The Lockwood Pedestrian Safety District was recently informed that the district has been awarded   a grant for Alternative Transportation from the Montana Department of Transportation for $1,039,000 to complete the sidewalk along Old Hardin Road. Building a side walk the length of Old Hardin Road has been a goal of the district since it was first established in 2014.

Woody Woods, who heads the Lockwood Pedestrian Safety District, said the grant will be used to finish a new section of sidewalk on Old Hardin Road from Woodland Ave. to the new sidewalk that is a part of the Johnson Lane Interchange Project at Ryken Circle. Engineering selection will start later this year with design in the spring of 2024, and hopefully construction later in 2024.

Woods reported that construction of a segment of another segment of Old Hardin Road, from Piccolo to Woodland, which has been in progress this summer, is nearing completion.

A recent report from the National Park Service (NPS) shows that approximately 2.9 million visitors to Glacier National Park in 2022 spent an estimated $368 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 5,690 jobs in the local area. Overall, the figures show the total benefit to the local economy including secondary businesses tallied up to $548 million.

Both national parks have probably foregone potential visitors from other countries over the past couple years because many foreign travelers are giving the US a wide berth due to reported violence, long waits for visas and geo politics, according to Forbes. The magazine said that the US has been losing $20 billion a year in tourism dollars.

There was a 68 percent drop in visitors from China, for whom the two national parks have always been a popular destination. That could change somewhat, now, since China recently lifted their restrictions on on group travel to the US. It was estimated that normally 3 million visitors come to the US every year.

FEMA announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available to the state of Montana to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by flooding April 10-26, 2023.

Public assistance federal funding is available to the state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by flooding in Blaine, Daniels, Hill, Park, Roosevelt, Sheridan and Valley counties and the Fort Peck Tribes.          

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Jon K. Huss has been named Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas. Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further assessments

Dig It Days, which was held the last two days of MontanaFair, had the best turnout ever in its four-year history. A long line of children with parents and grandparents wound far out into the middle of the fairgrounds as they waited for gates to open. As they began to make their way past the entry table to get t-shirts and “hard hats,” one little boy, looked up and proudly proclaimed, “I am going to be a worker!”

He got it.

To introduce youngsters and oldsters, alike, to the construction industry is part of the purpose of Dig It Days, but more important it’s about having fun – and every kid got that, as did the adults. One grandfatherly looking man, as he walked out said, “It was wonderful to see the smiles on their faces.”

With a record number of sponsors – 34 of them – Dig It Days had more amazing displays and things for kids to do than ever before. It is the sponsors – the equipment dealers, contractors, and other related businesses that bring the equipment, staff the booths, and orchestrate activities, as well as fund all the costs, so that kids can climb on, pretend to operate, and learn about all kinds of big machines. They also get to operate the backhoes and excavators, and dig in Sand Mountain for the sheer joy of it, as well as hope to win prizes. Kids had an opportunity to operate metal detectors to find coins, and inspect the county sheriff’s helicopter, and mix up some concrete to make their own stepping stone. It was all hands on.

As the construction industry struggles with labor shortages, an event like Dig It Days brings back a connection with the public, which seems to have been lost over the recent past, about the importance of the industry and the amazing innovations that have evolved that make it a challenging, cutting edge and rewarding career option. It is that connection that industry leaders are trying to re-establish, not just with the young but with their parents and grandparents as well. Funds generated from Dig It Days go into a scholarship fund administered by the Montana Contractors Association.

Johnathan McNiven, owner of Yellowstone County News and President of Yellowstone Family Foundation which organizes the event, said he was blown away by the increase in sponsors this year. And, as he sought out participation, he encountered others who were enthusiastic and promised they would be there next year, promising continued growth.

Assistant MetraPark Manager Tim Goodridge, reported that except for the very hot days, MontanaFair was a very successful event this year and Dig It Days was a part of that. Goodridge was very impressed at the number of kids he saw at Dig It Days, which he said he is very glad to have as part of the fair. “It is legitimate and it is fun,” said Goodridge, adding that he was surprised at all the equipment but even more so about how many kids could actually get on Sand Mountain. He added he was grateful for Yellowstone Family and for all the implement dealers and contractors who make the event happen.

At the same time, it must be acknowledged that Dig It Days has benefitted greatly in being invited to be part of MontanaFair. As the state’s biggest annual event, MontanaFair quickly put Dig It Days on the calendar for lots of people, throughout the state.

One visitor to Dig It Days this year actually attended the very first Dig it Days in 2019. Sarah Swanson, who was recently appointed as the new commissioner of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry by Governor Greg Gianforte, just happened to have checked out the very first Dig It Days, that was held on a windy day in Lockwood.

Swanson was impressed with how the event has grown, saying it does a great job of connecting young people with the professionals in the construction industry. “It gives young people a chance to see themselves in these rolls.”

Swanson, who has long played a role in the construction industry, underscored that the construction sector is not just an important business sector for the state but a leading one. In both 2021 and 2022, Montana added construction workers at the fastest rate of any state in the nation (12.7% growth year-over-year in 2022). As of January, there were 39,000 construction workers statewide.

Construction employment grew the fastest among industries in 2022, averaging 8.3% job growth. The construction industry added over 2,000 jobs in 2021 and 2022, more than doubling the industry’s pre-pandemic trend.

The demand for construction workers significantly drove wage gains in 2022. Construction worker wages grew by 1.5% on an inflation-adjusted basis over the last year. Construction was one of only two industries to experience positive real wage gains in 2022, alongside the business services industry.

Looking forward, the Montana Department of Labor and Industry projects over 1,000 new job openings per year in construction through 2032 – the most of any industry in the state. Employment in construction is estimated to grow by 2.6% annually.

The Department of Labor and Industry also has programs aimed at helping students connect with potential career opportunities and employers, such as Engagement Teams that partner with community colleges and other educational professionals to overcome obstacles in establishing programs that develop specific industry skills such as welders or electricians.

The department also offers the Montana’s Registered Apprenticeship Program.

Another program “Jobs for Montana Graduates,” is available to help students find a job within a year of graduation. Since 1995 the program has assisted 26,500 students get jobs.

The department will also provide free training for students to get their OSHA pin which is a required credential for any entry level job in construction which trains for safe work practices. Not having the OSHA pin certification can be a barrier to employment.

Researchers in Australia have found that concrete can be made 30 percent stronger by replacing a percentage of sand with spent coffee grounds. Research is continuing at the RMIT University, but if the findings hold true it would be a win, win, win all the way around.

Almost all spent coffee grounds wind up in landfills as organic waste product, generated at the rate of 60 million tons a year. So besides creating value for a worthless waste, it will reduce the need for landfill space, and reduce the use of sand which is an increasingly expensive, dwindling natural resource —further contributing “to a greener circular economy approach to construction.”  The construction industry uses 40 to 50 billion tons of sand and gravel each year.

Due to their fine particle size, researchers found that SCG (spent coffee grounds) that of all the concrete composites they tested, the one that replaced 15 percent  of sand with SCG pyrolyzed at 350 °C (662 °F) led to a significant improvement in its material properties, resulting in a 29.3 percent enhancement in compressive strength.

By Evelyn Pyburn

I just read a reference to “the power of the boycott” – suggesting that people are just discovering it.

It’s kind of amusing that this should be a surprise to anyone. The power of a boycott is nothing more than consumers making choices. It is the very foundation of a free market system that we should all know and understand. Any one in business who doesn’t know that the ultimate decision-maker is the consumer is not long to remain in business.

A boycott is just a lot of consumers rejecting a political product or idea being foisted upon us in some way by a business in cahoots with the government.

It’s for sure that most politicians know who the ultimate decision maker is. It’s why we see ourselves and our freedoms being attacked from so many different directions. Many – a great many – politicians are trying to eliminate our freedom to choose in the realm of politics, knowing we might not choose them as leaders.

Boycotts are being taken up in something of an unprecedented way to make a point, because many other avenues for citizens (consumers) to make a choice are being blocked. Boycotts remain one of few alternatives for people to make themselves heard due to a public /private “unholy” alliance between government and big companies.

Of course the choices of consumers are being constrained in other ways under the Biden administration as they try to coerce what consumer products we are able to buy, as government attempts to gain increasing power over each one of us. But while they may be able to make it difficult if not impossible to purchase some products, it becomes difficult to force us to buy others – as the weak market for electric cars demonstrates.

That is the power of the market. No matter what they do, eventually the market will prevail. No matter to what extremes the government may be willing to go, in the end it will fail because really, there is nothing more powerful than markets – than each person choosing what they will support and what they will not.

So while some people may be surprised by the effectiveness of boycotts, they shouldn’t be – they are at play every day and always will be.

Encode Corporation, 111 Florine Ln, 59101, 245-2520, Daniel Massey, service

Caramel Cookie LLC, dba Caramel Cookie Waffle Co., 1707 17th St, 59102, 252-1960, Katie Edwards/erin Heringer/Lilly Thompson, restaurants

Basecamp Billings, 5179 midland Rd, 59101, 259-7777, Taia Hokanson, retail sales

Della Aldrich Logistik LLC, 2220 St Johns Ave D23, 59102, 971-350-5267, Christy Arminger, service

Thomas Mahon, 2690 Fly Creek Rd, Pompeys Pillar, 59064, 307-240-0875, Thomas Mahon, service

Swetky Welding and Construction, LLC, 32 A Longhorn Dr, Columbus 59019, 720-660-5211, Timothy Swetky, general contractors,

BCM Inc, 110 N 400 E, Providence UT 84332, 435-757-6500, Brandon Mortenson, electrical contractors

SDH Design LLC, 2814 Lewis Ave, 59102, 698-5442, Steven Hergett, service

Bright and Beautiful Cleaning, 1140 Alderson Ave, 59102, 855-1699, Janisha Green, service

Daly Landscape, 111 ½ N 19, 59101, 794-2362, Troy Daly, service

Raven Utilities LLC, 2730 W 83rd St, Odessa TX 79764, 903-521-0747, service

Yoga Reiki and Healings LLC, 2603 Arnold Ln, 59102, 696-8382, service

LA Perle Construction G.C., 1536 Rockets Way #1, 59106, 671-4398, general contractors

Evolutions Dancesport 712 Carbon St – Ste A, 59102, 595-8424, Summer Duvall, service

Cypress NW LLC, 38106 N 27th Ave, Phoenix AZ 85086, 503-201-7689, Alan Schindler, general contractors

Winsome Therapy Clinic LLC, 1215 24th St W, 59102, 901-5000, Lidiane Kerr, service

McGough Montana Construction LLC, 2737 Fairview Ave N, St Paul MN, 621-633-5050, McGough Montana Construction LLC, general contractors

Rock Creek Drywall & Paint, 77 Granite Rd, Joliet 59041, 876-4722, Antonio Donez, service

Hidden Gem Property Rentals, 621 Sapphire Ln, 672-6060, Kama Morast, real estate rentals

Dan’s Electric, 99 Tree Line Lane, Bozeman 59718, 209-0099, Dan Nitsche, electrical contractor

Gohl Rentals, 1640 Walter Creek Blvd, 59102, 855-9011, Gloria Gohl, real estate rentals

E&P Remodeling Construction, 3404 Old Hardin Rd, 59101, 860-2245, Emma Rae Plain Feather, service

Moe’s Smoke Shop Inc, 1219 N27th St, 59101, 612-701-4816, Mohammed WazWaz, retail sales

Rimrock Ix LLC dba Rimrock Used automotive, 2951 King Ave W, 59102, 655-8600, Shahzad Latif/Steven Zabawa, auto business

Treasured Package LLC, 5631Mountain Front Ave, 59106, 775-360-8948, Susan & William Dannenberg, retail sales

Pentex Builders LLC, 1494 W Ustick Rd – Ste 120, Meridian ID 83646, 208-600-9181, Ben Dance, service

Freedom Fried, 3455 Old Hardin Rd, #13, 59101, 861-3342, Ashley burling, restaurants

CAH Lodging, 2004 Pine ST, 59101, 672-1271, Chris Hirt, real estate rental

Ziply wireless LLC, 135 Lake St S – Ste 155, Kirkland WA 98033, 866-699-4759, service

Ziply Fiber Pacific LLC, 135 Lake St S – Ste 155, Kirkland WA 98033, 866-699-4759, service

The Sprinkler Dude LLC, 1936 Columbine Dr, 59105, 876-0641, Rory Birkett, service

Add Fine finish, 1836 Timber Tracts Rd, Lewistown 59457, 366-0256, Andrew Dauch, general contractors

Petes Inc, 2407 Harve Ave, Missoula 59801, 543-3086, Eric Petersen. Electrical contractors

Daddy Wrapped, 2007 Bench Blvd, 59105, 606-0757, Cora Howell, retail sales

Sweet Spotz, PO Box 123, Columbus 59019, 290-4344, Kevin and Cristy Shaughnessy, restaurants

McGiver & CO. LLC, 30 N Gould St – STE R, Sheridan WY 82801, 409-3630, Lorie Mciver, service

Caudill Trucking LLC dba Caudill Forestry Services, 4650 Box Canyon Springs RD, 59101, 493-5817, Cody Caudill, service

Fisher Tile & Remodeling LLC, 115 Foster Ln, 59101, 860-2257, Jacob Fisher, general contractors

Lost Texan Pit BBQ, 4020 Buffalo Trail Rd, Molt 59057, 940-5184, John Bunting, restaurants

GM Consulting Inc., 304 Eastlake Circle, 59105, 698-8626, Roger Huebner, service

Exigent Consulting Group LLC dba Summit Peak Medic, 4846 Cedar Ridge Circle, 59106, 206-7100, Jackie Worstell, service

Case by Case Handyman Services, 4410 Altay Dr – Unit 201, 59106, 894-8087, Dylan Case, general contractors

Jazmins Grooms and Designs, 706 Central Ave, 59102, 694-9047, Jazmin Oberg, service

Comet Air Duct Cleaning Inc, 2137 Santiago Blvd, 59101, 321-1504, Gary Harstad, service

Jess’s Cleaning, 1229 Avenue F, 59102, 307-620-1569, Jessica Strang, service

Spicy Skincare LLC, 1423 38th St W, 59102, 969-2018, Nicole Sekora, retail sales

Crav, 1083 Lane 12, Lovell WY 82431, 307-272-2319, Jack & Jill Carpenter, restaurants

Arrow Hypnosis and Healing, 6407 Signal Peak Ave, 59106, 609-5131, Mary Lahti, service

Proof Donuts and Coffee, 120 S 34th St, 59101, 753-1215, Jason Hastings, restaurants

Classic Concrete, 4634 Stone St, 59101, 696-9301, Eric Gutierrez, service

 Precision Building, 3193 Avenue D, 59102, 334-0951, Ryan Damjanovich, general contractors

WECO Industries LLC, 4971 Allison Parkway Ste A, Vacaville CA 95688, 707-446-6661, Thomas Johnson, retail sales

Precise Stucco and Plastering LLC, 412 Lewis Ave, 59101, 540-538-6149, Ronald Bradley, service

Sight and Sound Solutions, 660 Pinehurst Rd, 59105, 760-455-1690, Jacob Nuckles, retail sales

STF LLC, 885 Main St Unit 1, 59105, 732-2353, Philip Agyeman-Budu, service

FWS Creations, 689 Bazaar Exchange, 59105, 850-7541, Seth Lowe, retail sales

Rock Creek Builders Inc, 2727 Arvin Rd, 59102, 750-2571, Sean Morris, general contractors

Wireless Construction Services Corp, 254 Truss Rd, Eureka 59917, 297-0747, James Perry, general contractors

Beatha Kiewer, 3053 Hunters Ridge Loop, 59102, 715-315-1972, Beatha Kiewer, service  

Bo’s Custom Experiences LLC, 821 Miles Ave, 59101, 272-6447, Justin Stratton, real estate rental

Bo & Heimer CO LLP, 619 Miles Ave, 59101, 272-6447, Justin Stratton, real estate rental

Fischer Construction, 3854 Avenue F, 59102, 672-5550, Jody Fischer, general contractors

Kangas Massage, 1910 Patricia Ln, 59012, 330-347-1634, David Kangas, solo practitioner

TR Enterprises of Montana LLC, 2918 Harrow Dr, 59102, 671-7546, Torian Roesch, general contractors

Blair Allen Mortgage, 80 25th St West, Ste 101, 59102, 602-525-1120, Zachery Blair, bank/loan agencies

Redtail Communications Inc, 5340 Holiday Ave, 59101, 247-0275, Brian Mehus, retail sales

Singing Mountain, 614 Burlington Ave, 59101, 647-2928, Cheryl Stewart, real estate rental

Montana Aries, 13 Antelope Trail, 59105, 794-1943, Adrienne Pierce, retail sales

Arrow Creek Squeeze, 1589 Pryor Gap Rd, Pryor 59066, 861-4343, Cynthia Brown, restaurants

Impact Energy, 306 Canal St, Bigfork MT 59911, 888-240-1131, Nathan Hadachek, service

CM Metro Electric, 211 13th St W, 59102, 698-6502, Ciara Cuellar, electrical constractor

Hi-Country Dock and Door LLC, 104 Cottonwood Rd, Roundup 59078, 320-0518, Jessica Comun, service

PNPA, 120 1st Ave W, Kalispell 59901, 755-2489, Elizabeth Lundberg, general contractors

Blind Cat Chocolate, 800 Senora Ave, 59105, 670-4680, Anne Giuliano, restaurqants

David Johnson Cleaning Service LLC, 336 Naylor St, 59101, 702-2687, David Johnson Jr, service

Jodie’s Salon and Massage, 19 36th St W #5, 59102, 599-5820, Jodie Johnston, solo practitioner

Butte Plumbing, 1255 Water Line Rd, Butte 59701, 221-6644, Justin Moran/Luke Ascheman, plumbing contractor   


Rocky Mountain District Of CMA/ The Exterior Design Solutions, 2545 St John’s Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $17,000

Billings Shiloh Hotel LLC/ Pentex Builders, LLC, 705 Henry Chapple St, Com New Hotel/Motel, $14,600,000

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6204 Norma Jean Sq S, Com New Townhome Shell $350,000

Montana Prime Meats, 524 Liberty St, Com Remodel, $5,000

Humana Inc/ Horizon Retail Construction,  1423 38th St W, Com Remodel $728,812

South Forty Partners LP/ Harvest Solar Electric LLC, 769 Fallow Ln, Com Remodel, $214,000

KRE HCRE 2 Owner 3 LLC/ Bauer Construction, 1739 Spring Creek Ln, Com Remodel , $13,000

Barry, James D/ Sundance Tile & Carpentry, 109 5th St W, Demolition Permit  Commercial, $31,000

Valley Financial Credit Union/ Sprague Construction Roofing Division, 3100 2nd Ave N, Com Fence/Roof/Siding $25,000 

Holton, Russell/ KE Construction LLC, 1320 S 31st St W, Com Footing/Foundation $215,000.00

Holton, Russell/ KE Construction LLC, 1320 S 31st St W, Com New Other $2,000,000

Denny Menholt Chevrolet, 3000 King Ave W, Com Remodel, $130,000

Elevation Church Billings, Inc/ Ralph Dupea Contracting, 711 4th Ave N, Com Remodel, $40,000

Charter Communications Inc, 1860 Monad Rd, Com Remodel, $10,750

Langel Family Lands LLC/ Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 633 Main St, Com Addition, $550,000

Ray, John M/ Donahue Roofing & Siding LLC, 1827 Grand Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $54,999   r

Billings 13 Re LLC/ Golden Eagle Construction, 691 S Shiloh Rd, Com New Other, $3,700,000

Squirrel’s Real Estate LLC/ Squirells Real Estate Express Car Wash, 1011 Main St, Com New Other, $2,000,000

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6209 Norma Jean Sq N, Com New Townhome,


Square 106 LLC/ Beartooth Holdings & Construction Inc, 1686 Shiloh Rd, Com Remodel, $145,000

Rocky Mountain College/ Bauer Construction, 1610 Poly Dr, Com Remodel, $190,000

Erin Heringer, 3465 A J Way, Com Remodel, $5,000


Youngren Remix LLC/ Duane Youngren Contractor LLC, 431 Lewis Ave, Res New Accessory Structure,$15,552

Mike Christensen/ Michael Christensen Homes, 4931 Silver Creek Trl, Res New Single Family, $450,000

Infinity Home LLC/ Infinity Home LLC, 954 Matador Ave, Res New Single Family, $241,855

Billings Best Builders LLC/ Billings Best Builders LLC, 3513 Rachelle Cir, Res New Single Family, $250,000

Billings Best Builders LLC/ Billings Best Builders LLC, 3472 Tahoe Dr, Res New Single Family, $250,000

Goffena, Deborah H/ Jeff Engel Construction, Inc, 154 Stillwater Ln, Res New Single Family, $500,000

Wells Built Inc/ Wells Built Inc., 4624 Toyon Dr, Res New Single Family, $401,019

Vandersloot/ Yellowstone Property Solutions LLC, 575 Winged Foot Dr, Res New Single Family, $600,000

CDH, LLC/ CDH, LLC, 5210 Camp Ln, Res New Single Family,  $279,772

CDH, LLC/ CDH, LLC, 5216 Camp Ln, Res New Single Family, $289,908

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6204 Norma Jean Sq S, Res New Townhome, $0.00

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6206 Norma Jean Sq S, Res New Townhome, $0.00

Woods, Barry L & Angela L/ Rock Creek Trim & Design, 2160 Fair Park Dr, Res New Accessory Structure, $40,000

Adams, Tracy A & Cathy, Res New Accessory Structure, 982 Dixon Cir, $5,000

Borich, Nick/ Braaton Construction & Home Repair Inc, 324 S 39th St, Res New Accessory Structure,


Bob Pentecost Construction Inc/ Bob Pentecost Const, 7050 Shiny Penny Way, Res New Single Family, $534,000

Bob Pentecost Construction Inc/ Bob Pentecost Const, 7107 Copper Bend Blvd, Res New Single Family, $380,000

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6203 Norma Jean Sq N, Res New Townhome, $0.00

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6203 Norma Jean Sq N, Res New Townhome, $0.00

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6209 Norma Jean Sq N, Res New Townhome, $0.00

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6209 Norma Jean Sq N, Res New Townhome $0.00

Assuming everyone is still sky-high about aviation after this weekend’s Yellowstone International Air Show, we thought today’s Council Bulletin should focus on our airport and airport issues—from more-power maintenance –Tim “The Toolman” Taylor grunt — to increasing air service.

 Following the Yellowstone International Air Show, Daniel Brooks with the Billings Chamber of Commerce wrote a commentary about the Billings Logan International Field and some of its needs.

He noted that the City Council’s recent consent agenda included a request to purchase snow removal equipment for the airport. He wrote:

A couple buckets of Ace Hardware ice melt, snow shovels, and mittens for City Councilmembers who’ll be moving snow off runways next winter….just kidding, the total request is for almost $3 million for four pieces of major machinery. Two MB2 snow removal vehicles ($1.3 million), an MB3 dedicated front mount broom ($741k), and an MB4 rotary snow blower ($875k) will be purchased from M-B Companies upon approval from City Council. With a performance rating of 7,500 tons per hour (TPH), the MB4 rotary snow blower can clear the equivalent of 150 Megs every hour… beat that, Jason Statham!

According to a recent administrator’s report, the airport has 60+ miles (for reference, that’s Billings to Reed Point) of pavement surface to maintain. That entails a significant amount of work to clear snow over the winter as part of a comprehensive snow and ice removal plan which is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for all commercial airports.

 Payment for the new snow removal equipment will come from Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs), a fee built into your ticket price that goes into an airport account and is restricted to authorized airport projects such as airport planning, terminal development, gate construction, and administrative support costs. For Billings, that fee is set at the maximum amount of $4.50 per ticket, or $18 round trip.

 We hear often about airline tickets being extra expensive lately, so it’s worth a little examination of this portion of your ticket price. First, PFCs make up a moderate portion of a commercial airport’s capital development funding. According to an article published by the Cato Institute titled, Do We Need a Passenger Facility Charge?, PFCs make up about 18% of a typical commercial airport’s funding for capital development, while the largest tranche of funding comes from airport-generated revenue (38%) such as landing fees and terminal concessions. The next largest is Federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants (33%), which come from the FAA’s Airport and Airway Trust Fund along with federal tax dollars.

PFCs are well-liked by airports because they represent a stable source of income, tied to traveler enplanements rather than the federal grant cycle. But the Cato Institute article makes the case that PFCs constitute a “hidden tax” on consumers and cautions against increasing the PFC as it may reduce demand for air travel. 

On the other hand, an article published by the Reason Foundation titled, Modernizing the Passenger Facility Charge for Aviation Recovery, argues the PFC is the more beneficial funding tool for airport capital development. The author makes the case that, of the two funding sources (PFC funds and AIP federal grants), PFCs are the better option, pointing to recent research that suggests more reliance on PFC funds versus AIP grants increases airport efficiencies and reduces federal spending on airport development. The author concludes with the suggestion that Congress eliminate the arbitrary $4.50 PFC cap with the qualification that airports choosing to assess above that level forego 100% of AIP grant funding.

Congress is currently debating FAA reauthorization, a process that occurs every five years, giving the FAA authority and funding to provide necessary oversight for safe U.S. air travel. The reauthorization bill would include whether to keep the current PFC limit or raise it as the author above suggests. The House has passed their version of a bill but the Senate has yet to discuss the bill in committee, all of which needs to be completed by the end of September when the FAA’s current authorization expires.


Perhaps more important than the policy question about what to do with the PFC is how to address the airline pilot shortage, a major contributor to the availability—or UNavailability—of flights, especially to smaller airports like Billings. Part of the shortage can be contributed to the 1,500 hour rule, implemented in reaction to a 2009 airline crash, which increases the number of hours required for pilots to earn their Airline Transportation Pilot (ATP) license from 250 hours to 1,500 hours. That’s enough time for our MB4 rotary snow blower to move over 11 million tons of snow!!

 Seriously though, the six-fold increase in required hours disincentivizes would-be pilots from hurdling such an onerous time and financial barrier. According to an article in Forbes (it’s a really good primer on the issue if you’re interested), the estimate for needed pilots is between 12,000 – 15,000, but only 6,000 are expected at the current rate of training. If you’re complaining about air service now, give it time. This is likely to get worse unless Congress acts to ensure overly burdensome regulations aren’t depressing the pipeline of potential pilots.

In the meantime, Billings is working hard to increase air service, providing more connections, and through an increase in competition, help to keep prices down. An application for a Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASD) grant was submitted to the Department of Transportation earlier this year. If awarded, it would be used to guarantee a certain amount of revenue—in the event that new air service isn’t as prosperous as hoped—to an airline taking a risk on a new connection. Hey, I wonder why all these Avelo billboards are popping up…? 

Part of that revenue guarantee is required to come from the community. Meaning, Billings has to pitch in as well. But not on the backs of residents, though they’re sure to benefit. Our business community has stepped up, with only $90,000 left to raise of a $750,000 commitment.

By Lawrence Reed

One hundred years ago—on August 2, 1923—President Warren G. Harding died suddenly while on a trip to America’s West (which included a stop in Butte, by the way). A few hours later, while vacationing at his family’s farm in Plymouth, Vermont, Vice President Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as President by his father, a local justice-of-the-peace. The oath was administered by the light of a kerosene lamp at 2:47 a.m. Moments later, Coolidge went back to bed.

When he ran for a term of his own just 15 months later in 1924, he won in a landslide. He carried every state outside of the solid South except for Wisconsin, which gave its electoral votes to the Progressive Party candidate, Robert LaFollette.

Montana went for Democrat Woodrow Wilson in 1912 and 1916, swung decisively to the Republican Warren Harding in 1920 and remained in the GOP column in 1924, but only by a plurality. Coolidge won 42.5 percent of the vote; LaFollette took 37.9 percent and the Democrat no one remembers, John Cox, finished a distant third at 19.4 percent.

Did Montanans make the right choice by giving Coolidge their votes in 1924? You bet they did. He proved to be one of our very best. He was the last president to leave the federal government smaller than when he first entered the White House. During his five-year tenure, he not only cut spending, but the national debt as well. The budget was balanced every year, tax rates were slashed in half, and America was at peace. 

The uninformed claim that since the Great Depression followed Coolidge’s presidency by a year, his policies must have caused it. But association is not causation. The Federal Reserve caused the Depression by inflating the economy into a bubble with easy money and low interest rates, then bursting it by jacking rates up to sky-high levels. Ring a bell?

America’s 30th president is often referred to as “Silent Cal” but that’s in one sense a misnomer. Though he was typically taciturn at social events (dinners, receptions and the like), he still holds the record for presidential news conferences. He held an annual average of 73 during his 5-1/2 years in office. Whenever he spoke or wrote, he wasted no words; he said what he meant and meant what he said. It was joked at the time that “he was silent in five languages.”

History teaches endless lessons whether people want to learn them or not. Its pages instruct us painfully that the two greatest dangers from government are mission creep and creeps on a mission. The last thing you would ever hear from the lips of Calvin Coolidge were arrogant pretensions to knowledge or grand plans to “fundamentally transform” America. He was smart enough to know what his job was—to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” not to ignore it, shred it or rewrite it. Some of Montana’s judges would do well to follow suit.

Coolidge’s appreciation of history and human nature tempered any illusions about government power he ever had. In a political leader, that’s a superlative quality, and a humbling one. It is often swept aside by lesser politicians (the creeps on a mission) who let the moment go to their heads. Our 30th president understood that if government can do something for you, it is only because it can do something to you, that it can get bigger only if you and I get smaller.

His common sense characterized what he stopped or stymied as much as what he signed or supported. “It is much more important to kill a bad bill than to pass a good one,” he once opined. Don’t you wish we had a president today who could honestly echo these words from Coolidge’s 1925 Inaugural Address?:

I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people. The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. 


Lawrence W. Reed writes a monthly column for the Frontier Institute in Helena, on whose board he serves. He is president emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education and blogs at