The Trump administration plans to appeal a federal court ruling that would allow oil and gas drilling on land considered sacred to Native American tribes in Montana and Canada. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said it would be inappropriate to allow drilling in northwestern Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine area, site of the creation story for the Blackfoot tribes
A new case of brucellosis has been found in a cattle herd in northwest Wyoming, and the herd has been placed in quarantine. The Wyoming Livestock Board says additional tests are being conducted on the herd in Teton County to confirm the disease. The Wyoming state veterinarian, Dr. Jim Logan, does not believe there are any additional herds involved at this time.
KettleHouse Brewing’s Amphitheater in Missoula has announced the first group to perform in 2019 On June 2, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead will open the season.
The Golden Valley Hutterite Colony in Ryegate launched a steel fabrication operation one year ago. The Colony leaders had realized they needed to do something different. Hutterites have farmed and raised livestock on the Northern Plains of Eastern Montana for more than 100 years. Agriculture has not sustained them like it used to, so leaders at the Golden Valley Colony decided to build a facility that produces steel siding, trim and roofs all cut and formed to fit.
A group of local food and retail union members have appealed the city’s decision to approve site plans for WinCo Foods, requiring review by the Bozeman City Commission before the grocery retailer can move forward with plans. Six workers from Bozeman and Belgrade broadly criticized nearly every aspect of WinCo’s plans in their appeal, listing concerns about aesthetics, environmental sustainability, the store’s affect on locally owned businesses, building design and traffic. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local-4 Union paid the $1,550 appeal filing
The construction is nearly completed on a major highway project on Highway 200 between Sidney and Fairview. There might be some traffic delays again in the spring for chip sealing.
Fort Peck Tribes received about a half-a-million dollars to prosecute crimes on the northeast Montana reservation, with a focus on violence against women. The $499,890 in U.S. Department of Justice funds go toward hiring a new prosecutor to try crimes in both Fort Peck Tribal Courts and in U.S. District Court, under the direction of the Montana U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Hans McPherson, a diversified farmer from Stevensville, was re-elected as president of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation during the organization’s annual convention Nov. 7-10 in Billings. Cyndi Johnson, a Conrad small grains farmer, was re-elected as vice president. Re-elected to the MFBF Board of Directors were Rhonda Boyd, District 2, a rancher from Alder; Lee Boyer, District 4, a rancher from Bridger; Wes Jensen, District 6, a rancher from Circle; Cindy Denning, District 8, a rancher from Sun River; and Patti Davis, District 10, a rancher from Belgrade. Gretchen Schubert from Huntley was re-elected as the MFBF Women’s Leadership Committee Chair with Gil Gasper from Circle re-elected as the MFBF Young Farmer and Rancher Committee Chair.
EGT, LLC, a joint venture between Bunge North America and ITOCHU, announced that it has purchased a grain elevator in Sidney, Montana from Busch Agricultural Resources, LLC, a division of A-B InBev, N.V. “Purchasing the Sidney elevator strengthens our origination capability in support of our export terminal in Longview, Washington,” said Adam Johnson, president & CEO, EGT. “The facility is located in a key draw area for wheat, particularly spring wheat, which is experiencing increasing demand.” EGT has invested more than $200 million building a state-of-the-art export grain terminal in Longview, Washington-the first to be constructed in the U.S. in 25 years.
Reach Air Medical Services has closed its Helena locations, both the rotor-wing helicopter and fixed-wing airplane bases. A press release stated that the decision to close was “made following careful consideration by the organization’s leaders.” The rotor-wing operation in Bozeman will be maintained and used to service Helena. The company had 23 employees at the Helena bases who they said they hope to retain. The company had leased a hanger from a private owner who leased the land from the airport.
The price for pulse crops— such as peas, chickpeas, garbonzo beans and lentils — for Montana producers is expected to remain depressed, as trade with India remains uncertain, as discussions about tariffs between the US and India are stalled. Montana is the largest producer of pulse crops in the country, and producers are being hit hard which then has a negative impact on other community businesses which supports the ag industry. At issue are tariffs that India has in place to protect its farmers. As their tariffs go up, world prices on pulse crops drop. And, India recently raised its tariffs on pulse crops, in response to the US recently imposing a tariff (a tax) on steel from India being sold in this country, in retaliation for India’s tariffs on US products.
MDU Resources Group, Inc. reported third quarter earnings from continuing operations of $107.4 million, or 55 cents per share, compared to third quarter 2017 earnings from continuing operations of $89.6 million, or 46 cents per share. Including discontinued operations, MDU Resources reported third quarter earnings of $107.3 million, or 55 cents per share, compared to $87.4 million, or 45 cents per share, in 2017. Last month, MDU reported the fourth construction materials acquisition of the year with the purchase of Sweetman Construction Co., a provider of aggregates, asphalt and ready-mix in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. They completed the purchase of an expansion to their Thunder Spirit Wind farm in southwestern North Dakota. They also finished and brought into service in mid-September Line Section 27 pipeline project near Watford City, North Dakota. With natural gas production continuing at record levels in the Bakken, demand remains high for additional transportation capacity. The company received approval from FERC to bring our Valley Expansion project into commercial operation on Nov. 1, providing much-needed gas capacity to eastern North Dakota.”
Most roads to Yellowstone National Park have been closed, with work beginning to prepare them for snow coaches and snowmobiles. Entrances at Gardiner and Cooke City remain open.
Engaged in negotiations, 32 union workers at Imerys talc mill near Three Forks were locked out on Nov. 1. New employees were hired to fill union positions. Negotiations began last May and union members have been working under terms of the last contract.
Early reports indicate that the number of hunters prowling Montana hills and plains is down this year but those who are are having great success. By the end of the third week the numbers had increased. The end of the general hunting seasons is Nov. 25.
A program based at Montana State University that helps veterans and active military members transition to careers as public school teachers recently won a $3.4 million, five-year grant, funds that will enable the program to continue and expand its reach. The Northwest Troops to Teachers program based at MSU previously served veterans in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Washington. With the new grant, the program will continue to serve veterans in those states, and it will also serve veterans in Oregon and Alaska. The grant is from the U.S. Department of Defense and is awarded through the Montana Office of Public Instruction and the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
During a special meeting of the Powell Valley Healthcare Board of Directors, Powell Valley Healthcare approved a letter of intent to start the process of exploring an affiliation agreement. Powell Valley has been considering options for partnership with larger health care organizations for several years to enhance medical services and have a foundation to adapt to the evolving health care industry. “We reached out to Billings Clinic, because they are very well known in Big Horn Basin for their quality of care, partnerships and outreach services in our rural communities,” said Terry Odom, Powell Valley Healthcare CEO. “They are positioned to give us the support to provide next level care to the people of Powell and our surrounding communities through mutually beneficial synergies. We are rural health care, and we need the experience of an organization that knows rural medicine.”
Through a program that began in 2011, Barrick Gold Corp.-owned Golden Sunlight has paid out more than $45 million in purchasing gold from small miners in the last seven years. All of it has been for gold dug out of old mine dumps — of which there are tens of thousands around the state.
A Bozeman entrepreneur has launched NextStep interactive, a company that will use a mobile phone app to help train workers displaced by artificial intelligence and automation for careers in the growing health care industry. Chris Hedrick’s device allows people to complete coursework on the app to become certified in an entry level job. The app can be obtained for a one-time $20 deposit and helps to direct individuals into roles that best suits them. it then sets up internships and hands-on training opportunities.
Bozeman is on its way to having two high schools, as its board of directors approve architectural plans for constructing a new two-story classroom building, a new student commons central gathering spot and a 750-seat auditorium. Bozeman School Board trustees also voted to provide $1.8 million to the renovation of Van Winkle Stadium, which will provide locker rooms, restrooms and concessions stands that would benefit soccer, softball and tennis teams, as well as football. Voters last year approved overwhelmingly a $125 million bond issue to build Bozeman’s second high school, to cope with growing enrollment. The second high school is expected to cost $90.3 million.
In Butte, the National Center for Health Care Informatics plans to establish a medical-simulation training facility. Partners, Ray Rogers and Pat Dudley, announced in March plans to build a $35 million health-care training facility, to be called Praxis Center for Innovative Learning and Rural Health Care Simulation Training Center. The project is expected to bring 73 jobs, and an annual headcount of 3,000 to 4,000 students to use the 82,000-square-foot facility, replete with a simulation-based training center designed to look like a rural hospital.
Gallatin County had the highest amount of tourist spending of all counties in the state according to the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research with visitor spending about $659 million in Gallatin County on things like groceries, hotels, restaurants and recreation in 2017.