Makoshika State Park is experiencing increased visitation, according to the Montana State Park Midyear Visitation Report. According to the visitation report, Makoshika had a total of 72,650 visitors by the end of the second quarter of the year, an increase of about 24% over the same period in 2020. This is the first year the park has had a functioning water line for visitors to use.

The Women’s Business Center at Prospera Network and the Women’s Entrepreneurship & Leadership Lab received $240,000 and $125,000 respectively from Wells Fargo Bank. MoFi, a nonprofit lender, received a grant of $2.1 million earlier in the year. Wells Fargo has gifted almost $5 million in grant money to nonprofits in Montana over the past three years. The money given to the Women’s Business Center is will be used for the creation of a mentoring program. The Women’s Entrepreneurship & Leadership Lab funds will help address issues women face when starting a business. MoFi’s grant money has been put toward lending for businesses affected by the pandemic.

Ceres Bakery, owned by Hannah Bjornson and her husband Rick Grimm expanded in June by creating an indoor seating area. Ceres opened 15 years ago at 318 Main St, Kalispell. They plan to expand the menu to match the square feet expansion.

Last Call Modern Mexican, at 19 S. Willson Avenue, Bozeman, opened in July with an Baja- Style menu. Luis Valdovinos, the chef and owner has moved from Albuquerque, New Mexico. The grand opening is planned for September. The recipes reflect food he grew up eating and dishes he makes for himself at home.

The Kalispell City Council recently approved two development projects. The first was a recommendation to build a boutique hotel at the Third Street West and Main Street. The second was a conditional-use permit to build above the historic grain silos located at 505 W. Center St. These are two steps toward the current council’s goal of revitalizing downtown Kalispell.

The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority held an in-person conference in Lewistown recently  where discussions were held about what needs to be done to rebuild and maintain a passenger rail route through the southern tier of Montana.

The Bureau of Land Management has announced it will begin a process that will allow cancelled lease sales to be posted late this year. The framework outlined by the Bureau of Land Management includes a 30-day scoping period that will take into account comments received, ending on Oct. 1. After that, BLM will do an environmental review of the parcels for potential leasing and provide another opportunity for public comment. Following the environmental review, available parcels will be identified, along with applicable stipulations, for yet more public comment. The release states that the BLM Montana/Dakotas State Office anticipates publishing a Notice of Competitive Lease Sale later this year. The slow-walk outlined by the BLM is intended to comply with a Louisiana District Court order that said the Biden administration could not simply cancel quarterly lease sales


A Japanese delegation is touring oilfield sites in Dickinson and visiting Medora today as part of a discussion of future investment opportunities in the state’s carbon capture and utilization goals. The delegation is interested in the continued growth and potential for carbon capture, storage and utilization in North Dakota, as well as enhanced oil recovery, use of carbon in agriculture, and the state’s hydrogen hub. Included in the discussions were several Japanese companies focused on energy.

The U.S. Forest Service is poised to begin a massive forestry project that aims to improve habitat and reduce fuels for communities in the Swan Valley. The Mid-Swan Landscape Restoration and Wildland Urban Interface Project would cover more than 174,000 acres of the Flathead National Forest around Condon and Swan Lake. The project could last up to 15 years. The Project area is home to grizzly bears, bull trout and Canada lynx, all of which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Madisen and Kyle Duty, owners of Huck’s Place at 217 Central Ave in Whitefish. Huck’s is billed as a ginger brew and juice bar. The Duty’s make their own beverages using plant-based ingredients such as ginger, turmeric and kale. Ginger brew is a combination of ginger, lemon, vanilla, cane sugar and water.

 Hidden Hollow Hideaway Cattle & Guest Ranch is the 2021 recipient of the Montana Leopold Conservation Award.  Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management. Sand County Foundation and American Farmland Trust present the award in Montana with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation’s Rangeland Resources Committee. Hidden Hollow Hideaway Cattle & Guest Ranch, located near Townsend, is owned by the Flynn family. The late Kelly Flynn, who served in the Montana Legislature from 2010 to 2018, passed away earlier this year. The ranch is operated by his wife Jill Flynn and the families of their daughters, Shannon and Siobhan. The family receives $10,000 and a crystal award. Last year’s award recipient was C Lazy J Livestock, owned by Craig and Conni French of Malta in Phillips County. Bill and Dana Milton of Roundup in Musselshell County were the first recipients in 2019.

The Montana Department of Transportation announced a proposal to gravel overlay about 11.5 miles of Secondary Highway 381, southwest of Roundup in Musselshell County. Proposed work includes applying a new gravel overlay and updating signage. The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in 2022.

The Carroll Companies announced the addition of Will Peete to their Land Acquisitions Team. Peete is a JD/MBA with over 15 years of local, national, & international experience in real property, natural resources, community building, land management, and energy sectors. He grew up in North Carolina, but spent most of his career in the Rocky Mountains.  He studied at Montana State University, North Carolina State University, and Wake Forest University. Peete has over 10 years of experience with real estate due diligence, property acquisition, and management. Founded and headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, more than 30 years ago, The Carroll Companies has since grown strategically and diversified into a real estate conglomerate specializing in land development, construction, ownership, hospitality, management and publication with a total estimated valuation of over $3 billion.

California officials have agreed to pay $800,000 in prevailing-party attorneys’ fees to a popular Christian megachurch in Los Angeles after state and federal courts in California issued permanent injunctions barring government officials there from ever again imposing discriminatory restrictions on houses of worship.

This is the first year Gallatin Ice is setting up for a year-round ice rink. The first seasonal ice rink in Bozeman was founded over 40 years ago and due to the Bozeman ice community and youth programs expanding Gallatin Ice needed to campaign for a year-long ice rink, which had previously only be operational for six months a year. Gallatin Ice started a campaign where the non-profit was able to achieve half of their necessary funds to build a year-round rink. The Bozeman ice rink offers recreational hockey, live hockey, ice skating, figure skating, curling and clinics, and more.

“Montana is enjoying one of the strongest economic recoveries in the nation,” announced Laurie Esau, Commissioner of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry with the release of a state of the state’s economy report.

The report shows that Montana has had the third highest recovery in payroll jobs since the start of the pandemic . Total employment is more than 99.5 percent recovered from the pandemic, and since January the number of Montanans receiving unemployment benefits has plummeted 87 percent.

The state has also had strong wage growth, growing at 7.9 percent in 2020, and the fastest personal income gains of any state in the nation.

As Labor Day rolled around in Montana, vaccinations had became available and business restrictions lifted, Montanans returned to normal business activity, and were celebrating the ability to attend restaurants, concerts, and social activities. The release of this pent-up demand, augmented by  economic stimulus, and higher income, have contributed to surging consumer demand, leaving businesses scrambling to bring on enough workers to meet customer needs. Tight labor markets, already evident prior to COVID-19, once again became the largest challenge to the state’s economic growth.

Highlights include:

•The rate of new businesses skyrocketed to the fastest rate in ten years, with over 3,500 new businesses created in 2020

.•Montana’s startups are more successful than the national average, and the pandemic had little impact on the rate of business closure for firms created within the last ten years.

•Montana has the 4th highest rate of business ownership in the nation, with 6.3% of Montana households reporting income from a business or farm.

•Montana posted the 3rd best payroll employment recovery among states since the start of the pandemic recession, and the 8th best recovery in total employment.

•The pandemic recession averaged job gains over 2,700 per month since the trough, a much faster recovery than the average of 500 jobs gained per month during the recovery from the 2008 recession.

•Both payroll and total employment levels are within 1% of the pre-recession peak.

•Montana’s real GDP growth from 2019 to 2020 ranked 20th among states, and likely made a full recovery in the 2nd quarter of 2021.

•Montana ranked 1st among states for personal income growth in 2020, growing 8.4% to $57.6 billion.

•Business owner income increased by 10%, or $506 million, bolstered by the Paycheck Protection Program and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.

•Wages paid to Montana workers surged, posting a 7.2% increase ($1.7 billion) for the year ending 2021Q1. Increased wage earnings are an important component needed to drive future business demand and are vital to increasing the standard of living for most Montanans.

•Montana ranks 8th among states for the fastest average annual wage growth over the last 10 years.

•Average annual wages in payroll jobs increased by 7.9% in 2020 (up to $48,400), over double the wage growth rates posted in prior years.

Real wage growth, or the amount of wage growth that exceeds inflation, was 6.6% in 2020

•The unemployment rate dropped quickly after the pandemic recession, reaching 3.6% in July 2021.  Prior recessions took much longer for unemployment to return to normal levels.

Labor productivity soared as workers moved into remote work, increasing by 3.9% for the year ending 2021Q1.

Despite the strong economic recovery, challenges remain, particularly labor shortages and the impacts of rising prices on businesses and workers:

Inflation has spiked, with prices increasing over 5% during the summer of 2021, leaving consumers paying more for housing and gasoline, among other goods. Over the two years ending June 2021, hourly wages have increased by 8.7% while the price level has increased by 6.1%, resulting in a 2.6% increase in the real hourly wage.

Housing prices have also risen, with Montanan’s typical home price up 10.3% to $327,000 for the year ending June 2021, leaving many communities concerned about affordable housing.

Thousands of workers left the labor force during the last year due to fears of contracting COVID-19 and a lack of childcare. These workers must be reengaged in our economy to help fill unmet worker demand. Many of these workers have already come back into the economy as of July, with the labor force only 0.5% lower than its pre-recession peak.

If Montana’s labor force participation rate was the same now as before the pandemic, 11,331 more workers would be available to fill openings.

The average work week in Montana fell during the pandemic, moving from 33.4 hours per week in 2019 to 32.8 hours per week in 2020. Moving more part-time employees to full-time could address many workforce shortages.

Over 20% of the workforce is 60 years or older and preparing for retirement. Among those not retired, family care is the main reason for not participating in the labor force.

 The report suggested, there are several solutions to the worker shortage, including increasing worker productivity through training and automation, tapping into underutilized labor sources (such as those living in rural areas or reservations, disabled, or facing barriers to work), and ensuring that workers have the incentive to move out of unemployment to work. With the resiliency and determination Montanans have shown throughout the last year, there can be no doubt that these future challenges will also be resolved, moving Montana’s economy into a more profitable future.

Last week, President Joe Biden announced executive orders that mandate vaccinations for the COVID virus for what is estimated to be 100 million workers in both the public and private sector. 

The backlash has been swift and strong, with people from both sides of the isle claiming the President has no authority to impose such requirements, and with promises of lawsuits, and vows to quit jobs rather than acquiesce.

Absent from the mandates are similar requirements for members of Congress, federal judges, or their staffers.

The executive mandates would require vaccination for federal employees, the military, and government contractors, and they make clear that political force will be brought to bear against private sector companies with more than 100 employees to either require vaccination of their employees or be tested weekly for the virus.

All hospitals and other medical facilities accepting government payments for Medicare and Medicaid would have to force employees to comply or lose their status to get such payments.

And, all this at a time when, in Montana, most businesses are struggling to find the labor they need and to keep it. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, approximately 72 percent of unvaccinated American workers said they would rather quit their jobs than be forced by the government (through their employer) to get the shot.

The President’s edict stands, in direct conflict with laws and policies in many states of which Governors are vowing to push back. Should the Governors attempt to do so, however, a spokesman for the President said “President Joe Biden is willing to ‘run over’ any Republican governors who attempt to fight back against federal vaccine mandates.”

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte issued a Twitter statement saying, “President Biden’s vaccination mandate is unlawful and un-American…We are committed to protecting Montanans’ freedoms and liberties against this gross federal overreach.”

It is being predicted that President Biden will face “an avalanche of lawsuits.”

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said he will file suit as soon as the law is effective.  A surge of some 27 Republican governors, have indicated they will do likewise.

Nationally, media reports said, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, wrote in a Twitter post, “My legal team is standing by ready to file our lawsuit the minute Joe Biden files his unconstitutional rule. This gross example of federal intrusion will not stand.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, , wrote that his administration will “pursue every legal option available” in order to halt what he called a “blatantly unlawful overreach.”

The conclusion that the President lacks such authority is one with which even the President himself agreed just a few weeks ago, when his administration issued a statement saying, …issuing vaccine mandates is “not the role of the federal government.”

Convention of States Action released new polling shortly after the announcement that showed 58.6% of those surveyed “do not believe President Biden has the constitutional authority to force private businesses to require vaccine mandates for employees.”

In the same poll, 29.7% of voters said Biden does have the authority, and 11.7% are unsure. In addition, 55.5% of voters say the mandate “sets a precedent that could be abused by future presidents on other issues.”

According to U.S. Census data roughly 51%, 185,000, of Montanans work for businesses with less than 100 employees and won’t be affected by the order.

Montana Free Press reported that in its analysis of 2019 U.S. Census Bureau labor data, “there were 411 employers in Montana with more than 100 workers who would fall under the OSHA rule. Collectively, those employers had 99,564 Montanans on their payrolls.”

It is being assumed by many that the edict will push many more people into getting vaccinated. About 51 percent of Montanans have been vaccinated, at latest reports.

Predictions are that the virus is near peaking in Montana or will do so by mid-October.

To curb the spread of the virus is the reason for the mandate.  Although he said weeks ago he would not issue such a mandate, Biden has apparently changed his mind, amid constantly rising numbers of infections across the country.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent infection by the Delta variant or other variants is to be vaccinated, and Biden said he is relying on “the best available data and science-based public health measures” to do so.

Apparently “government employees” does not include the 630,000 people who work for the Postal Service, a quasi-public entity. Biden specifically mentioned that the mandate does not apply to the Postal Service.

In July, The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) said, “It is not the role of the federal government to mandate vaccinations for the employees we represent.”

The federal agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will be used to enforce compliance with the mandate on the private companies.

Conversations about what has to happen to implement the President’s edict indicate that it isn’t anything that is going to happen quickly. Weeks and often months are mentioned as issues regarding regulatory processes and rule making requirements. While OSHA can skip part of the process required by that agency, if it is deemed an emergency, just writing the regulation can take weeks.

According to some reports OSHA’s “emergency temporary standards” policy allows for some immediate action from the agency, under “certain limited conditions.  According to OSHA’s website, “OSHA is authorized to set emergency temporary standards that take effect immediately and are in effect until superseded by a permanent standard.”

To issue such a temporary order, OSHA “must determine that workers are in grave danger” from toxic substances or other “physically harmful” agents. If OSHA complies with the request from the president, workers in mid-sized to large firms—with more than 100 employees—will be affected.

According to the Convention of States Action poll, the governors who are pushing back have Americans’ support. The survey found 56.1% of voters “support the efforts of state governors to oppose Biden’s nationwide vaccine mandate on private businesses.” That includes 46.3% who “strongly support,” and 9.8% who “support.”

Opinions on the mandate fall largely along party lines. Nearly 80% of Republicans support the governors standing up to Biden while about 30% of Democrats feel the same way.

This poll comes on the heels of another poll released last week that showed a sharp drop in approval for Biden after the deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

The Economist/ YouGov poll reported last week that Biden’s approval fell to an all-time low of his presidency, with 39% of Americans approving of his job performance and 49% disapproving.

“The drop in Biden’s approval rating is most severe among Democrats,” the poll reports. “Around nine in ten of them had approved of Biden’s performance for nearly all of his first year in office. This week, Biden’s approval rating among Democrats dropped nine points to 77% from 86% last week.”

By Evelyn Pyburn

With the fiasco of Afghanistan laid bare for the world to see, there has been a lot of public discussion and editorials and talking heads debating the worth of the US being engaged in “nation building.” One point that was made is that it seems not to work unless the grassroots citizens of a nation are willing to fight for their own freedom – only then will they value it enough to live it and insist upon retaining it.

 I agree that a people have to want freedom enough to fight for it, and they will have to fight for it always, because there are many who want to take it away.

We can see that in our own midst, where young people no longer value the freedom they have, which others fought and gained.  In a way that is understandable. Just because you want freedom doesn’t mean you automatically know what it takes to have freedom. Look again at our own citizenry – how many really know that the most important tenants that generate a free society are: the rule of law not whims of fleeting dictators, the right for individuals to own property, and a system that enforces private contractual agreements?

Even those who most avidly defend freedom may not understand what it is about the Constitution that makes it work, or how vital free markets and property rights are for individuals to have the means to be free.

The best way for the US to nation build – in the sense of encouraging freedom for other nations – is to hold and sustain freedom here. Our freedom is the biggest threat to tyranny around the world. That was the message of the “shot heard ‘round the world.” That is why tyrannical forces attack the US so deliberately and viciously, they understand what we seem not to understand: As long as we exist as a free country we demonstrate to people everywhere what is possible. No matter what else tyrants do to enslave their people, if their people see the vision of what is possible, they will not accept tyranny.

So from day-one, the world’s tyrants clearly understood, the US must be destroyed.

It is no accident that the US became an economic power house so quickly. It happened because of the freedom of individual citizens to produce, create, and innovate. The fact is, almost any country in the world, no matter how small, could become a dynamo power house simply by adopting freedom – but then the tyrants who now exercise control would not be tolerated.  So while the tyrants may want the kind of power and influence that the US holds, they are not willing to relinquish their political power and position to allow their own people the necessary freedom. Their personal avarice far exceeds any concerns for the wellbeing of commoners, so brute force must be the foundation of their government. We, too, have plenty of those types in the US, as do all “modern, sophisticated” countries. Such is the crux of all world struggles.

 We can do the most to advance the wellbeing of people of other nations by standing firmly for freedom here – by insisting the Constitution prevail, by fighting for the election of like-minded representatives in government, especially in local government. It should be the role of every citizen to understand what makes freedom work, which includes understanding what makes the Constitution such a brilliant structure and why it is that free markets are so powerful for the individual consumer/ citizen – and to be able to pass that knowledge on to the next generation, and not trusting to others or schools to teach it.

In fact, take the next generation out of government schools, and support and work towards a vibrant free market education system—one that is responsive to consumers and just as affordable as any other free market product. It is the teaching of ideas that is powerful. Once understood, the ideas of freedom  stand invincible. They are so powerful that those without ideas or haven’t better ideas, find it necessary to silence their adversaries by any and all means possible.

Our nation was built on an idea, if we fail to understand and sustain that idea, we will fail as a nation, no matter our armies.

By Alan Olson, Executive Director, Montana Petroleum Association

Last week as fuel prices continued to climb the White House released the following announcement: “President Biden has made clear that he wants Americans to have access to affordable and reliable energy, including at the pump. Although we are not a party to OPEC, the United States will always speak to international partners regarding issues of significance that affect our national economic and security affairs, in public and private. We are engaging with relevant OPEC+ members on the importance of competitive markets in setting prices. Competitive energy markets will ensure reliable and stable energy supplies, and OPEC+ must do more to support the recovery.”

As the Biden administration works toward driving the U. S. oil and gas industry out of existence it seems strange that President Biden would encourage foreign countries to make up the difference between the decline in American oil production and the needs affecting our national economic and security affairs.

Biden has a terrible track record when it comes to American energy security. By cancelling the Key Stone XL Pipeline, he removed 800,000 barrels of oil a day from American refineries propelling Russia into the second largest supplier of crude oil to American refineries. As exports of American natural gas to Europe were expanding, Biden removed the sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline giving the Russians the green light to push us out of European gas markets. At a time when Americans were, for all practical purposes, energy sufficient the Biden administration shuts down leasing of Federal oil and gas minerals even though less than 3% of Federal lands is under lease for oil and gas. As additional progressive liberal policies wind their way through this administration and congress it would appear the domestic petroleum industry will be sacrificed for political reasons while encouraging investment in foreign oil and gas production.

While Biden continues to hammer domestic oil and gas production how can he not understand the costs related to a declining domestic supply? How can he ask foreign producers to supply American needs while at the same time throwing American workers under the bus in the name of climate change? When have we ever seen an American President encouraging foreign companies, many of which are owned by foreign governments to compete with American companies by setting prices? Biden is right about one thing, “competitive energy markets will ensure reliable and stable energy supplies,” but let the competitive markets be domestic markets not by ham stringing American producers and then inviting foreign competition to manipulate the energy markets.

It’s Roasted, 2227 Golden Blvd, 59102, 831-272-1530, Cielo Marketing Solutions, restaurant

Northwest Counseling Center, 1597 D Ste 7, 59102, 259-6161, Sarah Burke, service

Hair by Chloe, 2406 Broadwater Ave, 59102, 860-3221, Chloe Johnson, cosmetology

Montana Freestone Construction LLC, 2210 Lyndale Ln, 59102, Kelly Riddle, general contractors

RAZ Enterprises LLC, 1110 Broadwater Ave, 534-1154, Robert Zarbok, retail sales

Robert Hammond, 4110 Phillip St, 59101, 200-3117, Robert Hammond, service

Flowing Floors, 2607 Burlington Ave, 59102, 208-9793, Larry Costalez, general contractors

Hometown Mechanical Inc, 3847 Heritage Dr, 59102, 970-3153, Dennis Rumsey, service

Just Rippin Drywall, 925 Yellowjackets Way, 59106, 690-9625, Justin Delaware, service

Body Wellness, 2619 St Johns Ave Ste F, 606-9324, Moriah Mills, solo practitiopner

Town & Country Foods, 1603 Grand Ave Unit 135, 59102, 717-6200, Wayde Anderson, retail sales

Advantage Window and Glass Replacement, 610 N 24th St, 59101, 702-688-2066, Timothy Males, service

Jackson Taylor Contractors LLC, 174 Tomlinson Dr, 440-290-0391, Ed Jasinski, general contractors

MK Consulting Group LLC, 812 Alderson Ave, 59101, 855-1926, Marco Kuemmerle, service

Magic City Painting & Const, 3000 Lake Elmo Dr, 59105, Michael Schmaing, general contractors

Journey to Nowhere, 206 13th St W, 59102, 850-2508, Jeremy Meyers, retail sale

Dustin Newhall, 341 Clough Ave, Columbus 59019, 620-4863, Dustin Newhall, retail sales

Le Macaron, 112 N 28th, 59101, 320-1888, Kalena Ochsner, restaurants

Stanley Building Experts, 3028 Golden Acres, 281-3026, Albert Medlinsky, general contractors

Archadia Lila, 1613 Kelby Dr #4, 59105, 671-8335, Valerie Quigley, service

Wildly Adorned, 1613 Kelby Dr #4, 59105, 671-8335, Valerie Quigley, service

Bachmann Group LLC, 414 N word St, 208-3523, Chad Bachmann, general contractors

Creative Solutions Carpentry, 729 Avenue D, 59102, 860-4845, Michael Glenn, general contractors   

The Vibe, 2545 Central Ave Ste F, 59102, 289-0883, Jordan Stoltz, restaurants

Honomichl’s Moving Service LLC, 1042 Yale Ave, Michael Honomichl, service

Zooschool, 2100 Shiloh Rd, 59106, 670-4789, Marnie Emond, schools, 

All American handyman Services, 340 Nash Ln, 320-1325, Carl Hoffman, service

Level up Cheer and Tumbling, 2316 1st Ave N, 59101, 670-9210, Sara Baier, service

Dove’s Pilot Car, 262 Wicks Ln, 59105, 208-469-1456, Florian Kimball, service

1704 Event Planning, 4384 Poly Dr, 59106, 698-5508, Carrie Brewer, service

Thuy Huynh, 1690 Province Ln, 59102, 612-865-0918, Thuy Huynh, real estate rental

Sober Beginnings, 2042 green Terrace Dr, 59102, 839-7405, Kacy Keith, service

Jerry’s fly Foam, 644 Grand Ave Ste 1 East, 59101, 697-1225, Gerald Schmaing/Dyland Wiebe, retail sales

Mazabuka LLC, 310 N 13th St, 59101, 245-5847, Amanda Markel, general contractors

Northern Construction LLC, 3914 Lasso Ln, 860-2476, Kyle Kring, general contractors

No Limits Sanctuary, 4315 S Mountain View Rd, Molt 59057, 559-360-5744, Jill Fulkes, service

Elkhorn Home Services, 587 Chokecherry Pl, 59102, 670-3744, Jeffrey Hanson, service

Biomat USA Inc, 1310 Main St, 59105, 323-227-7287, David Clark, service

Miska Tonic, 2400 Saddleback Dr, Laurel 59044, 633-4156, Larry Roberts, retail sales

ZZEM Screw Inc, 2721 Enterprise Ave #2, 59102, 775-386-8867, Dean Dougherty, manufacturing

MT E-Bikes LLC dba Pedego Billings, 820 Shiloh Crossing Bllvd Ste 5, 59102, 248-1515, Mark & Tracy Rheaume, retail sales

Century Companies Inc, 510 1st Ave N, Lewistown 59457, 535-1200, Aaron Golik, general contractors 

Heal Haus, 5301 Patagonia Ct #1, 59101, 890-4553, Kalen Jongeling, retail sales

Inner Balance Massage, 2020 Grand Ave #4, 59102, 998-8748, Meggan Stensland, solo practitioner

Bag of Possibilities, 620 Lake Elmo Dr #12, 59105, 855-2618, Denise Nelson, service

CK Spray, 311 Wicks Ln, 366-9823, Cody Lee, service

Rick’s Delivery Service, 3840 S Tanager Ln, 59102, 459-8292, Rick Moran, service

 Bryant Contracting LLC, 1355 Pumori Cir, 59101, 850-4205, Robert  Bryant, general contractors

McCuen Construction & Trucking, 1212 Bench Blvd, 59105, 945-2426, general contractors

Billings Happy Hearts Concierge LLC, 5717 Twins Way,59101, 697-7272, Karla Herman, service

Royal Purple, 546 1/2 Burlington Ave, 59101, 590-8093, Yaakov Israel, service

The Cutting Edge Salon LLC, 1918 Grand Ave, 59102, 697-0622, Jessica brown, cosmetology

Clear Trails, 104 Merion Rd, 59101, 698-6609, Mick Phillips, service

Tightlines Plumbing Inc, 116 Pertise Ave, Huntley 59037, Arley Swanson, plumbing contractors

 Gigglin Grizzly Bead & Gift, 5165 Chief Brave Wolf, Laurel 59044, 855-5086, Elaine Greer, retail sales

The Drunkin Blacksmith, 5165 Chief Brave Wolf, Laurel 59044, Martin Greer, retail sales

Big Sky Arcs & Sparks Ornamental, 3507 Jene Helene Ave, 59101, 698-9077, Michael Lawrence, service

RPA Transport Solutions, 2725 Custer Ave, 59102, 281-2022, Randy Anderson, misc

Majic City Balloons, 1141 28th St W Apt 11, 59102, 818-0153, Donya Wimer/Jennider Eidson, service

Zipper Geo Associates LLC, 4221 Audubon Way, 59106, 697-7042, Michel Bullock, engineer

Ag Collective, 1702 1st Ave N, 59101, 534-1041, Tara Reiners, service

The Food Dude, 316 Laurmac Ln, Laurel 59044, 860-2686, Steven & April Dennis, restaurants

On The Clock Property inspection LLC, 5445 Rimrock Rd, 59106, 846-5580, JT Ross, service

406 Rollin Eyes, 80 Gold Pan Ln, 59106, 797-2020, Salicia Borges/Anycia Wipf, service

Without A Fuss Remodeling & Repair, 834 miles Ave, 60-5418, Tyson Betz, general contractors

Home Solutions Handyman, 4320 Marietal Dr #1, 435-359-6049, Richard La Perle, general contractors

Abundance properties LLC, 2501 Montana Ave #3, 59101, 671-4925, Lindsay Johnson, real estate rental,

JMY Investment Inc, 404 N 31st St 218, 59101, 298-5882, On Soon Kim, office only

Thrive Counseling LLC, 404 N 31st Ste 415, 59101, 617-765-2036, Corrina Hillman, service

Ashley Breit LMT, 1643 Lewis Ave Ste 2, 59102, 598-7528, Ashley Breit, solo practitioner

Gomez Cpnstruction LLC, 7543 Lewis Ave, 59106, 861-9462, Wendy Rivera, roofing contractors

JW Rent Car, 404 N 31st St, 59101, 298-5882, Ryan Jeong, office only

Jordan Hoerster Construction, 1721 Venus Cir, 59105, 591-9642, Jordan Hoerster, general contractors

Coinstar, 875 Main St, 59105, 425-943-8000, Kelly Shomler, service

White Velvet Aesthetics PLLC, 71 25th St W Unit 1, Anna Kamenieva, cosmetology

RJ Holdings LLC, 116 N 29th St Ste B, 839-1636, Jason Smith, service

Kryptonite Kutz, 1911 King Ave W Ste 12, 59102, 998-7002, Sandra Tinajero, cosmetology

Homestaed Custom Works, 1777 Birdie Ln, 59106, 850-4424, Austin Leep, general contractors

Monkey Around, 605 24th St W, 59102, 320-0273, Robert & Cassandra Mann/Ronnie & Wndy Wilshusen, service

Blackbird Solutions, 514 middle valley ddr, 59105, 850-8985, Timothy Ben Lich, service

Brenda’s Cleaning Services, 1235 Avenue F, 59102, 281-1936, Brenda Ligocky, service

Kraig Kinkaid Drywall, 3335 John O Groats Ct, 59101, 252-4969, Kraig Kincaid, service

Go Fish Gardening LLC, 1812 S mariposa Ln, 59102, 690-2646, Elizabeth Gage, service

The Billings Food Bank is planning to expand its facilities. Sheryle Shandy, Executive Director of the Food Bank, presented their proposal to county commissioners in seeking their sponsorship for a grant to help fund the project, during a public hearing last week.

The organization, which has been providing food for the needy of Yellowstone County for the past 40 years, is requesting funds through the Department of Commerce’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). Since CDBG make funds available only through local government agencies, the application requires the commissioners’ approval. 

Shandy explained that they are completely remodeling, refurbishing and repurposing a building owned by the Billings Food Bank across the street from Shepherd Stainless Steel at North 16th and 3rd Avenue North, which suffered about a half million dollars in vandalism last November. It is located a few blocks away from the Food Bank’s primary facility at 2112 Fourth Avenue.

While the Billings Food Bank is readily recognized for providing food to the needy of all ages with no questions asked, they also provide a vital service to the business community in training prospective employees for the food industry. They also have resources and services that help entrepreneurs trying to get food products to market, and they have services for food trucks or anyone else who needs access to a commercial kitchen. Demands for all their services have escalated greatly over the past few years.

Shandy said that in dealing with the vandalized building, which had previously served primarily as a warehouse, they decided to completely redesign and remodel it to expand the Food Bank’s capacity. The project will cost a total of about $5.5 million and will be done in stages.

A portion of the first stage, costing just under a million dollars, is nearing completion. The fact that the Food Bank already owns the land and the building helps reduce the funding they need to complete the project.

The application for the CDBG grant describes their project, said Shandy, but it does not request a specific amount. Shandy said that they recognized that there are limited CDBG funds available with many demands upon on it, so they are just hoping for some award.

Completion of the project is uncertain because of issues involving the delivery of materials and components, said Shandy, but she hopes it can be completed by next March or April at which time the Billings Food Bank will celebrate its 40th anniversary.

According to Shandy, the proposed improvements will allow the Food Bank more kitchen facilities with which to provide more education and training. It will update equipment and expand capacity. The Food Bank prepares a lot of meals for the needy in the community, on holidays and other occasions.

They saw a great need for expanded meal service over the past year as many people who were shut- in because of COVID becoming depressed, said Shandy, and delivering them meals was something the Food Bank could do.

The new facility will provide a multi-purpose commercial kitchen and additional seating for 1,000, which would increase current capacity two and a half times over their Fourth Avenue building.

Most recently plans have changed to include a café in the remodeled building. Shandy said that other businesses located in the area encouraged them to include a café because they see a need for such a service in the neighborhood.

The expansion will also require the hiring of additional employees. They currently employ six people.

The Food Bank’s services that support business growth in Billings is largely unrecognized.

Except for last year, the Food Bank trains about 250 people annually to work in restaurants and other organizations that prepare and serve food. Their training gives students real world experience and includes learning the basics of food preparation including cutting skills, how to make basic sauces or serving food safely.

It’s not a chef’s school but the students leave the program ready for internships and further training from chefs, said Shandy, who added, “There has never been a time when people couldn’t get jobs.” Good, dependable employees have always been in demand.

Whether classes will resume this year remains uncertain. Shandy said that they are trying to develop protocols that will allow them to resume classes despite the re-emerging threat of COVID. It is certainly true that with the shortage of workers, their training program is needed more than ever.

People who have popular food products, such as salsa, tamales, or jams and jellies, etc. that they want to make available for sale as the basis of a new business, find valuable support through the Food Bank, as well as the use of a commercial kitchen that is necessary to meet the standards of the health department in manufacturing their products for market. The Food Bank’s resources serve as an economical means of launching a business before they can afford their own equipment or as they test their product’s viability in the market.

Shandy said that a number of these emerging entrepreneurs of the past have gone on to great success.

Many of the local food trucks utilize the Food Bank’s facilities for cleaning and sanitizing equipment.

Providing such services is unusual for a Food Bank. The Billings Food Bank has the means to do so, explained Shandy, because the building they bought for the Fourth Avenue location had formerly been an appliance distributorship and had a full commercial kitchen. “There must be some way to use this,” they thought. When they decided to lease it as a commercial kitchen for training and emerging businesses they were only the seventh such enterprise in the nation and the only one associated with a Food Bank.


Donovan, Michael K/Exceptional Exteriors LLC, 304 Moore Ln, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $10,500

Mike White/RMSR Inc, 77 Lily Valley Cir, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $123,000

Mazabuka, LLC/Mazabuka LLC, 319 N 14th St, Com New Other, $7,500

Isle Development LLC, 1008 Shiloh Crossing Blvd, Com Remodel, $87,500

Defender Investments LLC/Maher Contracting, 17 Florine Ln, Com Remodel $1,250

Deaconess Medical Center Of Billings/Bauer Construction, 2950 10th Ave N, Com Remodel, $184,000

Fagg Family Properties LLC/Triangle Telephone, 222 N 32nd St, Com Remodel, $200

Spitzer, David C/Dave Spitzer Construction, 2215 Broadwater Ave, Com Remodel, $4,000

Square 106 LLC/Askin Construction LLC, 1736 Shiloh Rd, Demolition Permit Commercial, $28,039

Our Savior Evangelical/Lynnrich Inc., 1603 St Andrews Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $38,184

Harvest Evangelical Church/Wegner Homes, 1235 W Wicks Ln, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $125,000

City Of Billings The/SP Services, 1600 21st St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $3,750

City Of Billings The/SP Services, 1600 21st St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $3,600

City Of Billings The/SP Services, 1600 21st St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $3,950

City Of Billings The/SP Services, 1600 21st St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $19,400

City Of Billings The/SP Services, 1600 21st St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $21,850

Jones Family Holdings LLC/Commercial Roofing Montana LLC, 127 Regal St, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $49,000

Community Leadership & Development Inc/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 114 S 29th St, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $268,049

Community Leadership & Development Inc/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 116 S 29th St, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $268,049

Pentex Restaurants Group/Hardy Construction Co., 1104 Shiloh Crossing Blvd, Com New Restaurant/Casino/Bar,  $1,050,000

Cori Lafever/T.W. Clark Construction LLC, 2824 1st Ave N, Com Remodel, $770,000

Rimrock II, LLC/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 3045 King Ave W, Com Remodel, $150,000

Sisters Of Charity Of Leavenworth/Bauer Construction, 1144 N 28th St, Com Remodel, $50,000

Broadstone Wi Mt Nd LLC/Cucancic Construction Inc., 4077 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $150,000

Single Family,

John Haman/HD Building Inc, 1369 Tania Cir, Res New Single Family, $253,967

Rachel Dehler/Bighorn Drywall, 1687 Norwood Ln, Res New Single Family, $190,531

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 930 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $301,290

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 926 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $247,732

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 922 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $214,338

Infinity Home/Infinity Home LLC, 3042 Forbes Blvd, Res New Single Family, $241,855

Infinity Homes/Infinity Home LLC, 1027 Matador Ave, Res New Single Family, $202,152

Trent Parks/1651 Kanga Way, Res New Townhome, $0.0

Williams Homes , 2103 Morocco Dr, Res New Single Family,  $199,696

Williams Homes/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2107 Morocco Dr, Res New Single Family, $211,316

Williams Homes/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2123 Morocco Dr, Res New Single Family, $211,316

WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2111 Morocco Dr, Williams Homes, Res New Single Family, $186,708

Williams Homes/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2115 Morocco Dr, Res New Single Family,  $211,316

Williams Homes/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2119 Morocco Dr, Res New Single Family, $199,696

High Sierra II Inc/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2127 Morocco Dr, Res New Single Family, $186,708

Green Jeans LLC, 1402 Jean Ave, Res New Single Family, $265,294

William Thompson/Green Jeans LLC, 1341 Tania Cir, Res New Single Family, $340,000

Infinity Homes LLC/Infinity Home LLC, 2220 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $237,896

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1896 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $277,553

J & M Development LLC/J & M Development, 1825 Sartorie Rd, Res New Single Family, $219,404

Steve Goutanis Homes Inc/Steve Gountanis Homes Inc, 945 Vineyard Cir, Res New Single Family, $405,000

MJ Construction/MJ Construction, Inc., 6326 Absaloka Ln, Res New Two Family, $310,168

Trent Parks/Billings Best Builders LLC, 1651 Kanga Way, Res New Two Family, $390,540

Trent Parks/Billings Best Builders LLC, 1639 Kanga Way, Res New Two Family, $390,540

Trent Parks/Billings Best Builders LLC, 1657 Kanga Way, Res New Two Family $390,540

Trent Parks Billings Best Builders LLC, 1663 Kanga Way, Res New Two Family $390,540

Trent Parks/Billings Best Builders LLC, 1633 Kanga Way, Res New Two Family, $390,540

Trent Parks/Billings Best Builders LLC, 1627 Kanga Way, Res New Two Family, $390,540

KLJ Engineering LLC (KLJ) announced that Government Relations Specialist Becky Bey has completed all required coursework to become a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) certified professional through the National Institute of Crime Prevention (NICP). She is one of only six professionals with this certification in the state of Montana. 

CPTED is a crime prevention strategy utilizing design elements in neighborhoods or public spaces to deter criminal activity and provide safer communities. With this designation, Bey can assist in urban and architectural designs for cities and assess existing areas such as schools, businesses, rest areas, parks, churches, and streetscapes to increase safety.

Design elements Bey may consider when assessing an urban area may include the placement of walkways, fences, lighting, entrance to buildings or natural landscape features.

The CPTED certification is a multi-disciplinary approach to crime prevention. Certified professionals use designs and the management of environments to reduce victimization, deter offender decisions that precede criminal acts, and build a sense of community among inhabitants. These strategies are utilized to gain territorial control of areas, reduce crime, and minimize fear.

Some of the funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) are being directed to strengthening Montana’s workforce and providing job training to Montanans.

Governor Greg Gianforte approved directing $6 million for job training programs, particularly to individuals with disabilities and those who have become unemployed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Helping Montanans acquire the in-demand skills needed to fill good-paying jobs is a top priority,” Gov. Gianforte said. “These investments will help more Montana workers access skills training programs, helping them enter or reenter the workforce or boost their careers to the next level while alleviating our workforce shortage in critical industries.”

Two million dollars of ARPA will be directed to fund the Individuals with Disabilities Employment Engagement Program, which augments the Department of Public Health and Human Services’ (DPHHS) Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services.

DPPHS VR provides services to individuals with disabilities to obtain, regain, maintain, and advance in employment. The funding approved will supplement existing VR staff by temporarily adding 10 additional full-time rehabilitation counselors, opening the door to approximately 1,000 additional individuals with disabilities to participate in the program. Approximately 1,300 individuals are on the program’s waitlist.

“This funding is going to have a tremendous impact on the people our agency serves,” DPHHS Director Adam Meier said. “The opportunity to add additional rehabilitation counselors will allow us to work with our clients who are currently on the waiting list. These individuals are ready and willing to work, and just need the opportunity. We’re excited to increase these efforts across the state to connect our clients with training, assisted technology and other tools that will help set them up to successfully enter the work force.”

The governor also approved an additional $4 million in ARPA funds for the Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) to provide “rapid retraining” services and enroll Montanans in workforce training programs.

The funds will allow the department to utilize an existing state network of contracted workforce program providers to provide critical training, primarily for those who lost their jobs during the pandemic and need new skills to reenter the workforce. The funds will be used to conduct and support short-term skills training for Montanans including displaced workers such as those in Colstrip or St. Regis.

“This funding will enable the department to strengthen our already-robust network of workforce service providers and help more Montanans benefit from the training programs they provide. The end result will be more Montana workers with the skills they need to succeed,” DLI Commissioner Laurie Esau said.

The governor accepted the $6 million funding recommendations from the ARPA Economic Transformation and Stabilization and Workforce Development Programs and Advisory Commission. ARPA advisory commissions comprise state legislators, agency leaders, and administration officials. More information about the advisory commissions may be found at