Meeting with representatives from Taiwanese trade associations and importer groups, Gov. Greg Gianforte promoted Montana’s high quality commodities and growing industries to expand economic opportunities for Montanans in Taiwan.

“Taiwan is home to some of the most quality-driven buyers in the world, and Montana delivers – whether our superior grains and beef or world-class semiconductor machinery,” Gov. Gianforte said. “Montana is also seeing rapid growth in industries like photonics and bioscience, creating new opportunities to strengthen our partnership with Taiwan as a global powerhouse for technological innovation.”

Promoting Montana agriculture, Gov. Gianforte met with the U.S. Wheat Associates and the Taiwan Flour Miller Association, the main importer of Montana wheat. Wheat is Montana’s largest export to Taiwan, totaling $32 million in sales.

Taiwan is also an important market for Montana cattle producers, with $16 million of Montana beef exported to Taiwan last year.

The governor then addressed bio and defense firms at a roundtable luncheon, spotlighting Montana’s photonics and bioscience industries. Montana ranks sixth among states for bioscience industry growth, and has one of the highest per capita concentration of optics, photonics, and quantum companies in the United States.

Later, the governor met with representatives from the Taiwan External Trade Association and the Taiwan Trade Office, and he joined his delegation to network with over 80 business members of the Taiwan-USA Industrial Cooperation Promotion Office (TUSA).

TUSA focuses on smart machinery, biomedicine, green energy, and the semiconductor industry. Industrial machinery, largely for semiconductor applications, is Montana’s second largest export to Taiwan.

There, the governor oversaw the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on advanced manufacturing between the Montana Photonics and Quantum Alliance and TUSA.

Billings Logan International Airport (BIL) is welcoming Sun Country Airlines with new seasonal air service connecting Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) and Billings. The service is scheduled to begin June 19 and run through to August 28, 2024 with flights operating twice weekly.

 Sun Country Airlines is a Minneapolis-based airline that provides convenient and affordable air travel options. Beginning June 2024, passengers will have the opportunity to book Sun Country between Billings and Minneapolis-Saint Paul on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The anticipated departure times are 11:00 am on Wednesdays and 7:00 am on Saturdays, providing flexibility for both business and leisure travelers. Jeff Roach, the Director of Aviation and Transit for Billings Logan International Airport, states, “Billings Logan International Airport is very excited that Sun Country Airlines is announcing new air service between Billings and the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport during the summer of 2024. The BIL Airport Team looks forward to partnering with the airline as they begin scheduled flights to Billings.” Roach added, “This is another win for the community’s air service development effort.”

The new service brings forth opportunities for travelers in Billings and the surrounding region to enjoy access to the Twin Cities .

The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a rate increase of 28 percent over a year ago for NorthWestern Energy customers. It will become effective next month, however much of the approved increase has already been incorporated into customer bills, because of an interim rate increase granted by the PSC in September 2022.

The increase amounts to $100 million in increased revenues for NorthWestern Energy — $82 million in electricity revenues and $18 million in natural gas revenue. A portion of the rate increase is due to NorthWestern Energy’s increased property taxes, which the PSC cannot alter.

According to PSC legal counsel, 40% of the rate increase can be attributed to “flow-through” costs, including property taxes and market power purchases, which the company is forced to purchase when peak use exceeds the available production from its own power plants.

The escalating increase in costs of generation is, in part, attributable to the utility company’s federal mandate to shift to alternative energy sources and away from lower cost carbon based production.

A couple dozen people testified before the PSC saying the rate increase is unfair, especially for people on fixed incomes. Some of the utilities largest commercial customers opposed the increases, claiming that the commercial rates subsidize residential customers. Among those speaking in opposition to the proposed rate increase were representatives of organizations like the Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC), which in the past has strongly advocated for more expensive alternative energy sources to reduce carbon emmissions.

In testimony before the PSC, MEIC and others, who have opposed it, were critical of NorthWestern Energy’s natural gas plant under construction at Laurel, however, none of the cost of building that plant is included in calculating this rate increase. NorthWestern Energy claims the plant is necessary to enable them to meet peak energy demand and avoid having to purchase high priced energy on the market, previous costs for which are included in this rate increase.

The last electrical rate increase NorthWestern Energy received was 2018, following a rate increase for natural gas in 2016.

Since their last rate increases, NorthWestern reported that it has invested $835 million into its electricity infrastructure and $257 million in its natural gas infrastructure.

Taking into account the inclusion of the interim rate in the bills, an average residential customers using 750-kilowatt hours per month will see an increase in their bill of about $8 or 7.6%.

Montana Rental Homes LLC, 6151 Farmstead Ave Unit 102, 59101, 230-1347, Brodi Hart, real estate


KG Concrete Design, 249 Coburn Rd, 59101, 672-9487, Keith Gausen, general contractors

Recovery Management Solutions LLC dba RMS Montana, 9026 Kautzman Rd, 59101, 888-393-6880, Look

Enterprises, service

Wild Whisk LLP, 5408 Corner Stone, 59106, 927-5149, Joseph Chambers, retail sales

Schelly Rentals, 6107 Northstead Ave, 59101, 209-2650, Schnelback/McNulty, real estate rentals

Hanson Builders MT Inc, 1110 Radiant Ct, 59106, 794-2171, Lee Hanson, general contractor

Briggs Music Creations LLC, 501 S 44 th St W Apt 2-1026, 59106, 270-7995, Jaqueline Briggs, service

Cederberg Therapies, 2411 Arvin Ln, 59102, Joshua Cederberg, service

Branded Image Group, 227 E Emory Rd, Powell TN 37849, 865-328-8308, general contractors

Growing Minds Childcare, 320 Viceroy St, 59101, 861-8308, Brytne Najar, miscellaneous

Kyle Ryan, 736 Lewis Ave, 59101, 804-212-6607, Kyle Ryan, miscellaneous

Hannah Tippet Healing LLC, 2048 Overland Ave Ste 201-Unit B, 698-1546, Hannah Tippet, service

Underriner Wholesale LLC, 3657 Pierce Parkway, 59106, 255-2322, William Underriner, wholesale

Full Throttle BBQ, 6311 Bear Paw Dr N, 59106, 697-6681, Adrian Mantei, restaurants

Confetti Heart Studio, 2821 2 nd Ave N, 59101, 598-1956, Elizabeth Regale, service

Manbitto LLC, 234 Grand Ave, 59101, 694-9237, Maria Bates, restaurants

Metropolitan Security Services Inc, Walden Security, 59101, 423-702-8200, Amy Walden, service

Softball With Morgan, 2795 Enterprise Ave Unit 3, 59102, 241-8502, Morgan McGinnis, service

Vibe Marketing & Events, 928 Broadwater Ave #230, 59102, 697-4112, Elizabeth Pincolini, service

Speers Construction, 512 Avenue F, 59102, 697-3308, Justin Speers, general contractors

Weston-Techlaw JV, LLC, 711 Central Ave, 59101, 703-818-1000, Belinda Smith, service

B.A.M. Janitorial, 358 Westchester SQ S, 59105, 696-0356, Macrow/Gates, service

Grossman Properties, 530 Sioux Lane, 59105, 259-6151, Rudy Grossman, general contractors

Counting On, 4917 Piegan Trail, 59106, 346-0123, Wendolyn Hengst, service

Black Rattler Asphalt LLC, 333 Feldspar Way, 59106, 855-7883, Scott Mackney, service

Five Brothers, 3907 Palisades Park Dr, 59102, 973-766-4202, Mahmod Suleiman, general contractors

Benner Contracting, 3630 Broadwater Ave, 59102, 672-6047, Les Benner, general contractor

Waffle Cones LLC, 358 Westchester Sq S, 59105, 696-0356, Matt & Nicole Macrow, restaurants

Anderson Mills LLC, 2103 Morocco Dr, 59105, 927-6576, Luke Anderson, service

Tiffany Dalton, 1402 Valley Heights Rd, 59105, 698-0229, Tiffany Dalton, service

Wyo-Ben Inc, 1345 Discovery Dr, 59102, 652-6351, Amanda Goertz, service

Wyo-Ben Pet, 1621 S 32 nd St W, 59102, 652-5257, Amanda Goertz, manufacturing

HR Painting, 506 ½ Howard Ave, 59101, 630-947-6002, Karen Schroeder, general contractors

Tonya Homecare, 234 Alderson Ave, 59101, 598-6148, Tonya Oberg, service

Booth and Sons Hauling, 1130 PK Rd, Shepherd 59079, 384-3430, Colby Booth, service

Tony Ennenega CPA PC, 201 N Broadway 7B, 59101, 425-457-2277, Tony Ennenga, service

RKM Enterprises Inc dba Bad Boys Cycles, 201 Enterprise Ave Ste A, 59102, 248-7203, Roy Mills, service

Kiayah Wendel LMT, 141 Avenue E, 59102, 696-6351, Kiayah Wendel, service

HC West LLC dba A&D Fire, 6900 Kesltrel Dr, Missoula 59808, 360-7726, Cliff Gilliam, service

Madshire LLC, 2901 Monad Rd #141, 59102, 671-1849, Stephen Clayton , retail sales

Boomin Boba Tea LLC, 5555 Forest Hills Dr, 860-0664, Charles Solem, restaurants

Global Travel Adventures, 2817 Lewis Ave, 59102, 698-8335, Tamara Bailey, service

Discreet Notary Services, 2975 Canyon Dr, 59102, 200-1360, Michaela Rimer, service

Gutter Vac Pro, 3000 La Paz Dr, 59101, 861-7757, Nicholas O’Connor, service

Green Horizon, 3000 La Paz Dr, 59101, 861-7757, Nicholas O’Connor, service

Intermountain Wind and Solar LLC, 1041 N 950 W Ste 5000, Centerville UT, 84014, Mark Allred, service

Miquel Construction, 1201 Cook Ave, 59102, 839-8812, Miquel Gasca, general contractor

Chris Mountsier Drywall & Paint, 1110 Locomotive Circle, laurel 59044, 696-9322, Chris Mountsier,


Pentacron Industries, 1205 Yellowstone Apt A, 59102, 670-1491, Knight Johnston, general contractors

Cannasseur Tour LLC, 7 King Henry Place, 59105, 794-5069, Brendon Hanser, service

Creekside Construction of Montana LLC, 7 Beacon Trail, Clancy 59634, 240-9549, Matt & Teresa Grange,  general contractors

Arlos Tire Service LLC, 16 Gold Pan Ln, 59105, 671-9776, Alan Johnson, service

PSBS Enterprise LLC, 3909 S Tanager Ln, 59102, 875-0792, Pamela Stanford, service

Gray Ghost Contracting, 758 Aquarius Pl, 59105, 606-2887, Jake Routh, general contractors

Riddle & Sons LLC, 6631 Brave Lookout, Shepherd 59079, 690-7473, Riley Riddle, general contractors

406 Carpet Cleaning, 2938 Springfield Ave, 59101, 850-4183, Rob Tinineko, service

TF General Services, 803 Siesta Ave, 59105, 672-0980, Trenton Frasca, general contractors

A Buyers Choice Home Inspections, 2131 Entrada Rd, 59105, 200-2660, James & Kellie Meek, service

MJ Rogers LLC, 306 N 29th St, 59101, 672-4429, Joel Rodgers, real estate rental

Dreamland Construction, 610 Richard St, 59101, 200-0397, Tyrel Moore, general contractors

Asset Management Professionals, 1668 Gleneagles Blvd, Ste 2, 59105, n/a Dawn White, service

Vibe Up and Thrive LLC, 2323 Rimrock Rd, 59102, 371-5215, Robert Evans, service

MNMT Investments, 1502 Glacier Peak Cir Unit 3, 59101, 845-6741, Matthew Mikkelson, general contractors

Glasser Solar Inc, 8376 E 132nd Dr, Thornton CO 80602, 303-557-2265, Alyssa Bosselli, service

Oasis, 543 Aronson Ave, 59105, 969-3800, Chuck Barthuly, general contractors

Faction Constructors LLC, 10 Wagon Trail Rd, 321-2929, Teri Heinen, general contractors

Medevals of Montana, 2501 St Johns Ave, STE C, 59102, 949-235-3593, Nancy Milby, service

Potelco Inc, 205 S Washington Ave, Laurel 59044, 253-863-3593, Potelco Inc, service

Journey to Healing, 2812 1st Ave N Ste 425, 59101, 272-6583, Tia Robinette, service

The Good Rest Wellness LLC, 2215 Broadwater Ave, 59102, 272-4903, Chelsea Horn, solo practicioner

Shoot Pool and Relax, 4104 Buchanan Ave, 59101, 855-3671, Sarah Muhs, real estate rentals

Royal Roofing, 7472 Edmonson Ave NE, Monticell MN 55362, 763-295-0540, Staci Revering, roofing contractors

Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission has voted to approve the acquisition of a new wildlife management area proposed for the Lower Yellowstone River. The Wildcat Bend Wildlife Management Area is located in Rosebud County. The property is about 2.5 miles downstream from the Far West Fishing Access Site east of Forsyth. It is a 328 acre site

The Missoula Airport has announced that Sun Country Airlines, will make its debut on June 26, 2024. The airline will offer nonstop flights to their Minneapolis/St. Paul hub twice a week, every Wednesday and Saturday, until late August.

Mazevo Coffee is constructing a 1,614-square-foot building that will be located at 2500 Brooks Street in Missoula. This will be the 6th Mazevo Coffee location in Montana.

Sun Country Airlines is also coming to the Billings Logan International Airport with new seasonal air service to Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Sun Country is a Minneapolis-based airline known for providing affordable travel options. Beginning in June, passengers can book Sun Country flights between Billings and Minneapolis-Saint Paul on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The complete renovation and rebuild of the iconic Wagon Wheel Bar in Choteau is nearing completion with the opening coming soon, The new “Wagon Wheel Bar and Grill” will feature a full-service bar and restaurant.

The Gallatin County Commissioners recently approved a dormitory-style employee housing building in Big Sky. The Powder Light Subdivision will have another residential building for affordable employee housing at Big Sky. The new structure will offer 12 residential units and one commercial space.

Montana’s Trail to the Stars, a project that guides visitors to sites where they can view the night skies, has received a national award for collaboration. Montana’s Trail to the Stars won the Excellence in Tourism Collaboration Award, presented at the 2023 National Extension Tourism Conference.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus was first detected in wild birds and domestic poultry in Montana in spring 2022. While HPAI cases in wild birds declined over the summer, but it has been detected in some parts of Montana this fall. HPAI viruses are extremely infectious and fatal to poultry and some species of wild birds. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is testing wild birds that display symptoms

Despite an even broader reservation system in 2023, visitation to Glacier National Park is up over last year. Overall visitation through August was 2.249 million, which is an increase of 1.7% over last year.

In 2022, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were 48,165 new residents that moved to Montana from other places, an 8.1% increase from the 44,531 new residents that came in 2021. Washington topped the list of states where new Montana residents came from in 2022. Montana also lost 38,483 people to other states in 2022, for a net population gain of less than 10,000.

The sting of high natural gas prices to heat your home over the past two winters is expected to ease for the upcoming heating season, which runs November through March. Montana-Dakota Utilities anticipates natural gas prices to be about 30 percent less than last winter. The company projects that the average residential customer will pay about $450 for the five-month winter season, or $90 a month; that is down about $200 from last winter, or a decrease of $40 a month.

Fire was discovered at the historic Jordan Inn property in downtown Glendive last week with the Dawson County Dispatch Center receiving a call at approximately 10 p.m. The Glendive Fire Department determiend that the entire 3 story building was compromised. The Jordan Inn had been condemned for 10 years, and was shuttered since 2013.

Jessie and Kyna Williams haved opened Switchback CrossFit gym at 33 Second Avemue East in Kalispell. The building was previously an abandoned truck repair shop.

Montana has a new draft plan to guide its management of wolves, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has announced. The Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan drafted by FWP would replace the 20-year-old document that’s guided Montana’s approach to managing wolves since 2011. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks will be taking comments on the plan through Dec. 19 and is hosting a series of meetings around the state to answer questions related to the plan starting Dec. 7. The plan can be found at

Missoula City Council  and Missoula County Commissioners have each allocated $1 million toward the acquisition of Marshall Mountain, a former ski area and now popular recreational area in Missoula County. The property is being sold for $3.2 million. The area is expected to serve  backcountry skiing and other year-round recreation.

Williston, ND has been awarded the 2027 14-year-old Babe Ruth World Series to be held at Ardean Aafedt Stadium. This will be the sixth time that Williston has hosted the series.

Gov. Greg Gianforte presented his annual Forest Products Award to J. Shar Timber Harvesting, a family-owned and operated cut-to-length timber enhancement company in Libby.  J. Shar, Timber Harvesting sustainably harvests timber using tethered logging equipment. The Forest Products Award recognizes an outstanding person or entity for their work to actively manage Montana forests, responsibly develop forested resources.

A regional seed sales company operating in North Dakota and Montana is taking the first step towards developing a seed-crushing plant in northwest North Dakota. Buckshot Seeds was recently awarded grant funding from local government to do a feasability study. Buckshot Co-Owner Mark Erickson said the plant would mainly crush canola, creating a high-quality feed for cattle. The oil produced from the crushed canola would be sent to overseas fish farms, which are in high demand.

The Young Automotive Group held a grand opening for Young Mazda Missoula dealership. Young Automotive Group president Spencer Young Jr. said. “Our group is new to Montana and the city of Missoula.” It was previously Flanagan Motors Mazda.

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) announced a proposal to resurface approximately 6.5 miles of Interstate 94, east of Billings in Yellowstone County. The project begins about one mile east of Huntley and extends east for 6.5 miles, ending approximately two miles west of Ballantine.

Proposed work includes full width crack sealing, applying a seal and cover (chip seal) to the travel lanes, and fog sealing the shoulders. Work will also include bridge deck repair, upgraded pavement markings, signage, and guardrail replacement. The purpose of the project is to preserve and extend the service life of the existing asphalt, and enhance roadway safety features.

Construction is tentatively planned for 2027 depending on completion of design and availability of funds. No new right-of-way or utility relocations will be needed.

MDT welcomes the public to provide ideas and comments on the proposed project. Comments may be submitted online at http:// contact/ comment- form.aspx or in writing to Montana Department of Transportation, Billings office, PO Box 20437, Billings, MT 59104-0437.

New Education Bills Would Block CRT, Back Parents

By Casey Harper, The Center Square

A new trio of House education bills would push back on Critical Race Theory and federal rules in local public schools, the latest in an ongoing battle led by Republicans to respond to curriculum and policy changes in education.

U.S. Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., introduced the three new education bills, including the Defending Students’ Civil Rights Act, which codifies that teaching CRT is illegal discrimination; as well as the Empowering Parents Act, which allows parents to hold schools accountable if those schools embrace more progressive racial or gender ideology in the classroom.

Good also introduced the Empowering Local Curriculum Act, which says schools receiving federal dollars cannot be forced to include CRT in their curriculum.

“These three bills would combat federal encroachment in curriculum, protect students from the harmful ideology of Critical Race Theory, and defend parents’ God-given right to educate their children,” Good’s office said.

CRT is an increasingly controversial set of ideas based on the idea that the U.S. is an inherently racist country and always has been and that the U.S. and its institutions can largely be viewed through that lens.

“Parents know what is best for their students and have primary responsibility for their children’s education,” Good said. “Local school boards should represent the will of the parents, not teachers unions, the Biden Administration or DC bureaucrats. I am fighting back against the Biden Administration’s overreach into the classroom with my back-to-school agenda that empowers parents, protects students from racist curriculum, and permits children to focus on their academic pursuits.”

The bills come amid a nationwide debate over the role of parents in their kids’ education. Parents have begun organizing and protesting at school boards, raising concerns about school curriculum and sexualized books in school libraries.

Those parents have often been brushed aside in recent years, sometimes caught on camera in videos that went viral and fueled the “parental rights” movement.

Democrats have pushed back, saying teachers know best what curriculum is needed and that the effort to ban books that Republicans say are age-inappropriate is a form of censorship.

In recent years, equity and CRT ideology in education has become increasingly common with billions of taxpayer dollars behind it.

House Republicans launched an inquiry last year after reports showed that federal funding passed for COVID-related student learning loss was spent to promote “equity warriors,” critical race theory teachings and more at local schools.

The Center Square previously reported on similar funding at the collegiate level. Federal grant documents show that the U.S. Department of Education awarded millions of dollars to a Florida-based education program that trains future educators and other professionals in CRT.

Another similar program, “The Research Institute for Scholars of Equity,” received millions of taxpayer dollars for training college students in critical race theory at several higher educational institutions.

Good is not the only lawmaker raising concerns about progressive ideology in schools and introducing legislation.

U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., in July reintroduced the Protect Equality and Civics Education (PEACE) Act, a bill that would prevent tax dollars from promoting CRT within the Department of Education’s American history guidelines, which have increasingly incorporated those ideas.

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has also introduced the Combating Racist Training in the Military Act as well as the Stop Critical Race Theory Act.

Good’s legislative effort has received support from several family and education groups.

“The Empowering Local Curriculum Act will end funding for schools promoting divisive ideologies like Critical Race theory that separate students into opposing categories of victims vs oppressors simply based on the color of their skin,” Terry Schilling, president of American Principles Project, said in a statement. “The Defending Students’ Civil Rights Act clarifies that position further by outlining how such a practice violates these children’s Civil Rights, an offense actionable by law. And finally, the Empowering Parents Act ensures that these children, their rights, and their innocence are being protected, not by a distant bureaucracy that can be bought out by well-funded organizations, but by those who have their best interests at heart: their parents.”

Matt Buckham, executive director for Institute for Educational Reform, backed the bills as well, calling out a recurring point of criticism: politicization of schools.

“Government teacher unions push the toxic political agenda of the Democratic party along with their radical lies through Critical Race Theory and woke ideology,” Buckman said in a statement.

Nicholas Lynn is the current owner of Montana Action Paintball in Kalispell. Lynn  built a new facility in 2020. Montana Action Paintball hopes to find an indoor space for foam-based weaponry battles or paintball using rubber paintballsduring bad weather.

The Fish Consumption Advisory Board has issued a consumption advisory on all fish species in the Yellowstone River from Indian Fort Fishing Access Site near Reed Point to the Highway 212 bridge in Laurel. That stretch of the river is near the site of the June 24 train derailment.

Stack Financial Management of Whitefish was ranked No. 72 in the 2023 CNBC Financial Advisor 100. In assembling this list, CNBC considers the firm’s number of years in business, compliance record, number of investment advisors registered, and assets under management. Stack Financial Management manages over $1.8 billion in assets for individuals and businesses across the U.S.

Blackfoot Communications, Missoula, announced the completion of a project to install over 380 miles of fiber optic cable on the Flathead Reservation in the St. Ignatius area. The project, begun in 2018, cost over $11 million. Nearly 1,000 locations throughout the St. Ignatius area are now served by high-speed fiber optic cable. The company is also building out fiber networks in Thompson Falls, Plains, Philipsburg and Georgetown Lake, with other areas in the planning phases.

The New York Times  published its annual list of its 50 most intriguing restaurants. Campione, located on Main Street in Livingston was on the list. Campione’s was the only eating establishment in Montana to make the list.

As a part of continued efforts to lower costs to reliable air service for rural communities, the U.S. government has secured $1,000,000 in funding for Billings to attract new air carriers and secure additional routes to the west coast. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Tester secured funds through the 2023 government funding bill. He was the only member of the Montana delegation to support the legislation.

Montana manufacturing will be in the spotlight until Oct. 24. Manufacturers, economic development organizations and educational partners will showcase industry innovations and inspire the next generation at events coordinated by Montana State University and collaborators. Manufacturing Day, also known this year as MFG Day, is a national event held annually to inspire the next generation of workers and industry leaders, improve people’s perception of manufacturing and build the workforce of the future.

At the recent annual convention of the North Dakota Dental Association a Williston-based dentist named Dr. Kami Dornfeld was announced as the association’s president for the next year.

Along with their son and daughter, the Horning family of Whitefish dedicates their craftsmanship to niche profession, custom hat making. Glacier Rim Hats is based out of the family’s home. From crepes to photography, the Horning’s have been in business since 2005.

Stylist Kae Briggs has opened a new salon in Choteau. “K’s Salon and Boutique” will offer services for hair and nails. The staff includes Briggs and Peggy Archer, who is a long-time stylist and the former owner of Archer’s Country Classics Hair Design.

Alpha Loading Systems in Stevensville celebrated an expansion of its plant that will triple its work force.. The company, created by Bitterroot Tool & Machine in 1999, is a manufacturer of ammunition loading and priming machinery. The company expanded to accommodate increased demand for their American-made machinery and ammunition.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deleted the Anaconda Co. Smelter site from Superfund’s National Priorities List. NPL site deletion helps communities move forward in reusing and redeveloping properties by making it clear that cleanup is complete.

The Finally Restaurant Group, announced the opening of its newest Rib & Chop House restaurant in Great Falls, which will hire upward of 100 people in the coming weeks. Burke Moran, is the owner and President of Finally Restaurant Group.

Chick-fil-A will debut on the campus of Montana State University. Currently, the Union Market in the Strand Union Building is under construction as they prepare to open the new franchise in spring 2024. According to the Culinary Services department, Chick-fil-A is still pursuing a new full location at 19th Avenue and I-90. 

Florence Crittenton Family Services in Helena has reopened its Youth Maternity Home having had to close during COVID restrictions and employee shortages.

In Park County a 3,360 square foot building in which to accommodate the Windrider Transit Facility has opened. The building includes two office spaces, an entry area, a driver /training  kitchenette area, janitor rooms and a ADA compliant bathroom. Five years ago, Park County started Windrider to provide fare-free fixed route services for county residents, including the elderly, disabled and youth who had no other means of transportation.

Gallatin Association of Realtors newly elected Director and Officers are:2024 President-Elect, Hattie Graham, Graham Realty; GAR Vice President, Mark Corner, Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties; 2024-2026 GAR Board of Directors: Tyler Garrison, ERA Landmark Real Estate, Jody Savage, Savage Real Estate Group, Kathleen Vaughn, Bozeman Real Estate Group.

An analysis found that 14.1% of workers in the Billings metro area are union members, compared to 10.1% of workers nationally. In 2022, the median wage for full-time union workers was $1,216 per week, compared to only $1,029 per week for full-time non-union workers.

The annual facelift of MSU’s “Rockin’ the M,” on the Bridger Mountain, took place as usual on Sept. 17, but more work is being done to shore up the landmark. Timbers needed to construct a retaining wall at the base of the “M” will be airlifted to the worksite by helicopter.

The Montana Highway Patrol commissioned nine new troopers at a graduation ceremony held Sept. 29 at the Civic Center in Helena. They came from as far away as California, Texas and Virginia.  Three of them are from Montana..

October is Montana Manufacturing month. Manufacturing Day is Oct. 6.

This is a time to be amazed. Few people fully realize the depth and breadth of manufacturing, the skills and outstanding production of people in the state. Almost every town in the Montana has some kind of manufacturing happening that sustains its economy.

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (MMEC) has announced that throughout the state manufacturers in many cities have events planned to spotlight what kind of manufacturing is happening in their own communities.

In Billings, October 12 has been declared Montana Manufacturing Career Day.  Wood’s Pow’r Grip and other manufacturers from all around the Billings area will be hosting tour groups for hundreds of local students, followed by a sponsored lunch and career fair for all students at the Billings Depot. For more information contact Katie Whitmoyer at Wood’s Powr-Grip ( or Lane Gobbs at MMEC ( for more information.

Also on October 24 in Billings the Montana Manufacturer of the Year Award will be presented at the Montana Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Meeting during the “Oro y Plata” Business Awards.

The Kalispell Chamber has organized community, student, and job seeker tours of manufacturing facilities around the Flathead Valley from October 2 – 18. 

On October 5 in Missoula, MMEC and local members will be hosting Manufacturing Day in Missoula with facility tours in the morning for school groups.  In the afternoon there will be a Manufacturing Expo at Missoula College, where students and the public can visit the numerous local manufacturers in one place.

October 5 in Lewistown is MFG Day at Spika. Spika is expecting about 600 students from Lewistown Public Schools 2nd, 5th, 8th, and high school shop classes as well as other area schools to attend tours and STEM activities. The older kids will have a small welding project that they can take home, and the younger kids will do a STEM craft project. The Great Falls College welding program will be bringing down their welding simulator for everyone to practice on.

October 5 is Trades & Technologies Day at Highlands College. Highlands College hosts an open house” for students to tour the campus, see technology demonstrations, talk to instructors, and learn about programs of study. 

October 6 in Bozeman there will be MFG Day tours. Multiple manufacturing companies around the Gallatin Valley (West Paw, Towhaul, Spark R&D just to mention a few) plan to open their doors for facility tours for both student groups and the public.

Also in Bozeman on October 23 and 24 respectively, The Montana World Affairs Council will host EconoQuest and Photoni-CON.  Gallatin College will host Photoni-CON (a photonics and manufacturing expo) on the afternoon October 23 at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds. 

Scot Chisholm developed what was to become Classy, a peer-to-peer crowd funding software platform. In 2020, Classy merged with GoFundMe, and Chisholm stepped down from his role as CEO to become a strategic advisor for the company. Since Chisholm has gained most of his CEO start-up experience through trial and error, he plans to pass on his knowledge  to other budding entrepreneurs.

An increase of West Nile virus activity was reported in the state. A positive infection has been reported in a Hill County horse. Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services reported the confirmed case, along with three confirmed human cases, in Dawson, Rosebud and Yellowstone counties, along with another case confirmed in a horse in Pondera County. All cases were hospitalized for their illnesses.

Belgrade’s Bootstrap Ranch, the sole facility in Montana that rehabs severely brain-injured adults, was forced to close last week. In May, the nonprofit’s board of directors decided that the Belgrade ranch would close by Aug. 15.The ranch had three hard-to-place clients who were finally placed by the facility.

According to Lee Enterprise newspapers NorthWestern Energy customers have come out strongly against the utility’s energy supply plan during the first three stops of a listening session tour with state utility regulators. Customers testifying in Helena and Great Falls and Billings told Montana’s Public Service Commission, that the state’s largest monopoly utility needed to pivot away from power plants burning coal and natural gas..

Two months after a railroad bridge collapse sent some carloads of oil products plunging into Montana’s Yellowstone River, the cleanup workers are gone. The railroad responsible, Montana Rail Link, in conjunction with federal and state officials has halted most cleanup work and stopped actively looking for contaminated sites. More than half of the 48,000 gallons (180,000 liters) of molten petroleum asphalt that spilled has been recovered. Downstream intakes for drinking water and irrigation reported no impacts.

The federal government will be taking over the security at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport on October 8. With heavy foot traffic, the airport has decided it’s time to restart its use of the Transportation Security Administration for airport security. Surpassing two million passengers in 2022, Bozeman Yellowstone has seen growth in traffic. The current staffing shortages have caused frustration with long lines and delays during security.

In 2004, the Forest Service petitioned for the OTO’s Dude Ranch listing on the National Register of Historic Places and, over the past few decades, the agency has poured money into making sure the buildings stay standing. Now dudes have come back to the OTO for the first time in over half a century. For the past two years, the Arizona-based True Ranch Collection has hosted a “pop-up” tourist ranch, with the proceeds going to the Forest Service. But the future of the OTO hangs in the balance as the pop-up ranch’s permit expired this year. Now, the Forest Service must decide what’s next for the iconic 3,263-acre property.

Ben and Madison Miller arrived in Sidney on January 2021, as Ben took a job as associate pastor of the Sidney Lutheran Brethren Church. Two and a half years later, Madison Miller was offered a job as the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Boys and Girls Club of the MonDak. She started work on July 28. Originally from Tum Water, Washington, with a population of 30,000 Miller said it was a transition for them both. Miller is working with the former CEO who is staying on as a staff member in research and development.