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Latest Local News

Local Little Christmas: Get Rewarded For Shopping Locally!

Thursday, November 24th 2022

For every $100 you spend at participating businesses, you’ll receive one entry into our Local Little Christmas giveaway. Valid receipts must be dated November 15-December 31, 2022 and turned into the Chamber Office by Noon on January 6, 2023, to get entered.

Some restrictions apply. Prize baskets include certificates from participating merchants and Chamber Big Bucks. Drawing will be in January 2023.

Block Of Bucks Registration November 9th-23rd

Wednesday, November 23rd 2022

Caring Hands, Inc., will once again be doing Block of Bucks! Registration will be at the Caring Hands Thrift Store November 9-23. This program is not income-based, and is open to Valley County families with children up to age 17.

Watch for volunteers collecting for this great event on Friday, December 2 on the corners by the post office and D&G Sports and Western. Caring Hands would like to give a special thank you to C&B Operations for volunteering to help with collection.

Shopping day will be Saturday, December 3. The day will begin at 9am at the Glasgow Elks Lodge. We are pleased to announce that the following businesses are participating: Thistle & Thread, Mary's Mercantile, Naked Acres, D&G Sports and Western, Mac & Mallow, Lularoe, and Shippwrecked. Albertsons and Reynold's Market will be available for diaper purchases.

Be sure to like "Caring Hands, Inc." on Facebook for more information about the participating businesses as we approach shopping day.

Busy Travel Weekend Starts Today; Gas Prices Drop Slightly

Wednesday, November 23rd 2022

Gas prices: AAA reporting an average of $3.60 per gallon for the national average
Montana prices average $3.70. Valley County average $3.73

AAA predicts 54.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. That’s a 1.5% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes. This year is projected to be the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA started tracking in 2000.

“Families and friends are eager to spend time together this Thanksgiving, one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades,” says Paula Twidale, AAA’s Senior Vice President of Travel. “Plan ahead and pack your patience, whether you’re driving or flying.”

Most travelers will drive to their destinations, much like last year. Nearly 49 million people are expected to travel by car. While Thanksgiving road trips have slightly risen – up 0.4% from 2021 – car travel remains 2.5% below 2019 levels.

Ruth Ann Hutcheson And Roubie Younkin On LUBS

Wednesday, November 23rd 2022

On Live Under The Big Sky on Tuesday, Ruth Ann Hutcheson stopped by to discuss this Thursday's community Thanksgiving Dinner, and Valley County Extension Agent Roubie Younkin gave us lots of safe handling tips for the holiday.

Interview On Soundcloud

Ranchers Stewardship Alliance Helps Fund Accessibility to Water During Drought

Tuesday, November 22nd 2022

Three Small Tanks with a Large Impact
By Kayla Walker for Ranchers Stewardship Alliance www.RanchStewards.org

If there is a water line to add, a tank to set, or a unique water set up to try, it’s likely Dusty Emond has done it on his ranch south of Malta, Montana. Of the nearly 12 miles of pipeline on his place, six new miles were added just last fall following the harsh drought of 2021 to send water to an additional 7,500 acres that could not be utilized by cattle last summer due to a lack of water. However, along that pipeline there are yet to be any tanks.

“Even this year, we will have at least 20,000 acres that will be un-grazeable without portable water that literally has no water in stock reservoirs,” Emond said.

In a widespread drought where feed sources are already scarce and ranchers statewide are seeking pasture leases or hay, having 20,000 acres of grass that can’t be utilized due to a lack of water is ironic to say the least and detrimental at worst. In an effort to utilize more of that pasture and make use of the new pipeline addition, Emond partnered with the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance (RSA) to purchase two portable water tanks and one permanent winter tank.

“In normal conditions, we were adequately watered. Given the last couple years of drought, we've had to drop our grazing considerably and water is my next most important key step to staying profitable and being able to utilize my grass,” Emond said. “The nice thing about this is we can now set them in different places than where the reservoirs are to help spread out our grazing distribution.”

The Tomcat MFG portable water tanks are designed with mobility and ease of use in mind. The tanks can be moved daily, if need be, and once drained can be hooked on to anything from a four-wheeler to a pickup to pull to the next location. Emond has one of his portable tanks paired with a solar-powered pump, also in an easy-to-move trailer, pumping water out of a stock reservoir that is too low for cows to access. When not filling out of a reservoir, the portable tanks can be quickly moved to the new six-mile water line where one of eight hydrant locations will become a new water source.

Along his 12 miles of pipeline, Emond has tried a variety of tanks including 2,000-gallon rectangular fiberglass tanks, half-round fiberglass tanks, 12-foot round tanks, tire tanks, and the new RSA-funded portable tanks. The new portable tanks are quickly becoming one of his favored systems.

“I'm leaning towards the rubber liner portable water troughs just because I can drain them, hook them up, and be gone in no time,” Emond said. “The big fiberglass tanks I have to drain one day, go back the next day with a tractor and load them on a flatbed trailer and move them. Fiberglass that is set permanent are quite nice, but they're also permanent and I'm getting enough hydrants that I don't want to buy that many tanks. So, the rubber portable is the most adaptable. But probably the best long-term is permanent fiberglass.”

Funding from his RSA partnership was also used for the purchase of one permanent winter tank. The new permanent tank will allow for grazing on one and half sections of deeded land that otherwise couldn’t have been winter grazed. Given the cost of major projects like new water pipelines, the partnership with RSA has helped Emond increase water availability, for both summer and winter, on his ranch.

“They have definitely helped offset some of the cost,” he said. “I keep doing all these little experiments and stuff, so it helps to offset the cost. Most of it I would probably have done on my own, just at a slower pace.”

That slower pace is tough to afford though when drought is causing destocking and altered management plans. Emond runs cow/calf pairs and some stocker cattle, as well as sheep and goats.

“I was kind of an early bird and I sold cows faster than everybody else with the theory that I would grow grass and be able to rebuy faster than everyone else,” he said. “I destocked more significantly than most of my neighbors last year, but also I didn't have that other water line in.”

Emond maintained more sheep and goats than he did cattle last summer as their input requirements are lower. This diversity in his operation proved beneficial as drought drove many management decisions.

“We had the sheep and goats before the drought, but last year I was able to graze some pastures that didn't have enough water for cattle. We used the solar pumps and pumped for the sheep because they took less water,” Emond explained. “I am seriously considering expanding the sheep business because they need less water and can do better on lower brix feeds. We didn't start with sheep for that reason, but we will probably expand for that reason.”

As ranchers face many variables like market conditions, rising operation costs, and adverse weather conditions, they must seek creative ways to simply stay in business. Keeping ranchers on the range is one of the main goals of RSA, and their many conservation partners see the value ranchers play in the ecosystem. For example, Emond’s ranch consists of miles and miles of connected native range which provides critical habitat for not just his livestock, but many wildlife and game bird species including Sage Grouse. RSA’s conservation partners have prioritized preventing conversion of such range into cropland.

“If it can be grazed and kept in grazing long term, then hopefully it doesn't ever become plowed because plowed native range doesn't go back to being native range,” RSA Conservation Coordinator Martin Townsend said. “We can plant native species, but it's not the same thing.”

So, while the purchase of two portable water tanks and one winter tank may seem to have a minimal impact on such a large ecosystem, for Emond, it means accessing thousands more acres for grazing during drought, and for wildlife and birds it means the preservation of the native range they call home.
“If we can build a relationship with ranches and keep them enthused about ranching longer, the most successful wildlife habitat is often on working agricultural lands,” Townsend said. “In fact, 70 percent of the best habitat in Montana falls on private lands and in an area that RSA works in that's well over 50 percent public land, being able to work on those private lands and provide support through conservation is a huge win for wildlife for years to come.”

Railroad Strike Still Possible

Monday, November 21st 2022

AP OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Railroad engineers accepted their deal with the railroads that will deliver 24% raises but conductors rejected theirs, threatening the health of the economy just before the holidays and casting more doubt on whether the industry will be able to resolve the labor dispute before next month's deadline without the help of Congress.

Even the threat of a work stoppage could tangle the nation's supply chain as railroads will freeze shipments of chemicals and other goods that could create hazards if disrupted midway to their destination.

A split vote Monday from the two biggest railroad unions follows the rejection by three other unions of their deals with the railroads that the Biden administration helped broker before the original strike deadline in September. Seven smaller unions have approved the five-year deal that, on top of the 24% raise, includes $5,000 in bonuses.

30th Annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner Is Back After Two-Year Disruption

Monday, November 21st 2022

After a two-year disruption, due to the pandemic, WE’RE BACK!!!!

The 30th Annual Thanksgiving Day Dinner will be held Thursday, November 24th, at Glasgow Senior Citizens Center, located at 328 4th Street South.

In 2019 194 folks enjoyed the dinner with hopes of exceeding that number, this coming year. Over the past 29 years approximately 5,000
People have enjoyed the event. There is always plenty of food and no one goes home hungry.

Everyone is invited and encouraged to bring their families and friends to enjoy a delicious feast including turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, coleslaw, yams, cranberry sauce and of course pumpkin pie.

Provided by community volunteers and supported by Glasgow Senior Citizens Center, every year several volunteers gather to prepare and serve the meal, which will be served from noon to 2:00p.m. The list of volunteers includes members of Glasgow High School Student Council. Irle School Third Graders, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and many enthusiastic individuals.

Even though the meal is served at the Senior Citizens Center, it is not limited to senior citizens. The meal is free of charge and is open to everyone, young and old alike. There will be no carry-out or deliveries available.

If you have never attended in the past, make plans to enjoy an afternoon of fellowship and food. This is a great way for small families and individuals to partake in the social atmosphere of a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner without cooking and cleaning up!

If additional information is needed, please call Ruth Ann Hutcheson at 228-8392.

Winter Weather Has Antelope Moving - Motorists Encouraged To Be Cautious Along Roadways

Monday, November 21st 2022

GLASGOW – Although the pronghorn (commonly known as antelope) hunting season is over, they are still on the move. The recent winter weather in Montana has triggered antelope into migration mode, with them often moving south. Frequently, this leads to large groups attempting to cross highways and other major roadways, and motorists should be aware.

As most folks know, antelope aren’t the best at crossing fences or other barriers. Many times, this results in groups or individuals running next to a barrier or crossing back and forth looking for an easier path.

Barriers come in all shapes and sizes and can be manmade or naturally occurring on the landscape. Some of the most common barriers include highways and other roads, railroads, fences, and even river corridors. Not all barriers impede movements at the same rate. For instance, some fences allow for pronghorns and other wildlife to cross through them much easier than others, while some are almost impermeable.

Along Highway 2 in northern Montana, areas have been identified that have frequent antelope migration movements. Several of these locations have yellow “antelope crossing” signs, including a few with a flashing yellow light. The intent of these signs are to alert motorists to potential antelope on the roadway, both for the safety of the motorist and the antelope.

Motorists should be especially cautious of these crossing areas but realize that antelope can cross virtually anywhere along roadways.

In addition, in some of these locations, FWP and other conservation groups have worked with some landowners to remove or replace fences to help wildlife move across the landscape.

How can you help

Heed wildlife crossing signs, as these are placed in common crossing or congested areas

If you see antelope (or any wildlife) on the road, SLOW DOWN.

Landowners that do not currently have livestock in pastures, please leave gates open so antelope and other wildlife can pass easily.

Plan for the future; If landowners have fences that are not needed, consider removing them. If woven wire fencing is no longer needed, consider replacing with four-strand fencing. There are many organizations, including FWP, that can help with this. Call your local FWP office for any questions.

Reminder From The City Of Glasgow

Monday, November 21st 2022

Just a reminder from the City of Glasgow that boats and trailers need to be off the streets by December 1st.

Nashua Student Named As Semifinalist For 2023 Class Of Coca-Cola Scholars Program

Monday, November 21st 2022

• Kaitlyn Miller, a student at Nashua High School, has been named a Semifinalist for the 2023 class of the Coca-Cola Scholars Program.

• 1,557 high school seniors were selected as Semifinalists from a pool of over 91,000 submitted applications from across the country based on their academic excellence, leadership, and service demonstrated in school and community activities. See the full list.

• The Semifinalists are in the running for 150 college scholarships worth $20,000.

Local high school senior Kaitlyn Miller has been named a Semifinalist for the 2023 class of the Coca-Cola Scholars Program, moving to the next round of the selection process to become a Coca-Cola Scholar and receive a $20,000 college scholarship. A joint effort of Coca-Cola bottlers across the country and The Coca-Cola Company, the Coca-Cola Scholars Program is the largest corporate-sponsored, achievement-based scholarship program in the United States. With the addition of the 2023 class, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation will have provided more than 6,750 Coke Scholars nationwide with over $81 million in scholarships over the course of 35 years.

“We believe that identifying these young leaders throughout the country and encouraging their passion for serving others not only empowers the students, but also lifts up those around them.” said Jane Hale Hopkins, President of the Foundation. “The Coca-Cola system is dedicated to giving back to the communities they serve, and the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is proud to be a part of that commitment.”

Semifinalists are now asked to complete Phase 2 applications, which include essays, a recommendation, and a transcript. An independent selection committee will review the applications and recommend 250 Regional Finalists by the end of January to take part in online interviews. 150 Coke Scholars will be named in March to receive a $20,000 college scholarship and attend Coca-Cola Scholars Weekend in Atlanta April 13-16, 2023, where they will be the guests of honor at the 35th annual Coca-Cola Scholars Banquet and participate in the Coca-Cola Scholars Leadership Development Institute facilitated by program alumni.

In addition to receiving college scholarships, those students selected as Coca-Cola Scholars will be welcomed into a vibrant and growing community of alumni that has become a powerful force for positive change in the world. Through networking, collaborations, and friendships, the group strives to make a greater impact together. Recent initiatives include a podcast called The SIP (The Coke Scholars Ignite Podcast) and the sixth year of a coaching program that partners seasoned alumni with first-year Scholars as they transition to college. Every 5 years, all alumni are invited to a Coca-Cola Scholars Leadership Summit.

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation celebrates and empowers visionary leaders who are refreshing the world. With its 34th class of Coca-Cola Scholars, the Foundation has provided more than $78 million in scholarships to over 6,600 program alumni who together have become a powerful force for positive change. Learn more at www.coca-colascholarsfoundation.org .

Real Estate And Mobile Home Taxes Due November 30, 2022

Friday, November 18th 2022

First half of 2022 Real Estate Taxes levied and assessed are due and payable on or before 5 p.m. on November 30, 2022, or within 30 days after the tax notice is postmarked, whichever is later and unless paid prior to that time the amount due will be delinquent and will draw interest at the rate of 5/6 of 1% per month from the time of delinquency until paid and 2% will be added to the delinquent tax as a penalty. Taxes will be considered delinquent on Wednesday, December 1, 2022, and will be charged penalty and interest, thereafter.


Second half of 2022 Mobile Home Taxes are due November 30, 2022. The taxes will be considered delinquent on Thursday, December 1, 2022, and are subject to penalty and interest, thereafter.

Payment of these taxes may be made at the Treasurer’s office at the Valley County Courthouse during regular business hours, at the Red Drop Box outside then North and East Door of the Courthouse, mailed to Valley County Treasurer, 501 Court Square #3, Glasgow, Montana 59230 or online at www.valleycountymt.net/departments/treasurer.php

Fort Peck Tribal Special Election Set For November 19th

Friday, November 18th 2022

Story credit to: https://www.northernplainsindependent.com/

A special Fort Peck tribal election will take place Saturday, Nov. 19. The need for a special election was created when longtime tribal board member Grant Stafne resigned in a letter dated Aug. 29.

Because Dana “Sam” Buckles and Kaci Wallette tied for 13th place with 449 votes each in last year’s election, a new election involving the two candidates is needed to determine Stafne’s replacement.

Voting polls will open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Saturday. Voting locations are the Fort Kipp Jim Black Dog Hall, Brockton Cultural Center, Poplar Cultural Center, Wolf Point Community Hall, Oswego Community Hall and Frazer Annex Building.

Wolf Point School Board And Wolf Point Education Association Reach Tentative Agreement

Friday, November 18th 2022

Story credit to: https://www.northernplainsindependent.com/

The Wolf Point Education Association and the Wolf Point School District reached a tentative agreement during a nearly three-hour long meeting on Thursday, Nov. 10.

The three-year agreement calls for a 6.5 percent base salary increase for the 2022-2023 school, a 2 percent increase for 2023-2024 and a 2 percent increase for 2024-2025. In addition, there will be longevity pay of $1,750 for 20 or more years of service and $1,000 for 15 or more years of service.

Base salary will be $35,148 for 2022-2023, $35,851 for 2023-2024 and $36,568 for 2024-2025.

Wolf Point teachers’ final proposal came at 7:55 p.m. After school district officials reviewed some figures, they tentatively agreed to the proposal at 8:14 p.m.

Representative Casey Knudsen Loses Bid To Become Speaker Of Montana House Of Representatives But Rhonda Knudsen Elected Speaker Pro Tempore

Thursday, November 17th 2022

Story credit: www.montanafreepress.com

House and Senate Republicans on Wednesday selected Rep. Matt Regier of Kalispell and Sen. Jason Ellsworth of Hamilton as the leaders of their respective caucuses, cueing up a 2023 legislative session in which the GOP will enjoy the first two-thirds supermajority since Montana drafted its modern Constitution in 1972.

“Smile everybody, we’re running the place,” said Rep. Bob Keenan, R-Bigfork, who presided over the House caucus, to kick off the proceedings.

In the lower chamber, Republicans voted for Regier as Speaker of the House over Rep. Casey Knudsen, R-Malta. And in the Senate, Ellsworth emerged as President over Matt Regier’s father, Sen. Keith Regier of Kalispell. Both leaders pledged to lead the expanded Republican majority as a united front to achieve conservative policy goals and advance the well-being of the state.

“We can all coalesce around the foundation that makes up the Republican brand: That is freedom and liberty and respect for the people of Montana,” Matt Regier said in his pre-vote pitch to the caucus Wednesday. “This session, we are all going to take some very impactful votes, but arguably none will be bigger than the vote you’re going to take here this morning. This vote for leadership will determine how effective the Montana House of Representatives is.”

Ellsworth also struck a collaborative tone, telling Senate Republicans, “We all have the same agenda.”

“Smile everybody, we’re running the place.”

“It’s really about what we did last session, which was have a good session, no surprises, no games, everybody gets an opportunity and just fairness,” Ellsworth later told Montana Free Press of his appeal to lawmakers. We did that under Sen. [Mark] Blasdel, the last president, and that’s all I wanted to do, is continue that same legacy.”

The 2023 legislative session begins Jan. 2. Legislative chambers will take binding votes as a whole on speaker and president at the beginning of the session, though such votes are usually perfunctory.


In the House, lawmakers re-elected Rep. Sue Vinton, R-Billings, as majority leader over Rep. Steve Gunderson, R-Libby, and chose Rep. Rhonda Knudsen, R-Culbertson, as Speaker Pro Tempore over Rep. Katie Zolnikov, R-Billings. After winnowing a list of several nominees, the caucus selected Reps. Brandon Ler, R-Sidney; Terry Moore, R-Billings; Jennifer Carlson, R-Manhattan; Neil Duram, R-Eureka; Steve Gist, R-Cascade; and Denley Loge, R-St. Regis, as whips, lieutenants in party leadership who work to get votes in order.

In the Senate, Republicans selected Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls, as majority leader over Sen. Brad Molnar, R-Laurel; Sen. Kenneth Bogner, R-Miles City, as Speaker Pro Tempore over Sen. Barry Usher, R-Billings; and Usher along with Sens. Dennis Lenz, R-Billings; Steve Hinebauch, R-Wibaux; and Tom McGillvray, R-Billings, as whips.

Votes for leadership positions are conducted by secret ballot and not made public.

Such elections often become proxy fights over ideological and strategic divides in the caucuses. While none of the candidates highlighted a conflict dynamic in their speeches, the game was nonetheless afoot, especially in the House, where the loose coalition of self-described pragmatists that brands itself the Conservative Solutions Caucus sought to rally support behind Casey Knudsen, who served as Speaker Pro Tempore in the 2021 session. The Solutions Caucus has existed in various configurations for several sessions, and was especially active in passing bipartisan policy with Democratic colleagues under the consecutive gubernatorial terms of Democratic Govs. Brian Schweitzer and Steve Bullock. Capitol observers regard the two Regiers, on the other hand, as generally more friendly to the Republican caucus’ right-flank.

One significant challenge for Republican leaders — a perennial one that will become even more important with a 102-seat majority in the Legislature — is to stitch party factions into a policymaking coalition without provoking internal backlash.

“We have a diverse group of conservatives who span a broad spectrum of ideas,” said Rep. David Bedey, R-Hamilton, who is aligned with the Solutions Caucus, in an interview with MTFP. “And I think that it’s always a challenge to bring a diverse group like that together. We’re hopeful that the new speaker-elect recognizes the diversity of opinion in the caucus.”

Democrats also caucused to select their leaders Wednesday. In the House, previous minority leader Rep. Kim Abbott of Helena fended off a challenge from Rep. Marilyn Marler, D-Missoula, who called for the caucus to be more vocal on issues before the Legislature.

“Our caucus had a strong focus on staying silent, and people noticed our silence across the state,” Marler said. “We need to get our message into our record and out across the state so voters know what we stand for.”

Abbott said she wanted to work to advance the Democratic agenda despite the overwhelming Republican majority.

“I want this job because I want to leverage all of you, every single vote we have, every single relationship we have, to create opportunities to move things when we can and to stop things when we can,” Abbott said.

House Democrats also selected Reps. Derek Harvey, D-Butte; Tyson Running Wolf, D-Browning; and Katie Sullivan, D-Missoula, as whips, and Rep. Alice Buckley, D-Bozeman, as Democratic caucus chair.

The nominees for minority leader and whips in the Senate Democratic caucus were all unopposed. Sen. Pat Flowers, D-Bozeman, will be minority leader. Sens. Shannon O’Brien, D-Missoula, and Susan Webber, D-Browning, will be whips.

Lawmakers will continue meeting throughout the week for orientation ahead of the 2023 session. The next step is to assign legislators to committee chairmanships, which should be finalized by next week.

In the Senate, standing committees are appointed by the Committee on Committees. Sens. Hinebauch; McGillvray; John Esp, R-Big Timber; Daniel Zolnikov, R-Billings; Mike Lang, R-Malta; and Jeff Welborn, R-Dillon, will serve on the panel.

In the House, Regier, as speaker, has unilateral control over committee chair appointments, a power that often leads to conflict as different members vie for committees based on a variety of criteria. In the 2021 session, for example, Speaker Wylie Galt’s appointment of Solutions Caucus leader Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, as House Appropriations Committee Chair generated ire from hardliners in the caucus.

Regier said his approach will be to treat everybody fairly, and that he’ll consider seniority, talent and goals in his appointments.

“It’s a puzzle and everybody’s got a piece to play,” he told MTFP.

Bedey said he believes seniority should be a primary consideration.

“Our view on committee assignments is that seniority and expertise and experience matters and should be respected when making committee assignments,” he said. “We think that the expertise of people, especially the first-term legislators coming on board, need to be considered. Now, you can’t make everyone happy all the time, but these are general principles of fairness that we think are correct.”

Glasgow City Council To Meet November 21st

Thursday, November 17th 2022

The Glasgow City Council will meet in regular session on November 21st at 5:30pm in the council chambers of the Glasgow Civic Center.

Third Railroad Union Rejects Tentative Labor Deal

Wednesday, November 16th 2022

A third railroad union has rejected a tentative labor deal, a move that further raises the odds that America’s 110,000 freight railroad workers will go on strike early next month.

The rank and file members of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers voted against a tentative agreement reached in September, according to the union and the railroads. The precise margin of the opposition to the proposed deal was not immediately available.

The union represents about 300 workers who repair and rebuild diesel locomotives and railroad tracks. It is the smallest of 13 unions that represent more than 100,000 union members at the nation’s major freight railroads. But if any of those unions do strike the railroads, its picket lines would honored by the other unions, which would shutdown a still vital link in the nation’s supply chain.

The National Carriers’ Conference Committee, which represents management in the negotiations, said it was “disappointed” by the vote, but that since a cooling off period remains in place, “the failed ratification does not present the risk of any strike or job action taken by IBB and the potential for any resulting service disruptions” until at least December 9.

The union’s brief statement on the vote said it “fully expects to continue negotiating further toward a satisfactory contract” with railroad management. But the vote is a sign of the threat that the nation’s railroads could grind to a halt in a matter of weeks, due to the difficulty in reaching a deal that will be acceptable to both front-line workers and the railroads.

In October members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes District (BMWED), which represents about 23,000 track maintenance workers, voted to reject a similar tentative deal. So did the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, who maintain the signal system needed to run the railroads. The two unions are set to go on strike as soon as December 4.

The no votes are stark evidence of the widespread anger towards railroad management among workers and raise the bar on crafting agreements they might ratify. The vote has been close at some of the unions that have ratified the tentative deals negotiated by their leadership.

The two largest rail unions, representing the engineers and conductors who make up the two-person train crews, are holding their own ratification votes, the results of which will be known on November 21.

Each union rejecting ratification raises the odds that one of them could go on strike, which would be enough to shut down the four major US freight railroads. Unless new deals can be reached that can win ratification votes, the only way to prevent a strike would be through Congressional action that orders workers to stay on the job.

A freight railroad strike would create massive problems for the US economy, snarling still-struggling supply chains and triggering widespread bottlenecks and shortages.

About 30% of US freight, when measured by weight and distance traveled, moves by rail. Any prolonged strike could send prices for goods from gasoline to food to cars soaring. In addition, factories could be forced to shut temporarily due to parts shortages. Products that consumers want to buy could be missing from store shelves.

Labor relations at railroads are subject to a different labor law than the one that governs workers at most US businesses. Railroad unions face limits on when they can strike and are prohibited from taking action during the “status quo” periods that follow a no-vote by membership.

The deals being voted down are lucrative for union members. They include an immediate 14% raise with back pay dating to 2020, as well as pay raises totaling 24% during the four-year life of the contracts, which run through 2024. Union members also would receive cash bonuses of $1,000 a year.

All told, the backpay and bonuses will give union members an average payment of $11,000 per worker once the deal is ratified.

But it’s not the pay that has been the sticking point in the negotiations, it’s the work rules and quality of life issues, such as staffing levels and paid sick time, which the tentative agreements do not include. So far railroad management has rejected proposals from union negotiators to add sick pay as a way to win ratification from the rank and file.

Congress can also prevent or end a strike by extending a cooling-off period during which the unions cannot strike, or by imposing a contract on union members.

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, who was involved in a marathon 20-hour bargaining session between rail management and three of the unions in September to avert a strike, said last month he remains hopeful that the unions and management will be able to reach new agreements acceptable to rank and file members.

Without such progress, though, Congress will have to act to prevent a strike, he said.

If “for some reason [one of the unions] doesn’t get to an agreement with the companies then … Congress will have to take action to avert a strike in our country,” Walsh said in an interview with CNN.

The unions are clear that they don’t want Congressional action to impose a contract that keeps them on the job. They believe the threat of a strike is the best way to get a new deal their members can accept, particularly one which provides paid sick time missing from the current labor deals.

“Congress should not have to intervene. The railroads should provide paid sick leave to its employees,” the BMWED said in a statement in response to Walsh’s comments. “They have the money to do it, and it literally would cost them a penny of every dollar of record profits to provide it. It’s only 2% of what CSX, NS and UP spent so far this year in stock buybacks. It’s literally nothing to them, yet they refuse to provide it.”

Even before the September strike deadline, many business groups were urging Congress to act. But Democratic leadership expressed reluctance to order the unions to stay on the job.

Nashua School Election Ballots Due Back To Valley County Election Office By November 22nd

Wednesday, November 16th 2022

The ballots for the Nashua School District’s teacherage election are due back in the Election Office by 5 pm on Tuesday, November 22, 2022.

This election is an all-mail ballot election; the ballots were sent out on Friday, November 4 to all voters that live within the Nashua School District. If a voter who lives in the Nashua School District did not receive a ballot or has a question regarding the election, have them please contact the Election Office at 406-228-6220 or visit the office at the Clerk and Recorder’s Office in the Valley County Courthouse.

Valley County Marijuana Sales Total $150,694 In October

Tuesday, November 15th 2022

The Montana Department of Revenue is reporting that there was $150,694 in adult use and medical marijuana sales in Valley County in October.

This compares to $148,575 in September, $136,757 in August and $130,301 in July. When marijuana sales became legal in Valley County in January of 2022, total sales were $71,979.

Valley County voters approved a 3% excise tax on sales of marijuana last week but that tax wont become effective until sometime in 2023.

Total sales in Valley County for 2022 are $1,242,867.

Total sales in Montana for 2022 are $253,864,557.

BNSF Train Strikes Vehicle In Valley County

Monday, November 14th 2022

Press Release From Valley County Sheriff Tom Boyer

Today, November 14, 2022, at approximately 08:35 hours, dispatch received a 911 call stating a BNSF train struck a vehicle at a crossing near mm 546 on US Highway 2.

A single vehicle, with one occupant, was struck in the front passenger quarter sending the vehicle into a ravine on the south side of the tracks. The driver was transported to the hospital.

The west bound train was traveling approximately 58 miles per hour when it struck the BNSF vehicle.

Local first responders, ambulance crew, fire rescue, and additional law enforcement arrived on scene quickly and worked efficiently to extract the injured driver from the ravine. Montana Highway Patrol and BNSF Officials continue to investigate the accident scene.

Governor Gianforte Unveils Budget Proposal

Friday, November 11th 2022

Gov. Greg Gianforte said Thursday the budget proposal he’ll submit to the 2023 Montana Legislature will include more than $1 billion in income and property tax cuts while also using the state’s budget surplus to create a child tax credit, spur housing development and invest in health care and correctional facilities.

Speaking to reporters in the governor’s wing of the Capitol days after the November election delivered his fellow Republicans supermajority control of the state House and Senate, Gianforte said his priorities would bring relief to Montana families and reinforce critical state programs and infrastructure.

“We’re cutting taxes, holding the line on spending, making our communities and families safer, more secure and stronger,” Gianforte said. “When it comes down to it, our budget is built for hard-working Montana families.”

Specifically, Gianforte said he wants to give Montana homeowners $500 million in property tax relief for their primary residences over the next two years and cut the state’s top income tax rate to 5.9% from its current rate of 6.5%. His budget also gives families with children under the age of six a tax credit of $1,200 per child, per year.

The governor is also pitching a $200 million investment in a water and sewer infrastructure fund that municipal and county governments can draw from to support housing construction. That proposal, he said, was a response to recommendations developed by his housing task force.

Gianforte also said he wants to spend $300 million to shore up the facility and services at the Montana State Hospital, support intensive behavioral health care and outpatient services and boost Medicaid rates for behavioral health care providers. Those proposals would attempt to stabilize the hospital, which is millions of dollars over budget, federally unaccredited and chronically understaffed, as well as support the broader behavioral health system that has long struggled with financial solvency and staffing retention.

“The state hospital is a critical safety net for those who need access to acute inpatient psychiatric care,” Gianforte said. “Let me be clear. We will not close Warm Springs. In fact, we will repair it, better ensure patient and provider safety and improve patient services.”

The full text of the proposed budget will be released Tuesday, Nov. 15. The proposal will provide a starting point for legislative debates over state spending as lawmakers determine how much money to allocate to state agencies for the two-year fiscal biennium that runs from July 2023 to June 2025.

The governor deferred most specific questions about his plans for property tax relief, investments in the state psychiatric hospital and other priorities until next week, when the budget text is available. As such, it wasn’t immediately clear how the property tax relief would be applied to homeowners of different incomes, or how local governments could offset lost local revenue if property taxes are reduced. Gianforte said conversations with local officials will be ongoing.

“Yes, local governments use property taxes to fund schools, law enforcement and roads. But some local governments have been spending at a rate far higher than inflation and population growth,” Gianforte said. “Let me be clear. Local governments should not spend and tax Montanans out of their home.”

Decreasing the state’s top income tax rate to 5.9% from 6.5%
Providing Montana property owners $500 million in property tax relief over the next two years
A child tax credit of $1,200 per child per year for families with kids under 6 years old
A $5,000 adoption tax credit
Allocating $300 million to the state’s behavioral health care system, including investments in the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs
Allocating nearly $200 million to repair and expand capacity at the Montana State Prison
Providing permanent funding for eight drug treatment courts around the state
Allocating $200 million toward local water and sewer infrastructure for municipalities that meet development density goals
Allocating $100 million for road and bridge repairs
Putting additional money in the state’s rainy day fund and fire suppression fund
Allocating $10 million per year for increased active forest management programs
Expanding the state business equipment tax exemption threshold from $300,000 to $1 million
Expanding the Montana Trades Education Credit
Increasing the cap of the Big Sky Scholarship program and allocating more funding to increase starting teacher pay
Funding for 16 new highway patrol officers and criminal investigators and six additional prosecutors in the state Department of Justice
Paying off the state’s current general obligation debt by 2023

$100,000 Powerball Ticket Sold In Glasgow

Thursday, November 10th 2022

The Montana Lottery has announced a $100,000 Powerball ticket was sold in Glasgow on Monday. The owner of the winning ticket hasn't been announced.

Recreational Vehicles And Watercraft Must Be Off Streets By December 1st

Thursday, November 10th 2022

The City of Glasgow is reminding residents that all recreational vehicles and watercraft must be off city streets by December 1st according to city code.

Below is the city code pertaining to campers, rv's and watercraft.

Sec. 18-62. Maximum parking time.
(a) No person who owns or has possession, custody or control of any vehicle shall park such vehicle on any street or alley of this city for more than a consecutive period of five (5) days.
(b) A person who owns or has possession, custody or control of any vehicle may apply for an extension of the five (5) consecutive days parking limit by completing a parking extension request with the city police department. Upon application, the city police department shall issue parking extension permits for up to fourteen (14) consecutive days.
(c) No person who owns or has possession, custody or control of any camper, RV, or watercraft shall park such camper, RV, or watercraft on any street or alley of this city from December 1st through March 31st.

Snow Removal Reminder

Thursday, November 10th 2022

Just a reminder to Glasgow residents that removing snow from your driveway or sidewalk in residential areas, and then pushing the snow into the street is a violation of city code.

Valley County Election Results

Tuesday, November 8th 2022

John Fahlgren has won re-election to another 6-year term as Valley County Commissioner.

Unofficial results in the race for Valley County Commissioner:
John Fahlgren-1568
Jerry Davenport- 1531

In other Valley County Election results, Matt Rosendale was favored by county residents receiving 69% of the vote in the 4 person race. Rosendale also won district wide and will serve another 2-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Valley County favored James Brown with 56% of the vote in a contest for the Montana Supreme Court. Ingrid Gustafson received 44% in Valley County but did win the statewide vote.

Valley County voters approved a 3% excise tax on both medical and adult use marijuana sales.

Full Valley County results can be found here:

https://electionresults.mt.gov/

Today Is Election Day

Tuesday, November 8th 2022

Voters across the nation will cast ballots today in the November Mid-Term Elections. In Valley County, 52% of registered voters had already cast their ballots by Monday night according to the Montana Secretary of State.

72% of absentee ballots have been returned to the Valley County Election Administrator as of Monday evening. Statewide, 61% of absentee ballots have been returned as of Monday with voter turnout in Montana at 40%.

The highest turnout in Montana was in Deer Lodge, Golden Valley And Valley Counties, each with over 50% of ballots turned in by Monday.

Big Horn, Roosevelt, Richland and Glacier counties all had less tan 20% of their ballots returned.

In Valley County, in person voting will take place at the Valley County Courthouse and will take place from 7am to 8pm. Absentee ballots may be returned to the courthouse until 8pm and if you aren't registered to vote you may do so until 8pm.

Feda Family Contributes $50,000 To Valley View Home Foundation

Tuesday, November 8th 2022

A generous $50,000 contribution, from the family of G.C. “Jerry” & Audrey Feda, was recently made to the Valley View Home Foundation. Jerry & Audrey Feda were beloved residents of the Glasgow community and also of Valley View Home. Jerry Feda served on many local and state boards, including the Montana State Board of Natural Resources, Montana Coal Board, Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital, Valley View Home, and the Chamber of Commerce boards- at the same time being actively involved in civic organizations including the Knights of Columbus, Elks, Lions and JCs.

The Feda contribution will further the foundation’s mission to support the Valley View Home today and well into the future.

The Valley View Home Foundation, established in 1990, was organized to provide additional support and advancement of the nursing home facilities, purchase medical equipment, and assist in furthering the education of the employees who provide skilled care for the nursing home residents. Since its inception, the foundation has contributed $615,240 towards these needs.

The Valley View Home Foundation is honored and humbled by the Feda family’s generosity. Without question, Jerry & Audrey saw the role of Valley View Home in our community as one of the most important and reliable vestiges of care and comfort for our elderly and disabled. This philanthropic pledge from the Feda’s improves the foundation’s ability to serve Valley View Home and in turn, our community’s loved ones.

Valley View Home Foundation gratefully continues to welcome contributions “in honor or memory” of a loved one or someone special.

Glasgow City Council To Meet Tonight

Monday, November 7th 2022

The Glasgow City Council will meet in regular session this evening at 5:30pm in the council chambers at the Glasgow City Center.

Valley County Commissioners To Meet On Wednesday

Monday, November 7th 2022

The Valley County Commissioners will have their weekly meeting on Wednesday at 10:30am in the commissioners office at the Valley County Courthouse.

National Weather Service Reminds Everyone To Set Your Clocks Back Tonight

Saturday, November 5th 2022

Love it or hate it, the time has come again. This Saturday night, remember to turn your clocks back one hour at 2 AM and check the batteries on your carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms, and weather radio. Enjoy that extra hour of sleep!

American Rescue Plan Act: Where did the money come from and where did it go?

Wednesday, November 2nd 2022

This is a letter signed by the Valley County Commissioners detailing where ARPA money was spent in Valley County.

American Rescue Plan Act: Where did the money come from and where did it go?

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed by President Biden in March 2021. It provided $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 relief funding.

Valley County received allocations from several funding sources within ARPA. The first allocation was $1,436,586, provided to Valley County in two halves, in July 2021 and July 2022. This money is targeted to support entities that were impacted by COVID-19. For smaller revenue counties including Valley County, the money may also be used for county services. The County Commissioners allocated this money to the City-County Library for new air handling units ($24,970), to the Town of Opheim for water tower maintenance ($56,650) and to Valley View Home for operating costs increases due to COVID-19 ($1 million). The remaining money is targeted for county services.

Valley County’s second ARPA allocation of $1,319,745, came from the State ARPA fund. This allocation is required to be spent on water, sewer and/or broadband projects, and each project requires State approval. The County Commissioners allocated these funds as follows: North Valley County Water and Sewer District for water distribution ($250,000), Hinsdale Water and Sewer District for water improvements ($500,000), Town of Opheim for sewage lagoon upgrades ($107,500), Town of Fort Peck for wastewater irrigation ($212,249) and the Cherry Creek Water and Sewer District for sewage lagoon repair ($250,000). Each receiving entity was required to provide matching funds.

Valley County received the latest ARPA allocation of $1,805,269 from the U.S. Treasury, through the Local Assistance (Public Lands Counties) Fund in October 2022. A matching amount is scheduled to be allocated again in 2023. This fund can be used for government services, excluding lobbying. During the last several weeks, the Commission has been discussing options and asking for input for the use of these funds at the regular Wednesday Discussion and Decision meetings. Gravel crushing, airport fuel truck replacement, Long Run Fire Department water tender replacement, City pool support, walking path upgrades, mental health services, and senior center repairs have been suggested.

We encourage everyone to provide input for the use of these funds. Please stop by the Commissioners office, call us on the phone, email us or attend our regular Wednesday meeting at 10:30 am.

John, Paul and Mary

Valley County Combined Campaign Inviting Non-Profit Organizations To Join

Wednesday, November 2nd 2022

The Valley County Combined Campaign is celebrating its 41st year of giving with an invitation to Valley County non-profit organizations to join the 2022-2023 campaign.

There are two openings available this year for member positions. Consideration will also be given to applicants for an available permanent position on the campaign. Any Valley County non-profit organization interested in applying is required to have their own 501(c)3 non-profit status and will not be allowed to do any other soliciting for contributions during the year(s) they are a member of the campaign.

Please submit a letter of interest indicating your organization’s mission and needs to: Valley County Combined Campaign, PO Box 224, Glasgow, MT. or drop it off at The Loaded Toad located at 527 2nd Ave S, Glasgow. This letter must be received no later than November 4th. Any organization interested in applying for the available positions will be asked to give a brief presentation about their organization, including what specifically they will be designating their monies toward at the November 8th meeting of the Valley County Combined Campaign board of directors at 5:30pm at The Loaded Toad.

If you have any questions you are asked to contact Candy Lagerquist at 406-263-4512 or lclager@nemont.net, or Kerry Hentges at 406-672-6347 or k.hentges@aemt.org.

The VCCC was formed in 1982 so that community members and businesses would only be contacted once during the year for donations. VCCC would like to Thank the Valley County residence for their generosity for the last 40 years, you have greatly impacted the participating organizations.

Real Estate And Mobile Home Taxes Due November 30th

Wednesday, November 2nd 2022

NOTICE TO VALLEY COUNTY TAXPAYERS

First half of 2022 Real Estate Taxes levied and assessed are due and payable on or before 5 p.m. on November 30, 2022, or within 30 days after the tax notice is postmarked, whichever is later and unless paid prior to that time the amount due will be delinquent and will draw interest at the rate of 5/6 of 1% per month from the time of delinquency until paid and 2% will be added to the delinquent tax as a penalty. Taxes will be considered delinquent on Wednesday, December 1, 2021, and will be charged penalty and interest.

Payment of these taxes may be made at the Treasurer’s office at the Valley County Courthouse during regular business hours, at the Red Drop Box outside the North and East Door of the Courthouse, mailed to Valley County Treasurer, 501 Court Square #3, Glasgow, Montana 59230 or online at www.valleycountymt.net/departments/treasurer.php


2022 MOBILE HOME TAXPAYERS

Second half of 2022 Mobile Home Taxes are due November 30, 2022. The taxes will be considered delinquent on Thursday, December 1, 2022, and are subject to penalty and interest, thereafter.

Payment of these taxes may be made at the Treasurer’s office at the Valley County Courthouse during regular business hours, at the Red Drop Box outside then North and East Door of the Courthouse, mailed to Valley County Treasurer, 501 Court Square #3, Glasgow, Montana 59230 or online at www.valleycountymt.net/departments/treasurer.php

Unions Vote Down Contracts, Renewing Threat Of Rail Shutdown

Wednesday, November 2nd 2022

For about 24 hours in September, railroads reluctantly put themselves in the national spotlight.

After years of fruitless negotiations with labor unions on a new contract, the industry was rapidly approaching a midnight deadline to avoid a national strike or lockout, which would have crippled an American economy already hobbled by record-breaking inflation, the lingering effects of the pandemic and a labor shortage. For a brief moment, the railroad industry — which often tries its best to stay out of the public eye — was above the fold in the New York Times, the Washington Post and other news sites, alongside the war in Ukraine and R. Kelly.

Then, with the help of President Joe Biden and other federal officials, the two sides announced an 11th-hour deal. Railroad executives, labor leaders and political leaders hailed the tentative agreement as a win for all sides that provided significant raises to tens of thousands of railroad workers across the country. With a deal in hand and the imminent threat of a national rail shutdown over, the country moved on. But now, six weeks later, railroaders are saying “Not so fast.”

In the last three weeks, members of two different railroad unions have rejected the contract their leaders negotiated, reviving the possibility of a nationwide railroad shutdown as early as this month. A shutdown, sparked either by a labor strike or a lockout by management, would cost the economy upwards of $2 billion a day and bring trains to a halt in Montana and around the country, reports The Montana Free Press.

While labor leaders say the contract their members are voting on is one of the most generous ever offered — with the largest wage increase in 45 years and a $5,000 bonus — there remains palpable frustration among workers over how the railroads are being run and how they are being treated.

“Workers are fed up right now,” said Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO. “They believe they are being used and abused by the railroads.”

Over the last decade, many of the continent’s biggest railroads have adopted a practice called “precision scheduled railroading,” a method of operation and management that often tries to move more freight with fewer employees and locomotives. As a result, the number of railroad workers has dropped dramatically in recent years (from more than 200,000 in 2015 to 146,000 in 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), and those who remain are being asked to do more. Some railroads, including BNSF Railway, have adopted attendance policies to ensure they have the people they need to move trains. But labor leaders have said the policies are abusive to workers.

The railroads have also struggled to provide service to customers in recent months, and it got so bad that earlier this year hearings were held in Washington, D.C. The railroads have blamed their struggles on the pandemic and said they are hiring more people to help catch up. A BNSF spokesperson told Montana Free Press the company has a goal to hire 3,000 new people in 2022.

Those issues and others have come to a head this year as six of the continent’s seven largest railroads (including BNSF and Union Pacific, which both operate in Montana) try to hash out a new labor contract with employees. Railroad-labor relations are governed by a nearly-century-old law called the Railway Labor Act of 1926. Under that law, railroads and unions have conducted negotiations on a multi-union and multi-employer basis to avoid strikes or lockouts. The last national railroad work stoppage was in 1992.

In June, after more than two years of talks and help from federal mediators, the National Mediation Board announced that talks between the Coordinated Bargaining Coalition (representing the unions) and the National Carriers Conference Committee (representing the railroads) had failed. That set in motion the appointment of a Presidential Emergency Board to review the conflict and make recommendations. In August, that board made its own suggestions and the railroads and unions began another round of talks. In early September, a number of smaller unions struck deals with the railroads. But a deal with the three largest unions — the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and SMART Transportation Division — remained elusive. Then, with just hours to go before a strike or lockout could have legally occurred, a deal was made.

Since then, members of the various unions have been voting on their individual contracts, but in October, two different unions — the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees — rejected their contracts. The president of the signalmen union (which represents employees who maintain rail traffic signals and crossing gates) said it was the first time its members have voted to not ratify a national contract. The votes set off a “status quo” period when the union’s leaders would go back to the railroads in search of a new deal. If they cannot score a new deal by the middle of November, the unions could go on strike. Should either of those two unions go on strike, it is likely that members of other unions would not cross a picket line, resulting in a nationwide shutdown.

Meanwhile, the industry’s two largest unions representing locomotive engineers and conductors were slated to begin voting this week. Their ballots are due before Thanksgiving.

It’s unclear if the unions that have voted down their contracts will be able to get a better deal. Already, the railroads have signaled that they do not plan to offer more than they already have.

If a strike or lockout does occur, it’s likely that Congress would force the unions to accept a contract in order to avoid or end a shutdown. Already though, various industry groups are sounding alarms of concern about how even a brief shutdown would impact their businesses. On Oct. 27, 322 local, state and national trade associations sent a joint letter urging the White House to again get involved in the search for a solution to the impasse.

But Regan, the union president, said that outcome wouldn’t solve the industry’s many challenges, including low morale due to cutbacks and attendance policies.

“In all likelihood, these contracts will be implemented, either through ratification or by Congress,” he said. “But these broader issues will still need to be addressed.”

Steve Carney Of Scobey Appointed To State Farm Service Agency Committee By Secretary Of Agriculture

Tuesday, November 1st 2022

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Friday announced a slate of Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Committee Appointees. State committees are selected by the Secretary and are responsible for carrying out FSA’s farm programs within delegated authorities.

Montana FSA State Committee appointees include:

Committee Chair Ryan Lankford – Chinook
Casey Bailey – Fort Benton
Steve Carney – Scobey
Sarah Degn – Sidney
Jake Merkel – Whitehall

Montana Senator Jon Tester issued the following statement in response to the announcement:

“I’m pleased to see such a strong group of Montana farmers and ranchers named to our FSA State Committee,” said Tester. “These individuals will play a key role in carrying out programs and functions administered by the USDA in Montana, and I’m looking forward to working with them to keep production agriculture strong in the Treasure State.”

The Farm Service Agency serves farmers, ranchers, foresters, and agricultural partners through the effective, efficient, and equitable delivery of federal agricultural programs. The Agency offers producers a strong safety net through the administration of farm commodity and disaster programs. Additionally, through conservation programs, FSA continues to preserve and protect natural resources and provides credit to agricultural producers who are unable to receive private, commercial credit, including targeted loan funds for beginning, underserved, women and military veterans involved in production agriculture.

Top Ten Property Tax Taxpayers In Valley County

Monday, October 31st 2022

Here are the top 10 property tax taxpayers in Valley County:

1. Northern Border Pipeline 2.771 million
2. Northern Border Pipeline Company $1.307 million
3. BNSF Railway Company $1.264 million
4. Northwestern Energy-T&D $454,399
5. Northwestern Corporation- $426,000
6. Nemont Telephone Company- $346,533
7. Norval Electric Cooperative- $331,937
8. BNSF Railway Company- $319,597
9. Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline- $266,486
10. Montana Dakota Utilities-Gas Distribution- $240,567

Second Rail Union Votes Down Tentative Agreement Setting Up Possible Railroad Strike Later This Year

Friday, October 28th 2022

The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen is the second union to vote down the tentative agreement between rail unions, freight rail companies and the Biden administration that was reached on September 15 and critical to avoiding a nationwide rail strike.

The BRS, which represents over 10,000 rail workers and is one of the last three unions at the bargaining table, overwhelmingly rejected the deal, with 39.23% of members approving and 60.57% voting not to approve.

“For the first time that I can remember, the BRS members voted not to ratify a National Agreement, and with the highest participation rate in BRS history,” said BRS president Michael Baldwin in a statement. “I have expressed my disappointment throughout the process in the lack of good-faith bargaining on the part of the NCCC [National Carriers Conference Committee], as well as the part PEB [Presidential Advisory Board] 250 played in denying BRS members the basic right of paid time off for illness. The NCCC and PEB also both failed to recognize the safety-sensitive and highly stressful job BRS members perform each day to keep the railroad running and supply chain flowing.”

The rejection of the National Tentative Agreement begins a “status quo” period during which the union will reengage with the NCCC until December 4.

A spokesperson for the Association of American Railroads tells CNBC, “Parties have agreed to maintain the status quo so discussions about next steps can progress.”

The AAR spokesperson cited the fact that half of all rail unions have ratified agreements based upon President Biden’s PEB recommendations, which includes the largest wage increases in nearly five decades and would lead to immediate payouts averaging more than $11,000 per railroader ahead of the holidays.

“Once in place, contracts crafted in partnership with the most labor friendly administration ever will allow railroads and railroaders to thrive into the future and deliver for both our customers and our families,” the railroad spokesperson said.

The railroads have estimated that a rail strike could cost the economy $2 billion per day.

The BRS vote against ratification follows the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWED) which voted not to ratify the tentative deal on October 10. Logistics managers have told CNBC they have been planning again for a possible strike after the September deal seemed to reduce the threat.


Union Pacific
CEO Lance Fritz told CNBC during an interview on “Squawk on the Street” last Thursday of the BMWED, “We’ve got some negotiating to do with that union and we’ve agreed to status quo, we’re in status quo while we’re doing that. I am confident we will find a way to craft an agreement that can be taken back out for ratification. That doesn’t mean a strike is not possible, it just means in my opinion I don’t think it’s probable. We’ve got plenty of runway to figure it out.”

Union spokespeople have stressed that railroads are underestimating union member resistance over issues related to quality of life and benefits including paid time off that they do not think the current tentative agreement satisfactorily covers.

“The railroads consistently underestimate the frustration and anger of the workers. Workers can’t take it anymore,” Richard Edelman, counsel for BMWED and chief spokesperson in the collective bargaining, told CNBC last week. “The Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) ruling is just a recommendation. It is not a lid. Carriers have made the determination of not doing more than the net equivalent of the PEB.”

Caldwell added in his letter to members, “BMWED leadership has gone on a campaign of informing the public and lawmakers of the railroad companies’ unwillingness to provide basic sick days while Carrier Executives bow to Wall Street’s continued desire for more than its fair share. As long as they take that stance, all we can do is encourage solidarity and prepare to exercise self-help.”

The BMWED is the third-largest union with 23,900 members. All 12 unions that represent a total of 115,000 workers must ratify their contracts to prevent a potential shutdown of the national freight rail system. Six rail unions have voted to ratify the deal.

Under the Railway Labor Act, Congress has the ability to impose the resolution from Biden’s Presidential Emergency Board, or order the trains to operate as usual with an extension of negotiations.

MDU Reporting Natural Gas Prices Could Be Increasing Significantly This Winter

Wednesday, October 26th 2022

According to the Montana-Dakota Utilities 2022-23 natural gas price outlook, customers could see a $30 per month increase over the 2021-22 season, meaning a total increase of about $150 for the average residential customer over the five-month winter season.

This could be even higher, though. MDU says if the weather is 10% colder than average, customers can see about a $200, or $40 per month increase, or conversely, if it’s 10% warmer than average, customers would pay about $80 more for the season, or $16 per month.

They say the reasons for the increase include:

Gas being used for electric generation during the summer because of the warmer weather.
The war in Ukraine.
Less gas was stored for the season.

“Natural gas has kind of seen some pressure ever since we came out of the pandemic,” said a Montana-Dakota Utilities Spokesperson Mark Hanson. “Demand has increased more rapidly than what our supply was at the time and it has been that game of catch-up ever since.”

Hanson added that the price increase is because demand is outpacing the available supply.

He also laid out some of the ways that people can save on their gas bills during this time, including:

Turning your thermostat down if you leave the house.
Opening your drapes during the day to take advantage of the solar heat.
Weather stripping windows and doors.

Results Of Region 6 Hunter Check Station

Wednesday, October 26th 2022

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Havre hunter check station was active over the weekend of general deer and elk opener (Oct. 22-23), with the number of hunters checked above the long-term average, despite the cool, wet weather. The youth deer season also coincided with the general season opener, which tends to increase hunter participation. This was the third weekend that the check station has been open, as the station began collecting data Oct. 8 and 9 for the opening weekend of pheasant and general antelope.

“Hunter access to many areas was limited by muddy roads, particularly on Sunday,” said Havre-area biologist Scott Hemmer, who manages the check station. “We saw a lot of muddy, wet hunters.”
There were 248 hunters in 108 parties checked, which was down from 2021 but still 7% above the long-term average. During the three weekends the check station has been open, overall hunter numbers (715) are slightly lower than last year and 11% above the long-term average.
The weather and fewer antlerless elk and mule deer licenses than the last few years also likely lowered harvest success.

The 53 mule deer checked was less than half of last year’s opening weekend, and just below the long-term average.

White-tailed deer harvest over the weekend (6) was below last year and the long-term average.
“Hunters reported they are seeing good numbers of mule deer, but white-tailed deer reports were mixed,” adds Hemmer. “The epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) outbreak in 2021, especially in the eastern half of Region 6 along the Milk and Missouri Rivers and their associated drainages, seems to have increased mortality and thus lowered numbers in some areas.”

Antelope harvest is down from last year, with 163 antelope checked in since general antelope season opened. This is still 25% below long-term average.

“Hunters have reported seeing good numbers of mature antelope bucks,” says Hemmer. “Overall antelope populations and license quotas are still below the long-term average in several districts which may explain why overall harvest is below the long-term average.

There have been five elk brought by the check station this year, which is below the long-term average of seven.

“Elk hunters reported difficulty finding elk during the archery season this year and drought conditions may have affected elk distribution” adds Hemmer. “Very few elk hunters were checked during the opening weekend of rifle season.”

For the first three weeks that the check station has been open, the pheasant harvest of 393 birds is above last year’s numbers but 26% below the long-term average. Sharp-tailed grouse (28 birds) are well below last year and slightly below the long-term average. Gray (Hungarian) partridge (58) are above both last year and the long-term average.

“Hunters have had mixed reports on upland birds, which we expected due to the drought conditions this year,” said Hemmer. “Reports indicate upland birds in the western half of the region may have been negatively impacted by these drought conditions with patchy bird numbers in many areas and generally improving going east.”

Please remember that all hunters are required by law to stop as directed at all designated check stations on their way to and from hunting, even if they have no game to be checked. There is an option to have animals sampled for CWD if desired. Please follow all directions and signs from FWP staff as they work diligently to check game, answer questions, and get you on your way.

Biologists gather a lot of valuable information and biological data on game animals brought through check stations, and FWP wildlife staff appreciate all hunters’ cooperation in this effort. Note that the harvest data described above includes only animals that were brought through the Havre check station and is only a partial representation of the region-wide harvest.

Glasgow All Class Reunion Committee Contributes $5000 To Effort To Modernize Glasgow High School Athletic Facilities

Tuesday, October 25th 2022

Monday, the Glasgow Montana All Class Reunion committee contributed to Scottie Field Recharged in the amount of $5,000!

Scottie Field Recharged is a grass roots effort to rejuvenate Scottie Field & modernize Glasgow High School Athletic Facilities.

Six People Indicted In Connection To Kidnapping On Fort Peck Indian Reservation

Monday, October 24th 2022

Story credit: www.billingsgazette.com

Six people have been indicted in federal court in connection to the kidnapping and assault of an Indigenous teenage girl on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation last year.

All six allegedly kidnapped a 15-year-old girl, according to charging documents filed in U.S. District Court Earlier this month, and all of the accused are residents of Wolf Point. The charges followed an investigation conducted by the FBI, Fort Peck Law Enforcement, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office and Wolf Point Police Department.

Cheri Cruz Granbois, Dylan Troy Jackson, Elmarie Amelia Weeks, Lavanchie Patricia Goodbird, Kaylee Jade Jackson and Patti Jo Annunciata Mail allegedly abducted the teen Sept. 15, 2021, court documents said. Prior to the indictment, RCSO named Granbois, 20, as a suspect in the kidnapping, the Gazette previously reported.

Five of the accused have pleaded not guilty during arraignments in U.S. District Court in Great Falls, according to court records. Only Dylan Jackson has yet to appear. Dylan Jackson, Granbois, Weeks, Goodbird and Mail are facing counts of kidnapping of individual under 18, assault resulting in serious bodily injury and assault resulting in substantial injury of a minor. Kaylee Jackson faces only one count of kidnapping an individual under 18, court documents said.

The 15-year-old’s abduction last year prompted an Amber Alert, with RCSO stating several people assaulted the girl before forcing her into a pickup truck allegedly driven by Granbois. The same day the alert was issued, the sheriff’s office announced the girl had been found.

If convicted of kidnapping, the six could face up to 20 years in prison, along with a fine of up to $250,000.

Powerball Jackpot At $610 Million For Monday Drawing

Monday, October 24th 2022

The Powerball jackpot reached $610 million after no ticket matched all six numbers drawn on Saturday.

The next drawing will be held Monday night.

The jackpot is the 8th largest in Powerball history. The estimated cash value is about $263 million.

The winning numbers drawn Saturday night were 19, 25, 48, 55, 60 and 18. The jackpot was $580 million.

Three $1 million-winning tickets were sold in New York, South Carolina and Texas, according to Powerball.

The jackpot was last won Aug. 3. There have been more than 30 drawings since, but no one has matched all six numbers drawn.

The odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in 292 million.

Absentee Ballots Returned In Advance Of General Election

Monday, October 24th 2022

As of October 21st, 730 absentee ballots had been returned to the Valley County Election Office in the Valley County Courthouse. Valley County has turned out 3484 absentee ballots to absentee voters and the returned percentage is 21%. 72% of Valley County Voters choose to vote absentee. There are 4892 registered voters in Valley County.

The General Election is set for November 8th.

AAA Reports Daily Gasoline Prices Have Dropped Nine Cents Per Gallon In Last Week

Monday, October 24th 2022

The national average pump price fell nine cents over the past week to hit $3.79. It has dropped daily since October 11, primarily due to lower oil prices and fewer drivers than usual fueling up.

“Global recession fears coupled with the Biden Administration’s plan to continue tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve into December has helped temper oil prices,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “This will help take the pressure off pump prices, benefitting drivers and their wallets.”

According to recent data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand increased slightly from 8.28 million b/d to 8.68 million b/d last week. Total domestic gasoline stocks decreased marginally from 209.5 million bbl to 209.4 million bbl. Although gasoline demand is up slightly, it remains nearly 1 million bbl lower than this date last year. If demand remains low and oil prices don’t spike, pump prices will likely keep falling.

Today’s national average of $3.79 is nine cents higher than a month ago and 41 cents more than a year ago.

The average price per gallon in Montana is $4.00 which is down six cents in last week. The average price in Valley County is $3.99 per gallon.

Community Cash Program Underway

Thursday, October 20th 2022

The Glasgow Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture has announced their 2022 Community Cash program is underway.

Applicants may borrow as much as $1,000 from the Bank Of Glasgow and Independence Bank in Glasgow. Just stop by either of the two participating institutions and fill out a loan application. The loan is payable in ten monthly installments with no interest - only a $15 fee to cover a portion of the paperwork.

The script can be used until December 31st, 2022. After that, merchants will have until January 6th, 2023 to turn in unused script to the bank for full credit.

The last day to apply for Community Cash is December 30, 2022. Merchants must be a chamber member to accept Community Cash script.

Tester Statement On Montana U.S. Marshal Nomination

Thursday, October 20th 2022

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced his support for the nomination of Craig Anderson of Dawson County to be the next U.S. Marshal for the District of Montana, and released the following statement:

“To keep our communities safe, we need to make sure our law enforcement agencies are fully staffed and ready to go—which is why I’m proud to support the nomination of Dawson County’s own Craig Anderson to be the next U.S. Marshal for Montana. Craig’s commitment to the rule of law and his decades of experience on the ground in Eastern Montana make him well-qualified to oversee operations of the U.S. Marshals Service in the Treasure State, which plays an important role in getting criminals off our streets. With calls to ‘Defund the FBI’ growing louder among Republican politicians and violent threats against federal agents on the rise, it’s critical that all of my colleagues in the Senate join me in supporting Montana’s law enforcement officers by confirming Craig quickly so he can get to work protecting our communities.”

Anderson served as Dawson County Shueriff from 2003-2014, and he served as the Chief Probation Officer for Montana’s Seventh Judicial District from 1979-2003. He has been involved in multiple criminal justice initiatives in the state, including serving as a member of the Montana Board of Crime Control (1982-2003), a member of the Youth Justice Council (1980-2002), Chairman of the State Juvenile Detention Task Force (1994-2003), President of the Montana Probation Officers’ Association (1986), and President of the Montana Correctional Association (1984). Anderson is also an active member of his community, including previously serving as Chairman of the Dawson County Boys and Girls Club, Chairman of the Glendive Medical Center Board of Directors, President of the Glendive Lions Club, and was a founding member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Miles City/Glendive.

The U.S. Marshal for the District of Montana oversees operations of the U.S. Marshals Service in the state, including protecting courts, transporting prisoners, pursuing fugitives, and serving federal arrest warrants.

Valley County Commissioners Discussion And Decision Held Today At 10:30am

Wednesday, October 19th 2022


BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
AGENDA FOR DISCUSSION AND DECISION
Wednesday, October 19, 2022, at 10:30 a.m.

1. Additions/Deletions

2. Public Comment on agenda items

3. Approve Employment / Termination Notices

4. Discussion on use of Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund in the amount of $1.8 million
in 2022 and $1.8 million in 2023 for a total of $3.6 million.

5. Discussion of Gideon Tower lease.

6. ROW 872 A Cattle Guard on North River Road for Rorvik Farms L.L.C.

7. Public Comment on non-agenda items.

8. Adjourn

Gas Demand Declines As Recession Fears Weigh Down Oil Market Expectations

Wednesday, October 19th 2022

Press Release from https://gasprices.aaa.com/

Fears of a global economic recession led to a major drop in the price of crude, down $7, which helped to minimize pump price increases last week. Meanwhile, domestic gasoline demand decreased as fewer drivers fueled up in the first half of October. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand decreased nationally from 9.47 million b/d to 8.28 million b/d, and total domestic gasoline stocks increased by 2 million bbl to 209.5 million bbl.

Lower gasoline demand, amid increasing supply and fluctuating oil prices, has contributed to the national average moving downward. If demand continues to drop coupled with a slide in oil prices, drivers could see increases in prices at the pump start to slow and even come down through the week.

The national average pump price for a gallon of gas decreased three cents over the past week to hit $3.85. Today’s national average of $3.85 is 17 cents higher than a month ago and 53 cents more than a year ago.

The Montana average price is $4.05 per gallon and the average in Glasgow is $3.99 according to AAA.

Satellite Voting Office Located In Frazer October 25th

Wednesday, October 19th 2022

The Valley County Clerk and Recorder's Office will be in Frazer on Tuesday, October 25th from 9am through 2:30pm to operate a satellite voting office.

The office will be located in the Red Building behind the Frazer School.

Individuals will be able to register to vote, ballots will be available for those who wish to vote that day, and voters can drop off already voted absentee ballots.

Please call 406-228-6226 with any questions regarding the satellite office.

As of October 18th, 3473 absentee ballots have been sent out in Valley County and 150 ballots have been returned. Over 70% of Valley County Voters have chosen to vote absentee.

Voters who choose to not vote absentee will vote on November 8th.

Canadian Resident Expected To Enter Change Of Plea In Federal Court Today For Causing An 11,000 Acre Fire Near Zortman.

Tuesday, October 18th 2022

A Canadian resident is expected to enter a change of plea in federal court in Great Falls on Tuesday for causing an 11,000-acre, $5.5 million wildfire in Montana.

Darrel Lynn Swanson is charged with one misdemeanor count of leaving a fire unattended or unextinguished.

An offer of proof filed Monday, ahead of Swanson's anticipated appearance on Tuesday, notes the defendant plans to plead guilty to the single charge.

Authorities allege Swanson shot off fireworks on Bureau of Land Management lands in the Alder Creek drainage, near Zortman, Montana on July 3, 2017.

Investigating authorities allegedly found evidence of bottle rockets in what was determined to be Swanson's campsite.

Witnesses told investigators that they warned Swanson not to fire off fireworks. Swanson allegedly told investigators that he tried to suppress the fire, but freaked out and left without reporting the incident.

Roosevelt County Residents Arraigned In Federal Court

Monday, October 17th 2022

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that the following persons were arraigned or appeared last week before U.S. Magistrate judges on indictments handed down by the Grand Jury or on criminal complaints. The charging documents are merely accusations and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty:

Appearing in Great Falls before U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston and pleading not guilty on Oct. 13 was:

Buddy Gene Walkingeagle, 38, of Poplar, on charges of felon in possession of firearm. If convicted of the most serious crime, Walkingeagle faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Walkingeagle was detained pending further proceedings. The FBI, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Peck Law Enforcement investigated the case.

Shane Daniel Freemont, 32, of Poplar, on charges of aggravated sexual abuse and sexual abuse. If convicted of the most serious crime, Freemont faces a maximum of life in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to life of supervised release. Freemont was detained pending further proceedings. The FBI, Fort Peck Law Enforcement and Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case.

Connor Louis Gourneau, 34, of Poplar, on charges of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and fentanyl. If convicted of the most serious crime, Gourneau faces a mandatory minimum five years to 40 years in prison, a $5 million fine and at least four years of supervised release. Gourneau was detained pending further proceedings. The FBI, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Fort Peck Law Enforcement investigated the case.

Patti Jo Annunciata Mail, aka Patti Jo Ironcloud, 23 of Wolf Point, on charges of kidnapping of individual under 18, assault resulting in serious bodily injury and assault resulting in substantial injury of a minor. If convicted of the most serious crime, Mail faces a mandatory minimum 20 years to life in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to life of supervised release. Mail was detained pending further proceedings. The FBI, Fort Peck Law Enforcement, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office and Wolf Point Police Department investigated the case. PACER case reference. 22-77.

Kaylee Jade Jackson, 21, of Wolf Point, on charges of kidnapping of individual under 18. If convicted of the most serious crime, Jackson faces a mandatory minimum 20 years to life in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to life of supervised release. Jackson was detained pending further proceedings. The FBI, Fort Peck Law Enforcement, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office and Wolf Point Police Department investigated the case. PACER case reference. 22-77.

Elmarie Amelia Weeks, aka Elmarie Adams, 21, of Wolf Point, on charges of kidnapping of individual under 18, assault resulting in serious bodily injury and assault resulting in substantial bodily injury to minor. If convicted of the most serious crime, Weeks faces a mandatory minimum 20 years to life in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to life of supervised release. Weeks was detained pending further proceedings. The FBI, Fort Peck Law Enforcement, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office and Wolf Point Police Department investigated the case.

Cheri Cruz Granbois (male), 20, of Wolf Point, on charges of kidnapping of individual under 18, assault resulting in serious bodily injury and assault resulting in substantial bodily injury to minor. If convicted of the most serious crime, Granbois faces a mandatory minimum 20 years to life in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to life of supervised release. Granbois was detained pending further proceedings. The FBI, Fort Peck Law Enforcement, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office and Wolf Point Police Department investigated the case.

Thomas Ivan Reese Larson, 23, of Poplar, on charges of assault resulting in serious bodily injury, assault resulting in substantial bodily injury and strangulation. If convicted of the most serious crime, Larson faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Larson was released pending further proceedings. The FBI, Fort Peck Law Enforcement, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office and Wolf Point Police Department investigated the case.


Glasgow School District In Desperate Need Of Bus Drivers

Monday, October 17th 2022

Community Announcement:
Glasgow Schools is in desperate need of bus drivers. We have 2 full-time route positions open. Also in need of sub-route drivers.

Daily routes will begin to be affected & activity trips may face upcoming cancellations.
Call 406-228-2406

Landowner, Sportsmen Join in Fencing Effort

Thursday, October 13th 2022

by Haylie Shipp, Ranchers Stewardship Alliance

We’ve heard it time and time again: good fences make good neighbors. But when it’s your community that’s teaming up to pound those posts and stretch that wire, the “neighborhood” becomes a whole lot bigger.

Ranchers Stewardship Alliance (RSA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit started by a group of 30+ ranch families in 2003, joined a widespread effort in 2019 to improve fencing for wildlife migration. While major partners include the Department of Interior, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), a more homegrown element has come to the forefront.

Hi-Line Sportsmen, a Glasgow-based nonprofit focused on keeping conservation local, and local RSA and FWP staff recently assisted in a volunteer day to help remove fencing from the Swenson Ranch near Glasgow. The goal was to take out fencing identified to be restrictive to wildlife by FWP and replace it with brand new fencing from RSA. New fencing on someone else’s dime? It has a nice ring to it! Along with boasting a new lifespan for the Swenson Ranch, it meets the specs of being “wildlife friendly.”

What is a wildlife friendly fence? Simply, it’s a fence that lets big game animals through while keeping livestock in. Grazing management can be maintained yet migration ease is improved by setting the wires at heights that allow deer and pronghorn to go under, reduce the risk of them tangling legs if they jump and miss, and kept low enough that jumping wildlife cause less damage.

Across the region, other sportsmen groups have rallied around supporting ranchers that are making changes for wildlife. Pheasants Forever has hosted two similar work days in Blaine County with assistance from the Blaine Conservation District and the local Natural Resource Conservation Service field office. The One Montana Master Hunters Program has also traveled to Phillips County to assist ranchers.

Want to help out? On Wednesday, October 19, RSA, FWP, and Hi-Line Sportsmen will be hosting a volunteer day at the Boucher Ranch to remove an un-needed, old woven-wire fence from along the railroad. Projects along high-traffic transportation routes have been identified as priorities. The plan is to meet at Raiders Quick Stop at 8 a.m. before traveling to the project site. Staff and volunteer members of the involved groups will be present to answer any questions.


Ranchers Stewardship Alliance exists to help multigenerational and beginning ranchers build the collaborative, trusting relationships and community-based solutions they need to maintain healthy working landscapes and vibrant rural communities. Through efforts such as rehabilitating grasslands, building wildlife-friendly fences, and improving water infrastructure, RSA works diligently to connect producers with management practices that increase the quality of their ranches. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander with wildlife habitats symbiotically improving.

Social Security Benefits To Increase 8.7% Next Year

Thursday, October 13th 2022

Social Security benefits are set to rise by 8.7% next year – the fourth-biggest increase since automatic inflation adjustments were introduced in 1975.

This cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, will boost the average monthly checks retirees receive in January by $146 to $1,827, the Social Security Administration said Thursday. That builds on last year’s 5.9% COLA increase, which was the largest bump since 1982. Before then, COLA increased by an average of 1.7% annually from 2010 to 2020.

The government bases its COLA adjustment on average annual increases in the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers from July through September. That index largely reflects the broad index that the Labor Department releases each month.

The index rose to 8.5% in September, the Labor Department announced Thursday.

Around half of Americans who are 65 or older live in households where Social Security benefits account for 50% of their income, according to multiple surveys conducted by the Census Bureau. One-quarter of them receive at least 90% of their income from Social Security.


These Americans, which tend to be lower income and don’t have pensions, aren’t going to feel any different from the COLA increase, said Mary Johnson, Social Security and Medicare policy analyst at The Senior Citizens League.

“This is not going to be like a big game changer in any way,” she said. “We're talking about maybe putting new tires on the car for winter or getting a new pair of glasses.”


Medicare Part B premium 2023
The upside is Medicare Part B premiums, which are automatically deducted from monthly Social Security checks, are going down by $5.20 a month to $164.90 in 2023.

"This year’s substantial Social Security cost-of-living adjustment is the first time in over a decade that Medicare premiums are not rising and shows that we can provide more support to older Americans who count on the benefits they have earned,” Acting Commissioner Kilolo Kijakazi said.

But for Americans who have additional sources of income to soften the blow of inflation, “this really is just extra money,” said Matt Sotir, a financial adviser with Equitable Advisors. “For most families, this is really just going to be backfilling the hole that that inflation is digging for them.”

Railroad Union Rejects Deal With Freight Railroads

Tuesday, October 11th 2022

The U.S.’s third largest railroad union rejected a deal with employers Monday, renewing the possibility of a strike that could cripple the economy. Both sides will return to the bargaining table before that happens.

Over half of track maintenance workers represented by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division who voted opposed the five-year contract despite 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses. Union President Tony Cardwell said the railroads didn’t do enough to address the lack of paid time off — particularly sick time — and working conditions after the major railroads eliminated nearly one-third of their jobs over the past six years.

“Railroaders are discouraged and upset with working conditions and compensation and hold their employer in low regard. Railroaders do not feel valued,” Cardwell said in a statement. “They resent the fact that management holds no regard for their quality of life, illustrated by their stubborn reluctance to provide a higher quantity of paid time off, especially for sickness.”

The group that represents the railroads in negotiations said they were disappointed the union rejected the agreement, but emphasized that no immediate threat of a strike exists because the union agreed to keep working for now.

Four other railroad unions have approved their agreements with freight railroads including BNSF, Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern, CSX and Norfolk Southern, but all 12 unions representing 115,000 workers must ratify their contracts to prevent a strike. Another union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, initially rejected its deal but has since renegotiated a new contract. Voting will be completed in mid-November.

President Joe Biden pressured the railroads and unions to reach a deal last month ahead of a mid-September deadline to allow a strike or walkout. Many businesses also urged Congress to be ready to intervene in the dispute and block a strike if an agreement wasn’t reached because so many companies rely on railroads to deliver their raw materials and finished products.

In general, the deals the unions agreed to closely follow the recommendations a special panel of arbitrators that Biden appointed made this summer. That Presidential Emergency Board recommended what would be the biggest raises rail workers have seen in more than four decades, but it didn’t resolve the unions’ concerns about working conditions. Instead it said the unions should pursue additional negotiations or arbitration that can take years with each railroad individually.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way union said it agreed to delay any strike until five days after Congress reconvenes in mid November to allow time for additional negotiations.

Quality of life issues took center stage at the end of these negotiations, with unions representing conductors and engineers holding out until the end for three unpaid leave days a year for medical appointments and a promise that railroads will negotiate further about giving those employees regularly scheduled days off when they aren’t on call. Engineers and conductors have complained that strict attendance policies make it hard to take any time off.

Track maintenance workers in the BMWED generally have more regular schedules than engineers and conductors, but all the rail unions have objected to the lack of paid sick time in the industry — particularly after working to keep trains moving throughout the pandemic.

Rutgers University professor Todd Vachon, who teaches labor relations classes, said he’s not entirely surprised the contract was rejected given how emboldened union members feel to fight for better working conditions amidst the current worker shortage.

“The biggest sticking issue is quality of life — especially access to paid time off and paid sick time. If the railroads can make some movement in that area, it will likely go a long way with rail workers who currently feel they are not being respected by their employers,” Vachon said. “Wages and resource allocation are one important part of contract negotiations, but feeling respected by one’s employer remains one of the top reasons that workers form and join unions.”

Although a strike is now possible, Vachon said he’s not too worried yet because both sides have more than a month to reach a new agreement.

Postal Service Proposes Price Increases

Tuesday, October 11th 2022

Higher prices might be coming to the post office soon.

The U.S. Postal Service has proposed price hikes to offset inflation.

First-class stamps would cost 3 cents more, and mailing a postcard would increase by 4 cents.

The agency is also looking to increase fees for post office box rentals, money orders and insurance.

The governors of the U.S. Postal Service already approved these hikes, and the Postal Regulatory Commission will review the proposal.

If approved, the changes will take effect in January.

Water Levels On Fort Peck Reservoir To Remain Steady In October

Friday, October 7th 2022

September precipitation was once again below average in the Missouri River Basin. September runoff in the Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa was 0.6 million acre-feet, 47% of the long-term average. Soil conditions in the upper Missouri River Basin continue to be very dry. According to the Drought Mitigation Center, over 90% of the Missouri River basin is currently experiencing some form of abnormally dry conditions or drought, which is almost a 20% increase from the end of August.

“Runoff in the upper Missouri River Basin was below average during the month of September and is expected to remain low throughout the rest of 2022,” said John Remus, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Missouri River Basin Water Management Division.

“Releases from Gavins Point Dam will continue to be set to maintain a service level 500 cubic feet-per-second above the minimum service level,” Remus added.

The 2022 calendar year runoff forecast for the upper Basin, updated on Oct. 1, is 19.5 MAF, 76% of average and 0.7 MAF lower than last month’s annual runoff forecast. Average annual runoff for the upper Basin is 25.7 MAF.

Total System storage as of Oct. 5 was 48.5 MAF, which is 7.6 MAF the base of the flood control zone. Due to the extremely dry conditions in the upper Missouri River Basin, the System is expected to lose an additional 2.0 MAF before the 2023 runoff season begins in March of 2023.

Winter Release Rate

As per the criteria in the Maser Manual, the winter release rate is determined based on the Sept. 1 System storage. Per the Sept. 1 System storage, winter releases from Gavins Point Dam will be at the minimum rate of 12,000 cfs. In anticipation of the low winter releases, a letter was sent in early July to all water users below Gavins Point Dam making them aware of the planned releases, and encouraging them to assess the risk to their facilities. The volume of water in the Missouri River downstream of the System will be adequate for water supply needs. However, the USACE cannot guarantee access to the water. Access to the water is the responsibility of the individual intake owner/operators.

Fort Peck Dam
Average releases past month – 7,700 cfs
Current release rate – 4,000 cfs
Forecast average release rate – 4,100 cfs
End-of-September reservoir level – 2219.7 feet
Forecast end-of-October reservoir level – 2219.5 feet
The forecast reservoir releases and elevations discussed above are not definitive. Additional precipitation, lack of precipitation or other circumstances could cause adjustments to the reservoir release rates.

Hydropower:

The six mainstem power plants generated 832 million kWh of electricity in September. Typical energy generation for September is 902 million kWh. The power plants are projected to generate 7.4 billion kWh of electricity this year, compared to the long-term average of 9.4 billion kWh.

MDU Natural Gas Customers Expected To Pay More This Winter

Thursday, October 6th 2022

Natural gas prices for the upcoming winter heating season are expected to be higher than what Montana-Dakota Utilities customers paid last winter. For a variety of reasons, prices could be about $30 more per month compared to the 2021-22 heating season, which runs November through March.

“We understand prices have increased for many day-to-day necessities because of inflation; securing a reliable source of natural gas for our customers is facing the same higher price pressures,” said Nicole Kivisto, president and CEO of Montana-Dakota. “The company goes through a robust process to secure an adequate supply, using different sources and methods to mitigate price increases as much as possible while ensuring a reliable supply during our cold winter months.”

Montana-Dakota customers typically use 70 dekatherms of natural gas over the heating season. The expected increase in natural gas costs is about $150 over the five months for an average residential customer, or $30 per month. The price outlook is based on a 30-year weather average. The cost of natural gas is a straight passthrough to Montana-Dakota’s customers and the company does not earn a profit on those costs.

Natural gas prices are determined by numerous market factors, such as supply and demand, weather, imports and exports, underground storage levels and natural gas production. There are three main factors impacting natural gas prices this heating season:

A hot summer and fall increased electric demand across the country and a large portion of that demand was met by natural gas-fired electric generation, which hit an all-time high in production in July.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has impacted prices in Europe mainly because European countries stopped importing natural gas from Russia and turned to other sources. The United States increased liquified natural gas exports to Europe and became the world’s largest LNG exporter during the first half of 2022.

Nationally, underground storage is about 9% lower than the five-year average, mainly because supply wasn’t as abundant over the summer since it was used for electric generation. Natural gas in storage is an important source to meet the winter heating season demand; however, when storage levels are lower, it can play a role in driving up market prices.

While supply has not kept up with demand, weather will likely be the biggest factor over the five-month heating season. For example, if the winter season is 10% colder than average, the winter heating season cost would be about $200, or $40 per month; conversely, if it’s 10% warmer than average, residential customers would pay, on average, about $80 more for the heating season, or $16 per month.

“While prices are higher this winter heating season, natural gas is still 30% to 50% lower when compared to heating your home with electricity or propane,” Kivisto said.

The cost of natural gas accounts for about 75-80% of a customer’s monthly bill, so conservation can play a big role in mitigating high prices. Taking measures such as installing a programmable thermostat, having a furnace inspection by a certified technician, changing furnace filters regularly and caulking or weather stripping leaky windows and doors can make a difference.

The company offers other tools, such as balanced billing as a way for customers to level out their payments over the course of the year, as well as guidance for customers to agencies that provide financial assistance, such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

Jack And Andrea Billingsley and John And Catherine Etchart Inducted into Montana Cowboy Hall Of Fame

Wednesday, October 5th 2022

The Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center (MCHF & WHC) announces their 15th class of inductions into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame. The inductees were chosen from a field of candidates nominated by the general public. Inductees are honored for their notable contributions to the history and culture of Montana.

“The Hall of Fame exists to honor those who have made an impact in their part of the state and represent Montana’s authentic heritage for future generations,” said DuWayne Wilson, MCHF & WHC president. “Our volunteer trustees around Montana vote on nominations that come from the district in which they reside. This process gives the local communities a strong voice in who will represent them in the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame.”

The MCHF & WHC board of directors has designated 12 trustee districts across the state from which up to 20 trustees may be appointed. Nomination criteria established by the board for the Class of 2023 inductions allowed the election of one Living Inductee and one Legacy Inductee from each of the 12 districts.

District 1 District 1 (Daniels, Phillips, Roosevelt, Sheridan, & Valley Counties): Living: Jack & Andrea Billingsley of Glasgow; Legacy: John & Catherine Etchart of Tampico.

District 2 District 2 (Dawson, Garfield, McCone, Prairie, Richland, & Wibaux Counties): Living: Glenda S. (Childers) Reynolds of Brusett; Legacy: Alfred Henry “Al” Johnson, Jordan

District 3 (Carter, Custer, Fallon, Powder River, Rosebud, & Treasure Counties): Living: Robert J. “Jim” Wilson of Alzada; Legacy: Laton Alton “L.A.” Huffman of Miles City

District 4 (Blaine, Chouteau, Hill, & Liberty Counties): Living: Richard Dallas “Dick” Granell of Havre; Legacy: Alfonse Valentine & Marie Theresa (Amssoms) Vercruyssen of Chinook

District 5 (Cascade, Glacier, Pondera, Teton, & Toole Counties): Living: Alan Dennis “Skip” Joseph of Great Falls; Legacy: Charles Edward “Charlie” Morris of Great Falls

District 6 (Fergus, Golden Valley, Judith Basin, Musselshell, Petroleum, & Wheatland Counties): Wes & Tammy Schenk of Harlowton; Legacy: Irwin Conrad Allen of Ryegate

District 7 (Big Horn, Carbon, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, & Yellowstone Counties): Elãnna Skorupa aka: Quackgrass Sally of Bridger; Robert Stuart Brownlee of Big Timber

District 8 (Broadwater, Jefferson, & Lewis and Clark Counties): Living: Charles Gilbert “Chuck” Plymale of Townsend; Legacy: Wesley Robert “Wes” Synness of Helena

District 9 (Gallatin, Meagher, & Park Counties): Living: Warren Howard Johnson of Gardiner; Legacy: Donald W. “Donnie” Johnston, White Sulphur Springs

District 10 (Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, & Sanders Counties): Living: Thomas Michael “Tom” Harmon of Kila; Legacy: Hollister “Pat” McVay of Kalispell

District 11: (Mineral, Missoula, & Ravalli Counties): Living: Robert M. “Dr. Bob” Brown of Missoula; Legacy: William M. “Bill” Holt of Lolo

District 12: (Deer Lodge, Beaverhead, Silver Bow, Granite, Madison, & Powell Counties): Living: Daniel Calvin “Dan” Hill of Dillon; Legacy: Esther Marie (Johnson) McDonald of Philipsburg.

The MCHF & WHC plans to honor these inductees during the MCHF Annual Induction Ceremony & Western Heritage Gathering February 11, 2023, in Great Falls at the Heritage Inn. Look for more information as it becomes available on our Facebook page and on our website.

Glasgow Man Sentenced On Felony Sex Charge

Tuesday, October 4th 2022

Glasgow resident Justice Meland was sentenced in District Court in Glasgow on Monday to 20-years with the Montana Department of Corrections with all but 2 years suspended according to Valley County Attorney Dylan Jensen.

He was charged last year with Felony Sexual Intercourse without Consent after an investigation by the Glasgow Police Department.

Meland was immediately taken into custody after the sentencing by Judge Yvonne Laird and is currently incarcerated in the Valley County Detention Center.

Judge Laird also levied a $5k fine and recommended that Meland be placed in a facility where he can continue to receive treatment with his current medical providers.

Nemont Cooperative Annual Meeting Held In Glasgow

Tuesday, October 4th 2022

Members of the Nemont Telephone Cooperative elected new board members at its annual meeting in Glasgow on October 1st.

Members of the cooperative elected Tyler Young of Plentywood to a 2-year unexpired term and Adam Carney to a 3-year term. Both Young and Carney ran unopposed and are representing District 1 on the Nemont Board of Directors.

In the only contested race, Gail Fast of Glasgow defeated Ben Boreson to represent District 3 for a 3-year term.

Montana Judge Strikes Down Three Election Laws Passed By 2021 Montana Legislature

Monday, October 3rd 2022

In a sweeping 199-page ruling, Yellowstone County District Court Judge Michael G. Moses struck down three laws passed by the 2021 Legislature that would have changed voter identification laws, prohibited paid ballot collection and eliminated Election Day registration.

The decision means that unless the case is appealed or stayed by the Montana Supreme Court, Election Day registration will be legal and in place during the 2022 Election, paid ballot collectors can receive ballots and college-issued identification remains legal for primary identification for the election as well.

The decision came after a two-week trial in early August. The legal cost to voters to defend the lawmakers’ actions has been $1.2 million and counting. And, for one of the laws, it was the third time such legislation has been attempted, challenged and struck down by three different judges.

Moses ruled that Senate Bill House Bill 530, which prohibited paid ballot collectors, has been found repeatedly unconstitutional by Yellowstone County District Judges Jessica Fehr and Donald Harris.

“Following these District Court orders holding BIPA (Ballot Interference Prevention Act) unconstitutional, the Secretary presented no evidence that the Legislature considered what was unconstitutional about BIPA or made any effort to craft HB530 to remediate the access issues identified by the court,” Moses said in his ruling. “To the contrary, the one legislator that the Secretary called to testify at trial stated that he did not study impediments on Native American voters when ballot collection is restricted, did not read the opinions finding BIPA unconstitutional, made no effort to learn why BIPA was held unconstitutional, but nonetheless support HB 530.”

Moses’ ruling found that lawmakers had not corrected legal “deficiencies” that were found in the previous cases because the new laws disadvantage Native American voters who often live farther away and face numerous obstacles, including no residential mail service. He reasoned that making paid ballot collection illegal harms Native Americans in a way that doesn’t tend to disenfranchise other groups.

“HB 530 is a solution in search of a problem,” Moses said. “It furthers no legitimate, let alone compelling, state interest and constitutes a disproportionate, severe, and unconstitutional burden on Plaintiffs’ constitutional right to vote.”

Moreover, Moses additionally ruled that the bill’s language was so vague and poorly defined that it made it impossible for citizens to understand, therefore inhibiting their fundamental right to core political speech as exercised by voting.

“There is no identifiable policy, standard, or rule in HB 530 that informs the administrative rule regarding the meaning of ‘pecuniary benefit,’” Moses said. He also pointed out to another unclear passage that’s a definition of a government agency.


Election Day Registration
The judge also ruled that Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, who was called upon to defend lawmakers’ action, had not presented any evidence of voter fraud or widespread problems with Election Day Registration, which had been bumped back by House Bill 176, to the Monday (the day before Election Day) at noon, effectively cutting out 16 hours, or a day-and-a-half of registration and voting.

Moses said that even though the Legislature has the constitutional power to set statewide elections, once it grants privileges, like Election Day Registration, which was adopted in 2005, courts had the ability to review legislative changes. He ruled that the two-week trial presented substantial evidence that Election Day Registration does not lead to higher rates of fraud, doesn’t ensure safer or faster elections, and is used by many people such that eliminating it would lead to disenfranchising voters.

“Removing one-and-a-half days during which Montanans could register to vote and cast their vote is a severe burden on the right to vote. HB 176 denies Montanans their right to vote for one-and-a-half days during each election cycle. It would be unconstitutional to deny Montanans the right to bear arms for one-and-a-half days. It would be unconstitutional to deny Montanans the right to freedom of religion for one-and-a-half days,” he said.

Moses also pointed out that eliminating Election Day Registration doesn’t eliminate work or even cut down on the possibility of errors, it just shifts the same work to another time, while having the likely effect of stopping thousands of Montanans from voting.

“If EDR leads to additional work for election administrators, it is only because it boosts voter turnout,” Moses said. “This shift in time will only reduce the burden on election officials if it results in fewer Montanans voting.”

Moses said that lawmakers had also failed to consider other ways to shift burdens away from election officials at the county level.

“There are myriad ways for the state to reduce administrative burdens on elections officials without the disenfranchising effects of ending EDR, including hiring more poll workers on Election Day, offering simpler or more frequent training to election administrators, and modernizing election equipment,” he said.


College or university identification
Finally, Moses held that there was no reason for state lawmakers to eliminate college-issued identification as a primary form of ID for voting. He said adopting Senate Bill 169 put college or university students at a disadvantage if they met the residency requirements, but had no other form of identification. Furthermore, he noted that concealed-carry permits — something lawmakers elevated as identification — are not standardized throughout the state and offer no more security than college IDs.

He also ruled that there’s never been a Montana case of voter fraud using a college identification to vote and that lawmakers targeted college students because of the belief that they were more likely to vote for Democrat or liberal candidates, which is not a valid legislative reason for changing the law.

“Young voters and voters in all other age groups are otherwise similarly situated, but SB 169’s prohibition on out-of-state driver’s licenses or Montana college or university IDs – two forms of accepted for years without resulting in a single known instance of fraud or any other problem – disproportionately and disparately burdens young voters,” the ruling said. “It is no accident that the Legislature passed SB 169 just months after Montana’s youngest voters turned out to vote at record rates.”

Moses said that the concerns of voter fraud and its attendant penalties are already addressed elsewhere in state law.

“There is no evidence of significant or widespread voter fraud in Montana, let alone any fraud that HB 176, SB 169, or HB 530 would remedy,” Moses said. “Even if there were any evidence of voter fraud or coercion – which there is not, related to EDR, ballot collection, student identification, or otherwise – the challenged laws are not necessary because Montana has several other existing statutes that already criminalize such activities. The Secretary provides no evidence that the existing laws are somehow insufficient to protect against voter fraud or coercion.”

Glasgow City Council To Meet Monday

Monday, October 3rd 2022

Easton Kalinski Donates 4-H Sale Earnings To VALCO Pool Campaign

Friday, September 30th 2022

Easton Kalinski donates his 4H Sale earnings of $1,550 to the VALCO Pool Campaign!


+ How old are you and what grade are you in? I am 12 and in the 7th grade.


+ What is your favorite school subject and why? Science because Mr. Nelson rocks!


+ Why did you choose the Pool Campaign to donate to? The blueprints show it will be accessible for people like me and when I’m old enough to work, I hope Jory hires me for the office.


+ Why do you think it is important that a new pool is built? It will be safer for swimmers and there are a lot of people that learn to swim there.


+ If you were a fish, what fish would you be? I’d be a carp because no one around here would eat me.


+ What important life traits has 4H taught you? 4H has taught me to be a good citizen.


+ What is your favorite part of 4H? My favorite part is being around animals, specifically chickens. My second favorite is being around and learning from other 4H members and volunteers.

This donation was made possible by Josh Kittleson, David and Anne Bradley and Scott’s Track and Wheel who bought Easton’s poultry at the 4H sale!

Chinook salmon and egg collection efforts gearing up on Fort Peck

Friday, September 30th 2022

FWP fisheries and hatchery staff will begin collecting adult Chinook salmon on Fort Peck Reservoir starting the first week of October. The annual collection effort lasts through much of October, with the goal of collecting as many eggs as possible. Salmon are then raised in the hatchery and will be released back into the reservoir in the spring of 2023. Collection efforts coincide with the salmon snagging season, which begins Saturday, Oct. 1, and runs through Nov. 30.

Chinook salmon cannot successfully spawn naturally in the reservoir, so staff must collect fish, harvest the eggs, and raise them in the hatchery. A total of 53,232 five-inch Chinook salmon were released in June of 2022 from last year’s spawning efforts.

During the collection, crews will target areas near the dam where salmon congregate, using electrofishing gear to collect the fish.

“Even though salmon have been observed in relatively shallow areas during the past few weeks, ideal spawning activity has yet to take place,” said Heath Headley, Fort Peck Reservoir biologist. “Similar to walleye, salmon spawning activity peaks when all the right conditions take place, which primarily are water temperatures and timing.”

Ideal spawning temperatures are when water temperatures reach 55 degrees, which typically occurs around mid-October. This is also when crews see the most fish, along with better egg quality.
Collecting large, egg-laden females looks promising, as there have been more females caught by anglers this year. Anglers may recall that there were a large number of smaller, mature males caught last season. Much of this has to do with males maturing at an earlier age then females which is typical in most fish species.

“Compared to last year, the salmon caught this summer have been larger, with more females present,” said Headley. “This is due to a big year class that is continuing to grow and mature. Hopefully, we will be able to collect some of these females for our stocking efforts.”
Once the fish are collected, they are transferred to the Fort Peck Multispecies Fish Hatchery. Eggs and milt are then extracted from females and males, respectively, and successfully fertilized offspring will be reared over the winter.

Salmon were first introduced into Ft. Peck Reservoir in 1983. Due to the abundance of their preferred forage fish, cisco, salmon have shown excellent growth, with males maturing in two to four years and females in three to four years. This is the only Chinook fishery in Montana, so anglers travel from near and far in hopes of hooking up with one of these unique fish.

Please be aware of fishery crews and their electrofishing efforts, as they may be near areas where angling activities are taking place. The salmon tend to congregate in areas where they were initially released, and often can become concentrated. If there are any questions concerning the salmon spawning egg-take efforts, please call Headley at 406-526-3471, or email hheadley@mt.gov.

Phillips County Voter Fraud Case Vacated In Justice Court

Thursday, September 29th 2022

An alleged voter fraud case out of Phillips County was vacated earlier this month, with the matter “being referred to U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement for further action,” according to a press release from County Attorney Dan O’Brien.

In January, Philippine citizens Grace O. Albia and Jannet Benitez Zeta, who were living and working in Montana, were referred by the Phillips County Sheriff’s Office for misdemeanor Deceptive Election Practices charges.

The two women allegedly falsified voter registration forms on Oct. 21, 2021, by saying they were U.S. citizens. They earlier pleaded not guilty, according to the clerk.

They no longer work or live in Montana, according to the release.

As outlined in the release published in the Phillips County News, a plea agreement recommended that they each pay the maximum fine and surcharges of $585 and receive a five-month suspended jail sentence. Albia and Zeta were scheduled to enter no contest pleas in court in September.

The court held a change of plea hearing Sept. 13 where counsel for the two women, Attorney Thane Johnson, was present, but both Albia and Zeta were absent, not appearing in person or by phone. County Attorney O’Brien then “asked the court to forfeit their bond for failure to appear as required by the plea agreement.”

“The court granted Mr. Johnson additional time to locate his clients before the court issues an arrest warrant,” O’Brien wrote.

O’Brien’s said the matter is also being referred to U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement for further action.” A search of the ICE Detainee Locator did not yield results for Albia or Zeta.

The case drew widespread attention but two political scientists earlier said the allegations weren’t indicative of election insecurity.

The case out of Phillips County was cited during the trial on Montana’s recently passed voting laws that took place in August in Yellowstone County. The three bills in question involved voter ID, same-day registration and prohibiting ballot collectors from being paid.

Election Day voting and using university identification to vote currently stand in Montana, as the Montana Supreme Court narrowly upheld a Yellowstone County District Court judge’s temporary injunction on two of the laws from the trial.

Planned Release Reductions From Fort Peck Dam Will Begin End Of Week

Thursday, September 29th 2022

Planned release reductions from Fort Peck Dam will begin the end of this week.

The release schedule for Sept. 28 is 8,000 cubic feet per second and will be stepped down to 4,000 cfs by Oct. 2.

“We delayed release reductions until the end of September. This provided more irrigation reliability at the end of the growing season. The action had minimal impacts in the upper basin, no impacts on the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System’s overall ability to meet its authorized purposes and no impacts to total system storage,” said John Remus, Chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers understands the important role of the Missouri River in providing water for irrigation, municipal, and industrial uses throughout the basin. Operating the System to meet all the water supply needs of the basin to the extent reasonably possible is the USACE goal. However, the USACE does not provide and cannot guarantee access to the water. Maintaining access to the water is the individual facility owner/operator’s responsibility.

NorthWestern Energy Granted Rate Increase For Electrical And Natural Gas Customers In Montana

Wednesday, September 28th 2022

NorthWestern Energy's request for a rate increase is going through but at lower numbers than the company pitched.

The Montana Public Service Commission authorized an interim increase of $90.5 million in electric rates and $1.7 million in natural gas rates.

The monthly increase for customers would be $11.19 for electric and $0.48 for natural gas users.

The company's original ask came in at $114.7 million for electric and $5.7 million for natural gas. If approved, the monthly increase would've been $14 for the average electric user and $1.60 for gas.

The Montana Public Service Commission sent out the following information:

The Montana Public Service Commission unanimously agreed to allow a reduced interim rate increase for NorthWestern Energy on Tuesday. In its application for an interim increase in electric and natural gas utility rates pursuant to Montana law, NorthWestern Energy had asked for an increase in electric utility rates of $114.7 million and natural gas utility rates of $5.7 million. The average residential customer bill would have increased by $14 and $1.60 respectively. The Public Service Commission authorized increases in the electric and natural gas rates at $90.5 and $1.7 million respectively which results in a lower than requested average monthly increase of $11.19 and $.48.

These adjustments based on electric and gas revenue requirements as well as the Power Cost and Credits Adjustment Mechanism (PCCAM) are required by Montana law and utility regulatory principles. Gary Duncan, regulatory analyst at the PSC, stated “principals of rate regulation require that we balance fair return opportunities vs just and reasonable rates. Wholesale prices of electricity have gone up 140% since 2020 and NorthWestern Energy is entitled to these pass-through costs to its customers who have already used the power. Continued under collections will likely lead to credit rating downgrades.”

The largest portion of this increase, the PCCAM, allows utilities to recover prudently incurred costs such as power purchases and fuel used in the generation of electricity for its customers. NorthWestern Energy’s historical electricity supply cost is a known and clearly identifiable cost to the utility. While NorthWestern Energy’s costs for natural gas are updated monthly, electric supply under-collections have been significant and may lead to credit downgrades if not recovered. NorthWestern filed its updated PCCAM rates on September 1, 2022 reflecting a $58 million under collection for the 2022 tracker year.

However, the purpose of increasing the PCCAM Base Costs is to attempt to eliminate the annual large under collections such as the $58 million for the 2022 tracker year. If, after implementing the new PCCAM Base Costs, there are no under or over collections for the 2023 tracker year, then on October 1, 2023, there would be an anticipated reduction in required PCCAM revenues of $52.8 million reflecting the full recovery by NorthWestern of the 2022 tracker year underrun. This reduction would equal a monthly decrease to the average residential monthly bill of $7.18 or 8%.

Additionally, Commission rules require interim revenue requirement requests to utilize the last approved return on equity using the methodologies and adjustments used by the Commission in the last general rate order. NorthWestern Energy’s interim filing meets these requirements. The revenue requirement includes the operating expenses, taxes, and depreciation associated with NorthWestern’s transmission and distribution network, plus the required return on infrastructure investment.

The Commission disallowed an increase in estimated property tax increases. NorthWestern Energy files its proposed property tax increases in mid-December every year to be effective January 1, per statute. The legislature, not the PSC, has authorized this pass through to customers.

“No one wanted to see this motion today, neither the Commission nor the utility. We are allowing NorthWestern Energy to recover costs they are entitled to under statute. Simply put, a failure to act could lead to severe consequences” stated Vice-President Brad Johnson. The Commission is expected to issue a final order on NorthWestern Energy's request for a rate increase in early 2023.

The Commission regulates private investor-owned natural gas, electric, telephone, water, and sewer companies, certain motor carriers, and oversees natural gas pipeline safety and intrastate railroad safety. The Commission works to ensure that Montanans receive safe and reliable service from regulated public utilities while paying reasonable rates. For more information, visit psc.mt.gov or contact the Commission at 1-800-646-6150.

Scottie Homecoming Royalty Announced!

Wednesday, September 28th 2022

Congratulations to the 2022 Scottie Homecoming Royalty!

King Candidates:
Mason Donaldson
Mo Fast
Lane Thompson

Queen Candidates:
Daley Aune
Carly Nelson
Aspen Stulc