Welcome to our local news page!
We have 3 local newscasts daily on each station.
1240 AM KLTZ: 7:30am, 12:30pm, 5:30pm
Mix-93 FM: 7:05am, 12:05pm, 5:05pm
Ag Partners, LLC
Edward Jones, local agent Bryan Krumwiede
Glenn's Automotive Repair & Wrecker Service
Oasis Lounge Eatery & Casino
Park Grove Bar & Grill
Pehlke's Furniture & Floor Coverings
Robyn's Nest Home Decor and Fine Gifts
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Shelly George
Triple A Glass
Will's Office World
Gysler Furniture & Appliance in Wolf Point
AgLand Coop, Glasgow
Flu Vaccines Available At Valley County Health Department Starting September 22
Walk-in Wednesdays for COVID-19 vaccine continue each week at the Valley County Health Department, with both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson in stock.
Also, beginning 9/22/2021 the flu vaccine will also be available. The health department has 600 doses of regular flu and 400 High-dose, but please don't overload them the first week!
Hours are: 11:30 am - 5:30 pm on Wednesdays at the Valley County Health Department.
They are also scheduling flu clinics in Fort Peck, Hinsdale, Lustre, Nashua, Opheim, and St. Marie and will be there as soon as possible.
National Weather Service Releases Latest Drought Briefing
Here is the link to our latest Drought Briefing and Climate Outlook:
MSU Pesticide Education Program To Visit Eastern Montana
BOZEMAN —The Montana State University Pesticide Education Program, with assistance from the Montana Department of Agriculture, is offering a pest management tour for pesticide applicators at 10 locations across eastern Montana from Oct. 4 through 8.
Those in the state’s Private Applicator Training District 4 need to earn six private applicator credits before Dec. 31 to avoid losing their certification, according to MSU Extension Pesticide Education Specialist Cecil Tharp. District 4 includes Carter, Custer, Daniels, Dawson, Fallon, Garfield, McCone, Phillips, Powder River, Prairie, Richland, Roosevelt, Rosebud, Sheridan, Treasure, Valley and Wibaux counties. Applicators can check their credits at https://mtplants.mt.gov/PesticideApplicator/ApplicationExternalSearch.aspx or contact their county MSU Extension office for license information.
There will be 10 onsite locations total, two for each day. Speakers will present on a variety of topics, including managing rodents; managing herbicide-resistant weeds; drought considerations when using pesticides; drought and weed management; preventing weed spread from hay shipments; and more. Presentations vary by location.
Representatives speaking on the tour include Tharp; MSU Extension Forage Specialist Hayes Goosey; MSU Crop Weed Specialist Tim Seipel; MSU Associate Extension Specialist Noelle Orloff; MSU Associate Extension Plant Pathologist Uta McKelvy; and MDA Vertebrate Pest Specialist Stephen Vantassel.
Private applicators can attend morning or afternoon sessions for three credits or both sessions for six credits. More information, including commercial applicator credits, can be found at [https://www.pesticides.montana.edu/events/2020PMT.html].
All locations will follow MSU and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention policies requesting mask use while indoors. Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the two weeks prior to the event or who are experiencing cold- or flu-like symptoms should not attend.
The tour stops are as follows:
Monday, Oct. 4
Newmont Friendship Room at the Daniels County Museum, 720 2nd Ave., in Scobey. Register by contacting Inga Hawbaker, Daniels County Extension agent, 406-487-2861 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Register by Sept. 30. No fee and lunch is not provided.
Civic Center, Sheridan County Fairgrounds, 4262 MT-16, in Plentywood. Register by contacting Amy Bowser, MSU pesticide education technician, 406-994-5178 or email@example.com. Register by Sept. 30. No fee and lunch is not provided.
Tuesday, Oct. 5
Elks Lodge, 309 2nd Ave. S., in Glasgow. Register by contacting Shelley Mills, Valley County agriculture agent, 406-228-6241 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Register by Oct. 1. No fee and lunch is not provided.
Great Northern Hotel, 2 South 1st St. E., in Malta. Register by contacting Marko Manoukian, Phillips County agriculture agent, 406-654-2543 or email@example.com. Register by Oct. 1. The fee is $12 and lunch is provided.
Wednesday, Oct. 6
MSU Extension Office, 1499 N. Central Ave., in Sidney. Register by contacting Tim Fine, Richland County Extension agriculture agent, 406-433-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Register by Oct. 2. No fee and lunch is not provided.
McCone County Fairgrounds, 14 Fairgrounds Rd., in Circle. Register by contacting Ken Nelson, McCone County Extension agriculture agent, 406-485-2605 or email@example.com. Register by Oct. 2. The fee is $10 and lunch is provided.
Thursday, Oct. 7
American Legion, 112 S. Logan Ave., in Terry. Register by contacting Sharla Sackman, Prairie County Extension agriculture agent, 406-635-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Register by Oct. 3. No fee and lunch is not provided.
Wibaux County Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall, 7900 Highway 7 in Wibaux. Register by contacting Danielle Harper, Wibaux County Extension agent, 406-796-2486 or email@example.com. Register by Oct. 3. No fee and lunch is not provided.
Friday, Oct. 8
Custer County Event Center, 42 Garryowen Rd., in Miles City. Register by contacting Mike Schuldt, Custer County Extension agriculture agent, 406-874-3370 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Register by Oct. 4. The fee is $10 and lunch is provided.
Rosebud County Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall, 513 N. 16th Ave., in Forsyth. Register by contacting Marley Manoukian, Rosebud/Treasure counties Extension agent, 406-346-7320 or email@example.com. Register by Oct. 4. The fee is $10 and lunch is provided.
To register, contact the county Extension office where the event will occur (see details above) or online at https://www.pesticides.montana.edu/events/2020PMT.html.
A detailed program agenda is available online at https://pesticides.montana.edu/events/2021pmt.html . Information is also available from local Extension agents. For other questions, contact Tharp at 406-994-5067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MSU Extension Pesticide Education Program is an educational program promoting the proper use of pesticides to protect public health and the environment. The program supports all applicators, businesses and homeowners by combining educational resources and knowledge from scientists, governmental agencies and the public.
Final Alive At Five Of The Year Is Tonight
Get ready for the final Alive @ 5 of the season, from 5-8p.m. Wednesday night. It's hosted by the Glasgow Downtown Association & Cherry Creek Gear Shop and will feature live music from Miles City’s Jake Elwood, food from Auzzy’s Cookshack, drinks, games, raffles, & a ton of family friendly fun.
It's also "Hump Day" with many businesses offering flash sales throughout the day, so don’t forget to shop local on Wednesday & bring your receipts into the Glasgow Chamber for a chance at winning Chamber Big Bucks.
COVID Walk-In Clinic Today At Valley County Health Department
Valley County Health Department has a walk-in clinic for the Moderna vaccine, for COVID-19 vaccine ONLY, from 11:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. today.
All other vaccinations by appointment only, call 228-6261.
Valley County With 17 Active Cases Of COVID-19
VALLEY COUNTY COVID-19
New cases since last update: 12
Active cases now: 17
Recovered cases/no longer infectious: 956
Total cases: 991
Total hospitalizations to date: 75
NEW ACTIVE CASES ONLY
Age less than 10: 2
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications:
Valley County: 18
Valley County vaccination rate: 40.7% (2572 persons fully vaccinated out of 6313 eligible Valley County residents). 30 COVID vaccines were given on 9/8/2021 at VCHD.
Walk-in vaccine clinic for COVID-19 vaccine ONLY every Wednesday from 11:30am – 5:30pm (we close at 6pm!) at VCHD. COVID-19 vaccine – Moderna only – for age 18+ is available.
GHS Educational Trust Announces Gift From Karen (Swenson) Combs Family
The Glasgow High School Educational Trust is honored and grateful to announce a gift of $20,000 from the Karen (Swenson) Combs Family. Karen, the very first recipient of a gift from the trust in 1966, said her donation was a “… way of saying thank you and paying forward a blessing.”
“I have many fond memories of my high school years at Glasgow High School that set the foundation for continuing my education at Eastern Montana College in Billings, Montana, now known as Montana State University, Billings. At that time, $500 was huge and paid tuition for a quarter of college. I began my schooling the summer after my graduation from high school in 1965 and graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Special Education. I taught my first year in Great Falls as a second-grade teacher and then married Ronald Combs of Glasgow in June of 1970. I spent my years teaching in both Great Falls and in Lewistown, Montana, until retiring in 2010 after 25 years of teaching. My education has been a rewarding journey, and I have learned every step of the way. It is my time to pay it forward, and it is a blessing to share.”
As with all donations to the trust, Karen (Swenson) Combs’ gift will be invested. The interest earned on the corpus, which now exceeds $10 million dollars, is awarded to eligible GHS alumni pursuing post-secondary education at trade school or college through a semi-annual application process administered by the trustees. Students may apply by July 1st of each year for both semesters of the upcoming year, or by October 15th of each year for the spring semester only. Since its inception in 1964, the trust has given over $2,700,000 to over 750 different students in very diverse disciplines attending schools across the country. Students may reapply for additional aid for a total of eight semesters if they continue to meet all of the eligibility requirements. Many students have received multiple awards from the trust over their courses of study. The application, eligibility requirements, and additional information about the trust are available at www.ghsedutrust.org.
The trust has two gift naming opportunities (i.e., named in honor, in recognition, or in memory of an individual, family, organization, or event). An outright or cumulative donation, or other revenue source, of $500 or more, is eligible for a one-time naming. An outright or cumulative donation, or other revenue source of $10,000 or more, is eligible for an on-going naming opportunity on a regular basis.
The trust also purchases equipment and enrichment programs for Glasgow High School that cannot be financed within the regular budget. Every department of GHS has received such awards, which benefit every student across the curriculum at some time. These additions and improvements also benefit the general public when they attend activities at the school or use the school’s facilities for special events. To date, the trust has spent over $250,000 on these items.
At its recent semi-annual meeting, the Glasgow High School Educational Trust awarded over $200,000 in financial aid to the 45 different students shown below enrolled in 20 different schools for both the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semesters. These awards include the very first in recognition of the 1966 Scholarship Gift to Karen Anne Swenson, whose name will long be remembered as someone to whom the expression “pay it forward” is obviously much more than a slogan.
First-time Recipients: Isaac Braaten, South Dakota School of Mines, IMO Phyllis E. Moen Sanguine (fall semester), IMO Audrey and Arthur Parke (spring semester); Ali Cunningham, Dickinson State University, IMO Ardis Parke Fuhrman (fall semester), IMO Harry Rybock (spring semester); Dillon Godwin, Brigham Young U-Idaho, IMO Robert “Bob” E. Rennick, Jr. (fall semester) IMO Vern and Edna Richardson (spring semester); Salomon Hansen, MSU-Bozeman, IMO Judith “Judy” Rorvig Saindon (fall semester), IMO Stan and Eva Kalinski (spring semester); Benjamin Miller, MSU-Bozeman, IMO Ronald A. Combs (fall semester) IRO Paul and Joyce Ruffcorn Jacobson (spring semester);Tanner Overby, Brigham Young U-Idaho, IMO Harold H. and Irene W. Smith (fall semester), IMO Hovland Family (spring semester); Lauren Padden, MSU-Bozeman, IMO Lois Wilson Markle (fall semester), IMO Maxine Fiedler (spring semester);Taylor Pederson, Williston State College, IMO Lila Moen Sanders and IHO Phyllis Moen Sanguine (fall semester), IHO Stan Andersen Family (spring semester);
Anika Peters, South Dakota School of Mines, IRO Tom and Flora Coghlan Family; Brennan Peters, Minot State University, IHO Everett and Elizabeth Breigenzer; Paige Schmitt, MSU-Bozeman, IMO Dean Rusher; Rachel Sigmundstad, MSU-Bozeman, IMO Brenna Billingsley Sundby; Eli Sisson, University of Cincinnati, IMO O. E. and Lois Wilson Markle; Tim Wageman, MSU-Bozeman, IRO Glenn R. and Carolee Grina Wallem; Elijah Zeluff, Montana Technological University, IHO Dorothy Kolstad.
Second-time Recipients: Kaden Fossum, City College Billings, IMO Leonard H. and Kathryn L. Langen; Brett Glaser, Carroll College, IHO James and Ailene Dokken Olk Family; Katherine Kaiser, Colorado State University, IRO Ione and Phyllis Kleppin (fall semester), IRO Herb and Lucille Friedl Family (spring semester);
Garrett Lloyd, MSU-Bozeman, IHO Kurt Breigenzer; Ellis McKean, University of Montana, IMO Dr. F.M. and Bernice Knierim; Merlin McKean, MSU-Bozeman, IHO Gayle Wagenhals Sage; Cordelia Nickels, MSU-Billings, IHO Sever and Esther Enkerud; Alexus Nistler, MSU-Billings, IMO John and Lois Wesen; Hayley Nybakken, University of Montana, IHO Carl L. Dix; Elizabeth Page, University of Mary, IMO Leslie L., Lillian, and Mary Margarette Hanson; Alexandria Pehlke, University of Montana-Western, IHO Charlotte Bruce; Natosha Sand, Dickinson State University, IRO Stannebein Family; Trevor Shipp, Mitchell Technical College, IMO Richard “Dick” and Mary Lou Alley Wagenhals; Micah Tweten, MSU-Northern, IMO Cecil and Chloe Toftness; Brooke Westby, Carroll College, IHO Bill and Peggy Pattison Endowment; Amari Zeluff, Minot State University, IMO Verda Hoffarth Stewart.
Third-time Recipients: Alexander Fransen, Dickinson State University, IMO James F. and Anne Hoffmann; McKenne Gagne, Minot State University, IMO Gary and Idella Mott; Bailee Holstein, MSU-Northern, IRO Beatrice Trites and Family; Anthony Kaiser, University of North Dakota, IMO Donald “Don” J. Baker; Jesi Kennedy, Montana Technological University, IMO L. J. and Jean Baker; Madison Knodel, MSU-Bozeman, IRO 1966 Scholarship Gift to Karen Anne Swenson;
Sophia Koessl, MSU-Bozeman, IMO Horace O. and Emma C. Gamas; Bryce Legare, MSU-Bozeman, IMO James “Jamie” K. Fewer; Benjamin Phillips, North Dakota State University, IMO James “Jim” A. Parke; Deann Rasmusan, Minot State University, IMO Karen D. Newton.
Fourth-time Recipients: Teagan Fossum, University of Mary, IMO Marsha Cotton Hall; Jordan Kulczyk, Presentation College, IHO Beryl Pehlke; Karissa Liebelt, MSU-Northern, IMO Aaron “Chappy” Chatten (fall semester) IMO Wallace L. Johnson (spring semester); Taylor Padden, MSU-Bozeman, IRO Willard and Charlotte Bruce Family.
The trust also purchased six books (25 copies of each) for the English Department of Glasgow High School, IMO Dean Rusher.
Wolf Point man struck by train while crossing tracks in Oswego
Story credit to www.kulr8.com
A Wolf Point man was killed early Sunday morning when crossing railroad tracks on a 4-wheeler.
According to Montana Highway Patrol (MHP), the incident happened around 1:00 am Sunday, near 6th St. and C Ave. in Oswego.
A Honda 4-wheeler was reportedly driving southbound across the railroad tracks when it was struck by a westbound train.
The driver, a 27-year-old man from Wolf Point was pronounced deceased on the scene.
There are unknown factors at this time MHP said, and an investigation is ongoing.
City Of Glasgow Spends $251,504 On Street Improvement Projects
According to the City of Glasgow, the city spent over $251,000 on street improvement projects during the summer of 2021.
The streets involved in the project include 10th Street South, 5th Avenue South and Kolstad Drive.
This does not include any of the work done by the Glasgow Street Department which does continual maintenance on city streets.
Flags To Be Flown At Half-Staff On September 11th
Flags in Montana have been ordered to be flown at half-staff on Sept. 11.
The Governor's Proclamation says flags will be flown from sunrise to sunset in memory of the lives lost in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and in honor of all who answered the call to protect and defend the United States against terrorism.
All Montanans are also being asked to observe a statewide moment of silence starting at 6:46 am MDT to honor the innocent lives lost that day as the first terrorist attack occurred at 6:46 am MDT.
Fort Peck Tribal Elections Set For October
The window to file as a candidate for Fort Peck Tribal Office is rapidly approaching. September 15th is the final day to file as a candidate for Tribal Office.
Chinook Man Appointed To Farm Service Agency Committee
The USDA Farm Service Agency has announced appointment of Ryan Lankford of Fort Belknap to serve on the FSA state committee in Montana, which ensures the effective and efficient delivery of FSA federal farm programs to the state’s agricultural producers.
Members of the FSA state committee are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture and are responsible for the oversight of farm programs and county committee operations, resolving program delivery appeals from the agriculture community, maintaining cooperative relations with industry stakeholders, keeping producers informed about FSA programs and operating in a manner consistent with USDA equal opportunity and civil rights policies.
Lankford, of Chinook, produces conventional and certified organic small grain, pulse and seed crops. He is a veteran of the United States Army and an active member of the Fort Belknap Indian Community.
More appointments will follow as USDA seats the three to five member FSA state committees for each state and Puerto Rico.
The state committee chairperson will be named when all committee members have been appointed.
Robert Weber Recommended For Next Glasgow Police Chief
A committee comprised of members of the Glasgow City Council and 2 members of the Glasgow Police Commission will recommend Robert Weber to be the next Glasgow Police Chief.
Weber was one of 3 candidates interviewed by the committee over the past 2 weeks.
He still needs to be confirmed by the full Glasgow City Council and his appointment will be on the agenda for the next meeting on September 20th.
Weber is a long time member of the Glasgow Police Department and will replace Brien Gault as Chief of Police.
Four Valley County Graduates Receive Feda Scholarships
Careers in aviation, radiology, cosmetology, and transportation are on the horizon for four graduates of Valley County high schools who received scholarships from the Feda Scholarships for the Trades.
Doris Leader of Nashua, chair of the Valley County Community Foundation, which administers the scholarship endowment, announced the awards.
The four recipients bring resumes of academic achievement along with school and community involvement:
Nashua graduate Trace Laumeyer will attend Williston State College to study transportation technician technology. His career plans include working in an automotive or agriculture-based shop including doing on-demand repair work on farms. During high school, he was involved in basketball, track, and band, serving several terms as a class officer. He was also active in 4-H taking leadership positions as a club officer, and was active in church and community projects.
Danika Soper, a Hinsdale High School graduate, will study cosmetology at the Avenue Five Institute in Austin, Texas. During high school, she was active in music and sports, student council, H-Club and National Honor Society. In FFA, she placed at the state level in multiple public speaking competitions, taking first place in creed speaking. This took her to national competition, where she received a bronze pin.
Tristin Vandall of Glasgow has completed an online independent study program and in May graduated from Excel High School. He will enter the aircraft maintenance technician program at Southern Utah University in Cedar City. His goal is to work on supercub type airplanes and eventually start his own company, building and working on custom planes. An outdoor enthusiast, he enjoys hunting and hiking. He is helpful to others with yard work, home repairs, mechanics and he enjoys helping at the Fort Peck Theatre.
Previous Feda Scholarship recipient Sara Boucher, a Hinsdale High School graduate, will continue her studies in radiologic technology at Flathead Valley Community College. Following completion of the remaining three semesters, Sara plans to work in a rural hospital in Montana. During high school, she was active in sports earning varsity letters in basketball and volleyball all four years, serving as an officer of FFA and she was active in community service.
Audrey and Gerry Feda of Glasgow established the scholarship with an endowment to the Valley County Community Foundation in 2007. It benefits current-year Valley County high school graduates who pursue an education in the trades, and previous recipients who continue their studies in the trades.
Earnings from the endowment fund the annual awards, with the first scholarship given in 2009. Since then, 31 students have received a total of $46,900. Previous recipients have pursued many different careers, some of which include respiratory care, agronomy, welding, and diesel and computer technology.
Applications for 2022 scholarships will be available in the spring. Notice of requirements and the application deadline are given through the VCCF website: www.valleycountycf.net, local media, and high school guidance counselors.
Norval Electric Cooperative Cancels Annual Meeting
After consultation with our Cooperative Counsel and recommendations from the Valley County Health Director, we have been advised that the combination of both an increasing COVID infection rate and low vaccination rate in our northeast Montana service area presents a substantial risk of community spread through in-person gatherings such as Norval Electric’s Annual Meeting.
Out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our members and employees, the Board of Directors of Norval Electric Cooperative, Inc. have decided to cancel the 2021 Annual Meeting of Members originally scheduled for October 27, 2021 in Glasgow.
In accordance with the Bylaws of Norval Electric Cooperative, Inc., these actions will not adversely affect the Cooperative’s legal existence or standing. Members will receive adequate notice of any change in conditions or the time set for future annual meetings of members.
Valley County COVID Update
New cases since last update: 25
Active cases now: 27
NEW ACTIVE CASES ONLY
Age less than 10: 1
Recovered cases/no longer infectious: 934
Total cases: 979
Total hospitalizations to date: 75
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications:
Valley County: 18
US rolling 7-day average death rate from COVID-19 infection: 1,047 people on average in the U.S. ARE DYING EVERY DAY. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/
Valley County vaccination rate: 40.3% (2543 persons fully vaccinated out of 6313 eligible Valley County residents). 61 COVID vaccines were given on 9/1/2021.
Walk-in vaccine clinic for COVID-19 vaccine ONLY every Wednesday from 11:30am – 5:30pm (we close at 6pm!) at VCHD. COVID-19 vaccine – Moderna only – for age 18+ are available.
Water Flows From Fort Peck Dam Reduced
Despite some heavy rainstorms in August, flows from Fort Peck Dam will be reduced from 9,500 cubic feet per second to 5,000 cfs this month as managers respond to persistent drought.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the changes after examining August inflows and forecasts for the remainder of the year.
“Reservoir inflows in August were much lower than average,” said John Remus, chief of the Corps’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. "We expect below-average inflows into the system through the rest of 2021."
Heavy rainfall was localized throughout the Upper Missouri River Basin during August, allowing drought conditions to expand across the basin due to the exceptionally dry soils, the Corps reported. August runoff in the upper basin was 54% of average. The 2021 calendar year forecast for the upper basin, updated on Sept. 1, is 14.7 million acre-feet, 57% of average. The average annual runoff is 25.8 MAF.
As of Sept. 2, the total volume of water stored in Corps' dams along the Missouri River was 52.1 MAF, which is 4 MAF below the base of the system’s flood control zone.
Fort Peck Reservoir's water level is 16 feet lower than it was in 2019, and 10 feet lower than at this time last year. By the end of September the lake level should drop another foot to a predicted elevation of 2,227.8 feet.
As reservoir levels continue to decline through the fall, system storage is expected to be more than 8 MAF below the base of flood control at the start of the 2022 runoff season.
According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, drought degradation is occurring across much of the upper basin. As of Sept. 2, approximately 83% of the Missouri River basin is experiencing some form of abnormally dry conditions or drought.
The National Weather Service climate outlooks indicate the likelihood of persistent warmer-than-normal and drier-than-normal conditions for the upper basin during the fall and winter.
The Corps will hold its annual fall public meeting in the Fort Peck Interpretive Center on Oct. 25 at 10:30 a.m. Fall meetings provide an update on the current year's runoff and reservoir operations as well as planned operations for the next year's runoff season. The Annual Operating Plan for the next year's runoff season is released for public comment in September, presented at the public meetings and finalized at the end of the calendar year.
Glasgow City Council Agenda
City Of Glasgow Continues Search For Chief Of Police
A committee comprised of the Glasgow City Council along with 3 others are in the process of interviewing 4 candidates for the position of Chief of Police.
On Wednesday, the committee interviewed 2 candidates who are currently employed by the Glasgow Police Department. Robert Weber and Tyler Edwards both sat down with the committee for interviews explaining their vision for the department.
Next week, 2 other candidates from outside the department will interview with the committee. One candidate is from Montana and the other from Texas.
The committee is comprised of the Glasgow City Council along with former Chief of Police Emery Brelje, City Attorney Anna Rose Sullivan and former council member Todd Young.
MHP Increasing Patrols Over Labor Day Weekend
The summer travel season may be coming to an end but that doesn't mean Montana law enforcement is relaxing their efforts to keep you safe.
So far this year, there have been 133 fatal crashes in the state, and Montana Highway Patrol is asking everyone to keep safety in mind when you hit the road.
Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer, which means more people will be traveling these next few days. Montana Highway Patrol says holiday weekends are typically when they see an increase in fatal crashes.
Labor Day is the second deadliest holiday weekend for motorists. According to the 2020 report from MHP, from 2016 to 2020 there were 14 fatalities on the unofficial end of summer weekend.
They say one major factor behind fatal car accidents is speed.
“This year alone over 559 citations issued by the highway patrol for people speeding above 100 miles per hour. So speed is a huge factor," Sgt. Jay Nelson, with MHP, said.
The second biggest factor is people driving under the influence. Sgt. Nelson says if you’re smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol don’t get behind the wheel.
“Just this year alone: a 43% increase over the last two years of alcohol being a factor of fatality crashes,” he said.
In 65% of fatal crashes, Sgt. Nelson says a seatbelt was not used.
As Labor Day approaches, he says they’re gearing up for one of the most deadliest weekends on the road.
“We’re going to have additional shifts not only with overtime funded by the department of transportation as well as local dui task force where those troopers are going to be out looking for those people under the influence specifically,” he said.
Sgt. Nelson says there are three ways you can keep yourself and others safe this holiday weekend; Wear your seatbelt, slow down and do not get behind the wheel if you've been under the influence.
Being safe doesn't mean you can't have fun, but it could just save your life.
Lawsuit Filed Against Montana Secretary Of State Accusing SOS Office Of Double Charging Customers
A new class action lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses the Montana Secretary of State's Office of knowingly making more than $120,000 off double charging customers without notifying them of the error, saying the office’s policy for resolving overcharges violates Montana law.
“In Montana, the Secretary of State has a side hustle,” the first line of the lawsuit against Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen reads.
The suit says the overcharging stems from a technical glitch but claims Jacobsen knew about the problems and carried on her predecessor’s policy of not refunding money unless requested in writing.
Attorneys claim the SOS didn’t notify those affected.
The suit says an SOS employee created a spreadsheet to document duplicate charges and shared it with then-Secretary of State Corey Stapleton and then-Deputy Secretary of State Jacobsen, alleging Jacobsen has known about this issue since 2019.
“While businesses in Montana hung on by a thread as the COVID-19 pandemic raged, while other arms of government did all they could to route money to keep small businesses afloat, the Secretary of State’s Office was skimming—to the tune of more than $120,000 in fiscal year 2020. A lucrative side hustle, to say the least,” the lawsuit reads.
The plaintiffs in the case include several Montana businesses, including Purple Snow Promotional, Backslope Brewing, Pine Street Rentals, Essential Mountain Products, Black Dog Farm, The Mental Health Update and Wicked Good Handyman Service.
The lawsuit goes into further detail about the technical problems causing the overcharging. It says the Secretary of State’s Office contracted with a firm to use Catalyst, a platform that processes payments on the SOS website.
The lawsuit says if a customer pressed submit or pay on the website more than once, it resulted in multiple payments.
The filing says in some instances customers would submit their payment information, but a glitch prevented it from being recorded. The lawsuit says the customer would then get notification of nonpayment and would pay again, even though they had already been charged the first time.
The lawsuit calls for the practice to be stopped, a declaration that the policy is unlawful and an order requiring the SOS to inform potentially affected people. Plaintiffs also want refunds on behalf of everyone this has affected and attorney’s fees covered.
June, July And August Warmest 3 Month Period On Record For Glasgow
The Glasgow National Weather Service Office is reporting that August brought some relief with cooler temperatures and precipitation.
The months of June, July and August combined were record warmest for Glasgow with 74.3 degrees, beating 1936 of 74.2.
Glasgow Underpass Getting A Paint Job
Glasgow resident Cathryn McIntyre is leading the effort in painting the underpass in downtown Glasgow. McIntyre along with many volunteers have been busy painting a mural on the underpass and its a large undertaking at 21,000 square feet!
Glasgow Mayor Becky Erickson helped obtain a grant from the Montana Arts Council and several community organizations have provided support for the project. McIntyre stated that volunteers from across the community have helped the project including art students from Glasgow High School.
Gov. Gianforte Announces DPHHS Emergency Rule to Promote Parental Rights Regarding Masking in Schools
Governor Greg Gianforte Tuesday announced the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) issued an emergency rule to promote the role of parents as the ultimate decision makers on matters pertaining to the health of their children, including on the issue of wearing masks in schools.
“Montana students deserve to be back in their classroom in as normal and safe an environment as possible. Montana parents deserve to know their voices are heard in schools when health-related mandates for their children are being considered. They also deserve to know that schools are reviewing reliable data and scientific research about the impacts of mask mandates on students,” Gov. Gianforte said.
“Unfortunately, mandating masks for students is based on inconclusive research that fails to prove masks’ effectiveness in reducing the incidence of COVID-19 in the classroom. Simply put, our children shouldn’t be subject to arbitrary mask mandates when schools can’t follow the science because there’s a lack of meaningful, reliable research. On the other hand, some scientific studies we’ve carefully reviewed undoubtedly reveal the adverse impacts of masking on a child’s health, wellbeing, and development,” Gov. Gianforte continued. “This emergency rule ultimately directs schools to recognize the fundamental rights of parents, and because each child is unique and may face unique challenges, this rule urges schools to empower parents to do what’s best for their children.”
The emergency rule, issued by DPHHS, reads in part,
In order to provide for the health, well-being, rights, and educational needs of students, schools and school districts should consider, and be able to demonstrate consideration of, parental concerns when adopting a mask mandate, and should provide students and/or their parents or guardians, on their behalf, with the ability to opt-out of health-related mandates, to include wearing a mask or face covering, for reasons including:
(a) physical health;
(b) mental health;
(c) emotional health;
(d) psychosocial health;
(e) developmental needs; or
(f) religious belief, moral conviction, or other fundamental right the
impairment of which could negatively impact the physical, mental,
emotional, or psychosocial health of students.
Underscoring the detrimental impact that universal masking may have on children, the rule cites a body of scientific literature that shows side effects and dangers from prolonged mask wearing.
After signing the emergency rule, DPHHS Director Adam Meier said, “A number of scientific studies indicate that universal mask use among children can adversely affect their health and development, particularly among children with learning or developmental disabilities. DPHHS respects the authority of parents to make health-related decisions in the best interest of their children, including whether wearing a mask in school is appropriate. DPHHS would encourage schools to take into account all of these factors and implement any mitigation strategies in the least restrictive means as possible to maximize learning outcomes for Montana children.”
Glasgow Man Arrested And Charged With Sexual Intercourse Without Consent
In November 2020, the Glasgow Police Department received a report from a concerned citizen of an alleged ongoing sexual relationship between an adult male and a juvenile female. After completing the intial investigation into the report, Officers uncovered circumstantial evidence that allegation had taken place. The investigation was placed in a pending status until more information came to light.
In May 2021, the Glasgow Police Department received new reports that the alleged relationship was still going on. After completing another in depth investigation into the allegations, Officers submitted a request to the County Attorney’s Office for prosecution. In August 2021, a warrant was issued for the suspect out of Valley County District Court for Sexual Intercourse Without Consent.
After the arrest warrant was issued, Justice Meland, age 22 of Glasgow, was arrested without incident and remanded to the Valley County Detention Center on charges of Sexual Intercourse Without Consent and a $50,000 bond.
Poplar Constructs $23 Million Dollar Wellness Facility
POPLAR – The idea for a new $23 million recreation, education, wellness and community center for the headquarters of the Fort Peck Tribes came from an unexpected place.
Put bluntly, the youth of this reservation community in Eastern Montana were tired of watching their family members die. They told the tribal council there must a be different way.
Now, 20 years and more than $23 million later, a community wellness center that will have indoor swimming pools, areas for education, a teaching kitchen, rooms for occupation and physical therapy, a nearly 5,000 square feet gymnasium, basketball court and walking track are nearing a finish for an opening toward the end of 2021.
When it opens, it won’t only be a model for how tribal communities can fund larger community projects using Montana’s tax-credit incentive program, but it remains an example of how Poplar persevered during the course of years as it wrestled with the still-unchanged fact that tribal members die a full 20 years earlier – or one generation – before their counterparts living elsewhere in the state.
Tribal leaders told the Daily Montanan it’s not enough just to preach the gospel of lifestyle changes, there has to be the opportunity, and the new wellness center will give residents options for physical, mental, spiritual and social health.
Maureen Dionne, planner for the Fort Peck Tribes, knows what this 50,000 square-foot space will mean to the reservation, the tribes and the community. She’s lost five brothers, mostly due to alcoholism or heart disease before the age of 50.
“I try to help my nieces and nephews and show them the right way, but if I don’t take care of myself, too, who will be there for them?” she wondered aloud while touring the building.
The community and wellness center doesn’t guarantee success or healthier living for the Poplar community, but it provides an opportunity. As it stands, distance, cost, access and education all act as barriers to healthy lifestyles, said Kenneth Smoker, Jr., director of the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Program. The center and its programming will help remove those obstacles.
And it gives the youth of the community a place to go and healthy alternatives for this community, which has been devastated by drugs, alcohol, suicide and disease, and remains among the poorest in the United States. One in four people in the county is living in poverty, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Prevention not intervention
Smoker said the problem is generational – from the trauma that many tribal members endure in childhood to the ongoing loss.
On a recent Monday, Smoker sat at his computer and pulled up the latest death certificates from his town and read them off. At first, they sounded like bingo or lottery numbers.
“47, 35, 30,” Smoker said.
Those are the ages of the most recent dead.
“People experience it as a way of life, and many people die in a tragic way. And then in a following week or two, there’s another,” Smoker said. “It’s sad that we just kind of have accepted it, but the youth, they don’t.”
And it was youth of the tribe who spoke repeatedly and consistently, even when tribal leaders didn’t.
Smoker and Dionne, along with Jackie Weeks, give plenty of credit to tribal Chairman Floyd Azure, who has helped shepherd the project through. Without him, they said, the wellness center would have likely died several other times.
All seem to agree that the uncertain and sometimes unstable tribal politics makes the wellness center even more of an accomplishment. Every two years, the tribal council, the governing board of the indigenous nation, turns over. In its 20-year sojourn to becoming a reality, different tribal councils have vacillated, making the center a priority to dismissing it altogether.
“It’s been dead three different times,” Connie Thompson said. She was a member of the small committee that shepherded the project through to completion.
It took a development committee, commitments from the tribal government, grants from the Department of Energy, along with new-markets tax credits, to get the project literally off the ground.
The new building is a solar-paneled, brick and steel building that sits on the north side of U.S. Highway 2, a famous stretch of mostly two-lane highway that crosses Montana’s Hi-Line, through mountains, prairies and rivers. Poplar sits just about 50 miles south of the United States-Canadian border, and just a little more than that to North Dakota.
The uncertain rollercoaster of tribal politics wasn’t the full extent of the opposition. Tribal members scoffed at it, too.
“Everyone thought it was just a fitness center or gym,” Dionne said. “But this is wholistic wellness that people are going to receive.”
That means there are areas for public health officials and practitioners to provide therapy – from the telemedicine capabilities to the therapy swimming pool. Cardiac rehabilitation can take place in Poplar, rather than Wolf Point, 18 miles away, or Glasgow, which is more than 70.
“There’s so much grief and loss here,” Dionne said. “And for me, it’s about the approach.”
The center gives residents the option to do something different, to make a change. It’s also state-of-the-art. It may be the only building in Montana currently being built with so many options, most of which will be free to community members.
“The younger generation is excited, and they’re fighting for it,” said Christine Bauer. “They want to see cleaner communities.”
The youth in the community were so adamant and fought so hard that they sat in the tribal council meeting as a sign of support and solidarity until the measure passed. And those same students have been instrumental in the design of the facility, down to the basketball courts and pools.
“It’s important for the students to take ownership and let them have ownership. They did this. This is theirs,” Smoker said.
Azure doesn’t flinch when he talks about drugs, health problems or other issues on the reservation. A spate of youth suicides in 2010 led tribal leaders to declare a crisis on the reservation then.
“We need something. We have a lot of problems on this reservation, including suicide, drugs and alcohol,” he said. “We want a place where they can go to live healthier.”
While peer pressure can be a bad thing, the tribal chairman said it can also work for them.
“A lot of it is peer pressure,” Azure said. “We hope that some students come over to do things here and bring a lot of their friends with them. This is a safe and healthy environment.”
It’s also one that seeks to bridge the generations. In addition to several swimming pools, it has a sauna that can fit nearly two dozen people, and the elder lodge, an expanded room for older adults, is right next to the day care.
Smoker remembers the first time the issue was broached, nearly 20 years ago.
“Our children were crying and they were tired of seeing their relatives die,” Smoker said. “And we said, ‘So what do you want us to do?’ And, then they said, ‘We’ll tell you what we want,’ and this was it.”
That’s helped Smoker keep going, growing from a patch of land and concrete pad to become what is likely going to be the largest building in the community, complete with a 30-foot sign.
“It’s a mindset. The mindset here has to be changed,” Weeks said.
Smoker has another ambitious goal – 40 certified nurses assistants that will be trained through the high school program. Those will provide the trainers and educators for the center. Right now, five different activity coordinators will help with the programming, from riding horses to riding bikes.
“You have to meet people where they are, and do what they can do,” Bauer said.
That could be pilates, yoga or even learning how to cook with traditional foods, like turnips or berries for a more healthy diet. And if the physical benefits are good, so, too, are the social ones, Azure said.
“Right now, we can’t go somewhere and socialize. We don’t have a theater. We don’t have a bowling alley or a pool,” Azure said.
Hopefully, residents come into the center and leave feeling better.
“Maybe they don’t lose weight, but they’ll feel better about themselves and their community,” Bauer said.
As tribal officials and some students toured the facility recently, walls, steel and glass had begun to give the building shape and character. Several “rez dogs” roamed the halls, seemingly just as much at home as the crews in orange vests and hard hats. Work on the project, despite COVID-19, construction material and labor shortage, is still on schedule for the end of 2021.
“This just blows me away,” said Azure walking through it.
August 30th Valley County COVID Update
Valley County COVID Update 8/30 from Valley County Health Department
New cases since last update: 15
NEW ACTIVE CASES ONLY
Age less than 10: 1
Active cases now: 24
Recovered cases/no longer infectious: 911
Total cases: 953
Total hospitalizations to date: 71
Valley County vaccination rate: 39.8% (2511 persons fully vaccinated out of 6313 eligible Valley County residents). 52 COVID vaccines were given on 8/25/2021.
Walk-in vaccine clinic for COVID-19 vaccine ONLY every Wednesday from 11:30am – 5:30pm (we close at 6pm!) at VCHD. COVID-19 vaccine – J&J and Moderna – for age 18+ are available. The J&J expiration date has been extended to 9/21/21,and we have 5 doses in stock at this time. On 9/1/2021 ONLY, we will have 12 doses of Pfizer vaccine for ages 12+. First come, first administered.
Watercraft Inspectors In Nashua Intercept Mussel Infected Boat Headed To Kalispell
On Thursday, Aug. 26, watercraft inspectors at the Nashua station intercepted the 50th mussel-bound boat this year, surpassing 2020's total of 35.
The motorboat had mussels on the transducer, gimbal and other areas of the transom. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, it was traveling from Lake Erie to Kalispell.
Statewide, 94,800 watercraft inspections have been conducted this year, slightly down from the 112,300 number of inspections conducted at this time last year.
FWP reminds anyone transporting motorized or nonmotorized boats into Montana that an inspection is required before launching, and stopping at ALL open watercraft inspection stations is required.
Failing to stop at an inspection station can result in a fine of up to $500.
Boaters should ensure their watercraft, trailer and all equipment that is in contact with water (anchor, lines, swim ladder, etc.) is clean, drained of water and dry.
You can learn more at CleanDrainDryMT.com or call the FWP Aquatic Invasive Species Bureau at 406-444-2440.
Fort Peck Tribal Health Board To Address COVID-19 After Delta Variant Discovered On Fort Peck Indian Reservation
Governor Gianforte Orders Flags In Montana To Be Flown At Half-Staff
HELENA, Mont. - Governor Greg Gianforte has ordered flags in Montana be flown at half-staff until sunset on Monday, Aug. 30 to honor our service members who made the ultimate sacrifice today in Kabul.
“I hereby order all flags flown in the State of Montana to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Monday, August 30, 2021 to honor our servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice today in Kabul,” the Governor’s proclamation reads. “May God bless them, their families, all who serve our country in our armed forces, and our United States of America.”
Valley County With 22 Confirmed COVID Cases
Valley County now has 22 confirmed active and infectious COVID-19 persons. And we are aware of numerous others who are currently sick and staying home.
While it is important for anyone who is sick to remain away from others - thank you for that - anyone confirmed to have COVID:
(1) Was spreading it two (2) days before symptoms started and
(2) Was spreading the virus in the several days that they thought was just a cold or allergies but it was actually COVID.
If your allergies "flare up" or you think you have a cold, stay home! Please don't wait until the bigger symptoms occur - the day you lose your taste or smell is 5-7 days of spreading the virus. Seek medical treatment when you need it - otherwise yes, stay home with the sniffles.
Gianforte: Montana will not impose mask or vaccine mandates
BY: ARREN KIMBEL-SANNIT AND KEITH SCHUBERT - AUGUST 24, 2021
Amid rising COVID-19 delta variant cases locally and across the country, Gov. Greg Gianforte on Tuesday encouraged Montanans to get vaccinated, but he said emphatically that the state would not be shutting down businesses or imposing vaccine or mask mandates.
In his first scheduled press conference at the Capitol in months, Gianforte acknowledged the heightened contagiousness of the delta variant, which accounts for 90 percent of COVID-19 samples sequenced in the state. He said repeatedly that unvaccinated Montanans were at greater risk of serious illness, hospitalization and even death from the virus.
“There couldn’t be a more important time to get vaccinated,” he said. “The vaccines have been researched, they’ve been rigorously tested, they are safe and they work.”
However, he said that the decision to get vaccinated needs to arise from a conversation between an individual and their doctor, not from a government order or a news story.
“Montanans trust their medical provider,” Gianforte said. “When it comes down to it though, people who are hesitant to get the vaccine don’t want a lecture. They don’t respond to sanctimony or virtue signaling.”
Montana has made slow progress in getting vaccines in arms. Just this week, the state announced it had fully immunized 50 percent of eligible Montanans, but officials say the daily vaccine administration rate is increasing.
“It’s a higher rate than we’ve seen all summer,” the governor said. “4,300 Montanans received the vaccine this weekend.”
Medical experts say a region needs a 70 percent to 90 percent vaccination rate to achieve herd immunity, and despite the progress, Montana lags behind many other states — even some much larger ones, like New York — en route to that goal. Missoula County has the highest vaccination rate in the state, at above 60 percent, while Garfield County has the lowest, at just over 20 percent. Flathead County, which has the highest number of active cases in the state at 690, has a full immunization rate of 41 percent.
Cases in Montana began to steadily rise in July following a summer plateau, and they haven’t tapered off since. The seven-day average for new cases has grown from 50 on July 1 to nearly 400 on Tuesday.
Montana reported more than 700 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, the highest daily case count since winter, and a weekly report released by the state department of health showed that hospitals are increasingly struggling with occupancy as the delta variant fills beds across the state.
The hospitalization occupancy report, compiled and released by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, showed there were only 870 available staffed beds across the state as of the beginning of the week. Of Montana’s 10 large hospitals, six reported that from 70 percent to 90 percent of staffed beds were occupied, and Kalispell Regional reported it was more than 90 percent occupied with only four available staffed beds.
Gianforte on Tuesday said the state’s collective efforts were focused on administering as many vaccines as possible and providing resources to hospitals and medical providers to deal with the delta variant. However, he pre-empted any talk of renewing a statewide mask or vaccine mandate.
“The state of Montana will not impose mandates,” he said. “One of the things we learned over the past 18 months is government mandates don’t work.”
Gianforte signed several bills this session that limit government responses to public health emergencies. Two in particular have especially broad implications: HB257, sponsored by Rep. Jedediah Hinkle, R-Belgrade, effectively blocked enforcement of local mask mandates and business closures, and required health boards to get approval from elected officials on a variety of matters; HB702, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Carlson, R-Manhattan, prohibits vaccine requirements, with some exceptions for hospitals and congregate-care settings.
The web of new public health laws has left local officials scrambling to make sure they’re in compliance while still working to stave off the virus. While Gianforte bemoaned Tuesday that public health has become “politicized,” COVID-19 has proven over and over again to be a political flashpoint. Montana’s school boards, which are exempt from HB257, have held a number of emotional debates around mask mandates as the school year approaches. And as Gianforte spoke on Tuesday, the Missoula City-County Board of Health met to address concerns that its quarantine protocol for close contacts of a person who tests positive for COVID-19, which is different for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, may conflict with HB702, which specifically bans discrimination based on vaccine status. The board ultimately decided to keep its current policy, which follows CDC guidelines.
Galen And Karla Zerbe Donate $50,000 To Valley County Community Pool Campaign
The Valley County Community Pool Campaign wants to thank Galen and Karla Zerbe for their continuous support in the effort to build a new aquatics center. This donation amount is one that has grown over time. When asked why commit funds to building a new pool, Galen and Karla were quick to respond with fond memories of their childhoods.
“Growing up in North Dakota, the city pool was the social hub for the summer! Mornings were spent at swimming lessons and afternoons spent hanging out with friends around the pool,” said Karla. During the summer, Karla’s family lived at the lake at their cabin in Minnesota and their parents were thankful they knew how to swim.
Galen grew up near Fort Peck Lake and spent summer days slalom skiing along the face of the dam. It was important to Galen and Karla that their kids learned how to swim because of all the time they spent as a family on Fort Peck Lake. All three of their children took lessons at the Glasgow pool. They said that learning to swim is a building block to so many things and a skill that can be used for one’s entire life!
As a prior business owner, Galen mentions how Glasgow has been a hub in NEMT for many years serving the surrounding area. “When people are job searching, it is valuable to have a pool to draw new families to this community.”
If you would like to donate to the VALCO Pool Campaign, please visit us online, www.valcopool.com, on social media or talk to one of our Committee Members
12 Active COVID Cases In Valley County
VALLEY COUNTY COVID-19 UPDATE 8/23
New cases since last update: 10
Active cases: 12
Age 5 - 90
Total hospitalizations to date: 68
Valley County vaccination rate: 39.5% (2494 persons fully vaccinated out of 6313 eligible Valley County residents)
On 8/4 the VCHD gave Moderna 18 first doses, 7 second doses, and J&J 4 doses.
On 8/11 the VCHD gave Moderna 9 first doses, 7 second doses, and J&J 0 doses.
On 8/18 the VCHD gave Moderna 25 first doses, 12 second doses, 3 third doses, and J&J 5 doses.
TIME CHANGE: Walk-in vaccine clinic for COVID-19 vaccine ONLY every Wednesday from 11:30am – 5:30pm (we close at 6pm!) at VCHD. COVID-19 vaccine – J&J and Moderna – for age 18+ are available. The J&J expiration date has been extended to 9/21/21,and we have 15 doses in stock at this time.
Man Identified Killed In Vehicle Crash In Phillips County Last Week
The man killed when his vehicle crashed on US 2 in eastern Phillips County last week has been identified.
The Phillips County Sheriff’s Office has identified the victim as 20-year-old Lucas James Salois of Great Falls.
According to MHP Trooper Matt Erickson, last Tuesday at around 3 PM, Salois was driving a Ford F350 westbound near mile marker 498 when it went off the right side of the road, hit an approach, and went airborne for approximately 100 feet before coming to rest in a ditch after going through an irrigation canal that was approximately 20 feet wide.
Salois, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was pronounced dead at the scene and his body had to be extricated from the vehicle.
Fatigue and excessive speed appear to be factors in the crash, according to Erickson.
The crash remains under investigation.
With new laws restricting public health, officials try to navigate rising COVID cases
BY: DARRELL EHRLICK - AUGUST 22, 2021
With a raft of new laws governing public health officials, employers and health care workers, leaders from around the state are trying to figure out what the new laws mean without violating personal freedoms and trying to maintain public health.
For example, House Bill 702 makes it illegal for an employer to require a vaccine, a sharp shift from where hospitals and doctors’ offices were a year ago when they could mandate that from their employees, with few exceptions.
Today, hospitals can’t require vaccines, COVID-19 or otherwise, but nursing homes can in some cases. Schools can require vaccines for students attending public schools, and some districts are requiring masks, while others aren’t.
Meanwhile, House Bill 257 says that the government cannot come between businesses and their customers – a measure so broad that attorneys and public health officials are uncertain how far those rules can be extended. For example, if a health department tries to close a business because it’s unsanitary, isn’t that getting between a business and its customer?
And House Bill 121 also stripped local health boards of the authority to mandate masks or issue shelter-in-place orders, transferring that to elected local leaders, mainly the county commissioners. However, taken together, some county officials may be concerned that anything that interferes with business and their customers could be grounds for a lawsuit.
While the three bills – 121, 257 and 702 – are fairly short, the language is broad and is leaving some officials concerned.
“The challenge is that there are a lot of different interpretations,” said John Felton, the Chief Executive Officer of Riverstone Health, which covers Yellowstone County, Montana’s most populous.
For example, if a department wants to “decompress,” or limit the number of people in a restaurant to allow social distancing, it must go through the governing body. But in Yellowstone County, there are a number of those, including the Yellowstone County Commission, the Laurel City Council and the Billings City Council. Even then, HB257 says that a government cannot come between a business and its customers, meaning that even the elected officials could be powerless to enact such a mandate without possibly inviting a lawsuit.
“You get into this loop that is unlikely to be solved until you have a court case,” Felton said.
And there are ripples – for example, can a local fire department set occupancy codes or can a health department shutter a business that is serving food in an unsanitary way because that is an example of government coming between a business and its customers?
“I honestly don’t know,” Felton said. “I’d say we’d shut them down and do the right thing to protect the public, and we’d have to fight it out in court. It’s what do you want to defend, and I’d rather keep the public safe.”
Felton said he doesn’t believe lawmakers during the 2021 session wanted the public to be put in harm’s way, but with broad language, it’s hard to find the line between law and legislative intent.
“I don’t know what it means,” Felton said. “The language is so broad that none of us understand or even agree with what they mean.”
Rep. Jedediah Hinkle, R-Belgrade, was the sponsor of HB257 which prohibits the government from standing in the way of customers and business. He said the law is clearer than most are making it – it prohibits widespread “governmental taking” of business without compensation, but shouldn’t stand in the way of health departments or even elected leaders making responsible choices.
He said no one – health boards included – should be able to come in and shut down part of a business without compensation, for example when health boards reduced occupancy or closed certain businesses like bars or restaurants.
“This mirrors the doctrine of government taking without just compensation,” Hinkle said.
He said it also protects places of worship and freedom of religion from being regulated by non-elected officials.
However, he said an early amendment to the law should allow county health boards to do things like sanitation inspections.
“I was never approached during the session by the (Montana Association of Counties). No one came to me with other concerns,” Hinkle said.
He said the law puts the power back where it should be – in the hands of elected officials.
“Both in 121 and 257 there was no accountability of the health boards and they could do anything they wanted as unelected officials,” he said.
He told the Daily Montanan the proper role of the health boards is to make recommendations based upon science, for example urging vaccinations or masking, and it’s up to them to convince elected leaders if there are further measures that need to be taken.
“We’re all smart people and all should understand masks and vaccines and social distance and personal choice,” Hinkle said. “But you also have to consider that if you have a restaurant packed with people, you have to make a choice, and you know about COVID.”
Rich Rasmussen, chief executive of the Montana Hospital Association, said that HB702, like other legislation, has plenty of unintended consequences that likely won’t be lifted anytime soon. For example, because a healthcare setting can’t discriminate based on vaccines, masking is the only protection places like hospitals can employ.
“What 702 does is ensured that for the foreseeable future, everyone is going to remain masked,” Rasmussen said.
He said that with no masking mandates and other mitigation criteria taken off the table, the peak of the delta variant will happen later with more illness and likely more death.
“If we could just mask in schools, we’d have a significant reduction,” Rasmussen said.
Matt Kelley, the CEO of the Montana Public Health Institute and former Gallatin County Health executive, said that in his conversations with officials, no one is certain what powers they have since the lawmakers substantially changed how departments operate.
However, he said the one thing that hasn’t changed is the legal requirements for health boards to take action during a time of disease. Now, he said, it appears the responsibility to make the decisions will shift from public health boards to local elected officials.
“But health boards have a duty to take action against a public health threat,” Kelley said. “Right now public health officials are feeling caught between 702 and the other bills and their fundamental duties.”
What is difficult is that what was once a matter of public health and science has gotten turned into a matter of politics.
“Lead health officials don’t play in politics,” Kelley said. “This is about stopping the spread of a virus that has killed hundreds of Montanans. That’s what they’re thinking about.”
He said that as the delta variant of COVID-19 spreads, communities will recoil at seeing young people get sick or possibly die.
“What is on public health officials’ minds is: What happens if a child is in the hospital that didn’t quarantine, or God forbid, dies?” Kelley said. “You walk that back and you realize that health officials are wrestling with this. And they won’t just wrestle with it for a year, but for years. There’s very little about politics.
“Thousands and thousands of kids are going back to school without knowing how the delta variant effects them.”
For its part, trying to interpret state law has led to unanticipated outcomes. For example, Lance Melton, of the Montana School Boards Association, has urged members to carefully consider how districts handle now-routine things like quarantining due to COVID-19 as counties request schools’ help enforcing quarantine and isolation orders.
He has reminded school boards that quarantining based on the vaccine status of students could run afoul of HB702. In other words, if a student is contact-traced to a positive COVID case, a district will likely have to quarantine all students that came into contact, not just those who haven’t been vaccinated. Vaccinated students will have to be treated the same way. And, even though those who have been vaccinated normally shouldn’t have to quarantine, in order to comply with the law and not discriminate, either everyone quarantines, or no one does.
“There’s been a fork in the road, that’s based upon whether you have been vaccinated or not,” Melton told the Daily Montanan. However, that changed with HB702, leaving districts to either not comply with quarantining or forcing everyone within contact to quarantine, regardless of vaccination status.
“(Teachers) are going into a room, spending six hours with people not knowing whether every one of them is vaccinated. Nobody else has to do that,” Melton said.
Yellowstone County Chief Deputy Attorney for the civil division Jeana Lervick said that there’s always a conversation about what the new laws mean, but bills passed by the Legislature have added an extra wrinkle with the threat of COVID rising.
“It’s fair to say there’s an ongoing conversation that’s constantly across the state,” Lervick said.
Anthony Johnstone, a professor at the University of Montana’s Alexander Blewett III School of Law, said that trying to harmonize new laws with existing laws and figuring out what they mean is typical. What’s not usual is trying to figure out what the laws mean in terms of a pandemic.
He also agreed that counties are hesitant to be the first to interpret what a new law means.
“No one wants to get ahead of the law,” Johnstone said.
However, HB257 is unique in one respect, “something distinctive,” Johnstone said, because it specifically talks about the relationship of the customer and the business owner and their relationship to the government.
“Often laws are to regulate the business for the benefit of the customer,” Johnstone said. “But this is different.”
The laws have even prompted more basic conversations – for example, in Yellowstone County, who is the agency in charge of approving public health measures. Is it the county? Do all municipalities have to approve mandates?
“So far we haven’t been in a situation where we have to have an answer right away,” Lervick said.
She said it’s difficult for the Legislature to tailor laws to fit all sizes of Montana communities.
“It’s tough to know how something will work in Jordan and how it will look in Billings before it’s passed,” Lervick said.
She also believes the legislature passed the laws in light of dwindling COVID numbers, and likely didn’t anticipate the wave of COVID variants, like the delta.
“I don’t know that they anticipated addressing it as quickly as they have,” Lervick said. “It was the hope, if not the assumption, that we’ll have this all worked out the next time the issue comes around.”
Beck Foundation Scholarships Awarded
The Theo and Alyce Beck Foundation Trust is pleased to announce its 2021 scholarship recipients. There was a total of eleven scholarships awarded
Brett Glaser, son of Todd and Wendy Glaser, in his junior year at Carroll College majoring in Business Marketing.
Bailee Holstein, daughter of Trent Holstein, in her final year at Montana State University Northern, majoring in Criminal Justice.
Jesi Kennedy, daughter of Lori Badger, in her final year at Montana Technological University majoring in Cellular and Molecular Biology.
Khloe Krumwiede, daughter of Bryan and Dena Marie Krumwiede, in graduate school, pursuing a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree.
Bryce Legare, son of Robert and Lise Legare, in his final year at Montana State University, majoring in Accounting with a minor is Finance.
Ellis McKeon, son of Andrew McKeon and Lih-An Yang, in his junior year at University of Montana, majoring in Cognitive Neuroscience.
Merlin McKeon, son of Andre McKeon and Lih-An Yang, in his junior year and Montana State University, majoring in Financial Engineering.
Alexandra Pehlke, daughter of Mike and Jessica Pehlke, in her sophomore year at The University of Montana Western, majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in English.
Micah Tweten, daughter of Paul and Tana Tweten, in her final year at Montana State University Northern, earning an Associate of Science in Nursing Degree.
Timothy Wageman, son of Gary and Annette Wageman, in his sophomore year at Montana State University Bozeman, majoring in Electrical Engineering.
Brooke Westby, daughter of Todd and Lori Westby, in her junior year at Carroll College, majoring in Nursing.
Theo and Alyce Beck were Northeast Montana people who cared about the communities they lived in, whether is was Baylor where their lives began and where they farmed, or Glasgow where Alyce spent her retired years after Theo passed away.
Alyce was active in 4-H and Homemakers Club as well as entering plants, seeing project and homemade baked goods in the Northeast Montana Fair.
This is the twelfth year the Theo and Alyce Beck Foundation Trust has awarded scholarships.
Valley County Unemployment Rate At 3%
Governor Greg Gianforte Friday announced Montana’s unemployment rate decreased by 0.1% in July to 3.6%, while the unemployment rate for the U.S. was 5.4% for the month. The labor force also had strong growth over the month.
“Montana continues to attract workers back into our labor force, helping to alleviate pressure on employers who are looking to hire,” Governor Greg Gianforte said. “This report is good news for Montana businesses in the midst of the summer travel season and good news for workers who are enjoying higher wages as our economy makes a comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The unemployment rate in Valley County for the month of July was 3%. For the week ending August 7th, there were 30 unemployment claims made in Valley County. The prior four week average of unemployment claims was 42.
Montana’s total employment, which includes payroll, agricultural, and self-employed workers, grew by 2,162 in July, with strong growth in the labor force of 1,999 workers. Payroll jobs increased by 3,300 jobs in July. Accommodation and food services had strong growth with 2,900 jobs added.
The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.5% over the month in July. The 12-month increase was 5.4%, similar to the 12-month increase last month and signaling a moderation in inflationary pressure. Prices of used cars and trucks and energy commodities remain high compared to 12 months prior. The index for all items less food and energy, referred to as core inflation, increased 0.3% in July, with the 12-month increase lowering to 4.3% from 4.5% last month.
Pine Grove Fire On Fort Belknap Indian Reservation 19% Contained
The Pine Grove Fire on the Fort Belknap Reservation in Blaine and Phillips counties has burned an estimated 17,325 acres and is 19% contained as of Friday morning. 173 personnel are working on the fire according to fire authorities. The fire was sparked on Monday, August 16th
The Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation said in a news release on Friday that rain fell over the fire on Thursday, aiding firefighting efforts. Crews were able to access some difficult to reach areas of the fire to assess, plan, and map. Crews worked hard to take advantage of less intense fire conditions to construct line as close to the fire perimeter as possible.
The DNRC says that while the rain has done a lot of good, things will dry out later and small areas burning interior of the fire perimeter will likely still be present and may pose a future threat. Work done this weekend will help prepare for that possibility. Crews continue to work with tribal cultural specialists to make sure that culturally important sites are protected.
Army Corps Of Engineers Starts Public Scoping Period Regarding Development Of Fort Peck Lake Shoreline Management Plan
OMAHA, Neb. --
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District has begun the public scoping period and is seeking public comment regarding the development of the Fort Peck Lake Shoreline Management Plan through Sept. 30, 2021.
An SMP establishes policies and guidelines for the protection and preservation of the environmental characteristics of the shoreline while maintaining a balance between public and private shoreline uses.
Fort Peck Lake is located in northeastern Montana on the Missouri River near Glasgow, Montana.
A scoping period is the process of determining what content of the SMP update should focus on. This process is used as an opportunity to gather input from the public, stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, state and local agencies, and Tribes about what the vision for land management at Fort Peck Lake should address.
Health and safety are a top priority of USACE. A virtual public scoping meeting will be held via WebEx at 6:30 p.m. MST; 7:30 p.m. CST on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.
Join online at: https://usace1.webex.com/usace1/j.php?MTID=m2d3d4142ba148c450c22da1c773ce8a7
or call in at 1-844-800-2712, enter meeting number 199 174 4036, and password hBE5p68tGc?
Written comments may also be submitted through Sept. 30, 2021 to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District
Natural Resources Management Section
1616 Capitol Ave.
Omaha, NE 68102
ATTN: Ft. Peck Shoreline Management Plan or via email to: email@example.com
Senator Tester Disagrees With Biden Administration On Continued Closure Of Northern Border
U.S. Senator Jon Tester today released a statement following news that the northern border would remain closed for at least another month:
“I disagree with the Biden Administration’s decision to keep the northern border closed. Montanans depend on cross-border trade and travel to meet their bottom lines and keep their businesses afloat as well as to stay in contact with family and friends in both countries who haven’t seen each other in person for more than a year. I urge the Biden Administration to reverse this disappointing decision and re-open the northern border as quickly as possible to vaccinated Canadian travelers so that both of our economies can continue to fully rebound.”
Tester began calling for the border to fully re-open in May, writing in a letter to the Biden Administration "each day that passes without resolution is a hit to family farmers and ranchers, small businesses, and the rural communities along the border," and urging them to work with their Canadian counterparts to quickly and safely open the border. He followed up on that in July with a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas pressing the Administration to coordinate with the Canadian reopening in a “safe, fair, and efficient manner.”
Montana shares a 545 mile border with Canada and is home to many border towns whose economies rely on Canadian trade and commerce throughout the year. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, Montana exported $692 million in goods to Canada in 2018, representing 42 percent of the state's total goods exports.
FWP Director To Visit Glasgow September 1st
GLASGOW – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Hank Worsech, Deputy Director Dustin Temple, and members of their staff will be visiting regional offices during a tour of the state in August and September, including a stop in Glasgow on Wednesday, Sept. 1, from 5 to 8 p.m.
The open house will be held at the Region 6 Headquarters in Glasgow at 1 Airport Road, along Highway 2 on the northwest end of town. Food and beverages will be provided, and feel free to come at any time. Parking may be limited, so please plan accordingly. FWP asks that attendees bring a camp chair (if desired) and dress for the weather.
“It’s been a busy year and we know people have a lot of things they’re interested in discussing,” said Worsech. “This is a great opportunity for us to hear directly from the public on topics they’re passionate about.”
If planning to attend, please RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-228-3700 so staff can get a head count for food and drinks. FWP ensures its meetings are fully accessible to those with special needs. To request special arrangements, please call.
The full schedule for the director visits is here:
• Aug. 23: Region 2 Headquarters in Missoula, 3201 Spurgin Road
• Aug. 24: Region 1 Headquarters in Kalispell, 490 North Meridian Road
• Aug. 31: Region 4 Headquarters in Great Falls, 4600 Giant Springs Road
• Sept. 1: Region 6 Headquarters in Glasgow, 1 Airport Road
• Sept. 7: Region 3 Headquarters in Bozeman, 1400 South 19th
• Sept. 8: Region 5 Headquarters in Billings, 2300 Lake Elmo Drive
• Sept. 9: Region 7 Headquarters in Miles City, 352 I-94 Business Loop
Valley County COVID-19 Update
VALLEY COUNTY COVID-19 8/18
Valley County Health Department:
New cases since last update: 5
Active cases: 8 (four (4) females and four (4) males age 10 - 89)
Recovered cases/no longer infectious: 902
Total cases: 928
Valley County vaccination rate: 39.2% (2474 persons fully vaccinated out of 6313 eligible Valley County residents)
Walk-in vaccine clinic for all vaccines every Wednesday from 4 – 5:30 (we close at 6pm!) at VCHD. COVID-19 vaccine – J&J and Moderna – for age 18+ are available. The J&J expiration date has been extended to 9/21/21,and we have 20 doses in stock at this time.
It is essential for everyone that if you have ANY symptoms – fever, chills, muscle aches, runny nose, sore throat, change or loss of taste or smell, headache, fatigue, cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite – you STAY HOME and isolate from others in your household. PLEASE protect others through isolation and by getting vaccinated.
It takes six (6) weeks from your first Moderna vaccine to achieve maximum immunity with 94% effectiveness.
Construction On Glasgow Northwest Project Begins
Glasgow, Montana — Century Companies, Inc. has started construction on the Glasgow Northwest Project, starting at MT-246 west of Glasgow, beginning at RP 7.0 and extending approximately 7 miles southeast along State Secondary Route 246. The project is currently advancing into the Glasgow city limits.
Motorists should expect single lane traffic, reduced speeds, flaggers, and pilot cars. Heavy truck traffic is expected causing possible 15-minute delays and congestion in the work zone. The contractor is advising motorists to seek alternate routes.
Crews will be working Monday-Friday from 7am to 7pm each day. Motorists are advised to watch for flaggers and construction signs posted throughout the work zone. The contractor will notify the public concerning prohibited on street parking during the duration of the project. Century Companies, Inc. is dedicated to expediting this project and appreciates your cooperation.
For additional information or questions concerning this project contact Century during business hours at (406) 535-1287.
Montana Department of Commerce Announces Application Availability For HOME And HTF Grants
The Montana Department of Commerce (Commerce) is now accepting applications for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) and Housing Trust Fund Program (HTF). Applications are due September 15, 2021, 5:00 p.m. for new proposals and September 30, 2021, 5:00 p.m. for previously awarded projects seeking additional funding due to COVID-19 impacts.
The HOME and HTF application guidelines are available on Commerce’s HOME and HTF web pages.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) distributes HOME and HTF funds to Commerce, which awards grants to eligible recipients in accordance with the Montana Consolidated Plan and most recent version of Commerce’s Annual Action Plan. Through these programs, Commerce supports the rehabilitation, new construction, and acquisition of affordable homes for Montana households with low, very low, and extremely low incomes, particularly those who are elderly, living with a disability, or experiencing homelessness.
Commerce anticipates the next deadline for 2022 HOME/HTF funds will be September 15, 2022
Applicants with questions regarding the application process or guidelines are encouraged to contact Commerce staff at 406-841-2840 or by email at Housing@mt.gov.
Fire Headed Toward Zortman Area; Mandatory Evacuation Ordered
Winds were pushing the Hays/Lodgepole Fire was toward the Zortman area on Tuesday, and a mandatory evacuation notice was issued for the Zortman area.
Law enforcement was going door to door to advise residents to evacuate the area. Residents were advised to take essentials only and evacuate to Malta to the old National Guard Armory.
Crews from Valley County, Roosevelt County, the Fort Peck Reservation and many other areas were assisting with the fire.
The American Red Cross is set up at the Old Malta Armory in Malta at 1008 US HWY 191 S. They are providing meals, water, and beds for those evacuated from the Pine Grove Fire. Thank you to those who have donated supplies and food to help the families, and thank you to our volunteers! If you are needing assistance, stop by or you can also call 1-800-272-6668 and ask for the Duty Officer.
Also, Governor Gianforte today received a wildland fire briefing from state fire management officials. Below is a readout from the briefing:
As of Tuesday, August 17 at around 8 a.m., there are 25 large fire incidents in Montana. The state remains in Preparedness Level 5, and the Northern Rockies region is the number three priority region in the nation.
Since January 1, there have been over 2,040 fire starts in Montana burning around 792,000 acres. Since the governor’s fire briefing last Tuesday, there have been 96 new fire starts. Officials estimate approximately 50 residences have been lost this year to date.
The largest fire in Montana is the Richard Spring Fire, at 170,000 acres and 65 percent containment. The top priority fire in Montana is the West Lolo Complex-Thorne Fire, at 32,121 acres and 15 percent containment.
Montana entered the fiscal year with the Fire Suppression Fund at its statutory maximum of roughly $105 million. Officials estimate that nearly $39.2 million from the fund have been spent fighting fire since the start of the state’s current fiscal year.
Alive At Five And Hump Day Are This Wednesday
Part three of the 4-part Glasgow Downtown Association “Alive at Five” series is coming up this Wednesday.
Hosted by the Montana Bar, you’ll find the crowd on Front Street from 5 to 8. A family-friendly event, there’ll be games, raffles, and live music from the 4th Street Band. Food will also be available on-site from Berghouse.
Wednesday is also Hump Day! Shop local during the day and bring your receipts in to the Glasgow Chamber for a chance at winning Chamber Big Bucks!
The last Alive at Five will be held Wednesday, September 15.
Volunteers Needed To Help With Underpass Paint Scraping Wednesday
The City of Glasgow has been awarded a grant from the Montana Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts to have a mural painted on the underpass.
This mural has been designed by the artist Catherine McIntrye. She will be working with the high school art students introducing them to working in a large scale format. This mural is going to tell the story of Valley County.
Mayor Erickson is asking for volunteers from the community to assist with scraping the old paint off with wire brushes so it can be prepared for Catherine and students to have a clean surface to start with.
The work crew will start at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday.
If you have questions please contact Mayor Erickson at 263-8119. If you have a wire brush please bring it. This is an exciting time for our community to participate in creating a mural that will last many years for all to enjoy - Mayor Becky Erickson.
Valley County With 2474 Eligible Residents Fully Vaccinated For COVID-19
39% of the eligible residents of Valley County are now fully vaccinated for COVID-19 according to the State of Montana. 2747 residents are now fully vaccinated. Phillips County is 41% vaccinated, Roosevelt County 38%, Daniels County 38% and Sheridan County 53%. The State of Montana is 49% vaccinated.
Montana reported today 473 new cases of COVID-19 making 2742 active cases and 191 hospitalizations.
Glasgow City Council Meeting Monday At 4:30pm
Glasgow City Council To Set Preliminary General Fund Budget And Taxes
Population In Valley County Increases According To Census Report
The population of Valley County increased 2.8% from 2010 to 2020 according to official numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the first increase in population for Valley County since 1960 using numbers from the Census Bureau. The population in Valley has decreased every census since 1960 when the Glasgow Air Force Base was in existence. The population of Valley County in 1960 was 17,080.
The population of the City of Glasgow did decline according to census numbers. Glasgow saw a decrease of 1.5% in population from 2010 to 2020. The population of Glasgow was 3202 compared to 3250 in the year 2010. Glasgow has seen a decline of population in every census count since 1960. In 1960 the population of Glasgow was 6398.
Nashua and Fort Peck all saw population increases. Nashua went from 274 to 301 and Fort Peck saw an increase from 233 to 239. Opheim saw a population decline from 85 to 75.
St. Marie saw an increase from 264 to 489 while Hinsdale fell from 209 to 172. The population of Frazer went from 362 to 354 according to numbers from the Census Bureau.
Masks Will Be Optional For Glasgow School Students And Staff This School Year
Masks will be optional this school year for Glasgow School students and staff with one exception. Glasgow Superintendent Wade Sundby explains:
FWP Urges Hunters To Check Fire Status, Make Safety A Priority
GLASGOW – With our region of northeast Montana suffering extreme or exceptional drought with the constant threat of wildfires, hunters and other recreationists taking to the field must be aware of local fire restrictions and closures and take necessary precautions.
Archery antelope hunters will be hunting with their 900-20 hunting licenses starting Aug. 15. Montana’s upland game bird season (and mourning doves) open Sept. 1, along with the archery-only hunting season for deer, elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, black bear, wolf and mountain lion on Sept. 4.
Hunters and other recreationists should:
• Drive only on established roads.
• Avoid roads with tall vegetation in the middle track.
• Never park over dry grass and other vegetation (but make sure to pull off the road!)
• Carry a fire extinguisher—or water-filled weed sprayer—bucket, shovel, axe, and a cell phone for emergency calls.
• Restrict camping activities to designated camping areas.
• Build campfires only in established metal fire rings, if allowed (note restrictions).
• Smoke only inside buildings or vehicles.
• Check on any fire restrictions in place.
County Fire Restrictions
When it comes to site-specific fire restrictions, FWP follows the lead of the county where the site is located.
As of Wed., Aug. 11, counties in Stage 1 Restrictions in Region 6 and northeast Montana include Hill, Blaine, Choteau, Phillips, Valley, McCone, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Richland, and Garfield counties. Daniels County is currently in a burn ban. Please be aware that these restrictions change weekly.
Stage 1 restrictions ban campfires except where specifically exempted, allow cooking fires on propane devices that can be shut off and allow smoking only in vehicles and areas three feet in diameter that are cleared of flammable materials.
Stage 2 restrictions start with regulations delineated by Stage 1 restrictions. In addition, Stage 2 restrictions ban welding, explosives, driving off established roads, and use of internal-combustion engines, except for vehicles on established roads, between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m. each day. Generators used in enclosed buildings or in an area cleared of vegetation specifically are exempted from Stage 2 restrictions. Currently, there are no counties in Stage 2 in FWP Region 6.
FWP sites that could be impacted by fire restrictions include fishing access sites, wildlife management areas and state parks.
For up-to-date details on state-wide FWP property fire and drought-related restrictions and closures, visit FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov. Click “Restrictions and Closures” at the top of the page. In addition, you can go to www.mtfireinfo.org to see restrictions statewide.
Block Management Areas in fire restrictions
Private landowners with land enrolled in Block Management Areas (BMAs) or other private land access programs may also have restrictions or closures. Be sure to ask when securing permission on any private land. Currently, there are several BMAs in Region 6 with closures.
These closures could change daily. BMAs fire restrictions and closures will be updated as changes occur at https://fwp.mt.gov/hunt/access/blockmanagement/restrictions with changes shown on the Hunt Planner Map on the FWP website as well. The FWP Region 6 Facebook page will be updated daily as changes occur.
Always be prepared to prevent or extinguish fire starts. Your awareness and assistance during this extremely dangerous fire year is appreciated!
Delta Variant Identified In Valley County
VALLEY COUNTY COVID-19 Update
Active cases: 6 (three (3) females and three (3) males age 20 - 89)
Recovered cases/no longer infectious: 899
Total cases: 923
Valley County vaccination rate: 38.7% (2445 persons fully vaccinated out of 6313 eligible Valley County residents)
Walk-in vaccine clinic for all vaccines every Wednesday from 4 – 5:30 (we close at 6pm!) at VCHD. COVID-19 vaccine – J&J and Moderna – for age 18+ are available. The J&J expiration date has been extended to 9/21/21,and we have 20 doses in stock at this time.
VCHD confirms that the Delta variant has been identified in a Valley County resident. It is essential for everyone that if you have ANY symptoms – fever, chills, muscle aches, runny nose, sore throat, change or loss of taste or smell, headache, fatigue, cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite – you STAY HOME and isolate from others in your household. PLEASE protect others through isolation and by getting vaccinated.
Glasgow Underpass Set To Receive Makeover
The Glasgow underpass will be closed down to one lane traffic intermittently on August 16/17 & again August 23/24 for a collaboration beautification project. This is a large-scale project that will help attract people to our downtown area and give our community great pride. While it may at times be an inconvenience, please know that the end result will be truly something beautiful.
The makeover will cost $16,956 with $10,000 coming from a grant from the Montana Arts Council.
Glasgow Mayor Becky Erickson explains the makeover for the Glasgow underpass.
Governor Gianforte Says No Mandates Coming From State Of Montana Regarding Mask Wearing
As the State of Montana is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, Governor Greg Gianforte says the state won’t be issuing any mandates, on face-coverings or other safety steps and he stands by his signing of a new law that forbids businesses from requiring employees to be vaccinated or forbids them from denying services to those who aren’t vaccinated.
The Republican-led Legislature and Gianforte, a Republican, also approved a law this spring that essentially prohibits local health departments from enforcing mandates on businesses, such as wearing masks indoors, limiting the size of gathering or other steps to prevent Covid-19 spread.
Valley County Commissioner Mary Armstrong explains the new state law that changes the way county health departments can operate:
Border Patrol Agents Use Canine To Find Missing Girl In Medicine Lake Area
U.S. Border Patrol agents based out of Plentywood used a canine last week to find a missing 13-year-old girl.
The girl was reported missing on Wednesday and the Sheridan County Sheriff's Office asked for assistance in the search.
A K-9 handler and his dog searched the Medicine Lake area and found the girl in an abandoned lumber yard.
The teen was transported to Sheridan County Hospital for evaluation.
“K-9s are a huge asset to the U.S. Border Patrol in searching for people during search and rescue missions," Chief Patrol Agent Eduardo Payan said in a press release. "This situation is an example of what our K-9s are capable of finding. The handler and K-9 are trained to perform their duties and to accomplish the mission. This situation could have ended poorly if not for the partnership between agents and the sheriff’s office. I am proud of our K-9 handler and his dog and their rescue efforts.”
Canada Begins Allowing Vaccinated American Citizens To Visit
Canada on Monday is lifting its prohibition on Americans crossing the border to shop, vacation or visit, but the United States is keeping similar restrictions in place for Canadians, part of a bumpy return to normalcy from COVID-19 travel bans.
U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents must be both fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19 within three days to get across one of the world’s longest and busiest land borders. Travelers also must fill out a detailed on application on the arriveCAN app before crossing.
Even though travelers have to register, the Canada Border Services Agency won’t say how many people they are expecting to enter Canada for the reopening. But travelers should plan for the possibility of additional processing time at the border.
“CBSA will not compromise the health and safety of Canadians for the sake of border wait times,” agency spokeswoman Rebecca Purdy said in a statement.
While the Canada Border Services Agency won't say how many people it's expecting, Garnet Health, an Essex, Vermont-based company that offers same-day COVID-19 testing, has seen the number of tests it performs more than triple in recent weeks. The increase coincides with Canada's decision last month to drop a two-week quarantine requirement for its citizens when they return home from the U.S.
“I imagine once that border opens, we are going to see lots of people,” said Chelsea Sweeney, the company's director of business development.
The U.S.-Canada border has been closed to nonessential travel since March 2020 to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The U.S. has said it will extend its closure to all Canadians making nonessential trips until at least Aug. 21, which also applies to the Mexican border. But the Biden administration is beginning to make plans for a phased reopening. The main requirement would be that nearly all foreign visitors to the U.S. will have to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Senator Tester Announces Infrastructure Legislation
(Tester Office Press Release)
Approximately $2.82 Billion for Montana Roads and Highways in Historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation, Tester Announces
Legislation also includes roughly $144 million for Montana airports, $225 million for Montana bridges
(U.S. Senate) – Continuing his work on the historic, bipartisan infrastructure package he negotiated with four Democrats, five Republicans, and the White House, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced that the legislation would provide approximately $2.82 billion for Montana roads and highways over the next five years. It would also provide roughly $225 million to repair and upgrade Montana’s bridges and $144 million for Montana airports.
“When I started negotiating this legislation with my colleagues, I told them that Montana’s roads and highways are crumbling and that repairing them was one of my top priorities,” said Tester. “I’m proud to announce that this legislation will do that and more by investing in communities in our state and across rural America. It will create good-paying jobs, help us maintain our competitive edge over China, and upgrade our bridges, airports, water systems, and high-speed internet—all without raising taxes.”
Tester secured a number of wins for Montana in the legislation, including:
· $304 billion over five years for the Highway Trust Fund, which includes roughly $2.82 billion for Montana highways.
· Montana will also receive approximately $225 million in additional funding for a new bridge initiative to replace and repair bridges in poor condition.
· Roughly $164 million for Montana over five years to bolster public transit infrastructure, a roughly 30 percent increase
o The portion of bus funds set aside for rural areas was increased.
o Funds to address highway safety and motor carrier safety were significantly increased, enabling Montana to save lives and reduce injuries on our roads.
· Roughly $144 million for Montana airports
$2.5 billion to complete all authorized Indian water rights settlements, including settlements for Montana Tribes.
$1 billion to complete all authorized rural water projects through the Bureau of Reclamation, including Fort Peck/Dry Prairie, Rocky Boys/North Central, and Musselshell-Judith rural water systems.
Approximately $138 million for Rocky Boys/North Central
Approximately $56 million for Musselshell-Judith
Approximately $17 million for Fort Peck/Dry Prairie
Up to $100 million for rehabilitating the Milk River Project.
Clarifies that American Rescue Plan state and local fiscal recovery funds may be used towards the state or federal cost share to rehabilitate Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure.
$3.5 billion for Indian Health Service Sanitation Construction program, filling all outstanding needs in the program nationwide.
This includes roughly $40 million in water, sewage, and sanitation projects for the Blackfeet Tribe
$11.2 billion in grants for states and Tribes to reclaim abandoned mine lands. Montana is expected to receive at least $20 million, over six times the state’s annual federal Abandoned Mine Land distribution.
· $42.45 billion grant program for broadband deployment to areas of the country lacking access to internet service. The program will be distributed in the following manner:
o $4.2 billion of which is set aside for high-cost, geographically-challenged areas that are especially difficult and expensive to deploy broadband infrastructure to.
o $100 million allocation to each state distributed during the planning and proposal stage. Up to $5 million in funding to support state broadband office activities including planning, coordination, and grant administration.
o Additional funding allocated to each state using a formula based on that state’s total unserved population.
· $2 billion for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which will help Tribal entities with broadband deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning.
· $2 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, which provide loans and grants to fund broadband service deployment and maintenance in rural areas.
· $14.2 billion for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB). As of July, 2021, 5,498 households in Montana have enrolled in this program, which helps people pay their internet bills.
o Includes additional consumer protection provisions that safeguard against upselling and price-gouging.
o Households participating in EBB can apply the benefit to any internet service plan of their choosing.
· Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Development Act, which will help address the workforce needs of the telecommunications industry to ramp up the human resources necessary in order to deploy broadband infrastructure efficiently and effectively.
· $3.85 billion for Land Ports of Entry to modernize and secure the Northern and Southern border.
· Tester-Moran bill to extend the IRS tax filing deadlines in Fire Management Assistance Grants for areas after significant fires
· $3.37 billion for reducing wildfire risk, including:
o $500 million for Forest Service Community Defense Grants to support community-led efforts to improve community wildfire readiness, planning actions, and removing vegetation.
o $500 million for prescribed fires to reduce fuel loads and large fire risk.
o $500 million to do mechanical thinning and timber harvest to promote fire-resilient stands
o $500 million to develop fire control points, including through the creation of fuelbreaks
o $200 million to remove flammable vegetation for the creation of biochar or innovative woodproducts, with a note for agencies to consider working with youth and conservation corps, and engage with Tribes and veterans.
o $200 million for post-fire restoration activities
o $100 million for Interior and Forest Service to conduct staff training and planning work to support wildland fire and vegetation treatment operations
o $100 million for Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program projects
o $20 million for the Joint Fire Science program (which supports research at UM and MSU)
o Includes the bipartisan REPLANT Act freeing up additional Forest Service funding for reforestation activities, and provides $450 million to rehabilitate and restore burned areas.
Resiliency (Flood, Drought)
· $7 billion for Army Corps of Engineers infrastructure priorities to improve flood mitigation
· $350 million of that for Army Corps CAP funding which includes Section 205 levee projects.
. Senator Tester also secured a $100 million increase for the CAP program
· $3.5 billion for FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance program
· $1 billion for the FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program. This is a pre-disaster mitigation program, supporting states, local communities, tribes and territories undertaking hazard mitigation projects to reduce the risks they face from disasters and natural hazards.
· $2.2 billion for the Aging Infrastructure Account, including to The Bureau of Reclamation for water infrastructure projects across the West that are in need of major upgrades or replacement
· $500 million for the Western Area Power Administration’s power purchase and transmission activities.
Tester will continue to provide additional details about the legislation as they become available.
This week, Senator Tester took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to quickly pass the bipartisan package. And last month, after months of negotiations, Tester and the bipartisan group of nine other Senators went to the White House to announce they had reached an agreement on the framework of a historic, bipartisan infrastructure package to create good-paying jobs by making urgently-needed investments in Montana’s roads, bridges, broadband, water, and more.
July Runoff Lowest On Record
Drought conditions continue to impact the upper Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa (upper Basin). July runoff in the upper Basin was 34% of average. July runoff above Fort Peck Dam was the lowest in 123 years of record-keeping.
The updated 2021 upper Basin runoff forecast is 14.6 million acre-feet (MAF), 57% of average. If realized, this runoff amount would be the 10th driest year in the upper Basin since 1898. System storage on August 1 was 53.9 MAF, 2.2 MAF below the base of the Annual Flood Control and Multiple Use Zone. System storage is expected to decline further into the Carryover Multiple Use Zone during the remainder of 2021.
“Reservoir inflows in July have been declining due to the warmer and drier conditions in the upper Basin,” said John Remus, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. “Per the July 1 System storage check, navigation support will be maintained at an intermediate service level, 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) below full-service levels, through the end of the normal 8-month navigation flow support season, which will end on Dec. 1 at the mouth,” added Remus.
USACE will evaluate lower Missouri River flow conditions to set Gavins Point releases to ensure that flows at the four downstream navigation target locations will be at or above the intermediate service level. The monthly study also indicates that the winter release from Gavins Point, which is based on the September 1 System storage check, will likely be at a minimum rate of 12,000 cfs.
Fall public meetings are currently scheduled to be held October 25-28 at several locations along the Missouri River. Locations and details will be included in the September update.
Soil conditions in the upper basin are very dry. Drought conditions throughout the entire Basin, particularly in the upper basin, worsened in July. According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, approximately 75% of the Missouri River basin is currently experiencing some form of abnormally dry or drought conditions, an increase of 10% since the end of June. The seasonal drought outlook, which extends through the end of September, shows drought conditions will persist or expand across the upper basin. Drought information can be viewed at: https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/.
Gavins Point Dam releases will be set to provide flow support at an intermediate service level, 1,500 cfs less than full service flow support at all four target locations (Sioux City, Omaha, Nebraska City, and Kansas City). Flow support for the second half of the navigation season, as well as the navigation season length, are based on July 1 System storage. The flow support season length will be a full 8-month season, ending Dec. 1 at the mouth of the Missouri River.
Mountain snowpack in the upper Basin melted out in mid- to late-June, several weeks earlier than normal. The mountain snowpack peaked above Fort Peck in late March at 86% of average, while the mountain snowpack in the Fort Peck to Garrison reach peaked in late April at 96% of average. Mountain snowpack normally peaks near April 15. The mountain snowpack graphics can be viewed at: http://go.usa.gov/xARQC .
Winter Release Rate:
The winter release rate is determined based on the September 1 System storage. Per the July 1 reservoir studies, the winter releases from Gavins Point Dam will likely be at the minimum rate of 12,000 cfs.
Fort Peck Dam
Average releases past month – 9,400 cfs
Current release rate – 9,500 cfs
Forecast average release rate – 9,500 cfs
End-of-July reservoir level – 2230.8 feet (down 1.7 foot from July 1)
Forecast end-of-August reservoir level – 2228.8 feet
Notes: Releases will be maintained at 9,500 cfs through August.
Department of Education Approves Montana’s Plan For Use Of American Rescue Plan Funds
U.S. Department of Education Approves Montana’s Plan for Use of American Rescue Plan Funds to Support K-12 Schools and Students, Distributes Remaining $127 Million To State
On Thursday, Aug. 5, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of Montana’s American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to them. Montana’s plan details how the state is using and plans to use ARP ESSER funds to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and equitably expand opportunity for students who need it most, particularly those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As schools and states gear up for the return to school, the Department released [ed.gov] the Return To School Roadmap [sites.ed.gov], which provides key resources and supports for students, parents, educators, and school communities to build excitement around returning to classrooms this school year and outlines how federal funding can support the safe and sustained return to in-person learning. ARP funds can be used to support the roadmap’s efforts.
Earlier this year, the Department distributed two thirds of the ARP ESSER funds, totaling $81 billion, to 50 states and the District of Columbia. The remaining third of the funding to states will be made available once state plans are approved. Montana is receiving $382 million total in ARP ESSER funds, and today’s approval of their plan will result in the release of the final $127 million. Additionally, the Department approved plans for Hawaii, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania. Today’s approvals mean a total of 22 ARP ESSER state plans have been approved since June.
“I am excited to announce approval of Montana’s plan,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “It is heartening to see, reflected in these state plans, the ways in which states are thinking deeply about how to use American Rescue Plan funds to continue to provide critical support to schools and communities, particularly as we move into the summer and look ahead to the upcoming academic year. The approval of these plans enables states to receive vital, additional American Rescue Plan funds to quickly and safely reopen schools for full-time, in-person learning; meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs; and address disparities in access to educational opportunity that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The state plans that have been submitted to the Department lay the groundwork for the ways in which an unprecedented infusion of federal resources will be used to address the urgent needs of America’s children and build back better.”
“When our school doors open here in Montana this month, we’re looking forward to as normal a school year as possible,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen. “Our plan allows school administrators and teachers to use these funds wisely to promote innovation in the classroom and enhance learning opportunities for our students, without sacrificing an ounce of accountability. I thank Secretary Cardona and his team for granting approval to Montana’s state plan and placing trust in our local control model.”
“As I’ve talked with families and educators over the past year, one thing has been crystal clear: this pandemic hit Montana students hard, and we must do everything we can to help get them caught up,” said Sen. Jon Tester. “That’s why I was proud to support the American Rescue Plan, and why I fought to secure this urgently-needed support that will help Montana schools reopen safely and get students back on track when school starts this fall—all without breaking the bank for local taxpayers.”
The ARP ESSER state plans approved by the Department today, including Montana, show how states are using federal pandemic resources to support safe in-person instruction and meet the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students—with a focus on the students most impacted by the pandemic. For example:
Addressing the Academic Impact of Lost Instructional Time, Investing in Summer Learning and Expanding Afterschool Programs: The Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) has allocated funds to school districts to invest in evidence-based programs and is providing tools to help school districts decide how to select interventions. OPI will provide a variety of sustained, multi-tiered systems of supports, professional learning, data support, and technical assistance opportunities to school districts to support their academic impact plans and implementation. OPI will use the Opportunity to Learn Survey collected in May 2021 and the Professional Needs Survey collected in February 2021, along with data collected at the local level, to identify student groups disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Districts will submit specific action plans to target those students, such as afterschool or summer school programs. OPI also is partnering with community-based organizations like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and local libraries to support summer and afterschool programs.
Expanding Summer Enrichment Opportunities: OPI is developing summer enrichment opportunities for Montana students based on student-driven interests and purpose. The first student film festival will be held the summer of 2022 and will be enhanced with afterschool workshops developing student interests and skills in digital media and communication. The Montana Arts Council, the Department of Labor, the Chamber of Commerce, and Reach Higher are all partners in this effort. OPI will release a summer enrichment planning guide for public and nonpublic schools and communities this fall.
· Supporting Students’ and Educators Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs: Social, emotional, and behavioral supports and guidance are embedded throughout resources published by OPI. OPI also held virtual meetings for the Montana School Counselors Association that continued throughout spring 2020 focusing on school counseling, screening, and social emotional learning in partnership with the Montana School Counselors Association. Additionally, OPI is encouraging schools to utilize the additional funding received from COVID-19 relief to add personnel to their schools as deemed necessary through local needs assessments, including counselors.
A total of 44 states and the District of Columbia have submitted their ARP ESSER state plans to the Department. The Department is reviewing the plans expeditiously and is in contact with states to ensure their plans meet all necessary requirements in order to access the remaining funds, as outlined in the ARP. The Department also is in contact with states that have not yet submitted plans, the vast majority of which are due to state board of education or legislative review requirements.
The distribution of ARP ESSER funds is part of the Department’s broader effort to support students and districts as they work to reengage students impacted by the pandemic, address inequities exacerbated by COVID-19, and build our education system back better than before. In addition to providing $130 billion for K-12 education in the American Rescue Plan to support the safe reopening of K-12 schools and meet the needs of all students, the Biden-Harris Administration also has:
Released three volumes [ed.gov] of the COVID-19 Handbook.
Held a National Safe School Reopening Summit [youtube.com].
Prioritized the vaccination of educators, school staff and child care workers. As of the end of May an estimated 84% of teachers and school staff were fully vaccinated.
Provided $10 billion in funding for COVID-19 testing for PreK-12 educators, staff, and students.
Launched a series of Equity Summits focused on addressing inequities that existed before, but were made worse by the pandemic.
Released a report [ed.gov] on the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on underserved communities.
Developed a Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse [bestpracticesclearinghouse.ed.gov] elevating hundreds of best practices to support schools’ efforts to reopen safely and address the impacts of COVID-19 on students, educators, and communities.
In addition to the actions the Biden Administration has taken to reopen schools, the President has proposed critical investments through his Build Back Better agenda that will enable schools to rebuild stronger than they were before the pandemic, such as investing billions to build a diverse educator workforce, expand access to pre-K to all families, and invest in school infrastructure, among other provisions.
Block Management Program Information Available Starting August 10
HELENA – Hunters will be able to obtain the 2021 Block Management Area (BMA) program information beginning Aug. 10. Hunters are encouraged to request their 2021 BMA Access Guide online and download or print individual BMA maps at fwp.mt.gov/BMA.
By utilizing the FWP website fwp.mt.gov/BMA, hunters will have instant access to the Access Guide and up-to-date BMA maps and rules for every individual BMA enrolled in the program.
“Obtaining these individual BMA maps and rules via our website are key to successfully utilizing the BMA program as not all rules or instructions for obtaining landowner permission are listed in the overview guide,” said Jason Kool, Hunting Access Bureau Chief. “The website will also feature a list of BMAs that are restricted or initially closed due to fire danger.”
Hunters may also obtain individual BMA maps at permission sign-in boxes, or via phone, walk-in, mail or email request to FWP at the contact information below.
Also, like in previous years, some BMAs may have varying dates they are taking hunter reservations. While reservations cannot start before Aug. 22, some BMA reservation start dates will be scattered throughout the season to better accommodate hunter demands.
“Hunters should check their Access Guide or view the individual BMA map and rules to determine when or if a given BMA will start reservations,” said Kool.
Fish, Wildlife, & Parks urges hunters to use caution due to extremely dry conditions and to extend a “thank you” to all Montana landowners who collaborate on access opportunities that benefit wildlife and public hunters. The Block Management program, through partnerships formed with private landowners, government agencies and conservation organizations will provide access to more than 7.1 million acres of private and isolated public land for the 2021 hunting season.
Region 6: email@example.com ; 406-228-3700
Governor Gianforte Encourages Montana Residents To Get Vaccinated For COVID-19
Governor Gianforte told Stan Ozark on Live Under the Big Sky Tuesday that Montana residents need to vaccinated against COVID-19 as Montana is seeing an increase in the number of active COVID cases.
The number of active cases is now 1580 and the number of hospitalizations has doubled in the last 2 weeks.
Here is Governor Gianforte:
Valley County COVID Update
VALLEY COUNTY COVID-19
Active cases: 3 (two (2) females and one (1) male age 40-69)
Recovered cases/no longer infectious: 896
Total cases: 917
Valley County vaccination rate: 38.6% (2442 persons fully vaccinated out of 6313 eligible Valley County residents)
Walk-in vaccine clinic for all vaccines every Wednesday from 4 – 5:30 (we close at 6pm!) at VCHD. COVID-19 vaccine – J&J and Moderna – for age 18+ are available. The J&J expiration date has been extended to 9/21/21,and we have 30 doses in stock at this time.
Pharm406 will be at the Cottonwood Inn Wednesday, August 11, 6 – 8 pm with Pfizer and Moderna. This is the only local opportunity for persons 12-17 to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine.
It takes six (6) weeks from your first Moderna vaccine to achieve maximum immunity with 94% effectiveness . That will be September 15 if you could get vaccinated today.
Filing Continues For Fort Peck Tribal Elections
The Fort Peck Tribes will have their 2021 General Election this fall and here are the latest candidate filings as of August 3rd.
Glasgow School Start Times For 2020-2021 School Year
Glasgow Public Schools will go to a 4-day school week for this school year. This has changed the start and dismissal times for all the schools.
31 Applicants For Glasgow Chief Of Police Position
Glasgow Mayor Becky Erickson informed the Glasgow City Council that there were 31 applicants for the Glasgow Police Chief position.
Erickson said she is forming a committee comprised of Rod Karst, Todd Young, Emery Brelje and Anna Rose Sullivan to score the applications to determine the applicants who will be interviewed.
The Mayor also noted there were 2 local applicants for the position.
Devils Creek Fire 100% Contained
Message from Garfield County DES:
Garfield County DES is extremely pleased to report that Devils Creek Fire is now 100% contained. Crews will continue patrols of the area.
Garfield County DES will continue to provide additional updates to landowners and regarding area recreational activity when the road is officially reopened.
The BLM is reporting the fire burned more then 19,000 acres with an estimated cost of $1.8 million to fight the fire.
Fun Fact: Firefighters used 10,000 feet of 1.5 inch hose and 5,000 feet of 1.0 inch hose on this fire. A system of three 1,500 gallon tanks filled these lines as they stretched ridges that elk and cattle typically cross. As containment was reached, all of this was rolled back up and prepped for the next fire. A far less glamorous but necessary task
Two Active Cases Of COVID-19 In Valley County
Active cases: 2 (two females age 40-69)
Recovered cases/no longer infectious: 897
Total cases: 917
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications:
Valley County: 18
Valley County vaccination rate: 38.5% (2429 persons fully vaccinated out of 6313 eligible Valley County residents)
Walk-in vaccine clinic for all vaccines every Wednesday from 4pm until closing at VCHD. COVID-19 vaccine – J&J and Moderna – for age 18+ are available.
Pharm406 will be at the Cottonwood Inn - August 11th from 6pm-8pm
This is the only local opportunity for persons 12-17 to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine.
Garfield County DES Update On Devils Creek Fire
Thursday Update On Devil's Creek Fire located in Garfield County:
Devil’s Creek Update: Lines have all held and containment is now considered at 50%. Size estimate for this evening is roughly 19,000 acres due to areas burning internally within the borders.
The majority of local firefighters returned home last night per Warden Hageman to catch up on sleep & prepare for any additional fire starts. Additional state and federal resources demobilized today and more will be outbound for new assignments or rest tomorrow morning. Remaining crews will continue mopping up and containment numbers are expected to continue rising.
Sheridan County Man Who Was Reported Missing, Has Been Found Deceased
GREAT FALLS — Kevin Olson, who was reported missing on Monday, July 26, has been found deceased.
A Missing/Endangered Person Advisory had been issued on Monday evening.
The Sheridan County Sheriff's Office said that Olson's body was found at about 9:40 a.m. on Wednesday, July 28, by officers using an airplane and cell phone location data to search for him.
The Sheriff's Office says that Olson was in a motorcycle crash on Highway 5 West, just west of Plentywood, and was found dead at the scene.
The Montana Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.
Tester Announces Infrastructure Deal That Could Bring Billions To Montana
(U.S. Senate) – After weeks of negotiations with the White House and a bipartisan group of nine other Senators, U.S. Senator Jon Tester Wednesday announced that he had secured a deal on historic infrastructure legislation that would create good-paying jobs and boost Montana’s economy by making urgently-needed investments in Montana’s roads, bridges, broadband, water, and more.
“I’m pleased to announce that we have reached a bipartisan deal on a historic bill that will upgrade Montana’s aging infrastructure, create-good paying jobs, and help us maintain our competitive edge over China,” said Tester. “Montanans have been living off our parents’ infrastructure for decades, and this package will finally provide critical investments in roads, bridges, broadband, airports, and water systems across our state that will boost our economy for years to come. Everywhere I go in Montana, I hear from folks who tell me they expect their elected leaders to work across the aisle to deliver real, lasting results for our state and our economy. This bipartisan legislation will do that, and I’m proud to have worked with Republicans, Democrats, and the President to get it done.”
Tester secured a number of wins for Montana in the legislation, including:
• $2.5 billion to complete all authorized Indian water rights settlements, including settlements for the Blackfeet, Crow, and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
• $1 billion to complete all authorized rural water projects through the Bureau of Reclamation, including Fort Peck/Dry Prairie, Rocky Boys/North Central, and Musselshell-Judith rural water systems.
• Up to $100 million for rehabilitating the Milk River Project.
• Clarifies that American Rescue Plan Act state and local fiscal recovery funds may be used towards the state or federal cost share to rehabilitate Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure.
• $3.5 billion for Indian Health Service Sanitation Construction program, providing water, sewage, and sanitation services to Tribal households.
• $11.2 billion in grants for states and Tribes to reclaim abandoned mine lands.
• $7 billion for Army Corps of Engineers infrastructure priorities to improve flood mitigation
• $350 million of that for Army Corps CAP funding (which includes Section 205 levee projects) - Senator Tester helped secure a $100 million increase for the CAP program
• $3.5 billion for the Federal Emergency and Management Agency Flood Mitigation Assistance program
• $2.2 billion for the Aging Infrastructure Account, including to the Bureau of Reclamation for water infrastructure projects across the West that are in need of major upgrades or replacement
• $500 million for the Western Area Power Administration’s power purchase and transmission activities
• Tester-Moran bill to extend the Internal Revenue Service tax filing deadlines in Fire Management Assistance Grant areas after significant fires
• $3.37 billion for reducing wildfire risk, including hazardous fuels treatments, wildland firefighter salaries, fire research, and grants to communities to reduce wildfire risks
• A portion of the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2021, which cuts burdensome hours of service requirements that can prevent ag and livestock haulers from doing their jobs safely, and gives them the flexibility to ensure more of Montana's world-class products can make it to market.
• DRIVE Safe Act, which creates a pilot program that lifts federal regulations that prevent Montana truck drivers under 21 years of age from transporting goods across state lines and establishes a new training initiative for 18 to 20-year-old truck drivers.
• Right Track Act & Blocked Railroad Crossing Bill, which improve safety at rural train crossings and addresses instances of blocked highway-railroad crossings across the U.S.
• $15 million to study Amtrak-long distance passenger rail travel, providing funding for groups working to increase access to long-distance passenger rail travel like the Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Working Group.
Gianforte Won't Endorse Masks Despite COVID-19 Case Rise
Montana health officials reported on Tuesday more than 250 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in a single day for the first time in over five months.
Health officials reported 261 new cases of the respiratory virus, bringing the number of active cases in the state to 942.
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte said in a statement that he is concerned about the growing caseload, but stopped short of recommending that residents wear masks in closed spaces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that vaccinated people in counties with high caseloads should return to wearing masks indoors.
"While the CDC has repeatedly changed its mask recommendations over the last 16 months, the governor is committed to keeping our state open, and encourages Montanans to talk with their doctor about getting a safe, effective vaccine," spokesperson Brooke Stroyke said in a statement.
Stroyke said Gianforte has charged the Montana Department of Health and Human Services to "refine" its vaccine awareness campaign as vaccination rates have continued to lag in some parts of the state. Of those eligible in Montana, 48% are fully vaccinated.
While the governor did not echo the CDC's new recommendations on masking, some local health officials called for vaccinated people to start wearing masks again.
"Every layer of protection counts right now and dusting those masks off is a wise choice," said D'Shane Barnett, Missoula public health officer. "With the highly transmissible delta variant present in our community, those who are old enough to get vaccinated should do so immediately."
Firefighters In Stable Condition After Being Injured While Fighting Fire In Eastern Montana
JORDAN — Five federal firefighters remained hospitalized Sunday in stable condition after sustaining burn injuries when swirling winds blew a lightning-caused wildfire back on them in eastern Montana on Thursday.
The five were building a defensive line at the Devil's Creek Fire in Garfield County when the weather shifted, said Bureau of Land Management spokesman Mark Jacobsen.
Two USDA Forest Service firefighters who are engine crew members based at the Quemado Ranger District at New Mexico's Gila National Forest were in stable condition and recovering at an undisclosed location, said Forest Service spokeswoman Punky Moore.
Three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crew members also were in stable condition and recovering at an undisclosed burn center, said Forest Service spokeswoman Kari Cobb. The three USFS employees are based at the Eastern North Dakota Wetland Management District Complex, Cobb said.
Neither Cobb nor Moore released any addition details.
Fire crews hoped to keep the wildfire, which had grown to 3,500 acres Sunday, from approaching the nearby Fort Peck Reservoir on the Missouri River, Jacobsen said.
Verizon-Cellular Plus In Glasgow Giving Away Free Backpacks Filled With School Supplies On Saturday
Verizon-Cellular Plus in Glasgow will be giving away free backpacks filled with school supplies on Saturday, July 31 from 10 am to noon.
“We are thrilled to be able to give back to our local community and help students kick off the school year with a brand-new backpack,” stated President, Adam Kimmet. “Our goal is to help make it a little easier for families to get these essential supplies so that students can start off the school year prepared and confident.”
The Verizon-Cellular Plus Backpack to School program incorporates employees, customers, and their vendor partners. They organized an internal employee donation program and are also accepting donations from their guests in the stores to help as many families as possible. Donations stay local so each backpack that is donated at a specific location will be distributed to children in that same area.
No purchase is necessary to receive a backpack and a child must be present with an adult to claim their free backpack. There are a limited number available and will be distributed while supplies last.
Cellular Plus is located at 54147 US-2, next to the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.
Cellular Plus is a Verizon authorized retailer, founded in 1998, and headquartered in Billings, MT.
City Of Glasgow Plans Street Improvements
Please note the following Street Closures will be occurring over the next two weeks (July 26th - August 6th 2021):
10th Street South from 4th Ave South to 6th Ave South will be under construction and intermittently closed beginning on Tuesday, July 27th through Monday August 2nd. At times the street may completely closed to thru traffic (not residents) as the street surface is milled and repaved, however at the end of each day, access will be provided to residents along those sections of streets. Additionally during that week we ask that no one park on the street from 5:00 AM through 9:00 PM.
Kolstad Drive from Lasar Drive to Parkview Place will also be under construction and intermittently closed from Thursday, July 29th through August 6th. At times the street may completely closed to thru traffic as the street surface is milled and repaved, however at the end of each day, access will be provided to residents accessing the Valada Heights neighborhood.
During the next two weeks, we ask that residents please plan appropriately and utilize alternate travel routes through those two neighborhoods. Work in these areas will be weather dependent and times may shift slightly due to any inclement conditions or conditions that are not conducive to the work. The City apologizes for any inconvenience, and appreciates everyone's patience as we improve the street infrastructure of Glasgow.
-City of Glasgow Department of Public Works
Firefighters Injured By Garfield County Wildfire
Federal firefighters were injured when a sudden wind shift blew the wildfire back over their position as they were constructing a defensive fire line on the perimeter of the Devils Creek Fire in Garfield County, July 22.
The five injured firefighters were members of federal crews called in to assist Bureau of Land Management, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Garfield County and local resources already on scene.
The firefighters were evacuated and are currently undergoing further medical evaluation to determine the extent of their injuries.
Numerous wind shifts and rapid rates of spread resulted in erratic fire behavior as thunderstorms and associated cells were passing over the area when the incident occurred.
The lightning-caused wildfire is burning in rough, steep terrain and is located near the Pine Grove School, about 36 miles northwest of Jordan, and east of the Devils Creek Road which accesses the south shore of Fort Peck Reservoir.
Personnel on site continue to fight the blaze, which as of the most recent mapping, has burned roughly 375 acres of BLM and private land.
Additional information and updates on the incident will be made available as safety investigations determine the factual details.
Free Landfill Day For Glasgow Residents On Saturday
The City of Glasgow is offering free use of the landfill Sat. July 24th from 8a.m. – noon. This is being offered to CITY residents only. Items that will NOT be accepted include roofing materials, asphalt, cement, & tires. Note: trees & metal are always accepted free of charge.
Glasgow Mayor Becky Erickson explains the origin of the Free Landfill Day for city residents:
United States Renews Pandemic Curbs On Nonessential Travel At U.S.-Canada Border Through August 21st
The United States on Wednesday renewed its pandemic curbs on nonessential travel at the U.S.-Canada land border for at least a month, marking a split with its northern neighbor and close ally on the restrictions, and fueling rancor on both sides of the frontier.
The Department of Homeland Security said in a tweet that the extension of the measures — which also apply at the U.S.-Mexico land border and are now set to expire Aug. 21 — was motivated in part by a desire to decrease the spread of the highly transmissible delta coronavirus variant.
“DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably,” the agency said.
The announcement comes several days after Canada said it would begin to open up its borders to some foreigners for discretionary travel, beginning with fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents living in the United States on Aug. 9; and fully vaccinated people from elsewhere on Sept. 7.
Canada and the United States agreed to impose the curbs on nonessential travel at their 5,500-mile land border at the pandemic’s onset in March 2020, renewing them in one-month increments since.
The measures have had limited effects on trade and the movement of some cross-border workers, but they have kept families apart, battered the tourism industry and altered life in close-knit border communities in ways big and small — and that some analysts fear could be more permanent.
Gov. Gianforte Announces Process to Reduce Unemployment Fraud
HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte Tuesday announced a new process for Montana employers to notify the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (DLI) if an unemployment insurance (UI) claimant fails to appear for a scheduled interview.
“We’ve recently heard from employers across the state with a common complaint: candidates for open positions submit applications and schedule interviews, only to skip out on it,” Governor Gianforte said. “This new process established by Commissioner Esau will cut down on wasted time for Montana small businesses and ensure UI claimants are adhering to program rules.”
Montana law requires UI claimants to make an active, good-faith effort to secure employment every week benefits are claimed. Scheduling an interview to complete a weekly work search requirement, but then failing to appear for that interview, may violate UI program rules.
DLI Commissioner Laurie Esau added, “Some restaurants have said they scheduled half a dozen interviews or more on a given day, and had only a single applicant actually show up – if any at all. To be sure, there are plenty of legitimate reasons why an applicant misses an interview. Many of the individuals who skip out on an interview may not even be UI claimants at all. But if a UI claimant is scheduling an interview to complete his or her work search requirements, and then fails to make a good-faith effort to appear and obtain a job offer, that may impact his or her eligibility for UI benefits going forward.”
Employers who submit information about declined or missed interviews may be contacted by fraud investigators for more information. However, the outcome of the audit will remain between the claimant and the department.
UI claimants are encouraged to consult the Claimant Handbook to ensure they remain in compliance with work search requirements.
If an individual is receiving UI benefits and then refuses an official offer of work, it may impact their ability to continue receiving benefits. In these cases, employers are encouraged to notify UI and complete the Refusal of Work Report form and return it to firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to UI eServices for Employers and attach it to a secure web message.
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