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Latest Local News

News Release From Valley County Health Department Regarding Deaths In Valley County Related To COVID-19

Thursday, May 6th 2021

In recent weeks, DPHHS has been working with Montana’s Vital Statistics Analysis Unit to reconcile and verify Montana residents who died either 1) directly from COVID or 2) COVID played a role in the death of the individual.

Throughout this review process, VCHD has been diligent that the data for a COVID related death does not include persons who were near death -- due to long-term illness or significant injury -- and also had COVID. Valley County has one person who was near death and did have COVID at the time of his/her death. This person is not counted in the statistics and COVID is not listed on his/her death record.

VCHD has been reporting 11 deaths due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications. After a thorough review of death records, and in coordination with DPHHS and the Vital Statistics Analysis Unit, Valley County Health Department confirms that 18 Valley County residents died directly from COVID or that COVID played a role in the death of the individual. Seven (7) additional deaths of Valley County residents were discovered upon review of death records.

The additional deaths occurred November 2020 – January 2021. The persons with a COVID related death are as follows:
A man in his 70s.
A woman in her 90s.
A man in his 80s.
A man in his 50s.
A woman in her 80s.
A woman in her 90s.
A woman in her 80s.

We at VCHD express our deepest sympathies to the families for the loss of each of these loved ones.

Breigenzer Wins Election For Valley View Home Hospital District Trustee

Wednesday, May 5th 2021

Unofficial election results for the 05/04/2021 Valley View Home Hospital District Trustee Election:

Karen J Breigenzer 1,081 votes
Gina Williamson 392 votes

Approximately 30.28% of ballots were returned.

Frazer School Election Results

Wednesday, May 5th 2021

Frazer School Election:

1 Year Term
Michael Cole 84
Angie Toce Blount 53

3 Year Term
Michael Redstone 83
Sonya Smoker 52

Governor Gianforte Announces Measures To Address Severe Workforce Shortage And Incentivize Montanans To Reenter Labor Force

Wednesday, May 5th 2021

HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte Tuesday announced two measures to address the state’s severe workforce shortage and incentivize Montanans to reenter the labor force.

The State of Montana will launch a return-to-work bonus program, utilizing federal funds authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act. Return-to-work bonuses will be paid to unemployed individuals who rejoin the labor force and accept and maintain steady employment for at least one month.

The governor also announced the State of Montana will end its participation in federal pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs and transition to pre-pandemic unemployment insurance (UI) eligibility and benefits by the end of June.

“Montana is open for business again, but I hear from too many employers throughout our state who can’t find workers. Nearly every sector in our economy faces a labor shortage,” Gov. Gianforte said.

“Incentives matter,” Gov. Gianforte continued, “and the vast expansion of federal unemployment benefits is now doing more harm than good. We need to incentivize Montanans to reenter the workforce. Our return-to-work bonus and the return to pre-pandemic unemployment programs will help get more Montanans back to work.”

Across Montana, employers struggle to find workers, particularly in the health care, construction, manufacturing, and hospitality and leisure industries.

Returning to pre-pandemic unemployment eligibility and offering return-to-work incentives will encourage workers to reenter the workforce and help ease a critical labor shortage across Montana.

“Montana’s unemployment rate is at just 3.8% – near pre-pandemic lows – and statewide there are record numbers of new job postings each week. But today, despite an influx of new residents into Montana over the last year, our labor force is some 10,000 workers smaller than it was before the pandemic,” Commissioner of Labor and Industry Laurie Esau said. “Our labor shortage doesn’t just affect employers and business owners. Employees who are forced to work longer shifts, serve more customers or clients, and take on more duties have been paying the price.”

Montana will be the first state in the nation to fully opt out of the federal unemployment benefit programs enacted since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Requirements that unemployment insurance claimants actively seek work and be “able and available” for work will be reinstated effective June 27, as well.

Specifically, Montana’s Department of Labor & Industry announced the following changes to the unemployment insurance (UI) program:

• Starting June 27, 2021, claimants who have exhausted their traditional UI benefits but had continued to receive them through the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program will no longer be eligible for UI payments.

• Beginning June 27, 2021 Montana will no longer be issuing supplemental $300 weekly payments to claimants under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program.

• Beginning June 27, 2021, Montana will no longer participate in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. PUA presently provides benefits to the self-employed, the underemployed, independent contractors, and individuals who have been unable to work due to health or COVID-19 affected reasons.

• Starting June 27, 2021, Montana will no longer participate in the Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program, which offers supplemental payments to individuals who had both traditional W-2 income as well as self-employment income.

• Requirements that claimants be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work in order to be considered eligible for benefits will be reinstated effective June 27, 2021. These requirements had previously been suspended under emergency rule-making authority in March of last year. More information about work-search and “able & available” requirements is available in the UI Claimants handbook.

Unemployment insurance claimants will be receiving information soon about how these changes affect them individually. Until then, claimants with questions about their future eligibility are encouraged to visit MontanaWorks.gov or contact the Department of Labor & Industry at 406-444-2545. Claimants receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) should contact 406-444-3382.

The Return-to-Work Bonus initiative will offer $1,200 payments to individuals receiving unemployment benefits as of May 4, 2021, who subsequently accept employment and complete at least four paid weeks of work. Individuals eligible for the bonus will be contacted by the Department of Labor and Industry and informed of their eligibility, as well as more information about how to ensure they receive the payment after they complete four weeks of employment.

Win A Trip To Maui, Hawaii By Receiving COVID Vaccine By June 4th!

Wednesday, May 5th 2021

Win a trip to Maui, Hawaii! Round trip tickets for 2; 5 nights of accommodation; airport/hotel transportation included.
Drawing date: June 4th, 2021
How to Enter: Be vaccinated against COVID-19!
1. You are automatically entered if you have been vaccinated by the Valley County Health Department for COVID-19.
or
2. Have your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by June 4th. Call 228-6261 to sign up for vaccine.
or
3. If you are a Valley County resident, but received your vaccine outside of Valley County, email community@fmdh.org with your name and phone number.
Questions? Email community@fmdh.org

Giveaway rules and regulations:
-Eligibility
Winner must be 18 years or older
Winner must have received their 1st dose of COVID-19 before June 4, 2021 and supply proof of vaccination
Winner must be a resident of Valley County, MT
-Vacation arranged by Magic Carpet Travel and subject to availability.
-Magic Carpet Travel acts only as an agent and is not the actual supplier of booked travel services
-Travel insurance is optional and the winner’s responsibility
-Black out dates may apply
-In lieu of trip, the winner may elect to take $1,000
-Trips are non-transferable and must be taken by the winner and must be booked within 6 months of the drawing.
-Winner must be 18 years or older
-Winner must pay applicable taxes.
-Do not need to be present to win.
-In case of a dispute, all decisions by Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital are Final.
-Winner may be required to pay resort fees.
-Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital Employees are not eligible to win.

-Travel Safety Warning: Due to the fact that travel and tourism are constantly in a state of flux, the Winner shall consult the U.S. State Department’s website at travel.gov and enter the where they plan to visit for the latest information concerning traveler safety, security, and health advisories. All guests are responsible for checking the travel and entry protocols for the destination that they are travelling to before they depart and ensuring that they fully understand and comply with any such protocols. For example, for some destinations, may require obtaining a negative PCR Covid-19 test a certain number of days before and on return travel. The Sponsor and/or Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital shall not be responsible for any additional costs incurred for any required test or any other pre-travel or post travel requirements.

34% Of Eligible Valley County Residents Vaccinated For COVID-19

Tuesday, May 4th 2021

Valley County COVID-19 Update
5/03/2021 5:45 pm
Active cases: 8
Number of persons recovered/no longer infectious: 882
Total cases: 901
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications: 11

COVID-19 Vaccination rate for Valley County:
With an eligible population of 5,917 persons and 2,013 persons fully vaccinated for COVID-19, Valley County is 34.0% vaccinated.

Phillips County-35%
Roosevelt County- 30%
Daniels County- 33%
Sheridan County- 48%
McCone County- 19%
Garfield County- 22%

Wolf Point Man Sentenced To Prison After Conviction On Rape, Child Abuse And Assault Crimes

Tuesday, May 4th 2021

GREAT FALLS – A Wolf Point man convicted by juries in two separate trials of rape, child abuse and assault crimes was sentenced today to a total of 20 years and five months in prison, followed by a total of 10 years of supervised release, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.

A jury convicted Luke John Scott, Sr., 33, on Jan. 28 of aggravated sexual abuse and of assault by striking, beating or wounding, a misdemeanor, in a July 2017 rape and assault of a woman. On Nov. 19, 2020, a separate jury convicted Scott of felony child abuse that began in July 2018 and of assault resulting in serious bodily injury for an assault on the same minor child in March 2019. The crimes in both cases occurred on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Chief Judge Brian M. Morris presided.

In the aggravated sexual abuse and assault case, Chief Judge Morris sentenced Scott to 10 years and five months in prison and to 10 years of supervised release. In the felony child abuse and assault case, Chief Judge Morris sentenced Scott to 10 years in prison and to three years of supervised release. Chief Judge Morris ordered the prison sentences in the two cases to run consecutively, for a total of 20 years and five months, and for the terms of supervised release in the two cases to run concurrently, for a total of 10 years of supervised release.

“Mr. Scott’s violent conduct not only seriously harmed the victims in these two cases but also endangered the entire community. These sentences will hold Mr. Scott accountable for his crimes, while protecting the community from further violence by him. Those who rape women and abuse children will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Acting U.S. Attorney Johnson said.

In the aggravated sexual abuse case, the government alleged in court records and through evidence presented at trial that on July 7, 2017, Scott approached the victim, identified as Jane Doe, on the street, told her he had a bottle of vodka and that a relative was fishing by the Poplar river. The victim went with Scott to the river, where he threatened to kill her, tried to strangle her and then raped her. Jane Doe reported the assault to law enforcement and was transported to the hospital in Poplar.

In the child abuse and assault case, the government alleged in court records and through evidence presented at trial that for approximately eight months, beginning in July 2018, Scott abused and injured a minor child in Wolf Point. The abuse culminated in a March 2019 assault in which the Scott assaulted the child by repeated blunt force trauma to the head and strangulation. The victim was treated for serious injuries.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kalah A. Paisley prosecuted the cases, which were investigated by the FBI and Fort Peck Law Enforcement Services.

Glasgow City Council Conducting Public Meeting To Brief Residents On Current Water System Planning Efforts

Monday, May 3rd 2021

A public meeting will be presented to the residents of Glasgow to inform them of the current water system planning efforts and solicit input on the pursuit of water system upgrades, repairs and funding.

The City of Glasgow is preparing a preliminary engineering Report (PER) to address deficiencies in the raw water transmission and water distribution system. Aging infrastructure has contributed to several failures in recent years resulting in costly repairs for the City. The purpose of the PER is to evaluate alternatives available for addressing system deficiencies so that the city staff and its residents may decide which alternatives best suit their needs. The PER will then be used to the city pursue funding for the selected alternative(s).

Fish And Wildlife Service Considering Reintroducing Wild Bison To Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge

Friday, April 30th 2021

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. officials said they will consider in coming years whether to reintroduce wild bison to a million-acre federal wildlife refuge in central Montana, a move that would be at odds with Republicans in the state who want to limit where bison can roam.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans beginning in July “to engage Tribes and stakeholders on the topics of bison and bighorn sheep reintroductions” on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, a remote landscape of badlands and prairie bisected by the Missouri River, according to an Interior Department statement.

Bison historically roamed the region but were wiped out across most of North America by overhunting in the late 19th century. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature have sought to make it harder to reintroduce bison to new areas.

Many ranchers in the state, including around the refuge, oppose efforts to restore bison to the landscape, fearing they could compete with livestock for public grazing space and spread the disease brucellosis. That’s an infectious disease carried by Yellowstone National Park bison that can cause animals to prematurely abort their young.

Gianforte last week announced the cancellation of a state bison management plan that would have made it easier to reintroduce the animals. His administration settled a lawsuit with a property rights group that claimed that then-Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, had been scheming to establish a free-roaming herd within the Charles M. Russell refuge, named for the western artist whose work captured the area’s rugged beauty.

A group of Native American state lawmakers on Tuesday asked the Biden administration to craft a plan to reintroduce bison to the refuge and on public lands adjacent to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, including Glacier National Park and the Rocky Mountain Front.

Rep. Tyson Running Wolf, a Blackfeet member from Browning, said it was “awesome” that bison could be considered for the refuge. He urged the administration to also look at bison for the Glacier area.

Interior Department officials provided no specifics on their plans beyond a statement saying the wildlife service was in the final planning stages before launching a “multiple year” process to consider bison and bighorn sheep reintroductions. Other wildlife and habitat issues also would be considered.

The refuge already has bighorn sheep and it is uncertain if their inclusion by the agency refers to plans to bolster existing populations or put them into more areas.

Senator Tester Believes U.S. Can Convince Canada To Re-Open Border If More People Follow Through On Getting COVID Vaccine

Friday, April 30th 2021

Senator Jon Tester believes the U.S. can convince Canada to re-open its borders to normal traffic if more people follow through on getting their COVID shots.

Sen. Tester says it has also impacted his farming operations in Big Sandy, showing the business impact.

“I always tell folks that oftentimes Montanans have more in common with the folks north of the border than we do with people east of the Mississippi and it's true. And not only seeing relatives but you know for trade. I mean, I would love to run up there and get some certified seed," Sen. Tester told MTN News.

"But getting across the border and getting back into the United States as a as a real task right now. And so we've got to work with Canada. We got to work with our Customs and Border Protection and the CDC and get it so we can start doing business as usual with our friends to the North and they can do business with us," he continued.

Canadian restrictions have gotten even tighter, with case counts up and hard travel restrictions in place across British Columbia.


“I have already been talking to the Administration about how we can work with Canada to get the border open. I've been doing that for the last several months because they are such an important trading partner," Sen. Tester noted.

But while a political solution develops, Sen. Tester believes vaccinations are key. He recognizes there's resistance by some, but says the border opening hinges on proof of COVID-19 safety.

“And it gives us a real tool if we can say ‘you know what guys? 70% of people in Montana are vaccinated we need to open this border up," Sen. Tester said. "And I think it gives a tool and it will help us get that border open and get life back to normal. Get this pandemic in a rearview mirror and it sets a great example to the world that the United States can lead on this issue.”

British Columbia recently extended its province-wide restrictions through May 25th.

“Since President Biden took office, the southern border has been wide open to the flow of illegal drugs and a surge of illegal immigrants," Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) said in a statement provided to MTN News. "Meanwhile, Montanans continue to be impacted as the northern border remains locked down. Montana small businesses and communities depend on cross-border tourism and travel to support jobs. With vaccinations on the rise and covid cases on the decline, It’s time for Biden to acknowledge this and reopen the northern border.”

In March, Senator Daines wrote a letter urging the Biden Administration to allow non-essential travel between Montana and Canada to boost Montana jobs, Montana agriculture and Montana small businesses.

Area Projects Receive Tourism Grant Funding

Thursday, April 29th 2021

MONTANA – The Montana Department of Commerce today announced $750,000 in Tourism Grant Award funding to strengthen local economies in 26 communities by enhancing tourism and recreation assets.

The awards will serve 35 tourism and recreation projects across Montana, including unincorporated small towns, rural communities and areas of known attractions to non-resident visitors.

“Montana boasts world-class tourism and recreation destinations in every corner of our state,” Commerce Director Scott Osterman said. “These funds will facilitate development of tourism and recreation assets, supporting good-paying jobs in communities across Montana.”

The Tourism Grant Program at the Montana Department of Commerce awards funding annually to projects that strengthen Montana’s economy through the development and enhancement of the state’s tourism and recreation industry. Eligible entities based in Montana that may apply for a tourism grant include city and county entities, non-profit organizations and tribal entities.

Area projects that received grant funding:

The City of Glasgow will receive $16,833 for phase 3 of Glasgow’s wayfinding project

McCone County will receive $6,000 for McCone County Museum building repairs

The Saco Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture will receive $32,410 to develop the Saco Chamber rodeo grounds and arena

Glasgow Man Sentenced To Montana State Prison On Three Counts Of Incest

Thursday, April 29th 2021

Glasgow resident, Sacramento Juan Dominguez Jr, has been sentenced in State District Court to 60 years in prison after being found guilty of 3 different counts of incest during a jury trial in Glasgow in February.

Dominguez was charged in July of 2019 with the 3 counts of incest dealing with incidents that occurred in Valley County in August of 2018.

District Court Judge Yvonne Laird issued the final judgement on Dominguez on April 28th sentencing him to 60 years in prison with 10 years suspended on each of the 3 counts of incest. He will also be credited with 117 days in jail already served. The sentences will run concurrently with each other on all 3 counts. Dominguez is ordered to complete sex offender treatment at the Montana State Prison, pay $875 for counseling services for the victim and pay $5000 in future restitution to the victim. He will also have to register as a sex offender when his prison sentence is completed.

According to court documents, Dominguez has a lengthy criminal record including a criminal mischief conviction in Valley County from 2019. He was sentenced to 60 months in prison with all time suspended by Judge Laird. Dominguez also has two misdemeanor assaults against intimate partners and two misdemeanor DUI convictions.

Dominguez is currently incarcerated at the Valley County Detention Center awaiting transfer to the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge.

Valley County Commissioners Hire Brian Austin As Refuse District Manager

Thursday, April 29th 2021

The Valley County Commissioners have hired Brian Austin as the Valley County Refuse District Manager. Austin has spent nearly 30 years as the manager of the Valley County Landfill but now he will be in charge of the entire refuse district which includes the landfill and all container sites located throughout Valley County. Austin will earn a salary of $25 per hour in his new position.

The commissioners had a big crowd on hand for their weekly meeting on Wednesday as county residents expressed their displeasure with the recent action of the commissioners replacing the refuse district board with themselves. Over 30 people were on hand for the meeting asking questions and giving their opinions on the refuse district issue. The commissioners stressed that they will act as the interim board until various assessment issues are solved.

The commissioners were guests on LUBS on Wednesday and the majority of the program was focused on the Valley County Refuse District. Here is a link to the program:

https://soundcloud.com/kltz-glasgow/kltz-lubs-428-valley-county-commissioners

Montana Legislature Passes Marijuana Implementation Law

Wednesday, April 28th 2021

From www.krtv.com

HELENA — The Montana Legislature’s major bill to implement marijuana legalization is now on its way to Governor Greg Gianforte’s desk. On Tuesday, the Montana House endorsed the Senate’s version of House Bill 701 62-38 in a preliminary vote. Less than an hour later, the bill passed again on a final vote, 67-32.

“We will walk out of this session having delivered forward to the people of Montana something that works,” said Rep. Mike Hopkins, R-Missoula, who sponsored HB 701.

It’s the end of a wild journey for the bill, which was officially introduced less than a month ago. Since that time, it has gone through the House and Senate, been heavily amended twice and been tabled in a House committee and then immediately revived.

On Monday, the House initially rejected the Senate’s amendments to HB 701, which would have sent the bill to a conference committee to attempt to find a version the two chambers could agree on. However, House members voted to reconsider that action later the same day.

Hopkins said he understood why House members had concerns about the bill and wanted to do more work on it, but he said HB 701 was the best option for implementing recreational marijuana, and it would have been a mistake to reject the amendments.

“The ramp that we have to the end of the legislative session, the work that the Senate had already done and the agreements that they had already come to meant that sending this bill back to a conference committee wouldn’t outright kill it, but would go about as far towards killing it as you could go without killing it,” Hopkins said. “It was a bad idea.”

HB 701 still drew opposition Tuesday from conservative Republicans in the House. They had concerns about how marijuana tax revenues would be used, and about whether it would encourage more black-market operations.

Rep. Bill Mercer, R-Billings, said he doubted legal marijuana sales would raise enough revenue to support the programs laid out in HB 701. He also criticized a provision that would allow counties to ask voters for a local-option marijuana tax of up to 3%.

“In future sessions, when we hear why a local-option sales tax has proven to be an effective way to generate money for local communities, plant your flag on this day,” said Mercer. “Because this was the day that we opened the door to this new tax that will find its way into communities as that argument gets traction, and we will rue the day that we did this.”

Hopkins said an illicit market for marijuana already exists in Montana, so the state’s goal should be to pull as many of those customers as they can into the legal market.

“I think that out of every program that I’ve throughout the United States, this one is best situated to do exactly that,” he said.

Hopkins thanked all the legislators and staff members who put long hours into putting HB 701 together over the last few weeks.

HB 701 would extensively revise the framework for recreational marijuana set up in Initiative 190, the voter-approved legalization measure. It would allow existing medical marijuana providers to get licensed to sell to recreational customers, with the first legal sales starting Jan. 1, 2022. For the first 18 months, only current providers would be allowed to enter the market.

In counties where the majority of voters supported I-190, recreational marijuana businesses could operate unless a county or city voted to “opt out” of allowing them. In counties where most voters rejected I-190, recreational sales wouldn’t be allowed unless a local election was held to “opt in.”

Valley County voters favored legalization of marijuana in the November election 51% to 49%. Voters in Phillips County and Daniels County rejected the legalization while voters in Roosevelt County and Sheridan County voted in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

In a statement to MTN on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the governor’s office said Gianforte was “encouraged by the progress of HB 701, and will carefully review the bill when it reaches his desk.”

Valley County COVID Update

Tuesday, April 27th 2021

Valley County COVID-19 Update
4/26/2021 5:45 pm
Active cases: 10
Recovered cases: 874
Total cases: 895
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications: 11

COVID-19 Vaccination rate for Valley County:
With an eligible population of 5,917 persons and 1,950 persons fully vaccinated for COVID-19, Valley County is 33.0% vaccinated.

Area Vaccination Percentages:
Phillips County 34%
Daniels County 32%
Sheridan County 46%
Roosevelt County 28%
Garfield County 22%
McCone County 17%

Release from Valley County Health Department regarding vaccinations:

COVID-19 vaccine is available each Wednesday through May by calling Valley County Health Department at 228-6261/

Don't miss this convenient opportunity to get vaccinated. Our clinics will be getting less and less frequent as more of our population is vaccinated and as fewer people are signing up for their first dose. By the end of May, we will be offering COVID-19 vaccine at most every two weeks and possibly only once a month, depending on demand.

It's possible that certain businesses and programs such as colleges, healthcare facilities, and even travel (airlines, cruise ships, etc.) may require vaccination. If something comes up in your life - you or a loved one is hospitalized and one or both of you aren’t vaccinated, you may not be allowed to see each other. Or maybe you must, or you want, to travel somewhere - you may need to show proof of vaccination (it must be at least 14 days after your second vaccine/first vaccine if J&J). This could put you in a pinch if our vaccine clinic is only once a month.

Valley County Health Department also continues to do contact tracing daily. For those who are fully vaccinated, your chances of contracting COVID-19 virus are very slim, therefore there is no mandatory quarantine if you are exposed to someone positive for COVID-19. Vaccination helps to stops the spread of COVID in our community and allows people to more freely do the things they'd like without worry of spreading the virus to their loved ones.

And if none of that is enough of a reason to get vaccinated, do it for yourself. After a 2nd dose of Moderna, the vaccine is 95% effective! Nobody wants to get COVID. For some, yes it can be just a mild cold, but for others it can make you severely ill, have long-term and life-altering symptoms, or even cause death. Maybe you've already had the COVID-19 virus? You can get it again and get even more sick than the first time. Please get vaccinated against COVID-19.


Montana Gains Additional Seat In U.S. House

Tuesday, April 27th 2021

HELENA — Starting in 2023, Montana will once again have two representatives in the U.S. House, according to results from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau made the announcement Monday afternoon during a virtual news conference to release the first results from last year’s census.

Every 10 years, the Census Bureau is tasked with counting the country and states’ populations. States are then awarded seats in the House based on their proportion of the national population.

Montana previously had two U.S. House members between 1913 and 1993. It will be the first state in U.S. history that had two seats in the House, lost one, and then got it back.

The Census Bureau also announced Texas will gain two seats, and that Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Oregon will gain one each. California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia will each lose one seat.

For the last 30 years, Montana has been the most underrepresented state in the House, with by far the largest population in any single congressional district in the country. The state is currently estimated to have more than 1 million residents.


The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission will now be tasked with dividing the state into two congressional districts. The first elections for the new seats would be held in 2022.

However, this may not be the final word. Some states that lost seats in this apportionment may file legal challenges over the census data.

Reduced Hours Will Continue At Six Ports Of Entry In Montana

Tuesday, April 27th 2021

WEETGRASS — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will continue to operate six ports of entry in Montana and one in Idaho at reduced hours through May 21, 2021.

The U.S. has reached agreements with both Canada and Mexico to limit all non-essential travel across borders to limit the further spread of COVID-19.

The measures were implemented on March 21, 2020, and were originally in place for 30 days, subject to reevaluation and further extension. On April 22, 2021, these measures were extended for an additional 30 days.

The affected ports of entry (POE) include Raymond, Opheim, Morgan, Turner, Del Bonita and Piegan in Montana, and Porthill in Idaho. The listed ports will continue to operate on the following temporary reduced hours:

Raymond, Montana POE: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week
Opheim, Montana POE: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday.
Morgan, Montana POE: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday.
Turner, Montana POE: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday.
Del Bonita, Montana POE: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday.
Piegan, Montana POE: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.
Porthill, Idaho POE: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.CBP has also delayed the resumption of the summer hours schedule at the port of Wild Horse, Montana. Wild Horse will continue to operate on its’ winter hours schedule of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.

The opening of the seasonal port of Chief Mountain, Montana has also been delayed due to the current travel restrictions.

Legislation Prohibiting Services Or Employment Based On Vaccination Status Gets Pushback From Medical Groups

Tuesday, April 27th 2021

MISSOULA, Mont. — Health care leaders across the state are concerned that decades of medical research could go out the window if the Montana Legislature and governor pass House Bill 702.

The bill would prohibit business and government agencies from denying services or employment based on vaccination status.

In a joint statement from the Montana Health Care Association, Montana Hospital Association, Montana Medical Association and Montana Primary Care Association, they emphasize it wouldn’t just prohibit the requirement of the COVID-19 vaccine but others as well, such as MMR, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), varicella (chicken pox) and hepatitis B.

“House Bill 702 upends 50 years of medical science and compliance and practices that health care facilities have used to protect their employees, patients and visitors,” said Rich Rasmussen, the president and CEO of the Montana Hospital Association.


Supporters of the bill argue that requiring the COVID-19 vaccine violates their freedom of choice and threatens their employment.

“We need to have the right to make our own choices, especially with an experimental vaccine. They can fire me before I get it, and there are other nurses who feel the same way,” testified one nurse at a hearing for the bill.

Health officials say, if passed, the bill would do one of two things: Pandemic operations would be permanent, requiring everyone in the hospital to wear a mask and restricting visitors, or it could cause avoidable harm to patients and staff. On top of that, they point to potential conflict between federal regulations and state law.

“We are being told by federal guidance and law that we must differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated, and yet this law says we can’t, so we’re going to be in the position of being out of compliance, either the state law or federal law, in one fashion or the other,” said Rose Hughes, executive director of the Montana Health Care Association.

The Montana Hospital Association says they make accommodations, typically requiring masks, for people who deny the vaccine on medical or religious grounds. Officials at those facilities say their ability to know who is and isn’t vaccinated and their ability to treat circumstances differently depending on vaccination status is important to get back to normal. With this bill, they would treat everyone as unvaccinated.

Montana Senate Signs Off On Latest Legislation To Legalize Marijuana

Monday, April 26th 2021

HELENA — The Montana Senate has signed off on the latest version of the bill to overhaul the state’s recreational marijuana laws.

Senators voted 35-15 for House Bill 701 in a preliminary vote Friday. The bill was then sent immediately to the Finance and Claims Committee, which returned it for a final vote on the floor. The Senate then passed the bill again, 34-16.

“Whether or not deep down inside you want to see this marijuana industry happen in Montana, the fact of the matter is, it’s been voted on, it’s going to happen,” said Sen. Jason Small, R-Busby. “This is the most responsible bill we could have put together that should work out the best for everyone.”

On the final vote, the bill’s support and opposition were both bipartisan. 18 Republicans and 16 Democrats voted for it, while 13 Republicans and three Democrats voted no.

HB 701, sponsored by Rep. Mike Hopkins, R-Missoula, is the last major bill seeking to make changes to the recreational marijuana system set up by voter-approved Initiative 190. This week, a Senate select committee extensively revised the bill.

The current version of the bill would:

· Require a local election to approve recreational marijuana businesses in any county where most voters rejected I-190.
· Allow existing medical marijuana providers in counties that allow recreational sales to immediately begin selling to recreational customers on Jan. 1, 2022; they would have to get an adult-use license at their next license renewal.
· Allow counties to put a local-option marijuana tax of up to 3% before voters.
· Limit home growing of recreational marijuana to two mature plants and two seedlings per person, and four per household.
· Designate a specific court for handling expungement petitions for people convicted of marijuana offenses that would now be legal.
· Provide one recreational marijuana license for each of Montana’s tribes, allowing them to have growing sites and dispensaries up to 150 miles from their reservation.
· Direct $6 million to Gov. Greg Gianforte’s “HEART Fund” for mental health and substance abuse treatment, and eventually providing some additional funding for conservation programs.


“I think we crafted something that represents all of Montana, something I was proud to vote for,” said Sen. Shane Morigeau, D-Missoula. “I think it includes all of our communities across the state of Montana, including Indian Country.”

Now that HB 701 has cleared the Senate, it will go back to the House. House members will decide next week whether to accept the latest version of the bill. If they reject the changes, the bill will go to a conference committee that will have to hammer out a compromise.

The select committee’s changes to HB 701 brought the bill somewhat closer to the original language of I-190. However, Pepper Petersen, president and CEO of the Montana Cannabis Guild and one of the leaders of the I-190 campaign, said that didn’t change his belief that the Legislature hadn’t taken the will of voters as seriously as they should have.

“In the end, this is not what the citizens voted for,” he said. “They’re reducing the count of plants; half of the state is going to be a marijuana desert – these counties that they’ve arbitrarily decided will not receive marijuana. That’s not what the people voted for.”

Despite that, Petersen said he was pleased with some of the amendments, particularly one restoring a requirement that new marijuana growers start their operations small and increase them gradually – as existing medical providers had to.

“Montanans have put a tremendous amount of work into the medical marijuana market,” he said. “They’ve done the work from the ground up, and they’ve taken the chances. We wanted to make sure that those people are first in line for recreational marijuana and that Montanans are the ones benefiting from this – not out-of-state corporations.”

Also on Friday, the Senate approved House Bill 663, sponsored by Rep. Brandon Ler, R-Savage, which would use some of the money from marijuana taxes to increase state funding to school districts – allowing those districts to lower property taxes.

Governor's Office Releases 2021 Montana Water And Supply Drought Outlook Report

Monday, April 26th 2021

HELENA, Mont. – The Office of the Governor today released the 2021 Montana Water and Supply Drought Outlook Report.

According to data in the report, 42 percent of the state is classified as abnormally dry, with another 18 percent of the state in severe to extreme drought conditions. May and June are historically the two wettest months of the year in Montana.

“Following an unusually mild winter, the conditions we see for the next eight to ten weeks are going to be critical as we head into growing season in Montana,” Gov. Gianforte said. “I am tasking state agency directors to begin reviewing authorities and options to support our agricultural producers as some battle extreme drought conditions.”

According to the report, persistently dry conditions through the fall and much of the winter have created the deficit, especially at middle and lower elevations. As of April 15, 2021, mountain snowpack at high elevations has remained near or slightly below average in most basins, with the exception of southwest Montana, where the Upper Madison, Jefferson, and Ruby rivers are likely to see below-average flows this year. The report projects reservoir storage at state and federal projects to be near average.

If spring precipitation is below average, producers in eastern Montana may face challenges ensuring adequate water supply for livestock throughout the summer.

Amanda Kaster, director of the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), added that elevated fire risks are possible if current conditions persist.

“We’re keeping a close watch on fuel conditions throughout the state as we continue our preparations for the 2021 fire season,” Kaster said.

The governor’s office will be monitoring conditions closely in 12 eastern counties – Phillips, Daniels, Sheridan, Valley, Roosevelt, McCone, Wibaux, Prairie, Dawson, Richland, Fallon, and Carter – where drought conditions are most severe.

The Water Supply and Drought Outlook is an annual report compiled by water planning staff at the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Mayor Becky Erickson Files For 3rd Term As Mayor Of Glasgow

Sunday, April 25th 2021

On the first day of filing for municipal offices in Valley County, Glasgow Mayor Becky Erickson filed the necessary paperwork to run for a third term as Glasgow's top elected official.

Erickson was first elected Mayor in 2013 defeating incumbent Mayor Dan Carney and was reelected without opposition in 2017. As of Friday morning, Erickson was the only candidate to have filed for Mayor in Glasgow.

Filing for municipal offices started on Thursday and will end June 21st.

Other filings included:

Stan Ozark in Ward #1 on the Glasgow City Council

Burt Johnston has filed to run for the Fort Peck Town Council

Bill to End Seasonal Time Changes Passes Legislature

Thursday, April 22nd 2021

HELENA — Lawmakers have tried to exempt Montana from switching between standard time and daylight saving time nearly a dozen times in the last two decades. Now, a bill heading to the governor’s desk could actually make it happen.

Senate Bill 254 passed out of the legislature Monday. It would stop the state from falling back an hour in November if three other states in the region pass similar legislation. The federal government also needs to give Montana its blessing.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 28 states considered legislation to stop seasonal time changes, including several western states. Idaho and Utah passed similar legislation in 2020, meaning only one more state needs to do away with their time change for Montana to make the switch, provided the federal government allows them to.

Rep. Katie Zolnikov, R-Billings, spoke in support of the bill during its debate last week on the House Floor.

“This is good for the children,” Zolnikov said. “It is estimated by the American Journal for Public Health … that 901 fewer fatal crashes could occur if the nation adopted permanent daylight savings time.”

But Dennis Lenz, R-Billings, explained his opposition to the bill.

“I finally decided I like the clock change twice a year because it only happens twice a year as opposed to the half dozen or eight times we’ve heard this,” Lenz said.

The bill passed its last vote in the House with bipartisan support and opposition, with 19 Republicans and 13 Democrats voting against the measure.

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

USDA Announces Schools And Childcare Centers Will Offer Free Meals To Students Through The 2021-2022 School Year

Thursday, April 22nd 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Tuesday that it will continue to reimburse schools and childcare centers for free meals provided to all students through the 2021-2022 school year.

The USDA says it has granted a nationwide waiver that allows the serving of food outside of standard meals times for several of its child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO), which is typically only available during the summer months

The USDA says schools that choose the SSO option will receive higher-than-normal meal reimbursements for every meal they serve, which will support them in serving nutritious meals while also managing increased costs associated with the pandemic.

The Biden administration says the waiver will allow schools to provide healthy meals free of charge to children as the pandemic continues to threaten nutrition security for the most vulnerable in the country.

“USDA will remain relentless in ensuring our nation’s children get the critical nutrition they need,” wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “States and districts wanted waivers extended to plan for safe reopening in the fall. USDA answered the call to help America’s schools and childcare institutions serve high quality meals while being responsive to their local needs as children safely return to their regular routines. This action also increases the reimbursement rate to school meal operators so they can serve healthy foods to our kids. It’s a win-win for kids, parents and schools.”


According to the USDA, up to 12 million children are currently living in households where they may not always have enough to eat during the pandemic. And some of these kids rely on these programs for as many as three meals a day.

“Students’ success in the classroom goes hand in hand with their ability to access basic needs like healthy and nutritious meals,” said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “It’s critical that our efforts to reopen schools quickly and safely include programs that provide access to free, healthy meals for our most vulnerable students, particularly those whose communities have been hardest hit by the pandemic. This program will ensure more students, regardless of their educational setting, can access free, healthy meals as more schools reopen their doors for in-person learning.”

COVID-19 Update For Valley County

Wednesday, April 21st 2021

Valley County COVID Update:

4/20/2021 4:00 pm
Active cases: 8
Recovered cases: 869
Total cases: 888
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications: 11

5 positive persons since our last report on 4/15/2021 -- Cases 884 - 888

COVID-19 Vaccination rate for Valley County:
With an eligible population of 5,917 persons and 1,762 persons fully vaccinated for COVID-19, Valley County is 29.8% vaccinated.

Surrounding County Vaccination Rates:
Phillips County- 33%
Daniels County- 31%
Sheridan County- 45%
Roosevelt County- 27%
McCone County- 17%
Garfield County- 22%

U.S. Canadian Border To Remain Closed Through May 21st

Wednesday, April 21st 2021

HOULTON, Maine — The United States extended the closure to Canada to at least May 21 late Monday, continuing the more than year-long travel ban across the world’s largest land border due to COVID-19 concerns.

The move, announced by the Department of Homeland Security, came just before the expiration date of April 21 for the ban on non-essential travel. The U.S. has renewed the restrictions every month since the border first closed in March 2020.

“These restrictions will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. EDT on May 21, 2021,” the DHS said in a statement released late on April 19. “We are maintaining cross-border activities with Canada and Mexico that support health security, trade, commerce, supply security and other essential activities while taking critical steps to protect our citizens and to curb spread of the virus.”

The move comes as Canada has had a surge of COVID-19 cases, particularly in the province of Ontario, which reported more than 4,000 new cases Monday. Canada’s vaccination rate has been slower than in the United States, with 24 percent of its population receiving just one dose of a vaccine, compared to more than 40 percent in the United States.

Although Canada has allowed family members of Canadian citizens and people holding dual citizenship to enter Canada followed by a mandatory quarantine period, the province of New Brunswick, located on the border with Maine, has barred family members from traveling and allowed only essential workers to travel. New Brunswick has had some of the lowest COVID-19 case counts amongst Canadian provinces, as well as some of the tightest restrictions.

With the extension, the border closure will last at least one year and two months, an unprecedented amount of time between the two countries that traditionally have had an open border policy. Debates have stirred in both Ottawa and Washington on whether a “vaccine passport” would be required in order to reopen the border.

Valley County Health Department Receives Women Of Distinction Award

Wednesday, April 21st 2021

Back row left to right: Soroptimist member Maggan Walstad, Administrative Assistants Teri Long and Angie Peterson, Billing Specialist Michelle Norcutt, RN Jan Kaiser, and Soroptimist President Maridene Johnson.
Front row left to right: RN Ella Tweten, AmeriCorps volunteer Emmaline Keesee, AmeriCorps volunteer Sarah Schmidt, Director Lynn Miller


Resilience and perseverance are two words that well describe this year’s recipients of the Soroptimists of Glasgow Women of Distinction Award.

The Valley County Health Department has worked tirelessly for the last year to keep all of us in Valley County as healthy as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. The department led critical efforts in risk mitigation, education of disease prevention and contact tracing, and vaccine administration.

In addition to their unique responsibilities related to the pandemic, the department continues to provide Immunizations, Family Planning, Fluoride Varnish, Cardiac Ready Community, Tobacco Use Prevention Program, Emergency Preparedness, Maternal Child Health and Environmental Health Inspections.

The club wanted to recognize all the women at VCHD for their distinguished service to the community.

Last Day Of School For Glasgow Now June 3rd

Tuesday, April 20th 2021

Governor Gianforte Signs Legislation Ending Same Day Voter Registration In Montana

Tuesday, April 20th 2021

Story from www.billingsgazette.com

Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Monday he has signed a pair of GOP-sponsored bills increasing restrictions on voter identification required to vote in Montana’s elections and ending same-day voter registration.

Both measures were identified as top priorities by Republican Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, who advocated for them as ways to boost “voter integrity” in the state’s elections. Democrats and Native American groups have argued that both bills would simply make it harder for people to vote — especially Indigenous people living on reservations and college students.

“Montana has a long history of secure, transparent elections, setting a standard for the nation,” Gianforte stated in a press release Monday. “These new laws will help ensure the continued integrity of Montana’s elections for years to come.”

Under Senate Bill 169, sponsored by Sen. Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka, voters who show up to the polls on Election Day must furnish two forms of identification if they don’t have a "primary" form of photo ID, which the bill defines as a Montana driver’s license or ID card, tribal photo ID, military ID or a concealed carry permit.

Previously, student IDs and membership cards with the voters’ photos were sufficient to cast a ballot, as well as voter registration cards or any other official documents showing their name and address. Now, a voter who only has a student ID must also bring a utility bill, bank statement or some other document containing their current address.

The measure also adds similar requirements for registering to vote, although voters will still able to provide the last four digits of their social security numbers in lieu of photo ID for that process.

The photo ID bill has generated substantial controversy, and was amended on the House floor last month to specifically exclude student IDs from the list of “primary” photo identification. Democrats opposed the change as aimed at disenfranchising college students, while Republicans have argued that voters should bear the responsibility for bringing multiple forms of identification in order to vote. The bill passed both chambers on predominantly party-line votes.

House Bill 176, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Greef, R-Florence, ends same-day voter registration in Montana, a practice that has been in place since 2005. Under the new law, voters must submit their registration by noon on the Monday before the election.

A previous attempt by Republicans to end same-day registration was voted down in a 2014 referendum. Voters rejected the legislative referendum, proposing to set the registration deadline on the Friday before the election, 57.1% to 42.9%.

Native American lawmakers and organizations argued that the change would disproportionately affect Indigenous people in Montana — particularly those on rural reservations, many of whom face long distances to register or vote in person and would have to make the trip twice. A number of other groups, including Disability Rights Montana and liberal organizations like the Montana Public Interest Research Group, also opposed the measure.

Republicans noted, however, that registration and voting can be done through the mail, and that people can register and vote via mail ballot during the 30 days prior to the election.

“It's extremely hard to put the information of all of the voters into the system, get their ballots counted and keep the numbers correct while you're still registering people to vote the same day you're having an election,” Dana Corson, the elections director in the secretary of state’s office, told a House panel during a hearing on HB 176 in January.

In the 2020 general election, held by mail in most of the state because of public health concerns, 3,352 voters registered to vote on Election Day, according to information Corson provided to the House State Administration Committee in January.

That’s a decline from the 2018 midterm elections, when 8,053 voters submitted their registration on Election Day, according to data from the secretary of state’s office. For the 2016 presidential election, that number was 12,055.

The 2014 midterms saw 4,677 same-day voter registrations across the state, and in 2012 there were 8,053.

For election administrators, that’s a lot of potential instances on Election Day that they’ll have to explain to residents why they won’t be able to vote. The Montana Association of Clerk and Recorders did not take a position on HB 176, but Regina Plettenberg, the group’s legislative director and the top election official in Ravalli County, said her counterparts across the state will be especially focused on getting information about the changes out to voters ahead of the next elections.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of voter education,” Plettenberg said Monday. “This is going to be something new, and voters are going to want to be sure before these big elections.”

MFWP Announces Drawing Results Available For Deer And Elk Permits

Monday, April 19th 2021

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has announced that the drawing results for hunter permits for deer and elk are now available.

The wait for results used to take more than two months, but now it takes less than two weeks due to a new online application process.

More than 82,384 residents and 16,650 nonresidents applied for elk and deer permits, a significant increase from the previous year.

FWP says the new ExploreMT licensing system slated to be online in 2022 will allow for the application process to be even more customer friendly, and the drawing even quicker.

There are a few ways to get your drawing results. Visit fwp.mt.gov, click on “MyFWP Login” in the upper righthand corner, then click on “Lookup Draw Results, Register for Lists” tab on the left-hand menu, or login to your MyFWP account. You may also sign up for an account at fwp.mt.gov/MyFWP. Applicants may also call any FWP regional office or the licensing office at 444-2950.

The deadline to apply for moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and bison is Saturday, May 1st; the deadline to apply for elk B, deer B, and antelope is Tuesday, June 1st. All applications must be completed online or at an FWP office. Most FWP offices with license sales are open Monday through Friday, from 8 AM-5 PM.

Glasgow City Council To Meet Monday

Monday, April 19th 2021

Complaint Filed In Federal Court Against Valley County And Former VCSO Employee Luke Strommen

Monday, April 19th 2021

A third complaint is now active in federal court requesting damages from former VCSO Deputy Luke Strommen and Valley County.

The complaint filed earlier this month on behalf of a Glasgow woman alleges sexual misconduct on behalf of Strommen and accusing Valley County of failing to take action. This complaint is similar to 2 other complaints filed in federal court.

The 2 other complaints are now pending in federal court and trial dates have been set for June 6th of 2022 and July 25th of 2022. No trial date has been set for the third complaint filed against Strommen and Valley County.

In one of the cases, the accuser is asking for $100,000 in future medical expenses, $500,000 for future lost wages and loss to earning capacity and $10 million for pain and suffering/emotional distress.

The other case is asking for $50,000 for future medical expenses, $100,000 for future lost wages and loss to earning capacity and $1 million for pain and suffering/emotional distress.

Strommen was convicted on a criminal charge of sexual intercourse without consent in July of last year and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Strommen has appealed that conviction to the Montana Supreme Court.

Press Release From Valley County Pool Campaign

Monday, April 19th 2021

A generous donor is matching up to $5,000 raised during our Yard Wars Fundraiser! To date, we have raised $3,170. Help us keep the deer, pigs, jail bars, and bedazzled toilet in circulation these last two weeks in April! Sending a prank is only $20 or yard insurance to prevent a prank is $50.

If you’d like to participate, please visit www.valcopool.com/yard-wars or contact Rod Karst at 263-8757. We are grateful for the community’s support in helping us build a new pool and bath house!

Northeast Montana Under Extreme Drought Conditions According To U.S. Drought Monitor

Friday, April 16th 2021

The U.S. Drought Monitor is now showing extreme drought has moved into a large portion of Valley County.

NE MT is in moderate to extreme drought with an expansion to N Phillips and Valley counties. Some of the snow this week has helped, but there is more moisture needed in order to reverse course in terms of drought.

Looking ahead through July 31, 2021, drought development will likely expand westward throughout Montana state and further west.

100 Total Variant Cases of COVID-19 Detected In Montana Including 1 In Valley County

Friday, April 16th 2021

MISSOULA, Mont. — The latest update shows 100 total variant cases of COVID-19 detected in Montana across 20 counties, up from 63 total cases last week. The state update shows five different strains detected, including B.1.1.7., also known as the U.K. variant, and two versions of both California and New York strains.

Ninety-six of the variant cases fall under the “variants of concern” classification, meaning there’s evidence of it spreading more easily and leading to more severe disease.

Gallatin County continues to be the hotspot in the state for variant cases with 33 total known cases -- 25 are the U.K. variant. Missoula comes in next with 19 total cases and four different strains.

Valley County has had 1 variant detected by random testing. This variant has been identified as a strain of the virus labeled B.1.429 (California). Roosevelt has had 6 different variant cases and Phillips County has had 2. All the cases from those 2 counties are from the same California strain as was found in Valley County.

6 Active Cases Of COVID-19 In Valley County

Friday, April 16th 2021

Valley County COVID-19 Update

4/15/2021 6:00 pm
Active cases: 6
Recovered cases: 866
Total cases: 883
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications: 11

3 positive persons since our last report on 4/12/2021

North Dakota Oil Production Drops In February

Friday, April 16th 2021

Story from www.willistonherald.com

North Dakota’s top oil and gas regulator attributed a larger than expected drop in the state’s oil and natural gas production to the Texas energy crisis that occurred in February.

The situation in Texas caused problems for the Southwest Power Pool, which in turn forced rolling blackouts for Western Area Power Association for two days. The situation contributed to an overall 6 percent drop in oil production from 1.083 million barrels per day from 1.147 million barrels per day in January — twice the amount that had been expected, according to North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms.

Natural gas, meanwhile, dropped a similar percentage — 5 percent, going to 2.703 billion cubic feet per day from 2.849 billion cubic feet per day.

“Those (blackouts) impacted Williams, McKenzie and Divide counties,” Helms said. “So what we experienced, the best we can estimate is that Williams County saw about 3,000 barrels a day, monthly average, in terms of a drop because of the gas plant infrastructure shutdowns, as well as oil and gas wells.”

Mckenzie County dropped an average 9,000 barrels per day, and Dunn County about 5,000 barrels per day.

Some gas plants, such as Little Missouri 4, also volunteered to temporarily cease operations, in a bid to help the power companies out.

That contributed to gas capture rates dropping 2 percent, from 94 to 92 percent.

Production stats are 8 percent below revenue forecasts, Helms said, but prices in February were 4 percent above forecast, and 20 percent above on Thursday, April 15.

“That’s making up for any lost volumes,” Helms said, and the state won’t need to adjust its forecasts at this point.

Completions are tracking well with revenue forecasts, Helms said. There were 32 completions in February and 43 in March. The forecast is for between 30 and 40 between now and the first of July. That figure bumps to 40 to 50 in the second half of the year, and then 60 in the last six months of the 21/23 biennium.

Montana Legislature Considers Prohibiting Local Governments From Instituting Bans On Vaping

Friday, April 16th 2021

HELENA — After it narrowly passed the Senate, the Montana House of Representatives is now considering a bill that would prohibit local governments from making rules about the sale of electronic cigarettes.

Senate Bill 398, sponsored by Sen. Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, does not prohibit local governments from enacting “reasonable restrictions,” but would stop them from banning sales of “alternative nicotine products or vapor products.”

Ellsworth said it was time for the Legislature to step in after Missoula banned the sale of flavored vapor products in November.

“I believe in local control – and I truly do – but it is our job as the Legislature – as a body – to pass laws,” Ellsworth said.

He said municipalities were taking too much control away from the legislature.

Eleven supporters mostly representing vape shops said the bill would save their businesses.

“The city and county representatives in Missoula have made their own ordinance to ban flavored vape juice. These products add up to about 76% of my juice sales,” said Tommie Dobbs, a co-owner of Liberty Vapor Smoke in Missoula.

Tim Andrews spoke on behalf of Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington D.C.-based lobbying organization, in support of the bill.

“The question is who is best to regulate public health issues? Is it the state legislature?” Andrews asked, “or is it unaccountable local bureaucrats?”

Jean Branscum of the Montana Medical Association was one of 18 opponents who spoke against the bill.

“We want to protect our pregnant women,” Branscum said. “We want to protect the unborn. We want to protect our young adults.”

Many of the opponents raised concerns over children getting hooked on flavored nicotine products that they say are marketed toward kids. Others argued that the bill was an example of state government meddling in municipality’s affairs.

Dr. Colette Kirschhoff is a family physician in Bozeman.

“I just want to stress how important it is for us to be able to determine our own decisions locally using sound, scientific evidence-based knowledge,” Kirschhoff said.

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Glasgow Middle School Students Compete In Middle School Academic Olympics

Thursday, April 15th 2021

On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, middle school academic olympics was held at Wolf Point High School. Schools competing: Glasgow, Sidney, Plentywood, Malta, Wolf Point, Glendive, and Poplar.
Competing for Glasgow Middle School:

Glasgow Team 1
Rex Monson (8)
Mary Dykema (8)
Myles Yoakam (8)
Gage Anderson (7)
Annika Smith (7)

Glasgow Team 2
Connor Whitmer (8)
Ryan Rice (8)
Piper Johnson(8)
Ashlyn White (7)
Riley Clampitt (7)

1st Place Class I Written Tests (combined scores)-Glasgow Team 1
1st Place Grade 8 (overall individual)-
Myles Yoakam

Math
3rd Myles Yoakam
4th Connor Whitmer
7th Gage Anderson
8th Rex Monson
9th (tie) Mary Dykema
9th (tie) Ryan Rice

Social Studies
3rd (tie) Myles Yoakam
7th (tie) Connor Whitmer

English
1st Myles Yoakam
7th (tie) Connor Whitmer
10th (tie) Piper Johnson
10th (tie) Riley Clampitt

Science
2nd (tie) Myles Yoakam
5th Ryan Rice
6th Mary Dykema
8th Connor Whitmer
9th (tie) Rex Monson
9th (tie) Annika Smith

Wolf Point Man Accused Of First Degree Murder

Thursday, April 15th 2021

GREAT FALLS – A Wolf Point man accused of murdering another man in Wolf Point, on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation last year, appeared on murder and firearms crimes on April 13, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said today.

Doratello “DJ” Juan Fischer, 35, pleaded not guilty to an indictment charging him with first degree murder and to use of a firearm during a crime of violence. If convicted of the murder charge, Fischer faces a mandatory life in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release. If convicted of the firearms crime, Fischer faces a mandatory minimum 10 years to life in prison, consecutive to any other term of imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and five years of supervised release.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston presided. Fischer was detained pending further proceedings.

The indictment alleges that on Nov. 27, 2020 in Wolf Point, Fischer unlawfully killed the victim, identified as John Doe, with malice aforethought and premeditation, and that Fischer knowingly used a firearm in relation to the murder count.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lori Suek and Jared Cobell are prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI.

Municipal Election Filing Begins April 22nd

Wednesday, April 14th 2021

Municipal Elections will be held in 2021 across Montana.

Candidate filing opens at 8 am on Thursday, April 22, 2021 and closes at 5 pm on Monday, June 21, 2021.

Fort Peck: Joe French
Jim Williamson
Mitch Willett was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Justin Schaaf who resigned
December 2020. That position will also be up for election for the remainder of Schaaf’s
term through 12/31/2023.

Glasgow: Mayor Becky Erickson
Stan Ozark, Ward I
Doug Nistler, Ward II
Dan Carr, Ward III

Nashua: Mayor Mike Stingley
Linda Falkenstern
Mike Merideth

Opheim: Mayor Doug Bailey
Scott St. John, Ward 1
Virgil Nelson, Ward 2

Glasgow School Board To Adopt School Calendar For 2021-2022 School Year

Wednesday, April 14th 2021

The Glasgow School Board will vote on adopting the school calendar for the upcoming school year at a meeting Wednesday.

The proposed calendar will be a 4-day school week for the Glasgow School District.

School will start on August 23rd and dismiss on June 2nd.

Valley County COVID-19 Update

Tuesday, April 13th 2021

Valley County COVID-19 Update

4/12/2021 6:00 pm
Active cases: 3
Recovered cases: 866
Total cases: 880
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications: 11

3 positive persons since our last report on 4/06/2021

COVID-19 Vaccination rate for Valley County:
With an eligible population of 5,917 persons and 1,548 persons fully vaccinated for COVID-19, Valley County is 26.2% vaccinated.

Legislation Would Allow Restaurants To Deliver Alcohol Along With Meals

Monday, April 12th 2021

HELENA — Former Governor Steve Bullock signed an executive order last year to allow restaurants to deliver beer and wine with meals. A bill moving through the legislature seeks to make that permanent.

Sen. Ellie Boldman, D-Missoula, and Rep. Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls, co-sponsored Senate Bill 320.

“This isn’t meant to be some kind of new beer and wine delivery service,” Boldman said during a House committee hearing on the bill Thursday. “It’s just meant so that mom and pop restaurants – when a lot of folks now are ordering food at home – that they can also go ahead and get beer and wine delivered.”

Under the bill, to have beer or wine delivered, the cost of the alcohol just can’t exceed the cost of the food.

John Iverson spoke on behalf of the Montana Tavern Association in support of the bill, pointing out that people can already have drinks delivered on resort property.

“This just allows us poor folk to enjoy the same thing that the resorts are enjoying,” Iverson said.

The bill passed out of the Senate 33-17 in March with bipartisan support.

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Legislation Would Give County Commissions Power To Approve Or Veto Transplants Of Wild Bison

Monday, April 12th 2021

Story from www.bozemandailychronicle.com

A bill giving county commissions the power to approve or veto state transplants of wild bison is nearing passage in the Montana Legislature.

House Bill 302 from Rep. Joshua Kassmier, R-Fort Benton, passed an initial vote in the Senate on Friday by a 31-19 margin. The vote was party line with all majority Republicans voting in support. The bill had previously passed the House, also along party lines, and faces a final Senate vote next week to go to the desk of Gov. Greg Gianforte.

HB 302 would require any state relocation of wild bison to first receive approval from the county commission of the county where the transplant would occur. The bill exempts tribal lands and management of any transplanted wild bison would remain with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.


The issue of wild bison transplants has been a challenge due to concerns about disease transmission and property damage. Livestock groups came out in support of HB 302 while a number of conservation groups opposed the measure.

The partisan split on the bill continued on the Senate floor Friday with Democrats critical of the putting counties over state wildlife management decisions.

“This allows for an extraordinary veto power essentially over the state’s big picture and work over bison management,” said Sen. Shannon O’Brien, D-Missoula.


Sen. Bruce Gillespie, R-Kevin, supported the bill enthusiastically, saying it adds an extra set of eyes on the process to ensure the protection of livestock.

Sen. Pat Flowers, D-Belgrade, asked why the law was needed if the state already has strict prohibitions against moving bison that are diseased. He further criticized the bill in light of other GOP bills which have sought to limit local control in decision making.

“The irony of this is pretty striking,” he said. “We’ve spent a good part of this session taking away local control on any number of issues, but this one because bison are bad apparently, we’re going to give that local control back.”

Sen. Mike Lang, R-Malta touted the bill as getting the people most affected by a decision into the decision process. While wildlife are managed as a benefit to all, county commissioners are often the first contacted and have an understanding of what is going on in communities, he said.

Valley County Commissioners Issue Burn Ban Effective Friday, April 9th

Thursday, April 8th 2021

The Valley County Commissioners have issued a burn ban in Valley County upon the recommendation of Bob Hanson, Fire Warden.

A burn ban would mean: no open burning or burn permits, campfires would still be allowed if they are attended, fire pits and charcoal are also allowed. No open field fires or junk pile burning would be allowed.

A motion was made by Commissioner Tweten, seconded by Commissioner Armstrong, and passed to implement a burn ban in Valley County effective at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, April 9th, 2021.

3 Arrested After Roosevelt County Pursuit

Thursday, April 8th 2021

Story from www.billingsgazette.com

Three people suspected in a series of crimes that stretched across multiple Montana counties over the span of multiple days were arrested Wednesday after a pursuit in Roosevelt County.

By the conclusion of the pursuit the suspect vehicle and a Roosevelt County Sheriff's Office patrol car both had front end damage.

Rosebud County Sheriff Allen Fulton said Wednesday night that to his knowledge a Roosevelt County deputy had been transported for medical treatment as a precaution.

The three people arrested at the conclusion of the pursuit are suspected to have stolen a pickup truck out of Carbon County, which is the same vehicle involved in the Wednesday pursuit. They are also suspected in a residential burglary in Rosebud County at about 4 p.m. Tuesday, and to have stolen fuel in McCone County, according to Fulton.

The sheriff said he had limited details about what happened in the Roosevelt County pursuit and so he could not speak to exactly how the sheriff's office vehicle got damaged. Likewise, the sheriff had limited details about the timeline of events prior to the burglary in Rosebud County.

In a social media post Wednesday night on the Rosebud County Sheriff's Office Facebook page Fulton offered his thanks to all the agencies that had assisted in the arrests. "Without the help from individuals and Eastern Montana Sheriff's Offices, they may still be out there causing problems," the sheriff wrote.

Army Corps Of Engineers Projects Lower Water Levels On Fort Peck Reservoir This Summer

Thursday, April 8th 2021

Reservoir inflows in the Missouri River basin above Sioux City, Iowa (upper Basin) were well-below average in March. The updated 2021 upper Basin runoff forecast is 21.3 million acre-feet (MAF), 83% of average.

“Abundant precipitation fell during March in the lower Basin below Sioux City, IA; however, March precipitation was less than 50% of normal over much of the upper Basin,” said John Remus, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’, Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. “Due to the lack of plains snowpack in 2021, below-average mountain snowpack, and dry upper Basin conditions, we expect upper Basin runoff to be below average.”

The upper Basin runoff forecast is based on soil moisture conditions, plains snowpack, mountain snowpack, and long-term precipitation and temperature outlooks.

System storage is currently 56.1 MAF, at the base of the annual flood control zone. The System is positioned to serve all Congressionally authorized purposes during 2021, including flood control, navigation, and water supply.

Mountain and Plains Snowpack:

Mountain snowpack in the upper Basin is accumulating at below-average rates. The April 1 mountain snowpack in the Fort Peck reach was 88% and the mountain snowpack in the Fort Peck to Garrison reach was 94% of average. By April 1, about 97% of the total mountain snowpack has typically accumulated. Mountain snowpack normally peaks near April 15. The mountain snowpack graphics can be viewed at: http://go.usa.gov/xARQC. Currently, plains snowpack in the upper Basin is light.

Fort Peck Dam
Average releases past month – 7,300 cfs
Current release rate – 7,500 cfs
Forecast average release rate – 7,500 cfs
End-of-March reservoir level – 2233.4 feet
Forecast end-of-April reservoir level – 2233.9 feet
Notes: Releases will be maintained at 7,500 cfs in April.

The lake’s current elevation is 2,233 feet, about 2 feet lower than at the same time last year, and 5 feet lower than the wet spring of 2019. By the end of the month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is predicting the reservoir will rise by only a half-foot.


Hydropower:

The six mainstem power plants generated 622 million kWh of electricity in March. Typical energy generation for March is 641 million kWh. The power plants are expected to generate 9.5 billion kWh this year, compared to the long-term average of 9.5 billion kWh.

Warm and Dry March Weather Patterns Cause Decreases in Forecasted River Volumes

Thursday, April 8th 2021

BOZEMAN, Mont., April 7, 2021 – Just when it seemed like the snowpack was on the right track to rebound from the dry December and January, March yielded substantially different weather patterns than the cold and wet conditions experienced during February.

Snowpack percentages on March 1 were at a high point for the year, boosted by well above normal snowfall leading to near to above normal snowpack for almost all Montana river basins. “Unfortunately, March weather started off on the opposite trajectory. Warm, dry air spilled into the state during the fist week of the month and many mountain SNOTEL sites matched record daily average temperatures on March 5,” said Lucas Zukiewicz, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) water supply specialist for Montana. The weather patterns of the first week foreshadowed the weather patterns for the month. While seasonal temperatures returned for brief periods, monthly temperatures recorded at most mountain locations were above normal for March.

During March, precipitation at both mountain and valley locations was well below average. “For the most part, only the last week of March saw widespread accumulation of mountain snowpack, and after a three-week hiatus it did little to salvage monthly snow totals,” said Zukiewicz. Snowpack percentages on April 1 have declined in all river basins in Montana since March 1. “This year’s silver lining has been the boost to the snowpack during February. While totals right now aren’t quite as pretty as they were at the beginning of the month, many river basins continue to have near to slightly below normal snowpack on April 1,” continued Zukiewicz. However, this is not the case for all river basins in the state. Snowpack in some of the river sub-basins located in northwestern Montana have declined from near normal to below normal on April 1. Southwestern river basins, which have been below normal throughout the snow season, have snowpack which has further declined through March.

Streamflow forecasts issued by the NRCS on April 1 for spring and summer runoff have also decreased since last month, and the decreases are notable in some river basins. “Forecasts for spring and summer runoff in Montana are the lowest in the Red Rock, Ruby, and Madison River basins. In these areas, well below average flows can be anticipated unless the remainder of spring and summer yield above average precipitation, and more seasonal temperatures,” said Zukiewicz. Not all areas of the state are expected to be below normal for runoff this year, and many regions of the state still have chances of near average flows for the coming runoff season.

“As always, our runoff prospects and timing are directly tied to the weather experienced in the coming two to three months,” said Zukiewicz. Mountain snowpack historically peaks at mid and high elevations during April, so the coming month will be critical to Montana’s water resources this summer and beyond. “A return to normal temperatures and wetter weather patterns would be more than welcome at this point to slow the transition of the mountain snowpack towards melt and satisfy the existing soil moisture deficits present in many valley and plains locations,” said Zukiewicz.

Poplar Woman Dies In Automobile Accident

Thursday, April 8th 2021

Story from www.kfbb.com

WOLF POINT, Mont. - A woman was killed in a crash on MT-25 just outside Wolf Point Wednesday afternoon.

According to Montana Highway Patrol, a 2003 Honda Accord was driving westbound on MT-25 when it drifted across the center line and went off the south side of the road.

The Honda slid broadside before overturning multiple times and coming to a rest on the roof.

MHP reports the driver, a 25-year-old woman from Poplar, was pronounced dead on the scene.

Road conditions at the time are reported to be bare and dry, and alcohol and drugs are suspected factors in the crash.

Representative Casey Knudsen Sponsors Legislation That Could Make Hundreds Of State Employees Political Appointees

Thursday, April 8th 2021

Full story available here from Montana Free Press https://montanafreepress.org/2021/04/06/bill-could-make-hundreds-of-state-workers-political-appointees/

HELENA — A bill working its way through the Montana Legislature could result in hundreds of positions within state government being reclassified from career positions to political appointments, meaning staffers would likely turn over as administrations change.

The bill’s sponsor, House Speaker Pro Tempore Casey Knudsen, R-Malta, has argued that having more politically appointed staffers in the state workforce would make it easier for elected officials to shift the direction of state agencies by giving them and governor-appointed agency directors more opportunity to appoint like-minded aides.

“When a new administration is elected, it’s because the people expect some change. And when all you get is one appointed official to be able to do that, it’s very difficult,” Knudsen said at a Feb. 24 hearing.

Opponents, including labor groups and Democrats, have said the bill would politicize professional agencies and open high-level positions in state government to nepotism.

“Positions could be created for political cronies where the job consists of putting your feet up on the desk and collecting a paycheck that the average Montanan can only dream about,” Montana Federation of Public Employees representative Larry Nielsen said at a March 29 hearing.

Under current law, the governor’s office and other agencies headed by elected officials — the Secretary of State’s Office, Department of Justice, Office of Public Instruction, State Auditor’s Office and Public Service Commission — are allowed as many as 15 appointed “personal staff” positions. Other state agencies, such as the Department of Transportation and Department of Public Health and Human Services, have directors appointed by the governor but don’t have personal staff positions.

Most of the state’s 12,000-employee workforce is subject to a highly regimented competitive hiring process intended to ensure that Montana workers have fair access to government jobs and that state agencies are staffed by qualified personnel. Elected officials, their personal staff, and specialized roles such as agency directors, university professors and judges are exempt from that process.

Since political appointees serve at the pleasure of their director, they typically leave their positions when elections bring a new administration to power. In contrast, permanent staff routinely stay on through transitions. Three months after Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte took office, for example, senior positions in the state health department and other agencies are still occupied by holdovers from the administration of former Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat.

Knudsen’s bill, House Bill 588, would add personal staff positions to agencies with directors who are appointed by the governor, letting agencies with 100-plus employees switch as much as 10 percent of their workforces from competitively hired positions to political appointments.

The bill is one of multiple Republican-led efforts this session that would make it easier for the governor and elected Republicans like the Attorney General to bring pressure to bear on state agency bureaucracies and the court system, which are seen by some conservatives as left-leaning.

An analysis by the Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning indicates HB 588 could shift 40 positions to political appointments in the Department of Environmental Quality, 65 in the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 210 in the Department of Transportation and 270 in the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

The bill passed the House March 2, one of 28 bills debated on the House floor that day during the Legislature’s record-setting crunch in the runup to its transmittal deadline. It passed its final floor vote 58-41 with support from most Republicans and opposition from Democrats.

The measure is currently pending before the Senate Administration Committee, where it had a public hearing March 29. It attracted opposition then from labor groups as well as former Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Director Leo Berry, who led that agency and its predecessor, the Department of State Lands, under Democratic governors Tom Judge and Ted Schwinden.

Berry said it makes sense to allow agency heads a small number of politically appointed deputies in order to help them steer their agency in their preferred direction, but he said Knudsen’s proposal is far too broad.

“You don’t need that many exempt positions in an agency,” he said.

Knudsen acknowledged at the hearing that the 10 percent figure for political appointees might be too high. A proposed amendment posted to the Legislature’s bill tracking system would limit large agencies to 60 political appointees each. An unsuccessful bill, Senate Bill 310, proposed earlier in the session by Sen. Ryan Osmundson, R-Buffalo, would have provided agency heads with as many as three appointed positions, depending on the size of the department.

Gianforte, elected last fall, campaigned on bringing new leadership to state agencies in order to instill “a culture of customer service” after 16 years when Democratic governors controlled the executive branch.

Gianforte spokeswoman Brooke Stroyke said Tuesday that the governor’s office “has not lobbied” for HB 588. Stroyke didn’t say whether the governor would sign the bill if it’s passed by the Legislature, instead providing a routine statement that “the governor will carefully consider any bill the Legislature sends to his desk.”

The bill has been backed in public hearings by the Montana Department of Justice, headed by Attorney General Austin Knudsen (no relation to Casey Knudsen). Legislative records indicate that DOJ Deputy Solicitor General Brent Mead, formerly the head of the right-leaning Montana Policy Institute, also played an active role in the measure’s drafting.

Glasgow Police Department Investigating Incident Involving Juveniles And Marijuana

Wednesday, April 7th 2021

On Friday, April 2, 2021,at approximately 12:53 p.m. the Glasgow Police Department was dispatched to a garage on the south side of Glasgow. The Officer was advised that there were four unresponsive juveniles at the location that had ingested drugs possibly laced with an unknown substance.

Upon the Officer’s arrival, all four juveniles were located inside the garage and were responsive. The home owner was also present at the scene and knew of the juveniles in the garage. The juveniles were assessed by Medical Personal at the scene and one juvenile was transported to the Emergency Room via ambulance and another was transported by private vehicle.

All four juveniles were later released to their parents or guardians.

Upon further investigation it was learned that the four juveniles had ingested marijuana oil called (DABS). DABS are a very high concentrate of THC (90+%) derived from marijuana oils that are heated and smoked.

The Glasgow Police Department is investigating the incident in conjunction with the Valley County Attorney’s Office for prosecution. All juveniles are expected to make a full recovery.

Cape Air Introduces New Airplanes To Glasgow

Wednesday, April 7th 2021

Cape Air’s new airplane made a visit to Glasgow today. The Tecnam P2012 is brand new, slightly larger and more comfortable. Under seat carry on storage, USB charge ports for every seat and air conditioning!

The Tecnam prop is Cape Air’s first-ever new aircraft. The airline has commitments for 110 aircraft with plans to replace its fleet of 83 Cessna 402s in five years or less.

The Traveller seats nine passengers — though, unfortunately, not in the co-pilot seat as they can on the Cessnas — plus two pilots. Each seat is a window seat and features amenities like a cup holder and USB power outlet.

The carrier service does two flights a day from Glasgow, Glendive, Havre and Wolf Point to Billings, and five flights a day from Sidney to Billings. From Billings those fliers can then connect to commercial flights to the rest of the country. Access to a major commercial airport is one of the requirements for the Essential Air Service contract.

Cape Air is part of the Essential Air Service Program and receives federal subsidies to provide passenger air service to remote communities.

Federal subsidies make Essential Air Service flights possible, keeping customers' share of airfare down to $49 a flight. Cape Air signed a 4-year contract to provide passenger air service to the Montana communities in late 2019.

The subsidies are significant. Cape Air receives roughly $2.2 million per city for service to Glasgow, Glendive and Havre. It receives $2.4 million for service to Wolf Point and it receives $4.2 million for its service to Sidney. In all, Cape Air’s contract to service the six Eastern Montana communities is $13.3 million a year.

2 Active COVID Cases In Valley County

Wednesday, April 7th 2021

4/06/2021 7:30 am
1,466 of our Montanans have died from this virus as of 4/05/2021. Thirty (30) Montanans have died in the eight (8) days since our last update on 3/29/2021.

Active cases: 2
Recovered cases: 863
Total cases: 877
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications: 11

3 positive persons since our last report on 3/29/2021

With an eligible population of 5917 persons and 1,411 persons fully vaccinated for COVID-19, Valley County is 23.8% vaccinated.

24% Of Eligible Valley County Residents Are Vaccinated For COVID-19

Wednesday, April 7th 2021

The State of Montana is reporting that 24% of Valley County residents have now been fully vaccinated in the fight against COVID-19.

1411 Valley County residents are now fully vaccinated out of the 5917 Valley County residents who are eligible.

Surrounding county vaccination rates:

Valley County- 24%
Phillips County- 26%
Roosevelt County- 21%
Daniels County- 27%
Sheridan County- 33%
McCone County- 8%
Garfield County- 21%

Fort Peck Tribal Council Passes Burn Ban And Outlaws Fireworks

Tuesday, April 6th 2021

The Fort Peck Tribes have initiated a burn ban and will not allow the sale of fireworks on tribal lands.
The Fort Peck Tribal Council passed a resolution on Monday 6-0 putting in place the burn ban and banning the fireworks.

Committee Kills Bill Targeting American Prairie Reserve's Land purchases

Monday, April 5th 2021

Story credit: www.billingsgazette.com

A bill that would have banned nonprofits from buying agricultural land, specifically targeting the American Prairie Reserve’s purchase of ranches in central Montana, was tabled in committee on Thursday.

“I see this as an infringement on private property rights, and I can’t get away from that,” said Rep. Becky Beard, R-Elliston, despite her concerns for agriculture which includes family and friends.

The bill died on a unanimous vote after the House Agriculture Committee passed one amendment to the bill and denied another.

When the bill was presented on Tuesday to the committee by sponsor Rep. Dan Bartel, R-Lewistown, land trusts and some GOP landowners denounced the bill as an attack on their constitutional right to conduct business between a willing seller and buyer.

Bartel and his ag allies dismissed criticisms that the legislation violated the constitution or prevented APR from buying land. He said the bill’s main goal is meant to ensure agricultural land stays in production and prevent “abuse of the tax code” because nonprofits don’t pay taxes on their income.

Rep. Wendy McKamey, R-Ulm, had a tough time voting against the bill on Thursday because of her concern for traditional agriculture.

“This is not a simple bill in many ways,” she said. “I’m not sure it’s even constitutional.”

There have to be better ways to protect family-owned agriculture that the legislature could find, said Rep. Willis Curdy, D-Missoula.

“This bill goes down the wrong track,” he said.

Likewise, Rep. Ken Walsh, R-Twin Bridges, said he sympathized with people in central Montana and elsewhere confronted with problems like the sale of ag land to nonprofits like American Prairie Reserve.

“But I’m not going to give up my private property rights,” he said. “We start down this path and we’re giving up those rights. Who knows what the next thing is.”

Montana Residents Who Are 15-Years Old Will Be Able To Get Learners Permit Without Drivers Education

Monday, April 5th 2021

Attorney General Austin Knudsen announced a temporary relief program Friday to clear a driver education backlog and help Montanans who are 15-years old get their learner’s permit and eventually a driver’s license in a timely fashion, saving their families money in the process. Students can begin scheduling appointments today to start the process by taking the written exam.

There are an estimated 22,000 Montana students waiting to enroll so they can obtain their learner’s permit. Government COVID-19 closures and restrictions exacerbated the existing backlog caused by a shortage of driving instructors. When courses are available, they cost families hundreds of dollars. As a result, Montanans have faced hardship in obtaining credentials needed to drive.

“Thousands of young Montanans haven’t been able to get their learner’s permit because of lockdown measures and an ongoing instructor shortage in schools. Too many families are having to wait for more than a year until their son or daughter can get into a drivers ed class,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “We’re getting bureaucracy out of the way so Montana teenagers can get back on track, start learning to drive safely, and save their families money.”

Under the status quo, students who are not able to enroll in a driver’s education course must wait until they are 16 before they can receive a learner’s permit and begin the process of obtaining their driver’s license.

Under new Department of Justice guidance, the Motor Vehicle Division will allow Montanans who are 15-years old to drive after passing the written exam, completing 50 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction with a parent or other responsible adult, and passing the driving skills test. All testing and behind-the-wheel driving requirements remain the same under the new guidance.

After a self-guided or parent-led study of the Montana Driver Manual, students can set an appointment online or over the phone to take the test at a local exam station. After passing the written test, they will receive a temporary learner’s permit.

Students must then complete and log 50 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction with a parent or responsible adult, including 10 hours at night. After six months and completing the driving requirements, students take the driving skills test at an MVD location. If successful, a graduated license will be granted. Drivers with a graduated license are restricted from having more than one unrelated passenger under the age of 18 and from driving between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The Motor Vehicle Division set up a one-stop webpage that explains the new process for obtaining a learner’s permit and has learning resources for teens and parents: dojmt.gov/getyourpermit.

MDT Invites Public Comment On Highway Construction Project North Of Saco

Friday, April 2nd 2021

Saco, Montana — The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) would like to announce and invite the public to comment on a proposal to overlay approximately 6.5 miles of Secondary Highway 243, north of Saco. The project begins at the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 and Secondary Highway 243 in Saco and extends north ending near where the highway surface turns to gravel (at reference post 14.7).

Proposed work includes applying a new asphalt overlay and chip seal, construction of ADA compliant sidewalk curb ramps as needed on the east side of Highway 243 in Saco, and paving the intersections with Frenchman Dam and Milk River Roads. Other work will include, new pavement painting, signage, guardrail, bridge rail revisions and bridge deck repairs. The purpose of the project is to extend the life of the pavement and to reduce maintenance costs.

The project is tentatively scheduled for construction in 2023, depending on completion of all project development activities and availability of funding. No new right-of-way or utility relocations will be needed.

An important part of properly planning for future projects is partnering with the community. The Montana Department of Transportation welcomes the public to provide ideas and comments on the proposed project. Comments may be submitted online at http://www.mdt.mt.gov/mdt/comment_form.shtml or in writing to Montana Department of Transportation, Glendive office at PO Box 890, Glendive, MT 59330-0890. Please note that comments are for project UPN 9854000.

The public is encouraged to contact Glendive District Administrator Shane Mintz at (406) 345-8212 or Project Design Engineer Megan Cail at (406) 444 6230 with questions or comments.

Spring Is Here, It’s Time To Get Outside!

Friday, April 2nd 2021

GLASGOW – As spring weather gets here, many people are itching to get outside. For many folks, that may include looking for nongame animals to hunt, fishing, hiking, shed hunting, or bird watching. However, just like at any other time of year, people are asked to follow the law, respect the land, and be safe.

Where can you go?

Private Land
Hunters and anglers need permission to hunt or fish on private land. Respect for private land is a cornerstone of recreating responsibly, so please ask for permission when looking to recreate on any private land.
This also applies to landowners enrolled in Block Management. Block management contracts are developed for hunting seasons and are ONLY for hunting-related activities. Be respectful and ask for permission on these properties when looking to access them.

Public Land
Most public lands are open to recreation. However, some properties, such as the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, do not allow the discharge of firearms out of hunting seasons and have restrictions on nongame animals. Please check with the public land agency you are using for a full list of regulations.

Know where you are
There are many options to help determine your location. Maps, cell phone apps, and GPSs all let you know where you are at on a particular piece of property.

Shooting from roads
It is not legal to discharge a firearm from a public road, including any gravel road or dirt trail. This includes target shooting or when hunting a game or nongame animal.
When shooting recreationally, always adhere to the four main rules of firearm safety:
1. Always point the muzzle of your gun in a safe direction
Firearms should always be pointed in a safe direction, including when transported in a vehicle.
2. Always treat every gun as if it were loaded
NEVER have a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
3. Always be sure of your target and beyond

Whether you are on public or private land, whenever you discharge a firearm you should be fully aware of your target and beyond. Look for livestock and other animals, houses, outbuildings/structures, roads, vehicles etc. that may be in the background of your target.
4. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire

Do not put your finger on or near the trigger until you are ready to shoot after knowing your target and beyond.

Enjoy the upcoming Montana spring and its recreational opportunities; but please, do so by following all laws, regulations and safety precautions.

Montana Airports Receive $11.9 Million To Strengthen Air Travel Infrastructure

Friday, April 2nd 2021

U.S. Senator Steve Daines Thursday announced that $11,946,626 will be allocated to various airports across Montana to strengthen air travel infrastructure.

“As air travel begins to pick up and Montana prepares for a busy summer season, I’m glad to see local airports receive this support,” Daines said. “These grants will help Montana airports with important infrastructure upgrades and expansions necessary for the rapidly growing demand.”


The $11,946,626 will be distributed to the following airports:

• $1,193,410 to Bowman Field in Anaconda, MT
• $1,800,000 to Billings Logan International in Billings, MT
• $3,751,261 to Bozeman Yellowstone International in Bozeman, MT
• $75,000 to Broadus Airport in Broadus, MT
• $195,000 to Edgar G Obie Airport in Chinook, MT
• $150,000 to Woltermann Memorial Airport in Columbus, MT
• $396,900 to Big Sky Field in Culbertson, MT
• $150,000 to Tillitt Field in Forsyth, MT
• $2,750,000 to Geraldine Airport in Geraldine, MT
• $261,000 to Big Horn County Airport in Hardin, MT
• $250,000 to Havre City-County Airport in Havre, MT
• $150,000 to Mission Field in Livingston, MT
• $312,750 to Malta Airport in Malta, MT
• $350,000 to Plains Airport in Plains, MT
• $161,305 to Shelby Airport in Shelby, MT

Daines secured this Airport Improvement Program funding in the government funding and COVID-19 relief package in December 2020.

Glasgow School District Cancels Election

Thursday, April 1st 2021

This is official notice that the 2021 Glasgow School Election is hereby cancelled and Ryan Fast & Chrissa Nelson are duly elected to the board by acclamation.

Ryan Budde has withdrawn his trustee candidate paperwork leaving two candidates for two positions.

This is pursuant to the 2021 Board of Trustees Election Resolution authorizing, Kelly Doornek, District Clerk, to cancel any portion of the election in accordance with 13-1-304 and 20-3-313, MCA.

Dr. Budde has indicated, that due to other recent obligations, it would be difficult to fulfill his duties as a trustee, but may consider running in the future.

House Rejects Legislation Expanding Voting Opportunities For Native Americans, Two Days After Approving On A Preliminary Vote

Thursday, April 1st 2021

The Montana House on Wednesday shot down a bill that aimed to expand voting opportunities for Native Americans on the state’s seven Indian reservations, two days after the legislation narrowly passed on a preliminary vote.

House Bill 613 would have required counties to maintain a satellite or alternate election office on any reservations they overlap with, beginning a month before Election Day, while leaving the days and hours of operation up to the two jurisdictions to figure out. It would have also directed counties to consider adding ballot drop-boxes while ensuring that tribal photo IDs, if used to register or vote, wouldn’t need an expiration date or a residential address to be considered valid.

While at least one tribal leader objected to the bill as overly watered down from its original form, committee members and Native voting advocates hoped it could be a starting point for removing long-standing barriers to voting on reservations.

“I think it’s a really serious issue that could be looked at over the interim to make it better,” Rep. Tyson Running Wolf, a Browning Democrat who helped lead the bipartisan working group that developed the compromise legislation, said Wednesday after the bill failed to clear the House.

He noted there’s still an outside possibility of a procedural maneuver to reconsider the bill in the House, but added, “We just need to pick up the pieces and keep building on that legislation, and maybe build a better one next session.”

Sponsored by Rep. Sharon Stewart Peregoy, the measure was the product of a week of work by a bipartisan group of lawmakers on the House State Administration Committee. That work resulted in an amendment substantially scaling back the original proposals in the bill to make it more palatable to counties worried about absorbing the costs of a new set of mandates from the state. Two weeks ago, the 19-member panel voted unanimously to send the bill to the House floor.

The committee had heard testimony from tribal leaders and voting-rights advocates who noted that residents of rural reservations often live far from the county seat where election offices allow them to register to vote or cast their ballots. Those residents are also less likely to have money to get rides or the photo ID they may need to vote, they argued, and reservations typically lack residential mail delivery service.

President Andy Werk, Jr., of the Fort Belknap Assiniboine and Gros Ventre tribes, had called into one of the final work sessions to oppose the amended version of the bill. He argued it offered his tribe less than what they were already guaranteed under the terms of a legal settlement between several tribes, the state and some counties.

One of the “yes” votes to flip on Wednesday was that of Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy, D-Box Elder, who said in an interview after Wednesday's vote that he changed his mind after speaking with tribal leadership in his district. Windy Boy’s House District 32 includes portions of the Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy’s reservations.

“They were in support of the original bill, and then when all of the amendments were brought on in committee … that was the recommendation they came up with,” Windy Boy said.

Two days earlier, during a lengthy debate on the floor, several Republican lawmakers had expressed concerns with the costs that could fall to the counties as a result of the legislation. The bill allows tribes and counties to enter into cost-sharing agreements, but the state cannot obligate sovereign tribes to pay.

Ulm Rep. Wendy McKamey, the Republican committee chair who had helped lead the effort to find compromise on the bill, expressed frustration that it had failed to clear the House after earlier bipartisan support.

“I don’t know how they could possibly vote against this, I don’t. Because it requires accountability and it requires cooperation.”

Northwestern Energy To Refund Electric Customers $8.1 Million

Thursday, April 1st 2021

HELENA, Montana — NorthWestern Energy will begin refunding its electric customers in Montana $8.1 million as a result of a recent settlement concerning the price of transmitting power over NorthWestern’s system.

The Montana Public Service Commission’s final order in NorthWestern’s 2019 electric rate case required NorthWestern to credit its customers for revenue it collects from other energy companies who use NorthWestern’s system to transmit energy used in interstate commerce. The prices those energy companies pay NorthWestern for transmission service are set by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

On January 29, 2021, FERC approved a settlement that will update the prices of NorthWestern’s transmission services. The settlement will raise NorthWestern’s customer credit for transmission revenue from $54.9 million to $60.9 million. This results in a $6 million rate reduction for customers. The Commission’s final order from the 2019 electric rate case also requires NorthWestern to refund customers $8.1 million for the period July 1, 2019, through March 31, 2021.

Today, the Commission approved on an interim basis NorthWestern’s plan to comply with the Commission’s final order. The $8.1 million will be refunded to customers over a one-year period. Additionally, retail customer transmission rates will decrease by $3.5 million annually, and retail customer generation supply rates will decrease by $2.4 million annually. The rate reduction and refund will be effective April 1, 2021.

The Commission and the Montana Consumer Counsel, which represents the interest of ratepayers in Commission proceedings, will continue to evaluate NorthWestern’s refund proposal. If the Commission determines that the total refund and the plan for crediting customers is just and reasonable, it will issue a final order in the coming months.

The Commission regulates private investor-owned natural gas, electric, telephone, water, and sewer companies, certain motor carriers, and oversees natural gas pipeline safety and railroad safety within Montana. The Commission works to ensure that Montanans receive safe and reliable service from regulated public utilities and that the utilities charge fair prices. For more information, visit psc.mt.gov or contact the Commission at 1-800-646-6150. Follow the Commission at Twitter.com/@MT_PSC or visit Facebook.com/MontanaPSC.

MDU Nears Completion Of Natural Gas Pipeline System Replacement In Hinsdale

Wednesday, March 31st 2021

Montana-Dakota Utilities on Monday, 03/22, started the construction phase of the natural gas pipeline system replacement in Hinsdale.

Montana-Dakota Utilities has put all but four customers back on natural gas service in Hinsdale. The four customers still without service have been contacted to schedule a time to have service connected.

The company thanks the community for its patience and understanding as we worked through replacing the entire natural gas system and getting all customers back on service.

If anyone does not have natural gas service, please call our customer service center at 800-638-3278 and we will dispatch a technician.

We also want to thank our dedicated employees for safely replacing the natural gas system and restoring service to Hinsdale in an incredibly short timeline.

As Montana-Dakota Utilities employees do final clean-up in Hinsdale, the company asks that if any customers believe they have encountered a sewer line issue to call Montana-Dakota’s Ryan Salsbery at 406-694-7295 before calling a plumber or clearing the line on your own. The company will come to your home to locate and mark our natural gas pipelines, which will ensure that the pipeline has not unintentionally been installed through your sewer line. The company is planning to perform a post construction sewer inspection to verify the sewer system was not compromised by the construction project. Once the inspection is complete and the system is verified to be clear, we will update the community.

Glasgow Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt Set For Saturday

Wednesday, March 31st 2021

5 Active COVID Cases In Valley County As Of March 29th

Tuesday, March 30th 2021

3/29/2021 6:00 pm
1,436 of our Montanans have died from this virus as of 3/29/2021. Twenty-two (22) Montanans have died in the seven (7) days since our last update on 3/22/2021.

Active cases: 5
Recovered cases: 858
Total cases: 874
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications: 11
3 positive persons since our last report on 3/22/2021 -- Cases 872 - 874
NEW ACTIVE CASES ONLY
Age less than 10:
10-19:
20-29:
30-39: 2
40-49:
50-59:
60-69: 1
70-79:
80-89:
90-99:

With our 874 cases, we have had 64 persons hospitalized.

COVID-19 Vaccination rate for Valley County:
With an eligible population of 5917 persons and 1,184 persons fully vaccinated for COVID-19, Valley County is 20.0% vaccinated.

Montana House Gives Preliminary Approval To Bill Which Seeks To Make It Easier For Native Americans To Vote

Tuesday, March 30th 2021

Story from www.billingsgazette.com

The Montana House narrowly advanced a bill Monday that seeks to make it easier for Native Americans to vote, even as Republican lawmakers are pushing election restrictions.

The bill aims to reduce travel time for tribal members to access voting services by requiring at least one satellite elections office to be available on each reservation in the state – with the same services as county elections offices – at least 30 days before election day.

The measure was advanced with a preliminary vote in a 53-47 split, with several Republicans joining Democrats in voting in favor of the measure. The House is expected to vote on the bill for a third and final time this week.

Republican State Representatives Casey Knudsen and Rhonda Knudsen voted against the bill while Democrat Representative Frank Smith of Poplar voted yes.

"I bring this legislation on behalf of the 14,000 soldiers -- Native American soldiers -- who went to war on behalf of the United States when they were not citizens," said bill sponsor Rep. Sharon Stewart Peregoy, a Democrat of Crow Agency. Native Americans gained citizenship in 1924.

Opponents of the measure said it wouldn't allow enough state oversight over the satellite election offices, which could be placed on federal land, outside the jurisdiction of county election officials.

"There's no accountability to making sure that these offices can be inspected," said Republican Rep. Derek Skees.

But supporters of the measure said it cements in state law practices that are already in place, following a 2014 settlement in a voting rights lawsuit and guidance issued by the secretary of state's office for counties and tribes to comply with the settlement.

"This bill isn't doing anything that we weren't doing in the first place. We're just putting in code," said Republican Rep. Geraldine Custer.

The House advanced the measure even as Republican lawmakers are advancing several bills that critics say would make it more difficult for Native American communities to vote.

Those include a bill that has cleared both the Senate and House that would eliminate same-day voter registration in the state. The measure is on the way to the governor for consideration.

Another bill already passed by the House would place restrictions on organizations that collect absentee ballots.

Montana Legislature Debates How To Spend Nearly 3 Billion In Federal Money From The American Rescue Plan

Tuesday, March 30th 2021

HELENA -- The American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress gives the state of Montana billions of federal dollars. Most of that money will have specific places it needs to go, but the Legislature has control over about $1 billion.

After a whirlwind of hearings, the bill that allocates that money is now on its way to be debated by the full House of Representatives after passing out of the House Appropriations Committee 16-8 on Monday.

Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, chairs that panel and said he was thankful for his committee’s restraint.

“Irrespective of disagreements, we all behaved with grace and I very much appreciate that,” Jones said.

The bill establishes several oversight committees and provides granular detail about what money goes where. For instance, more than $600 million will go to water and wastewater projects.

The bill must pass out of the House of Representatives before May 8, otherwise the money will go to other states.

However, lawmakers are still waiting for full federal guidance about how to spend the money.

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Legislature Considers Housing Adults in Youth Correctional Facility

Saturday, March 27th 2021

HELENA — A bill that would allow adults to be housed with youth at a correctional facility in eastern Montana drew criticism Friday from opponents who said it could open up that option at other facilities.

The Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility in Miles City currently holds 23 youth inmates, with room for 126. Senate Bill 344, sponsored by Sen. Kenneth Bogner, R-Miles City, would allow adult inmates to fill the spots. The bill cleared the Senate on a 27-22 vote in early March during a marathon floor session before the Legislature adjourned for a mid-session break.

Bogner and several proponents said at a House committee hearing for the bill on Friday that the current way the Department of Corrections houses inmates is “not efficient,” pointing to the empty space in Pine Hills as an opportunity to make better use of state resources by filling empty spots with adult inmates.

The Department of Corrections and the current superintendent of Pine Hills both testified in support of the bill, echoing Bogner’s idea for greater efficiency.

“We want to most efficiently use our resources, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to run a facility of that capacity with 23 [youth offenders],” said Department of Corrections Deputy Director Cynthia Wolken.

Wolken said adults would be properly separated “by sight and sound” from the youth at the facility, which houses all males.

Opponents, including Beth Brenneman of Disability Rights Montana, said the bill grants the department too much power without oversight. Brenneman added that the bill went further than a previous measure from 2017, allowing adults of any age to be housed in youth facilities. The 2017 bill, which the Legislature killed, would have allowed offenders age 19 and 20 to be housed at Pine Hills.

“This really is about decision making that should be part of an interim study as opposed to a 61-page bill that they want you to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about,” Brenneman said.

The committee did not take immediate action on the bill.

Austin Amestoy is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

3 File For Trustee Positions On Glasgow School Board

Friday, March 26th 2021

The deadline to file for trustee positions on the Glasgow School Board was on Thursday. Three individuals filed before the deadline. There were two positions available on the school board as Ryan Fast and Mike Kaiser have their terms ending this year.

The 3 individuals who filed the necessary paperwork:

Chrissa Tarum Nelson
Ryan Budde
Ryan Fast

February Unemployment Rate In Valley County 4.5%

Friday, March 26th 2021

HELENA, Mont. – Montana’s unemployment rate dropped in February to 3.9%, after falling to 4.0% in January. The unemployment rate for the U.S. was 6.2% in February.

“Montana’s unemployment rate continues its downward trend, but too many of our businesses are struggling to find workers,” Governor Greg Gianforte said. “Getting Montanans back to work in good-paying jobs and improving access to trades education and apprenticeships are top priorities as we get Montana open for business.”

Governor Gianforte has worked with the legislature to address the growing skilled labor shortage in Montana by creating the Montana Trades Education Credit (M-TEC). A central element of the governor’s Roadmap to the Montana Comeback budget, the bill, H.B. 252, provides $1 million per year in 50-percent credits to businesses for their employees to learn a trade. The funding level will support as many as 1,000 scholarships annually. Under the program, employers and employees can decide on training that is best for the business and the employee.

“Expanding trades education in Montana and empowering our workforce are critical. I look forward to this bill getting across the finish line and to my desk,” Governor Gianforte said.

Total employment in February fell by 965, and the labor force shrank by 1,521 workers. Total employment includes payroll, agricultural, and self-employed workers.

After updating January’s preliminary estimates, payroll employment was unchanged in February, remaining at 477,700 jobs. The manufacturing and accommodation and food services industries each added 500 jobs, which were offset by job losses in construction and financial activities.

The unemployment rate in Valley County was 4.5%. That compares to 4.2% in February of 2020. There are 44 fewer jobs in Valley County comparing February of 2021 to February of 2020.

Applications Now Being Accepted For 2021 Jeff Jurgens Memorial Scholarships

Friday, March 26th 2021

The Scottie Booster Club is currently accepting applications for 2021 Jeff Jurgens Memorial Scholarships. The annual scholarships are awarded to Valley County’s graduating seniors who played basketball in high school or who plan to pursue a degree in a medical or health-related field. Other considerations for scholarship awards are community service, academic achievement, and financial need.

Deadline for 2021 applications is May 10. Applications are available from guidance counselors in Glasgow, Hinsdale, Nashua, Frazer, Lustre, and Opheim schools. Prospective applicants can also request an application directly from Andrew McKean by emailing montanamckean@gmail.com or calling 406-263-5442.

The Jeff Jurgens Memorial Scholarships are funded by proceeds from the annual Jeff Jurgens Memorial Basketball Tournament, the booster club’s largest fundraiser. The 21st JJMT was held last weekend in Glasgow, and hosted over 60 youth basketball teams from as far away as Billings.

Besides awarding JJMT Scholarships, the Scottie Booster Club helps purchase team uniforms, equipment, and otherwise supports Glasgow School District athletics and extracurricular activities. For information about becoming a Booster Club member, contact president Mike Pehlke at 406-263-9899.

Valley County Community Pool Fund Receives Generous Contribution In Memory Of Jim Parke

Thursday, March 25th 2021

The Valley County Community Pool Campaign Committee is pleased to announce that they have received a $300,000 donation from Marilyn Parke in memory of her late husband Jim. The committee is honored that Marilyn chose to boost fundraising efforts with this charitable gift. Both Marilyn and Jim are 1964 graduates of Glasgow High School. Jim had a very successful 37-year career with GE and retired in 2005 as Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of GE Capital Services, and Senior Vice President of General Electric Company. He passed away in February 2018.

While Jim was very accomplished, he was a generous person who supported a variety of organizations with not only monetary gifts but also by sharing his leadership skills and knowledge of finance. Even though he spent his adult years residing outside of Montana, he never forgot his roots and has donated to both the GHS Educational Trust and First Lutheran Church. Jim had a desire to help others succeed and inspired them with his determination to accomplish anything he set his mind to. Marilyn’s donation in Jim’s honor is an encouragement to the committee to push to raise the final funds needed for the new pool and bath house.

The total raised and pledged funds for the pool fundraiser now stand at $1,337,497.
The committee is excited to share that the blue “Every Drop Counts” boxes have now raised over $10,000. It’s amazing what donating your change can do!

Another development is that the committee is moving forward to establish its own 501(c)(3) status which will help us apply for grants that requires this designation. This will be a fund that solely supports capital expenditures for the pool and not operating expenses.

Several fundraisers are in the works for the spring and summer months so stay tuned!

If you have any questions regarding donating to the pool, please contact a committee member or visit with your accountant or tax preparer.

The committee invites you to like our Facebook page - Valley County Community Pool Campaign, our new Instagram page @valcopool, or go to our website www.valcopool.com where you can learn all about our project. You can e-mail us at valleycountyfriendsofpool@gmail.com or call us at
406-228-8341. Committee members are Jory Casterline, Ruth Ann Hutcheson, Rod Karst, Ann Kulczyk, Maggan Walstad and Taylor Zerbe.

Strommen Files Appeal To Montana Supreme Court

Thursday, March 25th 2021

Former Valley County undersheriff Luke Strommen was convicted in July of 2020 on the charge of sexual intercourse without consent. He has now filed a notice of appeal to the Montana Supreme Court on the conviction and sentencing in the case.

A 12 person jury found Strommen guilty of sexual intercourse without consent after a 5 day trial in Glasgow. On December 8th, Strommen was sentenced to 40 years in the Montana State Prison with opportunity for parole after 10 years served.

Strommen is currently incarcerated in the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge.

The notice of appeal was filed on February 22nd with the Montana Supreme Court. Strommen is represented by the Office of State Public Defender. Chad Wright is listed as the attorney in the court documents filed with the Supreme Court.

The only documents filed to date in the appeal have been the Notice of Appeal and a request of transcripts for a court proceedings dealing with the case of State of Montana vs Luke Strommen.

Lesley Robinson Nominated By Governor Gianforte To Montana Fish And Wildlife Commission

Wednesday, March 24th 2021

Story credit to www.billingsgazette.com

Dodson area rancher Leslie Robinson has been nominated by Governor Gianforte to a seat on the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission. Robinson received a hearing this week in front of the State Senate Fish and Game Committee.

Several people spoke in favor of Lesley Robinson citing her past work as a county commissioner, a participant in FWP’s Block Management Program that allows public hunters on private land and as a member of the Montana Association of Counties.

“She is an amazing person,” said Eric Bryson, of the Montana Association of Counties. “You will find no better nominee than her.”

Robinson told the committee she has a deep appreciation for wildlife and through the Block Management Program her family has built longstanding relationships with hunters. Customer service, she added, is a top priority for her with the provision that the Fish and Wildlife Commission has a broad base of customers.

Robinson was Gianforte’s running mate in 2016. She was nominated to a position held by Glasgow resident Andrew McKean after his reappointment to the commission was not supported by Gianforte or the Senate Fish and Game Committee’s Republican members.

McKean was nominated by former Gov. Steve Bullock to fill a seat vacated last fall when a commissioner resigned. Pat Byorth, who represents the Bozeman region, will be the only commissioner remaining on the board from the Bullock administration. There is also a bill moving through the Legislature that would expand the commission from five to seven members. A bill that would have expanded the commission and required four of them to be agricultural landowners was voted down.

Glasgow High School BPA Students Qualify For National Conference

Wednesday, March 24th 2021

Glasgow High School BPA did well overall for having our State Conference fully virtual and we are very proud of the kids' hard work! The top 10 students in non-judged events, top 5 for individual, and top 3 for team events qualify for the National Conference.

Advisors: Jill Page and Kristina McGee

BPA State Board Secretary - Dalton Sand
C# Programming
2nd Raelee Dowden

C++ Programming
3rd Raelee Dowden

Health Insurance and Medical Billing
8th Eli Feezell

Podcast Production Team
4th Kate Parks and Tarin Vandall

Presentation Management Individual
2nd Tanner White
7th Kate Parks

Website Design Team
3rd Tanner White and Alesia Hopstad

13 Active COVID Cases In Valley County

Tuesday, March 23rd 2021

Active cases: 13
Recovered cases: 847
Total cases: 871
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications: 11

7 positive persons since our last report on 3/17/2021
With our 871 cases, we have had 63 persons hospitalized.

COVID-19 Vaccination rate for Valley County:
With an eligible population of 5917 persons and 1,026 persons fully vaccinated for COVID-19, Valley County is 17.3% vaccinated. (We did not give second doses of Moderna vaccine last week as it was four weeks ago that we received zero (0) first doses due to weather.)

MDU Shuts Down Natural Gas Supply To Entire Community Of Hinsdale

Monday, March 22nd 2021

Montana-Dakota Utilities has shut down the natural gas supply to the entire town of Hinsdale, MT as of 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 19, so we can resolve a number of leaks on our pipeline infrastructure. By shutting down the flow of natural gas, the immediate safety concerns have been mitigated and we are working diligently to plan an emergency pipeline replacement project for the community. We apologize for this inconvenience and ask for your patience as we work through this replacement project, which will ensure system safety for all Hinsdale residents. Updates of the replacement progress will be posted to this page. Thank you.

UPDATE | Monday, 03/22/2021 – As we work through the replacement of the community’s natural gas pipeline system, we want to ensure that everyone remains safe. The disruption in service has left the majority of customers without a heat source. Montana-Dakota Utilities urges residents to avoid using sources that are not meant for providing heat indoors, such as a propane grill, charcoal grill or outdoor equipment that is not vented. Using such equipment can create carbon monoxide at dangerous levels. The company provided electric space heaters to all community residents.

UPDATE | Sunday, 03/21/2021 – Heaters have arrived and are being delivered to each customer door-to-door. Montana-Dakota is hosting a community meeting Tuesday, 03/23 at the American Legion in Hinsdale (1011 Front Street) from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. to provide residents with more information on the replacement plan and timeline. Some additional heaters will be available during the meeting for those who need them. We’ll continue to add new updates as we know more. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

UPDATE | Saturday, 03/20/2021 – Backfilling of previous excavation was completed earlier today. Additionally, today, we put in motion a plan to begin a full-scale replacement of the existing natural gas pipeline system within Hinsdale. Pre-construction coordination will continue through Saturday and Sunday, and we anticipate commencing construction on Monday. Montana-Dakota is planning to host a community meeting Tuesday, 03/23 at the American Legion in Hinsdale (1011 Front Street) to provide residents with more information on the replacement plan and timeline. We are also arranging for heaters to be delivered to the area. The heaters are expected to arrive tomorrow (03/21), and we will distribute them door-to-door. Thank you for your understanding and patience. We’ll add new updates as we know more.

Wolf Point Man Pleads Guilty To Assaulting Infant

Sunday, March 21st 2021

GREAT FALLS — A Wolf Point man accused of injuring an infant on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation pleaded guilty to assault charges, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said.

Charles Connor Clark, 27, pleaded guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury as charged in a superseding information. Clark faces a maximum 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian M. Morris presided. Chief Judge Morris set sentencing for June 16. Clark was detained pending further proceedings.

In court documents filed in the case, the government alleged that in November 2017, the FBI was notified that an infant, identified as John Doe, had been flown from Wolf Point, on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, to a hospital in Billings. The victim appeared to have suffered life-threatening, non-accidental injuries. Doctors informed agents that John Doe’s injuries were classic signs of physical abuse. When interviewed, the victim’s mother said Clark had told her the victim had vomited, that he was trying to burp him and that the victim had choked.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Suek is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI and Fort Peck Tribal Law Enforcement.

Montana Public School Enrollment Decreases For 2020-2021 School Year

Sunday, March 21st 2021

HELENA, Mont. - Superintendent Elsie Arntzen released Montana’s Spring 2021 student enrollment numbers Friday, along with 2020-2021 comparative trends depicting the impact of COVID-19.

Per Montana Statue, MCA 20-9-311, the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) collects annual enrollment data from school districts by the first Monday of October and February. School district budgets are dependent on these student count numbers as the structural funding of basic systems of quality public schools.

“The disruption to learning is reflected in these current 2020-2021 student enrollment numbers,” Arntzen said. “Current Montana statutes allow for flexibility in the state formula to acknowledge student increase and decline in enrollment. The promise of precious state tax dollars will give opportunities for students to continue learning as the new year school year approaches.”

OCT 2020:

146,432 total students: Down by 2,749 students (-1.84%) compared to 2019-2020.

There were 102,644 elementary students, which was down by 3,912 students (-3.67%) compared to 2019-2020.

There were 43,788 high school students, which was up by 1,163 students (+2.82%) compared to 2019-2020.

FEB. 2021:

145,598 total students: Down by 834 students (-0.57%) compared to OCT 2020 and down by 3,583 students (-2.40%) compared to 2019-2020.

There were 103,045 elementary students, which is up by 401 students from OCT 2020, and down by 3,511 (-3.29%) compared to 2019-2020.

There were 42,553 high school students, which is down by 1,235 students from OCT 2020, and down by 72 students (-0.17%) compared to 2019-2020.

The data shows there has been a spring return of elementary students. The historic trend of a slight decline of high school students is also reflected in this data.

Montana Tax Deadline Moved To May 17th

Friday, March 19th 2021

HELENA, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte Thursday extended the payment and filing deadlines for Montana individual income taxpayers’ 2020 tax returns to May 17, 2021.

“Last year brought real, serious challenges to Montanans, and it’s only appropriate to extend the deadline so Montana taxpayers have some extra time to file, without having to worry about interest or penalties,” Governor Gianforte said.

The May 17 deadline is in keeping with the new federal filing deadline announced yesterday.

The Department of Revenue advises that the American Rescue Plan Act excludes the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits from federal taxes for those making less than $150,000. Those who have already filed their federal and Montana tax returns do not have to amend their returns. But those who received unemployment benefits in 2020 and have not yet filed should follow the revised instructions for their Montana return at MTRevenue.gov.

The Department of Revenue also reminds taxpayers:
• It could take up to 90 days to process refunds for some taxpayers due to security measures taken against identity theft and fraud. Taxpayers can check the status of their refund at MTRevenue.gov.
• Electronic filing is the safest and fastest way to file your return and get your refund as quickly as possible.
• For those who worked remotely in Montana during any part of 2020, income earned while working in the state is taxable in Montana.
• Any taxpayers who move after filing their Montana returns should keep their mailing address current with the department to avoid any delays in receiving their refund or correspondence from the department.

Deadlines for quarterly estimated payments of 2021 income taxes have not changed.

Glasgow School Board Approves 4-Day School Week

Friday, March 19th 2021

Glasgow School Superintendent Wade Sundby said the district is moving forward with a 4-day school week for the 2021-2022 school year. The Glasgow School Board unanimously approved the proposal on March 10th. The Calendar Committee has yet to propose a calendar for what the school year will look like but that is expected to be finalized by the school board meeting in April.

A survey of school district staff showed employees favored the four-day school week by a 79-21 percent margin and a survey of the public had 374 responses with the 4-day week being favored 64-36 percent.

22 Active COVID-19 Cases In Valley County

Thursday, March 18th 2021

3/17/2021 4:00 pm
Active cases: 22
Recovered cases: 831
Total cases: 864
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications: 11
10 positive persons since our last report on 3/9/2021 -- Cases 855 - 864
NEW ACTIVE CASES ONLY
Age less than 10: 1
10-19: 0
20-29: 0
30-39: 0
40-49: 1
50-59: 0
60-69: 7
70-79: 1
80-89: 0
90-99: 0
Female: 5
Male: 5
With our 864 cases, we have had 63 persons hospitalized.

COVID-19 Vaccination rate for Valley County:
With an eligible population of 5917 persons and 967 persons fully vaccinated for COVID-19, Valley County is 16.3% vaccinated.

States Sue Biden In Bid To Revive Keystone XL Pipeline

Thursday, March 18th 2021

BILLINGS — Attorneys general from 21 states on Wednesday sued to to overturn President Joe Biden’s cancellation of the contentious Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

Led by Ken Paxton of Texas and Austin Knudsen of Montana, the states said Biden had overstepped his authority when he revoked the permit for the Keystone pipeline on his first day in office.

Because the line would run through multiple U.S. states, Congress should have the final say over whether it's built, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Texas.

Construction on the 1,200-mile pipeline began last year when former President Donald Trump revived the long-delayed project after it had stalled under the Obama administration.

It would move up to 830,000 barrels (35 million gallons) of crude daily from the oil sand fields of western Canada to Steele City, Nebraska, where it would connect to other pipelines that feed oil refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Biden cancelled its permit over longstanding concerns that burning oil sands crude would make climate change worse.

Some moderate Democratic lawmakers also have urged Biden to reverse his decision, including Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana.

Valley County One Of Eleven Montana Counties With COVID-19 Variants

Thursday, March 18th 2021

HELENA — Montana has a total of 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in 11 counties, the state health department said Wednesday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the state this week of 11 tests that identified variants matching two California variants and another that originated in New York along with three more cases of the U.K. variant already identified in Gallatin County.

The California or New York variants involve specimens that were submitted for testing from January to early March in Beaverhead, Cascade, Glacier, Hill, Jefferson, Madison, Phillips, Roosevelt, Silver Bow, and Valley counties. When these samples were initially submitted for testing, the California and New York versions had not yet been classified by CDC.

Gallatin County has 11 known cases of the UK variant, including the three that were confirmed this week.

"Montana continues to submit both random and suspect COVID-19 samples to the CDC for testing," said Adam Meier, director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services. "As more surveillance and testing continues, it's not surprising to find more confirmed variant cases in Montana and the U.S.

Meier stressed the best thing Montanans can do to protect themselves from COVID-19, including the new variants, is to get vaccinated and continue to follow CDC guidelines about wearing masks, social distancing, staying home if you are sick, washing your hands often and avoiding large crowds.

Valley County Pool Committee Receives Donation From Lucky Knuckle Brew Run Committee

Thursday, March 18th 2021

Pictured: (left) Maggan Walstad - President of VCCP Committee receiving the check from (right) Tana Tweeten - Treasurer of Lucky Knuckle Brew Run Committee

The Valley County Community Pool Committee would like to recognize the generosity of the Lucky Knuckle Brew Run Committee for donating half of their proceeds from their run last Saturday to the pool campaign!

In total, $1,005 was donated! There were 80 participants who enjoyed the well-planned race and the beautiful weather. Every participant received a race bib, 4-leaf clover medal and complimentary beer or root beer from the Busted Knuckle Brew Pub!

Stay tuned for the announcement of a huge donation we just received and the launching of our April fundraiser on March 22nd!

Governor Announces COVID Vaccines Will Be Available To All Montanans Beginning April 1st

Wednesday, March 17th 2021

HELENA, Mont. – At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Governor Greg Gianforte announced that COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all Montanans beginning April 1, 2021.

“A few months ago, projections estimated Montanans 16 and older would be eligible for the vaccine as late as mid-July. Today, I’m pleased to announce that we’re moving up that timeline. All Montanans 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on April 1st,” Gianforte said.

Gianforte encouraged Montanans to get a vaccine.

“I look forward to getting the vaccine when my name is called, and I encourage all Montanans to consider doing the same. Getting one of these safe, effective vaccines will protect you, your loved ones, and your neighbors from this virus. It will help us get back to a more normal life,” Gianforte said.

Gianforte added, “As more Montanans get the vaccine, we will begin to approach the time when we are no longer in a state of emergency and we can remove our masks and throw them in the trash.”

Gianforte also addressed the principles guiding his administration’s approach to distributing the vaccine.

“Improving Montana’s response to this pandemic has been my top priority as your governor,” Gianforte said. “We took a strictly data-driven approach to protect the most vulnerable, and it’s saving lives.”

On his second full day in office, Governor Gianforte changed the state’s vaccine distribution plan to prioritize and protect Montanans most at-risk of complications from COVID-19. Montana health care and seniors groups praised Gianforte’s improvement of the state’s vaccine distribution plan. About a week after the governor’s changes, the federal government recommended similar modifications.

On January 19, the state entered Phase 1B to vaccine Montanans 70 years of age and older, Montanans 16-69 years of age with severe underlying health conditions, and Native Americans and other persons of color at elevated risk of COVID-19. Montana’s Phase 1B population accounts for 75% of deaths and 50% of hospitalizations from COVID-19 in Montana.

Earlier this month, Governor Gianforte announced the state would expand its efforts to protect the most vulnerable Montanans by entering Phase 1B+ of the state’s vaccine distribution plan on March 8. In Phase 1B+, COVID-19 vaccines are available to Montanans 60 years of age and older and Montanans 16 to 59 years of age with additional qualifying medical conditions like asthma, cystic fibrosis, and liver disease. Montana’s Phase 1B+ population accounts for nearly 90% of deaths and more than 70% of hospitalizations from COVID-19 in Montana.

To date, 367,211 doses have been administered in Montana, with more than 142,490 Montanans fully immunized.

Montanans interested in getting their COVID-19 vaccine are encouraged to visit covidvaccine.mt.gov to find information regarding COVID-19 vaccine availability and scheduling in their area.

Missing Juvenile From Phillips County

Wednesday, March 17th 2021

MISSING JUVENILE:

Deondre Bigman, 14-year-old Native American male, 5'6", 130 pounds, black bushy hair
Deondre left his residence at 998 Short Oil Road in Malta MT on Monday, March 15, 2021, possibly between 2300 and 2330 hours.

It's unknown what he is wearing or what his direction of travel may be. If located, please contact your local law enforcement office or call the Phillips County Sheriff's Office at (406) 654-2350.

Death Rate Of Montana Residents Increased By 14% In 2020 Compared With Previous 5-Year Average

Wednesday, March 17th 2021

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) issued a new report today stating the death rate among Montana residents increased by 14% in 2020 compared with the previous 5-year average.

State health officials point to COVID-19 pandemic as the main reason for the increase.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the health and daily lives of Montanans,” said DPHHS Director Adam Meier. “Our hearts go out to all those who have lost a loved one over the past year as we approach the anniversary of the state’s first COVID-19 related death. This report illustrates how this has impacted Montanans all across the state.”

Meier stressed that as the state moves through the vaccine allocation process, Governor Gianforte has been focused on preventing more hospitalizations and deaths by prioritizing the state’s COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan to protect those most vulnerable.

Nearly 75% of COVID-19 deaths in Montana are those age 70 and older and nearly 70% of COVID-19 deaths had at least one underlying medical condition. Also, Native Americans make up about 7% of Montana’s population, but represent 18% of reported COVID-19-related deaths in the state.

COVID-19 was the 3rd leading cause of death in 2020 with 1,104 deaths. The first COVID-19 death in Montana occurred March 26, 2020.

The report notes there were 12,018 deaths reported to DPHHS in 2020 compared to the average of 10,086 deaths from 2015-19.

Provisional data on vital events, such as births and deaths, indicate that 2020 was the first year since records started in 1908 in which the number of deaths exceeded the number of births, including 12,018 deaths and 10,791 births.

Heart disease and cancer were the first and second leading causes of death in 2020 and 2015–2019, accounting for approximately 40% of all deaths. Deaths due to chronic liver disease and homicide were significantly higher in 2020 compared with 2015–2019.

Meanwhile, deaths from chronic lower respiratory disease and influenza and pneumonia were significantly lower in 2020 compared with 2015–2019. The report credits this due to decreased influenza activity in the US and elsewhere in 2020—which coincided with COVID-19 mitigation.

The cause of death recorded on a death certificate is determined by a physician, advanced practice nurse, or coroner and is reported to DPHHS. Information on deaths occurring in a calendar year are usually not finalized until mid-year the following year. Less than 2 percent of death certificates have incomplete information, which may impact the categorization of a small number of deaths.

Stimulus Checks Arriving In American Bank Accounts This Week

Tuesday, March 16th 2021

COVID-19 relief checks are in the proverbial electronic mail, and the first batch of payments are expected to begin landing in American bank accounts Wednesday, March 17.

What do you need to do to get your payment?

In general, nothing at all. The initial $1,400 direct deposit payments are being sent out automatically, based on 2019 or 2020 tax returns, depending on whatever is the latest tax return available.

You can track the progress of your stimulus check using the Get My Payment tool online at irs.gov, https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment. In addition to status, the tool will tell you which type of payment you are receiving, and will give you an estimated delivery date.

Make sure to have the exact address from your latest tax return for this tool. It is not forgiving of even minor differences, such as whether “North” or “Street” were abbreviated.

There aren’t many ways to speed things up. Calling the IRS or other banking institutions, for example, will make no difference and may simply gum up the words. But there is one exception. Those who didn’t choose direct deposit for 2019 could go ahead and file their taxes now, choosing direct deposit. That could help move them ahead in the lineup.

Those who do not sign up for direct deposit will get either a check or a debit card in the mail. Eventually.

Anyone who didn’t choose direct deposit and has moved between now and filing their latest tax return should check that their mailing address and other details are up-to-date, to ensure prompt delivery of their check or debit card.

Social Security and other federal beneficiaries will receive their payments the same way as they do regular benefits. A payment date for this group has not yet been announced.

Here’s what else you need to know about this third round of coronavirus aid.

• Most people will get $1,400 for themselves and $1,400 for each qualifying dependent claimed on their tax return. There’s no age limit this time. All dependents are eligible for the full $1,400 amount. A family of four would thus get $5,600.

• Income limits have changed this time around. The thresholds are $75,000 AGI for individuals, $112,500 for head of household, and $150,000 for married filing jointly. Payments phase out quickly after that, ending at $80,000 for individuals, $120,000 for head of household, and $160,000 for married filing jointly.


• Payments will be based on the latest available processed tax return, whether from 2019 or 2020. This includes those who used the non-filers tool last year, or, alternately, submitted a simplified tax return to the IRS.

• For those whose 2020 return wasn’t available, the IRS will send an additional check if there is a difference between what your payment should have been based on the new return. The 2020 return must be filed before July 15 to be eligible for that.

• The payments cannot be offset to pay past-due federal debts or back taxes.

• The IRS is also processing tax returns for 2020 along with sending out the American Rescue Plan stimulus checks. There is presently no plan to delay this year’s tax filing deadline. It remains April 15.

MDT Launching Reconstruction Of Montana Highway 200 Between Jordan And Brockway

Tuesday, March 16th 2021

The Montana Department of Transportation is launching the first of five phases on a 37-mile reconstruction of Highway 200 between Jordan and Brockway.

The first phase, known as Little Dry Creek-East, will improve seven miles of highway between the Little Dry Creek Bridge and the Flowing Wells Rest Area. Wickens Construction will begin work on this section this month and continue through the summer.

“Highway 200 experiences significant year-round traffic and was not built to accommodate the large vehicles that frequently travel through the area,” Shane Mintz, Glendive district administrator said. “These improvements will provide a safer roadway for all users and extend the life of the highway for many years.”

Updates to the highway include widening the road to add a six-foot shoulder, rumble strips on the shoulders and center line, and new signage and striping.

Drivers can expect single-lane closures, reduced speeds and minor delays while construction is completed.

Public input or questions can be submitted to Kristine Fife at kristine@bigskypublicrelations.com or the project hotline at 406-207-4484 during business hours. Updates are also available by texting “LITTLEDRYCREEK” to 41411 For more information about the project, visit the project webpage at https://www.mdt.mt.gov/pubinvolve/hwy200jordan/

Valley County Treasurers Office Closed Through March 19th

Tuesday, March 16th 2021

Due to quarantine measures the Valley Co. Treasurer’s office will be closed to the public March 16th through March 19th. The Treasurers Office will reopen on March 22nd.

BLM Planning Prescribed Fire North Of Glasgow

Tuesday, March 16th 2021

The Bureau of Land Management is planning a 600 acre prescribed fire with ignition time starting at 1200 on 3/17 (Wednesday). The prescribed fire is located on BLM administered lands and located approximately 13 miles north of Glasgow and 3 miles south of Saint Marie.

Feda Scholarship For The Trades Now Available

Tuesday, March 16th 2021

Scholarship applications for the Feda Scholarship for the Trades are now available and will be accepted through April 16, announced Sam Waters of Glasgow. He chairs the scholarship committee and is a board member with the Valley County Community Foundation, which administers the scholarship.
High school seniors with plans to attend a trade school are encouraged to apply. Students who have received Feda Scholarships in the past may apply for a second scholarship, providing they have successfully completed one semester of study.

All applicants must be residents of Valley County. First-time applicants must be graduating from a Valley County high school this spring, receiving a home school certificate or a GED and pursuing a post-secondary education in the trades.

Applicable course work includes, but is not limited to, plumbing, electrical, drafting, mechanics, welding, carpentry, medical technology, computer technology, or criminal justice.

Gerry and Audrey Feda of Glasgow established the scholarship with the Valley County Community Foundation in 2007. Since that time, 27 scholarships have been awarded to students studying welding, agronomy, aviation mechanics, electrical and computer technology, diesel mechanics, respiratory care and radiology technology

Scholarship requirements and applications are available on the VCCF website: www.valleycountycf.net.
VCCF will accept only paper copies of the applications. They must be postmarked by the deadline of April 16. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. For more information, contact Waters at 228-8231.

Michigan man found guilty in unlicensed outfitting operation in Phillips and Valley counties

Monday, March 15th 2021

GLASGOW – Wendall Matson, from Birch Run, Michigan, has pled “no contest” and was subsequently found guilty on charges of multiple infractions related to illegally outfitting in Phillips and Valley counties. Matson was ordered to pay over $10,000 in fines and restitution and has lost his privileges to hunt, fish or trap for 18 months in Montana and all states that are part of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.

Matson, a former licensed guide who had worked with outfitters in the Hinsdale and Glasgow area, was operating as an unlicensed outfitter on Block Management and public lands in both Phillips and Valley counties from 2016-2018. Matson apparently retained some of the clients from his former employers to conduct the illegal outfitting operation.

“This case involved serious violations of laws under FWP jurisdiction,” said FWP criminal investigator Dirk Paulsen. “Mr. Matson’s actions exceeded those of someone who was confused about the regulations of the outfitting industry and were in direct conflict with the high standards and set practices implemented by the Board of Outfitters and the lawful outfitters of this state.”

Paulsen used outfitter client logs provided by the Montana Board of Outfitters to help identify clients utilizing Matson’s unlicensed practice.
In Phillips County, Matson was charged with:
• Four counts of outfitting without a license, resulting in $1,120 in fines and $1,850 in restitution
• Three counts of outfitting on a Block Management area, resulting in $405 in fines
In Valley County, Matson was charged with:
• Eight counts of outfitting without a license, resulting in $2,240 in fines and $4,800 in restitution
• One count of soliciting the offense of hunting without landowner permission, resulting in $135 in fines
This effort was a multi-year investigation that crossed several states. FWP wardens would like to thank the Montana Board of Outfitter and the out-of-state wardens they worked with in Michigan, Maryland and South Carolina to help complete this investigation.
FWP wardens would also like to thank the Phillips and Valley county attorney offices.
Anyone with information about crimes involving fish, wildlife or park regulations is encouraged to call FWP’s 24-hour wildlife tip line at 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668). Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000 for providing information that leads to a conviction.

Montana’s Unemployment Rate Drops To 4.0% In January

Monday, March 15th 2021

HELENA, Mont. – Montana’s unemployment rate declined in January to 4.0%. Montana’s rate remains lower than the national rate of 6.3% in January. After accounting for Montana’s annual benchmarking revisions, January’s unemployment rate fell 0.2% over the month.

“Montana’s economy is growing stronger as we work toward an end to this public health and economic pandemic,” Governor Greg Gianforte said. “The path forward is clear. We need to get our economy going again, get Montana open for business, and get Montanans back to work in good-paying jobs.”

Total employment, which includes payroll, agricultural, and self-employed workers, increased by 1,191 jobs in January in a rebound following December’s contraction. Payroll employment added 700 jobs in January, with job gains highest in professional services and wholesale and retail trade.

The unemployment rate in Valley County was 4.5% compared to 4.2% in January of 2020. Valley County had 44 less jobs in January of 2021 compared to January of 2020.

Montana Schools To Receive $400 Million From American Rescue Plan

Monday, March 15th 2021

HELENA, Mont. - The president’s signature on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) means an appropriation of $122,774,800,000 will be available to the Department of Education’s Elementary and Secondary School Relief Fund (ESSER III) to be shared amongst the 50 states. According to a press release, Montana’s portion is estimated at $400,000,000. These dollars have yet to reach Montana but will be available through the end of September 2023 with a possible one-year extension.

“Our Montana schools are open for learning,” Superintendent Elsie Arntzen said. “These federal dollars emphasize healing from the disruption caused by the coronavirus and focus on enhanced learning for summer and after school opportunities. Local control at the district level will dictate the manner these funds will be spent to support the unique needs of students.”

Montana will make an allocation of ESSER III out to 400+ school districts no later than 60 days after the receipt of the federal funds. The law requires no less than 20% of the districts’ funds are to address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs or extended school year programs. These interventions must respond to students’ academic, social and emotional needs, and address the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus. Students experiencing homelessness, and children and youth in foster care are prioritized.

The remaining districts’ funds have up to 18 flexible, allowable uses that are similar to the previous federal funds in ESSER II.

Senator Mike Lang Proposes A Change In Makeup Of Fish And Wildlife Commission

Monday, March 15th 2021

HELENA — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are considering a bill that would change the makeup of the state Fish and Wildlife Commission — a group made up of members of the public appointed by the governor to help shape how the state manages wildlife and public lands.

The Commission is also responsible for approving any transfer of land involving the state.

Senate Bill 306 passed the Senate 27-22 in early March. Primarily, it expands the Fish and Wildlife Commission from five to seven members. It also re-districts the state in order to be in line with the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department’s seven regions.

One key, and controversial, part of the bill is that it also requires four of the members be landowners “involved in agricultural production,” which the bill defines as farming, ranching, or logging.

Current law only stipulates that members must be picked without regard to their political affiliation. Additionally, one of them must be experienced in breeding and managing livestock.

Four opponents to the bill representing sportspeople and conservation groups said while they supported the first two parts of the bill expanding the commission, they had issues with the section demanding two thirds of the members be from the agricultural sector.

Nick Gevock is the conservation director for the Montana Wildlife Federation.

“We’ve had school teachers, attorneys, fishing outfitters, conservationists, and farmers and ranchers serve on the commission,” Gevock said. “And that diversity has been a good thing. You know, all Montanans care about wildlife, and should be eligible to apply for these seats at the governor’s discretion with the approval of the state Senate.”

Two supporters for the bill representing farmers and stockgrowers said having four land-owning members on the commission would help better reflect Montana’s lands.

Nicole Rolf spoke on behalf of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation.

“Many farmers and ranchers participate in Fish, Wildlife and Parks activities and are directly impacted by decisions made by the Fish and Wildlife Commission,” Rolf said.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen Mike Lang, R-Malta, pointed out that two thirds of seven is about four, and if two thirds of Montana’s land is for agricultural use, then two thirds of the commission should be from production agriculture.

James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Valley County COVID 19 Update

Friday, March 12th 2021

3/11/2021 6:00 pm

Active cases: 16
Recovered cases: 827
Total cases: 854
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications: 11

11 positive persons since our last report on 3/9/2021 -- Cases 844 - 854
NEW ACTIVE CASES ONLY
Age less than 10: 4
10-19:
20-29: 1
30-39: 1
40-49: 1
50-59: 1
60-69: 3
70-79:
80-89:
90-99:

Female: 6
Male: 5
With our 854 cases, we have had 62 persons hospitalized.
1,391 of our Montanans have died from this virus as of 3/11/2021. Six (6) Montanans have died in two (2) days since our last update on 3/9/2021.

COVID-19 Vaccination rate for Valley County:
With an eligible population of 5917 persons and 649 persons fully vaccinated for COVID-19, Valley County is 11.0% vaccinated.

A good faith effort to protect individuals from the spread of coronavirus is expected of all Montanans. This is accomplished by following clear public health guidelines
and these prevention measures:
Wearing a mask or two layer face covering in public at all times.
Remaining 6 feet away from persons who are not members of your household to socially distance.
Frequently using hand sanitizer and sanitizing surfaces.
Please do your part to protect each other!

At Valley County Health Department, our efforts at COVID-19 prevention are to accomplish these three equally important goals:
PROTECT THE VULNERABLE (elderly/compromised immune system/other underlying health conditions).
KEEP THE STUDENTS IN SCHOOL
KEEP THE ADULTS AT WORK

Tester, Daines, Rosendale Introduce Bipartisan Bill Tto Rehabilitate Critical Hi-Line Water Infrastructure

Friday, March 12th 2021

St. Mary’s Reinvestment Act would authorize $52 million to rehabilitate St. Mary’s Diversion Dam

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines, along with Congressman Matt Rosendale, are today introducing a bipartisan bill to make rehabilitating the St. Mary's Diversion Dam more affordable, and ensure the Milk River Project can continue providing water to farmers, ranchers, and Tribes in Northcentral Montana that depend on it.

The St. Mary’s Reinvestment Act will authorize $52 million to rehabilitate the St. Mary’s Diversion Dam, part of Bureau of Reclamation’s (BoR) Milk River Project in northcentral Montana, and require the BoR to use an ability-to-pay study on what the current water users could afford to pay for the project and set the cost share for the rehabilitation based on that study.

“Water is life, and without the Milk River Project it would be in short supply for folks who live and work on the Hi-Line,” Tester said. “This bill will help ensure a reliable source of water, and rehabilitate a critical piece of water infrastructure without breaking the bank for irrigators on the system. I will keep pushing to ensure the entire Milk River Project is rehabilitated, so water users on the Hi-Line can count on having access to the water they need to survive for years to come."

“Farmers and ranchers’ livelihoods in northern Montana depend on the St. Mary’s Milk River System and after serving the Hi-Line for over a century, it’s past time for an upgrade,” Daines said. “The collapse of the drop structure last summer illustrated the urgency in getting this project the funding it needs. We came together to fix the drop structure last summer, and we will come together to get this bill across the finish line.”

“As a main source of water for drinking, irrigation, and recreational activities, I am happy to have introduced legislation in the House to help repair the St. Mary’s Canal,” Rosendale said. “This is long overdue and I look forward to providing reliable access for water users in the region.

Tester authored and introduced the bill, with Daines joining as an original cosponsor. Congressman Rosendale introduced the bill in the House of Representatives.

Tester has been leading the fight to increase investments in the Milk River Project since his time serving in the Montana Legislature, and agreed to introduce the St. Mary’s Reinvestment Act at the request of the St. Mary’s Working Group last week. The Milk River Project provides water to 18,000 Montanans and irrigates enough cropland to feed one million people.

Ed Sugg Accepts Irle School Principal Position

Thursday, March 11th 2021

According to Glasgow School Superintendent Wade Sundby, Ed Sugg has accepted the principal position at Irle School.

Sugg, a former Glasgow educator, was offered the contract after the school board voted last week.

Sugg is a former educator in the Glasgow school system serving as a Title 1 teacher, fifth-eighth grade teacher and an administrative assistant from 2006-2016. He also served as the Superintendent of the Hinsdale School District from 2016-2018. The last two years he has been a sixth grade teacher in the Wadena Deer Creek School District in Minnesota.

Glasgow has an administrative pay matrix and the salary offered to Sugg will be $77,147 per contract year.

Valley County COVID Update

Wednesday, March 10th 2021

Active cases: 7
Recovered cases: 825
Total cases: 843
Death due to COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 complications: 11

6 positive persons since our last report on 3/1/2021 -- Cases 837 - 843
NEW ACTIVE CASES ONLY
Age less than 10:
10-19: 1
20-29:
30-39: 1
40-49: 3
50-59:
60-69: 2
70-79:
80-89:
90-99:

Female: 4
Male: 3
With our 843 cases, we have had 60 persons hospitalized.
1,385 of our Montanans have died from this virus as of 3/08/2021. 28 Montanans have died in eight (8) days since our last update on 3/1/2021.

COVID-19 Vaccination rate for Valley County:
With an eligible population of 5917 persons and 649 persons fully vaccinated for COVID-19, Valley County is 11.0% vaccinated.

A good faith effort to protect individuals from the spread of coronavirus is expected of all Montanans. This is accomplished by following clear public health guidelines
and these prevention measures:
Wearing a mask or two layer face covering in public at all times.
Remaining 6 feet away from persons who are not members of your household to socially distance.
Frequently using hand sanitizer and sanitizing surfaces.
Please do your part to protect each other!

At Valley County Health Department, our efforts at COVID-19 prevention are to accomplish these three equally important goals:
PROTECT THE VULNERABLE (elderly/compromised immune system/other underlying health conditions).
KEEP THE STUDENTS IN SCHOOL
KEEP THE ADULTS AT WORK

Light In The Darkness Encouragement Weekend Starts Friday

Wednesday, March 10th 2021

Make plans to attend the Light in the Darkness Encouragement Weekend Friday March 12, Saturday March 13, and Sunday March 14th. The events of this weekend are sponsored by area churches, private donors, and hosted by Glasgow Evangelical Church which is located at 152 Aberdeen Street in Glasgow.

The encouragement weekend will feature inspirational speakers and worship music with the Nashville based Frye Family Band. It all begins Friday evening March 12th at 7pm with a Women’s Dessert, followed by a Men’s Breakfast Saturday morning March 13th, starting at 9am. Then Saturday evening March 13th join the Frye Family Band for an evening concert; doors open at 6:30 with the concert starting at 7:00pm. Glasgow Evangelical Church will also host the Frye Family Band for Sunday morning worship at 10am, where the Frye Family Band will lead worship - the community is invited to attend.

If you are unable to physically attend the Light in the Darkness Encouragement Weekend events, you can join the activities virtually, via live stream at facebook.com/glasgowec .

Tom Frye, founder and leader of the band, which has achieved #1 status on national radio charts, also created Family First Ministries in an effort to answer some of the biggest questions he and his family received following their concerts and worship services — most notably, “What did you and your wife do to raise a family that loves to serve together?” as well as questions on marriage and fatherhood.

“I believe the Church is charged with taking the love and the light of Jesus to the world and that strong churches are made up of strong families,” says Frye, “I also believe families are strengthened when parents invest time in their marriage and family fostering a lifestyle of discipleship. My wife and I know first-hand the ache of brokenness, but we've seen God redeem that in our family as we have sought to change that trajectory for our own children.”

The Frye Family Band has shared the stage and studio with some of music’s top performers including guitarist Phil Keaggy, Statler Brothers tenor Jimmy Fortune, and bluegrass artists Daily and Vincent, to name a few. The Band’s most recent project “Things Unseen” was produced by Michael Farren who has written songs for many of todays top artists including Laura Daigle, Reba McIntire, and Michael W. Smith.

In addition to their music, the family also authored a book called 101 Devotions for Busy Families and Tom has written many articles on Marriage, Parenting, and Worship, which have been published by such publications as Focus on the Family, Crosswalk.com, and Whoa Women Magazine. For more information visit FamilyFirstMinistries.net or GlasgowEC.Church or call the Glasgow Evangelical Church at 406 228 2755

FWP Seeking Public Comment On Environmental Assessment For Prescriptive Haying On Cree Crossing WMA

Wednesday, March 10th 2021


Saco – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is requesting public comment on a proposed environmental assessment (EA) draft for a one-year prescriptive haying lease on the Cree Crossing Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Phillips County. The haying lease would be awarded to the highest bidder through a sealed bid process, which would occur at a later date.

The proposal is for prescriptive haying to occur on two fields that are planted in dense nesting cover (DNC) on the WMA. These fields account for approximately 129 acres of the 398-acre WMA. The proposal calls for roughly 30-50% (39-65 acres) of the grass to be removed from the 129 acres of the DNC fields through haying in strips to help improve vigor and species composition of the vegetative community while still providing nesting, brood rearing, and thermal cover.

Local FWP staff will work with the lease holder to identify proper widths, but the proposal calls for one strip to be hayed followed by another strip of equal or greater width where the grass is left standing followed by another strip being hayed and so on.

The comment period will be open from Feb. 23 to March 15, 2021. The draft EA is available for review at fwp.mt.gov under “news and public notices” and then clicking on “public notices.” Hardcopies are available by calling the FWP Region 6 Headquarters at 406 228-3700.

Please submit any comments by 5 p.m., March 15, to:
Attn: Cree Crossing 2021 Haying Lease
MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks
1 Airport Road, Glasgow, MT 59230

You can also email comments to wildlife technician Sam Tedrow at stedrow@mt.gov.