BOZEZMAN – There is a vial of little blue pellets in Barry Jacobsen’s lab. Its contents, a bacterium taken from a few healthy leaves in a northeast Montana sugar beet field overrun with disease, could save farmers around the world millions of dollars each year.
Since Jacobsen isolated it in 1994 during a catastrophic Cercospora leaf spot outbreak near Sidney, the bacterium - Bacillus mycoides isolate J, or BmJ - has shown impressive abilities. It has proven effective in fighting a variety of plant diseases caused by fungi, bacteria and viruses. BmJ is a biological control agent, as opposed to an industrial chemical used as a pesticide.
“I’d always been looking to develop a viable biological control product that would be beneficial to people growing a range of crops,” said Jacobsen, a professor of plant sciences and plant pathology in MSU’s College of Agriculture. “And I always considered that if I could do that, my career would have meant something.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 08 March 2012 23:32
Rocky Mountain Bank has announced the opening of its third office to serve the Billings area with customized financial services and personalized service to businesses and individuals. The bank will be located at 2929 Third Ave. N.
“The new Billings office, a 8,900-square foot facility, will accommodate the growing needs of Rocky Mountain Bank customers and strengthen our commitment to the Billings area,” said Danny Skarda, president and CEO.
The new office will be a full service branch with safe deposit boxes, drive up lanes, ATM and night depository. Scheduled to open late spring 2012, the architect for the project is A&E and the contractor is Langlas & Associates. The new office complements the current locations at 2615 King Ave. W. and 1410 38th St. W.
“Rocky Mountain Bank has enjoyed being part of the Billings community, stated Stephen Casher, branch president. “Our new banking facility is further evidence of Rocky Mountain Bank’s ongoing commitment to the community of Billings. Our new location will of course provide the exceptional service and convenience our customers have come to expect.”
Rocky Mountain Bank, www.rmbank.com, is a state chartered banking group with more than $425 million in assets and 10 branches located in Bigfork, Billings, Bozeman, Kalispell, Plains, Plentywood, Stevensville and Whitehall. Its parent company, Heartland Financial USA, Inc., is headquartered in Dubuque, Iowa.
Last Updated on Thursday, 08 March 2012 23:27
HELENA – The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has settled its administrative enforcement action against PPL Montana LLC (PPL) for violations of the Clean Air Act of Montana at its J.E. Corette facility in Billings.
PPL has an Air Quality Operating Permit for operating the J.E. Corette Steam Electric Station. The permit establishes the particulate matter emission limit of 0.26 lb/MMBtu. Emission test results for the coal-fired boiler from the Dec. 6, 2010, compliance test indicated that the particulate emissions exceeded the limit at 0.339 lb/MMBtu.
PPL agreed to pay the DEQ an administrative penalty in the amount of $32,000 to resolve the violation. Larry Alheim of the department’s Enforcement Division said that PPL will pay an administrative penalty in the amount of $8,000. The remainder of the penalty, $24,000, is suspended contingent upon PPL’s completion of a supplemental environmental project (SEP).
For the project PPL will spend at least $36,000 to pave approximately 13,000 square feet of the gravel portion of the PPL facility to mitigate airborne particulate matter emissions and improve air quality in the vicinity. This area of the facility is heavily used by approximately 550 18-wheel trucks and 8-wheel pup trailers per year. Alheim stated that PPL estimates that the SEP will reduce fugitive particulate emissions from plant roads by approximately 16 percent or a quarter-ton per year.
Alheim also said that PPL Montana notified the DEQ immediately upon learning of the test results and took immediate action to adjust the way they operate the plant. As a result of the action, the plant has been operating in compliance since.
Last Updated on Thursday, 08 March 2012 23:19
Shirleen Feller has joined Rocky Mountain Bank as AVP/Private Banking Relationship Manager at its Grand Avenue office located at 1410 38th St. W.
Feller will offer personalized private banking services to Rocky Mountain Bank’s affluent clients, their families and their businesses. She specializes in customized credit services and partners with investment, business and mortgage bankers to provide service and assistance in helping clients protect their wealth and achieve their financial goals.
Feller has 33 years experience in the banking industry. Before coming to Rocky Mountain Bank, she was a mortgage lender and a private banker at US Bank.
Last Updated on Thursday, 08 March 2012 23:17
HELENA – A new federal grant from the Small Business Administration (SBA) is enabling the Montana Department of Commerce (MDOC) to provide financial assistance to Montana exporters.
The SBA awarded MDOC’s Office of International Trade and Relations a one-year grant of $307,849 to provide financial assistance to qualified Montana small businesses for their promotional efforts in beginning to export or expanding exports into new markets.
The Montana International Marketing Assistance Grant program is a result of President Obama’s current initiative to double U.S. exports by 2015 through the rural and small business sectors.
Funds are available for the following activities:
• Marketing expenses for attending international trade shows
Last Updated on Thursday, 08 March 2012 23:14
HELENA – Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen has announced a settlement with the National Better Living Association and several of its affiliated companies that will relieve Montana victims of more than $170,000 in medical debt that amassed as a result of the company’s allegedly illegal marketing of health insurance policies.
In legal documents filed by the Commissioner’s office last year, the Commissioner’s investigators alleged the National Better Living Association purchased cheap insurance policies with limited coverage and hired high-pressure telemarketers to sell the policies as if they were major medical insurance.
Montanans who were roped into the scam told investigators that telemarketers promised the insurance would provide full coverage for all preexisting conditions. According to one victim, telemarketers said the policy was an “Obamacare” plan, alluding to the federal health care reform law. The law, however, doesn’t prohibit exclusions for preexisting conditions until 2014.
Investigators believe the telemarketers obtained phone numbers and other personal information from victims through fake “get-a-quote” websites that claim to compare health insurance products and recommend the most affordable options. In reality, information submitted on these websites was used to target individuals and families with the greatest need for major medical insurance.
Most victims didn’t realize how little coverage they had until after they had undergone a costly medical procedure.
Last Updated on Thursday, 08 March 2012 23:13
The age-old debate over which came first seems close to being resolved in favor of the chicken. After years of hens being treated as little more than egg-dispensers, concern is rising for the well-being of the layers themselves. Meanwhile, the practice of personal flock-keeping is on the rise. Across the country, and in many parts of the world, chicken-first approaches are supplanting the simple quest to create the cheapest eggs possible.
In the industrial egg factories where most of America’s eggs are laid, the newly introduced Egg Products Inspection Act would, if passed, make life easier. The bill grew from a compromise between United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States. It would mandate replacing the nation’s 280 million chicken-sized battery cages, as they’re called, with group cages equipped with amenities like dust baths and perches, while banning some of the cruelest practices associated with egg farming.
Last Updated on Thursday, 08 March 2012 23:10
(StatePoint) It may be your dream to make a big impression on the world, but as far as the environment is concerned you’ll do everyone a favor by reducing your impact.
In addition to recycling and composting, you can do your part for the planet by learning your carbon footprint and taking steps to improve it.
A carbon footprint measures your contribution to global climate change, taking into consideration factors like the size of your house, the type of transportation you use, and the source of energy you use at home and work.
You can calculate your carbon footprint online by visiting www.comfortableresponsible.org and clicking on “Carbon Calculator.”
If you’re surprised by what you learn, don’t worry. You can make minor changes to your lifestyle that will reduce your carbon footprint (and save you money!). Here are some ideas to green your daily life:
Last Updated on Thursday, 01 March 2012 22:27
The temperature is starting to rise and the trees are starting to bud. It’s time to draw back the curtains and let the sun in, but don’t settle for the sun filtering through grimy windows. Add “window washing” to your spring cleaning list this year. With these five steps from Glass Doctor of Montana, you won’t dread washing windows anymore.
Before you begin, you’ll need: a pencil, a bucket, soap, glass cleaner, a soft bristle brush, a water hose, and a squeegee or micro-fiber towel.
Step 1: Remove all the window screens, so you can wash them first. If you do not have screens, skip to No. 3.
Tip: Label the inside of each screen frame with a pencil, so you know where each one belongs.
Step 2: Spray the screens with the water hose to loosen dirt, spider webs, dead bugs, etc. Then, use the soft bristle brush and a bucket of soapy water to scrub away grime. Finally, rinse off the screens and let air dry.
Last Updated on Thursday, 01 March 2012 22:21
FLASH IN THE PAN
Ordering seeds in the dead of winter might seem like jumping the gun, but the days are getting longer, and it’s almost time to start the garden.
If you aren’t picky about the varieties you want to grow, you could skip this step and buy your seeds at the grocery or garden store, and get seedlings at the farmers market. For many people, though, gardening is as much about process as product, and ordering seeds is an integral part of the experience.
The adventure writer Tim Cahill once wrote, “I am a man who sits around at home reading wilderness survival books the way some people peruse seed catalogs or accounts of classic chess games.” Cahill followed that observation with a story about a lost hiker who survived a cold night by using the pages of his wilderness survival guide to start a fire.
Last Updated on Thursday, 01 March 2012 22:20