Edward O'Brien


Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.

Ways To Connect

M. Madel

Springtime in Montana brings with it a few certainties: For one, it's gong to be muddy. It's also going to be warm and beautiful one day, then snowy and cold the next.   
     It also means bears are starting to wake up and will soon be lumbering out of their dens.

Edward O'Brien

And now for a brief look at a profession few of us may regularly think about until we have to; but when that time comes, it's suddenly one of the most important things in the world.This is about anesthesiology. When you're scheduled to undergo any number of medical procedures that - without pain-killing/numbing drugs - could induce anything from minor discomfort to unimaginable pain, you want a skilled anesthesiologist in your corner.
       Dr. Cristi Sullivan is a partner of Missoula Anesthesiology, P.C.

Edward O'Brien

It was a case of "out with the old and in with the new" in Missoula as a brand-new medical helicpoter and its Montana team visited the two local hospitals they'll serve.

Shannon Freix

Over 50 diverse recreation and conservation groups say the Forest Service is facing a nation-wide trails crisis and they sent a letter to Congress this week asking for help.

Montana State Parks

Coal export-related rail traffic in Montana is rising and not expected to subside anytime soon. Pacific Northwest-bound train traffic can have impacts on communities, leaving some wondering why more can't be done to mitigate those inconveniences.  In this interview with Edward O'Brien, Montana Coal Board member Tom Towe talks about the options available to Montana communities.
       The Billings attorney is well-versed on the issue as he created the Montana Coal Tax, Montana Coal Tax Trust Fund and Coal Impact Fund some 3 decades ago:

University of Montana student, Tristan Persico, was honored this week at the White House for his conservation work and helping fellow veterans readjust to civilian life.

March is Women's History Month and 2014 is also the 100th anniversary of woman suffrage in Montana.

        The occasion is being marked this year with exhibits at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University of Montana.

        U-M History professor Anya Jabour was part of the team that helped create these exhibits. Jabour, the Co-Director of Women's and Gender Studies at U-M also chairs the Montana Woman's Suffrage Centennial committee.

Edward O'Brien

Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg met with the County Commission today to discuss the most recent revelations concerning his ongoing dispute with the United States Department of Justice.

Nicolas Hudak

A new documentary featuring three young people from the Blackfeet Indian reservation - all at a crossroads in their lives - debuts this weekend at Missoula's Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

Peace Corps

Helen Lowman says service in the Peace Corps benefits everyone involved; and she should know - she's a former volunteer herself and the Peace Corps' former regional director for Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia. She's now the Peace Corps' Associate Director for Volunteer Recruitment and Selection.

A group of Montana state agencies and conservation organizations are working to create a "Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame".

Well known Montana conservationist, and founder of the "Orion - the Hunter's Institute", Jim Posewitz, is behind the effort to honor people who've contributed to the restoration and conservation of Montana's fish, wildlife and other outdoor amenities.
    In this interview with Edward O'Brien, Posewitz has more and explains his lifelong passion for the outdoors:

Montana Farmers Union

The Farm Bill is now the law of the land, garnering unanimous support from Montana Senators Baucus and Tester and Representative Daines. We thought we'd take a few moments to get local reaction to the measure that was years in the making.

Chris Christiaens is lobbyist and Projects Specialist for the Great Falls-based Montana Farmers Union.
      Christiaens tells Edward O'Brien the Agricultural Act of 2014 isn't perfect, but provides certainty to farmers and ranchers as they head into this next year of planning, planting and applying for those all-important operating loans.

Backers of an outreach program to provide basic health care services to under served women in Ravalli County say there are precious-few low income, health care options available locally.
       Ravalli County's Sapphire Community Health Center was the only state-funded community health center in the county. It closed its doors several years ago.


Update: Missoula manhunt continues. No significant developments in past half-hour or so. These two shots from the locked-down UM campus: full parking lot, but virtually no people. The sidewalk next to UM School of Law is always busy this time of day - even in this bitter cold. Kinda eerie...

Manhunt continues:

Update: University of Montana has issued "Shelter in Place, Lock Your Doors" alert. PRECAUTIONARY ALERT. NO UNFOLDING EMERGENCY OR VIOLENCE

Update: Paxson, Hellgate High, Loyola and St Joseph schools locking down as precautionary measure. NO EMERGENCY AT THOSE SCHOOLS.
Police extending search perimeter to 5th St, Arthur & Higgins Avenues...

Police searching for suspect(s) involved in two armed robberies on Broadway in Missoula. The Motel 6 Extended Stay and the Taco Bell. Police say victims describe suspect(s) as young, white male, 5'-5" to 5'-7". Different clothes in each incident but man wore bandanas in both hold-ups. Police looking for a silver passenger car that may have been the get-away vehicle in the Taco Bell hold up. Police with search dogs are scouring the area.
University of Montana (Mountain Campus) police have  issued an alert advising people to stay clear of the area north of the footbridge.

Police continue to search for a lone suspect involved in two armed robberies on Broadway in Missoula. The University of Montana campus is no longer on lockdown but the armed suspect is still at large. Check updates below for the latest information.

Edward O'Brien

Homelessness is a stubborn and pervasive problem in many places -  including, of course,  Missoula.
     Several local nonprofit service providers, along with the City of Missoula, announced this week they're shifting their approach to helping homeless families.
       The Coordinator of "Reaching Home: Missoula's 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness", concedes the "Housing First" model won't completely solve the problem, but Michael Moore says it's proven to have helped other communities.

Northwestern Energy

Northwestern Energy announced last fall it wants to purchase eleven hydroelectric dams from PPL Montana.
      It's now in the process of proving to regulators that the $900-million-dollar deal is in the best interest of consumers.
     Northwestern is the state's largest electricity provider.

C.E.O Bob Rowe was in Missoula today and stopped by Montana Public Radio's studio to talk with Edward O'Brien about the deal.

Montana Community Foundation

Montana's largest community foundation has hired a new Chief Executive Officer who brings almost 20 years of philanthropic experience with her.

University of Montana

Over 400 entries from 27 countries applied to participate in the first stage of the NFL and GE's "Head Health Challenge".  Sixteen organizations are receiving $300-thousand-dollars each for research on better diagnosing and treating mild traumatic brain injury.
       Two University of Montana researchers, Doctors Sarj Patel and Tom Rau, were among the winning 16 selected.


As we've reported this week, the state's recently-appointed Suicide Review Team has pledged to review every suicide that occurs in Montana this year to try to determine the reason and recommend ways to reduce the state's suicide rate, which is nearly twice the national average.
     The team, appointed in November by Gov. Steve Bullock, includes a pastor, psychologist, psychiatrist, sheriff, a schools official and a social worker along with Karl Rosston, the state's suicide prevention coordinator for the past six years.

MT Department of Corrections

This has been a busy time at the Montana Department of Corrections. Agency officials say they're working on a variety of projects and initiatives, while at the same time maintaining day-to-day operations. 

In this final segment of a two part series, Edward O'Brien speaks with Corrections director, Mike Batista and Department of Corrections American Indian Liaison, Harlan Trombley, about a variety of topics including what,  if anything, can be done to stem problems associated with poverty and high drug and alcohol abuse rates:

MT Department of Corrections

This has been a busy time at the Montana Department of Corrections. Agency officials say they're working on a variety of projects and initiatives, while at the same time maintaining day-to-day operations. 
       In this first of a two-part interview, Edward O'Brien speaks with Corrections Director, Mike Batista and


Yellowstone National Park administrators say shooting wild bison with vaccine-laced "biobullets" to prevent the spread of an animal disease would be too ineffective to justify the expense.

Today's announcement means a program that's led to the periodic capture and slaughter of thousands of migrating bison will continue.
       About half of Yellowstone's 4,600 bison test positive for Brucellosis, which causes pregnant animals to prematurely abort their young.

Off the Mat Into the World

Montana's only breast milk bank has been screening, professionally testing, pasteurizing and distributing human donor milk since early October of last year. Its executive co-director, Jessica Welborn, says outreach efforts - and interest - is growing.

UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research

Research shows 2013 was a good year for Montana tourism and early signs suggest another positive year's in store for the industry.
    This according to the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana.

ITRR director, Norma Nickerson, says Montana's tourism-driven businesses seem optimistic about what's in store for 2014.
    In this interview with Edward O'Brien, Nickerson discusses these generally positive trends and the factors used to determine them.

Lita J. Pepion

The Montana Department of Corrections 2013 Biennial Report points out the agency has conducted 10 American Indian cultural awareness training courses for Corrections staffs in state and contracted facilities.