Tim Goodridge, Assistant Manager at Metra Park, has been named to serve as interim manager by County Commissioners, following the departure of Bill Dutcher, who is retiring at the end of the year.

When asked by County Commissioners if he would be interested in the position on Monday, Goodridge said that he would have been excited to accept the position a couple weeks ago (before the issue of privatizing Metra Park emerged as a consideration by the commissioners). He added that if asked he would accept. “I’ll do my part,” he said, regarding supporting Metra Park.

Dutcher’s final day at Metra Park, after 40 years, is December 30. It was announced on Tuesday that a retirement celebration is being planned for Dutcher on Dec. 10.

Commissioner Don Jones said that the commissioners may not have yet determined the direction they will go regarding the issue of privatization of Metra Park management by the end of the year, although they have interviewed a couple of candidates who sent in applications to fill the position

Last week, the Biden administration asked a federal appeals court in New Orleans to lift a temporary order halting a federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate on private businesses, while warning employers that they should comply with the mandate despite the “stay.”

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, on Saturday, temporarily halted the mandate on private sector businesses with 100 employers or more, citing “grave” constitutional issues. Ruling on lawsuits filed by Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as a Louisiana businessman seeking to prevent the mandate from taking effect, the appeals court issued the stay saying, “Because the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate, the Mandate is hereby stayed pending further action by the court.

The mandate, which could affect an estimated 100 million American workers, includes a Jan. 4 deadline for vaccination. The policy also imposes nearly $14,000 in fines per employee if businesses are caught letting their workers skirt the mandate. “Willful violations” could result in fines up to $136,000.

Republican-led states filed multiple lawsuits last week challenging the mandate’s legality. Louisiana businessman Brandon Trosclair with assistance from the Liberty Justice Center, a public interest law firm, and the New Orleans-based Pelican Institute for Public Policy, also filed suit.

Other lawsuits are pending, including an 11-state coalition, which includes Montana, filed in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals against OSHA. Montana is joined by Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

A similar lawsuit was filed in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by the attorneys general of Tennessee, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Georgia, Florida, and Alabama have also filed a lawsuit in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arguing the new rules exceed the Department of Labor’s “statutory authority, fails to comply with the standards for issuing an [Emergency Temporary Standard], and conflicts with the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

“I am confident that the courts will see this mandate for what it truly is: An attempt to make laws while bypassing Congress,” Sarah Harbison, general counsel at the Pelican Institute, said in a statement.

The administration’s 28-page legal request to lift the stay, included OSHA’s claims that a stay would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day.”

The administration claimed the OSHA’s authority is grounded in its traditional role of protecting workers from workplace dangers, such as exposure to “substances or agents” that are determined to be toxic.

“The COVID-19 virus is both a physically harmful agent and a new hazard,” the court filing said.

“We think people should not wait,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was quoted by media. “We say, do not wait to take actions that will keep your workplace safe. It is important and critical to do and waiting to get more people vaccinated will lead to more outbreaks and sickness.”

A final ruling could come as early as Wednesday. If the Fifth Circuit permanently blocks the mandate, the administration could appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

By Eveln Pyburn

County Commissioners passed a resolution of intent to adopt interim regulations governing the sale and production of marijuana in the county, outside city boundaries. The temporary regulations will be in effect for a year, at which time state law requires that the commissioners adopt more permanent regulations – that is, if the county doesn’t put the issue on a county-wide ballot in the interim.

A public hearing and action by commissioners regarding the temporary regulations will be held on Nov. 23. The commissioners see a need for some kind of regulations because the law that made the possession, sale and processing of marijuana legal – HB 107 – goes into effect January 1 and the commissioners believe there needs to be guidelines for those planning to go into the business.

Commissioners are opting to adopt interim measures because the state — the Department of Revenue — which has final authority over regulations, has not issued its regulations. In the interim the County Planning Department, will be conducting the research and writing final regulations.

Another option for county commissioners, one which continues to be bounced around, is to put the issue of selling marijuana on the ballot for the county, like the city did. Comments have been made about how surprising was the margin that voters in Billings rejected the sale of drug in the city after having approved the initiative that made it legal. City voters passed the initiative by a 4,000 vote margin in 2020, but they rejected its sale within the city limits two weeks ago 18,045 to 14,696.

HB 107 allows cities and counties to put the issue on the ballot in their jurisdiction or to accept the results of their city or county voters in the 2020 election on the initiative that was passed statewide to legalize recreational or adult use and production of marijuana. The initiative passed county wide by 1100 votes, or 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent. City voters passed the initiative by a 4,000 vote margin in 2020.

In a November 2, 2021 election, voters in the City of Billings rejected allowing the sale or dispensing of marijuana within the city limits, but it remains legal for growers, manufacturers and laboratories to function. The City Council is in the process of writing regulations for those functions within the city.

County commissioners voted 2-1 in August not to put the issue on the ballot for reconsideration in Yellowstone County, however there is still time in state law for them to reconsider and call for an election.

Commissioners indicated that they expect conversation regarding that option to continue.

County regulations are only effective within zoned areas in the county. Outside those areas there is little regulation except that imposed by the state, which issues licenses for those entering the business.

How many businesses already exist in the county – those that distribute medical marijuana in the county which are already legal – is uncertain. The state doesn’t disseminate much information to local governments about the businesses. But, Nicole Cromwell of the planning department said she has explored the question and believes there are about 42.

The state law gives the medical marijuana purveyors an 18-month lead in getting the recreational license and to sell recreational marijuana.

The speculation is that most of the medical shops will disappear and the recreational sales will dominate the industry as changes are implemented.

There were those who spoke about changes they would like to see made in the law, which included limits as to the potency of the drug and amounts allowed in packages, and some said they would like to see a cap on the number of licenses that are allowed.

The county has little zoning and few controls for how the industry will operate  much of it will be dictated by the state Department of Revenue. In the parts of the county with no zoning at all, which is the majority of Yellowstone County, nearly any kind of business can set up shop how it likes.

The areas within the county that are zoned sit close to Billings city limits. In those areas, recreational marijuana storefronts must be separated at least 600 feet from schools, churches, youth centers and addiction recovery centers, and 350 feet from residential areas.

Kyle Schlichenmayer, affiliated with Coldwell Banker Commercial CBS in Billings, was among those awarded the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation by the CCIM Institute.

Along with 200+ commercial real estate professionals from around the world, the Coldwell Banker Commercial professionals earned the designation by passing the CCIM Comprehensive Examination, the final component and capstone in the designation process.  One of the most coveted and respected designations in the industry, only 6 percent of the estimated 150,000 commercial real estate practitioners nationwide have achieved the CCIM designation, reflecting the caliber of the program.

The CCIM designation is awarded to commercial real estate professionals upon successful completion of a graduate-level education curriculum and presentation of a portfolio of qualifying experience.  The curriculum addresses financial analysis, market analysis, user decision analysis, and investment analysis, the cornerstones of commercial investment real estate.  CCIMs are recognized experts in commercial real estate brokerage, leasing, asset management, valuation, and investment analysis.


Pepsi Cola Billings Mt/Jones Construction, Inc, 344 Howard Ave, Com Addition, $125,000

Vance Thompson Vision/Builder Construction Inc., 1747 Poly Dr, Com Addition Plan, $26,500

RPR Properties LLC/T.W. Clark Construction LLC, 704 N 30th St, Com Addition, $496,428

Hanser Capital Holdings LLC, 4410 Altay Dr, Com Footing/Foundation, $3,045,417

Matt Brosovich/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 1417 38th St W, Com New Restaurant/Casino/Bar, $2,400,000

Aviation Properties LLC/EEC Inc, 3475 A J Way, Com New Warehouse/Storage, $1,823,961

Proffutt Limited Partnership/Jones Construction, Inc, 5221 Midland Rd, Com Remodel, $97,000

Yeley Holdings LLC, 4011 Montana Sapphire Dr, Com Remodel, $100,000

Jeremiah Doucette/Owens Construction Inc, 1225 Mullowney Ln, Com Remodel, $25,500

Ajajo LLC/Barta Custom Builders LLC, 2139 Broadwater Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $13,500   

Voegele Ventures LLC/Empire Roofing Inc, 2344 Grand Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $85,244   

Knutson, Jess Anne/Big Phish Construction, 346 Bench Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $19,152   

Knutson, Jess Anne/Big Phish Construction, 340 Bench Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $17,771  

Knutson, Jess Anne/Big Phish Construction, 334 Bench Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $16,150  

Zarbock Property Management LLC/T.W. Clark Construction LLC, 501 Grand Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $1,500  

Rocky Vista University LLC/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 4130 Monad Rd, Com New Office/Bank, $19,778,605

Austyn Spencer Enterprises, LLC/Bryant Contracting LLC, 4470 King Ave E, Com New Other, $464,395

Miller Land Co/Smooth Rock Drywall, 3000 7th Ave N, Com Remodel, $8,000

Bo Selvig/Beartooth Holding & Construction, 1686 Shiloh Rd, Com Remodel, $63,240

Prairie Tower Inc/Jares Fence Company, Inc., 725 N 25th St, Com Remodel, $3,000


Sunwest Trust Inc/Custodian ,2032 Beverly Hill Blvd, Res New Accessory Structure, $23,040

Wagenhals Enterprise Inc/Wagenhals Enterprises Inc, 1106 Daylight Ln, Res New Single Family, $272,828

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 805 Cherry Hills Rd, Res New Single Family, $189,110

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2128 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $189,110

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2128 Morocco Dr, Res New Single Family,  $186,610

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2111 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family,  $186,610

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2123 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $186,610

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2119 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family,  $193,802

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2127 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $199,037

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2132 Morocco Dr, Res New Single Family, $193,802

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2131 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $239,614

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 809 Cherry Hills Rd, Res New Single Family, $221,047

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2207 Lindero Blvd, Res New Single Family, $239,614

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2115 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $239,614

Infinity Homes/Infinity Home LLC, 2007 W Thunder Mountain Rd, Res New Single Family, $289,944

CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 5431 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $485,166

Na/McCall Development, 6102 Johanns Meadow Ln, Res New Single Family, $303,522

Magnus Land Development LLC/6325 Beckville Ln, Res New Townhome, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC/6325 Beckville Ln, Res New Townhome,. $0

Trent Buscher/Trent Buscher Construction, 3157 Falcon Cir, Res New Single Family, $211,609

Buscher Development Inc/Buscher Construction Ltd, 4984 Whisper Way, Res New Single Family, $300,000

815 N 31st Street LLC/Steven Houlihan Construction LLC, 813 N 31st St, Res New Single Family, $692,075

Chamberlain Construction /Chamberlain Construction, 1357 Tania Cir, Res New Single Family, $266,584

Marjorie Davis Family Trust, 450 Cherry Hills Rd, Res New Single Family, $600,000

South Pine Design/South Pine Design, 2415 Glengarry Ln, Res New Single Family, $450,000

True North Homes, LLC, 1809 E Thunder Mountain Rd, Res New Single Family, $349,491

Diverse Construction/Diverse Construction LLC, 2048 Gleneagles Blvd, Res New Single Family $180,000

Formation Inc/Formation Inc, 4687 Sky Vista Ct, Res New Single Family, $278,421

Wagenhals Enterprises Inc/Wagenhals Enterprises Inc, 5519 Morning Star Ln, Res New Single Family, $280,000

William “Beau” Thompson/Green Jeans LLC, 1308 Emma Ave, Res New Single Family, $370,000

Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, 411 24th St W, 59102, 829-1616, Tom Kula/Jason Welnel, service

Billings Vacation rentals, 4314 Pine Cove Rd, 59106, 860-0083, Jenna O’Brien, real estate rental

Black Montana Trucking, 1208 Cresthaven Way, 59102, 697-0197, Luke Atwell, service

Jay Bird Builders, 29 1/2 Alderson Ave, 59101, 321-9701, Collin Blackmore, general contractors

Resolved Exteriors, 616 Clark Ave, 59101, 308-1815, James Gilbert, general contractors

Fishers of Men Foods inc., 300 S 24th St W, 59102, 956-602-2738, Miguel Garcia, retail sales

Radke Drywalls, 29 1/2 Adams St, 59101, 696-8897, Christopher Radke, general contractors

Barger Platinum Plumbing, 14 32nd St W, 59102, 623-0987, Marvin Barger, plumbing contractor

MJA Roofing, 1139 69th St W, 59106, 561-543-6215, Neiset Aldana, roofing contractor

Valet Today Cleaners, 2434 Grand Ave, 59102, 655-9196, MC Cleaners, cleaners & Laundromats

Think Little Drop-In, 2085 Lakehills Dr, 59105, 281-2509, Angelia Smith, service

Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, 114 Grand Ave, 59101, 829-1616, Tom Kula/Jason Welnel, service

Foxy Lou’s Boutique, 1523 Oxbow Circle, 59105, 801-546-0261, Fallon Demet, retail sales

Larson and Associates PLLC, 2200 Rosewyn Ln, 59102, 371-1831, Connor Larson, Misc

Ali Hanson Photographer, 3624 Spotted Jack Loop N, 59101, 850-8680, Ali Hanson, service

VIM Collective, 131 Moore Ln Ste D, 59101, 208-1924, Tiffany Russell, solo practitioner

Higher Self Awareness LLC, 1212 Grand Ave Ste 6, 59102, 670-7146, Meredith Eckerdt, solo practitioner

Ken’s Sharpening and Restoration, 6427 Signal Peak Ave, 59106, 360-348-2945, Kenneth Kiesow, service

 NAPA Auto Parts, 3175 Grand, 59102, Stuart Duncan Mgr, retail sales

Jack’d up Construction, 1115 Arlington Ave SW, 59101, 200-1245, Jack Workman, general contractors

Adventure Bound Travel, 7033 Copper View Way, 59106, 541-663-6388, Amy Shinsel, service

Owens Construction Inc, 635 Metcalf Rd, El Dorado KS 67042, Megan Derby, 316-321-2275, general contractors

Urbina Construction, 9 Vista Dr, 59102, 281-3962, Alfredo Urbina, general contractors

Rotar construction, 1911 8th Ave N #5, 855-3942, Jared Rotar, general contractors

Backcountry Glamping MT, 1134 N 31st St, 59101, 927-9120, Angela Stump, service

Bar SD Construction, 1931 Alderson Ave, 59101, 699-3137, Keith Tipton, general contractors

Christopher Minor, 1301 industrial Ave Apt 85, 59101, 876-7501, Christopher Minor, service

Bear Head LLC, 1135 N 23rd St, 59101, 697-3242, Michael Spangler, retail sales

SGM Services, 5918 Creek Dr, 59106, 671-3966, Steven Martin, service

Trimmed To Fit LLC, 2707 Broadwater Ave, 59102, 697-1868, Ashely Foreman, general contractors

DC Paintings & Coatings, 106 Upper Flat Rd, 930-0183, Columbus 59019, Dan & Christine Henkel, service

Good’s Holistic Healing, 1925 Grand Ave Ste 13B, 59102, 647-7300, Keith Good, service

Lost River Construction, 10671 W Treeline CT, Boise ID 83713, 208-703-5417, Julie Jensen, roofing contractors

It’s About Time/Kari’s Music Studio, 1650 Mary St, 59105, 998-7953, Karolyn Jones, service

Old Soldier Equipment Company LLC, 47 Sheep Mtn Rd, Red Lodge 59068, 307-690-7556, Brad Barker, general contractors

Val’s Transportation, 2815 5th Ave S, 59101, 702-5983, Valerie Meza, service

 406 Concrete, 2003 LaBrea, 59102, 998-9570, 59102, Sean Garcia/Cody Bonner, general contractors

MCP Group LLC, 1302 Avenue D, 59102, 671-6499, David & Kristi Halland, real estate rental

Newcastle Home Inspections, 16 Grassland Way, Roundup 59072, 331-0047, Douglas Irish, service

R&R Transportation, 638 Miles Ave #2, Ryan Ireland/Rebecca Wilkins, service

Fallon Demet Photography, 1523 Oxbow Circle, 59105, 801-546-0261, Fallon Demet, service

Sheep Mtn  Builders, 2608 Topeka Dr, Laurel 59044, 876-6887, Zach Norris, general contractors

Clean By Design, 346 Delta Circle, 59102, 969-1387, Karla Hartford, service

Entrepreneur Advisors Inc., 2051 Custer Ave, 59102, James Schrage, service

DLS outdoor Services, 6318 Bear Paw Dr S, 59106, 670-7234, Darrell Sept, service

My Mobile Therapy, 1807 Sunrise, 59101, 696-9372, Keith Carpenter, services

Grizzly Fence and Haul Away LLC, 925 Yellowsjackets Way #2, 59106, 598-6908, Nicholas McPhail, service

Prototype Space, 4215 Montana Sapphire Dr #410, 59106, 694-2578, Glenda Meade, service

Faith Technologies Incorporated, 201 Main St, 59105, 920-225-6500, Jon Veter, Mgr., electrical contractors

Wardens West Casino, (JDS II, LLC), 3189 King Ave W Ste A, 59102, 534-6298, Liquor license

Karin Rae, 703 Shamrock Ln, 59102, 698-3468, Amber Critelli-Maichel, retail sales

Montana Development Co, 2820 2nd Ave N, 59101, 294-3710, Brad Constantine, service

Thatsninja LLC, 2927 Monty Circle, 59106, 998-7469, Jonah Sullivan, service

 B&B Cabinets and Drywall, 2312 Atchison, Laurel 59044, 940-5426, James Ball/Gaspar Barragan, general contractors

Pure Light Power, 2718 Montana Ave Ste 310, 59101, 541-816-4047, Reba Stephens, service

Mo Nava Express, 710 Wild Rose Ave, 59101, 647-7653, Mona Rae Nava, service

 Montana Block LLC, 2601 Terry Ave, 59102, 861-9285, Brittany Martishius, retail sales

Hofer Builders, 8126 Wade St, Shepherd 59079, 670-0000, Benny Hofer, general contractors

Justin Stockfish Construction, 3 Clover Pl, 59102, 690-6738, Justin Stockfish, general contractors

LV’s Detailed Auto & Supply LLC, 2310 Avenue C #2, 59102, 200-4317, Logan Paoli, service

Stillwater Venture Capital LLC, 64 Travois Trail, Nye MT 59061, 281-8008, Jason Pitts, general contractors

Marlow Group LLC, 1643 24th St W 102, 59102, 821-3199, Cory Marlow, service

Asphalt Surface Technologies Corporation, 8348 Ridgewood Rd, Saint Joseph MN 56374, general contractors

ATCPNW Tree Farm, 517 Shiloh Rd, 59106, 272-7220, Scott Reichardt, retail sales

ATCPNW Tree Farm, 2335 Lewis Ave, 59102, 272-7220, Scott Reichardt, retail sales

Kaz’s Sweet Treats, 3282 Granger Ave E #4, 59102, 839-0627, Kazmira Martinez, retail sales

Naz Sanks Counseling PLLC, 3789 Donna Ct, 59102, na, Nazgul Sanks, service

Morning Start Property LLC, 1836 Songbird Dr, 59101, 661-5697, Dale Jones, service

Mr Mow It All 406, 4242 Bennett Ave, 59105, 855-0710, Jason Clemmer, service stations

Purple Snow Promotional, 1138 16th St West Ste 10, 59102, 647-0252, Hans Abbey, retail sales

Dunn Construction, 6210 Horsethief Ln, Shepherd MT 59079, 690-8396, Steve Dunn, general contractors

McArty Installation Service, 5224 Central, 59106, 591-7059, Mike McArtry, service

Bakken Tree Service, 1016 McKenney Rd, 59105, 591-4778, Michael Bakken, service

Jeff Preator Construction, 3465 St Johns Ave, 860-3867, Jeff Preator, general contractors

RP Homes, 1219 Harney Dr, 59101, 208-317-0287, Ethan Griffel, real estate rental,  

Southern Touch Renovations, 217 Jackson St, 59101, 561-5422, Keith Barton, general contractors

TruNorse Contracting, 2901 Monad Rd #43, 59102, 200-0702, Scott Forslund, general contractors

A2Z Mechanical and household Services, 3458 Wasco Ave, 59101, 661-3177, Allen Megaard, service

By Evelyn Pyburn

An Illinois-based regional company, Crash Champions has purchased Raisin Auto Body’s five Montana stores. The purchase, of what is more readily known as Big Sky Collision in Billings, is Crash Champions’ first venture into Montana.

Raisin Auto Body owner, Mathew McDonnell said that the sale was not part of the company’s ten year plan, but it is a great opportunity that they just couldn’t pass up. Part of that opportunity includes McDonnell continuing to represent Crash Champions as they acquire more stores in Montana over the next two years, as well as acquiring locations in North and South Dakota and Wyoming.

McDonnell explained that had it been in his plans to sell he wouldn’t have recently made a name change to Raisin Auto Body to unify all five Montana locations, and he adds with something of a bemused smile, he wouldn’t have bought such substantial new signage.

Crash Champions was started as a family- owned business in New Lenox, Illinois in 1999 by Matt Ebert, who began expanding the business in 2014. The company owns 132 stores in California, Colorado, Washington DC, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The sale price of Raisin Auto Body’s five locations  was not disclosed by McDonnell, but he did explain that the transaction involves only the sale of the business and not the real property, which Crash Champions will lease from McDonnell. [MM1]  

There will be no disruption in the operation of the Raisin Auto Body stores in Billings, Laurel, Livingston, Bozeman and Manhattan, except to change the name to Crash Champions. McDonnell said that Crash Champions recognizes the value of having the businesses managed by Montanans for Montanans and to retain the knowledge and experience of existing employees.

He said that the decision to accept Crash Champions’ offer had less to do with the sale price and “more about their desire to continue the culture of the business.” That Crash Champions is moving forward with the same Raisin teams is good news not only for Raisin employees but also for their customers, because of how well trained and equipped their employees are, said McDonnell, who since taking over Big Sky Collision in 2014 has focused on acquiring leading-edge technology and training employees to be very proficient in using it.

Big Sky Collision was started by Mathew’s father, Matt McDonnell in 1978 as a one-man shop. He grew the business into a successful enterprise. In 2014 he turned the business over to his sons. Mathew bought out his brothers on Dec. 31, 2014. One of his brothers continues to work for the business.

McDonnell said that it has been his goal with the business to be “clean, accurate and effective.” He explained that “There is not much room for error in the collision repair business,” given the computerized mechanisms and high tech programing that is part of all vehicles, anymore. As the company focused on streamlining operations, modernizing, becoming certified and acquiring training, the business has become one of the top 50 collision repair companies in the country – an achievement that has not gone unnoticed by companies like Crash Champions.

He said that Crash Champions representatives have said that they are impressed with the advanced status of Raisin Auto Body and with many of the operational procedures they have developed.

“Montana has hit a crescendo in the collision industry,” said McDonnell, “Small independent businesses will find that their businesses are worth more now than ever before” —  because companies like Crash Champions are buying them up as good investments that are recession proof businesses.” It’s a brief  window of opportunity that will change as the industry consolidates over the next few years.


The Montana Tourism industry is waiting for President Biden’s announcement that he is reopening the Canadian border for leisure travel for people who are vaccinated.  He has indicated that announcement will come in November. While the southern border of the US stands wide open, the northern border has been closed tight, crippling trade and tourism business for Montana since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. 

Canada early-on opened travel across the border, but the US has closed travel to all but essential travel since March 2020, despite pleas by northern state governors, including Gov. Gianforte, to open it.

Canada is a significant trading partner for Montana, especially in regard to Montana’s almost $4 billion tourism industry. In 2019, it is estimated that Canadian travelers spent about $166 million in Montana.

While the level of tourism can vary from year to year depending on the value of the US dollar compared to the Canadian dollar, some years the number of visitors from Canada have been reported to exceed the number of visitors from Washington, Idaho and North Dakota combined.

Kara Grau with the Montana Institute for Tourism & Recreation Research  explains that they estimate the number of travelers coming to Montana based on traffic counts and observations of their surveyors.

In 2019, traffic coming in via a Canadian border crossing accounted for about 6 percent of Montana travelers.

In 2020, that dropped to about 1 percent, most of which arrived during the first quarter before the pandemic closures. With the border closed that number hasn’t changed in 2021.


Williams Property Management, 4020 Montana Sapphire Dr, Com Addition, $195,000

City Of Billings – Parks Dept/SP Services, 2005 6th Ave N, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $61,480

Billings Chamber Of Commerce/Singh Contracting Inc, 815 S 27th St, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $20,250

Sisters Of Charity Of Leavenworth/Hardy Construction Co., 1106 N 30th St, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $45,000

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6170 Elysian Rd, Com Footing/Foundation, $50,000

Square 106 LLC/Beartooth Holding & Construction, 1678 Shiloh Rd, Com New Other, $850,000

Square 106 LLC/Beartooth Holding & Construction, 1720 Shiloh Rd, Com New Restaurant/Casino/Bar, $600,000

Randy Swenson/Beartooth Holding & Construction, 1686 Shiloh Rd, Com New Store/Strip Center, $850,000

Dwight Deckert/Coast To Coast Builders Inc, 1411 38th St W, Com Remodel, $250,000

DB 10 LLC/Bauer Construction, 14 N 29th St, Com Remodel, $30,000

Nathan Matelitch/Neumann Construction, 1112 Broadwater Ave, Com Remodel – Change In Use, $75,000

City Of Billings The/TJ Construction, 2626 13th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding $15,800

City Of Billings The/TJ Construction, 2626 13th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $10,700

City Of Billings/TJ Construction, 2626 13th St W, The Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $4,200

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6160 Elysian Rd, Com Footing/Foundation, $25,000

Sisters Of Charity Of Leavenworth, 2220 Mission Way, Com New Other, $225,000

WP5 Billings LLC/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 2618 King Ave W, Com Remodel,  $150,000

Jin’s Buffet/Air Controls Billings Inc., 1310 Main St, Com Remodel, $5,000

Family Billings LLC/Bettelyoun & Son Construction, 980 S 24th St W, Com Remodel, $1,600

Bitter Creek Pipelines LLC/Reed Construction And Consulting, 552 Roxy Ln, Com Remodel, $8,250


CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 4741 Gold Creek Trl, Res New Single Family $323,548

Jeff Kreitzberg Homes Inc/Jeff Kreitzberg Homes, 2225 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $207,350

CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 5304 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $268,425

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 918 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $247,732

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 914 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $302,471

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 910 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $247,732

Trails West Homes LLC/Trails West Homes LLC, 906 Grouse Berry St, Res New Single Family, $219,035

CDH, LLC/CDH, LLC, 5325 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $281,473

Better Building Technologies/MJH Construction, 2107 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $237,619

Lorenz Construction/Lorenz Construction, 3380 Tahoe Dr, Res New Single Family, $265,800

Jeff Kreitzberg Homes Inc/Jeff Kreitzberg Homes, 2221 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $226,359

Formation Inc/Formation Inc, 4701 Sky Vista Ct, Res New Single Family, $331,905

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1955 Annas Garden Ln, Res New Single Family, $299,456

Wells Built Inc/Wells Built Inc, 6104 Canyonwoods Dr, Res New Single Family, $779,213

Design Builders/Design Builders, Inc. 2528 Aspen Creek Trl, Res New Single Family, $342,952

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 1802 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $258,098

McCall/McCall Development, 6120 Johanns Meadow Ln, Res New Single Family, $282,543

Ridgewood Development LLP/Emineth Custom Homes, 3316 McMasters Rd, Res New Single Family, $650,000

The current labor shortage in Montana carries with it some surprises that haven’t been seen before, but reaction to them should be much the same as it has been for any labor shortage, according to Patrick Barkey, Director of the Bureau of Labor and Industry.

“To say that the balance of power in the give and take between workers and employers has swung toward workers in recent months would be an understatement, and that is just one of many surprises,” writes Barkey in the most recent issue of the Montana Business Quarterly.

“In past recessions, employment growth lags economic growth, as employers hire back laid-off workers only after all other measures to boost output” …but … “The brief but severe 2020 pandemic recession has been a completely  different animal. Not only did the resumption of job growth occur in April 2020, barely two months after the February 2020 date considered to be the pre-recession peak, but the growth was strong.”

Barkey reminds that prior to the COVID-19 mandated business closures there were already concerns about a shrinking labor market.

At the same time, employers and employees alike, expected the shutdowns to be longer, which prompted different responses by both than what might have happened had the realized the short duration.

Many employees used the time to look around for new options and different career opportunities, which because it was a strong market there were many. And, many employers deeply regretted breaking ties with experienced and trained employees.

While some of the circumstances impacting this labor shortage are not unique, some are:

—The reopening was strongest in industries previously hurt the most, notably the highly seasonal and labor-intensive accommodations, restaurant and personal services industries.

—With a new interest in domestic travel – “The Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport enplanements were almost 90% higher in June than pre-pandemic, the second highest increase of any airport in the country.”

—Many former workers withdrew from the labor market permanently for “a variety of reasons, including financial security from stock market and housing wealth increases, government support payments, spousal income and COVID-related concerns.”

Also, “One last factor contributing to pressure on Montana labor markets is the seasonal nature of our economy. During the summer months of any year, employment generally surges by 25,000 jobs or more as tourist volume ramps up and labor-intensive industries that serve that demand expand. The timing of the reopening of the state economy in 2021 coincided almost exactly with that seasonal peak.”

All these events contributed to tightening an already tight labor market.

“By almost any measure, the scarcity of labor is apparent, particularly for entry level jobs, where increases in starting wages have been the strongest. There has been a marked increase in voluntary quits by workers, a sign of their confidence in future job availability. And speaking of availability, the 62% increase in job openings experienced in Montana since before the pandemic began was higher than any state.”

Despite the pandemic, the factors contributing to an already tight labor market in Montana have not changed.  Things like: “Demographic events like falling birth rates and the retirement of baby boomers, coupled with huge disruptions in international migration, are stagnating the growth of the working-age population. And the shift in the interests and desires of Generation Z workers just entering the labor market continues to work against the needs of employers in less desired trades and construction occupations.”

Since these factors existed prior to the COVID shutdowns, the recommended responses remain the same:

— Raising wages. …which is already being done, but its impacts on growing the entire labor force have been limited.

—Searching more broadly for workers, relaxing requirements, looking at nontraditional workers. Looking outside local areas for a broader category of jobs.

—Investing more in training, hiring less qualified workers and training them up to acceptable skill levels.

—Reconfiguring job roles to find ways to make existing staff more productive, covering needed functions with the existing workforce.

—Recruiting future workers by connecting with middle- school-aged students to give them exposure to the nature of jobs they may otherwise know nothing about.

“Other actions, such as automation and outsourcing of work, has been underway when feasible for decades, but recent shortages have pushed the envelope further. The lack of available workers, while not a pleasant challenge for employers, nonetheless may prod them to take steps to eliminate the “bad jobs” in their workplaces. These may be jobs with high physical burdens, long or inconvenient working hours and other aspects that make them less competitive in a seller’s market for labor services.”

Policy makers could also make changes, notes Barkey – which although unpopular would improve the situation.

—Boosting the retirement age, which effectively means resetting the age at which individuals become eligible for Social Security and Medicare.

—Increasing female labor force participation by helping to increase child care availability.

— Fixing immigration policy. This traditional strength of the U.S. labor market has foundered on the rocks of political storms for almost a decade.

— Raising teenage labor force participation, currently at rates that are 20 percentage points lower than 40 years ago.

— Rethinking drug testing policies. Legalized cannabis is just one of many factors that are causing attitudes and policies to change.

—Reconsider occupational licensing requirements, which limit the ability of two-earner couples to relocate to Montana.