Blowing snow closes US 89; another snow storm coming mid-week

Yellowstone County sees theft, robbery rates skyrocket

Tester: Budget deal a good sign of progress

New panel reviews death of children in protective services

Plan calls for giving high school grads good job, if they do service first

Big crowds turn out to see launch of Race to the Sky sled-dog race

Libby rebrands itself as it gets back on its feet

Researchers want more research on how oil spills could impact river

Officials mull how texting between students, teachers should work

Butte pre-release center supervisor sentenced for sex with inmate

Billings attorney faces third suspension by state

Missoula bone fragments a century old, not those of missing boys

Federal funding for community health centers now looks more sure

Bison hunters north of Yellowstone Park see slow year

BLM gives Montana 2,126 acres as it satisfies 1889 debt

2 Flathead men charged with impersonating law officers

Bearcreek resident settles lawsuit with officials, accepts $25K payment

Youth at Cascade Co detention center earn degrees, get new start

World-record bighorn sheep lived on Flathead Lake island

Backers of Medicaid expansion mull ballot measure to extend it

Forum for Democratic US House hopefuls gets into personal, plus policy

Temperatures plunge, snow falls as Arctic front assaults Montana

Freezing rain triggers many crashes, road closure in eastern Montana

Expert: Last year's wildfire season was Montana's worst in a century

State worker quits rather than work on federal immigration subpoenas

Glacier Park mulls leasing of historic Lake McDonald cabins

Neo-Nazi website publisher has until next week to disclose where he is

Unlike many states, snowpack levels run high across Montana

Winter storm exacerbates Blackfeet Reservation hunger crisis

Heavy snow, extreme cold expected to hammer northwestern MT

Darby couple dies in California plane crash


Choteau, other communities look for answers to economic development

Railroad accidents in Montana drop dramatically in last decade

Lawmakers take a look at privatizing work-comp system

Colstrip plants face challenges from Washington state carbon tax

Airport agents to get training after lawsuit by Native church

Whitefish B&B once again wins honors as NA's best ski hotel

Kalispell distillery produces liqueur made from absinthe

Montana's Lee papers make more job cuts


MT Olympic slopestyle skiers, once bitter rivals, now fast friends

Grizzlies escape with 71-69 win over Sac State in OT

Lady Griz stumble against Sac State, 79-64

Bobcats miss last-second shot as they fall to Portland State, 80-77

Cold-shooting Lady Cats fall to Portland State

Butte man who coaches Canadian speed skating team put on leave

Sac State races past Lady Cats, 88-77

Grizzlies snag 12th straight win as they plow through Portland State

Tyler Hall leads Bobcats to win over Sacramento State



Land preservation groups shouldn't hold secret meetings with officials

FEMA official: Maybe Whitefish Energy did a good job after all

UM finally got to right resolution with UM soccer coach, but took too long

It should be a crime for a teacher to have sex with a student

Yellowstone bison sabotage shows need for better plan

Huffington Post smears Zinke with bogus charge of nondisclosure

Taxpayers should start paying their share of impacts to communities

It was nice having you in the neighborhood, Frank Lloyd Wright


Former MT track star writes of her recovery from devastating accident

Bozeman author takes fresh look at African doctor: Villain or saint?

At Whitefish rail yard, a stray dog finally comes in from the cold

Albertson blacksmith keeps the trade's traditions alive

Historical Society launches first online exhibit of curious, rare objects

'Dark Money' documentary to show at Missoula film festival

MT won recognition for its patriotism, and immigration battles, in 1917

O Magazine hails bio on Mary Fields, 1st female mail carrier in US



Rod Stewart doing his 1st Montana concert in Billings April 14

Chris Stapleton to play in Billings Aug. 2, Missoula on Aug. 3

Decemberists schedule Aug. 4-5 dates for Missoula music festival

Pearl Jam plans concert at Missoula's UM stadium Aug. 13

Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com

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

Feb. 18, 2018



JIM MESSINA, the University of Montana graduate and 2012 manager of Barack Obama's presidential re-election campaign, raised eyebrows the other day when he appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and knocked the relevance of public polls so early in an election campaign.

"I think all public pollsters should be shot," he declared.

Messina, who graduated from UM's journalism school in 1993, has been honored by the university on several occasions. He was named a distinguished alumni in 2013, and also was the university's commencement speaker that same year. 

After graduation, he worked for US Sen. Max Baucus before he became a top official in the Obama Administration, and then ran Obama's re-election campaign manager. He was hailed by the media as the "Fixer" for his work on the Obama campaigns and political promotions.

But in more recent years his political success has been more decidedly mixed. After leaving the Obama Administration, he set up a political consulting firm that has put much of its focus on campaigns in Europe, where he suffered a series of defeats that included the Brexit vote and the Italian reform plan.

THIS IS quite a coup for Montana Tech: The top spot in the rankings of the 50 Best Value Engineering Schools 2018.

The survey said Montana Tech graduates earn an average of over $80,000 a year, while paying tuition of only about 11,000 a year. Montana Tech scored a perfect 100 in the survey and beat out many better known schools.

"Montana Tech’s mining school has over a century of experience preparing professionals to build, fortify, and extract mines from the mining capital of the nation, which makes for a curriculum that is uniquely useful to the local economy," the site said. "It’s no wonder Montana Tech graduates have a 98% placement rate in the mining industry..."

MONTANANS like to think Big Sky Country is friendlier than other places. And now there's empirical evidence that's true. At least, it's certainly true when it comes to online interactions.

A recent study by Wired and Disqus looked at the percentage of hostile online comments coming from each state, as well as well as the number of folks who reported they'd been harassed online.

The study employed software that mapped the "troll topography of the United States” as it scanned in the internet looking for comments that were “rude, disrespectful or unreasonable” and could prompt users to leave discussions.

Montana was ranked the 9th friendliest state, with New Hampshire No. 1, and the two Dakotas Nos. 2 and 3. Nevada was ranked the least friendly state.

Reflecting on the rankings and all the hostility present on the internet, Ed Kemmick at Last Best News tells the story of Megan Phelps-Roper, the grand-daughter of Fred Phelps. Phelps, who founded the Westboro Baptist Church, infamous for its attacks on gays. veterans, and others. Phelps-Roper followed her grandfather's footsteps by taking to Twitter to attack enemies of the church, but over time began to engage her online opponents. A few were patient and kind with her, and she eventually dropped her extreme views and left the church.

The lesson, as far as Kemmick is concerned: Internet trolls thrive on insults, but patience and kindness could prove a lot more effective in changing people's minds.

MISSOULA'S always had a reputation for being, well, a little out-of-step with the rest of Montana.

So when its daily newspaper, the Missoulian, did a feature on a loon that landed on the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Al Acheson of Superior couldn't resist poking a little fun at the Garden City in a letter to the editor. Acheson quoted the lede to the article, which said: "This may sound crazy to the rest of Montana, but Missoula is no place for loons."

Quipped Acheson: "Now, that is funny! Ha ha ha ha."

The "campiest" place on planet Earth? According to the New York Times, it is Great Falls' infamous Sip 'n Dip Lounge, known for having women dressed as mermaids swim in an underwater pool that's visible through a window from the bar. The bar also features "Piano Pat" Spoonheim, who has played her "jazzy" style music since 1963.

Times reporter Brook Barnes describes the Sip 'n Dip as a "kitsch-tastic tiki bar" hidden inside the O'Haire Motor Inn where a dozen women -- three are currently out on maternity leave -- rotate as the bar's mermaids. But Spoonheim, who plays three nights a week, seems to be as much of a hit as the mermaids. 

Barnes says the Sip 'n Dip has become a magnet for travelers around the globe, "a must-visit for fans of Americana run amok — the wacky places where the human spirit gushes to the surface in an unexpected geyser." She quotes one visitor, a teacher from Illinois, who called it a "bucket-list place."

Of course, this being the Times, Barnes couldn't help but take some condescending shots at Great Falls, which she says can be a "soul-deadening place." She started her story this way: "When a study recently found Great Falls the least gay-friendly city in Montana, one man wrote on a local news website, “Let’s keep it that way.” Mermaids are totally tolerable, though." (Nothing like using one idiot's remarks to represent the thinking of an entire city, huh?)

The "recent" study Barnes refers to was done more than four years ago by the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for LGBT rights. Its study gave Great Falls low marks for such things as lacking a human rights commission, policies on bullying, and a non-discrimination laws. The report also marked the city down for having a median household income of only $42,487 (the report doesn't explain how that level hurts the LGBT community more than it hurts other parts of the community.)


Blowing snow reduces visibility Sunday evening near the intersection of US Highway 2 and US Highway 89. The town of Browning is in the background. Blowing snow closed portions of US 89 Sunday, and another snow storm is expected to hit central Montana mid-week. (MT Department of Transportation)