MTPR

Nicky Ouellet

Flathead Valley Reporter

Nicky is MTPR's Flathead-area reporter. Nicky returns to the Flathead Valley after wrapping up her graduate studies at the University of Montana's environmental science journalism program.

603-568-6155 or 406-730-2264

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The Environmental Protection Agency designated the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Company as an official Superfund site in September 2016.
Courtesy Columbia Falls Aluminum Company

The company responsible for cleanup at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company Superfund site released results of their site evaluation on Thursday. 

The evaluation confirms that groundwater beneath the former aluminum smelter facility has elevated levels of cyanide, fluoride and other contaminants, leached from legacy landfills used from 1955 until 1980. The studies also indicate that the contamination is not moving toward wells used for drinking water in nearby neighborhoods.

Belinda Bullshoe says her Blackfeet tradition and culture guide her designs.
Nicky Ouellet

On a normal weekend, the inside of the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls is a cacophony of referees whistles, sneaker squeaks and raving basketball fans. But this past weekend it transformed to house the annual Great Western Living and Design Show. Instead of high school pep bands, old-timey western music plays over loudspeakers. The room smells like leather softener and wood. At the far end of the arena — past booths of silver and turquoise jewelry, paintings of horses and aspens, and vests made of the softest furs — a woman with a long, black ponytail sells blankets and bed sheets in iconic, geometric Pendleton designs. Then she pulls dresses out of a garment sheet. One after another, her colorful designs draw stares from ambling shoppers.

This is Belinda Bullshoe. She recently showed her dresses at New York Fashion Week, and may be the first Native American designer to do so. I pull up a chair, and she tells me her story:

Sen. Tester hears constituent concerns at Helena town hall, March 17, 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

Montana’s Democratic Senator Jon Tester was in Helena Friday afternoon for an in-person town hall. You can listen to the full meeting at the bottom of this post.

Tester spoke for a little over an hour to a friendly crowd of 200 people at Helena Middle School. Town halls nationwide have become confrontational events for many members of Congress. Recently, Montana’s Republican Senator Steve Daines has taken heat for not meeting face-to-face with constituents back home. He hosted a so-called “tele-town hall” two weeks ago, which he says allows him to interact with more Montanans because people don't have to travel to participate in them.

Pastor Shahram Hadian addresses a packed house at an event in Kalispell hosted by ACT for America's Flathead County Chapter
Nicky Ouellet

A Kalispell Republican club says it wants to hear from an organization that some on the left say engages in hate speech. The Glacier Country Pachyderm Club is a Republican education group. Recently, it has invited speakers like local legislators, law enforcement officials and real estate agents to address its weekly meetings.

Rob Quist speaks during a campaign event in Whitefish, MT March 13, 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

Candidates for the upcoming special election to fill Montana’s lone house seat have hit the campaign trail. Democratic candidate Rob Quist held a campaign kickoff in Whitefish Monday night.

Casey’s Bar and Grill in downtown Whitefish is usually a weekend night club, but on Monday night, more than 100 people fill the dance floor to hear hometown candidate Quist at an event hosted by the Flathead Democratic Party.

People from across Montana came to the state basketball tournamnet in Great Falls, we asked some for their thoughts on the upcoming election
Nicky Ouellet

As of today there are 76 days until the special election that will choose a replacement for former Montana Representative Ryan Zinke’s House seat. It will be a quick campaign for Republican Greg Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist, one that political junkies say will rely heavily on name recognition.

To get a sense of what Montanans from across the state are thinking about the election, I went to the State Class Double-A basketball tournament in Great Falls.

If you happened to be looking at the Whitefish Lake web cam last night, you may have seen a patch of red in the fading sunlight from the Whitefish Big Sky Rising First International Women’s Day celebration.

(PD)

Health officials in the Flathead Valley are reporting that in January, five long-term care and assisted living facilities experienced an outbreak of influenza or norovirus. The Flathead City-County Health Department worked with all five facilities following the outbreaks, and says none broke any health regulations.

Joining us now is Katheryn Houghton, the local newspaper reporter who broke the story.

Racers sprint out the gate at the start of the women's snowshoe race.
Nicky Ouellet

Special Olympians arrived at Whitefish Mountain Resort Sunday for the 22nd annual State Winter Games, which wrapped up today.

The crowd of spectators is deafening as racers in the 50-meter snowshoeing event sprint up the slight incline of the Bunny Hill. Half of the slope has been transformed into a track, with lanes lined in blue dye on the soft white snow.

U.S. Senator Steve Daines announced Monday that he will hold a “teletownhall” this coming Wednesday, March 8, at 6:15 pm. He will take questions live from listeners.

To join the call, text “SenatorDaines” as one word to 82-82-82, or call one of Daines’ local offices:

Washington, DC: (202) 224-2651

Great Falls: 453-0148

Bozeman: 587-3446

Kalispell: 257-3765

Hardin: 665-4126

Billings: 245-6822

Helena: 443-3189

Missoula: 549-8198

Sidney: 482-9010

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