• Direct downspouts away from paved areas and onto areas such as relatively flat or slightly sunken lawn areas, grassy areas, landscape beds, or rain gardens.
• Collect rain water in barrels, cisterns, stormwater planters, or other rain harvesting methods for watering landscaping.
• Plant and maintain dense, healthy plant cover, especially on slopes.
• Plant practical grass areas. Avoid planting high-maintenance turfgrass on steep slopes, in deep shade, or in areas where maintenance is not reasonable. Instead, select adapted or native turfgrasses or other ground covers.
• Increase the use of properly sited landscape beds to reduce large expanses of grass.
Last Updated on Thursday, 18 April 2013 14:25
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second and final part of a story about a double murder that occurred in 1937. Billings resident James Southworth researched the story from the archives of the Tri County News and The Billings Gazette.
Frank Robideau, a Wheat Basin farmer, confessed in 1937 to murdering Wheat Basin elevator manager Mike Kuntz and his wife on the Columbus-to-Molt Road.
Robideau told his story of the dual slaying in interviews and at the State Industrial Accident Board hearing on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving of that year. The following is in his own words:
“I needed money badly because my wife was expecting another baby the middle of December.
“After I argued with Kuntz at the elevator, I went home and got my gun and went back to the railroad track near the elevator. I hollered, ‘Mike, we’ll have it out right here.’ But Kuntz didn’t come out.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2013 15:20
Big Sky Economic Development, City College, Billings Chamber of Commerce and the Billings Job Service partnered to address the development of our future workforce through the Workforce Development 2023 Forum held this week at City College.
The Forum featured keynote speaker Dr. Anthony Zeiss, known as a national leader in workforce development, a target industry analysis presentation and two panel discussions focused on developing Montana’s workforce. Dr. Zeiss is the president of Central Piedmont Community College, the largest community college in North Carolina, serving approximately 70,000 students per year.
The forum covered topics from increasing opportunities for our underemployed to safety training and workforce education. The two panel discussions focused on workforce resources available from the local and state government as well as challenges private sector businesses are currently facing.
Workforce Development 2023 was successful in engaging a broad variety of community members and attendees left with a sense of direction from an engaging dialogue on workforce goals and next steps. As Steve Arveschoug, Executive Director of Big Sky Economic Development stated, “Today’s event was a great first step in starting our work on some very important topics in our community. Now we must be focused on finding ways to fulfill the current and future workforce needs of local and prospective businesses.”
Dr. Zeiss applauded the Billings community for pro-actively coming together: “Most communities just have an economic development strategy, without a focus on workforce development.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2013 15:15
HELENA – A bill being considered by a pair of congressional committees would require wind and solar developers to compete for public land leases, and once those projects were up and running, they’d have to pay royalties.
It’s modeled after oil and gas development, with the money to be split among states, counties and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, (BLM). Just over one-third of it would go into a wildlife and land conservation fund.
Nic Callero, regional representative for the National Wildlife Federation, says it should boost this type of development.
“It’s a relatively new idea for renewable energy projects,” he explains. “It’s a system that we’ve already used on public lands for conventional energy projects, and what this does is, basically evens the playing field for renewable projects, versus conventional oil and gas projects.”
Callero’s group contends that a competitive leasing process also means developers will avoid controversial areas with critical habitat concerns, to save time and money.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2013 15:14
HELENA – Montana’s unemployment rate increased slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 5.7 percent in January, hitting the same level as November 2012 after a slightly lower rate of 5.6 percent in December.
Montana’s unemployment rate has been on a downward trend since the end of 2010. The national rate also increased in January by 0.1 percentage points to 7.9 percent.
“Montana’s economy has made strong job gains over the last two years, gaining back most of the jobs lost during the recession and adding wages for Montana’s workers,” said Labor Commissioner Pam Bucy. “The pull-back in federal funding and the expiration of the payroll tax break are expected to slow growth in the next few months, but I am confident that our economy will continue to move forward and add jobs throughout the next year.”
Both the payroll employment estimates and the total employment estimates (which includes payroll workers, the self-employed, and agricultural workers) posted small employment decreases from December to January of 500 jobs and 800 jobs respectively. Continued job losses in the public sector
offset gains in the health services industry. However, over the year job gains in both data series show strong employment growth of about 1.6 percent, or about 8,000 jobs.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2013 15:12
STEVENSVILLE – Bob Gieseke has joined Rocky Mountain bank as the new manager of the Stevensville branch.
Gieseke, originally from Litchfield, Minn., is a graduate of Montana State University with a degree in business marketing and management. As a resident of Corvallis the past five years, he has been involved in the community as past-president of Bitterroot Valley Kiwanis, a board member of United Way of Ravalli County and a Relay for Life team leader.
He has a background in commercial real estate sales and development and has been a commercial banker in Hamilton since 2008.
In addition, Rocky Mountain Bank promoted Jeff Fuller to vice president, retail sales manager.
Mr. Fuller joined Rocky Mountain Bank as vice president and business development officer in 2007 in the Stevensville office. His new responsibilities include leadership, sales management and business development for all 10 offices and communities that the bank serves.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2013 15:10
HELENA – The Colstrip coal plant is the subject of a federal lawsuit filed this month. The Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) and Sierra Club filed the case, alleging the plant emits too much pollution and requesting fines of more than $37,000 a day. The case is based on the federal Clean Air Act.
Anne Hedges, MEIC program director, said the pollution is not new. She explained that when modifications are made to older plants, they are supposed to be upgraded for better pollution control and go through a permitting process.
“This is a case we have been investigating for years,” she said, “finding that all four units at the facility have been modified in a way that required them to go through a permitting process, and they did not do so.”
The owners of Colstrip have stated that changes at the plant were routine maintenance, and therefore it was not required to be upgraded for pollution control under the Clean Air Act.
According to Hedges, the intent of requiring pollution controls is not only to protect public health, but also to even the playing field with newer coal plants that have to, by law, install pollution controls.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2013 15:04
Whether a traditional Cheyenne courting flute or a bamboo fly-rod, the work created by the most recently endorsed Montana Circle of American Masters reflects its Montana connections and helps to deepen an awareness of what it means to be Montanan.
In December, the Montana Arts Council added to its distinguished roll of Montana’s Circle of American Masters (MCAM) in the Visual Folk and Traditional Arts by endorsing a bamboo fly-rod maker, a leather artist, a creator of traditional Cheyenne flutes, a Crow beadworker, and a bowyer. These five artists join the roll call of other Montana folk and traditional artists whom the program has honored.
Jay Old Mouse, of Lame Deer, is considered by the Northern Cheyenne people to be the designated keeper and maker of the Cheyenne courting flute. The Cheyenne courting flute was handed down to him through the lineage of known keepers, from Turkey Legs in the late 1800s, to Grover Wolf Voice, then to his grandfather Black Bear and now to Old Mouse. The honor and the flute-making skills were bestowed on him when he was in his early 20s by his grandfather with a long list of cultural protocols to follow.
Old Mouse was a certified carpenter at the time he became the keeper and to this day, he uses the historical methods and protocols in making and playing the flute. The courting flute was originally used by a male suitor to attract a mate. It is also used in prayer, as a source of social entertainment, to honor individuals at events like funerals and birthdays, and as a tool to alleviate suffering. Old Mouse follows his grandfather’s teachings and plays when asked at funerals, graduations, in schools, in church and at weddings.
Because of his commitment to the protocols handed down to him and to providing comfort to his community through his performances, Old Mouse is highly regarded in his community. He is also concerned about teaching both natives and non-natives about the significance of the Cheyenne courting flute.
Last Updated on Saturday, 16 March 2013 16:09
RiverStone Health and Unified Health Command partners Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare are seeing a decline in the number of reported influenza cases in recent weeks and have lifted visitor restrictions in hospitals; however, restrictions in the neo-natal intensive care units (NICU) remain in place.
Restrictions were implemented after the first of the year as part of a community effort to prevent and control the spread of respiratory disease.
“While it’s too early to say definitively that the influenza season has peaked, we have noticed a significant decline in reported influenza cases in recent weeks. Because of this decline, we have lifted visitor restrictions in hospitals,” said John Felton, Yellowstone County Health Officer and RiverStone Health president and chief executive officer. “This year’s influenza season has out-paced last year’s with more than 750 reported cases of influenza compared to last year’s total 119 reported cases.”
Visitors under the age of 18 years will now be permitted in hospitals. However, it is always a good idea to refrain from visiting individuals in healthcare facilities when visitors are experiencing symptoms and signs of illness.
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 15:43
This question came from Ed in Billings during a recent AARP Driver Safety course:
Q: My 83-year-old father and I have an ongoing “friendly feud” about whether or not we should be changing our oil every 3,000 miles. Do you have any info that can help settle this once and for all?
A: Many widespread beliefs about safe driving rules are tried and true, such as buckle up, always come to a complete stop and use your turn signal. But some of the best driving practices are trickier. For example, how often do you need to change your oil? Is it really every 3,000 miles as many of us have been told time and time again?
Over the years, technological advances, crash simulators and expert analysis have debunked many common driving myths. However, many of us are still operating under the assumptions we learned when we first got behind the wheel.
AARP Driver Safety sheds light on three common driving myths and mistakes, to help you stay safe on the road – and save on unnecessary expenses.
• Myth 1: Change your oil every 3,000 miles. While vehicle maintenance is critical to driver safety, you no longer need to change your oil diligently at the 3,000-mile mark.
Modern engines and synthetic motor oils have changed the frequency with which you need to change your oil. Most cars need a change between 5,000 and 10,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual to determine how long your vehicle should go between changes.
• Myth 2: Warm up your car before driving. When the weather outside is frightful, many of us crank on our car engines for a few minutes before getting on the road.
Although it may make the interior of your car nice and toasty, “warming up” your car in winter has no technical benefits. According to the Discovery Channel, modern vehicles are equipped to start in cold temperatures, and idling for less than a minute before driving is sufficient. Idling for longer wastes fuel and can cause unnecessary wear and tear on your engine.
• Myth 3: Fill up with premium every once in a while. While most of us stick to unleaded fuel, some may believe that it is a good idea to fill up your tank with a higher octane fuel every now and then because it is cleaner and will make your car run more smoothly. But thanks to mechanical advancements, using high octane fuel is an unnecessary expense for most modern vehicles. Engines run based on the controlled explosion of gasoline and, back in the day, gasoline would occasionally explode at the wrong time. According to the Discovery Channel, this caused the car to have poor timing and run irregularly.
Higher octane fuel was invented to overcome this problem, but modern cars have gone a step further. Nowadays, a knock sensor prevents gasoline from combusting at the wrong time, so depending on your vehicle’s make and model, you may no longer need to fill up with more expensive fuel ... ever!
Myth 4: Red cars get more speeding tickets. There are many rumors about car color and its effect on things like car accidents and speeding tickets. For example, black cars are thought to be more likely to be involved in accidents at night because they are harder to see, and drivers with red cars supposedly get pulled over more often than others — perhaps because they are more eye-catching or because the color incites speeding. According to a study by Snopes.com, drivers of gray cars actually garnered more speeding tickets than other vehicle colors. White cars received fewer speeding tickets than they should have based on vehicle population, and red cars received no more speeding tickets than any other group.
For more tips on how to stay safe on the road, consider taking a driver improvement course, such as the AARP Driver Safety course, available in a classroom or online. In Montana you are eligible for an insurance discount upon completion of the course.
For more information, visit www.aarp.org/safedriving or call 1-888-AARP-NOW (1-888-227-7669).
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 March 2013 15:42