimer, service, 59102

Go-Klein LLC, 880 N 29th St, 910-286-5547, Tamara Burgecel, retail sales, 59101

Daniel Construction, 105 Jefferson St, 200-3572, Seth Daniel, general contractors, 59101

Mountain Freak Collaborative Inc, 2223 Montana Ave #103, 661-2922, Vincent Salminen, retail sales, 59101

Brennan Design, 3608 Wilkinson Ln, 799-7959, Laurie Brennan, retail sales, Great Falls, 59404

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, 1125 Terry Ave, 534-1970, Leon Riley Jr, plumbing contractors, 59102

Divine Roots Rasta Shop, 308 Foundation Ave, 661-3912, Deann/Rodney Bargas,  retail sales, Laurel, 59044

Doran Unlimited, 1734 Avenue D, 561-5678, Patrick Doran, retail sales, 59102

Tiffany Edwards, Birth & Newborn Photographer LLC, 114 N Broadway, 561-2221, Tiffany Edwards, service, 59101

AR Industrial Services, 1121 Wild Blue Ct, 672-1900, Ryan & Alina Barthuly, retail sales, 59106

John Crane Inc, 815 Cerise Rd, 847-967-2947, Nancy Kleiber, manufacturing, 59101

Prairie Cottage Montana, 8705 Cut Throat Dr, 208-4157, Diane Sitter, Misc, 59106

Sawtooth Contracting Inc, 2001 Rosebud Dr, 861-4463, Janelle Crowley, general contractors, 59102

Call o Way Fingerprinting LLC, 1140 1st Ave N #302, 281-3473, Amber and Rahim Calloway, retail sales, 59101

Career Employment Consultants, 939 N 23rd St, 219-7408, Courtney Miller, service, 59101

Colima de Mis Amores LLC, 980 S 24th St W, 431-2973, Elena Murillo, retail sales, 59102

All Star Maintenance and Janitorial, 306 1st Ave SW, 591-7195, Theodore Sopko, service, Dilworth, MN, 56529

Sean Pappas, 1517 1/2 Lewis Ave, 661-6343, Sean Pappas, general contractors, 59102

Mr Management dba Trailhead Management, 612 Charles St, 259-7020, Mark & Robert Morehaed, service, 59102

Diamond Cutz Customizing, 1540 Burlington Ave, 876-2315, Heather Schutz, retail sales, 59102

Heiko’s Bakery 2, 3429 Central Ave Ste C, 839-9012, Brandon Miller/Angela Allen, restaurants, 59102

A-Pro Home inspection Services, 3420 San Marino Dr, 561-7911, Lance Story, service, 59101

Triple G Flooring and More, 410 S 33rd St, 320-841-0834, Lea Aldridge, service, 59101

 Ringo Flooring, 1385 Highway 87 E#15, 545-8045, Paul Ringo, service, 59101

Restore Masters Contracting LLC, 5991 Chester Ave, 904-717-7663, Irvin David, roofing contractors, Jacksonville FL 32217

Kutil Inc, 300 Moore Ln, 969-5448, Ryan Brownell, general contractors, 59101

Pretty Penny Cleaning, 1216 Concord Dr, 697-6204, Kaitlyn Niles, service, 59102

Bas Recoverezee, 1707 St John’s Ave, 927-2532, Jerri Anderson, service, 59102

McCleary Design Studio, 115 Yellowstone Ave, 206-661-1492, Patrick Anderson, service, 59102

Angela Foster, 2032 1/2 Gorham Park Dr, 200-2096, Angela Foster, service, 59102

Snowbros, 750 Terry Ave, 515-441-9367, Nathan Lucero, service, 59101

Fred Can Fix it, 1134 Custer Ave, 916-718-6926, Manfred Schaubmayer, general contractors, 599102

Alibi Bail Bonds LLC, 3377 Barley Circle, 593-0422, Jay Hubber, service, 59102

Reed Residential and Remodel, 644 S 29th St W, 690-1358, Nicholas Reed, general contractors, 59102

Morris Construction & remodel LLC, 644 S 29th St W, 750-2577, Sean Morris, general construction, 59102

JS Custom Designs, 1822 Island View Dr, 647-5326, Isabella Schmalz/Tyler Johnston, retail sales, 59101

 Kron Construction, 4834 Central Ave, 851-1085, Tre Kron, general contractors, 59106

Art Stain, 907 Custer Ave, 598-2970, Alexandria Kenney, misc, 59102

innovation by design, 814 N 25th St, 561-8435, Anthony Olsen, service, 59101

Gerks Garage, 7935 Clarke Ave, 670-8214, Guy Gierke, service, 59106

Conquer industries LLC, 34 Custer Ave, 861-2861, Jerimi Stratton, general contractors, 59101

Jeanette Stevenson, 4215 Montana Sapphire Dr, 619-265-6233, Jeanette Stevenson, retail sales, 59106

Mikela Besel Interiors, 2214 Trails End dr, 671-5989, Mikela Besel, service, 59106

Montesla, 4100 Murphy Ave, 404-7744, Adam Smith, service, 59101

MJM Advanced LLC, 106 1/2 Broadwater Ave, 662-8720, Michael Marino, service, 59101

Chip-B-Gone, 2933 Stinson Ave, 633-1189, Frank Barnes, service, 59102

Xcel Plumbing & Mechanical , 4360 Hill Rd, 949-633-0445, Jason Hodges, plumbing contractors, 59101

ARS Consulting, LLC, 4100 Murphy Ave, 371-3235, Adam Smith, service, 59101

NorthWestern Energy awarded the City of Billings $90,000 in E+Business Partners Energy Efficiency incentives for the installation of energy efficient equipment last week, underscoring the opportunities available for any commercial, or even residential, energy projects to recapture some of their investment costs.

The City of Billings’ adoption of the technology and working in partnership with Northwestern Energy, over the past three years, in building a $75 million upgrade to its Wastewater Reclamation Facility, not only saved the city money but demonstrates the opportunities available in almost any energy project.

The upgrades result in Billings producing even higher quality water that returns to the Yellowstone River. Part of the upgrade included constructing a state-of-the-art aeration system that maximizes energy efficiency. Aeration is the most energy intensive process required in wastewater treatment, accounting for approximately half of the electrical load used.

It’s not the first project that the city has done in cooperation with NorthWestern Energy. The City and NorthWestern have worked in partnership for years to improve the energy efficiencies in city facilities and to reduce energy consumption while reducing operating costs.

“The City of Billings has been a leader in energy management, by looking for opportunities to make strategic investments in energy saving projects and participating in the utility’s energy efficiency incentive programs. This $90,000 E+Business Partners incentive awarded to the water reclamation facility is one of the largest incentives we have awarded in recent years,” said NorthWestern Energy Senior Key Account and Economic Development Specialist, Deborah Singer.

The Billings aeration system upgrades are estimated to save about 743,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, resulting in about $57,300 in annual electric cost savings based on today’s electric costs. 

The aeration system uses turbo blowers, much like a turbo charger in a sports car, that rotate at speeds of over 30,000 rpm. These high speeds allow the rotating shaft to literally levitate in air creating very little friction resistance. This results in lower energy requirements. And, all this means less energy required to produce high quality water for the Yellowstone River.

The project was initiated by a team composed of City of Billings staff, NorthWestern Energy  representatives and consultants working together to identify energy savings opportunities for the City of Billings.. 

During the last 10 years the City of Billings implemented 62 energy efficiency projects; qualifying for $967,050 in energy efficiency incentives from NorthWestern Energy.  These projects resulted in an estimated 5.82 million kWhs saved per year, equating to about $455,000 in annual electric cost savings.

In addition, the City of Billings has received $612,257 in Large Customer Universal Systems Benefit funding for 14 energy efficiency projects. These projects resulted in an estimated 1.37 million kWhs saved per year, equating to about $104,500 in annual electric cost savings.

The City of Billings has also been awarded $171,823 in NorthWestern Energy E+ Renewable Energy incentives funded by Universal Systems Benefit credits for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems at Fire Stations 3 & 6, the Billings Parks & Recreation Community Center, the downtown MET Transit Center, and the new library. 

For more details about E+ Energy Efficiency programs go to or (800) 823-5995.