The new Billings Clinic dialysis center in downtown Billings held its ribbon cutting ceremony and open house last week, offering the public its first look at the new, cutting-edge facility. A joint venture between Billings Clinic, the region’s largest health care organization, and Dialysis Clinic, Inc., one of the nation’s largest providers of dialysis services, the 114,309-square-foot dialysis center will begin serving patients this summer.

“This new dialysis center allows us to serve more patients in a state-of-the-art facility that keeps them close to our downtown campus,” said Dr. Kendrick Trostel, a Billings Clinic nephrologist and the center’s medical director. “It ensures we can meet the growing need for these vital dialysis treatments. Our new center is a great addition to this neighborhood and to the core of our city.”

As the first major health care facility east of North 27th Street, the new center represents a transformative development that fits Billings’ desire for infill projects between downtown and MetraPark, using existing lots or buildings to bring in new development and businesses.

According to the U.S. Renal Data System Annual Data Report, more than 660,000 Americans are being treated for kidney failure and of these, 468,000 are dialysis patients. In the Billings area, the number of patients requiring dialysis treatment is growing by about 5 percent each year.

The new Billings Clinic dialysis center offers more space and easy ground-level access to patients while keeping them in close proximity to the main Billings Clinic campus. The center will be able to serve more patients each day and has the capacity to increase treatment space if needed. It more than doubles the amount of space available to patients, from 17 dialysis chairs and two home care rooms to 36 chairs and four rooms. The $3.9 million construction project provides patients with updated machines and equipment, along with full dialysis treatment and multiple delivery modalities, in a spacious and modern healing environment.

“The 17 station Billings Clinic dialysis facility is at capacity and our staff has done everything they can to accommodate the needs of current dialysis patients,” said Tim Reedy, Billings Clinic/ DCI Area Operations Director. “We are thrilled that the new location offers 19 additional in-center hemodialysis treatment chairs and two additional home therapy exam rooms.  We will be able to accept new in-center patients and expand our home therapy offering to include home hemodialysis.”

 Local architects, engineers and contractors CTA, Sanderson Stewart and Fisher Construction Inc. of Billings built and designed the center.

Commercial

  • Rimrock Ii, Llc/Jones Construction, 4040 King Ave W, Com Addition, $1,737,080
  • Tande, Bradley C & Leeann/Jones, Tim O – General Contractor, 768 Fallow Ln, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $16,000
  • Sysco Food Services Of Montana/Centimark Corp, 1509 Monad Rd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $915,000
  • City Of Billings (Airport)/Larsen, G. A. Inc., 2903 Overlook Dr, Com New Other, $615,000
  • Rimrock Ii, Llc/Jones Construction, Inc, 4040 King Ave W, Com New Parking Lot/Non-Building Structure,   $75,000
  • West End Commercial Properties/Jorden, Ed – General Contractor, 3737 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $40,000
  • Na/Jorden, Ed – General Contractor, 27 Shiloh Rd, Com Remodel, $85,000
  • 1400 S 24th Llc/Sunleaf, Steve – General Contractor, 1400 S 24th St W, Com Remodel, $700,000
  • City Of Billings/ Ace Electric, Inc. – Electrical Contractor, 401 S 29th St W, Com Remodel, $596,530
  • Helvetica Billings 27 Llc/Kenco Enterprises, Inc., 1537 Avenue D, Com Remodel, $10,000
  • Helvetica Billings 27 Llc/Hintt, Kevin – General Contractor, 1537 Avenue D, Com Remodel, $20,000
  • Sisters Of Charith Of Leavenworth/Alberts (Sr Vp/Cfo), Dave – General Contractor, 1233 N 30th St, Com Remodel,   $2,021,342
  • Rimrock Ii, Llc/Jones Construction, 4040 King Ave W, Com Addition, $1,737,080
  • Tande, Bradley C & Leeann/Jones, Tim O – General Contractor, 768 Fallow Ln, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $16,000
  • Sysco Food Services Of Montana/Centimark Corp, 1509 Monad Rd, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $915,000
  • City Of Billings (Airport)/Larsen, G. A. Inc., 2903 Overlook Dr, Com New Other, $615,000
  • Rimrock Ii, Llc/Jones Construction, Inc, 4040 King Ave W, Com New Parking Lot/Non-Building Structure,   $75,000
  • West End Commercial Properties/Jorden, Ed – General Contractor, 3737 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $40,000
  • Na/Jorden, Ed – General Contractor, 27 Shiloh Rd, Com Remodel, $85,000
  • 1400 S 24th Llc/Sunleaf, Steve – General Contractor, 1400 S 24th St W, Com Remodel, $700,000
  • City Of Billings/ Ace Electric, Inc. – Electrical Contractor, 401 S 29th St W, Com Remodel, $596,530
  • Helvetica Billings 27 Llc/Kenco Enterprises, Inc., 1537 Avenue D, Com Remodel, $10,000
  • Helvetica Billings 27 Llc/Hintt, Kevin – General Contractor, 1537 Avenue D, Com Remodel, $20,000
  • Sisters Of Charith Of Leavenworth/Alberts (Sr Vp/Cfo), Dave – General Contractor, 1233 N 30th St, Com Remodel,   $2,021,342
  • Kirst, David A & Julianne/Leep, Kolter – General Contractor, 2550 Enterprise Ave, Commercial Roof/Siding,    $51,029
  • Monad Daniels, Llc/Jones Construction, Inc, 275 Daniel St, Com Addition, $400,000
  • Eastern Holdings Llc/Doss Electric, Inc – Electrical Contractor, 301 S 30th St, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $5,000
  • Sullivan, Dean P & Marilyn C/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $17,920
  • Sullivan, Dean P & Marilyn C/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $6,600
  • Alweis, Hilary/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor. 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $8,960
  • Consulting Associates Inc/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $3,000
  • Consulting Associates Inc/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $8,000
  • Thomas, Kimberly/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $16,000
  • Thomas, Kimberly/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $5,700
  • Alweis, Hilary/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $18,240
  • Alweis, Hilary/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $6,300
  • Bernhart, Gordon R/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $13,120
  • Sanchez, Tanner/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $5,400
  • Eklund, Kris L/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $15,040
  • Eklund, Kris L/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $6,300
  • Evergreen Properties Of Montana/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding , $32,200
  • Evergreen Properties Of Montana/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $11,400 
  • Ma, Shelly/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $8,400
  • Kindsfater, Dennis E/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $24,960
  • Kindsfater, Dennis E/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $12,300
  • Harding, Susan R/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $21,760
  • Fachner, Jerome O & Carol Ann/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $5,700
  • Lissa, Michael Eugene/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $5,700
  • Lissa, Michael Eugene/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,   $7,360
  • Bogar, Bruce M & Connie M/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $22,400
  • Enger, Joan/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $14,400
  • Roe, Jamie M/Sprague/Cathey, Jack/Phill – General Contractor, 3285 Canyon Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $12,300
  • City Of Billings/ Ace Electric, Inc. – Electrical Contractor, 3116 17th St W, Com New Other, $590,700
  • McDonald’s Real Estate Company/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 2333 Central Ave, Com New Restaurant/Casino/Bar,   $800,000
  • Apex Management Services Inc/Absolute Construction – General Contractor, 2103 Central Ave, Com Remodel,   $100,000
  • Tru 2005 Re I Llc/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 640 S 24th St W, Com Remodel, $500
  • Stock/ Stock Construction Company, 115 Shiloh Rd, Com Remodel, $40,000
  • McCall Properties Llc/McCall James,  – General Contractor, 1579 Mullowney Ln, Com Remodel, $96,000

Residential

  • Eddleman, Terri J & Robert L/Van Arsdale, Kim – General Contractor,  711 N 32nd S, Res New Garage, $43,152
  • Na/Mccall James, – General Contractor, 6005 Catherina Ct, Res New Garage, $41,472
  • Jesse Arstein/Jesse’s Old To New, 844 Governors Blvd, Res New Single Family, $326,648
  • Trailhead Builders Inc/Kowalski, Angela – General Contractor, 4538 Payton Trl, Res New Single Family, $239,844
  • Ferestad, Michael D, 2053 Hewitt Dr, Res New Garage, $47,616
  • Wells Built Homes, Inc./Wells Built Homes Inc. 6182 Timbercove Dr, Res New Single Family, $369,819
  • Wagenhals Land And Livestock/Wagenhals, Chad – General Contractor, 1205 Daylight Ln, Res New Single Family,   $250,000
  • Trails West Homes Llc/Wilson/Dorn/Stock, Rod/Rick/Mike – General Contractor, 808 Sandcherry St, Res New Single Family, $216,310
  • Trails West Homes Llc/Wilson/Dorn/Stock, Rod/Rick/Mike – General Contractor, 814 Sandcherry St, Res New Single Family, $216,310
  • Higginbotham, Aaron James/Higginbotham, Aaron – General Contractor, 972 Siesta Ave, Res New Single Family,    $300,756
  • Ron S Hill Living Trust/Hill, Brendon – General Contractor, 2253 Gleneagles Blvd, Res New Single Family,  $249,867

The Montana High Tech Business Alliance has announced a list of eight Montana High-Growth Companies to Watch in 2019. This is the third year the organization has recognized emerging stars in Montana’s booming tech and manufacturing industries.


The eight new companies on this year’s list bolster the narrative of the flourishing tech industry in Montana. A 2019 survey conducted by the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research found Alliance member companies are growing faster than ever – 9 times the overall Montana economy – and expect to add 1,700 new jobs this year that pay twice the median wage. The high-growth companies to watch list highlights high-potential companies for job seekers, business leaders, and investors.

The eight Montana High-Growth Companies to Watch in 2019 are:

1. Alosant, Bozeman

Founded in Montana in 2017, Alosant is a lifestyle management platform targeted toward real estate communities.  Michael Swanson and April LaMon are co-founders.

2. Alter Enterprise, Missoula

At its core, Alter Enterprise is an IT company, but  founder Ryan Alter said they work closely with clients to produce solutions that can range from traditional IT services to cybersecurity.

3. DataSmart Health Solutions, Missoula.

Bernard Khomenko, CEO DataSmart Health Solutions uses sophisticated d“We’re blessed with the opportunity to stand for something; liberty, freedom and fairness. And these are things worth fighting for, worth devoting our lives to.”

– Ronald Reaganata analytics to help companies build the best health benefits packages for their employees while saving them money.

4. Figure, Bozeman and Helena.

Mike Cagney, CEO, explains Figure uses a custom-built blockchain platform, artificial intelligence, and advanced analytics to provide home equity solutions for their clients. .

5. MyVillage, Bozeman.

Erica Mackey and Elizabeth Szymanski, co-founded the company in 017. MyVillage is a platform designed to empower educators to create and run childcare services. it helps them navigate issues like setting up a website or filing for insurance. In April, MyVillage closed a $5.95 million seed round, the largest ever closed by a Montana company. 

6. Superior Traffic Services, Missoula. 

Jeff Hollenback, CEO, founded the company in 2009. The construction tech company has built a system to manage portable traffic signals, and other e traffic control equipment in real-time. By providing a solution to automate traffic control in busy and rural construction zones, Superior helps make the road safer..

7. Vision Aerial, Bozeman.  

Shane Beams, founder, produces drones for commercial use— commercial infrastructure inspection drones  since early 2016.

8. XY Planning Network/AdvicePay, Bozeman.

Alan Moore and Michael Kitces, co-founders, help financial planners set up their own businesses.

The Big Sky Business Journal is a family-owned and operated business based in Billings, Montana. It was started by Dennis and Evelyn Pyburn in 1982, making it the first business publication in the state. It is the only independent business publication (not associated with daily newspapers) in the Montana.

The Big Sky Business Journal is published the 1st and 15th of each month. We feature a wide variety of informational articles, features about businesses and business people, reports about critical issues, data and statistics regarding our economy and trends.

Our tag line – “The Spirit of Commerce is the great bond of union among citizens” – reflects our philosophy about the role that business plays in any community. The benefits derived from, and the desire for commerce among citizens is the primary incentive for peace and civility among all people. The average man’s economic quest is to be free to exchange value for value. Therefore, more so than advocates of business, we are advocates of consumers, understanding that the business community, business owners, and entrepreneurship is served best only when the interests of consumers are held paramount. Such is the basis of free markets, and indeed, of liberty itself.

We greatly enjoy our job of reporting about the productivity, ingenuity, creativity, and wealth generating activities of our neighbors in Montana. These are the dynamic people who make a community tick, they are our readers, our advertisers, our friends, and we are so proud of all that they do.

We are open to submissions from one and all, but most especially are interested in news about businesses, not only in Billings and Yellowstone County, but throughout the state. Even though Montana is a big state, business people do business throughout the state and what’s happening at one location is just as important to business people on the other side of the state as it is to the establishment across the street.

The Big Sky Business Journal depends greatly upon subscriptions in its support, and we urge you to subscribe, to help make our continued publication possible, as well as enable improvements and expansion in what we do.

We also accept advertising. For more details please email us press@bigskybusiness.com or call (406) 259-2309. Our mailing address is:

Big Sky Business Journal P. O. Box 3262 Billings, MT 59103

Your subscription helps support the research and reporting that is necessary to bring current information to the business people of Montana, as well as the “free” posting of that information on line. It’s a bargain at just $32 annually, or $58 for two years which includes receiving the Big Sky Business Journal by mail twice monthly (24 issues a year), as well as receipt of the Monday Morning Hot Sheet via email  — an update of Billings area news and events, so be sure to include your email address. Also — your subscription includes an option of having the Billings Building Permits emailed to you as they become available each week. Again, just send us your email address with your subscription, with the request for the building permits. If you have any questions please call (406) 259-2309.

Currently we are working on a new shopping cart, in the meantime you can use the PayPal buttons below:

1 Year Subscription $32

2 Year Subscription $58

The Montana Bankers Association recently elected new officers at the 116th Annual Membership Meeting, including the election of Bill Bickle as Vice Chairman o the Board of Directors and Bill Lucas as immediate Past Chairman.


Bickle is Chief Credit Officer  at Stockman Bank of Montana, Miles City. Bickle will serve two years as a policy maker andl represent the Southeastern Region. 

Bickle is a graduate of Montana State University and of the Pacific Coast Banking School.  He was an examiner with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis for six years before joining Stockman Bank in 1987.  He is a Director of Stockman Financial Corporation and continues with his family ranching corporation, Bickle Cattle Co. 

Lucas is Market President, U.S. Bank, N.A., Billings. Lucas will continue to serve as a policy maker andl represent the Large Banks Membership on the board. 

Lucas started with US Bank in 1988. In 2013, he was named Market President, Billings and South Montana District Manager, a position he currently holds. He is a graduate of the University of North Dakota and the BAI Graduate School of Banking. Bill and his wife, Kim, enjoy spending time with their two grown children, Alexa and Sam and with their grandson, Lucas. 

Commercial

Big Elmo Investments Llc/Sunleaf, Steve – General Contractor, 1602 4th Ave N, Com Addition, $265,000

Church Of Jesus Christ Of LDS/Knife River-Billings – General Contractor, 3548 Rachelle Cir, Com New Parking Lot/Non-Building Structure, $239,856

Lindsey, Lee/Paulson, Cal – Service, 122 N 12th St, Demolition Permit Commercial, $10,000

Stahley, Kenneth R & Linda H/Bradford Management Inc – General Contractor, 1106 29th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $100,330

15th Street Investors Llc/Sunset Construction Llc – General Contractor, 1504 Broadwater Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding,  $13,790

Sweetacres #1 Llc/Allgayer, Philip John – General Contractor, 2325 Central Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $4,000

Starchland Property I, Llc/Billings Sign Service Inc, 401 Main St, New Other, $6,170

McDonalds Real Estate Company/Billings Sign Service Inc, 525 Wicks Ln, Com New Other, $6,170

Larson Family Properties Llc/Hardy Construction Co.,Rex Hotel Building – Phase 3:,2401 Montana Ave, Com Remodel, $248,500

Yellowstone County/Hardy Construction Co., 217 N 27th St, Com Remodel, $124,781

Bal5 Lp/Lagreca, Brice – General Contractor, Com Remodel, $16,000

Boardman Westpark Llc/Plan/Builder Construction Inc., 1595 Grand Ave, Com Remodel, $40,000

Residential

Infinity Home Wanner, Levi – General Contractor, 1442 Topanga Ave, Res New Single Family, $221,692 

Copper Ridge West Inc/Double Dutch Construction, 3127 Forbes Blvd, Res New Single Family, $290,938

Double Dutch Construction/Double Dutch Construction, 3133 Forbes Blvd, Res New Single Family, $341,736

Justine Mays Thompson/William – General Contractor, 1509 Topanga Ave, $220,556

Colter Carpentry, Inc/ Thompson, William – General Contractor, 1425 Topanga Ave, Res New Single Family,                  $220,703

Boyer Land Llc/Design Builders, Inc., 62514 Blue Moon Ct, Res New Single Family, $284,036

Design Builders/Design Builders, Inc., 2518 Blue Moon Ct, Res New Single Family, $343,115

Formation, Inc./Helgeson, S. D., 2505 Mountain Range Ct, Res New Single Family, $268,457

Currie, Trentnew, 206 S 31st St, Res New Single Family, $142,736

South Pine Design/Blatchford, Kevin – General Contractor, 2525 Strapper Ln, Res New Single Family,             $258,687

NMTP 002 Llc,/Lively, Robert – General Contractor, 6324 Ridge Stone Dr, Res New Single Family,                 $254,000

NMTP 002 Llc/Lively, Robert – General Contractor, 6318 Ridge Stone Dr, New Single Family, $207,549

McCall Development/ McCall James, – General Contractor, 1645 Walter Creek Blvd, Res New Single Family,               $107,309

Pearce, Bradley G & Cynthia M/Jeff Engel Construction, Inc, 320 Annandale Rd, Res New Single Family, $409,815

True North Homes, Llc/Baillie, Steve – General Contractor, 1727 E Thunder Mountain Rd, Res New Single Family,              $360,493

David B Heine Irrevocable Trust/Longtine, Justin – General Contractor, 1619 Hollyhock St, New Garage, $4,200

McCall Development Inc/Mccall James, – General Contractors, 1918 Walter Creek Blvd, Res New Single Family,         $329,386

BCJM Properties Llc/Blatchford, Kevin – General Contractor, 2605 Strapper Ln, Res New Single Family,     $301,266

High Sierra Ii Inc/Wanner, Levi – General Contractor, 1406 Topanga Ave, Res New Single Family, $224,414

Oakland Built Homes Inc/Leep (Vice President), Landy – Service, 2945 70th St W, Res New Single Family,                       $205,886

McCall Homes/McCall, Greg – General Contractor, 1641 Walter Creek Blvd, Res New Single Family, $124,376

Double Dutch Construction/Double Dutch Construction, 6128 Canyonwoods Dr, Res New Single Family,     $417,600

McCall Development/ McCall, Greg – General Contractor, 1633 Walter Creek Blvd, Res New Single Family,                         $124,301

McCall Homes/McCall James, – 637 Walter Creek Blvd, Res New Single Family,                $124,926

Art-Work Builders/Art Work Builders, 1315 Watson Peak Rd, Res New Single Family, $243,526

Ahl/Ahl, Art, 1329 Watson Peak Rd, Res New Single Family, $243,526

Magnus Land Development/Brown Builders Inc., 6421 Signal Peak Ave, Res New Two Family, $327,260

Marsich Investments Inc/Mbmd Llc, 4220 Limber Pine Ln, Res New Two Family, $435,340

The City County Planning Department is submitting an application to the Federal Highway Department in the hopes of getting a $25 million grant to help fund the building of the Inner Belt Loop road in the Heights and to complete the system of bike trails that encompass the City of Billings.


If they should get the grant, called the “2019 BUILD Grant”, portions of the project could begin construction as soon as, 2020 or 2021 at the latest, according to Wyeth Friday, who heads the Planning Department. Friday made presentations to the Billings City Council and the Board of County Commissioners this week to get letters of support for the application. They will also be seeking support from Montana’s Congressional delegation.

The $25 million cost of the project that is detailed in the application includes $7 million as matching dollars from the City of Billings. The application is complex, said Friday, and they are using a consultant to help put it together, especially in regard to determining a cost/benefit analysis.

Notice as to whether they win the grant will be announced by the end of the year.

Most of the project and hence most of the cost – about $14 million – is focused on building the Inner Belt Loop, design for which is about 90 percent complete. It would probably be the first portion of the project to be built.

The bike/pedestrian trails that are included in the project are portions of the 26-mile Marathon Loop Trail that has long been in the planning to encircle Billings. Once those sections are built the route will be completed; they include Stage Coach Trail, a portion of Skyline Trail, Garden/Sugar Trail and Zoo to Riverfront.

The trails are in various stages of development, and some must still obtain right-of-ways, said Friday.

Looking to the future – anticipating what space will be needed and figuring out a strategy of how the county will be prepared to meet those needs, is a primary focus of the coming year’s budget, for Director of Finance Kevan Bryan.

While Yellowstone County has accomplished much over the past two years in meeting substantial demand for space there will be demand for more space and adjustments in the future, said Bryan. To successfully rise to that challenge without having to raise taxes requires planning budgets now, and to start addressing those needs in FY 2019-20. Bryan said that the proposed budget he is presenting to county commissioners this week recommends the movement of discretionary mills that will “allow us to focus dollars where best needed, while retaining flexibility for future fiscal years.”

This week’s itinerary for the commissioners and most county department heads has been a daily series  of scheduled discussions involving every nook and cranny of county government and what will be needed to be done in the next year – and beyond.

“…we wish we didn’t have to …recommend continuing to spend on these issues,” said Bryan, “But they did not develop overnight, and it is clear they are not going away. Ignoring or delaying continued efforts will just cost more down the road, collapse our window of getting this done the right way vs. in a crisis mode, and likely compel us to need additional help from our taxpayers.”

Looming as the biggest challenge are infrastructure needs for Metra Park. During the past year the commissioners authorized an assessment of what those needs will be. Bryan urged tackling the list of needs that were identified in that assessment, beginning in the coming year. “This addresses underground issues fsor power, water, waste water, data – what is broken down and what needs to be upgraded. Remaining needs there are significant, and in our view remain largely unfunded as are many items that may be on this Board’s or the Metra Board’s wish list for enhancements on that campus.”

Bryan noted that the county “has successfully moved several departments into the Stillwater Building, and we have remodeled the 4th Floor of the Courthouse for District Court use. But I dare say we are not even halfway through what needs to be done…It will take a multi-year effort, and you will see in this budget that we are working to advance that.”

Bryan said that in the next five or six years, the commissioners will need to commit to a long-term path for the occupancy issues the county will face. “We can extend our lease here at Stillwater, including more square footage; we can look at an already-discussed option to purchase two floors in a condo arrangement; or we can look at the possibility of removing the old ‘round building’ previously occupied by the Sheriff and build a new office structure.”

Bryan said that his budget draft proposes more work on the Courthouse, and allowing for the eventual movement of others to the Stillwater Building. “In our judgement, that work must begin in FY20, and will likely not be completed soon.” The plan addresses anticipated needs of Justice Court, Clerk of the District Court, the County Attorney, “and yes,” eventually more space for district Court.

The detention facility, while nearing final completion of what was approved two years ago, by the county commissioners, uncovered unstable underground waste lines that are being fixed, still has needs. Sheriff Mike Linder is asking for an expansion and remodel to the booking and administration area of the facility to make it more secure. If his request is approved, said Bryan, the expenditure will consume what is left of the Sheriff’s capital improvement fund. “But, with that done and the relatively new headquarters down the street plus the State’s and County’s financial commitment to the new morgue, the Sheriff should be in the best ‘facility shape’ in perhaps three decades, and set for many, many years to come,” said Bryan.

Bryan presented a list of the diversion of funds that have happened this year and that he proposes for next year, to shift available funds to higher priority needs. They include for FY 2019-20:

—$500,000 from the bridge fund to Metra Park’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP);

— $53,500 from the Weed Fund to Metra’s CIP;

—$106,800 from the Liability Fund with $35,600 going to the Extension Fund, and $71,200 to the Museums.

For FY 2020-21 the proposed shifts are:

—$500,000 from the FY2019 Bridge Fund to the General Fund;

—$700,000 from the Liability Fund to the General Fund;

—Continued $71,200 from the Liability Fund to the Museums;

—Discontinue diversion from the Weed Fund and diversion to the Extension Fund.

In assessing the health of the various departments or funds in county government, a useful barometer is their level of reserves. Sound fiscal policy includes having reserves at capacity, which by state law is set at a maximum of 30 percent of each fund’s total budget. Many reserve fund balances dropped as the heavy capital improvement projects of the past couple of years made demands upon them, but they are recovering.

Anticipating a total county budget of about $116.5 million, reserves for all county funds totals $57 million, which is slightly below past levels which ranged as high as $61.5 million.

According to Bryan agencies with full reserves for FY 2020 are:

—General Fund

—Road Fund

—Bridge Fund

—Liability Fund

—Mental Health Fund

—Weed Fund

—Museum Fund

Those close to being fully reserved are:

—Public Safety (Sheriff)

—Public Safety (County Attorney)

(The probability, given crime rates and demand on those two agencies, that their reserves will decline.)

County departments that are short on reserves are:

—Metra Park

—Metra Park Capital Improvement Program

—Lockwood Pedestrian Safety District

Montana recently welcomed the first member of its own FEMA Integration Team (FIT), Adrianne Michele.

FITs allow FEMA staff to be directly embedded with state emergency management agencies to provide improved coordination and collaboration. In Montana, the FIT will help Montana Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) stay closely connected with FEMA Region VIII in Denver, Colorado.

The Montana team lead is now in place and is the first of what will eventually be a four-member team working in Helena alongside Montana DES staff. The FIT program is an initiative FEMA started last year, the first effort to have staff permanently

co-located working with state partner agencies. 

An Air Force veteran, Michele has a Master’s Degree in Emergency Management and a passion for disaster planning and response.

In addition to three deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, she worked for several years integrating planning efforts between North American Aerospace Defense Command and United States Northern Command.  She also has education and experience as a news photographer and editor.

The makeup of each FIT team is determined through discussions between FEMA and individual states, and varies according to local needs.  The Montana team, which is expected to be in place by late summer, will include specialists in preparedness, recovery and emergency communications.

“We were able to identify these areas as being especially helpful for Montana,” said Delila Bruno, Director of Montana Disaster and Emergency Services. “Having FIT members here with their boots on the ground will increase our capacity to help Montanans not only prepare for disasters, but recover when they happen, making our partnership with FEMA even stronger.”

 “By putting skilled, knowledgeable personnel with our partners in Montana, we can help build a culture of preparedness and support Montana emergency management before, during, and after disasters,” said Lee K. dePalo, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region VIII. “The FEMA Integration Team helps FEMA and Montana DES to plan, train, and respond to incidents together.”

FEMA Integration Teams are currently in the second stage of rollout and Montana is the 19th state to receive a FIT. The program will be implemented to states by 2020.