The Billings Outpost

Unlikely Globetrotter

Julian “Zeus” McClurkin will be playing in Billings on Sunday afternoon.
By STEPHEN DOW - For The Outpost

It may be his rookie season, but Ohio resident Julian “Zeus” McClurkin is having the time of his life playing for the Harlem Globetrotters.

“I’ve always wanted to play professional basketball, and I always wanted to travel,” he said. “Playing with the Globetrotters is the perfect marriage of those two things.”

McClurkin was in Billings last Friday to promote the Globetrotters upcoming game on Sunday at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.

Although he’s now on one of the most beloved basketball teams on the country, McClurkin wasn’t always sure that he would be so successful.

“In 10th grade, I was getting ready to quit basketball because I had tried four years in a row and I was cut from the team every year,” he said. “I definitely wasn’t an all-star athlete back then.”

McClurkin finally made his high school’s basketball team during his junior year, but spent the entire season on the bench. The next year, he played for an average of only two minutes each game.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 February 2015 17:02

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Preschool program under fire

By MICHAEL WRIGHT - Community News Service - UM School of Journalism

Rep. Tom Woods, D-Bozeman, sent his kids to preschool after searching for a couple of months to find the right fit.

“I’ve got kids. I’ve been through this,” Woods said in a recent interview. “Preschool helped them.”

Woods, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, will be one of the Democrats pushing to get Gov. Steve Bullock’s $37 million Early Edge Pre-K plan into House Bill 2, the major budget bill. The plan would give grants to public school districts around the state to expand existing preschool programs, create new ones or partner with private programs.

It would be voluntary – students won’t be forced to go to preschool, and schools won’t be required to offer it – and would add Montana to the list of more than 40 states with publicly funded  preschool.

But not everyone at the Capitol or in the state is convinced.

“I think it doesn’t do what it’s purported to do,” said Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton, the chair of the House Appropriations committee.

Backers cite studies showing effects both behavioral and academic. Students come out of preschool more prepared for kindergarten, and are less likely to become criminals or teenage parents.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 February 2015 17:00

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World War I exhibit opens here Friday

Kathy Barton, the curator at the Yellowstone County Museum, prepares a pair of woolen pants for a World War I exhibit that opens Friday.
Story and Photo - By ED KEMMICK -

Among the contributions made by residents of Yellowstone County to achieve victory in World War I was the tireless needlework of Peter Peroe.

The Red Cross encouraged people to abandon their dainty knitting and instead create regulation clothing and supplies for American soldiers. In response, knitters in Yellowstone County made more than 26,500 items and knit more than 22,000 garments.

Peroe, a resident of Billings, was declared the champion male knitter of the Yellowstone County chapter of the Red Cross and of the agency’s Northern Division as well. He was said to have put in 2,427 hours of needlework.

That illuminating tale is part of an exhibit, “Big Sky, Big Sacrifice: Yellowstone County During World War I,” that will open Friday evening at the Yellowstone County Museum.

An opening reception will run from 6 to 8:30 p.m. It is free and open to all and will feature snacks, beer from Angry Hank’s and a group playing World War I-era jazz. Friday will also mark the opening of the museum for the new season. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and admission is always free.

Benjamin Nordlund, a native of Billings who has been the executive director of the museum for a year, said he started thinking of a World War I exhibit last summer and ran it by the museum board of directors.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 February 2015 13:45

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Lawmakers debate mental health crisis

By MICHAEL WRIGHT - Community News Service - UM School of Journalism

Nobody argues that investment in Montana’s mental health care system is needed, but exactly how and where is turning into one of the longest and most complicated debates of the Legislative session.

State officials and lawmakers have said that state institutions – like the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs – are overcrowded and need help. But they’ve also said more community-based services should be available throughout the state. These would be places that can offer mental health evaluations, care for someone having a psychotic episode or places to house mentally ill, small-time criminals.

Expansion measures for both have been proposed, but some lawmakers and mental health advocates are staunchly opposed to any expansion of the state institutions.

“We should be looking at alternatives to expanding institutions,” said Kathy McGowan, who represents the Montana Community Mental Health Centers.

Rep. Ron Ehli, R-Hamilton, has emerged as the Republican leader on mental health policy. He served on the interim committee tasked with finding solutions to what many are calling a “mental health crisis” in the state. Five bills that came out of the interim committee have been endorsed by the Montana House so far.

‘Guilty but mentally ill’

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 February 2015 13:40

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