Kamut International, a Montana-based company, is celebrating 35 years since introducing the ancient grain — KAMUT Brand khorasan wheat — to the market. What started with 36 kernels, with the legend of them having been discovered in an Egyptian tomb, has grown to be a family enterprise spanning three generations that today is a well-known global brand in the world of organic farming and food.

Today, some 300 farms throughout Montana and Canada produce the product that was first introduced at the Natural Products Expo West show in Anaheim, California.

It’s potential was recognized by Bob Quinn of Big Sandy Montana.  It was his vision and leadership as a progressive farmer from North Central Montana, that put Kamut International at the forefront of regenerative organic agriculture and to promoting the philosophy of “food as medicine” as a means of promoting health and prevention of diet-related chronic diseases.

From 36 kernels and legends of discovery in an Egyptian tomb, KAMUT Brand khorasan wheat, an ancient grain, is guaranteed to never be hybridized or genetically modified, always organically grown, prized for its nutrition, ease of digestibility, sweet nutty-buttery taste and firm texture, can be found throughout the world in products including breads, pasta, pizza, cereals, snacks, pastries, crackers, beer, green foods, and cereal drinks.

The fascinating story of KAMUT Brand khorasan wheat began in 1964 when Bob saw for the first time at the age of 16 while attending a nearby county fair, an unusual-looking grain referred to as “King Tut Wheat.” After finishing his Ph.D. in Plant Biochemistry, Bob remembered the grain and developed an idea that would eventually transform his life and life’s work.

Research and the pursuit of knowledge and understanding have always been Bob’s passion and the center of his focus. His journey with KAMUT Brand khorasan wheat has been motivated by the question, “Why do people report that they can eat and enjoy KAMUT khorasan wheat despite not being able to consume other wheat products?” Reflecting on the evolution of this journey, Bob admits not having any idea that 35 years later, the same ancient grain that he first saw in his youth would be planted on up to 100,000+ acres in a single year in Montana and Saskatchewan and would be exported all over the world to be made into organic food products.

After many decades of dedication and hard work, Bob is ready to step down from his role as president of Kamut International and give the next generation the opportunity. “I was always hoping that someone from the family would take over for me. My dad passed it on to me, and I’m now passing the hat on to my nephew Trevor Blyth,” Bob says, adding, I have great confidence in Trevor. For the past 15 years, he has grown with and been running the business side of Kamut International, helping to build a global brand.”

Excited about his new role as Kamut International president, Trevor Blyth said he is honored, not only for the opportunity to further the KAMUT Project and take KAMUT Brand wheat to another level, but because this is also a part of the family’s story. “KAMUT Brand khorasan wheat itself is amazing, but on top of that, it inspires me to be able to continue our commitment to providing people with healthy and nutritious food and at the same time contributing to improving the health of the environment.”

The Quinn family farm has served as Bob’s working laboratory to test, document, and share his findings with farmers and thought leaders in the U.S. and worldwide. Among more recent accomplishments was leading the First International Conference of Wheat Landraces in the summer of 2018. Bob’s ongoing research projects have helped further an understanding of the differences between ancient wheat and modern wheat and how starting with healthy soils produces healthy food and healthy people.

While Bob hands things over to the next generation, Trevor comments, “Bob, even though I don’t expect you to, I’m telling you that you don’t get to just ride off into the sunset. You know I’ll be calling on you for your advice.”

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is in the process of purchasing two islands in the Yellowstone River east of Reed Point for a fishing access site and to fulfill a need for woody debris and wildlife habitat. The acquisition will replace habitat that was removed during the cleanup on July 1, 2011 of the ExxonMobil Pipeline Company oil spill at Laurel. 

The purchase must be approved by the commission in April and the entire transaction will be completed by mid-summer, according to Robert Gibson, FWP Program Manager.

The 45 acres of islands are currently owned by the Montana Department of Transportation, which acquired them when it bought a ranch as part of a plan to abandon an old bridge across the Yellowstone River. FWP has agreed to buy the islands with $54,050 from the Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP). 

NRDP was funded through a settlement with Exxon Mobil Pipeline Company following the rupture the Exxon Mobil Pipeline petroleum pipeline in 2011. During cleanup of the spill, crews altered riverside wildlife habitat and removed large woody debris – primarily downed cottonwood trees. Such debris is responsible for creating and maintaining islands and other natural structures that form a healthy, meandering river. 

The islands being acquired will remain undeveloped to leave habitat intact..

Ty Elkin has joined Stockman Bank as Senior Vice President-Billings Market. His responsibilities include managing new and existing banking relationships, business development and assisting the Billings Market President in bank operations, employee supervision and management, and all phases of lending for the six Stockman Bank Billings area locations.

Elkin brings over 20 years of banking and leadership experience to the position, which includes branch supervision, small business and commercial lending, customer relations and business development. He most recently served as the President/CEO of St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation.

 Elkin earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Montana State University Billings in 1995. He graduated with honors from the Pacific Coast Graduate School of Banking at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington in 2006. He also completed the Chamber’s Leadership Billings program and recently received the 2020 MSU Billings Distinguished Alumni award for his professional accomplishments and community involvement. He is located at 2700 King Avenue West.

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose 2.4 points in March to 98.2. March’s reading is the first return to the average historical reading since last November. The NFIB Uncertainty Index increased six points to 81, which was primarily driven by owners being more uncertain about whether it is a good time to expand their business and make capital expenditures in the coming months.

“Main Street is doing better as state and local restrictions are eased, but finding qualified labor is a critical issue for small businesses nationwide,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Small business owners are competing with the pandemic and increased unemployment benefits that are keeping some workers out of the labor force. However, owners remain determined to hire workers and grow their business.”

Other key findings include:

—Seven of the 10 Index components improved and three declined.

—Sales expectations over the next three months improved eight points to a net 0% of owners, a historically low level.

—Earnings trends over the past three months declined four points to a net negative 15%.

As reported in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 42% of owners reported job openings that could not be filled, a record high reading. Owners continue to have difficulty finding qualified workers to fill jobs as they compete with increased unemployment benefits and the pandemic keeping some workers out of the labor force.

A net 28% of owners reported raising compensation (up three points) and the highest level in the past 12 months. A net 17% plan to raise compensation in the next three months, down two points.

Seven percent of owners cited labor costs as their top business problem and 24% said that labor quality was their top business problem. Finding eligible workers to fill open positions will become increasingly difficult for small business owners.

Fifty-nine percent of owners reported capital outlays in the next six months, up two points from February. Of those making expenditures, 41% reported spending on new equipment, 26% acquired vehicles, and 14% improved or expanded facilities. Six percent acquired new buildings or land for expansion and 11% spent money for new fixtures and furniture.

Twenty percent of owners plan capital outlays in the next few months, down three points from February. Owners are not planning on investing in their businesses as expected future sales and business conditions remain below average.

A net negative 6% of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past three months, down eight points from February. The net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes improved eight points to a net negative 0%.

The net percent of owners reporting inventory increases decreased two points to a net negative 5%. A net 3% of owners view current inventory stocks as “too low” in March, down two points but remaining at historically high levels. A net 4% of owners plan inventory investment in the coming months, up two points from February.  

The net percent of owners raising average selling prices increased one point to a net 26% (seasonally adjusted). Eight percent of owners reported lower average selling prices and 36% reported higher average prices. Price hikes were the most frequent in wholesale (65% higher, 5% lower) and retail (48% higher, 5% lower). A net 34% (seasonally adjusted) plan price hikes.

The frequency of reports of positive profit trends declined four points to a net negative 15% reporting quarter on quarter profit improvements. Sales have not yet improved enough for owners to report higher earnings.

Among those owners reporting lower profits, 46% blamed weaker sales, 15% cited the usual seasonal change, 10% cited a higher cost of materials, 5% cited labor costs, 5% cited lower prices, and 4% cited higher taxes or regulatory costs. For owners reporting higher profits, 68% credited sales volumes, 12% cited usual seasonal change, and 7% cited higher prices.

Two percent of owners reported that all of their borrowing needs were not satisfied. Twenty-seven percent reported all credit needs were met and 59% said they were not interested in a loan. A net 1% reported that their last loan was harder to get than in previous attempts. One percent of owners reported that financing was their top business problem. The net percent of owners reporting paying a higher rate on their most recent loan was 0%, up two points from February.


Watford Enterprises LLC/Dale Jones Construction LLC, 825 Grand Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $33,000   

Valley Mt Property Holdings LLC/Lobo Construction Inc, 1807 24th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $240,000 

Valley Mt Property Holdings LLC/Lobo Construction Inc, 1807 24th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $4,000

904 Main LLC/ Summit Properties And Development, 1904 Main St, Com New Other, $900,000

Target Corp T-1333,  403 Main St, Com Remodel, $39,270

Stockman Bank Of Montana/Hardy Construction Co, 1405 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $405,000

Sisters Of Charity Of Leavenworth, 1233 N 30th St, Com Remodel, $140,000

Daniel Property LLC/Reichenbach Construction Inc, 2045 Broadwater Ave, Com Remodel, $38,000

JMS Properties, LLC/Karv LLC, 24 Orchard Ln, Com Remodel, $39,000

Hill Crest, Inc/Neumann Construction, 1601 Lewis Ave, Com Remodel, $5,000

Shiloh Silver Screen Partners/Jones Construction, Inc, 1027 Shiloh Crossing Blvd, Com Remodel, $20,000

Jon Switzer/Brown Plumbing & Heating, 2147 Poly Dr, $20,000

The Back Forty LLC /B & W Builders, 331 Calhoun Ln, Com Remodel – Change In Use, $45,000

Vallie Properties LLC/ Red Lodge Rock & Retainers, 2143 Lampman Dr, Demolition Permit Commercial, $23,000


Mountain Range LLC/Formation Inc, 4710 Sky Vista Ct, Res New Accessory Structure, $7,080

Lande, Caleb D & Kristin, 1720 Iris Ln , Res New Accessory Structure, $20,000

Infinity Home LLC/ Infinity Home, 2434 Bonito Loop, Res New Single Family, $238,712

Jeff Kreitzberg/Jeff Kreitzberg Homes, 2216 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $238,910

Infinity Home/Infinity Home LLC, 1015 Matador Ave, Res New Single Family, $212,376

Worthington, Scott & Becky, 4231 Creekwood Dr, Res New Single Family, $386,506

Krivitz, Justin T & Elizabeth A/Steve Gountanis Homes Inc, 5425 Riesling Ln, Res New Single Family, $384,854

Bob Pentecost/Bob Pentecost Construction, 7021 Copper View Way, Res New Single Family, $378,000

DCL Ventures LLC/Zuhaus Construction LLC, 5315 Riesling Ln, Res New Single Family,   $650,000

Wagenhals Land And Livestock L, 1110 Daybreak Dr, Res New Single Family,  $300,000

After the announcement that Magic City Blues will indeed be held in Billings this summer, promoters reported being flooded with requests for tickets from all across the country.

Magic City Blues will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary with three days of perormances on August 5, 6 and 7 in downtown Billings. The urban music fest will feature Willy G, Mike Farris, Jessica Eve, Free Spirit Soul, Anthony Gomes, Keb’ Mo’, Karkin Poe, Daniel Kosel & Madrona Road, John Roberts Y Pan Blanco, Kevin Burt, G. Love  The Juice and Samantha Fish.

Music fans will be arriving in Billings for the event from Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, as well as from dozens and dozens of towns throughout Montana.

For details go to  www.MagicCityBlues.com

Governor Greg Gianforte extended the payment and filing deadlines for Montana individual income taxpayers’ 2020 tax returns to May 17, 2021. 

“Last year brought real, serious challenges to Montanans, and it’s only appropriate to extend the deadline so Montana taxpayers have some extra time to file, without having to worry about interest or penalties,” Governor Gianforte said. 

The May 17 deadline is in keeping with the new federal filing deadline.

The Department of Revenue advises that the American Rescue Plan Act excludes the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits from federal taxes for those making less than $150,000. Those who have already filed their federal and Montana tax returns do not have to amend their returns. But those who received unemployment benefits in 2020 and have not yet filed should follow the revised instructions for their Montana return at MTRevenue.gov. 

By John R. Lott Jr. and Thomas Massie

There were so many lies in Vice President Kamala Harris’ and President Joe Biden’s presentations on guns Thursday that it is hard to know where to start. One thing is certain, though: The media fact-checkers won’t question their claims. Here are just a few of the false ones:

>The background check system “has kept more than 3 million firearms out of the hands of dangerous people.”

Since the Brady background checks began in 1994, there have been 3.5 million initial denials. However, it is one thing to stop a felon from buying a gun. It is quite another to stop a law-abiding citizen from buying a gun just because his or her name is similar to a felon’s. In 2017, for example, there were 112,000 initial denials for supposedly attempted prohibited purchases, but just 12 federal prosecutions by June 2018. The reason is that these weren’t real cases.

The background check system is a mess, with the mistakes primarily born by minorities through no fault of their own. The error rate for black males is three times their share of the population.

>The Charleston Loophole

Biden says that if there had only been more than three days to check Dylann Roof’s background, Roof would have been stopped from buying a gun, thereby preventing the horrible Charleston, S.C., church shooting. But that is a lie. You can’t buy a gun if you have a felony or certain misdemeanor convictions, or if you are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime with a possible prison sentence of at least one year. Since Roof’s arrest was for a misdemeanor drug offense, which had a maximum possible sentence of six months, a longer waiting period would not have blocked his gun purchase.

If Democrats want to change the law so that any misdemeanor arrest prevents gun purchases, this would at least be related to the Charleston case. But Democrats want to impose up to a 30-day waiting period without explicitly stating that is their real aim. If they want a long waiting period, they should make a case for why this would somehow be desirable. Instead, Democrats pretend that their proposal would have stopped the Charleston shooting when their actual goal is to obtain a long waiting period.

>Biden said that gunmakers are “exempt from being sued. … This is the only outfit that is exempt from being sued.”

The president claims this is the top change he wants. In fact, however, if gunmakers make defective guns, you can sue them. Likewise, if they break the law (e.g., sell a firearm without a background check), you can sue them. Biden’s proposal is very different from current law. He wants gun manufacturers held civilly liable for misuse of guns they sell. This would allow lawsuits against manufacturers and sellers whenever a crime, accident, or suicide occurs with a gun. The straightforward result would be to put gunmakers out of business.

Imagine what would happen to the car industry if similar rules were applied. The National Safety Council estimates that 39,404 Americans died and 4.5 million were injured from car accidents in 2018. Cars are also frequently used to commit crimes.

>“The vast majority of Americans believe there should be [universal] background checks.”

Gun control advocates frequently claim that over 90% of Americans support background checks for private transfers of guns. Yet, the last time such laws were proposed to voters, they rejected them. When Michael Bloomberg got universal background check initiatives onto Maine and Nevada’s ballots, for example, he lost in Maine by four percentage points and won in Nevada by just 0.8 percentage points.

This tough sledding wasn’t for lack of money. In Maine, Bloomberg outspent his opponents by over six times. In Nevada, he spent an incredible $35.30 per vote – three times more than his opponents. If over 90% of Americans supported these laws, this type of spending would be unnecessary.

He blamed the “historic spike in homicides” on the lack of gun control laws.

No sudden change in gun control laws caused last year’s spike in homicides. Instead, the real explanation is simple, and something Biden refused to consider: prisons released a large number of inmates because of COVID-19, politicians ordered police to stand down, police department budgets were cut, and prosecutors refused to prosecute criminals.

>In describing mass public shootings, Biden said that gun violence in this country is an “international embarrassment.”

The president might not follow international news closely, but mass public shootings are much more common and deadly in the rest of the world than they are in the United States. The U.S. contains 4.6% of the world’s population, yet accounts for only 1% of the world’s shooters. Over the last decade, Europe has experienced deadlier mass public shootings than any of those in the U.S. — ever. In November 2015, for example, 130 people were shot to death at a concert in Paris. In July 2011, 67 people were shot to death in Norway. European countries such as France, Finland, Norway, and a number of Eastern European countries have higher per capita death rates from mass public shootings than the United States does. Yet, all of these countries have stricter gun control laws than we do.

These are just a few of the false claims made on Thursday. No, the rules for buying guns at gun shows are no different than buying them anywhere else. And no, when guns are unavailable neither the suicides nor the suicide attempts drop. Unfortunately, the liberal fact-checkers – as usual – are nowhere to be found.

John R. Lott Jr. is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author most recently of “Gun Control Myths.” Until last month, Lott was the senior adviser for research and statistics at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy. He now lives in Montana.

Thomas Massie is a Republican member of the House who has represented Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District since 2012

By Evelyn Pyburn

The Billings City Council has adopted new regulations for the massage therapy business in Billings. The additional laws that will control how business owners provide their services are aimed at tripping up sex and human trafficking criminals who operate under the guise of being massage therapy businesses.

Hearings were held on April 12 and April 26.  After months of discussion, debate and revisions the proposed ordinance still encountered proposed amendments during hearings, to make it more palatable to therapists who strongly, and often passionately, opposed the regulations, saying that their legitimate businesses are being misused as a shortcut to address a law enforcement failure to enforce existing laws.

Advocates and law enforcement, however, say they need more tools to deal with a human trafficking problem that has grown so extreme that it draws worldwide attention to Billings. The human trafficking involves luring women from, usually Asian countries, to Billings where they are then enslaved for commercial sex activity. The human trafficking element also poses risks for the abduction of young people locally.

Mayor Bill Cole supported the ordinance saying that as revised, the regulation is considerably less intrusive than what it was in its initial version. City Councilwoman Penny Ronning is credited with have spearheaded the campaign to implement the ordinance, and several proponents applauded her perseverance and efforts.

Only three city council people opposed the adoption of the regulation – Pam Purinton, Danny Choriki and Frank Ewalt – mostly on the grounds that it overly burdens the legitimate operation of small business owners.

City Council Member Danny Choriki said, “It still bothers me that we are using business licenses… it is a bad precedence. …it is still a bad solution… it is too much of a shortcut for law enforcement.” 

The council rejected an amendment, proposed by Purinton, that would have sunsetted the ordinance in two years, at which time the council could evaluate whether it was succeeding in its purpose, revise it, renew it or suspend it. Mayor Cole opposed the amendment saying he felt that to believe the law could be terminated in two years would give criminals the idea that if they could just wait it out, the restrictions and additional licensing requirements would go away.

Considering that the problem of prostitution and sex trafficking has been an on-going issue in Billings for decades, to sunset the law in just two years is “a bad idea,” said Councilwoman Kendra Shaw. Two years is not enough time to determine the effectiveness of the ordinance, she said.

That sex and human trafficking has been a long-term problem in Billings was underscored by several of those testifying regarding the ordinance – on both sides of the issue.

“In 1979 Tokyo Sauna opened and everyone knew what it was and it was just shut down in 2019,” pointed out one massage therapist during public comment. She continued, “Prostitution is against the law and there were sting operations… and they never shut them down and shame on our city…”

Now they come “into our legitimate operations and shut us down…. I feel like I am being attacked and put into a position of making me a prostitute at my business, and I have been doing this for 24 years.”

City Administrator Chris Kukulski said that Billings is patterning their ordinance and strategy after that of Aurora, Colorado, a city that claims they were able to eliminate their commercial sex after enacting the ordinance.

His claim was rebutted by one of massage therapists, who said that all that happened in Aurora was that the establishments moved a few miles down the road outside the city limits – a concern that was mentioned several times in the testimony about the potential outcome locally.

Repeatedly citizens declared that the real solution has to come from law enforcement and if that requires the citizens paying higher taxes to get the needed personnel then that is what has to be done.

The current ordinance will be complaint-driven and overseen by code enforcement staff in Billings in cooperation with the law enforcement.

Councilman Frank Ewalt challenged the effectiveness of heightening restrictions on massage therapy businesses.

He read from an earlier statement from Police Chief Rich St. Johns about policing of commercial sex enterprises and human trafficking: “Candidly speaking it is low priority…we know they are out there, but they are difficult to police. Investigations are challenging. Victims fail to cooperate because they do not trust law enforcement. Currently a successful prosecution is beyond our resources, specialization and scope. You are investigating criminals who are business savvy, well-organized, adept at hiding resources, and changing tactics.”

“What will this ordinance change about that?” questioned Ewalt, “Will police all of a sudden have a high priority? Are these businesses not going to be as savvy? Are these businesses going to be less adept at hiding their resources?” Ewalt noted that they have had only one complaint filed.

Complaints are low, conceded St. Johns. It is difficult to get victims to come forward, he said, adding, “This is another tool we use.”

“It is not going to change the scope of what we need to put a case together,” said St. Johns, but he vowed, “If you give us a complaint we will follow up on that.”

The ordinance requires that massage therapists obtain a city license in addition to the state licensing they must have, pass a back ground check, and it dictates hours of operation, staffing, records and bookkeeping, and unlocked doors.

A common complaint from the business owners was that they were not included in the process of trying to develop a solution to the problem, however others said that they were involved in the process and supported the ordinance.

“We have tried to give you examples of things and you just keep shutting us down. I am appalled that you don’t give us credit. Like we don’t know what we are doing. Where is your team work with us? Have you met with all of us? No, you haven’t, and you do have an agenda and I am sorry you haven’t worked with us.”

At that point, Mayor Cole asked her not to make her comments personal. ”You would not want us to make those views personal,” he said.

The woman responded emphatically, “It is personal to me. It is very personal to us. It is very personal to each of us.”

Commented another massage therapist, “I have been told that this ordinance does not apply to me…  it pertains to everyone… it does nothing to stop the illicit sex trafficking. We have a lot of ordinances already in force that are not being used.”

A general question was asked about what happens to the victims of human trafficking. “As far as I know we have no victim services. We have to do something.”

Kukulksi said, “I don’t have any involvement. I don’t know what our community offers for services.”

Some of the business owners expressed concern about HYPPA restrictions (privacy of personal information) in the ordinance requirement that they make all their records available to police upon demand.

City Attorney Gina Dahl said that the requirement would not be in violation of HYPPA, nor is it a violation of the Constitution, as some had proclaimed.

Billings Clinic has been recognized by Magnet, the gold standard in nursing excellence, for the fourth time. Organizations must reapply for this recognition every four years and Billings Clinic has continuously earned it since 2006 — a testament to its high-quality nursing practice.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program distinguishes health care organizations that meet rigorous standards for nursing excellence. It is the highest global honor for professional nursing practice.

 “Magnet is so important to our employees and to Billings Clinic because it really elevates the care that we give to an entirely new level. It holds us to a higher standard and encourages our nurses to seek new knowledge and to be innovative in the care that they deliver. We want to make sure that we’re providing the latest evidence-based care so that our patients get the very best,” said Laurie Smith, Billings Clinic Chief Nursing Officer.

Receiving Magnet recognition for the fourth time since 2006 continues the region’s largest health care organization’s proud inclusion in the global Magnet community – a small, select group of health care organizations and hospitals. Only about 7 percent of hospitals worldwide have achieved Magnet designation. Of those, only 98 have been recognized four times, placing Billings Clinic among the top 1 percent of hospitals globally for nursing.

 “Magnet recognition is a tremendous honor and reflects our commitment to delivering the highest quality of care to our patients and communities,” said Scott Ellner, DO, Billings Clinic CEO. “To earn Magnet recognition once was a great accomplishment and an incredible source of pride for our nurses.”