The Billings Outpost

RMC to ‘Pass the Helmet’ for vets

Rocky Mountain College is joining a statewide campaign to “Pass the Helmet” to raise money for U.S. veterans. During the Saturday, Nov. 7, football game against Carroll College, RMC Enactus will pass the helmet seeking donations from fans.

“We want to honor our veterans, raise awareness of the plight of homeless veterans, and demonstrate our support,” said Tymber States, Enactus president. “Our students appreciate those who served our country and this is our way of showing it. We have more than 50 veterans attending Rocky.”

Pass the Helmet is a program of the Volunteers of America, Montana’s largest nonprofit provider of veterans services. Mallory Edgar, an RMC senior honor student majoring in elementary education who also works for VOA, is the state coordinator for Pass the Helmet.

“We’re delighted that Rocky is demonstrating its appreciation for our veterans,” said Mallory. “I’m especially proud that my college is taking on this challenge.”

RMC Enactus is a group of students who are taking the lessons they have learned in the classroom and putting them to work in our community, according to Tymber. Enactus is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring students to improve the world through entrepreneurial action. Enactus provides a platform for teams of outstanding college students to create community development projects.

“We are honoring our veterans all week at Rocky and one part of that is to help raise money at the game,” said Tymber, a junior majoring in business. “The proceeds will go directly to programs and services supporting veterans and their families.”

The RMC Enactus team, celebrating its 15th year at RMC, recently received a $25,000 grant from the Ford Foundation Blue Oval Network to develop a social enterprise business for working with the mental health center at its Hub location.

“Enactus students have worked on hundreds of projects and helped countless community members, all while putting their entrepreneurial spirit into action,” said Tymber.

VOA programs and services help veterans and their families with housing, access to job training, employment, medical assistance and other social services. VOA operates offices in Billings, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell and Missoula.

VOA is a 501 C 3 nonprofit organization that operates low income senior housing, conducts Camp POSTCARD — a youth camp with peace officers from across Montana), provides substance abuse programs, homeless shelters, and helps Veterans.

“With an aging Veteran population added to the returning veterans from 15 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the veterans who will need our support will only increase. We need to be prepared to offer the best assistance we can to help them to show appreciation from a grateful nation,” said Dan Burkhart, VOA development director for Montana.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 November 2015 12:08

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Free haircuts at Great Clips

Across the nation, Great Clips salons and their customers are showing their appreciation to veterans and members of the military with the “You Can Thanka Veteran” promotion.

On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, all customers who get a haircut at a U.S. Great Clips salon get a free haircut card they can give as a thank you to an active, inactive or retired military member of any branch, including the National Guard. Limit one card per customer, while supplies last.

Veterans and active service members who come in to a Great Clips salon in your area on Nov. 11 get either a free haircut or a free haircut card to redeem with proof of military service through Dec. 31 at any U.S. Great Clips salon.

Now in its third consecutive year, Great Clips’ “You Can Thank a Veteran” promotion has provided nearly half a million free haircuts for military members and veterans.

“Great Clips realizes there is no amount of gratitude we can show to the men and women who have served our country. Giving them a great haircut is a simple, yet meaningful, way to show appreciation for everything our veterans and service members have done for us,” says Great Clips CEO Rhoda Olsen, whose husband is a Vietnam veteran.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 November 2015 12:08

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IHOP offers free pancakes

IHOP restaurants will once again honor the 22 million veterans living in the United States and more than 1.3 million Armed Forces members in the military by offering them a free stack of Red, White & Blue pancakes on Veterans Day.

Participating IHOP restaurants throughout the United States will serve a stack of Red, White and Blue pancakes – buttermilk pancakes crowned with glazed strawberries, blueberry compote and whipped topping – free for veterans and active duty military from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 11.

Veterans and active duty military simply show proof of military service to receive their free pancakes. Proof includes ID cards, a Current Leave and Earnings Statement, a veterans organization card, a photograph in uniform, DD214, military dog tags, and citation or commendation.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 November 2015 12:05

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Free dinner, live music

D.A.R.T Marketing & Consulting sponsors a Veterans Day Dinner and Appreciation with live music by Nick Rucker, an Army veteran.

A news release said, “Come celebrate our freedom and help us give a big THANK YOU! to those who help keep those freedoms intact by serving our country.”

Veterans and active duty personnel are invited at no cost. Friends and family are $15 each. Kids 10 and under are admitted free.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. at the Moose Lodge, 131 Calhoun Lane. For reservations, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 November 2015 12:04

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Roadhouse, Golden Corral offer meals

Texas Roadhouse invites veterans and active members of the U.S. military to free lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with proof of service, and Golden Corral offers free meals for veterans from 5-9 p.m.

Every Texas Roadhouse location across the country will participate in the free lunch event to honor the men and women of our armed forces.

All veterans - including all active, retired or former U.S. military - can choose one of 10 entrees, including a 6-ounce sirloin and two sides plus a choice of any Coca-Cola product, sweet tea/ice tea or coffee during lunch.

Proof of service includes military or VA card, or discharge papers.

Texas Roadhouse said in a news release that it appreciates the men and women of our armed forces. “This is our way of honoring them for their service to our country,” the release said.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 November 2015 12:03

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MSU center wins economic development award

MSU News Service

BOZEMAN – Montana State University’s Optical Technology Center, or OpTeC, beat out programs at two much larger universities to win a top economic development award for its role in the development of a high-tech laser and optics business cluster in Montana.

The “talent development” award was given to OpTeC by the University Economic Development Association at its recent annual meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.

The award focuses on the partnerships needed between a university and industry to meet workforce needs, according to the UEDA.

“OpTeC has developed and attracted talent, it is on the cutting edge of photonics innovation, and works closely with companies, receiving contracts that help sustain the research efforts. By moving talent into positions much more lucrative than the average salaried positions in the area, it has helped transform Bozeman into a recognized optics and photonics center,” the UEDA noted in its press release about the award.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 October 2015 22:29

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MDU warns of scammers

BISMARCK, N.D. – Montana-Dakota Utilities is warning its customers about a utility scam that has hit parts of its service territory. Customers have been receiving calls from someone representing themselves as a utility company representative and stating that if you do not pay your utility bill immediately over the phone, your utility service will be disconnected.

Montana-Dakota Utilities does not operate in that manner, a news release said. If you receive such a call, hang up and call us at 1-800-638-3278 and let us know you received the call, the release said.

Customers should not share information such as credit card or checking account numbers with individuals who contact them in this manner.

Representatives of Montana-Dakota Utilities will always have your utility account number, we will never insist that you use a prepaid debit card to make your payment, and we only send disconnection notices by U.S. mail. Any personnel in the field to carry out a disconnection will have a company ID and will present it upon request.

Additional information is available at

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 October 2015 22:22

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7 businesses honored

MSU News Service

BOZEMAN – Seven businesses based in Montana received Family Business Day awards at the 2015 Montana State University Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship State Farm Insurance Family Business Day on Oct. 23 in Bozeman.

The 2015 Family Business Day award winners were: Cove Deli and Pizza of Polson in the very small business category (fewer than 10 employees); Mountain Valley Foods of Kalispell in the small business category (10-30 employees); George’s Distributing of Helena in the large business category (more than 50 employees); Helle Rambouillet and Associated Enterprises (Duckworth) of Dillon in the old business category (operating at least 50 years); and Parker’s Hangover Tonic of Billings and Triple Dog Brewery of Havre in the new business category (operating 10 or fewer years). The special recognition award winner is Williams Companies of Bozeman.

Ike Kauffman, a 1996 Family Business Award winner and the past president of Kaufmans Menswear Centre, based in Great Falls, was the keynote speaker at a luncheon held prior to the award ceremony.

Kaufman’s presentation, “Riverboats and Relationships,” focused on lessons learned from his family’s 121-year-old multigenerational business. He discussed what he calls the “three circles of family business” and key relationship-building principles that have remained in the family since.

Kaufman served as the third generation president of Kaufmans Menswear Centre from 1963-1994 before retiring into an active advisory role for the company. He continues to be engaged in the Great Falls community. He served as the president, director and was on the executive committee of the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. Kaufman was also on the Business Improvement District Board of Directors from 1997-2008, serving as board chairman for two years. He has also been involved with the Jaycees, Great Falls Quarterback Club, City County Planning Board, Great Falls Youth Hockey Association,

Downtown Business Council and other organizations in the area, with a current focus on the Optimist Club of Uptown Great Falls.

Kaufman has a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Montana.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 October 2015 22:21

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Get chip cards now


DENVER–- A major transition is happening in America and small business owners who fail to act may pay a huge price. U.S. credit card companies have set October for the national adoption of chip cards (also known as EMV Cards).  Businesses that have not integrated EMV technology to process chip cards will become financially responsible for fraudulent transactions previously covered by the cardholder’s issuing bank.

Roughly 90 percent of credit card terminals in Europe are now chip-enabled. The United Kingdom has seen nearly a 70 percent decline in counterfeit card transactions since making the transition, according to Barclays. Meanwhile, America has 25 percent of the world’s credit card use but 50 percent of the world’s credit card fraud, making the case to shift from antiquated swipe-and-sign to microchips on credit cards.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is concerned that too many entrepreneurs in America are at risk of being left in the dark and on the hook. The majority of America’s small businesses will need to upgrade their payment systems, as only about 20 percent of payment terminals are currently equipped to accept chip cards, and most of these are at larger retailers. Accepting contactless payments also requires new technology for most businesses; a recent report shows that 87 percent of small businesses do not currently accept mobile payments. Depending on the cost of the goods and services that a small business sells, assuming fraud liability could have serious financial consequences.

Most small businesses do not have fraud departments and can’t afford to be behind the curve while their large competitors move forward with technology upgrades. That’s why the SBA partnered with Square to enhance payment security and to protect cardholder information. We’re educating small businesses on the transition to EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) cards, so check out to make the switch.

Additionally, we rolled out a cybersecurity page for small employers at This includes an SBA self-paced online cybersecurity course and a free small biz cyber planner developed by the Federal Communications Commission. We also plan to host additional regional small business cybersecurity workshops from our long-standing partnership with the FBI and National Institute of Standards and Technology.

It’s crucial to invest in EMV readers and other digital technologies to prevent cybersecurity fraud and protect the integrity of customers’ sensitive data. Many new EMV-enabled and contactless systems are just hitting the market. There are many affordable hardware solutions that will not break the bank of our small businesses. In fact, accessories to complement existing payment terminals are already available, with more coming online every day.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month; therefore, we hope your small business joins the movement to switch to EMV technology. It will prevent risk for your customers, and most importantly, protect your bottom line.

Stanley Nakano is acting regional administrator for Region VIII of the U.S. Small Business Administration.


Last Updated on Thursday, 29 October 2015 22:19

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Unemployment still falling

HELENA – Montana’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in September to 4.1 percent, a decline of 0.1 percentage points from the revised August estimate of 4.2 percent. The U.S. unemployment rate remained unchanged over the month at 5.1 percent.

“Montana’s economy continues to show strength as we head toward the end of the year,” Gov. Steve Bullock said.  “Over 10,000 jobs have been added over the last twelve months, and wages are outpacing the national average.”

Both total employment and payroll employment levels showed little change over the month.  Payroll employment indicated a 900 jobs loss over the month, with job losses in the construction industry.  Construction employment had shown strength over the last year.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 October 2015 22:18

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Certain insurance rates to rise 34 percent here

U.S. Health & Human Services

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this week released a rate snapshot of health insurance marketplace rates for plans offered in Montana that shows there will be a 34.50 percent increase for second-lowest cost silver plans offered in 2016.

These increases do not take into account advance premium tax credits, which lower the monthly costs for the overwhelming majority of Marketplace consumers. About 8 in 10 individuals who selected a 2015 Marketplace plan qualified for financial assistance, and the average advance premium tax credits for those enrollees who qualified for financial assistance was $270 per month. The entire report can be found below.

Open Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace starts on Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 31. Consumers must sign up by Dec. 15 to have coverage that starts Jan. 1. Consumers can find help by calling 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325) at any time or find in-person assistance in the local area by visiting

According to an HHS analysis, about 8 out of 10 returning consumers will be able to buy a plan with premiums less than $100 a month after tax credits; and about 7 out of 10 will have a plan available for less than $75 a month. Highlights of the 2016 Marketplace Affordability Snapshot include:

• New HHS data indicates that in 2016 nearly 8 in 10 returning Marketplace consumers will be able to buy a plan with premiums less than $100 month after tax credits.

• In addition, about 7 in 10 returning Marketplace consumers will be able to buy a plan for $75 or less in monthly premiums after tax credits in 2016.

• The average rate increase for a benchmark plan across 30 of the largest markets, representing 60 percent of Marketplace enrollees, is 6.3 percent. This rate increase does not account for the benefit provided by tax credits to eligible consumers.

• Across all markets in the 37 states, the cost of the benchmark plan will increase an average of 7.5 percent.

• For 2016, over two thirds of counties will have three or more issuers.

• New analysis based on the second open enrollment found that those returning consumers who switched plans within the same metal tier saved an average of nearly $400 on their 2015 annualized premiums after tax credits as compared to those who stayed in their same plans.

The 2016 Affordability Snapshot provides a review of the final rate increases for second-lowest cost silver plans, known as benchmark plans, which will be available for purchase in the 37 states that used the platform in 2015, including those in the federally facilitated Marketplace, State Partnership Marketplaces, and supported State-based Marketplaces.

Across all 37 states that used the platform, the cost of the benchmark plan will increase on average 7.5 percent in 2016. For those consumers who live in 30 of the largest markets representing more than 60 percent of total enrollment, the average increase in premiums for the benchmark plan is 6.3 percent for the second-lowest cost silver plan.

These increases do not take into account advanced payments of premium tax credits, which lower the monthly costs for the overwhelming majority of Marketplace consumers.

“For most consumers, premium increases for 2016 are in the single digits and they will be able to find plans for less than $100 a month,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of the Health Insurance Marketplaces.

The second-lowest cost silver plan is notable because it serves as the benchmark plan to calculate the amount of advanced premium tax credit consumers may be eligible for to help lower the cost of their Marketplace coverage. Looking across all “metal levels” of plans available, silver plans are the most popular plans on the Marketplace. About 70 percent of consumers enrolled in silver plans, with approximately 11 percent of all consumers enrolled in the second-lowest cost silver plans in 2015.

When open enrollment begins, consumers will be encouraged to visit to browse their coverage options to find the plan that best meets their budget and health needs.

Last year, almost 53 percent of consumers who re-enrolled in a Marketplace plan shopped around with more than half of those selecting a new plan. The average consumer who switched plans saved money on his or her net premium, based on a forthcoming HHS analysis of Open Enrollment in 2015. Net premiums are premiums minus the amount of applicable tax credit – the amount that is paid by a consumer. Those who switched plans within the same metal tier saved an average of nearly $400 on their 2015 annualized premiums after tax credits as compared to those who stayed in their same plans.

“If consumers come back to the Marketplace and shop, they may be able to find a plan that saves them money and meets their health needs,” according to Counihan.

 “Last year, over half of re-enrolling consumers on shopped and half of those who shopped selected a new plan – that sort of choice and competition was limited prior to the Affordable Care Act.”

Premium spending for consumers in the benchmark plans also are capped based on their income, so a returning consumer who chooses this year’s benchmark plan may offset any potential rate increase. Additionally, advanced premium tax credits adjust with the cost of benchmark plans, so consumers who choose the benchmark plan will see an increase in their tax credits that roughly matches their premium increases. This illustrates why it’s important for consumers to shop – no matter what type of plan they have.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 October 2015 22:12

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Printing services offered

The Allegra FootPRINT Fund®, launched this month, will help Yellowstone County area nonprofit organizations “leave a footprint” in the community by awarding print services for promotional and informational materials.

The Allegra FootPRINT Fund will award $10,000 annually to nonprofit organizations and associations seeking financial assistance for graphic design and printing of brochures, newsletters, forms, invitations, posters and other print communications, a news release said. Applicants that qualify are eligible to receive up to $1,000 each in 2016.

Allegra launched the FootPRINT Fund as part of its Community Care Campaign, which also includes Posters With a Purpose, a program that provides free posters to nonprofits to help advertise their fund-raising or event awareness efforts.

To be considered for a FootPRINT Fund award, nonprofit groups, associations and charitable organizations with a main office or branch in Yellowstone County must submit a completed application by Nov. 30. Application forms may be obtained at Allegra or at

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 October 2015 22:09

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NILE ready to blast into week at MetraPark


Since its inception in 1967, the Northern International Livestock Exposition brings outstanding events to Billings. This year’s NILE stock show and rodeo is no exception.

Kicking of three days earlier than years past, the grounds at MetraPark will be buzzing with livestock as early as the tenth of October. The action wraps up Saturday evening, Oct. 17, with the final night of professional rodeo in the Rimrock Auto Arena.

The NILE is all about kids and this year leads with the Junior Fed shows, highlighting the hard work and efforts of the youth. Visitors are welcome to attend any one of the four junior shows beginning with the market hog show Sunday, Oct. 11, at noon in the Montana Pavilion. 

The spotlight continues to shine on the youngsters through Tuesday, Oct. 13, culminating with the NILE Junior Fed Sale of Champions at 5 p.m. This is an outstanding opportunity to reward these hard working kids by purchasing their projects and allowing them a leg up for next year’s project. Most of these kids are involved for the love of agriculture, but also in effort to build college funds. Come on out and support the future!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 October 2015 18:49

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Progeny parade planned

The third annual NILE Merit Heifer Progeny Pen Parade, presented by Cargill is Friday, Oct. 16 at the Northern International Livestock Exposition (NILE).

 The Progeny Pen Parade was developed so past NILE Merit Heifer recipients could showcase the breeding program they have developed since completion of the NILE Merit Heifer Program. Each previous winner can bring back their original Merit Heifer along with their progeny. 

Cash prizes of $2,500 are up for grabs and recipients from the very first class of 2003 through the class of 2014 are eligible for the 2015 Progeny Pen Parade. Each exhibitor will be asked to present their project and will be judged by a panel of judges in three main areas: exhibitor presentation and ring presence, presentation of cattle, and phenotype of cattle.

“The Progeny Pen Parade is a unique way for youth to showcase their animals,” said Jennifer Boka, NILE General Manager.

, “It allows past participants of the NILE Merit Heifer program the opportunity to explain their breeding philosophy. This is a program that truly makes a lasting impression in kids’ lives.”

 ”When the NILE approached Cargill about sponsoring the Merit Heifer program, we were honored to participate,” said Rachel Klein, Cargill retail account representative, who will be assisting with the event. 

Each exhibitor is given $100 worth of Cargill cattle feed or mineral, a soft shell vest and the opportunity to win $2,500 prize money - all donated by Cargill. “The NILE Merit Heifer program and Progeny Pen Parade exemplify the values of Cargill,” added Klein, “Our goal at Cargill is to be the global leader in nourishing people, and that vision comes to life through the NILE Merit Heifer Progeny Pen Parade.”

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 October 2015 18:47

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Alliance trying to save historic schoolhouses

Hill School, recently rehabilitated with a Preserve Montana Fund grant, proudly shines against the Montana landscape. Photo by the Montana Preservation Alliance
By CHRISTINE BROWN - Montana Preservation Alliance

Montana is well known for its breathtaking mountain views, majestic lakes and vast expanses of open prairie, but one new study is honing in on a particular type of building often seen within those iconic viewsheds – the country schoolhouse.

At one time, there were an estimated 2,600 rural schools in Montana. Beginning with the missions and gold camps, schoolhouses became essential community institutions and in the era of statehood and homesteading, they multiplied across the state. Today, Montana has more one- and two-room schools still in operation than any other state. Those still in operation are in good shape, but many of these beloved historic buildings are in urgent need of care and upkeep. Unless painting, roofing and repairs are done, these schools will be lost, erasing an essential part of Montana’s heritage.

That’s why the Montana Preservation Alliance recently has launched the Big Sky Schoolhouse Survey, a comprehensive statewide architectural survey and evaluation of Montana’s historic rural one- and two-room schoolhouses. In every corner of the state, rural heritage is reflected by log, wood, brick and stone schools from days gone by.

As time marches on, many school districts, rural communities and citizens struggle to maintain these handcrafted buildings. To that end, MPA announced this new effort to spotlight Montana’s rural schoolhouses and to work to preserve them.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 20:23

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