Billings Clinic has announced that it is pursuing Level I Trauma Center designation, which will elevate lifesaving care in the region, create better patient outcomes and ensure 24/7 trauma care is available.

The Billings Clinic Foundation has launched a $30 million campaign to help fund the project. It has already secured $13 million in pledges from three supporters including a gift of $7 million from the Philip N. Fortin Foundation, a $1 million gift from Tim and Carmen Sheehy and an anonymous $5 million gift.

There currently are no Level I Trauma Centers in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho or South Dakota. The closest centers are Seattle, Denver and Salt Lake City. Trauma patients have a 25 percent greater survival rate if treated at a Level I Trauma Center, according to Billings Clinic – a significant factor given that Montana is ranked as having the second worst survival ranking in the nation for trauma.

 “This is a transformational effort that will increase the level of lifesaving trauma care for patients and families across Montana and Wyoming,” said Billings Clinic CEO Scott Ellner, DO, FACS. “Level I is the gold standard for trauma care and aligns with Billings Clinic’s commitment to innovation in quality care, safety, education, and health care research. We already provide outstanding trauma services, and this will lead to even better outcomes for trauma patients. It will help rural facilities treat more patients locally, and, most importantly, it will keep people closer to home to receive this excellent standard care when they need it.”

As a Level I Trauma Center, Billings Clinic will provide the care and resources to treat every type of injury, no matter how serious, at any time. It means a community-focused, integrated system of care will be available to all in need. The Trauma network will link health care facilities across the region to ensure that every step in a trauma patient’s care journey is connected.

The effort to reach Level I status is expected to take two or three years. It will be built incrementally as they get funding, according to Jim Duncan, Director of the Billings Clinic Foundation.

Level I designation requires having 24-hour in-house coverage by general surgeons and specialists in orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, oral and maxillofacial, pediatric and critical care.

Trauma research is an essential component of a Level I Trauma Center, and internal research scientists are working with the Billings Clinic trauma team to complete and publish trauma research.

Billings Clinic was designated as a Level II Trauma Center in 1992. Many of the aspects of that level of care will serve as a foundation for developing a Trauma I Center.

Demand to treat trauma patients has grown 55 percent, since 2010, and in Billings it has increased 10-13 percent.

Level I Trauma is a designation from the American College of Surgeons (ACS) that is given to comprehensive care facilities with a large patient capacity and the ability to treat trauma patients with greater degrees of injury severity while providing the highest level of trauma care to critically ill or injured patients.

In order to meet the needs of residents and visitors to the region, Billings Clinic Foundation’s capital campaign will provide funding to expand operating rooms, build a new state-of-the-art transfer center to reduce transport delays, build a dedicated Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) and expand the Emergency Department.

* Montana has the second worst survival ranking in the nation for trauma.

* Billings Clinic has taken the lead on treating trauma patients across a multi-state region, experiencing a 55% increase since 2010.

* Seriously injured patients have a 25% greater survival rate if treated at a Level I Trauma Center.

The Northern Rockies Blacksmith Association will hold a conference, public demonstration and auction in Lockwood on May 20 – 22.

The event attracts dozens of blacksmiths from around the state, according to John Standish, who is hosting the event in Lockwood. Standish explained that the conference gives blacksmithing enthusiasts and artists an opportunity to share and network, as well as a venue to introduce the public to blacksmithing. “We focus on teaching, learning and having fun,” he said.

 On Saturday the public is invited to attend, from 1 to 4 pm, to observe a demonstration that will feature Steve Fontanini from Jackson, Wyoming, who will demonstrate a special project, and other blacksmiths who will demonstrate the skills involved in blacksmithing.

Historically, blacksmithing was a vital skill important to the production of most tools from nails and horseshoes to fabricating farm equipment, hinges, pulleys, etc.  About a fifth of workers identified themselves as blacksmiths in the census reports 150 years ago. Today blacksmithing is considered an art form. Fontanini is a master blacksmith and considered one of its leading artist. He is a designer and builder, who creates using steel, bronze, stainless steel and aluminum. He teaches and conducts demonstrations throughout the country. The exhibition of skills will be followed by an auction from 4-5 pm in which tools, supplies, creations, and art are sold.

Standish is hosting the event at 1634 Hwy 87 East in Lockwood, which is about one-fourth mile east of the intersection of Old Hardin Road and Hwy 87 East. Signs will identify the location.

The visiting public will be asked to check in at a registration table and to wear eye and ear protection equipment while in the demonstration area, which will be provided.

For more information call Standish, (406)860-1405 or email johnmstandish @gmail. com

Commercial

Sisters Of Charity Of Leavenworth/ Saunders Construction Inc., Com Addition $1,200,000

Cari Baxter/ Sprague Construction, 525 Liberty St, Com Fence/Roof/Siding $25,778 

Mueller Properties LLC / Wegner Homes, 4119 2nd Ave S, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $81,000

Billings Nissan LLC / T.W. Clark Construction LLC, 2230 Grant Rd, Com Footing/Foundation,  $220,000

Albertsons Companies/ Langlas & Assoc., Inc. 5317 Grand Ave, Com New Store/Strip Center, $7,500,000

Dan Dunstan, Parkland USA/ Bateman-Hall Inc, 4903 Southgate Dr,  , Com Remodel $300,000, Demolition Permit

Lain Properties, LLC/ Askin Construction LLC, Billings Landfill, 1106 Main St, Commercial. $14,400

Residential

Upfront Development/ Aaron Higginbotham, 917 Ortega St, Res New Single Family, $218,924

Bob Pentecost/ Bob Pentecost Const, 7071 Copper Bend Blvd, Res New Single Family, $550,000

Bob Pentecost/ Bob Pentecost Const, 7101 Copper Bend Blvd, Res New Single Family, $465,000

Bob Pentecost/ Bob Pentecost Const, 7095 Copper Bend Blvd, Res New Single Family, $445,000

Bob Pentecost/ Bob Pentecost Const, 7009 Bronze Blvd, Res New Single Family, $630,000

McCall Homes/ McCall Development, 1787 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $132,309

McCall Homes/ McCall Development, 1781 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $148,003

McCall Homes/ McCall Development, 6113 Johanns Meadow Ln, Res New Single Family, $268,377

Nine Republicans and one Democrat made the American Legislative Exchange Council’s list of 2021’s 10 best governors in a new report on economic freedom. 

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte made it into the second tier of Four-star governors who “have competitive policy grades but fall just behind five-star governors.” All but two governors fall in the top 20 for Fiscal Policy rankings, with Governor Mike Parson (MO) being ranked 2nd. Governor Greg Gianforte (MT), who was inaugurated in 2021, put an income tax reduction plan in place in his first legislative session and has already improved from his predecessor’s rank.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – all Republicans – were the top three governors in the country, according to the joint report by the American Legislative Exchange Council and Economist Arthur Laffer & Associates.

The “2021 Laffer-ALEC Report on Economic Freedom: Grading America’s 50 Governors” ranked each governor on their current economic performance and their fiscal and executive policies over their term in office. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, and Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, rounded out the top five. The others who made the top ten were Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (6), New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (7), Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (8), Georgia Brian Kemp (9) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (10).

Nine Republicans and one Democrat made the American Legislative Exchange Council’s list of 2021’s 10 best governors in a new report on economic freedom. 

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – all Republicans – were the top three governors in the country, according to the joint report by the American Legislative Exchange Council and Economist Arthur Laffer & Associates.

The “2021 Laffer-ALEC Report on Economic Freedom: Grading America’s 50 Governors” ranked each governor on their current economic performance and their fiscal and executive policies over their term in office. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, and Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, rounded out the top five. The others who made the top ten were Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (6), New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (7), Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (8), Georgia Brian Kemp (9) and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (10).

Some of the notations in the report regarding Gov. Gianforte’s ranking were the following:

—Montana Governor Greg Gianforte proposed reducing the state’s top marginal income tax rate, reducing business equipment taxes, reducing capital gains taxes on employee-owned stock sales and expanding a tax credit for apprenticeship training.

—Montana reformed its personal and corporate income taxes in Governor Greg Gianforte’s first legislative session, reducing personal income tax rates, repealing 16 tax credits and changing the apportionment factor for corporate income taxes. The state’s top personal income tax rate will be reduced from 6.9 percent to 6.5 percent in 2022. Montana also cut business equipment taxes for 4,000 Montana businesses, including 1,500 farming and ranching operations, by raising the exemption threshold from $100,000 to $200,000.

—The states with the largest improvements in unemployment rates were Montana (1st), North Dakota (2nd), Vermont (3rd), Nebraska (4th) and South Dakota (5th). Meanwhile, states like New Mexico (50th), Alaska (49th), California (48th), West Virginia (47th) and Louisiana (46th) are bringing up the rear.

—Several other states enacted reductions to their top personal income tax rates prior to the publication of these rankings in November of 2021. Those states are Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

—Arizona, Florida and Indiana have had school choice programs for years and are continuously expanding options for parents. Vouchers and tax credit scholarship programs have been the traditional vehicles for school choice. This year Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and South Dakota started or expanded such programs.

—Four Governors, rather than end participation, are instead using federal funds to provide back-to-work bonuses for workers. Arizona Governor Ducey is providing a $2,000 back-to-work bonus; Montana Governor Gianforte a $1,200 bonus; Oklahoma Governor Stitt a $1,200 bonus for the first 20,000 laid-off workers who are rehired; and New Hampshire Governor Sununu, for those who work full-time for eight weeks, is providing up to $1,000, while part-time workers could receive up to $500.10

Commercial and New Residential

Commercial

Roman Catholic Bishop Of Great Falls/ Langlas & Assoc., Inc.,  3 Broadwater Ave, Com Addition, $400,000

DLB/ JMS LLC, 1414 4th Ave N, Com Addition, $10,000

Alliance Management/  Great States Construction, 4427 Altay Dr, Com Footing/Foundation, $501,570

Americo Real Estate Company/ Americo Real Estate Construction, 1515 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $1,420,000

Melissa Fuller/ Beartooth Holding & Construction, 1686 Shiloh Rd,  Com Remodel,  $75,000

SCL Health/ Hardy Construction Co., 1106 N 30th St, Com Remodel, $50,000

Joey Pickett/ Air Controls Billings Inc., 2205 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $8,000

Kendall, Larry G/ Bradford Roof Management Inc, 1091 S 25th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $67,633  

Alliance Management/ Great States Construction, 4430 Altay Dr, Com New Other, $15,113,587

City Roasting Company, LLC/  Jones Construction, Inc, 3138 Gabel Rd, Com Remodel, $350,000

Grabos LLC/ Jones Construction, Inc, 1500 Poly Dr, Com Remodel, $500

Montana Prime Meats, 524 Liberty St, Com Remodel, $500

LKF Investments LLC/ LC Custom Homes, 2044 Broadwater Ave, Com Remodel, $60,000

BCJM Properties LLC/ Studer Construction Company, 101 N 24th St, Demolition Permit Commercial,  $154,000

Billings Food Bank Inc/ Centimark Corp Tpo, 2112 4th Ave N, Com Fence/Roof/Siding $216,358

Jackson Court, LLLP/ Golden Eagle Construction, 3602 Jackson Ct,

NA/ 3606 Jackson Ct, Com New 3+ (Multi Family, $782,925

NA/ 3610 Jackson Ct, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $782,925

 NA/ 3614 Jackson Ct, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $782,925

NA/ 3607 Jackson Ct, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $782,925

NA/ 3603 Jackson Ct, Com New 3+ (Multi Family), $782,925

Billings 13 Re Llc/ Sletten Construction Companies,

3975 King Ave W, Com New Restaurant/Casino/Bar, $3,300,000

Yellowstone County / Safetech, Inc, 2825 3rd Ave N, Com Remodel $41,326

Nathan Matelitch/ Neumann Construction, Building Misc,  Com Remodel – Change In Use, $69,000

Residential

Buscher Construction/ Buscher Construction Ltd,  4936 Whisper Way, Res New Single Family, $300,000

Buscher Development Inc/ Buscher Construction Ltd, 4960 Whisper Way, Res New Single Family, $300,000

Infinity Home/ Infinity Home LLC, 912 Ortega St, Res New Single Family, $219,719

Infinity Homes / Infinity Home LLC, 2463 Bonito Loop, Res New Single Family,  $321,368

Scott Fradenburgh, 1035 Beringer Way, Res New Single Family, $491,253

Infinity Home/ Infinity Home LLC, 2213 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $241,855

Infinity Home/ Infinity Home LLC, 2217 Entrada Rd, Res New Single Family, $195,796

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6409 Signal Peak Ave, Res New Single Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC , 6409 Signal Peak Ave, Res New Single Family, $0.00

McCall Homes/ McCall Development, 1807 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $249,531

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6330 Beckville Ln, Res New Townhome, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6330 Beckville Ln, Res New Townhome, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6313 Beckville Ln, Res New Townhome, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6313 Beckville Ln, Res New Townhome, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC/ Brown Builders Inc., 6409 Signal Peak Ave,

Res New Two Family, $326,204

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/ WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 1002 Matador Ave, Res New Single,  $190,062

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/ WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 1006 Matador Ave, Res New Single Family, $197,200

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/ WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 927 Presidio Ln, Res New Single Family, $197,200

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/ WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 1018 Matador Ave, Res New Single Family, $288,788

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/ WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 1022 Matador Ave, Res New Single Family, $193,062

WH High Sierra 50 LLC/ WH High Sierra 50 LLC (Williams Homes), 929 Mission Oaks Dr, Res New Single Family, $197,200

Jeffrey C Leischner Trust, 2812 Orchard Dr, Res New Single Family,  $350,000

WH Copper Ridge 54, LLC/ WH Copper Ridge 54, LLC, 7008 Copper Sunset Dr, Res New Single Family, $362,036

WH Copper Ridge 54, LLC/ WH Copper Ridge 54, LLC, 7019 Copper Sunset Dr, Res New Single Family, $305,034

WH Copper Ridge 54, LLC/ WH Copper Ridge 54, LLC, 7007 Copper Sunset Dr, Res New Single, Family, $264,526

WH Copper Ridge 54, LLC, 7013 Copper Sunset Dr, WH Copper Ridge 54 LLC, $331,810

WH Copper Ridge 54 LLC/ WH Copper Ridge 54, LLC, 7014 Copper Sunset Dr, Res New Single Family, $362,798

Calvin Fry/ Square Butte Builders LLC,  865 El Rancho Dr, Res New Single Family, $266,685

Calvin Fry/ Square Butte Builders LLC, 871 El Rancho Dr, Res New Single Family, $296,076

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6413 Signal Peak Ave, Res New Single Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6413 Signal Peak Ave, Res New Single Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6305 Beckville Ln, Res New Single Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC, 6305 Beckville Ln, Res New Single Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC/ Brown Builders Inc., 6413 Signal Peak Ave, Res New Two Family, $0.00

Magnus Land Development LLC/ Brown Builders Inc., 6305 Beckville Ln, Res New Two Family, $327,260

Mike Christensen, 4819 Gold Creek Trl, Res New Single Family, $372,140

CDH, LLC/ CDH, LLC, 5225 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $333,126

CDH, LLC/ CDH, LLC, 5346 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $277,221

CDH, LLC/ CDH, LLC, 5402 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, $314,927

CDH, LLC/ CDH, LLC, 5318 Dovetail Ave, Res New Single Family, 315,370

McCall Homes/ McCall Development, 1872 St George Blvd, Res New Single Family, $295,774

Nathan Garber started LeoN Holding Company in Kalispell a year ago as a full-service mini storage business. The company now plans to expand into Oklahoma. The company contributes to local non-profits such as the Boys and Girls Club of Glacier County and th Habitat for Humanity. Garber also plans on adding a new office and hiring additional staff in the Flathead Valley.

Marathon Petroleum will not be adding production growth capital to its 2022 budget in any of its plays. That’s regardless of whether commodity prices continue to rise. Marathon plams to emphaze return of capital to shareholders during 2022.

As of April 1, First Interstate will be eliminating non-sufficient funds charges and reducing overdraft fees, to offer flexibility intended to create a little extra breathing room for clients. First Interstate will make many changes including the elimination of non-sufficient fund charges and a reduction in overdraft fees from $30 to $10.

A 17-page comment letter has been submitted by North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources and the Division of Air Quality. The letter claims the EPA’s methane emissions proposal exceeds the limits of its authority under both the Clean Air Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. With production of over 500 million barrels of oil per year and over 900 million cubic feet of natural gas, North Dakota has a vested interest in the rules proposed by EPA to further regulate methane emissions. The proposed rules are not needed as North Dakota already successfully regulates GHG emissions from the oil and natural gas sector through the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality and the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

North Dakota Rig counts have reached 34 during February . That’s a two-year high since the pandemic began, which follows the national trend. The exceptionally tight labor pool has affected North Dakota’s potential rig count. The oil and gas sector is working on more gas infrastructure, to improve areas where takeaway capacity has been a challenge and to add to overall capacity out of the Bakken. Lack of adequate gas infrastructure can set a  low ceiling on the Bakken’s potential oil production.

British Columbia-based Teck Resources Ltd. has added a third water treatment plant that cleaned the waters of Fording River in Canada of coal mining pollution. The clean water drains into Montana’s Kootenai River and Lake Koocanusa.

Dale Greenwalt has been collecting ancient insects from the Flathead’s Middle Fork as a resident research associate with the Smithsonian Institution. His most famous find is a rare fossilized mosquito found engorged with ancient blood, likely from a bird of the Middle Eocene. Dale and a research partner have published this year the findings of several new midge species and one delicate mosquito larvae. Scientists praise the region for its unique ability to help record natural history through some of the rarest, most delicate of olden insects: tiny winged flies in their respective pupal and larval stages.

Carolina and Jake Balliew are opening the Lakeside Distillery in Townsend soon. The distillery will be located at 201 Broadway Street. Everything produced at the distillery is made with Montana products. In the summer he will harvest his grain himself in the Choteau area.

In Gallatin County, there were 20.2% fewer new listings in January 2022 than the same month last year, falling from 104 to 83. Pending sales decreased 12.5%, from 104 to 91. Closed sales decreased 6.5%, from 77 to 72. The average number of days homes spent on the market increased 32.1%, from 28 to 37. Median sales prices jumped 45.1%, from $560,000 to $812,750, and sellers received 97.8% of their list price, down slightly from 99.7% last January. The inventory of homes for sale dropped 34.6% from 136 to 89. The months supply of inventory decreased 22.2%, from 0.9 to 0.7.

As part of his charge to improve customer service and modernize technology in state government, Governor Greg Gianforte announced the launch of a new mobile app from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP). FWP’s new app will allow Montanans to access their hunting and fishing licenses with their phone, reducing the need to secure and carry around paperwork while they fish and hunt. The new app, MyFWP, provides Montana sportsmen and women a simple, easy way to store and display licenses, permits, and digital carcass tags, known as E-Tags, which can be used in the field without cellular service. In addition to storing and displaying licenses and permits in a digital wallet, the MyFWP app gives hunters the option to digitally validate an E-Tag instead of a traditional paper carcass tag. This can be done even if the hunter is out of cell service. 

U.S. manufacturers continue to post strong growth, although at a more moderate level compared to the record activity that defined 2021. February’s most critical industrial reports instead suggest continued signs of relief in supply chain pressures and labor shortages, among other developments

Following his announcement of a $6 million investment in rapid workforce training, Governor Greg Gianforte joined Carroll College President John Cech to announce a portion of the funds will be used for the rapid training of nurses and clinical social workers at Carroll College. As a partner of Accelerate Montana, Carroll College received a $440,000 grant to provide scholarships for the College’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Social Work programs. The scholarships, 32 in all, will offset up to $12,500 of tuition and fee costs per student in these programs, which prepare students to enter high-wage, high-demand jobs in Montana’s health care sector. 

Montana is improving in the tax rankings when compared to other states.

The Tax Foundation announced its 2022 tax study this week and Montana was in the top ten. Overall Montana ranks fifth, with Wyoming in first place, South Dakota in second, Alaska third, and Florida fourth.

The Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index enables business leaders, government policymakers, and taxpayers to gauge how their states’ tax systems compare. The Index is designed to show how well states structure their tax systems and provides a road map for improvement.

In the specific components Montana ranked 22nd in Corporate Tax Rank; 24th in Individual Income Tax Income; 3rd in Sales Tax Rank and 29th in unemployment tax.

Montana has an income tax rate of 6.75 percent while five states have no income taxes and three have only selective income taxes. Collection per capita of state and local individual income in Montana is $1119 which ranks it 24th. The state and local tax burden is 8.7 percent and ranks 38th.

Montana’s top corporate income tax rate is 6.75 percent. While the state has no sales tax there are specific sales taxes. Montana’s gas tax 32.75 cents ranking it 22nd. Cigarette tax rate is $1.70, ranking 23rd.

Montana’s property taxes is .76 percent ranking it 32nd. Per capita the state collects $1567 ranking it 22nd.

The absence of a major tax is a common factor among many of the top 10 states. Property taxes and unemployment insurance taxes are levied in every state, but there are several states that do without one or more of the major taxes: the corporate income tax, the individual income tax, or the sales tax. Nevada, South Dakota, and Wyoming have no corporate or individual income tax (though Nevada imposes gross receipts taxes); Alaska has no individual income or state-level sales tax; Florida and Tennessee have no individual income tax; and New Hampshire and Montana have no sales tax.

Rounding out the top ten states is New Hampshire Nevada, Tennessee, Indiana and Utah.

Among the ten lowest ranked states New Jersey is the worst and then New York followed by California, Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Arkansas, Vermont, Louisiana, and then Hawaii at 41st.

Neighboring states, Idaho ranked 17 and North Dakota, 19.

The states in the bottom 10 tend to have a number of afflictions in common: complex, nonneutral taxes with comparatively high rates. New Jersey, for example, is hampered by some of the highest property tax burdens in the country, has the highest corporate income taxes and among the highest individual income taxes in the country, has a particularly aggressive treatment of international income, levies an inheritance tax, and maintains some of the nation’s worst-structured individual income taxes.

Americans were on the move in 2021, and they chose low-tax states over high-tax ones, according to the Tax Foundation. Montana was among the top in-migration states with an increase of 1.8 percent. Idaho increased 3.4 percent, while New York lost by -1.8 percent and California lost .8 percent.

The Montana Contractors Association announced that Andy Mathison has been elected as its board president for 2022.

Mathison is owner and president of Casino Creek Concrete in Lewistown. He joined the company in 2000, and has been the owner since 2004. Mathison holds a Civil Engineering degree from Montana State University, Bozeman, and is certified as an ACI GRADE 1 Concrete Testing Tech and Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan Administrator. Casino Creek was recently recognized with a Construction Excellence Award in the concrete category last month at the MCA Winter Convention. The Lewistown company has received eight such awards.

Mathison has been a board member for the MCA since 2017, and he represents the Association’s concrete division. He replaces Marty Schuma of Dick Anderson Construction (Helena), as president.

The MCA membership also elected Bill Langlas of Langlas & Associates (Bozeman/Billings) as Vice President, and Cale Fisher of Riverside Contracting (Missoula) as Treasurer. The 2022 MCA board is comprised of the following members: Guy Slaybaugh, Century Companies (Lewistown); Keith Johnston, Mountain West Holding Co. (Butte); Hal Fuglevand, Knife River (Billings); Ryan Dunn, Martel Construction (Bigfork); Tyler Smith, Lakeside Excavation (Havre); Tyler McIntyre, PayneWest Insurance (Missoula); Michelle Cohens, Sletten Construction (Great Falls), and Ken Murphy, TMC, Inc. (Belgrade).

The MCA is a chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America, with 265 members. For more information contact David Smith, Executive Director david@mtagc.org 406-442-4162.

The Montana Contractors Association, a chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), is a trade organization representing commercial, industrial and public works construction firms. Our Mission is simple: Working together, we advocate for quality contractors, people, and projects by providing value and opportunity for our members. Learn more at www.mtagc.org.

Dear Editor,

In the February 22, 2022, Commissioner meeting, Commissioner Pitman raised a stack of papers and reports which he claimed showed they had been working on MetraPark management since 2010 contradicting Commissioner Jones and his previous narrative that the private vs. county management discussion started with the November 1, 2021, meeting.  Which is correct?

Commissioners Pitman and Commissioner Jones also discussed “MetraPark Questions Regarding MetraPark Management.” They addressed 16 questions, out of 27, submitted by Commissioner Ostlund. Commissioner Pitman and Commissioner Jones said these questions had already been answered and most of them would be addressed as part of negotiations during contract talks. Commissioner Ostlund pushed the idea of Commissioners setting goals and objectives before the bidding process and received no support. Commission Pitman and Commission Jones stated the recent Venue Solution Group (VSG) report said MetraPark needed a Policy and Procedures Handbook which would contain goals and objectives. Commissioner Pitman and Commissioner Jones said Oak View Group (OVG) a bidder, will design the Policy and Procedures with stated goals and objectives. So, goals and objectives are to be set by a third party vs. Commissioners?

Commissioner Pitman went further and defended the existing ‘Booking Arrangement’ with OVG even though it hurts taxpayers by allowing OVG to receive $50,000 based on Metra’s overall financial performance even if they provide no services. Commissioner Pitman stated it is a “good contract”.

Responding to public pressure, all three Commissioners voted ‘aye’ in discussion to hiring VSG to facilitate an agreement with any potential privatization bid. Commissioners also passed a motion to ‘Request for Qualifications & Information for MetraPark Campus Management Services’ (rebid for privatize management services).

Kim Rolfsen

1633 Main Street

Billings MT 59105

The demand for U.S. workers has led some manufacturers, technology firms and other employers to ditch the annual raise and switch to more frequent pay reviews as they compete for talent and keep pace with rising wages.

CoorsTek Inc., a maker of industrial ceramics, last year started doing quarterly pay reviews, primarily to ensure it could hire and retain workers for critical and hard-to-fill manufacturing roles such as production operators and maintenance mechanics. The Golden, Colo.-based company hired around 1,300 people in the U.S. last year, and bringing on new people often meant paying above its usual ranges.

“When the market is evolving in real-time and there really isn’t a leading indicator other than what you’re seeing to compete and hire, you quickly have to adjust,” said Irma Lockridge, the chief people officer at the 6,000-person company.

U.S. companies and small businesses are competing for employees in a historically tight labor market. Employers added 6.7 million jobs last year, yet U.S. job openings and worker turnover are hovering near their highest levels on record. Those trends are spurring wage growth. Wages climbed 5.7 percent in January from a year earlier, government data show, nearly double the average gain before the government imposed COVID restraints on the economy.

Full off-cycle salary reviews remain relatively rare, surveys show, and executives say companies can turn to other options, such as using one-time bonuses, expanding benefits or adding vacation days, to help retain workers without boosting wages.

Some executives have announced across-the-board pay increases during routine all-hands sessions, surprising workers.