The Billings Outpost

Local breweries win


More than a dozen Montana breweries won awards at the 2014 North American Beer Awards this month in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Breweries from Belgrade, Bigfork, Billings, Hamilton, Lakeside, Missoula, Philipsburg and Whitefish all placed in their divisions.

Montana is home to 46 breweries that employ more than 500 Montanans, with at least six more expected to open later this year. Brewers use more than 6 million pounds of malted grain, much of which is grown in Montana. In 2013, craft beer production increased by 15 percent.

Below is a list of the Montana breweries that received recognition at this year’s competition:

Billings winners were:

Canyon Creek Brewing: Silver medal for One Night Stand.

Carter’s Brewing: Gold medals for Rob Moore Abbey Ale and The Golden Boy’ silver medal for Biere de Mars 2014; bronze medals for Switchyard Scottish Ale and Franbeaux.

Montana Brewing Co.: Bronze medals for Whitetail Wheat and Beartooth Espresso Porter.

Uberbrew: Bronze medal for Black Hops Tactical IPA.


Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 21:50

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Employment up


HELENA – Montana’s unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage points over the month for a rate of 4.6 percent in May. The U.S. unemployment rate held steady at 6.3 percent.

Total employment, which includes payroll employment plus agricultural and self-employed workers, added 1,326 jobs in May. Montana has added over 10,000 jobs since the beginning of the year, and since May 2013 has had an annual growth rate of 2.1 percent. In comparison, Montana’s average growth rate is roughly 1 percent annually.The labor force increased by 341 workers.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 21:46

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New citizens sworn in

By STEPHEN DOW - The Billings Outpost

Thirty-three immigrants from 19 countries were sworn in as U.S. citizens during a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ceremony on Thursday, June 19, at the James F. Battin Federal Courthouse.

Nearly 100 people attended the event to support loved ones who had immigrated from Barbados, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Guatemala, India, Italy, Japan, Mauritania, Mexico, Mongolia, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Deputy Court Clerk Heather Mclean said, “We don’t usually have this many people who want to come to court proceedings … . This is about the only time that people are excited to come to court, and we’re OK with that.”

The hour-long ceremony was a joyous and often raucous occasion filled with clapping, hugging, smiling and shouting.

“Hooray for mommy!” a young boy shouted as his mother, Italian-born Veronica Rousseau, accepted her citizenship certificate.

“I did it!” exclaimed a Barbados native as she accepted her certificate and waved a small U.S. flag in the air.

“This is pretty exciting,” U.S. District Judge Susan Watters said near the beginning of the ceremony. “This is the first naturalization ceremony that I’ve presided over because I’ve only been a federal judge for six months.”

She added, “As you can imagine, a lot of what I do in this courtroom is not particularly joyful. When people leave, they are often crying, but not with the tears of joy that I see today. I want to congratulate you on behalf of the United States and the state of Montana.”

Everybody had a reason to celebrate. The ceremony marked the end of a long naturalization process that included filling out paperwork and taking a citizenship test.

The 33 Billings residents join 778,000 immigrants who have become naturalized U.S. citizens during fiscal year 2013.

Judge Watters commented that the long naturalization process helps these new citizens “appreciate being a United States citizen more than people who were born here. Many of us tend to take it for granted.”

Representatives of U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and John Walsh and U.S. Rep. Steve Daines were on hand to give their congratulations to the new citizens.

“Today represents many things,” said Tester’s representative, Rachel Court. “The United States of America is granting you the opportunity to participate in this country as a citizen. In turn, you are granting this country and its citizens the chance to know you and learn from you. As you leave today, know that we are very glad to have you.”

Near the end of the ceremony, Judge Watters reminded attendees of rights guaranteed to U.S. citizens in the Constitution and said, “We have all these rights that I know many of you did not have in your countries of origin, and rights that many natural-born U.S. citizens take for granted, but it’s days like today and ceremonies like this one that remind all of us how wonderful it is to live in the United States and how blessed we are to be United States citizens.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 21:44

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Reenactments featured in Little Bighorn Days

Gen. George Armstrong Custer meets his fate once again in reenactments this weekend near the site of the original battle and near Hardin.
By STEPHEN DOW - The Billings Outpost

The Custer’s Last Stand Reenactment and the 21st annual Battle of the Little Big Horn Re-enactment will be featured during the Little Bighorn Days events being held from Wednesday, June 25, to Sunday, June 29.

Crow Native Days events will be held concurrently at the Crow Agency.

The Custer’s Last Stand Re-enactment will be held from 1-3 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 27-29. It is located just south of Crow Agency and six miles west of Hardin on Old U.S. 87. Tickets are $20 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-12, and free for children under six. To order tickets, visit

The Battle of the Little Bighorn Re-enactment started nearly 20 years ago, to share more of the Native American story of the Indian Wars and to have the reenactment on the ground where the teepees of the Indian Village were located, between Custer’s Last Stand Hill and Reno-Benteen Battlefield. It will be held at 1 p.m. on June 27-29.

This year marks the 138th anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, which was fought by 600 U.S. cavalry men and more than 1,800 warriors of the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe nations on June 25th, 1876.

The re-enactment is just one of many events that are a part of the Little Bighorn Days.

The events begin on Wednesday with a Quilt Show from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the  Big Horn County Library.

The main event of Thursday’s festivities is the Grand Ball March starting at 7:30 p.m. and featuring all participants in 1876 attire. The march will end at the Big Horn County fairgrounds where the Grand Ball will take place until 10 p.m. Participants in the Grand Ball must pay $20 in advance. A light dinner is included during the ball.

Special events on Friday include an Old West Youth Parade starting at Hardin’s downtown center at 11 a.m. From 5-7 p.m. , there will be a pork dinner benefit for the Hardin AAU Wrestling Club. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children under the age of six. The location for the dinner will be announced at a later date. There will also be a talent show at 6 p.m. at the Hardin High School Auditorium. Tickets are $6 at the door.

Events on Saturday begin with the Patriots Cancer Challenge 5K Walk. Registration for the event begins at 6 a.m. at the Hardin High School Track. The walk begins at 7 a.m. and the registration fee is $20. The Custer Historic Field Trip takes place from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Cost for the event is $55. Call Ted Heath at 329-1315 for more information.

The Little Big Horn Days parade begins at 10 a.m. on Center Avenue. The John Harder Memorial Firemen’s Fun Day, featuring many family games and free food, will take place from 12 -3 p.m. at Wilson Park. A demolition derby will take place at the fairgrounds at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12, and free for children under 6. A Family Fun Night will take place at the 300 block of Center Avenue from 4-6 p.m. It will be followed by a street dance at 8 p.m.  Bucky Beaver and the Ground Grippers will provide music. Tickets are $5.

Sunday will feature a non-denominational church service at Hardin’s First Congregation Church at 11 a.m.

An Arts and Crafts Fair, a Historic Book Fair, and a Quilt Show will be held throughout the Little Bighorn Days.

Crow Native Days will also be taking place from June 25-29. A powwow celebration will take place at 7 p.m. June 26-28. More than $10,000 in prize money will be split between the best singers and dancers in various categories. Darrin Old Coyote and Corky Old Horn will be the masters of ceremonies for the events.

The 2014 Crow Native Days Parade will take place at 10 a.m. Friday, June 27. The parade will begin at Gas Cap Hill in Crow Agency. More than $4,000 in prize money will be split between participants with the best costumes and floats in the parade. Call parade manager Destiny Bear Claw at 679-0743 for information.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 11:13

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Students replicate old Fort Custer for museum

Photo by Thomas McNab - Steven Levesque, an MSU architecture student from Fountain Valley, Calif., was one of 10 students from the MSU School of Architecture Community Design Center who built accurate model of historic Fort Custer.

BOZEMAN – Using cutting-edge technology and old-fashioned detective work, a group of Montana State University architecture students has replicated a historic Montana fort that disappeared more than a century ago.

MSU School of Architecture Community Design Center students, under the direction of Thomas McNab, researched historic photographs, drawings, maps and written descriptions, then translated the information to develop 3-D computer building models and a site model which were sent to a 3-D Printer and CNC fabricating machine to accurately create the physical 6-by-9 foot model of historic Fort Custer. The model is among several displays created by the students for the new Centennial Gallery of the Big Horn County Historical Museum and Visitors Center in Hardin, which opened last year during Hardin’s 100th anniversary celebration.

The Centennial Gallery, which tells the stories of the various cultures which meld in the Hardin area, is at  the heart of the new museum and visitors center that was built last year, according to Diana Scheidt, museum director.  Scheidt praised the MSU students for bringing fresh vision and technology to the display areas of the historical center.

“It was awesome to see Fort Custer come to life through the students’ work,” Scheidt said. “In fact, through the whole project, it was great to see the museum through young eyes.”

McNab, a teaching professor who is the director of the School of Architecture’s CDC, worked for more than a year with MSU students to develop the model of Fort Custer. The students also hand built a traditional wooden model of the hospital at Fort Custer, and designed other display  concepts and logos for the Hardin museum.

In its 38th year, the MSU Community Design Center provides visioning, planning, and conceptual

design to non-profit organizations and government agencies. McNab first heard of the Hardin project several years ago while talking to the architect who designed the new museum building. The museum had few funds left over for design consultation or display development, so McNab, who has family roots in the area, approached the museum about using students for the project’s design needs.

Scheidt said the students worked for a year to research the museum’s needs and came up with several innovative ideas that the museum used to adapt to its needs and budget. Those ideas included museum branding, exterior and interior mural design, graphic materials and a unique idea to cross reference the historic buildings located on museum grounds to the display areas inside the buildings.

Scheidt notes that more than 26 historic buildings have been relocated to museum grounds from throughout Big Horn County.

“The students inspired us to do so many things,” Scheidt said. “It was a great relationship working with them.”

But, central to the project was research and construction of a model of a historic fort that no one had seen in more than 100 years.

Fort Custer was built in 1877 on a bluff at the confluence of the Big Horn and Little Big Horn rivers to house members of the U.S. Cavalry. It was closed just 21 years later.

“Fort Custer was known, in its time, as the most luxurious fort in the west,” McNab said. “It was the Riviera of Indian forts.”

Among the fort’s residents were one of the famous Buffalo Soldier platoons made up of African-American soldiers. However, Native American tribes were already on reservations when the fort opened, and it was officially closed in 1898, with most of the buildings moved throughout the region.

 and repurposed, Scheidt said.  “Now, there is nothing there.”

Starting in the spring of 2012, McNab and his MSU architecture students embarked on painstaking detective work to learn what the fort looked like 100 years ago. While beautiful black-and-white period photographs of the fort exist, information on the layout of the fort was scant until students uncovered mid 20th century aerial photographs showing soil disturbances that marked the exact locations of the fort’s original buildings. They also discovered an original U.S. Army ordnance survey drawing in the MSU Library Special Collections that identified and located every building on the original fort grounds.

The students developed 3-D computer models of the buildings from historic photographs, drawings, maps, and contemporary written descriptions of the fort. The information was sent to a 3-D printer that accurately created physical models of each of the over 100 buildings of historic Fort Custer.

The contour model of the site that the fort sat on was developed by combining topographic data from a number of sources, since no accurate mapping was available for the site. Through a series of computer overlays the CDC students were able to create a “data point cloud” that was converted to a “contour mesh.” The mesh was then manipulated in the computer and compared with photographs taken at the site to accurately portray the bluffs along the Bighorn River. This computer model was sent to a CNC (computer numeral control) machine that cut the physical site model from layers of medium density fiber board.

MSU architectural graduate student Steven Levesque of Fountain Valley, Calif., who worked on the project beginning last summer until it was installed last month, said the project was rewarding and eye-opening. Originally drawn to the project because of his love of model making, he also enjoyed his first experience working with a client. He believes the experience will make him a better architect.

“I really enjoyed seeing a whole different way to look at architecture,” Levesque said. “I think many of us think that architecture is only making buildings. That’s not true. We have a wide skill set, and a variety of projects that we can do, as shown in this project.”

Scheidt and Levesque both said it was a near magical experience to see the fort come to life before their eyes.

“Even people who have lived here their entire lives were surprised to see that there were so many buildings on the fort’s grounds,” said Scheidt, adding that many have asked the museum to re-create the original fort, which would be completely infeasible economically. “But, now we can see what it really looked like. That’s pretty cool.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 11:09

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Gladstone on ‘last best place’

By Deborah Courson Smith - Big Sky Connection

GREAT FALLS – A troubadour of Montana’s Blackfeet Indian Nation, Jack Gladstone, will be at the University Theater in Great Falls on Tuesday with a presentation incorporating storytelling, lyric poetry, and music to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

The event is just one stop in a series of appearances Gladstone is making around the state to share Native American traditions.

He says this is a year of reflection on a common heritage and connections to wilderness. “The stories within our cultural traditions,” says Gladstone, “the creation stories - Old Man Napi the trickster, Scarface, Morning Star. All these characters are embodied in the landscape.”

Gladstone says Americans are taking advantage of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act to reaffirm the importance of wilderness to the revitalization of the human spirit. “There’s a sacred geography in the landscape. There is a saying in our tribe that the land will tell you who you are.”

More than three million acres in Montana have been designated by Congress as Wilderness since the National Wilderness Preservation System was signed into law in 1964.

The anniversary events are supported by the U.S. Forest Service, Montana Wilderness Association and The Wilderness Society. Gladstone will also be appearing at the summer solstice celebration of the “longest day” at Lindley Park Pavilion in Bozeman, on Saturday, June 21st.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 11:02

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Author to sign books

Rickard Ross presents a paper on Friday, June 27, and signs copies on Saturday of his new book, “The Story of Five Montana Pioneer Families.”

In 2010, Mr. Ross says, he published a biography of his great-grandfather  Frederick E. Server, a Montana soldier, explorer and pioneer. Mr. Server came to Montana at the age of 18, a fresh recruit in the 2nd U.S. Cavalry stationed at Fort Ellis.

During his 10-year career in the Army, he was a member of Col. John Gibbon’s Montana column and was among the first to come upon the dead of George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry.

After he was discharged from the Army at Fort Custer in 1883, he and his wife, Anna, operated a hotel at Custer Station (now Custer, Mont.) from 1883 and then at Crow Agency from 1892 until his death in 1911.

Now he has written a new book about the Server, Getchell, Ross, and Buzzetti families at Crow Agency and in Hardin.

Mr. Ross will present a paper on the Server biography on Friday, June 27, in Hardin, at the Custer Battlefield Historical and Museum Association symposium. The next day, June 28, he will sign books at the Big Horn County Historical Museum.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 June 2014 10:59

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Mangoneada: Raging shakedown in your mouth



On paper, a mangoneada has no business tasting this good. There are too many big personalities involved, too many loud notes of sour, salty, sweet, and heat. It’s too crazy a combination to work. But it does, because unlikely as it may seem, these contrasting flavors play remarkably well together.

From place to place, this refreshing treat is often called a mangonada or chamango as well. As its many names suggest, the dish is built upon mango. The sweet fruit is combined, in various ways, with chili powder, lime, salt, and a sour spicy sauce called chamoy. A mangoneada is as visually stunning as it is daring of flavor. The bright mango component lights up the dark red chamoy like a desert sunset on red rocks. 

Chamoy is typically made with pickled apricots or plums, and chile, lime, sugar and salt. In a mangoneada, additional lime and chile powder are added. Doubling up on these caustic ingredients creates a raspy red sauce that could fairly be called the opposite of mango. This chamoy-based slurry is at once too spicy, too sour and too salty. But in mango, the sharp red slurry finds a sweet, fragrant dance partner. The mangoneada is evidence that a marriage of opposites can work.

Mangoneadas come from the Mexico/California border region, some say Tijuana, and today can be found in Mexican treat shops, which are called neverias or paleterias. These establishments serve fruity popsicles and ice cream concoctions, and are found in highest concentrations in the southwest. But recently, paleterias and neverias have been popping up in big cities nationwide, wherever Mexicans and hot weather are found.

There is no single form in which a mangoneada is made but rather, several common ways that the ingredients are combined. It can be served as an icy drink, with swirled layers of mango slush and chamoy sauce. In San Diego, “chamango” specifically refers to this presentation, and often contains tamarind as well.

If one were looking to turn the fiesta up a notch, slushy and liquid incarnations of mangoneada such as this would be a good choice for mixing with tequila.

Another common incarnation of mangoneada is chunks of mango that have been tossed, drizzled or drenched in chamoy. These dressed pieces of mango can in turn be layered in a cup with mango slush or sorbet. The sorbet can be made by blending mango with fresh orange juice. The straw can be dusted with tamarind powder.

My first mangoneada was built around a mango popsicle that was frozen in a plastic cup, with a wooden stick protruding. When I placed my order in that Albuquerque paleteria, the popsicle was removed from the cup, and a dose of chamoy was deposited in its place. Limes were squeezed, their juice added, along with more red chile powder. The popsicle was returned to the cup, squeezing the chamoy-based slurry around the popsicle, coating all sides. The drill, I quickly understood, was to lick or bite the popsicle through the slurry, coating my face red if necessary, before returning the popsicle to the cup for a chamoy reload.

Although somewhat under radar among gringos, mangoneadas probably won’t remain a cult dish for long. They have a way of evoking a certain giddy goofiness among fans, who seem eager to publically share their love for it. Instagram is full of mangoneada portraits, and Twitter is full of confessions of love and lust for its many forms, and longing iterations of its many names.

“Bring me a mangoneada right now and I’ll love you forever.”

“His name is Chamango :) I think he. Loves me too”

“99 problems, and a mangoneada solves all of them.”

“Quiero mangonada.”

Of its many names, I prefer the “mangoneada” spelling because it’s the most interesting. The word “chamango” was obviously created from “chamoy” and “mango.” And while there is no Spanish translation for “mangonada,” it sounds a bit like limonada, aka lemonade. To be honest, the first time I ordered one, I assumed I was getting mango lemonade.

“Mangoneada” is a conjugation of the verb mangonear, which means to boss around, abuse, or generally mess with for ill-gotten personal gain. Or, as Anahi Gildo Beltran, who sells homemade mangoneadas from a cooler-equipped push-cart at a Los Angeles park, told me by phone: “‘Mangoneada’ means when you grab somebody and shake them.”

The assertive flavors of a mangoneada do add up to a shakedown for your mouth, like getting worked over in a sweet, refreshing way. And while it’s hard to go wrong with mango, much of the credit for a mangoneada’s unique flavor goes to the chamoy, and its unusual sour flavor.

Chamoy is thought to be a descendent of umeboshi, Japanese pickled plum paste. Commercial preparations can be purchased at Mexican grocery stores, and the “ethnic” aisles of many supermarkets. It can also be ordered online. Alas, most store-bought chamoy is not made with real fruit. Trechas brand, for example, is made from water, iodized salt, red peppers, citric acid, corn starch, sugar, xanthan gum, sodium benzoate, and Red No. 40.

There’s a part of me that wants to advise you against resorting to using store-bought chamoy. But the reality is, the mangoneada boom was built on this processed stuff, and so in a way, using bottled chamoy is as authentic as it gets. But if one wants to go rogue, in a DIY kind of way, many recipes can be found online that combine apricot jam, lime, chile powder and salt. One can also try to fake it with fresh apricots, which happen to be in season. Mangoes, conveniently, are in season as well. But if you do try to make it at home, you should have a bottle of commercial chamoy on hand, just to know what you are aiming for.

To make a mangoneada, mix your chamoy with some form of mango, be it a popsicle, fresh chunks, or icy slurry. Season with more lime and chile powder, and perhaps tamarind. And let the games begin.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 11:55

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Train trips to Paradise: Montana and railroads

Second of two parts

By HARRY W. FRITZ - University of Montana - Department of History

After all these non-mechanized years, three railroads in the 1880s! Montanans were, literally, transported. The railroads mark a fundamental turning point, the greatest historical watershed in Montana history. All but ending the captivating river and wagon trades, they linked Montana to vital national markets. They opened the territory (and soon the state) to outside investment and exploitation. They goosed economic growth and development. W. G. Conrad said it all:

“The railroad … changed all the channels of business and many … were unable to adjust themselves to the new conditions it brought. The coming of the railroads annihilated time and distance … and annexed the country to the commercial territory of the great eastern merchant princes.”

By 1909, a third transcontinental, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific (the “Milwaukee Road”) had cut through central Montana just in time to capitalize on the great homesteader boom. Railroads were absolutely essential to homesteading in central and eastern Montana – there’s almost a causal connection. Railroads brought farm families into the state with all their goods, livestock and equipment. They allowed grain growers and ranchers to ship their products to eastern markets. The Northern Pacific in 1900 was the largest landowner in Montana, and it had millions of acres to sell. The Great Northern and the Milwaukee Road depended for their very existence on filling up the plains – once home to widespread Indian nations and buffalo – with productive, Jeffersonian, agrarian yeomen. Their message to potential farmers all over America and Europe was simple: Come hither, and replenish the earth.

Factors other than railroad promotion and cheap transportation drew settlers to Montana after 1890. Land was free – 160 acres under the Homestead Act of 1862. The acreage doubled in 1909, and the proof period dropped from five to three years. Governments at all levels sought to attract citizens. Rainfall seemed ample, and if not, scientific agriculture – or dryland farming –promised good crops anyway. Commodity prices were high.

It all seemed so easy … free land, railroad competition, instant returns, endless markets, high profits. No wonder people poured into Montana – 103,000 in the 1890s, 133,000 in the 1900s, an incredible 173,000 in the 19-teens. From 1890 to 1920, Montana’s population exploded by nearly 300 percent. In 1910 on a single day in Havre, 250 homesteaders arrived. In 1913, each month, 700 people filed there. In March 1916, the number reached 1,200 a month. The plains areas alone accounted for more than 70 percent – 220,000 – of Montana’s population increase in the first two decades of the century. 

Everything expanded – prosperity; population; land under cultivation; wheat production (both yield per acre and price per bushel); women, children, and families; the number of towns and counties; railroad trackage. The years 1900 to 1920 were years of frenzied railroad construction in Montana. The great transcontinentals sent feeder lines to the farthest hamlet, mine or forest. Steel rails crisscrossed the state. You could go anywhere, it seemed, on the iron horse.

Every boom, unfortunately, produces a bust. The homestead era began gradually and collapsed abruptly. When the Great War ended in Europe in 1918, the bottom dropped out of the market.

Commodity prices plummeted. A searing drought, for which even scientific agriculture had no remedy, scorched the plains. Crop yields imploded. Fire, wind, hail, plagues of locusts, a flu epidemic and dust storms of biblical proportions battered Montana’s grasslands. Paradise became hell overnight.

The same trains that had carried thousands of settlers into Montana for 30 years carried thousands away after 1918. Montana was the only state in the nation to record negative population growth in the 1920s. Though no one realized it yet, the railroad era in American history was over. Trains built the country and made Montana. But when Henry Ford rolled a cheap Model T off the Dearborn assembly lines in 1915, the world changed. Automobiles, trucks and highway construction constitute the next, enduring chapter in Montana’s transportation history.

It was a great ride for 15 or 20 years on either side of 1900. Railroads and homesteaders go together in Montana. Each had its glory days. We still have farmers in Montana, and trains, but the romantic connection is history.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 June 2014 11:30

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Art tours help retain memories

By MARTIN MULL - For The Outpost

Artist Adonna Khare’s “Elephants,” a prize-winning large-scale paper drawing on display at the Yellowstone Art Museum, was an ideal central stop for seven visitors from the Eagle Cliff nursing care facility.

The massive, adorable elephants are intertwined with a menagerie of animals. It’s certainly a must see.

The art piece pours out warmth and harmony, without class distraction. All the creatures belong, all are engaged.

Tour founder Karen Fried brought the Eagle Cliff residents to the display on the museum’s second floor and first let them gaze. And gawk. And admire. Most smiled. Eyes lit up.

Then Fried solicited the group. She asked each individually to opine, those who wished.

What did they see? What is happening in the picture? Did they see any tiny, hard-to-spot creatures? Anything unique that can be observed?

She commented and questioned softly, slowly. Patient for responses. Fried didn’t proceed until all had a chance to speak. To be part of the engagement. Nobody cut off in their say. No rush to go on to the next exhibit.

Fried worked for more than 20 years as an executive director of assisted living memory care in Southern California before retiring to Montana to be near family 11 years ago.

“I saw firsthand how you could stimulate people with memory loss, to keep them engaged, keep them calm, and most importantly to take note and treat them like adults, where their opinion counts,” Fried said during one of her recent tours.

Fried, while never an artist, always loved and studied art. In retirement, she traveled to Europe with her husband and saw the world’s great museums - Louvre and Musee D’Orsay. And it got her to thinking.

Why not create an interactive art tour for older people, those who suffered strokes, have circulation problems, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, many who suffer memory loss. A program to keep residents at nursing care, assisted living or retirement facilities engaged and feeling like they are still part of the community. All the while enjoying the wonderful world of art.

Fried worked with the museum’s director of education Linda Ewert, and two years ago the program launched its first tour. They’ve done about 40 tours since then.

The tours are free of charge. They last about an hour, with a tea, coffee and cookies get-together afterwards. Fried takes seven to 10 residents on each tour.

“Karen does an excellent job,” said Eagle Cliff activity director Carla Christensen. “She knows her stuff, but more than anything, Karen talks to the residents. Whenever we want to butt in and talk for them, she stops us, and says, please, let them talk. So we just do the pushing (of wheelchairs) and that’s fine with us.”

Christensen brings over a staff of four to be part of Fried’s tours. In addition, two other docents from the art museum join, adding to a warm and secure environment for the visiting residents.

“Karen chooses just a few pieces in the museum because this gives the residents a change to process and think about what they are seeing and feeling,” said Laurie Schmidt, a retired school teacher who’s known Fried for seven years and helps with the tours. “She really wanted to make this work.”

And it has, as evidenced by the Eagle Cliff staff. Activity aide Kristi Rudolph remembers the group’s last tour.

“Two of our residents, Cece Ensrud and Julie Benson, talked for a good two hours afterwards about the tour,” Rudolph said. “And it inspired both of them to begin doing art work again.”

Benson was on the recent tour again.

“I do draw, but I’m not very good,” said an engaged Benson. “But I’m enjoying this immensely. I just love it. There’s such a variety here, and there so much creativity that the artists use.”

Fried said nursing care, assisted living, retirement center and church organizations can contact the Yellowstone Art Museum for information about future interactive art tours.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 12:27

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Hospitals rated tops for safety

Designed to rate how well hospitals protect patients from accidents, errors, injuries and infections, the latest Hospital Safety Score has honored both Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare with an “A” – its top grade in patient safety.

The Hospital Safety Score is compiled under the guidance of experts on patient safety and is administered by The Leapfrog Group, an independent industry watchdog. The first and only hospital safety rating to be peer-reviewed in the Journal of Patient Safety, the Score is free to the public and designed to give consumers information they can use to protect themselves and their families when facing a hospital stay.

“Safety should come first for our families when we pick a hospital,” said Leah Binder, president and chief executive officer of The Leapfrog Group, which produces the Hospital Safety Score. “No hospital is perfect, but we congratulate the board, clinicians, administration, and staff of Billings Clinic for achieving an ‘A’ and showing us that you made the well-being of your patients your top priority.”

In a news release, she made the same comment about St. Vincent Healthcare. St. Vincent Healthcare CEO Steve Loveless said, “Safety is one of our core values at St. Vincent Healthcare. Every day we make it a priority to deliver care that seeks to eliminate all harm for our patients and our associates.”

Calculated under the guidance of Leapfrog’s Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, the Hospital Safety Score uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to produce a single “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F” score representing a hospital’s overall capacity to keep patients safe.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 12:26

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‘100 Greatest’ picks clinic

Becker’s Hospital Review has published the 2014 edition of “100 Great Hospitals in America,” a compilation of some of the most prominent, forward-thinking and focused healthcare facilities in the nation. Billings Clinic is the only hospital in Montana to be included on the list.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, hospitals included on the list are home to many medical and scientific breakthroughs, provide best-in-class patient care and are stalwarts of their communities, serving as academic hubs or local mainstays.

To develop the list, Becker’s Hospital Review’s editorial team conducted research, considered nominations and evaluated reputable hospital ranking sources, such as U.S. News & World Report, Truven Health Analytics’ 100 Top Hospitals, Healthgrades, Magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, The Leapfrog Group and several other resources.

The complete list can be read at

Billings Clinic is Montana’s largest health care organization and serves a vast geographical region covering much of Montana, northern Wyoming and the western Dakotas.

Last Updated on Thursday, 29 May 2014 12:25

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Train trips to paradise: Railroads made Montana


Railroads usually connect regions, states, cities and towns. But they also connect time, eras and centuries. In Montana, there is a direct railroad connection between the transportation revolution of the 19th century and the homestead era of the 20th. This is that story.

The coming of the transcontinental railroads to Montana Territory in the 1880s is the single most transformational economic development in the entire history of Montana. This careening generalization certainly deserves explication.

Here in the 21st century, it is impossible to recall how isolated Montana was for the non-Native population in the 19th – how out-of-the-way, how off-the-beaten-trail. Montana’s transportation history before 1880 is colorful, exciting, romantic but ultimately ephemeral. Transportation was seasonal. It was hard to get here in the summer and even harder to leave in the winter. Most people came on foot. They walked or picked their way across the plains and over the mountains on horseback. Montana was a long way from nowhere. The Bozeman or Bridger trails from southeastern Wyoming to the gold fields along Alder Gulch were hundreds of dangerous miles long. Sioux Indians resented the intrusion. They forced closure of the trails in 1868. But the next year, the Union Pacific met the Central Pacific at Promontory Point in Utah. Now the hike straight north to Montana was less than 400 miles.

Along this route – modern Interstate 15 – muleskinners and bullwhackers hauled the mighty Murphy wagons, bringing almost five tons of goods and equipment at a crack to Montana. Stagecoaches also plied this “Corinne Road,” maintaining regular schedules to Montana towns. Drivers were called “Jehus,” from II Kings 9:20: “And the driving is like the driving of Jehu, the son of Nimshi, for he driveth furiously.”

Montana also boasted water transportation for almost six weeks out of the year. Booming little Fort Benton on the Missouri River, the “Chicago of the West,” became America’s most interior port city. When the water was high in the spring, American steam vessels, built to run on a thick dew, could travel 2,600 miles up the river from St. Louis.

In terms of costs, figured at price per ton per mile, this was the cheapest way to get supplies, equipment and people to Montana. Long wagon trains fanned out from Fort Benton to Helena and the Montana mining camps and even north into Canada. But Montana’s rivers run dry in mid-summer, and Fort Benton is drydocked.

These early travel ventures are the stuff of frontier literature, but nobody expected them to last. Railroads represented the coming of age in 19th-century America, and until they reached Montana the territory would remain in its infancy. Already railroads had impacted the state. In 1853, Isaac Stevens had led a northern-tier transcontinental railroad survey through yet-undefined Montana. However, no one would build a railroad through unorganized territory. The first step was to segregate Indians; so just two years later, the same Isaac Stevens was back in Montana setting up reservations. Stevens’ chief lieutenant, John Mullan, later hacked out a mountain road across the Rockies. All this happened before the great gold rushes of 1862-1864.

Miners, merchants, farmers and cattlemen all arrived in Montana in the 1860s, dreaming of railroads. Early territorial legislatures nearly pledged their patrimony to attract them. Many Montanans must have experienced rapture when the Northern Pacific Railroad was chartered in 1864. But the N.P., although a land-grant road, suffered from extremely shaky finances and even went bankrupt during the Panic of 1873. Another line, the north-south Utah Northern, also was curtailed by the Panic.

A reorganized Utah and Northern/Union Pacific finally reached Butte on a sub-freezing day in December 1881. Two years afterward, the Northern Pacific, under the new financial management of Frederick Billings and then Henry Villard, drove its last spike at Gold Creek east of Missoula.

Just four years later, a second transcontinental, James J. Hill’s Great Northern, cut across the Hi-Line to Havre, then southwest to Helena and Butte.


Harry W. Fritz teaches history at the University of Montana.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 May 2014 09:01

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Scam feared

HELENA – Montana Securities Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen has filed a temporary cease and desist order on Wednesday against TelexFREE, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) sales program that Lindeen’s office suspects may be a pyramid scheme that has already cost Montanans $70,000.

The order prevents TelexFREE, which filed for bankruptcy protection in Nevada on April 14, from conducting further business or accessing investors’ money. TelexFREE, a multi-level marketing company, sold phone service calling software for a personal computer.

 or smartphone. The software could be used for unlimited calls to landlines and mobile phones to about 70

countries for a fixed monthly price of $49.90. A VOiP competitor, Vonage, sells a similar product for $12.99

a month.

While it was possible to simply buy the VOiP software, TelexFREE heavily marketed a related program that

the company advertised as a way of earning money for TelexFREE “members.” In that program, individuals

had to pay $289 a year for an AdCentral membership. This membership required users to sell one

TelexFREE calling software a month for a full year. On the sale of the software, the member would keep

90% of the commission. TelexFREE would also pay members $20 a week for posting template

advertisements on approved websites daily.

Lindeen’s office has identified 34 Montanans who had participated in TelexFREE and collectively paid more

than $70,000 into the program.

On April 15, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil fraud charges against TelexFREE,

Inc., which stands accused of operating a $1 billion pyramid scheme. TelexFREE, Inc. is a Massachusetts

corporation that has raised more than $90 million in the state alone. The state of Massachusetts has also

filed a cease and desist order against the company.

Lindeen filed the temporary cease and desist order to stop TelexFREE from doing business in Montana as

a multi-level distribution company because it failed to register as such in the state and it appears to have

engaged in practices that violate the Securities Act of Montana. TelexFREE has 15 days from when they

receive the order to respond for a request for hearing.

For more information about the Commissioner’s office and smart investing, visit or call the

Commissioner’s consumer hotline at 800-332-6148.

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 May 2014 09:00

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Artwalk marks 20th season of exhibitions

Jane Waggoner Deschner’s works are at the Catherine Louisa Gallery through May 14.The 20th season of ArtWalk in downtown Billings kicks off on Friday, May 2, from 5-9 pm. Twenty-five galleries, artist studios and small businesses will display new art exhibits  by local and regional artists.

Two new galleries have joined Chinatown Gallery on Minnesota Avenue, including Anderson Art Studio & Gallery (2706 Minnesota Ave.) and Big Sky Blue Gallery (2702 Minnesota Ave.)

The ArtWalk bus has retired. ArtWalkers can walk, ride their bikes or ride in one of the three rickshaws that will be transporting folks around the downtown area (courtesy of David Dean Young and Jason Jam.) The pedalcab drivers will not charge for their services but will accept tips.

Visit to get a copy of the map, pick one up at any of the venues or see Page 21 of this issue. Also visit Billings ArtWalk on Facebook to see more art images from the stops.

Among the highlights:

• Visit the Catherine Louisa Gallery to view “Altered Moments: Works with Found Photographs” by Jane Waggoner Deschner, who says,  “I appropriate everything - photographs taken by others - fonts  and embroidery stitches created by others. My contribution is to combine these disparate elements into something more than the sum of their parts.” For more than a dozen years, Deschner has collected, studied, and altered vintage snapshots and studio portraits, movie publicity shots and news photos. The show will run through May 14.

• Sandstone Gallery will feature the oil paintings of Sue Hammersmark and the photography of John Havener, both longtime members of the cooperative art gallery. Jolene Yellowrobe will be the featured guest artist with her oils.

• CTA’s spring show will be the exhibit of the Billings Art Association, a nonprofit, community-based, publicly supported arts organization. The exhibit will include a wide range of media and showcase the talents of Phil Bell, Ev Bergeron and others. The show will run through the month of May.

• Good Earth Market and the Apple Gallery will show the work of native Wyoming artist April O’Brien. Her art expresses her deep fantasies and vivid dreams. She will show a range of media including photography and acrylics.

• Level 504 has changed its name to Trulove Studio. It will present the following artists: Stacy Ruckstad (mosaics), Matthew O’Brien (mixed media), Patrick and Justin Choriki (photography), Hawk and Thistle with Nick and Vickie Nichols and Charlie Haagenson (Western art). Song Dog Serenade plays live music.

• As spring arrives, Clark Marten Photography will feature photography of flowers. New this year, Clark Marten Photography has created a calendar that features select art pieces each month. At May’s ArtWalk they will give May, June and July calendars to all who visit the studio that evening. Ten Billings Central High School students also will be exhibiting their art for the May event.

• Visit Jens Gallery & Design to see “Patterns Upon Patterns” and new work by Montana’s Lisa Ernst. Her porcelain pottery with hand-painted designs drawn from nature and soft watercolor glazes has been described as “holding a Monet in your hands.” Motivated by childhood memories of spring’s colors and textures, Ernst has found ways of combining her signature patterns, creating a vernal collection of vases, plates, bowls and other functional forms to create a look that harkens back to another era. The gallery also features “Nature Girls II,” a whimsical collaboration between Billings’ artists Gerald Kindsfather and Connie Jens. Both shows run through May.

• Kennedy’s Stained Glass will display “The Tree of Knowledge,” an interactive piece with disciplines of education hidden throughout the tree and window. It will continue to be on display through May 9 before it leaves Billings to be installed in the library at University of Montana Western in Dillon.

• Anderson Art Studio & Gallery has invited Keith Feely and his FossilArt to exhibit in its first ArtWalk show. Feely has explored much of Montana by foot and observed and recorded our western heritage. He works in sandstone and oil paints to animate stones into works of art that appear to have fish emerging out of solid rock.

• The Northern Hotel will present its mix of artists in the hotel lobby along with food and beverages. Artists will include The Girl Who Ran Away with the Spoon (vintage silverware jewelry), Ashley Prange (photography), Charlene Magargal (rebound journals), Cassy Crafton Kramer (504 Pottery) and Steve Kuennen/Robin Earles (printmaking).

• Big Sky Blue Gallery will feature art by the owner, Dana Zier and also guests including other artists in her family. “Though my paintings vary in subject, they are all part of the vast landscape of Montana  and my family’s part of that landscape,” she says.

• Global Village begins ArtWalk’s 20th anniversary year with photographer Cindy Hummel, who shows digital photography from her world travels.

• The Billings Food Bank will feature Leland W. Stewart, a member of the Crow Whistling Water and Knight Hawks Society. Raised on the Crow Agency, he grew up on his grandparents’ ranch surrounded by horses. He attended the  Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M., and Rocky Mountain College. He is a graduate of the Fortin Culinary Center of the Billings Food Bank.

• Toucan Gallery will show paintings by Romanian visual artist Cristina Simona Marian Albin. Painting since kindergarten, she studied art in middle school and then studied at a fine arts high school in Bucharest. She graduated from the National University of Fine Arts in Bucharest in 2003. She moved to the United States in 2013 and now lives in Bozeman.

• Billings artist Susan Germer will show new creations for springtime during ArtWalk. Fine silver jewelry, colorful watercolor notecards, pastels, bead embroidery, and framed photography will be shown at Germer’s (susang) studio. She has been creating fine silver jewelry since 2004 and is certified to teach the Precious Metal Clay process.

• McCormick Café will host two local Billings artists, Ev Bergeron and Jim Vincent. Ms. Bergeron has a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Montana State University Billings. Jim Vincent is the designer and founding co-director of the Welch Heart Center and past chairman of Cardiology at the Billings Clinic along with being a pastel artist.

• Stephen Haraden’s colorful art is created by applying pieces cut from his previous paintings and applying them to a new canvas. He then adds paint and charcoal to complete the image.

• The Yellowstone Art Museum invites ArtWalkers to view “Face to Face, Wall to Wall,” an exhibit that explores contemporary approaches to portraiture, and “Un/Conscious Bent: A Survey of Regional Surrealism.” Jam at the YAM features Justin Johnson.

• Underground Culture Krew will feature all 10 of its members and their work. Member artists include photographers Kristin Rude and Jenna Martin, fused glass artist Gloria Mang, potter Tina Jensen and six graffiti artists.

• The most recent new comics are shown at the Jason Jam Gallery on the second floor of the Carlin Hotel.

• Chinatown Gallery will include new work by its regular members with an emphasis on the paintings of Roundup artist Coila Evans. Evans took her first painting class in 2008 and has been painting ever since.

• Tompkins Fine Art will show works by Sarah Morris, its newest member. All of the regular artists will also show work and several will be on hand to meet visitors to the gallery.

• Gallery Interiors is celebrating spring with artwork and home accessories featuring “Birds and Barnyards.” Artists include Bob Barlow, Joseph Booth, Dennis Boyd, Barbara Butler, Jessica Durnell Smith, Greg Eislein, Loren Entz, John Felten, Connie Herberg, Gerald Kindsfather, James LeBar, Cyndie Mohseni, James Poulson, Jeff Schaezle, Kevin D. Showell, C. David Swanson, Tom Temple, Robert Tompkins and Susie Van Pelt.

• Guido’s Pizzeria will offer both art and pizza.

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 May 2014 11:48

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