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For many organizations, the annual company Christmas party is the biggest event of the year for many businesses. it is an opportunity for celebration a project that most employees don’t mind being a part of. For many businesses it can mean employees and guests join other employees a nice meal, adult beverages and perhaps a gift exchange. office. Here are a few good rules to adhere to: • Workplace policies still apply. It is still a company-sponsored event. Workplace conduct, workplace dress code and social medial policies apply. • Control the adult beverages. Your organization’s stand on alcohol at company functions can eliminate or exaggerate risk. • Attendance optional. At the end of the day, there are always going to be a few employees who prefer not to attend.

More work environments are becoming increasingly litigious. In order to limit the risk and liability for your company during the most wonderful time of the year, clearly outline the expectations for behavior sooner than later.

Missoulian general manager Matt Gibson is leaving to take a position as the executive director of the Montana Newspaper Association. Gibson’s last day with Lee Enterprises, which owns the Missoulian, Ravalli Republic, Billings Gazette, Butte Standard, and Helena Independent is Dec. 21. The Montana Newspaper Association has a membership of 85 different newspapers.

Bozeman’s plans for job growth and focus on housing developments could be accelerated  by a proposed new tax law. The proposal could be used to create “Opportunity Zones” which could provide tax breaks and other benefits for developers and investors who build in designated places. A key aim of the bill is to help rural areas and low- to middle-income regions.

Cargill has chosen Great Falls for a new location to conduct groundbreaking research developing omega-3 fatty acids from canola plants to reduce reliance on fishmeal. The project hopes to increase the viability of farm-raised fish and reduce pressure on oceans. Cargill developed its new Omega-3 hybrid canola by breeding canola in Montana. Cargill will contract with growers to begin planting the new variety in the 2020 crop season.

Stone Ranch Montana Wagyu, owned by Jennifer and Darryl James has been in the planning stages for most of a year. Established Helena, the business plans to bring high-quality wagyu beef raised in Montana to people in Montana. Wagyu is a unique breed of cattle native to Japan. The high-quality beef is known for its unique marbling of fat interwoven with the meat. It gives the meat a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Fire Artisan Pizza  located at 303 E. Main St in Bozeman,  held its soft opening on December 12. It is now open for lunch and dinner every day of the week. This is the third pizzeria location for Fire Artisan. It is also located in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Great Falls.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has given final approval of the environmental impact statement on a 3,500-gas well project proposed by Jonah Energy in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Jonah’s Normally Pressured Lance Project would generate 950 jobs and produce $17.85 billion in total revenues, with federal royalties totaling $2.2 billion over a ten-year period. The proposed well program covers 140,859 acres in Converse County, and would include 205 miles of new pipelines and roads. (From Oil Patch Hotline)

Gifts from two prominent Montana families have completed the fundraising for a $20 million American Indian Hall on the campus of Montana State University. Jim and Chris Scott of Billings and the Terry and Patt Payne Family of Missoula each gave $1 million to finish off the campaign, which started 13 years ago but received new life in October when the Kendeda Fund gave $12 million and the Associated Students of MSU pledged another $2 million. Sixteen donors have also committed $1.1 million to the American Indian Hall since October. The American Indian Hall was first proposed in 2005 to serve Native American students. The university plans to break ground during the last week of March and have the building open by 2021. The Scott family founded First Interstate Bank 50 years ago in Sheridan, Wyoming, and Jim Scott is currently chairman of its board. Terry Payne is chairman of the board of PayneWest Insurance, Inc., of Missoula. The firm is the largest independent, employee-owned insurance agency in the western United States.

Fossil Hill Resources of Sidney, dominated the high bidding on three Roosevelt County tracts, as the Montana state oil and gas lease sale, held on Dec. 4, brought in $485,496 in bonuses, with bids averaging $53.81 an acre, according to the Oil Patch Hotline. Leases on 9,023 acres in seven counties were auctioned off by the MT Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation in Helena.

Enplanements at Logan Field in Billings in October were up 6.01 percent YTD. Enplanements were 378,200 in October 2018 compared to 356,757 October 2017.

A research collaboration between three Montana State University faculty members recently received a grant to help fund their study on the connection between a rare genetic neurological disease and metabolism, the human gut microbiome and degeneration of the nervous system. The work could further the understanding of what causes more common neurodegenerative diseases and eventually pave the way for therapeutics to treat them. The National Institutes of Health awarded $2.9 million to MSU professors Frances Lefcort, Seth Walk and Valerie Copié for their research into Familial dysautonomia, a disease that attacks and devastates the nervous system. The five-year grant will fund their research and student education, including the several undergraduates and two graduate students who are currently contributing research to the project.
    
Bart and Nikol Twitchell have opened the Bar-T Restaurant and Saloon in Worden, in the former location of 406 Bar at 2430 Main Street. They serve pizza, subs sandwiches, wraps and salads. Their liquor license is still in the process of being transferred by state government. Hours will be from 10:30 am to 9 pm.

A downtown Bozeman Mexican restaurant closed its doors last week. Toro had opened next to Rocking R Bar in 2016.

Shopko announced the closure of 39 stores nationwide, with one of those stores in Plentywood, Montana, and four in North Dakota. Stanley, ND, however, is passing a petition trying to keep their Shopko open. Other store closures are in Oakes, Mayville, and Lisbon.

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) is seeking comments on a proposal to reconstruct the Roberts Rest Area on U.S  Highway 212 (US-212) in Carbon County. The Roberts Rest Area is located on US-212 approximately 2 miles northeast of Roberts. The purpose of the project is to extend the service life of the rest area.

Burger King has located a new store in Sidney, employing 55 people. The company also said they are planning to open another store in Williston.

Flathead Lake Lodge, a family-owned and -operated guest ranch on the shores of Montana’s Flathead Lake, announced that Chase Averill is the lodge’s new general manager. Averill is the third generation of the family to manage the operations of the ranch since 1945. Chase was raised in Montana and brings diverse experience in outdoor recreation and hospitality, as well as first-hand knowledge. Earning his Bachelor of Business Administration, Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations from Pacific Lutheran University, Chase worked as the marketing manager for Restaurants Unlimited in Seattle, general manager for The Cakebread Ranch in Wyoming, and as a project manager for Saddlehorn. Originally home to the 1932-constructed Flathead Recreation Ranch for Boys, the property was purchased in 1945 by Les Averill upon his return from World War II. The Averills turned this wild piece of land into a family vacation destination that has welcomed guests for more than 70 years. In 1971, Doug Averill —Chase’s dad— took over as the second generation and after 47 years, Doug is turning the ranch over to his oldest son.
 
Brie Schaeffer Thompson and Valerie Flammang-Corle have opened Mavens Market on West Main Street in Bozeman, with the goal of helping Bozemanites develop their foodie knowledge-base. The business will offer a wide array of options in their store, with more than 100 kinds of cheeses from around the world.

Evidence of wasting disease in 22 deer has been found by the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in different areas of the state, including three deer south of Billings. The disease affects the nervous systems of deer, elk and moose.

Carroll College in Helena has suffered a decline in freshmen enrollment from 374 in 2016, to 326 in 2017, to 297 in 2018. Total enrollment at Carroll decreased from 1,373 in 2016, to 1,354 in 2017, to 1,353 in 2018. The enrollment decline has led to a budget deficit at the college, according to President John Cech.

Concerned about losing a third of potential air traffic to other airports, Butte’s Bert Mooney Airport authorities are considering offering a subsidy for additional flights. Butte’s Tourism Business improvement District has already committed $200,000 to the fund. With connections to Salt Lake City, the airport hopes to add one to Denver.