A daily digest of Montana news

April 21, 2015


MONTANANS love their rock 'n roll. So much so that they listen to more of it -- on a per capita basis -- than anyone else in the country. How do we know?

The online music service Pandora reports that Montanans listen to more rock, compared to other genres of music, than residents of any other state. Montana members listened to rock 19 percent of the time, followed closely by Colorado at 18 percent. Next up: Arkansas and Oregon at 15 percent, then Wyoming at 12 percent.

MONTANA has some great bars. Most of them are cowboy saloons, unpretentious places where you can relax with friends, sharing drinks and stories while chewing on a delicious burger and fries.

But what is the state's most iconic bar? According to the website Thrillist, it is the Sip-N-Dip in Great Falls,  tucked away in the O'Haire Motor Inn. It certainly doesn't fit the stereotype for a typical Montana bar.

The Sip-N-Dip, says Thrillist, is "an old-school tiki bar that serves up fruity cocktails that are in direct contrast with the state's unofficial order of 'whiskey and a side of solidarity.' Were that its only defining trait, the Sip 'n Dip would be a rarity. But it's their mermaids that make it an icon. That's right: in a state that defines landlocked, the servers (and, once, Daryl Hannah) dress as mermaids and swim around in a pool behind the bar, peeping in through a glass window. Throw in the soothing sounds of Piano Pat Spoonheim and you don't just have an icon. You've got a national treasure."

Thrillist picked the most iconic bars in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Its rules: The bars had to be famous, had to be around since at least 1990, and they still had to be popular.

NO SURPRISE here: Montana's most liberal town is Missoula.

How about the most conservative? It's Hammond. Huh? Where's that?

Hammond is about as far from Missoula as you can get, both physically and politically, in southeastern Montana. It only has about 150 residents.

​So who decided that Missoula and Hammond were the most liberal and conservative places in Montana? Business Insider came up with those designations based on data it got from political analytics company Clarity Campaign Labs. It also found the most liberal and conservative communities in the other 49 states.

WHO makes the best pizza in Montana? Eugene's of Glasgow, according to an online survey conducted by the website Montana Mint. More than 10,000 votes were cast in a March Madness -style playoff bracket.

The top vote getters had a distinctly Hi-Line flavor to them, with Eugene's winning 48 percent of the vote in the last round and Nalivka's of Havre taking 34 percent. Others that made the final round were Howard's of Great Falls (11 percent) and Me Too Pizza of Culbertson (4 percent).​​​

AS MONTANANS, it often seems as if we have to drive long distances to go where we want to go. After all, we're the fourth largest state, with just over 147,000 square miles. 

But ironically, we have some of the shortest commutes to work. Montanans have the fourth shortest travel times to work, with a mean travel time of 18 minutes, according to the American Community Survey of the US Census Bureau.

​Our neighbors in South Dakota, Wyoming and North Dakota have the nation's fastest commute times at 17, 17.5, and 17.9 minutes, respectively. The longest commutes are in Maryland, where it takes 32.5 minutes to get to work.

"AN ARMY ​marches on its stomach," Napoleon  Bonaparte once declared.

So does a Legislature, it appears. And the nice thing for the legislators, and the folks who work around them, is that much of the food is free.

If you want to get in on the action -- or you just want to read a glib account of who is providing the latest free snacks at the Capitol -- you can look up the Twitter account called "MT Capitol Free Food."

One recent tweet noted that advocates for a new Historical Society museum had set up a spread in the Rotunda and, as they were 'looking for a $40M building--you gotta think the free food will be nothing less than historic."

Another noted that the Montana Trappers Association was hosting a free lunch. "No word if beaver mink or gopher on menu," quipped Free Food.

MONTANA'S long been home to a lot of celebrities. And it looks as though it may soon make room for two more. Or rather, make that three.

Actor and singer Justin Timberlake and his wife, Jessica Biel, who is expecting a baby later this month or in early April, are said to be planning to move into a vacation home they own at the Yellowstone Club at Big Sky.

The couple reportedly wants to spend more time in Montana so their child can "experience as much mountain life as possible."

A helicopter takes part in the search for an 8-year-girl who fell into the river near Headwaters State Park near Three Forks Sunday evening. The search, which resumed this morning, is now being called a recovery effort. (KBZK)


Judge sends founder of Yellowstone Club back to jail

Environmental report released on Tongue River Railroad

Search for girl who fell into river near Three Forks called recovery effort

Former aide at Boulder center pleads guilty to felony abuse

Former Chippewa Cree clinic manager sentenced to year in prison

Motl accepts complaint against Flathead tribes for use of 'dark money'

Auction for 32 acres of state land at Billings fails to draw any bidders

Senate approves higher fines for drivers convicted of DUIs 

Debate rages over best way to care for state's mentally ill

Missoula improves process for rape victims after crisis

Man dies in Miles City house fire

Quotas for mountain lions in Bitterroot stir controversy

Sponsors hope to expand horse sanctuary near Simms

Lawmakers clarify issue of when game animals must be tagged

BLM sees huge interest in Garnet ghost town job; fills it quickly

After trials wrap up, Sidney residents say they won't forget Sherry Arnold

MT ranked as 7th most committed state to locally produced foods

Billings infant lives for just 96 minutes: 'All he knew was love'

A look at the big issues in the Legislature's final days

Funding for public works still on agenda

Author Jon Krakauer discusses new book on Missoula rape cases

Phoenix rises: Flathead lab overcomes horrific injuries

Senate tosses bill allowing sales of raw milk

Lawmakers give final OK to Medicaid expansion

Attorney claims Highway Patrol documents show acts of racial profiling

House approves funding for 4 mental-health group homes

Killer of Sidney teacher sentenced to 100 years in prison

Draft EIS released for Tongue River Railroad

Harvard law students focus on MT's milk expiration law in documentary


Out-of-staters travel to Montana to buy tax-free RVs, vehicles

Boeing doubles size of its Helena manufacturing plant

Whitefish Mountain Resort sees one of best seasons on record

Dillon, Great Falls hospitals earn 5-star plaudits from patients

Columbia Falls looks to make economic comeback

PPL Montana puts 74-acre Corette plant site at Billings up for sale


Defensive front dominates in MSU's final spring scrimmage

Dave Guffey looks back on his 37 years as UM's SID

UM's athletic scholarships not close to NCAA's 'full cost of attendance'

Fairfield star Lizzy Klinker signs with Utah State

MSU mens' hoops team continues makeover by signing 4 JC players

UM basketball coach likes the look of 4 new recruits

2 Bozeman moms among top finishers in off-road Saharan Desert rally


Defense attorney blasts Krakauer book as one-sided, inaccurate

Bullock administration finally gets honest about causes of wage gap

Ivan Doig spoke to -- and for -- Montana

Motl should be confirmed as political practices commissioner

Lawmakers shouldn't remove funds for wildlife habitat

Tim Babcock: The grand old man of the Montana Republican Party


In seeking campus-rape villains in Missoula, Krakauer comes up short 

Krakauer: I relied on documents and victims to tell the story

One of Titanic's 705 survivors ended up raising family in Butte

A look at the state Capitol Building -- over the decades

Looking for a great pie? Here's some tips on where to find them

Historic St. Mary's Mission in Bitterroot Valley opens for season


Jason Aldean playing 2 shows at MSU April 22 & 23

Eagles plan concert in Billings June 2

Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss to perform in Missoula June 17

Country star Clint Black to headline Headwaters Jam in June

Hank Williams Jr. to play at Billings music fest July 11

Norman Maclean festival runs July 10-13 in Seeley Lake

Martina McBride coming to Helena stage on July 22

Motley Crue, Alice Cooper take stage in Billings July 26

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Ryan Bingham headline Red Ants Pants Festival

Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Oyster Cult to play at Billings fair Aug. 8

Martina McBride coming to Billings Aug. 9

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