Missoula Montana

Air quality is poor across Montana due to wildfires burning in the western U.S.
Montana DEQ

Smoke levels across most of Montana spiked today, with air quality readings reaching "Very Unhealthy" in several locations, including Missoula, Great Falls, and the Flathead Valley; and reaching the highest warning level, "Hazardous" in Hamilton.

Meteorologist Kristen Martin with Montana Department of Environmental Quality says the smoke could get even worse before it starts to get better over the weekend.

Griz football game at the University of Montana
flickr user MuddyRavine (CC-BY-NC-ND-2)

Plans to visit Missoula this weekend, but don't have a room booked yet? If so, you're either out of luck or you'll be paying a premium.

The Garden City will host not only the first University of Montana home football game of the season, but also the hugely popular River City Roots Festival. That admission-free, two-day music and arts event is produced by the Missoula Downtown Association.

Sen. Tester urged the crowd to advocate for LWCF funding at an August 24 rally in Missoula, MT.
Josh Burnham

About 60 people rallied in Missoula's McCormick Park Monday afternoon to urge Congressional support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Northwestern energy says power for all Missoulians should be back in service tonight.
Sue Ginn

Northwestern Energy says its remaining Missoula customers without power should be back in service by late tonight. That includes residents of the city's South Hills, Linda Vista and Miller Creek neighborhoods. Thousands of residents have been without power since a destructive and powerful thunderstorm toppled trees and powerlines on Monday night.

Northwestern Energy has restored power to thousands  more Missoulians in the past 24 hours, but thousands more are still without electricity after Monday’s powerful storm.

Northwestern Energy says some residents in Missoula's Linda Vista/Miller Creek area will likely be without power for another day.
Courtesy Danny Dauterive

Northwestern Energy says Missoulians in the Linda Vista/Miller Creek areas still without power probably won't have any until late tomorrow night.

Thunderstorms toppled power lines in the Linda Vista area of Missoula, MT.
Courtesy Danny Dauterive

Western Montana may get another dose of nasty weather this evening.

National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Noble says conditions very similar to those that created powerful and destructive storms yesterday could soon start moving into western Montana.

Another round of showers and thunderstorms will develop by early this afternoon across the Northern Rockies.
National Weather Service, Missoula

August 11, 2015 - 11:00 a.m.
Here is an update from the National Weather Service.

The Beavertail Hill Fire started next to I-90, and burned uphill before being contained.
Courtesy Montana DNRC

The Reynolds Creek Fire burning six miles east of Logan Pass is 67 percent contained and burning just under 4,000 acres. The fire grew slightly on Saturday due to high winds but its growth was smothered Sunday with heavy smoke.

Neptune aviation will offer charter flights between Missoula and Billings beginning in September 2015.
Courtesy Neptune Aviation

Missoula's Neptune Aviation may be best known for its red and white firefighting airtanker fleet, but it also operates a thriving passenger air charter service.

Starting September 3, the company is adding a new Montana route to its existing lineup; two round-trip flights per week between Missoula and Billings on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Kathy Schaefer, regional director of women's health for Providence shows one of the new labor and delivery rooms at St. Patrick hospital in Missoula.
Eric Whitney

Missoula’s St. Patrick hospital invited the media to see its new family maternity center that opens Monday. Women’s Health Director Kathy Schaefer showed off one of the hospital’s seven rooms where moms will deliver babies.

Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.
Cheri Trusler

The City of Missoula has hit a speed bump in its effort to take ownership of the city’s water system.

The current owner, the Carlyle Group, is trying to sell Mountain Water Company of Missoula, and several other local water systems, to Liberty Utilities, a company that operates an assortment of water, electric and gas utilities around the country.

Montana’s Public Service Commission this morning voted to sue Century Link after rural customers complained of spotty telephone service.
Eric Whitney

Tuesday some rural Montana residents convinced the state’s Public Service Commission to do something about what one of them calls their "crappy phone service."

"Sometimes it doesn’t work. For instance, I run a small business out of my home, and I can run it with an answering machine….," says Ellis Misner, who lives near Craig between Helena and Great Falls.

Sunburst Sensors, LLC - 2014

A Missoula company has won $1.5 million in X-Prize money for developing a pair of sensors to measure ocean acidification.

Sunburst Sensors was awarded the prize Monday for developing sensors won competitions for accuracy and affordability.

Smokejumpers before a jump in 1968. Jim Phillips is first from the left.
Courtesy Jim Phillips

Helena's Jim Phillips clearly remembers the hot, dry, stormy summer of 1967. Wildfires were popping up across the west that year. That also happened to be Phillips' first year as a smokejumper.

Now, Phillips is organizing the 75th anniversary reunion for the smokejumper program. He spoke with MTPR's Edward O'Brien about the reunion, and the work smokejumpers do.

Missoula Art Museum
Josh Burnham - MTPR

The longtime curator of the Missoula Art Museum, Stephen Glueckert has retired, and Brandon Reintjes has taken over that role. The Montana native has been at the Montana Museum of Art and Culture at the University for the last six years. I talked to him about his new role as we toured the Montana Triennial exhibit currently up at the Missoula Art Museum.


Residents of Bayview, ID are being asked to avoid their cell phones to allow for better firefighter communications.
(PD)

Many have abandoned their landline telephones for the convenience of cell phones. But local emergencies, like the 2,000-acre wildfire burning in Bayview, Idaho can expose the limitations of that technology.

Missoula's North Hills and Mount Jumbo
Josh Burnham (All rights reserved)

The Missoula Rural Fire District has an extra fire engine on duty over the 4th of July weekend, in part because of what happened in 2006. District Chief Bill Colwell remembers sitting on his father’s deck that year, watching some local kids shoot off fireworks near Mount Jumbo.

Anthony J. Preite retires as the USDA's state director of rural development.
Courtesy photo

A man who’s had a big role in growing Montana’s economy for nearly 50 years is stepping down. Anthony Preite has been involved in rural economic development here since 1968, and last week he retired as state director of rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fireworks
Flickr user Michael Cramer (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Counties across western Montana today imposed Stage One fire restrictions effective this Friday morning at 12:01 a.m.

The restrictions come along with a ban on fireworks on all public and private land in Missoula, Ravalli, and Lake, and Lincoln counties. Flathead County commissioners will vote Thursday on a county-wide fireworks ban.

Fire Danger 'Extreme' In Missoula County

Jun 30, 2015
Stage 2 Fire restrictions go into effect across northwestern Montana Thursday at 1:00 a.m.
Josh Burnham

Officials have bumped the fire danger rating to "extreme" in Missoula County following a record-breaking heat wave and forecasts calling for hot, dry conditions to continue through the holiday weekend.

Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.
Cheri Trusler

Missoula's mayor says he's glad a judge agrees with the city that public ownership of the local water utility is better than private ownership. But John Engen says there’s still a lot of work to be done , not the least of which is determining a fair price for Mountain Water Company.

Chérie Newman

In 2008, Michael FitzGerald was a Web developer in Missoula who didn’t like his job. He was also a writer with an MFA in fiction. But whenever he tried to send his stories out to literary journals, magazines and potential publishers he ran into problems.

Flickr user nataliej (CC-BY-NC)

The first part of June brought badly-needed rain to Montana, but it's barely making up for a particularly dry month of May.

William Marcus' Retirement Party

May 27, 2015

Join Montana Public Radio and MontanaPBS in celebrating William's 40 year career at the Broadcast Media Center!

Tuesday, June 16th
5:30 - 10:00 p.m.
Caras Park in Missoula

 

Remarks and a short presentation begin at 6:30 p.m.
 

No host event with food and drink vendors available.

Music by the John Floridis Trio (5:30 - 6:30 p.m.), Rob Quist with special guests Ellie Nuno and Dave Griffith (7:15 - 8:15 p.m.), and The Drum Brothers (8:30 - 9:30 p.m.).

Fewer state and federal dollars are filling Montana school district coffers, so school officials are turning to local voters for help.

Bob Vogel of the Montana School Boards Association says bonding requests are becoming more common.

Eric Whitney

More than two hundred people gathered at the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Missoula to mark Memorial day. It was one of dozens of ceremonies across the state.

Paxon Elementary School in Missoula
Missoula County Public Schools

Missoula voters are being asked to approve two major school bond issues. They haven’t said yes to school debt of this magnitude since 1952.

Supporters of the bond questions that will appear on November's ballot say it’s time to update badly deteriorating local public schools.

For the second time in two years, a Missoula hospital is entering a joint venture with a hospital in Billings. Last year, Billings Clinic and a for-profit partner bought Missoula Community Medical center. The new joint venture announced this week isn’t a merger, but it does have Missoula’s other hospital, St Patrick, joining with St. Vincent hospital in Billings.

Cherie Newman

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of being a performer, even though you sing like a mud frog and your feet can’t find a two-step. But singing and dancing isn’t the only way to get into the spotlight. What if you could throw flames from your mouth like a dragon?

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