Acutech Metalworks of Columbia Falls has become a partner with Powerlift hydraulic Doors of Minnesota. The partnership is an extension of Acutech metal fabrication business throughout Montana and Idaho. Acutech is located on Montana Highway 40 in Columbia Falls.
Hecla Mining Co. has completed the first phase of the reclamation of the Troy Mine. If the DEQ lives up to their obligation they should release almost $8 million dollars in reclamation bond money to the mining company. The next step in the reclamation process is the mill site.
The Farm at River’s Bend near Whitefish is embarking on a plan to grow produce in storage units. The units are remodeled freight containers. The amount of water and nutrients used by the plants are computer controlled. The processes and remodeled container are products of Freight Farms located in Boston.
Cascade County Commissioners have abused their discretionary powers by changing conditions which a lower board placed on Big Sky Cheese processing facility being constructed near Great Falls. Cascade County Zoning Board of Adjustment placed some restrictions on the cheese plant.. The County Commissioners threw out 9 of 17 conditions. They were reinstated by Lake County District Judge James Manley.
Steps are being taken to repurpose the K-mart building in Glendive into a community fitness center. The projects planners will sublet the extra space in the building to other businesses who are looking for a community type location.
110 health care workers who are part of an total of 200 to be deployed in the state until the end of the year have arrived in Montana. The registered nurses and respiratory therapists will help hospitals that are at or near capacity. as part of a contract between the state and NuWest, which provides traveling health care workers. Benefis Health System in Great Falls, Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, and Kalispell Regional Medical Center are the main beneficiaries of the traveling nurses.
Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks saw their busiest Octobers ever. Yellowstone hosted more than 360,000 visitors, up 110% from 2019. The old record for October, set in 2015, was more than 252,000 visitors. The park has hosted 3,743,907 recreation visits so far in 2020 down 6% from the same period last year. The park was closed due to COVID-19 concerns beginning March 24, 2020. All five entrances have been open since June 1. Grand Teton National Park saw more than 351,000 tourists in October, up 88% from 2019. Glacier National Park also recorded a jump in October visitation. Glacier recorded more than 125,000 tourists compared to 78,000 in 2018 and an average of about 85,000 over the past three years.
Marijuana is set to become legal in Montana on Jan. 1. Marijuana becomes legal to possess, use and grow for personal use on Jan. 1. The Montana Department of Revenue will begin accepting applications from existing medical dispensaries to open recreational dispensaries by Oct. 1, 2021, and those existing dispensaries will have 12 months to apply for licensing before it opens up to the general public. A study from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research report predicted that the 20% tax on recreational marijuana will bring in over $200 million in tax revenue between 2022 and 2026.
Tumbleweed Teas in Big Timber, owned by Riza Gilpin and Laurie Rennie, recently received a grant from the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund to shift the manufacture of their company’s tumblers from China to Manhattan, Montana to be manufactured by Plastic Design & Manufacturing (PDM). The company markets a custom-blend of teas across the country.
The City of Belgrade is developing an urban renewal plan for its downtown that will allow the creation of tax increment finance district to revamp downtown city streets.
The Montana Department of Transportation is seeking public comment on a proposal to resurface about 7.4 miles of Secondary Highway 421, near Joliet. The project starts at the intersection of S-421 and US 212, and extends northwest for 7.4 miles. The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in 2022.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Montana currently holds the greatest decrease in the percentage of self-response rates in the latest Census. Montana saw a 4.2% decline in its self-response rates this year, down from 64.6% in 2010. The national self-response rate increased from 66.5% in 2010 to 67.0% in 2020. The Montana decline could mean a loss in federal program funding and a possible additional representative in Congress.
Mugs Coffee has opened for business in Fairview, by owner Jess Serafin, with the assistance of her father.
Gallatin County’s residential real estate market continued its recent pattern of strong sales activity in October, with increases in closed sales, pending sales and median sale prices in both the single family and condo/townhome markets. Median sales prices increased 27.6%, from $458,600 in October 2019 to $585,000 in October 2020. Closed sales increased 59%, from 129 to 205, and pending sales jumped 78.1%, from 105 to 187. The number of new single-family listings increased 14.6% compared to October 2019, from 130 to 149. The average days on market increased 30.8%, from 52 to 68. Sellers received 98.5% of their list price last month, up slightly from 98.2% last year.
Passenger boardings at airports in North Dakota have increased 47% as that experienced during the same month last year. This is also the highest monthly demand in airline passengers that North Dakota has experienced since the pandemic began last Spring.
The Lower Yellowstone River Coalition reported that in August, “The governor announced that he is asking Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to identify $4 million in general license funding that could be applied to the creation and improvement of numerous recreational resources along the river. This investment could be matched by other sources of state and federal funding, which would bring the total investment in new recreational infrastructure along the Lower Yellowstone to $8 million. This commitment is an important first step in securing funding for recreation in eastern Montana, but it will require the Montana Legislature to approve the use of these funds in the next legislative session which begins in January 2021.” Plans include boat ramps, campsites, restroom facilities, access roads, parks, and hiking trails along approximately 170 river miles between Hysham and Sidney.
The Montana Free Press reports that a plan to reduce Amtrak service to three days a week will cost Montana $38 million. The passenger rail line has been used by out-of-state skiers for decades as affordable and dependable transportation to reach Whitefish’s ski slopes. It also serves many other Hi-line towns in Montana, which otherwise have limited transportation options. The plan, to reduce costs for the publically-funded Amtrak, is to make stops in Montana only on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays traveling westbound, and Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays heading east. COVID has drastically cut Amtrak passenger numbers prompting the request for an additional $1.4 billion last May in funding, which it has not yet received.
The Montana Department of Transportation is planning to resurface approximately 11 miles of US Highway 191, near Melville in Sweet Grass County. The project begins south of the junction with Melville Road, at reference post extends approximately 11 miles north ending at the Wheatland. The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in summer of 2021.