Christmas tree permits are available for at all seven Ranger District offices and numerous vendors across the Custer Gallatin National Forest.
Forest Service offices in Bozeman, West Yellowstone, Livingston, Gardiner, Big Timber, Red Lodge, Billings and Ashland, Mont., and Camp Crook, S.D., will have permits available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday for $5 each, with a limit of three permits per household. Permits are sold in person and cash, check, debit and credit are accepted.
Permits are also available in Red Lodge: Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop and in Billings at Cabela’s & Ace Hardware (Heights location).
A permit can also be purchased for gathering personal-use boughs. Permits, maps, forest road access updates and tree species identification guides are available at each ranger district office.
In support of Every Kid in a Park program, the Forest Service will offer one free Christmas tree cutting permit to each fourth-grader who presents a valid Every Kid in a Park pass. Fourth-graders can get an Every Kid in the Park Pass by visiting https://everykidinapark.gov and completing the “Get Your Pass” section. Once complete, the child can bring the pass to any Custer Gallatin National Forest District Office ((not available at vendors) for their Christmas tree permit.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 November 2015 12:43
Volunteers to provide tax assistance for 2016 can help people and give their minds a workout, too.
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide has been around for nearly 50 years, providing assistance to all taxpayers, especially those 50 and older who can’t afford a tax preparation service.
“We’re looking for compassionate and friendly individuals to join our team of local volunteers,” a news release said. “If you’re interested in making a difference in your community, we’ve got a role for you!”
AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, the nation’s largest free, volunteer-run tax preparation and assistance service, is seeking volunteers across the state to help Montana taxpayers who are seeking assistance preparing and filing their 2015 tax returns.
Volunteers do not need to be an AARP member or retiree to participate. AARP Foundation Tax-Aide volunteers receive free tax training and are reimbursed on a limited basis for qualified program-related expenses.
In Montana last year, volunteers served more than 7,000 people. For more information on how you can join the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide team, visitwww.aarp.org/money/taxes/info-2006/volunteer_aarp_tax_aide.html.
AARP Foundation volunteers will receive equal opportunity and treatment throughout recruitment, appointment, training and service. There will be no discrimination based on age, disabilities, gender, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, economic status or sexual orientation.
Last Updated on Thursday, 26 November 2015 12:40
Speaking as part of a climate change panel in Bozeman on Nov. 6, University of Montana Regents Professor of Ecology Steve Running said he’s had a good year — his best, in fact, since 2007.
That year, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its fourth assessment report, for which Running was a chapter lead author. When the report came out, earning a Nobel Peace Prize for IPCC, Running thought, “Well, we’ve shown the science of climate change. Now we can get down to doing something about it.”
The world then proceeded to “waste another decade stewing about whether the science was real or not,” he said. “It would have been better if we’d started earlier,” he continued, referring to action on the IPCC’s 2007 recommendations. But maybe, finally, we have reached the tipping point.”
Running noted as evidence of that tipping point the day’s breaking news of President Obama’s denial of the Keystone pipeline permit. Designed to carry tar sands oil from Canada to existing U.S. pipelines feeding Gulf Coast refineries, the pipeline has been promoted as a jobs creator and an aid to U.S. energy independence.
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 November 2015 19:56
Gov. Steve Bullock, along with a group of Montana-based organizations, is seeking nominations for the Montana Neighbor Awards.
The awards give recognition to landowners who work collaboratively with their neighbors to enhance Montana’s sense of community.
The group is seeking nominations of landowners from across Montana. Winners will receive specially printed and framed Montana Neighbor Award certificates signed by Gov. Bullock and awards committee members.
The Montana Neighbor group includes Artemis Common Ground, The Nature Conservancy of Montana, Montana Council of Trout Unlimited, Montana Association of Land Trusts, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and the Office of the Governor.
“It’s no secret that land ownership in Montana has been in transition,” said Chris King, Winnett rancher and member of the Montana Neighbor Awards Committee. “There is tension out there between landowners, public resource agencies, and sportsmen. Those situations get press. But the fact is there are many new and longtime landowners who are great neighbors in the Montana tradition. We want to give them recognition.” Award criteria include cooperation, neighborly land access, land stewardship and conservation ethic and community leadership.
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 November 2015 19:52
Greg Ando, president of the YMCA Board of Directors, has announced the appointment of Kim Kaiser as the YMCA’s chief executive officer effective July 14.
A news release said that Ms. Kaiser brings more than 20 years of relevant experience to her new role, having previously served as senior adviser of Major Gifts and Campaign of St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation and executive director of RiverStone Health Foundation.
Her resume includes experience in administration, executive planning, fundraising, and marketing in the nonprofit sector. She has led multimillion dollar campaigns, including the RiverStone Health Hospice Home campaign and St. Vincent Healthcare’s Heart and Vascular and Pediatric campaigns.
Ando also recognized Wayne Moller for his service as the interim director.
“Wayne has more than 20 years of experience at the YMCA, and has effectively served as the interim director in the past. As always, he has done a tremendous job.”
and we are very fortunate to have him on our staff.”
Kim Kaiser earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion from Montana State University Billings and is a Certified Fundraising Executive. She currently serves as board chairman of PLUK (Parent’s Let’s Unite for Kids), is a trustee of the First Interstate Bank Centennial Youth Foundation, serves as an advisory council member for the Billings Gazette Magic Magazine and serves as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
Nationally, she serves on the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy Journal Advisory Council. Sheis a Billings Leadership and Montana Leadership alumnae, past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Montana Chapter Board and a member of Billings Downtown Rotary Club.
Last Updated on Thursday, 09 July 2015 14:08
COLSTRIP – The energy market has been tough on coal-fired power, according to research from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. A new look at data for the two oldest coal-fired power plants at Colstrip, 1 and 2 raises questions about their profitability, based on energy price trends and demand.
David Schlissel, the group’s director of resource planning, said there will continue to be profits for the two companies that own the plants, but he predicted that those profits will stay small.
“When you’ve got a situation where the price of making your product goes up and the price you can sell it at goes down,” he said, “it doesn’t bode well for the future.”
Looming regulations on existing coal-fired plants to install more pollution controls have been blamed as a reason why many facilities could move into deficit territory, but Schlissel said his group’s analysis shows those expenses would be just a fraction of the problem for Colstrip. He cited production prices, increased demand for renewables and low natural gas prices as the major reasons for reduced profits.
Colstrip is a major employer, and Schlissel said this fact is one reason his organization is calling for a serious discussion of what will happen if the plants go dark.
“It’s certainly better for the workers and better for the community that they address retirement in a planned and just manner,” he said.
Schlissel said the future profitability challenges for Colstrip aren’t unique; they’re similar to what many coal-fired facilities are facing. The plants are owned by Talen Montana and Puget Sound Energy.
The report, “A Bleak Future for Colstrip 1 and 2,” is online at ieefa.org.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 June 2015 13:32
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has withdrawn its proposal to build a new meetinghouse near its temple on the West End of Billings.
In a letter from the church delivered to the city-county Planning Department on Monday, a spokesman said the church was honoring verbal statements it made nearly 20 years ago, promising to build “no additional religious facilities” in the Rim Point Subdivision.
Harvey Bonner, one of the temple neighbors who had strongly opposed plans for the meeting house, said a representative of the church handed out copies of the letter, dated June 4, to neighbors on Friday.
Zoning Coordinator Nicole Cromwell confirmed that a copy of the letter was submitted to the Planning Department on Monday. It was signed by J. Roberto Hernandez, the regional director for temporal affairs for the LDS Church in Salt Lake City.
The church had applied for what is known as a special review to build the meetinghouse, and it was that application that was withdrawn. On May 5, the Billings Zoning Commission voted 2-2 on the special review, and the application was originally supposed to be considered by the City Council on May 26.
In mid-May, the church asked to postpone that consideration until June 22. Plans for the 16,558-square foot meetinghouse, which would have been built just southeast of the temple at 3100 Rim Point Drive, drew heated opposition from people in the neighborhood.
They argued that church representatives, during the contentious process surrounding plans to build the temple in 1997, had said they wouldn’t build any other religious structures in the area.
The letter from Hernandez said the church recently conducted “due diligence research” and found that nothing to that effect was stated formally. However, the letter continued, “we learned that there were verbal statements made that no additional religious facilities would be constructed on the remaining 46 residential lots in the Rim Point Subdivision.”
“Latter-day Saints strive to live with integrity,” Hernandez said, “and we feel it is right to acknowledge the concern of our neighbors based on their interpretation of our information that was not clearly conveyed at the time.”
He said the church commonly puts meetinghouses close to its temples, and that is still the preferred location, but it will now be seeking another “suitable site.”
Bonner said he was “surprised and pleased” to see the letter on Friday. It was delivered by Spencer Zaugg, a Billings dentist and a stake president for the local Mormon Church. Cromwell said the letter was delivered to the Planning Department by Zaugg’s wife, Beverly.
Last Updated on Thursday, 11 June 2015 14:25
EDITOR’S NOTE: Chris Goodridge, a Democrat, has filed official paperwork to run for the Montana Legislature in House District 52. Here is his edited statement:
Chris Goodridge, a longtime community member, is a certified transportation broker for a local small business and has been a vocal advocate for better schools in Montana. He also works closely with other family members to bring the Magic City Blues festival to Billings every year.
“It’s unacceptable that the Legislature failed to pass a plan to fix Montana’s crumbling roads and bridges that would have created good-paying jobs in Billings as well as a bill helping our youngest learners get a leg up on their education. It’s also unacceptable that the many residents of South Billings who will benefit from Medicaid expansion were represented by someone who ignored their needs,” said Goodridge. “We need leadership in Helena that will work across party lines to ensure Montana is the best place to live, work and raise a family.”
His opponent, Republican Dave Hagstrom, voted against House Bill 5, which would have provided funding to upgrade Montana’s infrastructure, and an amendment to House Bill 2, the state budget, which would have provided funding for early childhood education. He also voted against Senate Bill 405, the bipartisan agreement which made Medicaid coverage available to up to 70,000 working Montanans who were previously ineligible for health insurance subsidies.
Goodridge ran in 2014, narrowly losing in a district that has been historically Republican. He made his decision to re-run after observing his opponent join the extremist faction of the Republican Party for vote after vote in the 64th Montana Legislature.
“Voters want a representative who will work hard to get things done. I am disappointed that partisan politics stood in the way of meaningful legislation aimed at helping working families,” Goodridge said.
While the election is 18 months away, Goodridge plans to talk with community leaders and local residents about their concerns and share his ideas to strengthen Billings, Yellowstone County, and Montana.
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 June 2015 12:24
Kelly McCarthy was re-elected as chairman, and Becky Reidl was re-elected as vice chairman, at the annual convention of the Yellowstone County Democratic Central Committee on May 27.
Kevin Dowling was also retained as the YCDCC treasurer.
Pam Ellis stepped down as YCDCC secretary, and Vicki Dickinson was selected to replace her.
Jim Larson and Shirley Hanson were both re-elected to their State Committee roles. Mr. Larson also holds the State Democratic Committee chairman position.
Wanda Grinde and Mike Fried were both retained as State Committee alternates. They are backed up by new Officers, Nancy Boyer and Joe Splinter.
Several standing committee roles and precinct representatives were also filled during the County Convention.
According to a news release, discussion at the convention centered around the recent 64th legislative session and the Democrats’ Truman Dinner fundraiser that was held May 9 with keynote speeches by Gov. Steve Bullock and Crow Tribal Chairman Darrin Old Coyote. The Truman Dinner was attended by over 300 people.
and will net for the YCDCC $14,000 after all of the bills are paid.
Comments about the legislative session were mostly positive, the news release said. After the Medicaid expansion plan that was offered by the Democrats was tabled, they worked with Senate Republicans on a bill that sought middle ground and will offer coverage to an additional 70,000 Montanans who are currently uncovered.
They also worked with Republican colleagues on measures that would ensure more transparency on money in elections and passage of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes water compact.
There was some disappointment that they were unable to deliver the much needed infrastructure help to the folks in Eastern Montana even though all Democrats were supportive of the compromise
Last Updated on Thursday, 04 June 2015 12:23
HELENA – The waiting game on a decision for Keystone XL is now over six years, with supporters and foes wondering what is taking so long. The TransCanada pipeline-project decision rests with the State Department, which has been conducting environmental reviews.
Backers of the project say Montana needs the construction jobs. Lena Moffitt, climate and energy senior manager at the National Wildlife Federation, says it’s understandable some folks are torn on the issue.
“In no way do we want to thumb our nose at those important jobs, but at the same time, this project would dramatically expand a very, very polluting industry: the tar sands in Canada,” says Moffitt.
The National Wildlife Federation opposes the pipeline, citing concerns about pipeline spills and damage to the environment for construction, damage it says would affect human health and wildlife. Congress had approved a bill to allow the pipeline to be constructed without State Department approval, but it was vetoed by President Barack Obama.
Moffitt says her group has heard clues from President Obama since the veto that he is leaning toward not granting the needed permit. She expects the decision will spark intense debate about the future of energy production and public health.
“But also to protect wildlife and the water and land through which this pipeline would run,” says Moffitt. “That’s an angle that I do think any Americans really understand. We’ve seen these types of pipelines spill a lot.”
Montana’s senators both support the pipeline, as does Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 May 2015 22:44