By Casey Harper, The Center Square

Americans do not trust several major U.S. institutions, particularly the national news media.

The Center Square Voters’ Voice poll found that 43% of Americans say the media is trustworthy, compared with 54% who said it is not trustworthy.

Younger people were more likely to trust the media, with 47% of those ages 18-34 saying they trust it and 46% saying the opposite.

The numbers steadily worsen as likely voters get older, with 41% of likely voters 65-years-old and older saying they trust the media, compared to 57% who do not.

With the presidential election coming in November, the poll also asked voters how confident they feel about the following statement: “The media will report on the issues that matter most to you.” Only 42% said they were confident that was the case, while 54% said they were not confident.

When asked whether the “media will cover all candidates fairly,” only 31% were confident the media would do so while 65% were not confident.

Only 36% of likely voters were confident the “media will provide enough context for voters to understand their choices” while 60% were not.

Democrats were far more likely to trust the national news media, 63%-33%. Only 24% of Republicans said they trust the media while 73% do not. Independents agreed, 35%-59%, on the same question.

Republicans have been more skeptical of the media for years, but former President Donald Trump famously called the media “the enemy of the people” and “fake news,” making the relationship between Republicans and the media far more adversarial.

The mainstream media has taken fire for their coverage of Trump, for dismissing the Hunter Biden laptop story as Russian interference when time has proven the story as mostly true, and pushing the now largely debunked Trump-Russian collusion narrative, and more.

As for other U.S. institutions, notably, the poll found that Democratic voters do not trust the U.S. Supreme Court whereas Republicans do, and Independents are split. Overall, 56% of likely voters trust the court, while 40% do not.

The U.S. presidency saw a similar rating, but Congress fared much worse. The survey found that only 41% of likely voters trust the U.S. House of Representatives, compared to 54% who do not.

The U.S. Senate fared a bit better with 46% trusting and 50% not trusting.

American likely voters trust their state legislatures 59%-36%, according to the poll.

Last month, WalletHub, a personal finance company, ranked Montana 36th in its Most & Least Innovative States (2024) report. But how business friendly is the state in other categories?

A look at other media and think-tank producers of similar studies shows Montana faring slightly better, and in one, fantastic. So, what does it mean? “These surveys are fine to a point,” said Ronda Wiggers, Montana state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). “But you have to factor the criteria used and other considerations before drawing any conclusions. Still, they do provide some considerations for state policymakers to discuss.”

Below is a sample of where Montana ranks in other reports:

* 5–Tax Foundation’s 2024 State Business Tax Climate Index

* 13–Forbes Best States to Start a Small Business (2024)

* B–Truth in Accounting’s Financial State of the States 2023

* 22–Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom Index

* 25–US News’ Best States 2023

* 33–American Legislative Exchange Council’s Rich States Poor States

* 35–CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business

* 36–Wallet Hub Most & Least Innovative States (2024)

NFIB does not rank states. Instead, it ranks environments and conditions for small businesses as a whole across the nation. Its most prestigious report, called the gold standard measurement of the Main Street economy, is the monthly Small Business Economic Trends (SBET) report, also known as the Optimism Index.

“The SBET is one of the few archival data sets on small businesses, particularly when research questions address business operations rather than opinions,” according to this one-page history of SBET. “Today, it’s the largest, longest-running data set on small business economic conditions available.”

The April SBET Report

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index decreased by 0.9 of a point in March to 88.5, the lowest level since December 2012. This is the 27th consecutive month below the 50-year average of 98. The net percent of owners raising average selling prices rose seven points from February to a net 28% percent seasonally adjusted.

“Small business optimism has reached the lowest level since 2012 as owners continue to manage numerous economic headwinds,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “Inflation has once again been reported as the top business problem on Main Street and the labor market has only eased slightly.”

Key findings include:

* The net percent of owners who expect real sales to be higher decreased eight points from February to a net negative 18% (seasonally adjusted).

* Twenty-five percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business (higher input and labor costs), up two points from February.

* Owners’ plans to fill open positions continue to slow, with a seasonally adjusted net 11% planning to create new jobs in the next three months, down one point from February and the lowest level since May 2020.

* Seasonally adjusted, a net 38% reported raising compensation, up three points from February’s lowest reading since May 2021.

As reported in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, 37% (seasonally adjusted) of all owners reported job openings they could not fill in the current period. A net 21% (seasonally adjusted) plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up two points from February. The percent of small business owners reporting labor quality as their top small business operating problem rose two points from February to 18%. Labor cost reported as the single most important problem for business owners decreased by one point to 10%, only three points below the highest reading of 13% reached in December 2021.

Fifty-six percent of owners reported capital outlays in the last six months, up two points from February. Of those making expenditures, 38% reported spending on new equipment, 24% acquired vehicles, and 17% improved or expanded facilities. Ten percent of owners spent money on new fixtures and furniture and 5% acquired new buildings or land for expansion. Twenty percent (seasonally adjusted) plan capital outlays in the next few months.

A net negative 10% of all owners (seasonally adjusted) reported higher nominal sales in the past three months, up three points from February. The net percent of owners expecting higher real sales volumes declined eight points to a net negative 18% (seasonally adjusted).

The net percent of owners reporting inventory gains fell six points to a net negative 7%. Not seasonally adjusted, 12% reported increases in stocks (down one point) and 22% reported reductions (unchanged). A net negative 5% (seasonally adjusted) of owners viewed current inventory stocks as “too low” in March, down one point from February. A net negative 7% (seasonally adjusted) of owners plan inventory investment in the coming months, unchanged from February.

The net percent of owners raising average selling prices rose seven points from February to a net 28% seasonally adjusted. Twenty-five percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, up two points from last month.

Unadjusted, 13% reported lower average selling prices and 43% reported higher average prices. Price hikes were the most frequent in finance (61% higher, 10% lower), retail (54% higher, 6% lower), construction (51% higher, 4% lower), wholesale (50% higher, 17% lower), and transportation (44% higher, 0% lower). Seasonally adjusted, a net 33% plan price hikes in March.

The frequency of reports of positive profit trends was a net negative 29% (seasonally adjusted), up two points from February, but still a very poor reading. Among owners reporting lower profits, 29% blamed weaker sales, 17% blamed the rise in the cost of materials, 13% cited usual seasonal change, and 12% cited price change. For owners reporting higher profits, 53% credited sales volumes, 23% cited usual seasonal change, and 12% cited higher selling prices.

Two percent of owners reported that all their borrowing needs were not satisfied. Twenty-seven percent reported all credit needs met and 59% said they were not interested in a loan.

A net 8% reported their last loan was harder to get than in previous attempts. Four percent of owners reported that financing was their top business problem. A net 17% of owners reported paying a higher rate on their most recent loan, up one point from February.

The NFIB Research Center has collected Small Business Economic Trends data with quarterly surveys since the fourth quarter of 1973 and monthly surveys since 1986. Survey respondents are randomly drawn from NFIB’s membership.

A federal judge in Kentucky struck down a Biden administration rule that required states to measure and report the greenhouse gas emissions from any vehicles traveling on the national highway system, according to a report in Epoch Times.

“With this victory in court, we’re slamming the brakes on the Biden Administration’s politics that make no sense,” said Kentucky Attorney General Russell Coleman, who led a coalition of 21 state attorneys general in suing the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) over the rule that sought to force states to cut carbon dioxide emissions on their roads.

Multiple states that sued over the rule argued that it could dampen job creation and eliminate future economic development.

Judge Benjamin Beaton of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky blocked the FHWA rule on April 1, calling it “invalid” and “a statutorily unsupported and substantively capricious exercise of the [FHWA] Administrator’s rulemaking authority.”

A new rest area off of Interstate 90 opened recently, one year after it was originally suppose to open. The Headwaters Rest Area in Three Forks is near U.S. Highway 287 and the Bridger Brewing Facility. It was built by a local developer, who constructed the new rest stop facility in exchange for acquiring the old rest area property off of North 19th Avenue in Bozeman.

Recently two sections of road in Yellowstone National Park have opened to non-motorized vehicles. Since last week 49 miles of U.S. Highway 89 have been available for cyclists, providing paved recreational opportunities from the West Entrance to Mammoth Hot Springs with travel thru Madison and Norris Junctions.

The operators of the Séliš Ksanka QÍispé Dam got the go-ahead in last month to keep more water in Flathead Lake this spring. This is an effort to avoid a repeat of last summer’s low water levels. Energy Keepers, Inc., the company that oversees the dam on the south end of Flathead Lake, had previously petitioned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deviate from the lake’s Flood Risk Management Plan. While the lake is usually lowered to make room for spring runoff, the Corps determined that the risk of flooding is minimal, according to Energy Keepers.

Glacier National Park officials expect construction on the Going-to-the-Sun Road and the Upper McDonald Creek Bridge to end this year. Other projects, like water infrastructure and road improvements in the Swiftcurrent developed area will be beginning. New construction projects slated for 2024 include the installation of fiber optic lines, the rehabilitation of roads near park headquarters and a dust mitigation treatment in Many Glacier. Park officials One of the largest upcoming projects includes the construction on the Swiftcurrent Water Distribution System and road rehabilitation, which will begin after the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn, Many Glacier Hotel and Many Glacier Campground close for the 2024 season.

Dozens of people showed up to a Bozeman city commission meeting recently to push the city to stop a development proposed for the city’s midtown area. The “Guthrie” building is proposed for the corner of North 5th Avenue and Villard Street. Developers HomeBase Partners are proposing to build a five-story, 111-unit building that will include half of the units as affordable housing. The units will be a mix of one-bedroom and studio apartments, and the half affordable units will be restricted to 80% of area median income, which in 2023 numbers is an income of $67,350 for a two-person household.

The escalation of extreme wildfires has prompted a critical examination of wildfire management strategies. A new study from the University of Montana reveals how fire suppression ensures that wildfires will burn under extreme conditions at high severity, exacerbating the impacts of climate change and fuel accumulation. The study used computer simulations to show that attempting to suppress all wildfires results in fires burning with more severe ecological impacts.

Starting in November, anglers will be able to fish year-round in stretches of two rivers close to the Yellowstone National Park gates in both West Yellowstone and Gardiner.Fishing access is only currently allowed in all areas of the park from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend – May 25 this year – through Oct. 31 each year. Under the new regulations, anglers will be able to fish the Madison River from the Montana-Wyoming border to the park boundary near Yellowstone’s west entrance in West Yellowstone, as well as on the Gardner River from Osprey Falls downstream to where the river meets the Yellowstone River near Gardiner. Beginning in 2025, an annual fishing permit for the park will be valid Jan. 1 through Dec. 31. The rest of the park will still only allow fishing from Saturday of Memorial Day weekend 25 through Oct. 31.

Last month, the Lake County commissioners petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about “a real and dangerous public safety threat” due to the “dangerously low level of Flathead lake during western Montana’s wildfire season.” The commissioners blamed Energy Keepers Inc., which operates the Seliš Ksanka Qispe (SKQ) Dam at the foot of Flathead Lake. Energy Keepers responded  that “quite simply, the county’s petition is nothing more than an effort to ensure a constant summer lake level to benefit a small group of lakefront dock owners.

As part of a nationwide program, MAP Brewing of Bozeman has partnered with the Gallatin Watershed Council to create the Earth to Beer Hoppy Blonde Ale. Earth to Beer seeks to inspire breweries to support environmentally conscious producers and suppliers, build relationships between breweries and local environmental nonprofits and financially support the nonprofits.

Watts and Kennedy Farmers Union Insurance of Miles City has moved its office location to 2610 Main Street. Watts and Kennedy had been in their previous location for nearly 30 years, purchasing the building in 1997.

Montana State University plans to break ground soon on a new building for its computer science programs. The university will fund the construction of Gianforte Hall using a $50 million donation from the Gianforte Family Foundation. Gov. Greg Gianforte will be at the ceremony from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on April 17. The event will be on the planned site for the new building next to Norm Asbjornson Hall and the campus parking garage.

Dave Pike purchased the Tupelo Grille in Whitefish last fall from Pat Carloss. The restaurant then closed for renovations. The newly remodeled business opened in mid-February. The kitchen was the focus of the renovation, but the work extended into the restaurant. The menu remains virtually the same.

Amazon opened is first logistics facility in Montana, at a ceremonial ribbon-cutting with Gov. Greg Gianforte and Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier. The 71,000-square-foot building is northeast of the Wye, where U.S. Highway 93 splits off of Interstate 90 enroute to Kalispell. Amazon has hired about 100 employees, not counting delivery drivers who work for independent contractors. It will process and between 6,500 and 7,000 packages a day with capacity to expand.

A new Chipotle restaurant will open on the west side of Bozeman, at the intersection of Cottonwood Road and Oak Street at the Northwest Crossing Development. It will feature a new concept called  “Chipotlane”—which allows people to order their food through the app and pick it up at the restaurant.

While the labor markets seems to be returning to 2019 – 2020 levels, a closer look reveals that it isn’t all that great for native-born Americans. For many of them it has been declining for the past four years because of job losses to illegal immigrants, according to Epoch Times. Illegal immigrant numbers are obscuring actual conditions.

Since 2020, the number of illegal immigrants working in the US have increased 3.4 million, according to stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), while the number of US born workers declined by 78,000.

The number of illegal immigrants capturing the jobs has been more than double legal immigrants, according to the Brookings Institute. Although the Center for Immigration Studies suggests that that number is probably off considerably because it is hard to know how many illegal immigrants have entered the country and found work. They estimate that half the job gains have gone to illegal immigrants.

Economist Steve Moore proclaimed that the US actually “desperately needs” more legal immigrants, who possess high skill levels or special talents, but illegal immigrants tend to be less educated and do not bring such skills.

An article in Epoch Times reports that while the BLS includes illegal immigrants in their statistics, they identify them as “undocumented workers” and they deliberately mix their total with the total number of legal immigrants so as not to publicly disclose the number of illegals. Were the numbers available, the Center for Immigration Studies director, Steven Camarota said he believes it would reveal that half the job growth has gone to illegal immigrants.

In March 2024 there were a total of 31 million immigrant workers, making up about 20 percent of the US labor force, of which the Center for Immigration Studies estimated 9 million were illegal immigrants. That number increased 2.4 million in 2023 according to The Congressional Budget Office.

The Center has been concerned with a decline in the labor force participation of U.S.-born working-age men from the 1960s to the present. The decline is more pronounced among the less educated and it is linked to many social problems, including overdose deaths and crime.

Epoch Times reports that employed illegal immigrants include individuals who have been apprehended and released into the country, individuals who have managed to evade the Border Patrol, officially known as “gotaways,” and individuals who have overstayed their visas.

The Heritage Foundation points out that because of the illegal immigrants’ impact on the job market American workers also earn less than they would otherwise.

President Joe Biden’s new EV mandates will likely prove to be a sizable wealth transfer from rural red regions of America to urban blue sections, and to wealthy Democrats who reside in them, according to reports.

The Biden administration has imposed the “strictest” rules in history for the auto industry staring in 2027. On March 20, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its tailpipe emissions rules for the auto industry, which will effectively force carmakers to have one-third of new car sales be plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) by 2027 and more than two-thirds by 2032.

The rule will likely prove to be “a sizable wealth transfer from rural red regions of America to urban blue sections, and to wealthy Democrats who reside in them,” according to reports.

News reports say that the new regulation represents a dramatic increase from current EV sales, which were about 8 percent of the new car market in 2023.

While environmentalists cheer, critics say that the measures will be particularly punitive for huge segments of the U.S. population who don’t want, can’t use, or can’t afford EVs. If carmakers go with the rules, the cost of remaining gas-fired cars and trucks will likely escalate as demand dwarfs supply.

Energy analyst, Robert Bryce, said, “In reality it’s a type of class warfare that will prevent low- and middle-income consumers from being able to afford new cars.”

As many traditional car buyers struggle, the federal subsidies and incentives continue to flow, to the benefit of EV buyers.

According to an October 2023 report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, as much as $48,000 of the cost of the average EV sold in the United States is paid, not by the owner, but in the form of “socialized costs” that are spread out among taxpayers and electricity consumers over a 10-year period.

These socialized costs come in the form of taxes, government subsidies, fuel economy credits paid by gas carmakers to EV manufacturers, and higher electricity bills as consumers absorb the capital costs required to expand the power grid and install new charging stations.

The report states that “the average model year 2021 EV would cost $48,698 more to own over a 10-year period without $22 billion in government favors given to EV manufacturers and owners.”

These dollars, which do not take into account the additional dollars that gas-car owners will likely pay for their vehicles as manufacturers are forced to make fewer of them, amount to a government-mandated wealth transfer to affluent EV owners, paid by those who often cannot afford to buy EVs.

The new EPA mandate is “aimed at accommodating a very narrow segment of the auto-buying public: wealthy, white Democrats who live in a handful of liberal communities,” Mr. Bryce said. “EV ownership is largely defined by class, ideology, and geogaphy.”

Bryce reported in Epoch Times that 57 percent of EV owners earn more than $100,000 annually, 75 percent are male, and 87 percent are white. In addition, EV buyers are overwhelmingly Democrats, with 71 percent of Republicans stating in a Gallup poll that they would not consider owning an electric vehicle.

 Data from the Department of Energy supports this view. As of year-end 2022, California had 903,600 registered EVs in the state, or 37 percent of all EVs owned nationwide.

The next largest number of EV owners were in Florida, Texas, and Washington state, with 168,000, 149,000, and 104,100 EVs respectively, followed by New Jersey, New York, Georgia, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

According to a report by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, “if you count all the EVs in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Montana, and Idaho, they account for less than one percent of the total U.S. sales.”

In attempting to force Americans to switch to electric cars, a number of blue states including California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington are on track to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars and trucks by 2035, according to non profit group Coltura, which advocates for the switch from gasoline to electric cars.

There are practical reasons why people are unwilling to spend thousands of dollars more on electric cars. According to a November 2023 AAA survey, the primary reasons for people not to buy electric cars are a lack of charging stations, limited range, and time to charge the battery.

A recent Rasmussen poll found that 65 percent of Americans surveyed don’t think they’re likely to make an EV their next automobile purchase.

Another poll of voters found that only 14 percent were strongly in favor of regulations to phase out gas-powered cars and trucks, while nearly 60 percent were against. Opinions split along party lines, with 53 of Democrats in favor of the EPA regulations and 76 percent of Republicans against, with 59 percent of independents also opposing.

The strongest support for EV mandates came from people earning more than $150,000 a year.

The Clean Freight Coalition, a trucking trade group that supports a transition away from fossil fuels, said that the timeline set by the new EPA rules was impossible to meet given current technology and infrastructure, and that the Biden administration’s EV plan would bring significant harm to commercial vehicle operators, the businesses they serve, and consumers.

Jim Mullen, Clean Freight Coalition executive director, told the Washington Examiner, “Today, these vehicles fail to meet the operational demands of many motor carrier operations, reduce the payload of trucks, and thereby require more trucks to haul the same amount of freight, and lack sufficient charging and alternative fueling infrastructure to support adoption.”

The reliably pro-Democrat United Auto Workers Union (UAW) initially opposed the EPA mandate, fearing lost jobs due to the fact that EVs require fewer American workers to assemble components that often originate in China and that many of the new EV assembly plants being built by carmakers are in non-union states like Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.

The UAW came around to supporting the EV plan, however, after the EPA adjusted its regulations to slow the pace of the transition.

The Biden administration’s barrage of climate-related energy and automotive mandates, critics say, fall into a category of what a recent report by the Cato Institute calls “policy beyond capability.”

Yellowstone County Commissioners have sent Senator Jon Tester a letter asking him to support a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging them not to implement a request from California to require zero-emissions from railroad locomotives.

The letter states that the waiver being requested by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is unaffordable by many railroad companies and it would force more freight traffic onto roads. And, further, the technology that would be necessary to meet the mandate does not exist.

 The waiver being requested would allow California and any other states to require zero-emission railroad locomotives by 2030. “The CARB regulation would limit the useful life of over 25,000 locomotives by barring those 23 years and older from operating in California. This policy ignores the operational reality that locomotives are long-term and capital –intensive investments that travel not just in one state but across the 140,000 –mile North American rail network. Small railroads cannot simply replace these locomotives and may face bankruptcy if the rule is approved. In addition, CARB would require railroads to deposit as much as $800 million per year per railroad into “spending accounts” that could only be used to purchase zero –emission equipment.”

The commissioners point out that those same passenger and freight railroads serve Montana and connect farmers and miners to west coast customers and they would be forced to comply with the same  mandate to serve those customers.

“One of the main economic responsibilities of the federal government is to facilitate interstate commerce and economic cooperation. It is for this very reason that interstate commerce laws preempt state laws. Please support and join the Manchin/Ricketts letter in the Senate that requests the EPA reject the CARB waiver.”


Rimrock II, LLC/ Jones Construction, Inc, 4040 King Ave W Com Addition $2,000,000

Briarwood The/ TW Ridley LLC, 3429 Briarwood Blvd, Com Addition, $250,000

Vision Holdings Billings LLC/ Exterior Design Solutions, 1747 Poly Dr, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $22,000

Minot Builders Supply Inc/ J And B Contracting Services, Inc/ 3032 Cel Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding $49,352

Square 106 LLC, 1678 Shiloh Rd, Com Footing/Foundation Permit, $10,000

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 1818 Annafeld Pkwy W, Com New Townhome Shell, $400,000

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6217 Norma Jean Sq N, Com New Townhome Shell, $450,000

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6223 Norma Jean Sq N, Com New Townhome Shell, $400,000

Albertson’s Stores Sub LLC/ ADT Commercial LLC Dba Everon, 2334 Central Ave,

Com Remodel $7,500

New Albertson’s Inc #2025/ ADT Commercial LLC Dba Everon, , 611 N 27th St, Com Remodel, $7,500

Popelka Enterprises LLC/ ADT Commercial LLC Dba Everon, 670 Main St, Com Remodel $7,500

Thiel, Larry V/ Randall Siding, 2910 Grand Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $12,050

Cline, Brett M & Marcus R/ Donahue Roofing & Siding Llc, 723 Central Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $45,804

Cowles Montana Media Company/ Finishing Touch Exteriors Inc, 2045 Overland Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $35,370

Billings Clinic/ Empire Roofing Inc, 2702 8th Ave N, Com Fence/Roof/Siding, $127,869

Larsen Family Properties/ Jones Construction, Inc, 2075 Overland Ave, Com Remodel, $150,000


McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6217 Norma Jean Sq N, Res New Accessory Structure, $50,640

Infinity Home LLC/ Infinity Home LLC, 1820 W Thunder Mountain Rd, Res New Single Family, $248,786

Infinity Home LLC/ Infinity Home LLC, 2243 Lindero Blvd, Res New Single Family, $250,214

Infinity Home LLC / Infinity Home LLC, 602 Chino Cir, Res New Single Family, $278,370

Dirk Arnold Construction/ Dirk Arnold Construction, 860 El Rancho Dr, Res New Single Family, $340,000

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6221 Eva Marie Ln, Res New Single Family, $147,578

Lorenz Construction LLC/ Lorenz Construction, 3553 Rachelle Cir, Res New Single Family, $230,726

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 1818 Annafeld Pkwy W, Res New Townhome, $0

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 1820 Annafeld Pkwy W, Res New Townhome, $0

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6217 Norma Jean Sq N, Res New Townhome, $0

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6219 Norma Jean Sq N, Res New Townhome, $0

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6223 Norma Jean Sq N, Res New Townhome, $0

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6225 Norma Jean Sq N, Res New Townhome, $0

Felton Associates Inc/ Chamberlain Construction, 1314 Anchor Ave, Res New Single Family, $465,000

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6201 Eva Marie Ln, Res New Single Family, $132,114

McCall Development Inc/ McCall Development, 6195 Eva Marie Ln, Res New Single Family, $147,360

Sartorie, Michael/ J & M Development, 1132 Truck Farm Pl, Res New Two Family, $391,683

Spend the waning days of winter in Montana exploring southeastern Montana and enjoying some of the best burgers in America on the Southeast Montana Burger Tail.

From the tastiest of small-town burgers to award-winning, finger-lickin’ feasts in Montana’s largest city, you will savor a unique, localized burger at each stop, plus you’ll get to meet the characters who make them. At the same time you can participate in a game of sorts and get much better acquainted with our state.

From Roundup to Hysham and Forsyth, from Miles City and Terry, from Wibaux to Baker, and from Ekalaka to Lame Deer, Laurel and, of course, Billings, enjoy the burger creations of great eating establishments in some 15 cities in Eastern Montana. For details, map and an app go to https:// southeast montana. com/ burgertrail. 

A “Burger Boss” T-shirt is available to anyone who completes eight stops along the Southeast Montana Burger Trail. Get details at www.southeast burgertrail.

New burgers have been added to the trail, such as Bleu’s Burger at Vintage & Rustics on Main Street in Miles City. 

“We don’t have big names or a large advertising budget,” said Brandy Williams, manager of the American Legion Post 28 in Glendive. “The Burger Trail helps us small businesses get noticed. The Legionnaire is our signature burger—the one we started with—and ever since we’ve been on the Southeast Montana Burger Trail, there have been folks that came in specifically to try it. Some have even become regulars.” This burger commands respect – as does the warrior who can handle a hand-pattied burger with the works, plus a fried egg, slathered with peanut butter. Yup, it’s a protein bomb on a bun. We want YOU to try the Legionnaire in Glendive.

Big Game Casino Tavern & Steakhouse in Baker, has a burger in their menu under the “Hamburger Heaven” section, and once you bite into the Frisco Burger it’ll make sense. What’s incredible about this burger is the light, crisp sourdough bread, attentively raised and baked in-house. Though lightweight, the toasted sourdough works well to hold together the smash-style patty, garnished with bacon, American and Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind burger, add this one to your list!

Blue Cat Bar & Grill in Huntley! The Big Ass Blue Cat Burger is exactly what it sounds like—a monstrous number that brings the heat. It’s loaded with diced jalapeños, topped with bacon and pepper jack cheese over a freshly ground ½ lb. patty. If you stop for a burger over the weekend, make sure to ask about their wildly popular Loaded Bloody Mary.

The Burger Dive in Billings is famous around the world. This place is home to multiple World Food Champion burgers. In fact, it’s the holy grail for any burger aficionado. The I’m Your Huckleberry Burger is arguably the finest burger you’ll find in Montana, toting the 2016 World Food Champion title. This burger is tremendous, covered with a cascading layer of homemade huckleberry-hatch chile barbeque sauce, bacon, creamy goat cheese, roasted red pepper mayo and fresh arugula. All presented on a soft, locally sourced Grains of Montana bun. Be sure to save room for one of their imaginative classic milkshakes made with local Wilcoxson’s ice cream.

BW Grill & Bar in Hysham is the place if you are craving a classic burger. This joint won’t let you down. The namesake, BW Burger is served with all the essentials, sourced locally from Cowboy Meats. The patty is drizzled in their house-made concoction called BW sauce. We’d be remiss not to mention their popular tater tots, or gems as they’re often called out here. Remember to bring a marker with you to add your very own John Hancock to their graffiti board in back.

Corner Bar in Baker is the locale of another classic burger. The components of their Cheeseburger are simple; it’s a typical patty with a slice of melted American cheese, ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion and tomato. The plate is rounded off with crispy fat French fries on the side. Supposedly they have the coldest beer in town, the only way to test their claim is to try it for yourself. We heard they have a pizza burger, part pizza part burger that comes in clutch when you’re undecided between ordering a pizza and a burger.

Custer Battlefield Trading Post & Café in Crow Agency is the place to stop after touring Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Continue your experience in the heart of Crow Country at Custer Battlefield Trading Post & Café—or as the locals call it “Putt’s.” Order the Buffalo Burger, made with 100% buffalo meat, grilled and plated with all the classic toppings. The sweet potato waffle fries are the real treat. Be sure to browse through their collection of Native American made goods in the attached trading post or sit back and admire the interior of the café, decorated with a colorful mixture of beadwork and native art. If you find yourself in for another visit, they’re locally known best for their authentic Indian fry bread which serves as a base for their immense and tasty Indian taco.

Diamond X Beer Co. in Billings adds one masterpiece after another to add to their menu since opening the brewery. The newest creation is the French Onion Burger that quite literally stacks up to the competition. It is a ½ lb. Certified Angus Beef patty heaped with onion rings, caramelized onion, garlic aioli, Swiss and havarti cheeses. It’s plated with an au jus dipping bowl and thick-cut parmesan fries. You’ll leave with the satisfying feeling of overindulgence.

The Grand in Roundup! If you ever find yourself in the friendly cowboy town of Roundup, pull up a stool at The Grand and sit next to the local cattlemen and ranchers for some chow. The Diego is a classic burger with a kick, customized with peppers and pepper jack cheese, loaded with fresh lettuce, onion and pickles. The accompanying brew fries are plenty good, too. One thing is for sure, you will not leave this establishment hungry. When you come back for more, try your best at the real menu centerpiece, aptly named the Big Ass Enchilada. We dare you to finish it.

Heiser’s Bar in Baker is located in a historic downtown saloon. They take great care with every detail of their burger. Each features a giant hand-crafted burger patty served on a locally-made Grains of Montana bun. If you have a craving for something juicy and spicy, the Sriracha Bacon Pepperjack Burger will knock your socks off with its homemade sriracha sauce. Each burger is plated with all the fixings and more fries than you probably have room for. There are two other burger locations on either side of Heiser’s in case you plan to hop around or go back to Baker for another bite.

Don’t let the unadorned exterior of the Homestead Inn in Broadview deter your mission because this place will surprise you. The Mexi Burger looks nothing like a burger, but we promise it’ll be one of the best things you’ll try. It is served on open faced buns with a ¼ lb. patty, buried in a homemade green chili (a secret recipe of the owner), sprinkled with tomato and cheese. You’re going to need a fork and plenty of napkins.

Satisfy your hunger in Glendive with a burger at Gunner’s Ridge Bar.. The burger featured on the Burger Trail is a large patty of Kobe beef on a toasted brioche bun with Havarti and blue cheese crumbles, lettuce, and tomato, thus the name: the Red, White, and Blue Burger

Forsyth is a tiny hamlet with huge flavors and servings you’ll find at The Joseph, a town tradition. Owners Alecia and Richard Smith have honored Forsythe’s railroad history by naming their burgers using railroad lingo, like the Broken Knuckle Burger, a massive bacon-pepper Jack cheeseburger crowned with a big cream cheese-stuffed jalapeno pepper served on a brioche bun so divine you’ll wonder why every burger isn’t served this way.

June’s Bungalow in Miles City and Colstrip features the unexpected. Try the Mango Burger, featuring a healthy helping of homemade mango salsa, guacamole and Havarti cheese. These unique flavors pair together well on a giant patty, with juices oozing out on all sides as you take your first bite. Ask for June’s special fizzy tea—it’s a local fav.

Powder River Lanes in Broadus has the Mother Of All Burgers—the MOAB. Powder River Lanes sought to create a top-of-the-line burger that outdoes all the ones who came before it. The MOAB features a half pound patty, assembled between thick sliced Texas toast and filled with grilled onions, jalapeños and smothered in nacho cheese.

Roy Rodgers Bar Grill & Casino in Terry would be easy to drive past on Interstate 94, but you’d be missing out. Across the street from the historic Kempton Hotel, you’ll find this freshly renovated steakhouse that holds a touch of saloon-era nostalgia. It’s your classic cowboy hangout, so you’d expect a likewise rough and tumble burger. Instead, they plate up an impeccable Fried Green Tomato & Bacon Burger that is eloquently drizzled with balsamic glaze. The attention to detail is obvious in this dish. Do yourself a favor and order the sweet potato fries as your side.

Sid’s East Side Bar & Grill is a staple establishment in Laurel and has been for the past 50 years. They proudly serve their food from scratch, that’s what makes The Doc Holliday a phenomenal burger. Their homemade huckleberry chipotle barbeque sauce is like nothing you’ve ever tried before. To complement the barbeque sauce the burger features applewood smoked bacon and pepper jack cheese.

3 North Bar & Grill in Acton is an easy jaunt from Billings. Consider driving a few extra miles for this small-town fine dining establishment. With several mouthwatering burgers on the menu, the best burger here is the one you order. For those who love spicy food, the Stuffed Jalapeño Popper Burger. It is layered with a Certified Angus Beef patty, melted pepper jack, bacon, stuffed jalapenos, cream cheese and 3 North sauce, then sprinkled with jalapeño crisps. Get a side of onion rings and add in a finely mixed cocktail to complete your evening.

The ZooM Burger from Stacked in downtown Billings is sure to leave you with the lingering flavor of perfection. Its patty is smothered with blackberry roasted jalapeño sauce, espresso rub, goat cheese, fried green tomatoes, cheddar cheese and a drizzle of honey. If this isn’t one of the best burgers you will ever eat in your life, the truffle fries may just steal the show.

The Billings Chamber of Commerce welcomes Abbie Chvilicek and Sara Hollenbeck to its staff.

Chvilicek fills the position of Member and Operations Specialist and Hollenbeck joins as the Marketing Specialist for Visit Southeast Montana, a tourism marketing arm managed by the Billings Chamber.

Chvilicek is a born and raised Billings, who graduated in 2022 after attending both Billings West High School and the Billings Career Center. Upon graduating, she attended massage therapy school and began practicing reiki. She has been working in customer service since 2019 which will serve her well as she embarks in her professional career with the Billings Chamber as the Member and Operations Specialist.

Hollenbeck grew up in California, obtained an Agricultural Business degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and became a sheep rancher in Molt. She has immersed herself in the agriculture sector for over 15 years and combines this passion with marketing as the founder of High Five Meats and co-founder of Yellowstone Valley Food Hub. Hollenbeck brings her boundless love for Montana agriculture, the great outdoors, and the cherished traditions of the American West to the Visit Southeast Montana team.