Montana Resources will begin treating water from the Berkeley Pit by the end of this year or the beginning of 2019. This is five years ahead of schedule.

Hastings Shopping Center is the focus of a developer’s plans to refurbish the center at 15th and Main in Bozeman. Plans call for rearranging parking and adding outdoor patio seating plus merging several of the shops in the center.

As of February 8 the Upper Yellowstone snowpack measured 148 percent of normal according to the USDA Department of Natural Resources. The snowpack across the rest of Montana remains in good shape, with all basins at near to above normal for the date. Montana is the only state in the 12 western U.S. states where the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service measures snowpack in which all basins in the state have at least normal snowpack conditions on Feb 1.

Recent cold temperatures have caused ice to build up on many eastern Montana rivers and streams, including the Yellowstone River. Montana has the highest number of reported ice jams and ice jam-related deaths in the lower 48 states. Most of Montana’s ice jams occur in February and March. The most ice jams ever recorded in a single season was 75 in 1996. In more recent years, 2004 saw 40 ice jams, 2006 produced 14, and 23 were recorded in 2011.

The board of directors of MDU Resources Group, Inc. announced that it has elected director Dennis W. Johnson, 68, to the position of vice chair for the corporation. Johnson has been an independent director of MDU Resources since 2001 and chairs the Audit Committee. Johnson has more than 40 years of experience in business management and finance. He has held chairman, president and CEO positions with TMI Corp., headquartered in Dickinson, North Dakota, for 35 years. He also served as president of the Dickinson City Commission from 2000 to 2015 and as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 1993 to 1998.

Montana State University broke ground for its new Applied Research Lab on Feb. 23, opening a new chapter for the university in U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Defense research. Construction has begun on the 20,000-square-foot building located on the MSU Innovation Campus. It is expected to be completed in the summer of 2019. The Applied Research Lab will allow research on energy- and defense-related projects which require security.

One of the keynote speakers at the Main Street Summit in Bismarck said more and more retailers are abandoning shopping malls - and looking to relocate into downtowns. Robert Gibbs is with the Gibbs Planning Group. He said malls across the country are either closing or trying to adapt to changing shopping patterns. Gibbs said in 10 years, the prediction is 25 to 30 percent of the nation’s shopping malls will close. Gibbs said as retail moves back to downtowns, cities do have some problems to overcome. One is parking.

The Lodge at Whitefish Lake has earned Four Diamonds from AAA for the eighth consecutive year. The AAA Four Diamond designation is an exceptional accomplishment that signifies meticulous attention to the little extras to help ensure a memorable guest experience. The AAA inspector noted that The Lodge at Whitefish Lake offers amenities for all seasons and “thinks of everything for guest comfort.”

Jefferson Lines has become Montana’s primary bus line, when Greyhound Lines pulled out of Missoula, on Jan. 16, due to low ridership. The pull-out ended between Missoula and Spokane, and Whitefish Jefferson Lines is the second-largest bus company in the U.S. behind Greyhound, with routes as far south as Texas.  

Montana State University is now home to Montana’s first public Malt Quality Lab, the only lab of its kind in the Northern Great Plains region that can provide a complete quality analysis of barley malt used in craft brewing, human and animal food industries.  The lab is funded largely in thanks to Montana’s wheat and barley farmers through check-off funds. The establishment of the lab means that the MSU Barley Breeding Program can process data points of malt barley six times faster than using a national lab, the closest of which is 2,000 miles away in Wisconsin.

The Gallatin Association of Realtors reported statistics for January 2018. “The Gallatin area residential real estate market remains strong through the winter months,” said Steve Candler, CEO of the Association. The number of new single-family listings rose from 108 in January 2017 to 120 last month, an 11.1% increase, while the number of closed sales dropped from 95 to 69, a 27.4% decrease. The average number of days on market until sale dropped sharply from 85 to 61, a 28.2% decrease. The inventory of homes for sale decreased 7.2%, from 401 in January 2017 to 372 last month, while the average sale price decreased from $485,141 to $447,170, a 7.8% drop. The months’ supply of inventory dropped remained virtually static, dropping slightly from 3.0 to 2.9, a 3.3% decrease.

Williston and Watford City North Dakota will hold two jobs fairs over two days on April 25 and 26 at the Raymond Family Community Center in Williston. Registration deadline is April 6. Information at jobfair.willistondevelopment.com.

The Sidney Elks Lodge in Sidney is celebrating its 150th anniversary. The organization has 293 members.

The same backers of Uber, LinkedIn and Spotify have just invested millions in Missoula-based onXmaps, Inc., an app that displays detailed, backcountry maps and a user’s exact location – no cell reception required. The investment demonstrates that maps — and backcountry exploring — is entering the 21st century. Getting lost is now a thing of the past. But the investment also speaks to a larger trend of great tech companies popping up outside Silicon Valley. Montana, for example, already has over 500 tech companies earning more than $1 billion in revenue.