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Flathead News

The Montana Artesian Water Company is seeking permits to develop a water bottling facility in Creston, MT, near Kalispell. Opponents are trying to block it by changing the property's zoning regulations.
Nicky Ouellet

For almost two years, a neighborhood outside of Kalispell has been fighting over whether one neighbor can build a water bottling plant on his private property. Now, some of them are asking Flathead County voters to weigh in, in the form of a county ballot initiative that would change their neighborhood’s zoning regulations and prevent the plant’s development.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected elevated levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.
Nicky Ouellet

The Environmental Protection Agency has identified two compounds in the mysterious oily sheen detected along the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers earlier this month.

Volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds were previously detected in samples taken from water pooled along the shoreline at Somers Bay.

Image from a Glacier Park Inc. proposal for a new RV park near West Glacier, MT.
Flathead County

Flathead County Commissioners Friday approved plans for a 100-spot RV park outside the west entrance to Glacier National Park.

With a unanimous vote by the commissioners, the company Glacier Park, Inc., is now cleared to move forward with its plan to develop 25 cabins and a 102-spot recreational vehicle campground adjacent to the village of West Glacier outside the western entrance to the park.

Image from a Glacier Park Inc. proposal for a new RV park near West Glacier, MT.
Flathead County

A proposal for a new RV park outside the western entrance of Glacier National Park goes before Flathead County Commissioners Friday.

Commissioners heard the plan from a company called Glacier Park Inc. (GPI) to build a campground with 102 recreational vehicle spaces and 25 rental cabins near the village of West Glacier on Tuesday, May 16, but held off on making a final decision so they could learn more about potential impacts to traffic.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected elevated levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.
Nicky Ouellet

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected low levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.

In a statement, the EPA says it still has not determined the cause of the sheen that was first reported early last week and expects final, validated sampling results next week.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected elevated levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.
Nicky Ouellet

BNSF railway and the Environmental Protection Agency are both waiting on sampling results to determine the source of the unidentified sheen on Flathead Lake in Somers. They expect those results back by Monday.

Flathead Lake. Flathead County Commissioners are considering a proposal to regulate short-term housing rentals outside of incorporated towns.
William Neuheisel (CC-BY-2)

The Environmental Protection Agency and BNSF Railway are responding to an unidentified sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake. 

Lake County Sheriff Don Bell.
Courtesy Lake County Sheriff's Department

The jail in Lake County is so overcrowded that there are more than 800 people on a waiting list to serve. The Lake County Sheriff’s Department is trying something new to deal with a shortage of cells.

A firefighter on the Bierny Creek Fire near Lakeside, MT.
Patrick Record/Inciweb

Larry Anderson arrived early for a meeting last Friday morning at the Flathead National Forest supervisor’s office in Kalispell. It was unseasonably sunny and warm outside, but he’d spend the next three hours listening to presentations in a conference room because of something that happened last summer.

Last year's Copper King fire burned more than 27,000 acres outside Thompson Falls
Inciweb

Fire season is, for many people, a single season. But a team of resource managers and homeowners in the Flathead Valley is trying to change that.

FireSafe Flathead is a group of firefighters, emergency planners, state and federal resource managers, and homeowner association members who meet monthly to plan a more proactive, community-based response to the threat of wildfire.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Courtesy EPA

There’s some good news in the latest sampling for contaminants at the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company site on the Flathead River. That’s according to Mike Cirian with the Environmental Protection Agency.

"There wasn’t anything out there that we didn’t expect, and there's no urgent or emergency type responses needed at this time," Cirian says.

Snow will once again return to the area Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning across central Idaho and from the Mission Valley southward across western Montana.
National Weather Service Missoula

National Weather Service meteorologists warned us about a big winter event and boy were they right. As promised, a gigantic winter storm barreled headlong into northwest Montana and left a ton of snow in its wake:

Montana Artesian Water Company is seeking permits for a facility that would produce 1.2 billion bottles of water each year.
Nicky Ouellet

Opponents of a proposed water bottling plant outside of Kalispell held a meeting Wednesday night to update local residents on the status of permits relating to the plant.

The Montana Artesian Water Company’s plant would bottle, ship and sell nearly 192 million gallons - about 1.2 billion 12-ounce water bottles - of treated groundwater per year.

Eric Whitney

On Wednesday night, 75 people crowded into the Swan Lake Club House to hear a first of its kind in Montana proposal that would transfer management of some National Forest land to the state.

The day after the election, Jen Stebbins-Han's kids came home from school and posed a question that before this year, she says, she might have laughed off.

"My kids came home and asked us if their dad was going to be deported," she says. "I don't know where they heard that because it wasn't from us."

Stebbins-Han's husband is Korean-American. Jen is white. The couple has three young biracial kids.

"There is a part of me that's afraid because I don't know what somebody's going to do because they feel emboldened to be able to," she says.

Voter Voices From The Flathead Reservation

Nov 28, 2016
Morning Star Gopher is an 18 year-old engineering student, and a member of the Blackfeet nation.
Courtesy Lailani Upham

On a recent Friday morning at Pablo Elementary, a public school on the Flathead Indian Reservation, while most kids were in class, a few brave souls agreed to talk to some grown-ups about politics.

Friends of Zachary Rhoads walk in a candlelight vigil in memorial of Rhoads, who died in a car accident Nov. 12, 2016.
Nicky Ouellet

At dusk on Sunday in Kalispell, candlelight illuminates the faces of a dozen high school students as they walk along 3rd Avenue West. Two girls in front lead a horse with an American flag draped over it.

They stop at a house on the corner where their classmate, Zachary Rhoads, lived. Rhoads died with his mother and stepfather in a car accident along Highway 2 near Marion two Saturdays ago. This candlelight walk is his friends’ second vigil for the family.

One of the trucks in a procession meant to honor a Flathead High School student killed in a car accident
George Giavasis

George Giavasis looked out his living room window yesterday afternoon and was taken aback by what he saw. He lives in a residential neighborhood near Flathead High School in Kalispell.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election last Tuesday, there are numerous reports on the internet of an uptick in election-fueled harassment and intimidation. But's not just the internet, nor just outside of Montana.

Human rights organizations, local police departments and schools here are reporting, or checking out reports, that include pamphlet drops touting Nazi Party ideology, anonymous graffiti bashing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and Facebook posts loaded with vitriol and name-calling.

Gianforte talks with Brian Friess of Kalispell during a campaign stop in Columbia Falls, Montana Nov. 4, 2016.
Nicky Ouellet

Candidates are hitting multiple campaign stops each day in the final sprint to the election. Flathead Valley reporter Nicky Ouellet caught up with Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte in Columbia Falls this morning.

Philip Haney addresses a packed house at an ACT For America event in Polson Montana, Nov. 2, 2016.
Nicky Ouellet

Montana is one of the least racially diverse states in the country, but groups in the Flathead Valley are regularly meeting to discuss race and racism.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau
Nicky Ouellet

With less than a week left before the polls close, candidates running for office in Montana are scrambling to reel in votes. Democratic hopefuls converged on Kalispell Wednesday for a joint campaign stop along a 17-city statewide tour. MTPR's Nicky Ouellet talks with U.S. House candidate Denise Juneau about campaigning, voting, and why it matters.

DREAM Back Country Powder Camp Group Shot 2016
KAMERON BARGE

For more than three decades, DREAM Adaptive Recreation has been working to get people with physical and cognitive disabilities outside to recreate in the Flathead Valley. Participants and volunteers call it life-changing. And now, the non-profit is expanding to work with veterans.

The Kalispell Bypass opened Friday, October 28, ahead of schedule and under budget.
Montana Department of Transportation

Driving the length of the Flathead Valley got a little easier Friday. The Kalispell Bypass along Highway 93 is finished. 

An informational sign at the entrance of the National Bison Range.
Josh Burnham

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Friday said they’ve modified their proposal to take over management of the National Bison Range.

The tribes released draft federal legislation in June that would transfer management of the range to them from the agency that’s in control now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Weyerhaeuser closed its lumber and plywood mills in Columbia Falls last week.
Eric Whitney

A job at the lumber mills in Columbia Falls was supposed to be the kind of job you’d have forever. But forever came to an end last Friday, when the Weyerhaeuser Company sawed its last logs at its lumber and plywood mills in the industrial heart of the Flathead Valley. The mills had been open since the late 1940s.

Members of Water For Flathead's Future watch a documentary on water bottling at a potluck Wednesday night.
Nicky Ouellet

If water is becoming the new oil, the Flathead Valley could become the new Bakken. That’s what many people fear since news of a proposed water bottling plant outside of Kalispell broke earlier this spring.

Last week, Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality hosted a public meeting to take comments on one aspect of the proposed facility. Comments are due this coming Monday.

flickr user chb1848 (CC-BY-SA)

Quick thinking by a trio of hikers in the Flathead National Forest may have prevented a forest fire.

Assistant Director Tom Bansak leads a tour through research laboratories at the University of Montana's Flathead Lake Biological Station on Wednesday.
Nicky Ouellet

The new director of the Flathead Lake Biological Station says the station is poised to become the leading freshwater research station in the country.

Jim Elser can’t physically contain his excitement at being put in charge of the station, which he showed off at its annual open house Wednesday.

Volunteer firefighters from the Flathead Valley walked a mile to raise money for reparis and equpment for the Smith Valley Fire Department's Foys Lake staion, which was damaged by arson fire on July 3.
Nicky Oullet

On the eve of the one of the most active days of the year for fire fighters in Montana, July 3, someone set fire to the Smith Valley Fire Department’s Foys Lake station outside of Kalispell.

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