​​​​​​​​​​A daily digest of Montana news

May 5, 2016


THE THEME song of Montana City must be artist Pharrell's "Happy." Because the little burg a few miles south of the state's capital city is the nation's third happiest city, according the online web site Zippia.

“We certainly didn’t see it coming, not because we don’t think it’s right; but simply because, who has Montana City on their places to visit list?" say the folks at Zippia. "Well, we certainly do now. It’s one of the least impoverished, most employed, and houses some of the most married residents (in their own houses, of course) in the entire country. It’s like the warm blanket fresh out of the dryer of places.”

As you can see from what Zippia had to say about Montana City, three of the criteria used to measure a city's "happiest" included the amount of poverty, jobless rates,and marriage levels, because getting and staying married generally has happiness benefits. Other measures: Length of commutes to work, home ownership, and costs of living.

If you live in Montana City, and are unhappy and want a change, you might try moving to Frontenac, Mo. That was No. 1 on Zippia's list.

WHO MAKES Montana's best pizza? It's Eugene's Pizza of Glasgow, according to those who submitted thousands of votes in this year's Montana Mint pizza championship runoff. 

Eugene's, which also won last year's contest, beat out 59 competitors over three rounds of voting conducted over three weeks. About 30,000 votes were cast online.

Pretty impressive, considering Glasgow is about as far as you can get from Montana's population centers. Eugene's pizzas must be pretty darn good, and its customers pretty darn loyal. It might be worth a drive. But if you find that a bit far to go, Eugene's will overnight deliver its pizzas half-cooked.

Eugene's competition in the final four were Nalivka's of Havre, Howard's Pizza of Great Falls, and MacKenzie River Pizza Company.

“The people of Montana have spoken: the best pizza in Montana can be found on the Hi-Line,” said a Montana Mint spokesman. “Eugene’s recipe for success seems to be great pizza and a VERY loyal fan base.  Their fans came up huge on social media, which ended up being the difference. Eugene’s is turning into the Duke University of Montana pizza.”


LIKE OTHER Americans, Montanans will flock to church on Easter. But there probably will be fewer of them filling the pews in Montana than there are in other parts of the country. Montanans just tend to be less religious than do Americans in other regions.

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives, Montana ranked 40th in terms of church membership in 2010. Many of the other states with low church membership were, like Montana, in the Rocky Mountain region or the West. 

Still, there were a few exceptions to that trend, The state with the nation's highest rate of church membership is Utah, while North Dakota is second.

WOULD YOU mind shelling out extra money every time you put gas in the tank if the revenue was used to improve the roads you drive on? Montanans apparently are, if a survey by the state's Chamber of Commerce is an accurate gauge.

A poll done for the Chamber in February of 800 Montana voters found that, by a 52 to 41 percent margin, Montanans are willing to pay a higher gas tax to fund work on roads and bridges.

The margin of support for a gas tax hike jumped to 56-28 when those polled were told the tax was last raised in 1993, that lower-priced fuel has reduced gas tax revenue, and that highway construction costs have risen by 68 percent.

So how much should the tax be raised? Almost half -- 47 percent -- said by 5 cents a gallon, while 30 percent were willing to see a 10 cent hike. Fourteen percent would pay more than 10 cents a gallon.


HOW WOULD you rate Helena as a state capital compared to the other 49? The folks at WalletHub.com, a financial blog, rank Helena the country’s 9th best capital.

WalletHub’s rankings are based on four key measures: affordability, economy, education standards, and quality of life. It used 35 metrics in those categories to come up with rankings for each city. You can go here to see all the rankings.

Finishing ahead of Helena were Austin, Tex., Lincoln, Neb., Bismarck, N.D., Madison, Wis., Raleigh, N.C., Boise, Id, Montpelier, Vt., and Pierre, S.D.

Last on the list are Hartford, Conn., Carson City, Nev., and Montgomery, Ala.

The Signal Peak coal mine near Roundup, shown in this recent Billings Gazette photo, cut its production by 30 percent in December and laid off 60 workers. As the coal industry struggles, Roundup officials are trying to cope with the economic fallout. 



Roundup struggles as coal industry falters

Flathead man gets 5 years in prison for fathering child with girl, 15

$2 million horse arena planned for Dillon

Gianforte spends $200K of his own money in latest campaign period

Gallatin, Flathead are Montana's fastest growing counties

State sees over 30 avalanche deaths in past decade

3 migrant children from Central America placed in Montana

Sportsmen, others raise concerns about outfitter hunting map

Sen. Burns backed protections for the Rocky Mountain Front

Much of MT's mountain snowpack melts away in warm April temps

Bodies of elite mountain climber & cameraman found in melting glacier

Man jumps from bridge with rope around neck; passerby cuts him down

Residents of Poplar, devastated by meth use, struggle for answers

Hardin jail suspends operations due to lack of inmates

Yellowstone Club founder invokes right to silence in bankruptcy case

GTF video game makers hope to win $10M prize to build school

Missoula officials investigate forged letter on refugee issue

Crow Tribe game warden convicted of poaching elk in Wyoming

Funeral services for Sen. Burns will be in Billings Friday

Study: Bakken oil field big contributor to global uptick in ethane pollution

Deputy rescues 2-year-old who falls into Yellowstone River

Man admits starting fire at Helena Habitat for Humanity ReStore

3-term US Senator Conrad Burns dies at 81

State leaders react to Burns' death

Glacier Co's school districts wait for months for $1.5M in pension funds

Bullock proposes $200 million in infrastructure work

Box Elder schools closed after 3 guns discovered in duffel bag nearby

Woman reportedly burned, dumped on eastern MT reservation

Walkaways from Butte prerelease program nabbed in Missoula

Museum of Rockies honors Jack Horner on retirement

Feds find long wait times for Native Americans wanting health care

Democrats attack Gianforte in TV commercial

Supreme Court hears author's request to see records of UM quarterback


Plans in place for bookstore cooperative in Billings

Regulators concerned about impact of coastal coal-export terminal

Billings native becomes head chef at Northern Hotel

Major development planned near Missouri River, downtown Great Falls

Feds to investigate collapse of cattle prices last year

PSC may change rules for electric service shut-offs

Developer frustrated with Missoula's historic preservation commission



MSU hires Utah's assistant athletic director as its AD

UM's Holmes taken by Jacksonville in 6th round of NFL draft

MSU tight end Sandland drafted in 7th round by Carolina

After brutal knife attack, MSU-Northern receiver bounces back

Big 10 official picked as next Big Sky commissioner

Heismann Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers visits Charlo High School

Idaho Vandals returning to Big Sky in football for 2018 season

Glacier sophomore shows she's one of nation's best distance runners


Conrad Burns: The good, the bad, the ugly

UM Law School plan to lower test scores won't result in better lawyers

As senator, Burns made sure MT got its share of attention, funding

Turning the page on a proposal to put reporters in jail

Column on new NorthWestern building got facts wrong

NorthWestern used crony capitalism to pay for new building

Montana schools should be talking about a change in mascots



Billings author takes long road, visiting all 56 counties, to write new book

As Havre woman with ALS nears end, she's grateful for a 'fantastic life'

Family, friends make photo book that honors Bozeman avalanche victim

National Geographic: Is Yellowstone Park being loved to death?

On Montana's Hi-Line, making a living has always been hard

Heritage program works to preserve Montana's fruit orchards

Bird watching at the Polson dump: Gulls gather for the feast

Flathead teen creates app to fight hunger

Kootenai River's white sturgeon are massive -- and rare



Carrie Underwood to perform in Billings May 12

Montana Folk Festival set for July 8-10 in Butte

Moods of the Madison set to rock Ennis July 15-16

Legendary rock band KISS to perform at MSU July 16

James Taylor to perform in Bozeman July 18

Red Ants Pants Music Festival set for July 28-31

Alabama, Chris Young among headliners at State Fair in GTF

Keith Urban plans Aug. 4 concert in Bozeman

Ziggy Marley to headline Billings Magic City Blues Festival in August

Jason Derulo on stage at MontanaFair in Billings Aug. 12

Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon, Tesla in Billings Sept. 14


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