by Evelyn Pyburn

Given the seasonal cynical comments, of all the ba-humbuggers, I suppose I should be embarrassed to admit that I like Christmas music.  But I do.  It’s joyful.

I have always liked Christmas music, especially when it is wafting through the corridors of a department store or mall.  I also enjoy the lights and all the corny gift ideas.  Even the crowds.  Without all those people bustling about, the celebration that is Christmas, would lack much of its excitement.

Part of my joy goes back to those rare events when, as a child, our family would allot one evening, in downtown Bozeman, to shop for Christmas.  Shopping was a much bigger deal for my brothers and I, than it probably is for kids, now- a -days.  We never “shopped”.  Especially, not as a family event.

It was usually cold and snowy. The ice and snow reflected all the brilliance of the Christmas decorations that adorned Main Street, scattering the lights into a zillion little pieces.  There was Christmas music seeping through every doorway, lights and displays sparkled from every window. And for kids from the country, the hustle and bustle of lots of people was nothing but heady excitement.

Mom and Dad would dole out a sum, to be spent on one another, and then set us free to explore the shops and stores to our heart’s content.  (Believe it or not, no one worried a whit about us being safe.  There was no reason to worry.)

It was great fun prowling the store aisles; sharing a significant find that was just right for one of us; sneaking about in making the purchase; keeping each other’s secrets; and wondering what gifts Mom and Dad were finding for us.

The highlight of the evening was eating dinner at the counter in Woolworth’s! Eating out was a big, big deal.  Eating out was even more rare than being able to go shopping. (Those who know what Woolworth’s was are showing their age; for those who don’t— it was a department store.) I can still smell all the wonderful smells, and I knew that Dad was going to order the turkey dinner plate. Can you imagine kids considering eating at the counter in a dime store as exciting, today?

Shopping has never been as much fun as it was then, but there’s still a joy and excitement of it that is part and parcel of the joy of the season -– I know that that’s true because people just wouldn’t do it, if there wasn’t fun in it, no matter what all the bah-humbuggers say.

When I look around a Christmas, I don’t see angry, frustrated people, I see busy, happy people.  And joy is all about, if you but look for it.  There’s the joy of children peering at store displays, as I once did, or the intent faces of those imagining the look of joy they hope to bring to someone’s face on Christmas morning.

One of the most wonderful Christmas experiences I’ve ever had wasn’t that long ago. It was the first time I ever saw a house decorated with brilliant lights, blinking in sync with Christmas music.  I laughed out loud with the sheer delight of it.  It was totally wonderful to see that someone worked so hard to create something, for no other purpose, than to make someone laugh out loud in appreciation of the joy that was dancing around with all those crazy lights and the beautiful music.  It was one huge exuberant expression of joy.

That’s what I see when I see the lights of Christmas trees peering from windows along a street.  Or even if it’s just one skinny string of lights along a porch railing.  It is someone’s expression of joy.  No matter how modest the decorations, they took some effort. If the decorations didn’t reflect some level of joy and good will, they wouldn’t be there.  I see that joy, and revel in the fact that so many people can find joy and want to share it.

May your Christmas be merry and joyful.

Anna Paige is joining the staff of Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale as the director of marketing and audience engagement.

Previously, Anna was the arts and entertainment reporter for the Billings Gazette. She has worked in the newspaper and publishing industry since 2004, and she also worked in marketing and development for regional nonprofit and corporate organizations including Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming and Kampgrounds of America.

Originally from Wyoming, Anna has undergraduate degrees in journalism and anthropology from the University of Wyoming and a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Denver. She has lived in Billings for more than a decade, where she teaches poetry in the elementary schools and is the co-host of Resounds: Arts and Culture on the High Plains on Yellowstone Public Radio. She is also the co-founder of Young Poets, winner of the 2021 Library of Congress Award for Literacy.

On the morning of Nov. 23, Vice President of NFIB’s Federal Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman appeared on the Washington Journal series of C-SPAN to discuss the State of Small Businesses. Hosted by Pedro Echevarria, Kuhlman talked about the impact of the Biden Administration’s policies on small businesses and answered questions from callers. 

 “Overall, there’s a lot to digest and I think small business owners are quite frankly overwhelmed,” Kuhlman says after listing the proposals in the Build Back Better Act legislation that may impact small businesses. The Biden Administration’s assessment of the economy’s strength and being in a position to attack inflation can only come to fruition if we look at the root cause of inflation. “The American economy isn’t going to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels until the small business half of the economy has recovered,” added Kuhlman. “So, our advice to Congress and the Administration is to do no harm to these small businesses. Create an environment to help these small businesses survive and thrive.”

Topics and questions  covered included:

* Small Business Surtax

* Paid Family & Medical Leave program

* OSHA vaccine mandate and implementation

* Inflation

* COVID-19 relief programs

* Supply chain disruptions

* Labor shortages

* Build Back Better Act

NFIB has analyzed various paid leave proposals for years and implementing such an expansive program in only two years will hurt small businesses. “Half of small business owners cannot fill open positions. That requires a flexible arrangement,” Kuhlman explains. “Previously, businesses with fewer than 50 employees were not subject to the Family Medical Leave Act. So, they’re really unfamiliar with paid family and medical leave requirements and policies… It’s an unfamiliar policy that could disrupt or exacerbate their labor force challenges.”

In Bozeman, Vance Thompson Vision plans to build a new eye care and surgical center. The 38,000 square-foot three-story surgical centers will be located on East Valley Center Drive just north of Costco. Currently, Vance Thompson Vision Bozeman partners with another surgical center to perform cataract, cornea, and glaucoma procedures..

Year over year Williston and Williams County North Dakota unemployment rate dropped from 10 percent in 2020 to 4.5 percent in October 2021. For the state the rate dropped rom 3.7 percent to 2.3 percent.

Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital plans to build an affordable workforce housing development for their employees to help mitigate the cost of housing in Bozeman which is unaffordable for many. Bozeman Health has partnered with ERES Capital to build the housing project in Belgrade next to the Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport. Bozeman Health said they have been investing a large amount of money into the project and patients will not see any financial impacts on their health bills. Construction for the new housing units are set to begin this spring and the project is will be completed by 2023. Bozeman Health is hiring for 500 open job positions, for which they have raised the minimum wage to $17 a hour.

The Butte Rescue Mission recently secured a $700,000 grant from the state to transform the old warehouse next to the mission at 610 East Platinum St. into a fully operational kitchen and dining space to provide occupants with more indoor eating options. The warehouse may provide room for extra cots as well.

The Williston, North Dakota is building a new $20 million Career and Technical Education project. The CTE building will be able to accommodate over 400 students in numerous programs to get them career ready upon graduating from Williston High School.

Made-in-Montana, just in time for Christmas. While everyone wants to shop local, that can easily mean shopping “Made-in-Montana” products.  There are sooo many. The idea of publishing a list of Montana producers of great gift items as a helpful guide, quickly diminished to just a list of those in Billings… but even then it turns out to be a v-e-r-y long, long list on the Made-in-Montana website.

But wait! There are many, many producers and manufacturers in Billings who aren’t even listed on that website. Statewide the website lists 2049 – and that again comes nowhere near listing all of them … 

No doubt about it Montana is full of very creative, hardworking and productive people—just take a look.

Products made in Billings:

A Mindful Kitchen

— 100% Grass-Fed Beef, Body Lotions, Spice Blends, Clean Cooking  (406) 272-2188

Abby Lindstrom King, Art

—Mixed media fine art   (406) 690-2136

ABC Honey

— 100% local fresh honey. Other items include honey related gifts such as beeswax candles.  Ryan.abchoney@

Agri Organics

—Compost Made from yard trimmings, leaves, coffee grounds, wood chips, and livestock bedding with manure. (406) 855-1347

Agrika Foods

— Teff seed | grain| flour,-25 lbs. Premium Teff Brown Flour; Coffee, 1-10 lbs Premium Dark Fine Ground High Crema Espresso Coffee; 1-10 lbs Premium Dark Medium Ground Coffee   406) 371-1977

Alena Larson

— Hand- crafted felted scarves, shawls, hats, mittens Hand-crafted felted jackets, vest, top Hand-crafted felted pillows, throw blanket, wall decor Eco dye silk scarves    (406) 670-0568

Anita’s Tea and Tangle

—Reusable and reversible Surgical Masks made here in Montana with 2 layers of100% Recycled Cotton layered with 100% polypropylene    (406) 561-1198

Antelope Santee Dolls

—Native American Dolls   (406) 647-1824

Aspinwall, Inc.

— Quality Apparel with Logo Designs Created by owner Derek & hand Screen Printed in their Downtown Billings Storefront  (406) 702-1586

Auto Trim Design Graphics

— Montana Themed Decals Vehicle Stickers and Decals Indoor and Outdoor Signs and Graphics Wooden and Metal Decorative Signs Commercial Graphics and Signs  (406) 655-6200

Backwoods Casting & Crafts LLC

—Specializes in unique, custom, rustic rings and jewelry as well as other handmade crafts.

BD Design.. (406) 690-4481

–Handmade, home décor, corn hole games, personalized gifts, made from plain pine or reclaimed wood; painted, stained and distressed to our customer’s preference. Prefabricated signs to personalize or take and make for a fun evening at home! Mugs, vinyl decals, drink caddies, wall décor, baby gifts, wedding décor, wedding gifts, and unique, one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone.

Beard Mountain Industries..  (406) 861-2923

—Line of men’s grooming products. Items include beard oil, moustache wax and beard balm.   (406) 208-4846

Beartooth Design Co.

— Signs Custom graphics, Home Décor, Furniture, Custom Apparel.. (406) 655-9575

Beartooth Photography

— Nature Photography Photo Note Cards High-quality photos feature Montana’s great outdoors & wildlife, available in a variety of sizes.. (406) 861-0190

Belle’s Bites

—Home-made dog treats… (406) 670-5396

BelPhia Creative

—Hand thrown/built ceramics, watercolor, acrylic, mixed media..  (406) 671-3191

Best Doilies and Crafts

— Handmade Crocheted Items, Doilies & Table Runners, Aprons for Children & Adults, Nylon Dish Scrubbies, Kids’ Snuggle Blankets, Microwave Potato Bags… (406) 581-0003

Beveled Edge of Montana

—Wood furniture, signs, boxes, shelves, wedding decor and custom orders.

Biker Betty

— Clothing & accessories created for women Bikers. Artwork for our product line is created using motorcycle parts and accessories.   (406) 223-9074

Bootstrap Designs

— Bootstrap Designs produces individually handcrafted jewelry items made from Montana copper, leather, and other row materials. (406) 850-8433


Handmade greeting cards featuring digital images, made with mixed-media components. Also photos products such as magnets, keychains, etc. (406) 672-2513

Burnin The Bone BBQ

—Meat sourced whenever possible from Project Meats –  Special House made Sauces: Rascalberry Sauce- Made using Montana Huckleberries Apple Pie Moonshine BBQ Sauce… (406) 561-6708

C&J State Quarter

—Rings Made From U.S. Quarters Available in Sizes 4 – 15  (406) 855-4978

Canyon Creek Traders

—Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, hair ties Sterling silver, German (nickel) silver, copper, fine silver Turquoise, jasper, coral and many other gemstones. (406) 861-7721.

Ceilon Aspensen, Art Maker

—Artwork Originals & Reproductions Dawings & Paintings Prints & Greeting Cards Other Visual Art (406) 578-8822

Chalet Market

—Made in Montana smoked buffalo, elk and beef sausages, snack sticks and jerky. We offer “All Things Huckleberry”, plus Flathead cherry & chokecherry flavors, jam, jellies, local honey, caramels, coffee, tea, candies, lotions, soaps, candles and so much more!  1-877-223-5763

Colt James Ranches

—Montana Chop Sticks: Gourmet Wagyu Beef Sticks   (406) 425-1027

Connie’s Creations

—Dog Boots made from Polar Fleece, Denim, and Cordura   (406) 252-4756

COOKIE’s Chocolates

—Chocolate Pizzas, Dipped Oreos (decorated for the Seasons), Foil-wrapped Rose Buds, Western-themed Novelties, Truffles, Gift Baskets, Corporate Gifts, Custom Designs at your request.   (406) 698-4976

Crazy Dog Lady Crafts

—Handmade gifts for dog lovers as well as up cycled wood projects.   (406) 371-3174

Creations in Wood

— Oak Home Furnishings & Accessories -Montana Agate Lamps -Deacon’s & Quilter’s Benches -Bachelor & Library Chairs -Jewelry Boxes & Hand Mirrors -Necklace Boards & Trophy Shelves -Shadow Boxes & Picture Frames -Quilt Racks & Doll Cradles    (406) 245-5836


— Cut-N-Rust creates unique Metal art pieces using different kinds of metals, mixing old with the New. We at Cut-n-Rust use innovative techniques to make our pieces come to life whether it is a driveway sign or a Montana key chain.   (406) 598-2627

Debbie Desjarlais

—A line of greeting cards inspired by the Fort Peck Assiniboine traditions. The Star Quilt Collection is a series of four colorful cards with the cultural story of Debbie’s star quilts on the back.   (651) 263-2151

Dennis Randall

— Dust pans, made from pine trees, old barn wood, and used Montana license plates, can be made with other plates on request. Squirrel feeders, made from old and new cedar fence and some barn wood    (406) 281-3251

Dennis Rollins

—Custom made leather products, including wallets, belts, suspenders, cell phone holders, holsters, gun belts, knife sheathes, bracelets, bags, vests, coasters, money clips, purses, 3 D pictures, waste paper baskets, tablet covers … (406) 855-2640

Doggie Style Gourmet Treats, LLC

— Handmade dog treats made from the finest ingredients such as: Fresh ground oats, all natural peanut butter, pumpkin, bacon, cheese, carrots, unsweetened applesauce, carrots, strawberries, blueberries, honey, and herbs.   (406) 702-1253

DragonFire Designs

-Customer drinkware, handmade jewelry, photography.   (406) 698-8136

Dun a Si Farm

— Raw wool & carded roving Washed wool curls & handspun wool yarn Yarn-natural fibers, fiber blends plant fibers Hand-woven scarves, shawls, blankets Hand-felted scarves, accessories & ornaments   406) 373-6542

Elle Bear’s Fabulous Designs

— glitter tumblers with quotes. They are covered in resin.   (209) 769-9803

Engraveables Custom Laser

—Laser Engraved Products Plaques & Awards Jewelry Boxes Key Chains & Name Tags Mugs & Glasses Flasks & Mouse Pads   (406) 245-1681

EssBe Creations

—One of a kind Zipper pouches, cosmetic bags, small purses, one of a kind half aprons and full aprons    (406) 670-9817

Fairy Ring Arts

—Articles made from polymer clay. Ornaments, jewelry, beads, treasure boxes, small home decor items   (406) 670-2902

Fall to Pieces Mosaics

— mixed media mosaic art for home and garden, and also sell mosaic tiles cut from china and other dishes. My finished mosaic art consists of wall hangings for indoor display in shapes including birds, flowers, hands, coffee cups, fish, figurines, and flower bouquets. I also make mosaic mirrors. For outdoor use, I make garden rocks/doorstops. My indoor pieces are not only home decor but also works of art. They are distinguished by attention to detail, color sense, quality materials, and careful workmanship. Each piece is made using mosaic tiles from my vast collection of dishes, knickknacks, beads, mirrors, and found objects.    (406) 671-9605

Fashions By Little O

—Dog bandanas designed to slip over a dog’s collar, designed to move with your dog and maintain it’s shape. Available in four sizes: XS, S, M, L. Now making treat bags, and poo bag holders.   (406) 628-6864

Flying Colors Windsocks

—Custom Windsocks Handmade, appliqued, silk-screened windsocks are constructed with durable flag nylon in rich colors, and are available in a wide selection of designs    (406) 259-6588

Flying V Creatives

—Wall Decor made from reclaimed Montana lumber including barn wood and snow fence. Furniture built from reclaimed Montana barn wood.   (406) 200-0370

Fustercluck Creations

— wood and resin tables wood and resin bowls wood and resin signs resin bottle stoppers resin tumblers resin countertops   406) 489-2850

Gan Aegla

—Handmade bath and body products in a variety of scents. Our soaps contain a proprietary blend of oils and butters which are designed to be skin-friendly.    (406) 371-3989

Gary Little

— Wall art – 3-D hand-painted clay dioramas of iconic Montana mountain scenes Smart Signage – in-house smart tv streaming local video or thumb driven slideshow              (406) 256-3025

Ha Vren

—A variety of artistic elements: Jewelry, Photography, Paintings, Altered Designer Accessories, Altered Designer Home Elements, Fabricating Artistic Elements, Finished Artistic Elements, Graphic Art, Reproduced Photographic Elements, Designing Personalized Personal Decor and Accessories .. (406) 259-6163

Hands On Fun Toys

—Children’s hand and finger puppets, hand-turned jump ropes, miniature wooden toys, wood-burned Montana (and other shaped) ornaments    (940) 613-6907

Hopkins Handcrafts

—Jewelry, like black cord bracelets and necklaces with walnut wood pendants that are Montana themed (bears, state of Montana, fish, bison, etc.).  (406) 426-2494

HunterMade Prodcuts

—Custom hand crafted and turned writing pens, and other small items    (406) 860-4959

Images By Michael

—Color and Black & White Scenic Images Macro Floral Images Western & Wildlife Images Boxed Note Card Sets Prints Available in Various Sizes  (406) 671-7069

Jennco Design

—Tables, gates, signs, beds created from wood, epoxy, steel, and concrete   (406) 697-7001

Jill Nauman

—Pottery dinner wear and ornaments    (406) 697-3102

Jill Cookies

—Homemade dog cookies – made with Wheat Montana™ flour, Hutterite Colony eggs, plus other sundry items. Flavors available are pumpkin, peanut butter and jelly, ginger snap, apple/maple/bacon,beefy cheese, cheddar bacon, cranberry, blueberry, raspberry/coconut/carob, coconut/carob, and pizza. Grain-free products are also available featuring cheddar bacon and peanut butter and jelly.  (406) 861-1932

JMH Limited Editions

—Custom Woodworking Furniture, Cribbage Boards, Shop Benches, Cabinets & Jigs Custom Formed and/or Tooled Leather Items Consulting, Advising, Designing (307) 299-8693

John Felton – Hardwood Art  

—Marquetry Jewelry and Keepsake Boxes Hardwood earrings Various Gift Items     (406) 672-6542

John Standish

—Household decorations handmade with blacksmith methods. Naturally raised beef. Naturally raised lamb.   (406) 248-8094

Laughing Lynx Herbals, LCJF, LLC

—Herbal medicine, some of those herbs responsibly foraged from the State of MT, mostly South-Central Montana. I make traditional Western herbal products like infused honeys, herbal vinegars, and of course tea.    (406) 545-8467

Lazuli of Lenore

—Custom made handwoven items such as the following: Clothing: coats, shawls, vests and scarves Linens: table runners, kitchen towels, tea towels, tea and French press cozies Household items: blankets and lap robes Art works: wall hangings    (406) 321-0111

Linda’s Crafty Side

— Crocheted Alpaca blend & Wool blend hats, scarves, clothing, guitar pick jewelry plus much more.  (406) 208-5612

Little Shell Design

— Handmade Native American Products Dolls & Dreamcatchers Rawhide Ornaments Medicine Bags Ribbon Shirts Jingle Collars      (406) 451-9732

Lori Blaylock

— Handcrafted copper, silver & stone jewelry Art: Wildlife/nature in graphite & pastel   (406) 860-8105

Lucky For Sure

—Necklaces made from vintage poker chips from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. The poker chips are vintage Bakelite and Clay. Bakelite is considered the “first generation” plastic, and is very collectable.      (406) 860-1847

Mangum Design Co.

— Custom illustrations – digital illustrations created by hand, printed in Montana on canvas or cardstock, also available as digital downloads.  (406) 670-2650

Mariah by Design

— Bath bombs, bath truffles, sugar scrub, and body butter. Lotion bar, soap, shave bar, botanical salt soak, lip scrub, and lip balm.   (406) 690-4584

Montana Block Company

— End-Grain Butcher Boards High quality butcher boards made for use in the kitchen, made from solid, American sourced hardwoods Kitchen Wares        (406) 861-5754

Montana Mittens

— mittens from old wool sweaters — These mittens are pretty, warm & comfortable. Each pair is unique (406) 698-2367

Ranch House Meat & Sausage Co.

—BACON! Sausage – Bratwurst and Summers Snack Sticks – multipack and single pack Jerky Meat trays Deli-cut lunch meats    (406) 373-6315

Montana’s Backyard LLC

—Raw honey and honey products.   (406) 850-8248

Rattlesnake Forge

— Rattlesnake Forge is a veteran owned blacksmith forge located in Billings, MT. We make customized metal and wood products. Our products include indoor/outdoor decor, tools, hardware, furniture, etc. All of our products are handmade/hand forged from reclaimed or scrap metal and wood.  (406) 697-2966

Red Oxx Manufacturing, Inc.

—produces handcrafted soft-sided luggage & briefcases, as well as rugged adventure gear guaranteed to last. Every Red Oxx product is backed by an unconditional lifetime warranty.   (888) 733-6999

Rock Creek Soaps

—Bath and body care products, including vegan handcrafted artisan soaps, family-safe bath bombs, shower steamers and bubble bath, and luxury moisturizers.    (406) 702-0412

Rock Treads LLC

– Rock Treads are a 100% American made universal aluminum traction kit that works on ANY wading boot or shoe. Aluminum is softer than the rock, but harder then the slime in rivers. Our patented shape allows the Rock Tread to cut the slime, but grip the rock. Our custom installation methods assure a lifetime hold of your Rock Treads discs, no matter the brand or type of wading boot you have.  (406) 426-0620


—SmwDesigns builds custom wood products right here in Billings Montana. From custom shelves to dining tables, we will build you a product designed to last. (406) 698-7246

Stonely Studio LLC

—Handcrafted Wood Products for the Fly Fisher & Outdoorsman Original Custom Designed River Maps River Map Fly Boxes River Map Cribbage Boards & Plaques Engraved River Map Stainless Steel Drinkware, T-Shirts Free Personalization, Custom Orders Welcome Our wood products are handcrafted from beech, cherry, curly maple, mahogany or walnut wood, custom designed and laser engraved. On our signature ‘River Map Fly Boxes’ and other products, you can choose from over 500 original river maps. (406) 656-6326

U-Neek Bar-B-Que Sauce

— Moerkerke Foods manufactures a product U-NEEK Bar-B-Que sauce. This sauce has been family owned for generations and still continues to keep the tradition going producing one of the best sauces in the country. Its taste is like none other. Located in Laurel Montana.  (406) 690-1012

William Nets

— Handcrafted fishing nets     (406) 672-0976

Your Fairy Dog Mothers

— Your Fairy Dog Mothers supplies consumers pet-care products, handmade in Montana. These products include pet toys that provide fun, enrichment and mental stimulation. (651) 206-9291

Here’s a sampling of Made-In-Montana producers from around the state.

2-Stroke Brands, Missoula

—a subtle yet powerful mix of scents reminiscent of the two stroke exhaust smell you get after chainsawing or snowmobiling in the woods

1 Love Hemp, Polson

—high quality, lab tested CBD and CBG hemp tinctures, salves, lotions and other products.

21 Creations, Belgrade

—Wood turned products. Bowls, pens, boxes, picture frames, and many other products made out of wood

2nd Times a Charm,

—Rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces made from recycled forks and spoons. Wooden wine racks.

100% Pure Piano, Belgrade

—Solo Piano Favorites – Available on CD or by digital download, Marilyn Byrnes is featured on the Steinway ‘B’ grand piano: “A tranquil piano experience weaving classical and contemporary piano favorites into a tapestry that will relax and refresh your spirit.”

3 Generation Novelties, Kalispell

—Sewing and crocheting with some small beaded items as well. Novelties consist of useful items and conversation pieces, all of which make for great gift-giving to family and/or friends.

3G Beef, Helmville

—Montana born, raised, and processed beef. Our cattle are raised on the fresh mountain air, clean mountain streams, and the rich land of Montana’s Blackfoot Valley in Helmville, MT.

3K Crafting, Miles City

— Goat milk and oil based soaps. Other products include lotions, lip balm, body butter and bath bombs

4 Dot Ranch, Belgrade

—Mouse trap.

406 Antlery, Boulder

—Belt Buckles, Jewelry, Hair Accessories, Cribbage Boards, Letter Openers, Slingshots…etc.

406 CBD, Winifred

—Our products include tinctures, salves, gummies, capsules, cream, lip balm, coffee, and bath bombs.

406 Coaster, Arlee

— Montana branded coasters made from authentic lodge-pole here in Montana.

406 Farmhouse Customs, Belt

—A small business in rural Montana. We have a laser and CNC machine and produce products for painting projects, wooden and leather jewelry, and home decor.

406 Fly Lines, Livingston

— Vintage Series Fly Lines Weight Forward Line Double Taper Line 406 Fly Lines are designed for fiberglass and other slow action fly rods.

Beaverhead Treasures, Dillon

—specializes in hand crafted quilts and leather goods. Montana’s natural world beauty inspires distinctive products from a western perspective.

Beaverhead Honey Co., Dillon

—Beaverhead Honey, straight from our hives in South West Montana.

Honey Food Candles

406 ScentStations, Malta

—All Natural Soy Wax Candles scented with candle fragrance and essential oils. Wax melts made with natural soy wax and candle scent.

406 Soap, Kalispell

—We make all our soaps through cold process, using a variety of different oils and fats. We keep our batches small and have a limited number of molds as we design and make them ourselves.

406 Soap and Candle Co., Kalispell

— Handmade artisan Tallow soaps made with beef tallow, Shea butter, olive oil, coconut oil and castor oil. Includes clays and skin loving ingredients, essential oils and fragrance oils.

406 Steak’n Company, Bozeman

—Beef Bacon Strips and Crumbles: Traditional, Black Pepper, Maple

406 Wax, Jefferson City

—Hand poured candles that can be customized to your liking in every way from size, color, scent to wax type and strength.

406 Wood Works, Missoula

—Seasonal Wreaths-made with decoration mesh Wood Artwork- handcarved or burned Mason Jar Nightlight

406 Woodcrafters, Lewistown

— Handcrafted, built one at a time wood jewelry boxes, keepsake boxes, collection boxes, tea boxes, gun presentation boxes, small boxes to big boxes. Also one of a kind coffee tables, side tables, entry tables, sofa tables.

406Maker, Helena

—Leather Products: tote bags, women’s clutches, desk pads, valet trays, key rings, hatchet covers, knife scabbards, leather bond journals/notebooks, wallets, and credit cardholders.

406Spices, Laurel

— Bold Flavors In Spicy Artisan Seasonings And Rubs. Only Pure Spices and Herbs No MSG, No Gluten, No Fillers, No Preservatives, Ever! Grizzly Espresso Steak Rub Absaroka Mountain Chicken Rub

41 Grains, Circle

We are producing locally grown crops such as wheat and chickpeas into consumer items like flour, baking goods, and other food items.

49th Apparel, Plentywood

—Creating clothing that is fun, functional, and most importantly, COMFORTABLE! No itching or tugging.

5 Valley Woodcraft, Missoula

—Hand carved household wood products made from wood grown in MT, and sealed with natural products grown in MT

5518Designs, Butte

—5518 Designs branded goods are outdoor and recreation inspired, original-art graphics printed on high-quality apparel, accessories, and paper products. Services also include custom graphics.

9-Mile Creek Traders, Florence

— Wooden buckets, barrels, leather and fur belt & neck pouches, tanned hides, fur hats, garments, raw hide, wall décor and special orders.

A Cut Above Quilting and Longaming, Garrison

—Custom Quilts, table place mats and runners, Embroidered towel sets, microwaveable products, and lingering services

A Montana Story, Helena

— Young Reader Chapter Book – ‘Spotted Flower and the Ponokomita’ Set in the early 18th century when the American Indians of the Northern Plains got their first look at a horse (ponokomita), author K. Follis Cheatham’s accurate research helps tell about a lifestyle that existed thousands of years before the horse arrived to the plains of the Northern Rockies.

Badger Made, Corvallis

—Wallets, Purses/Handbags, Children’s clothing, Headbands, Custom drinkware

The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), released Nov. 12, showed that 4.4 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in September, a record high. Montana has the second highest number of “quits” in the nation.

Nationally, the average rate of “quits” is 3 percent; in Montana the rate was 4.8 percent.

“Quits” reflects worker confidence in being able to find a better job. The voluntary separations data paint a picture of labor market tightness and growing pricing power of workers. While the labor situation poses opportunity for workers, it creates greater struggle for employers who are having trouble finding the workers they need and are having to increase the wages and benefits offered.

Some observers say that Montana may be impacted more than other states because it is so rural and it is easier for people to find work at home, making more per hour and being able to stay home with children. Average hourly earnings rose 4.9 percent in the year through October, the Labor Department said in a Nov. 10 release. But, with over-the-year consumer price inflation in October running at 6.2 percent—the highest rate in 31 years—wages actually contracted by 1.3 percent in real terms.

The unemployment rate in Montana is at a 14 year low at 3.1 %. 

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said in a Nov. 9 report that a net 44 percent of small-business owners reported boosting wages to attract and retain staff, the highest reading in the 48-year history of the series.

Average hourly earnings rose 4.9 percent in the year through October, the Labor Department reported on Nov. 10,  but with over-the-year consumer price inflation in October running at 6.2 percent—the highest rate in 31 years—wages actually contracted by 1.3 percent in real terms.

Among considerations recommended for employers:

—23% of American workers are planning to quit their jobs in the next 12 months

— Employers Should Rethink What They’re Offering Workers?

—For Smart Companies, Upskilling Is the Perfect Antidote to the Great Resignation – People stay at companies when they’re still learning.

The Blue Angels will perform in Billings on August 12 and 13, 2023.

They are coming to Billings as the result of a year’s long effort by a group of Billings’s volunteers, who remembered the air shows of over twenty years ago and wanted to recreate the experience for a new generation and to showcase Billings.

The Blue Angels recently announced the schedule for what will be their 77th air show season. . The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform 62 demonstrations at 33 locations in 2023.

Demonstration sites are selected two years prior to the show season.

The idea of bringing the Blue Angels back to Billings, all started over breakfast at PAYS café, where two old friends reminisced about their youth growing up in Billings and what they loved and appreciated about their hometown.  As Jake Penwell and Matt McDonnell talked about it and as they went on to talk about their hope to be able to “give back” to the community they loved, they suddenly declared “why not!?” Why not try to bring the air show back.

Penwell shared how impactful the former air shows in Billings had been for him. “That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said, explaining that he had long been entertaining ideas of joining the military, but after seeing the air show he enlisted in the Navy. Today, Penwell’s son has become the third generation of Penwells to serve in the Navy.

As they committed themselves to bringing an air show back to Billings, “We decided that our best course of action was just to move forward until we hit a hurdle we couldn’t overcome. We never ran into that hurdle,” said Penwell.

They identified some other friends and community leaders and invited them all to lunch one day. Penwell and McDonnell put forth the challenge and asked their guests if they wanted to sign on. “Not one said no,” exclaimed Penwell, “They became our board of directors.”

“Now a year later, we have attracted the Blue Angels”

Penwell lauds their “board of directors” for their yeomen’s efforts. “You can’t do it on your own,” he said.

The Blue Angels is a flight demon-ration squadron of the United States Navy who fly Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets. Over the years they have performed for more than 500 million people. The squadron’s logistics support aircraft is the C-130J Super Hercules.

Founded in 1946 by the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester Nimitz, the Blue Angel’s performances assist in recruiting and retention goals for the military services, enhance esprit de corps among uniformed men and women, and inspire and educate young people. The team is stationed at Forrest Sherman Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, during the air show season. The squadron spends January through March training at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California.

Getting the Blue Angel’s to come is just the beginning … there is much that must be done over the coming year and a lot more volunteers will be needed, as well as financial support— whether it is to become a sponsor or to buy a ticket.

Penwell said he is amazed at the generosity of everyone in sharing their time and expertise. Especially helpful has been those who produced past air shows. Also offering great insight and direction has been event producers at Metra Park and those involved with the Magic City Blues Fest. Also helping out has been Kendall Switzer of Bozeman who is a former member of the Blue Angel’s team. “He has been to countless air shows and he has been an incredible asset to us.”

As the board worked on the project, which started out as something of a secret mission, word leaked out, said Penwell and they were soon being asked by many people how they could help – especially from those in “aviation circles”. Everyone wants to make it “the best air show we have ever seen,” said Penwell.

Hosting the Blue Angels will undoubtedly draw attendance from throughout the region. The timing will be such as to afford an opportunity to show off the newly remodeled Billings’ airport which will have just been completed.  The air show is also an amazing opportunity to show off Billings, and to bring people to come and enjoy the city.

So amazingly has “the board” worked together, said Penwell, he hopes they may be able to formalize the group to work on other projects in the future that will give-back to Billings and showcase the city.

Those who have been part of the group striving to bring the Blue Angeles to Billings are: Kendall (Thumper) Switzer, Matt McDonnell, Tim Goodridge, Jake Penwell, Michael Sanderson, John Ostlund, Don Jones, Vu Pham, Robb Bergeson, Jay Jamieson, Ty Elkin, Reid Pyburn, Chad Ametoy, Chris Kukulski, Gary Blain, Kevin Ploehn, Jodee Etchart, Sara Young, Eric Finstad, and Alex Tyson.


State Of Montana/Raisin Contracting Inc,  2300 Lake Elmo Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $22,200      

Knutson, Jess Anne/Big Phish Construction, 334 Bench Blvd,  Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $30,000   

Raisin Contracting Inc/Raisin Contracting Inc, 408 N 15th St, Com New Other, $1,147,998

Stock Land Properties/Stock Land Properties Inc, 501 S 44th St W, Com New Other, $124,799

Stock Land Properties/Stock Land Properties Inc, 501 S 44th St W, Com New Other, $516,708

Stock Land Properties/Stock Land Properties Inc, 501 S 44th St W, Com New Other, $396,288

Stock Land Properties/Stock Land Properties Inc, 501 S 44th St W, Com New Other, $124,799

RSD Adult Daycare/Action Electric Inc., 917 1st Ave N, Com Remodel, $500

State Of Montana, 1204 W Wicks Ln, Com Remodel, $20,000

Janelle Crowley/Sawtooth Contracting Inc, 1027 Shiloh Crossing Blvd, Com Remodel, $3,500

Janelle Crowley/Sawtooth Contracting Inc, 3839 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $15,000

Kramer, Patricia/JRJ Construction Inc, 607 Avenue F, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $27,500

Church Of Jesus Christ Of LDS/Lynnrich Inc., 3020 Grandview Blvd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $8,682

Popelka Enterprises LLC/Commercial Roofing Montana LLC, 1327 Main St, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $253,000   R

Na/Bach Land And Development LLC, 2970 Central Ave, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $9,294,768

Stock Land Properties Inc/Stock Investment Group III LLC. 3905 Central Ave, Com New Other, $500,000

Na/Bach Land And Development LLC, 2926 Central Ave, Com New Other, $31,500

Hunter’s Pointe Apartments Phase 2, LLC/Bach Land And Development LLC, 2970 Central Ave, Com New Other, $27,000

Billings 13 Re LLC/Sletten Construction Companies, 3975 King Ave W, Com New Other, $10,000

St. John’s Lutheran Ministries/Jones Construction, Inc, 3940 Rimrock Rd, Com Remodel, $56,000

Brandon Wood/406 Disaster Response LLC, 300 S 24th St W, Com Remodel, $130,000

North LLC/2318 1st Ave N, 2316 First Ave, Com Remodel – Change In Use, $500

McDonald Land Holdings LLC/Fire Suppression Systems, 1310 Main St, Com Remodel, $3,675

KT Dental Properties LLC/Jorden Construction, 1601 Zimmerman Trl, Com Remodel, $30,000


HAD Inc/HAD Inc, 2228 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $213,431

HAD Inc/HAD Inc, 2234 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $221,531

Trent Buscher Construction/Trent Buscher Construction, 3142 Falcon Cir, Res New Single Family, $300,000

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6148 Norma Jean Ln, Res New Single Family, $221,856

Bob Pentecost/Bob Pentecost Const, 2461 W Bonito Loop, Res New Single Family, $430,000

Bob Pentecost/Bob Pentecost Const, 7070 Copper View Way, Res New Single Family, $430,000

Bob Pentecost/Bob Pentecost Const, 2451 Bonito Loop, Res New Single Family, $430,000

Bob Pentecost/Bob Pentecost Const, 7051 Copper View Way, Res New Single Family, $460,000

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6141 Norma Jean Ln, Res New Single Family, $331,461

McCall Homes/McCall Development, 6146 Johanns Meadow Ln, Res New Single Family, $230,458

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6326 Beckville Ln, Res New Single Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6326 Beckville Ln, Res New Single Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6322 Beckville Ln, Res New Single Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6322 Beckville Ln, Res New Single Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC, 2911 Eagle Butte Trl, Res New Single Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC, 2907 Eagle Butte Trl, Res New Single Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC, 2907 Eagle Butte Trl, Res New Single Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC/Brown Builders Inc., 6326 Beckville Ln, Res New Two Family, $301,476

Magnus Land Development LLC/Brown Builders Inc., 6322 Beckville Ln, Res New Two Family, $301,476

Magnus Land Development LLC/Brown Builders Inc., 2911 Eagle Butte Trl, Res New Two Family, $339,456

Magnus Land Development LLC/Brown Builders Inc., 2907 Eagle Butte Trl, Res New Two Family, $339,456

McCall Development/McCall Development, 6141 Elysian Rd, Res New Two Family, $260,768

WH High Sierra LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2445 W Bonito Loop, Res New Single Family, $348,922

WH High Sierra LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC, (Williams Homes), 2441 W Bonito Loop, Res New Single Family, $263,170

WH High Sierra LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2435 W Bonito Loop, Res New Single Family, $221,040

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2428 W Bonito Loop, Res New Single Family, $221,040

WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2442 W Bonito Loop WH High Sierra LLC Res New Single Family  $348,922

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 2432 W Bonito Loop, Res New Single Family, $260,570

McCall Development/McCall Development, 6126 Johanns Meadow Ln, Res New Single Family,  $175,028

Trent Parks, 1651 Kanga Way, Res New Townhome, $0.00

Prinkki, Matthew J, 1040 N 31st St, New Accessory Structure, $18,432

McCall Development/McCall Development, 6147 Elysian Rd, Res New Two Family, $258,618