The Billings Outpost

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What’s right with Billings

When I speak to groups I often ask, “What do you like about Billings?”

This takes some people off-guard as they came to voice complaints. But in a few seconds I begin to hear some of what they like. Then I begin to relate many of the things that I have learned by being on the City Council and visiting with each department.

The finance department has refinanced our bonds and saved us $6.8 million. We have installed new lighting and received $538,000 in rebates.

Parks and Rec took all of the seats from the old baseball stadium and built 100 gray picnic tables that we see in our various parks.

I have visited our treatment court for drug addicts and DUIs. Those who are there because of felonies have graduated with less than 7 percent recidivism.

Twenty-five people work around the clock to provide us the best drinking water in the state.

Each department has a board of citizen volunteers. Working together, they bring plans and ideas to the council.

The new Billings Public Library is another jewel to be proud of with an increasing volume of users.

Have you visited the new water conservation park south of King Avenue and west of Shiloh Road? One of the few in the Northwest.

The Downtown Business Alliance is working closely with the city to place three men on the downtown streets to help get homeless men and women into treatment instead of jail.

Our police department has over 100 volunteers who have saved the department over $330,000 in one year.

Each department must maintain a reserve for replacement purchases. When the fire department needed a million dollar truck, since it had the cash, $100,000 was saved!

Most of the work of the city is done by our nine departments of 850 employees, their volunteer boards and the hundreds of volunteers who give of their time and energy to get things done. We are not perfect, but there are so many people and things for which to be thankful.

Kenneth Crouch

City Council, Ward 5

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 22:44

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Schmitz for City Council

I am writing in support of Nathan Schmitz, who is running for city councilman of Ward 4, the seat being vacated by Jani McCall. I have gotten to know him personally and professionally and am impressed by his dedication, intelligence and vision for the city he was born in.

Nathan has served as principal of Elder Grove Public School in Billings the past four years. With four generations of family living here, he wants to ensure that Billings continues to prosper and grow while retaining its Montana identity. He has solid business acumen and, as owner of Property Management Co. here, he appreciates and understands the value of the private business sector.

His dedication to Billings runs deep, as evidenced by his support for the local Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, an outreach program for the homeless — and many other worthwhile causes that benefit the Billings community.

Nathan Schmitz is an excellent candidate for City Council, Ward 4.

Al Swanson

City Council, Ward 4

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 22:43

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Entryways need work

I appreciated the Aug. 6 article on growth issues in Billings. Candi Millar and her staff are doing an exemplary job, but this article omits an important point that Candi has brought up every time I’ve heard her presentation.

The citizen survey included many comments on the need to improve the appearance of our various entryways. One of the first entryways to be addressed is on the east edge of the city, going past MetraPark. It’s a good start but unfortunately it looks like a garish carwash at that entrance will welcome visitors to our town. (The Shiloh entrance is a step in the right direction, however.)

City planners often use the term “highway appeal” and our city definitely needs improvement in that area as an essential part of our growth policy.

Paul Whiting


Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 22:42

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Don’t vote for me

When word came to me that our Billings City Council member might be forced to relocate for her job, I thought I could help. With one-in-every-four of us not registered to vote and candidates often hard to find, I filed to run for her position in Ward 3. Little did I know what I would learn since that day …

The good news:

• 19 citizens have filed for City Council. 

• We are blessed with some of the best. Brent Cromley and Ken Crouch are two of the finest people one could ever hope to meet and elect.

• Our Ward 3 Council member now will not have to relocate. We have a bright, passionate, experienced representative who loves this community. Becky Bird pours her heart and soul into working for all. She serves us well and deserves to be re-elected.

The bad news:

• The last thing I wanted to do was split the vote in my neighborhood. Unfortunately, it is too late to be removed from the ballot. Although my name will still appear, I ask that you please not vote for me. I wish to withdraw from consideration for City Council. 

Sincere thanks to those of you who encouraged me to run. It would be a privilege someday to represent you and our neighbors…but this is not that time. I hope you will join me in supporting and voting for Becky Bird in Ward 3. Above all, please REGISTER … learn about those running to represent you … and participate with your VOTE!

Karen (Lazetich) Moses


Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 22:41

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Net metering needed

A series of net metering bills introduced in the last legislative session would have made it easier for you to use renewable energy. NorthWestern’s head lobbyist, John Fitzpatrick, would have none of it. He wants to keep you dependent on big utilities, instead of buying solar panels and generating your own electricity.

You can see why he doesn’t like net metering. If you are producing your own electricity, you aren’t buying it from NorthWestern.

And so, in various hearings, Fitzpatrick pulled out the rhetorical stops, tossing metaphors around like he was a medieval lord pouring oil over the ramparts on rebelling peasants below. Anything that was loose went over. I feared for the family dog.

My Fitzpatrick favorite was when he compared net metering to cancer. As with cancer, he argued, there is no such thing as a small amount. If you let just one cell survive, it will multiply and spread, threatening the whole body.

Though distorted and disingenuous, his attack admitted something true. Net metering truly is a transformative technology that could greatly benefit all Montanans. When Fitzpatrick condemned it as cancer, he admitted as much. As soon as one person does net metering, their neighbors will see the benefits, trying it as well, and that it is how it will spread. Neighbor telling neighbor.

As Fitzpatrick would have it, we all die then, because cancer. But actually we would transform the world, shifting from a centralized power system to a decentralized power system, maybe saving the planet in the process.

Wade Sikorski


Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 22:40

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Unaffordable health care

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is not affordable. Recently my stepson lost his job and his insurance coverage. He has tried to get onto Obamacare but, because of his part-time job, he cannot afford it.

He tried to apply for Medicaid in Colorado but was denied because he made too much money the prior year. Hello, he was unemployed at the time. It has become either buy food or Obamacare. Not only is the cost high, the deductibles are such that he would be better off not having any insurance and just go to the emergency room.

Wasn’t that the reason Obama and the Democrats gave us Obamacare, saying it was going to change? Maybe they should have read it before they passed it.  Now they are saying the Republicans have to fix their problems.

I don’t know of one insurance expert in Congress smart enough to fix this mess. It’s the president’s and Democrats’ mess, so please fix it.

Michael Jennings


Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 22:38

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