MTPR

Whitefish Montana

Whitefish's community vigil for victims of the Charlottesville, VA, protests drew a large crowd for speeches, prayers and singing.
Nicky Ouellet

There have been many silent moments in Montana this week.

One in Whitefish Tuesday night was held in honor of people who died and were injured while counter-protesting a white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday.

Malinda Goldhirsch makes the initial attack on a fire near her home that started due to downed powerlines Thursday night.
Libby Goldhirsch

The dry thunderstorm that swept through the Flathead area last night set off dozens of spot fires, left about 5,000 houses without power for hours and previews what’s to come this weekend as a new weather front moves in.

Malinda Goldhirsch lives in Whitefish and got a firsthand taste of the powerful storm while watching TV with her family.

Flathead Lake near Polson, MT.
P.J. Johnson (CC-BY-ND-2)

Lake County is updating its growth policy plan this summer. Tuesday, county planners hosted the last of five public meetings to hear what local residents think should be addressed in the plan due later this fall.

The county hosted a slew of open houses over the past two weeks to hear what local residents think about development, land use and protecting natural and cultural resources as Lake County continues to grow.

Boat inspections are mandatory at City Beach and Whitefish Lake State Park this season
Nicky Ouellet

As the state ramps up its efforts this year to screen boats for invasive species, some local groups have taken inspections into their own hands.

The City of Whitefish and the Whitefish Lake Institute, for example, have been running two city-funded mandatory check stations since Memorial Day at the only public boat launches on Whitefish Lake. The Whitefish Lake Institute, a local nonprofit that monitors water quality on the lake, also runs a decontamination station.

Citing potential threats to human health, ecosystems and the economy, Whitefish Mayor John Muhlfeld said the city will make mitigating climate change a priority.
Nicky Ouellet

Whitefish joined a growing number of U.S. cities pledging to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement Monday night. Citing potential threats to human health, ecosystems and the economy, Whitefish Mayor John Muhlfeld said the city will make mitigating climate change a priority.

"The City of Whitefish will increase its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice," Muhlfeld said.

Affordable housing is becoming increasingly hard to find in Whitefish, as second homeowners, mostly from out of state, scoop up real estate and landlords turn their usual long-term rentals into vacation rentals. For people working the low-wage service industry jobs that sustain the area’s tourism economy, there aren’t a lot of options.

The Whitefish Climate Action Planning Committee started meeting this past January to draft a set of cost-saving and energy use goals and strategies for the city, local schools and the community.
Whitefish Climate Action Planning Committee

Even before President Trump opted out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the city of Whitefish was developing its own climate action plan.

Nicky Ouellet

Flathead County Commissioners today took a step towards legalizing and regulating short-term housing rentals outside of incorporated towns. Vacation rentals by owner, or VRBOs, are currently illegal outside of Kalispell, Columbia Falls and Whitefish, but people are doing it anyway.

Commissioner Pam Holmquist voted in favor of a resolution to change county regulations, which passed on a 2-1 vote.

“We're just trying to help the VRBO individuals and the community have a voice in this,” says Holmquist.

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

Flathead County Commissioners are considering a proposal to regulate short-term housing rentals outside of incorporated towns. 

Steve Pleasants rents out part of his home near Whitefish for a few weeks each summer. The extra income helps him pay his property taxes and covers small projects to improve his house. He says that shouldn’t be against the law.

Whitefish residents held a "love not hate" rally January 7, 2017 in response to calls from a neo-Nazi website to target locals with anti-Semitic online harassment.
Nicky Ouellet

A Jewish rabbi in Whitefish is receiving national recognition for her leadership in standing up to anti-Semitism. Rabbi Francine Roston is one of this year’s Rabbinic Human Rights Heroes, awarded by T’ruah, a nonprofit organization of rabbis that advocates for human rights.

Elementary school students in Whitefish may get a new school building if voters in the district approve to fund a bond initiative next October.

The Whitefish School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the bond initiative of $26.5 million-dollars earlier this week.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools award recognizes individual schools and entire districts for reducing environmental impact and costs; improving health and wellness; and offering effective environmental education.
U.S. Department of Education

The Whitefish School District has received national recognition for sustainability and education.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools award recognizes individual schools and entire districts for reducing environmental impact and costs; improving health and wellness; and offering effective environmental education.

Whitefish is the first school district in Montana to receive the award.

Richard Spencer, head of the National Policy Institute and editor of Radix Journal, an alt-right publication is a part-time Whitefish resident.
Courtesy National Policy Institute

The federal government has revoked the tax-exempt status of a group run by white nationalist Richard Spencer. Spencer says the IRS incorrectly listed his white-supremacy think tank, the National Policy Institute, as not having to file certain tax forms normally required of nonprofits.

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.

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.

Crews in Whitefish dig at the site where the city water main burst Monday morning on Baker Avenue.
Nicky Ouellet

Crews in Whitefish have already fixed a water main burst that left many homes and businesses without water Monday morning, but public works managers say road repairs will likely last into summer.

A leaky gasket, paired with a freeze-thaw pattern Sunday night, caused the burst, which Whitefish Public Works Director Craig Workman called "catastrophic."

Crews in Whitefish dig at the site where the city water main burst Monday morning on Baker Avenue.
Nicky Ouellet

A burst to the city's water main in Whitefish early Monday morning left much of the city without water for parts of the day. Crews worked quickly to isolate the rupture and restore water pressure to the system, but local businesses took a hit.

Crews in Whitefish dig at the site where the city water main burst Monday morning on Baker Avenue.
Nicky Ouellet

Fifty homes are still without water after a catastrophic burst to the City of Whitefish's water main this morning. Parts of Baker Avenue south of downtown remain closed after crews dug up the street to isolate the leak.

Crown of the Continent Choir singing "Dear Mr. President."
Nicky Ouellet

It’s been a rough few weeks for many people living in the Flathead Valley. First, several families and businesses faced a barrage of hate-filled, anti-Semitic phone calls and messages. Then, a group of neo-Nazis threatened an armed march against the city of Whitefish.

Whitefish, MT rail depot.
Flickr user Roy Luck (CC-BY-2)

Leave your guns at home.

That’s the message Whitefish City Manager Chuck Stearns sent to neo-Nazi organizers, who proposed an armed march against the city last month.

Whitefish, MT rail depot.
Flickr user Roy Luck (CC-BY-2)

The neo-Nazi website proposing an armed march through Whitefish on Martin Luther King Day now says it's postponing its planned demonstration, after failing to submit a complete event permit application earlier this week.

People gathered in Whitefish's Depot Park for a "Love Not Hate" Rally Saturday, January 7, 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

City managers in Whitefish say they’ve received an application for a special event permit from a neo-Nazi website. But, it’s incomplete.

A few weeks ago, the Daily Stormer proposed an armed march against Jewish families and businesses in Whitefish in January.

Whitefish residents held a "love not hate" rally January 7, 2017 in response to calls from a neo-Nazi website to target locals with anti-Semitic online harassment.
Nicky Ouellet

Temperatures were in the single digits Saturday morning in Whitefish, but that didn’t stop a few hundred people from flooding the streets downtown for a block party. With the ski hill as a backdrop, Jessica Loti Leferrier addressed a bundled-up crowd milling around heat lamps and spilling onto snowbanks.

"The extremist groups that have been making all the news do not represent us," she said.

Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial addressing the Glacier Country Pachyderm Club in Kalispell Friday
Nicky Ouellet

Whitefish Chief of Police Bill Dial says he’s doubtful a threatened armed march through Whitefish will actually happen.

A neo-Nazi website is calling for the march on Martin Luther King Day.

Whitefish, MT rail depot.
Flickr user Roy Luck (CC-BY-2)

A group in Whitefish is hosting a so-called "Love Not Hate" rally Saturday, January 7. Organizers are calling the event a stand against oppression.

City commissioners in Great Falls passed a resolution Tuesday supporting the city and citizens of Whitefish.

The Jewish community in Whitefish, Mont., has become the target of online harassment by neo-Nazis after Sherry Spencer, the mother of emerging white nationalist leader Richard Spencer, wrote online about being asked to sell her downtown properties and donate the profits to the Montana Human Rights Network.

One of the paper menorahs Love Lives Here is distributing in Whitefish this Hanukkah
Nicky Ouellet

A few days before the start of Hanukkah, a small group gathered on a street corner in downtown Whitefish, holding stacks of paper menorahs. Joan Vetter Ehrenberg, a volunteer for Love Lives Here, a branch of the Montana Human Rights Network, reads an explanation from the back of the menorah:

"Obviously in response to the anti-semitic targeting of our local friends and neighbors in Whitefish, Love Lives Here invites everyone in the valley to hang a menorah in the window ..."

Whitefish, MT rail depot.
Flickr user Roy Luck (CC-BY-2)

A bipartisan group of Montana’s top elected officials today condemned a series of anti-Semitic, online attacks happening in Whitefish.

U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, along with Congressman Ryan Zinke, Governor Steve Bullock, and Attorney General Tim Fox released a joint statement saying that groups with anti-Semitic views will “find no safe haven here.”

A school bus delivering kids home in Whitefish Wednesday afternoon slipped off the edge of the road and flipped over.

Emergency responders arrived soon after the accident was reported at 4:30 pm and evacuated children from the back door of the bus.

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