Helena’s new City Manager, Ana Cortez, is from El Salvador. Being a mountain person she is very excited about being picked from over 100 applicants for the Helena job.


Bozeman’s Gateway shopping center is expecting several new buildings. There is a new building near Kohl’s which will house Advanced Electronic Designs Inc. Also planned are a 30,000 square foot building and a 5 story mixed-use building which could house stores and high end apartments.


The Sidney Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture executive director Susan Joy announced her decision to step down from the ED position has left the Chamber searching for a replacement. Joy will join the Montana chamber of Commerce in Helena.


A Montana couple, from Bainville, presented their proprietary fresh roasted coffee at 1 Million Cups at Williston State College. Sara and Dustin Harmon have started Wild Calf Coffee after researching the coffee and the methods of roasting while living in the “hub of the coffee industry, Seattle, Washington.”  The coffee is featured at the website Wildcalf.com.


Bacchus Pub in the Baxter Hotel in Bozeman is back in business. The bar has been closed since 2017. It will be operated by Manager Zach Thompson and co-owners, a husband and wife team, Joseph and Megan Romano. The Romanos also own Urban Kitchen and Salted Caramel Cafe downtown, and they’re opening Nina’s Tacos and Tequila Bar.


Sidney has at least two Uber drivers. Mike Nelson started driving for Uber January 12 of this year and Kristi (Lee) Strouf also drives for Uber. She’s been driving ever since she returned to her hometown in July. Nelson moved to Sidney from California in 2010 and started a graphic design business October of 2018 called Nelson Family Designs LLC. Strouf was living in Billings when she first became an Uber driver.


Bozeman Yellowstone International set a passenger record in 2018 for the ninth consecutive year. Bozeman Yellowstone International set a passenger record in 2018 for the ninth consecutive year. The airport handled 1,340,857 passengers last year, an 11.8 percent increase from the year before.


The Gallatin Association of Realtors released its residential real estate market statistics for December 2018 as well as year-end totals, revealing an increase in median sale price and a tightening inventory of available homes. Median sale prices and units sold were both up in 2018, while the inventory of available homes continues to tighten. All in all, the market remains in solid shape as we move into the new year. The Big Sky Country MLS saw a slight increase in total sales in 2018 compared to 2017, with units sold inching up from 2,448 to 2,486, a 1.6 percent increase. The median sales price rose from $331,150 at the end of 2017 to $374,750 at the end of 2018, a 13.2 percent spike. The inventory of available homes fell from 684 at the end of 2017 to 584 at the end of last year, a 14.6 percent drop. The months’ supply of inventory fell from 3.4 to 2.9, a 14.7% decrease in 2018. Sellers received 98.4 percent of their listing price in 2018, compared to 98.5 percent in 2017.


The number of visitors to Montana dipped slightly in 2018, but those who came, spent a bit more. According to The Institute for Tourism and Economic Research at the University of Montana, about 12.2 million nonresidents came to Montana in 2018 and they spent nearly $3.7 billion. That visitor number is down about 2 percent from 2017, but spending by travelers was up about 10 percent. The economic impact of the spending translates to an estimated 58,000 direct and indirect jobs. Those jobs pay more than $1.1 billion supported by nonresident spending and an additional $622 million of labor income is indirectly reported by nonresident spending, according to the Institute.


Mid-Rivers Communications has agreed to sell its cellular network assets to Verizon. Included in the deal are the Mid-Rivers mobile wireless sites in areas where Verizon does not currently have coverage. Mid-Rivers’ retail cellular operations will end when the cellular network is turned over to Verizon sometime later this year. 


Montana State Parks is seeking public comment on a draft environmental assessment for a proposed wastewater treatment system replacement project at Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park. Comments will be accepted through Feb. 17. The plan is to replace the wastewater treatment system serving the public restroom facilities and concession building at the Upper Visitor Center. The proposed new system would include a 17,000-gallon septic tank, dosing tank, effluent pumps, drain field, and associated components.


Zoot, headquartered in Gallatin Gateway and with offices in Billings, have won two Credit & Collections Technology Awards – the award for the best “Data & Analytics Solution” and the award for the best “Credit Underwriting Solution.” Zoot’s award-winning solution is a cutting-edge cloud-based decisioning platform with case management capabilities that address the client’s changing needs and ensure an extraordinary end-customer experience. The solution enables fast integrations with credit reference agency data to strengthen the applicant assessment process. In addition, the platform automates complex decisioning strategies to achieve accurate real-time risk assessment, while incorporating credit management, affordability checks, anti-fraud measures and AML verification.


The Montana Department of Transportation would like to notify the public and seek comments on a proposal to add erosion countermeasures to Rock Creek Bridge located on U.S. Highway 310 approximately one-quarter mile south of Rockvale in Carbon County. Proposed work includes adding erosion protection to the existing bridge foundations that were identified during recent underwater bridge investigations as having active scour, or soil erosion, surrounding bridge foundations. The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in fall of 2020.