Montana News

News from the state of Montana.

The military is calling on National Guard and Reserve members to serve more frequently and for longer periods of time.
       This puts more pressure on both the soldiers who volunteer their service - and the people who employ them.
       In this evening's feature interview with Edward O'Brien, the state chairman of a Department of Defense office called the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve explains how potential conflicts can be smoothed over between these citizen soldiers and their employers.

Growing up gay in Kalispell, Montana, Shane Bitney Crone was bullied incessantly, and couldn't wait to leave his hometown. After school, he moved to California, where he met the love of his life, another young man who had grown up in small-town Indiana.

The Missoula County Sheriff's office has contacted the hunter who accidentally shot a dog in the Lee Creek area near Lolo Pass last Sunday, and have determined there was no crime committed. The hunter has said he thought he was shooting a wolf, but instead killed one of three malamutes owned by Layne Spence, who had taken his dogs along for a cross-country ski outing. Missoula County sheriff's spokeswoman Paige Pavalone says after interviewing the hunter, and the dog's owner, they have determined no violation was committed.

Butte open container ban heads to final vote

Nov 19, 2013
flickr/Tracy Elizabeth

Butte’s Council of Commissioners is preparing to take a final vote on an ordinance to curb the community’s stance on open containers of alcohol in public.

Right now, the city has no open container law.

The ordinance before the council would make it illegal to have an open alcoholic drink in public between the hours of 2 AM and 8 AM.

Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce tells us commissioners and the community are split on the issue.

In the last two years, four mail processing centers - in Miles City, Butte, Helena and Kalispell - have been closed and consolidated with centers in Billings, Great Falls and Missoula. It's part of a nationwide effort to cut expenses at the postal service, which is bleeding money by the billions.

A Missoula writer and member of the Blackfeet Tribe has announced her run for Montana’s lone U.S. House seat as a Democrat.

Melinda Gopher ran for the seat in 2010, coming in third in the Democratic Primary. She is running a campaign focused on bucking the Democratic establishment.

“We have a power elite that has abused the Indian vote for a long time in the state, and that power elite has been led by Senator Baucus,” Gopher said.

Edward O'Brien

No museum in the country has been more instrumental in introducing modern impressionist art to American audiences than the Art Institute of Chicago. The institute's Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator of Modern Art is in Missoula to lecture about a seminal show in 1913 that introduced the greats like Picasso and Matisse to this country.

Dan Boyce

Montana Insurance companies are looking over their options after President Obama’s Thursday announcement regarding the Affordable Care Act. The President said some insurance plans about to be cancelled for not following the new healthcare law will be allowed to continue for one more year.

Montana’s Insurance commissioner said the announcement throws years of planning for ObamaCare into a tailspin.

U.S Fish and Wildlife Service

State wildlife commissioners have approved the release of up to 20 black-footed ferrets in central Montana to prevent the loss of a struggling population of the highly-endangered prairie animal.

Philanthropy to the (search and) rescue

Nov 15, 2013
Katrin Frye

It took private investment of more than $10-million to create Two Bear Air, a dedicated search and rescue air support service in the Flathead.

Former Flathead County Undersheriff Jordan White teamed up with Whitefish philanthropist Mike Goguen to create the non-profit. Goguen comes from a business background with a capital investment firm known for its support of entities like Google and YouTube.  Paying for Two Bear Air is one of several philanthropic investments he’s made in the Flathead.

White described the organization as privately funded for a public purpose.

Montana sees increase in median home prices

Nov 14, 2013
Dan Boyce

Data released Thursday from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Montana’s median home value moved up 5 percent in the two years after the Great Recession.

The statistics were gathered in the states nine most populous counties in the years 2010-2012 and were compared to the same figures from the recession years of 2007-2009. They show the state’s median price for owner-occupied households bumped up to $183,600 from $174,900 during the recession.

University of Colorado historian Thomas Andrews' first book on Colorado coal miners won the prestigious Bancroft award - and also led him to the topic of his second book, with the grandiose title "An Animal's History of the United States."

The names of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull are well-known but another less famous Native American leader had at least as great an impact on the history of the American West.

Local electric co-ops are writing checks for a different kind of energy bill. Flathead Electric Co-op in Kalispell recently wrote a check to Plum Creek for more than $380,000. It’s for energy efficiency upgrades at the lumber company’s sawmill. Promoting energy efficiency is something F-E-C is doing with the Bonneville Power Administration’s Energy Smart Industrial Program incentives.

Key Accounts Representative Don Newton with FEC said it’s actually in the Co-op’s best interest to get members to lower their electric bills.


The City of Helena is asking for permission to trap and kill 70 deer next year that live in the city limits.

The state wildlife commission approves such requests.

Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce tells us Helena has been working for years to lower the population of these so-called urban deer.

Montana Food Bank Network

There are very few chances to step back, catch your breath and admire ones work at the Montana Food Bank Network.

The National Security Agency has come under public scrutiny the past few months after details of secret surveillance programs were leaked to the media.

These programs involve broad monitoring of cell phone calls, emails, and online chats.

The NSA claims these programs have kept Americans safe, but they have raised widespread concerns the agency is going too far in invading the privacy of U.S. citizens.

The American Civil Liberties Union actively opposes the NSA’s spy programs.

Bigfork High School Cave Club

Where bats hibernate, how warm or cold, and how dry or damp the environment is, are questions being asked as researchers and recreationists explore Montana’s caves.

Bat Specialist Dr. Cori Lausen with Wildlife Conservation Society Canada says some species of bats are facing potential extinction because of the White Nose Syndrome which has been decimating bat populations along the east coast, and is spreading west.

NorthWestern Energy continues to work on plans to purchase 11 hydroelectric dams from PPL Montana.

The approximately $900 million dollar deal will have to be approved by the state Public Service Commission.

Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce says NorthWestern updated members of the Montana Legislature on their plans.

Pomona College

2013 has been a deadly year for wildland firefighters, including the loss of 19 members of a hotshot crew on a fire near Yarnell, Arizona. Their shocking deaths raised new questions about firefighting policy - and about the proper response to our changing climate and growing wildland urban interface.
    These are issues renowned environmental historian Char Miller has been pondering and writing about for some time.

Eliza Wiley Independent Record

Western Montana feminist, social justice advocate and long-time Montana Public Radio commentator, Judy Smith, has died after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Edward O'Brien has more on the life and legacy of a woman remembered as a "warrior" by those who knew her.

Like many, Brock Evans fell in love with Glacier National Park the minute he set eyes on it - and his first visit there as a young man began his lifelong commitment to conservation.

Evans is a past lobbyist for the Sierra Club, and current president of the national Endangered Species Coalition. His career as an environmental activist spans 50 years. Evans returned to Montana this week to lecture and visit old friends.

Women's Voices for the Earth

Almost all women use some form of feminine care product - from tampons to sprays - but how toxic are these products?

Katrin Frye

Getting fresh fruits and veggies onto kids’ plates is one of the goals of local farm-to-school efforts. This idea of buying local is going national with support from the U-S Department of Agriculture. The USDA recently conducted a census of schools across the state and the country.

USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon said the farm-to-school model fits in with new school meal requirements calling for schools to serve fruits and vegetables every day.

Few uninsured Montanans go without coverage voluntarily, says a new report released Monday by the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research.

“That means that had insurance been available, they would have taken it,” said the bureau’s Interim Health Care Research Director, Paul Polzin.

When saxophone player Madaline "Mad" Duran started playing jazz in the late 60's, there weren't a lot of women jazz instrumentalists.

University of Montana

A new report produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation concludes Americans should do more to promote early childhood education.

James Woodcock, Billings Gazette

Yellowstone County treasurer and county superintendent of schools, Max Lenington, says his use of racist and anti-gay slurs in an email were a private message to his sister, and reflected his anger that President Barack Obama was re-elected.

The Billings Gazette reports Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito is investigating whether there are grounds to recall Lenington for comments made in an email sent from his work computer last year.

A free diabetes awareness program is being held tomorrow at Missoula's Providence St. Patrick Hospital.
         Diabetes is a serious and growing problem across the country.
         The Coordinator of Providence St. Patrick's Diabetes Care and Prevention Center, Jennifer Troupe, says managing the symptoms of diabetes can seem like a daunting task for the uninitiated.
         In this interview with Edward O'Brien, Troupe says taking control of the disease is not only possible, but can change the course of a life for the better.

A cemetery that lives on after its town died

Oct 31, 2013
Katrin Frye

Before the railroad came through and made Kalispell, Kalispell, there was Demersville (de-MARS-ville). The small community had an eatery, saloon, hotel, and mercantile, but died practically overnight when in 18-91 the railroad came through the Flathead several miles north of the fledgling town. Flathead Reporter Katrin Frye takes us to all that remains of Demersville, the cemetery.