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

Aug. 6, 2020


Travis Ross cleans up trash at a homeless encampment below Missoula's Reserve Street Bridge in this Missoula Current file photo. The problem persists and the Montana Department of Transportation is facing potential fines from the county health department. 



HAVE ANY idea how much the top one percent of Montanans earn on average? It is $304,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

​The state with the wealthiest one percenters is Connecticut, with an average income of $678K. The lowest is Arkansas at $228K.

Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Montana ranks No. 37.

How about our neighboring states? North Dakota does pretty well, coming in at No. 6 with the top one percent averaging $502K, probably due to all that oil and gas income. South Dakota is at $404K, Wyoming at $388K, and Idaho at $280K.

ARE MONTANANS some of the smartest folks in the country? Those who like to think so now have some ammunition to back them up.

An analysis by a web site called safehome.org says Montana is the fifth smartest state in the country. It follows only New Jersey, Utah, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. You can find the study at www.safehome.org/smartest-americans/

So how did the site determine just how "smart" a state is? It used such measures as this (Montana scores included): The percent of adults 25+ with bachelor’s degrees: 21.7%; public high school graduation rate (2016-17): 86%; median SAT score (2018-19): 1,199; and average composite ACT score (2017-18): 20.

Surprisingly, the state with with the lowest score was Idaho, right next door to Montana. That doesn't seem to add up, does it? Others at the bottom of the heap were Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.


GOV. Steve Bullock got some valuable air time recently for his presidential campaign. Only trouble is, the exposure was on CNN, which has lost a large portion of its audience in recent years.

CNN's town hall featuring Bullock and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio lured just 402,000 viewers -- the lowest number of the year for all the network's town hall events.

Viewership was down 25 percent overall, and 38 percent for the coveted 25-54 age bracket, compared to the average Sunday numbers for CNN from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

MONTANA has jumped into the top 10 of Bankrate.com's annual ranking of best retirement states. More specifically, the Big Sky state finished No. 9 -- ahead of states such as retirement havens Arizona and Nevada.

Montana gots its best mark -- No. 2 -- in the culture category, and a ranking of No. 16 in affordability. Its worst ranking -- no surprise here -- was No. 45 for weather. The state also received a 20 in the well category and a 31 for crime.

The top five states in this year's rankings were Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Florida. The bottom five were Maryland, New York, Alaska, Illinois, and Washington.

DESPITE making several campaign trips to Iowa, Gov. Steve Bullock didn't win any support in the latest Iowa Poll of who leads in that state among the Democratic presidential contenders.

The poll shows Joe BIden with the lead, with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg in a close race for second. 

Bullock, who got into the Democratic presidential race late because of Montana's legislative session, didn't garner a single vote. In another part of the poll, 9 percent of those polled said they were actively considering Bullock. But there were 16 other candidates ahead of the Montana Democrat in that category.

Bullock's lack of support so far for his presidential ambitions is threatening his chances of getting on the stage for the first debate. Bullock and Montana Democrats said the rules that may keep him out of the debate are unfair.

MONTANANS enjoy seeing the state at the top of many national rankings, but there's one that doesn't justify much pride: Deaths from drunk driving.

“Montana is actually tied for first place in the entire nation for DUI fatalities,” says Kelley Parker-Wathne, Gallatin County DUI Task Force coordinator. “The alarm bells that go off is just a sad statistic.”

Montana also has a reputation for some of the nation's weakest DUI laws, and the recent legislative session tried to stiffen them. But time ran out on efforts to strengthen the DUI laws at the session's end.




Paper: Records show Bullock had close ties to brother's company

Billings officials close city hall, library after 3 employees develop COVID

Unable to evict homeless, state faces fines over waste at bridge camp

Judge stops logging project near Townsend

Convicted arsonist charged with assaulting Ravalli County deputy

Whitefish police investigate death of man who died after fight near bar

Gallatin Co Democrats pick candidate for vacant state House seat

Stillwater County crews try to contain 1,000-acre fire near Park City

Lincoln man opens RV park that will raise funds for local students

Alaska legislator who died in midair collision was Whitefish native

Montana's rental assistance program isn't getting much use

Hundreds of cars rally in Bozeman in support of law enforcement

Billings teen parents plead not guilty in their baby's death

UM fall enrollment holds overall, but freshman registration plunges

MT senators criticize expiration of $600 jobless benefit

Magpie Rock fire near Dixon mushrooms to 3,500 acres

Whitefish businessman pleads not guilty to 10 federal charges

Prolonged border closing hammers Lincoln County's economy

Free Flathead River camping site swamped with campers

Butte firm disputes GOP's charge of nepotism in contract awards

Bighorn County reports 21 new COVID cases, including several at jail

Gubernatorial candidate Cooney unveils economic plan

Feds say they won't remove 4 dams on Snake River to help salmon

Bullock staffer fired after old offensive tweets discovered

116 workers at Big Sky construction work site develop COVID-19

Searchers find downed plane east of Ennis; 1 dead

US Senate committee endorses Flathead water compact

Bullock says he'll participate in 3 of 4 debates proposed by Daines

Documents released on decision to reverse Canyon Ferry name ruling

Dixon-area fire erupts to 1,000 acres

Choteau man tells of his ordeal in grizzly bear attack

Montana records 3 more COVID deaths, may boost restrictions

Hot and hazy on tap 'til Wednesday, when a bit of cooling comes to MT

New BLM plan designates MT recreation areas over state objections

Sidney man dies when train strikes his semi in northeastern Montana

A good day of fishing -- cut short by a snake bite



A Missoula icon -- Diamond Bar Meats -- is closing for good

Staffers say Paws Up luxury resort struggling with COVID cases

Flathead producing a high-quality crop this summer

Grocery stores stock less soda, beer due to aluminum shortage

US energy use falls to three-decade low during pandemic

Alaska Airlines expanding service from Missoula to western cities



UM coach Hauck cashes in with $110K in bonuses last season

More than a third of Big Sky hoopsters don't finish where they started

MSU loses home opener this fall with Long Island

Timmy Falls leaving UM's men's hoops team

UM's Morehead State game now up in the air

Montana High School Sports Association releases plan for fall sports

Casey FitzSimmons enjoyed his time in NFL, but now loves ranching

UM's Jace Lewis named Big Sky's preseason defensive player of year



State was right to change course on inmate death notices

New Corrections policy on notification of inmate deaths is wrong-headed

Bob Brown: After 7 decades as a Republican, I'm leaving the party

Montana has mixed history when it comes to marijuana laws

We cannot tolerate protesters personal threats against journalists

Lawyers have big voice in filling our Supreme Court seats

How Democrats win in a red state like Montana


CM Russell Museum takes time during the pandemic to fine tune

Model Ts make their annual run through Montana

Hillside letters, celebrating school pride, stamped on MT landscapes

Kalispell native returns to Flathead to film movie

'Ringing Rocks' a hidden -- but audible -- Montana treasure

National Gallery of Art gets painting by Salish artist

Book examines mystery of only man ever hanged in Gallatin Co jail

New book lets everyone fly along with 'Miss Montana' plane


Three Forks country music festival postponed until August

Under the Big Sky Music Festival postponed until 2021

Guns N' Roses cancel Missoula concert slated for Aug. 26

Toby Keith concert in Billings rescheduled for Sept. 17

Foreigner concert in Butte rescheduled for Oct. 25

MSU's Kenny Chesney concert rescheduled for July of 2021

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