The Billings Outpost

Renovated rec center inviting to students

MSU Billings News Services

Where worn out carpet once lay, student athletes and those wanting to stay or get into shape now find plush flooring and a vista of new equipment in the Montana State University Billings rec center gym.

The renovations, 15 years in the making, mean there are now about 600 square feet of new space in the work out room and some 20 new stations.

In between free-weight reps, radiology major Kyla Chamberlain said the remodel and additions to the student facility were a marked improvement.

“Before, it was clustered and hard to work out,” Chamberlain said. “There wasn’t a lot of room. Now, it’s nice.”

She said before the remodel some of the workout equipment looked “sketchy” and she hesitated to use it.

“The equipment is now new and it looks safe,” Chamberlain said. “There are a lot more to choose from, too. It’s important to work out for mental and physical fitness so I think it’ll be a lot easier with the improvements they’ve made down here.”

Chamberlain’s friend and workout buddy, Netasha Lovato, 20, agreed. As an outdoor enthusiast from Colorado, staying in peak physical condition is extremely important for the sophomore. After injuring her knee as a high school student, Lovato is keen on making sure it doesn’t happen again and she hits the gym regularly.

Lovato says the upgrades are day and night compared to last year.

“Before, this gym said, ‘small college gym,” Lovato said. “But, Billings has a lot more going on and now this gym is keeping up. This gym will help encourage students to attend. The renovations are a big improvement.”

So far, Lovato is really impressed with the new assisted pull up and squat machines.

She and Chamberlain are in the gym almost daily, when they aren’t enjoying Billings’ other outdoor activities.

“For students whose lifestyle is in being outdoors or sports the gym is an important part to that,” Lovato said. “Now, we don’t mind being in here all the time.”

Recreational Director Aaron Murrish said the gym is now about 3,200 square-feet with the new space and it boasts several new mirrors, increased air flow and several new machines.

Many of the elliptical trainers, as well as weight machines, have been replaced, as have free-weight pieces on the floor.

“We’re excited to have these improvements completed for the upcoming semester. These improvements will be enjoyed for years to come,” Murrish said. As the cost is included in tuition and fees, MSU Billings students can utilize the gym free of charge.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 August 2015 08:24

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Home schoolers must register

Parents, guardians or caregivers planning to home school their children for the 2015-2016 school year are required by law (MCA 20-5-109) to register their children with the County Superintendent of Schools.

Notification must be in written form and submitted to the County Superintendent of Schools, P.O. Box 35022, Billings, MT 59107.

If you have any questions, contact Sherry Long, Yellowstone County superintendent of schools at the above address or call (406) 256-6933.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 August 2015 08:23

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YMCA honors volunteers

Since 2011, the Billings YMCA has recognized volunteers who have made a significant contribution of time and talent for the greater good of the community. On Aug. 12, Founder’s Day Awards were presented to Stella Fong and Jeff Hansen.

Stella Fong is a professional writer, food and wine educator, and community volunteer. Her first loves include the Montana State University Billings Wine and Food Festival, St. Vincent Foundation, the Magic City Trail Trek and the Billings Y.

She was also a seminal force in raising the $5 million to build the new Billings Public Library and serves as the board chairman.

Ms. Fong has served as a Y board member since 2011 and is actively involved with the Development, Governance, and Property committees. She received the 2015 YMCA Founder’s Day Award.

Mr. Hansen graduated from the YMCA LIVESTRONG for cancer survivors in December 2013. Since then, he has not only been an advocate for his own health, taking as many classes as his body would allow and eventually losing close to 100 pounds, he has become an health advocate for all Y members.

Since Mr. Hansen began volunteering in 2014, he has given 30-40 hours a week as a YMCA volunteer in every department of the Y from ChildWatch and Youth Sport to Fitness and Facilities. He received the 2015 Volunteer of the Year Award.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 August 2015 08:23

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YMCA selects officers; Preston returns to board

The Billings Family YMCA has announced officers elected to new leadership positions on the Board of Directors: Jennifer Corning, chief volunteer officer; Lisa Harmon, vice chairman; and Bill Gottwals, secretary/treasurer.

Todd Preston has re-joined the YMCA Board of Directors.

Other current members of the Board of Directors are Greg Ando, Scott Black, Matt Brosovich, Ryan Brosseau, Rachel Court, Karen Costello, Stella Fong, Ed Garding, Jennifer Haarr, Devan Hoiness, Charles Peterson, Bill Schrock and Randy Scott.

“Volunteer leadership is critical to achieving our goals at the YMCA. We are honored to have great leadership on the YMCA Board of Directors, and proud of their depth of community involvement, financial expertise and an eye for business growth opportunities,” said Chief Executive Officer Kim Kaiser.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 August 2015 08:21

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MSU-linked film wins 2 film festival awards

MSU News Service

BOZEMAN – A Montana State University-linked documentary about an epic journey of four young cowboys who ride 3,000 miles along the backbone of the Rocky Mountains from the Mexican to the Canadian border on a string of wild mustangs was tapped as the audience favorite at two prominent documentary film festivals.

“Unbranded,” directed by MSU film graduate Phillip Baribeau and produced by Dennis Aig, director of the MSU film program, won the audience choice awards at both the 2015 Telluride Mountainfilm Festival and Toronto’s HotDocs festival, which is the largest documentary film festival in the world.

“It is very gratifying and amazingly exciting to see how well the film has been received in its first two festivals,” Aig said. “I think the honors prove that the MSU [film program] offers an education that is both practically and aesthetically powerful.”

The feature-length documentary will open with a national release in September. It will be distributed by Gravitas Ventures, based in Los Angeles. Cindy Mehl, director of the popular documentary “Buck,” about MSU alumni Buck Brannaman, was the executive producer of “Unbranded.” MSU graduate Scott Chestnut edited the film.

“‘Unbranded’ unfurls an incredible story of adventure and self-discovery while spotlighting the plight of wild horses in America,” according to the Mountainfilm Festival press release that announced the film was the favorite of pass-holders attending the festival held in May.

“Unbranded” was also the audience favorite as voted on by the 200,500 people attending the HotDocs festival in Toronto in April. More than 2,724 films were submitted to the 11-day festival.

The visually stunning film traces the epic adventure of four young graduates from Texas A&M University, led by Ben Masters, and the string of 16 mustangs that they adopt and train to traverse backcountry stretching from the Mexican desert to the high-country of Glacier National Park. Running 105 minutes, it is an adventure story of the cowboys as they come of age in some of America’s most iconic landscapes. It is also an educational film about the difficulty of managing wild horses in America.

MSU ecology professor Bob Garrott is among the scientists and conservation experts featured in the film. The film was the brainchild of Masters, who is now a guide and outfitter living in Houston and Bozeman.

Aig points out that one of the extraordinary aspects of the film is the perilous four-month journey that the film crew, nearly all MSU-related, took along with the cowboys in the perilous backcountry.

“I don’t think Phill (Baribeau) even knew how to ride when he began,” Aig said of Baribeau, who also was co-director of photography for the film. “Yet, the cinematography and visual storytelling is expansive and seamless.”

Texas A&M Press also recently published the book “Unbranded: Four Men and sixteen Mustangs: Three Thousand Miles across the American West.” In addition, the film is now available to pre-order at

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 August 2015 20:55

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Accreditation report good news for Rocky

Story and Photo - By STEPHEN DOW - For The Outpost

Bob Wilmouth says he is excited that Rocky Mountain College has nearly reached its fundraising goal for a new science building.For Rocky Mountain College President Bob Wilmouth, the announcement that RMC had received accreditation this month marked yet another milestone in a successful year for the college.

“The expectation is that we’re going to be accredited, so it’s not a big deal to most people,” Wilmouth said. “It is a big deal for me because it shows what a strong institution we are.”

The accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities comes as a result of a three-year-long process in which the college, led by Academic Vice President Steve Germic and Associate Academic Vice President Jen Bratz, worked to document the college’s progress in meeting the standards and recommendations featured in the 2012 report.

In that report, the NWCCU expressed concerns about Rocky’s financial sustainability. However, in the letter sent to President Wilmouth earlier this month, NWCCU president Sandra Elman commended the college for turning this situation around.

“The Commission applauds the College’s leadership team for its focus, commitment and progress toward addressing the financial sustainability concerns identified in the previous 2012 accreditation evaluation,” Elman wrote.

Elman also commended the college for its “atmosphere of mutual support and positive collaboration that exists among trustees, administration, faculty, staff and students.”

While the report was largely positive, it did mention that the college needed to continue to improve its institutional research and become more data-driven when making decisions.

Germic said that he was thrilled about the results of the long process.

“I couldn’t be happier with the results of this process and the response of the evaluators,” Germic said. “I’m personally very thankful to everyone at the college who contributed to this positive result.”

Wilmouth agreed that the process was truly a team effort.

“I created the environment for the accreditation process to be successful, but I think everybody on campus and in the community had a hand in it,” Wilmouth said. “We all came together as a team, executed our plan and this accreditation is the result.”

The accreditation is just one of several positive pieces of news to come out of Rocky in recent weeks. The college has raised over $1 million this year, which is the highest amount raised in the past eight years. Meanwhile, the school’s SAS program – which serves 59 percent of Rocky’s students including first-generation college students, students from low-income families and those with disabilities – recently received a $1.45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

In another piece of good news, enrollment at the school has increased by 15 percent this year, while retention has increased by 1 percent.

While many factors contributed to the increased enrollment and retention rates, Wilmouth said that the school’s implementation of a Personal Service Excellence Policy has been extremely helpful.

“In Personal Service Excellence, we decided that every student should be treated as a customer of this institution,” Wilmouth explained. “Thus, it is extremely important that students are made the priority.”

Because of this commitment to RMC’s students, the college is moving forward with improvements to some of its current facilities.

The first to open will be a renovated cafeteria and a new coffee shop in the Bair Family Student Center. Both will be open on the first day of school on Aug. 24.

“The cafeteria, along with the coffee shop, will serve as a center and a nexus for this campus,” Wilmouth said. “Not only will it elevate the student experience, but the experiences of everyone who visits this institution.”

Next, the college will start work on a new Learning Center that will be located within the Paul M. Adams Library. The Learning Center will serve as a more centralized location for the school’s writing center (currently located in Tyler Hall) and will also house a math center and provide tutors in many other subjects. The Learning Center will likely be open at the beginning of the upcoming spring semester.

“If our students need help, we need to have these services for them,” Wilmouth said. “We can’t just let them come in and see if they fly on their own. We need to offer them a support system. This Learning Center is the perfect way of accomplishing that.”

Lastly, Wilmouth said the college has nearly reached its fundraising goals for a new science building. He says that the total amount should be achieved around the time of the school’s annual Black Tie Blue Jeans event, which will be held on Nov. 13.

The project will involve making improvements to the current Bair Science Building while adding 25,000 square feet including new classrooms, offices and labs.

If fundraising goes according to plan, work on the long-awaited project will begin in early 2016.

With accreditation announced, new building projects on the way and increased retention and enrollment, Wilmouth has plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the future of Rocky Mountain College. He said he is also continuing to strive to make RMC the best place it can possibly be.

“We’re going to become a better college through process improvement, reciprocal accountability, attention to detail and being outcome-driven,” Wilmouth said. “In other words, we’re always going to have a plan.”

Indeed, Wilmouth already knows what he’s striving for when the college is up for accreditation again in 2018. He hopes that Rocky will have 1,100 students and will have $1.5 million in its annual fund every year.

“We’re going to go from good to great,” Wilmouth said. “We’re not going to accept status quo and rest on these laurels. We’re going to get even better … . Our students and our community deserve this.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 July 2015 13:53

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Border Wars coming back

By STEPHEN DOW - For The Outpost

Local Montana State University Bobcat fans will have something extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season as the team will host a basketball game in Billings for the first time in nearly a decade.

The “Border War” game between MSU and the University of Wyoming Cowboys will be held on Nov. 22 - the Sunday before Thanksgiving - at MetraPark. The game sponsored by First Interstate Bank will start at 2 p.m. and will be preceded by tailgate events at noon.

There have been 13 games between the Bobcats and the Cowboys in Billings since the early 1960s. During the 1990s and early 2000s, the games grew in popularity and became known as the “Border War.”

While MSU won the first Billings game against the Cowboys in 1961, they lost all 12 following matches. Fans eventually became discouraged after watching the Bobcats lose so many times, and the series’ popularity began to wane. The last Border War was held during the 2006 season.

Peter Fields, athletic director for MSU, feels that now is the perfect time to reignite the rivalry between the two teams.

“When I first got here, the ‘Border War’ was a big deal,” Fields said. “We want to get it back to being a big deal. It’s an important game and it’s a fun one to go to. People will want to come to Billings to see this game played by these two great institutions. … Bobcat Basketball has strong ties to the city of Billings and a long history with the University of Wyoming, so we’re thrilled to play the Cowboys at Rimrock Auto Arena.”

Shelley Gams, who is on the Board of Directors for the University of Wyoming’s Alumni Association, shared Field’s enthusiasm for bringing the “Border War” back to Billings.

“We are looking forward to renewing our competitive rivalry with the Montana Bobcats,” Gamms said. “Playing in Billings will provide us with a wonderful and meaningful opportunity to reconnect with University of Wyoming alumni from across Montana and Northern Wyoming.”

The Bobcats will have a lot of work to do if they hope to break their 12-game losing streak in Billings. Last season, they won only seven out of 30 games and they haven’t won a match against the Cowboys since 2007.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys won 25 games last season and were the Mountain West Conference champions. They participated in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002 before losing in the second round against the Northern Iowa Panthers.

However, there is still hope for the Bobcats. While the team lost both games against Wyoming last year, MSU lost the first match by only nine points and the second match by 10 points.

Todd Buchanan, head of the local organizing committee for the game, said that these evenly matched teams should make for an exciting game.

“It should be incredibly exciting,” Buchanan said. “I think that MSU has the chance to make it an even closer game and maybe even turn the tide completely.”

Also adding local interest to this year’s game will be the presence of MSU’s forward Danny Robison – a 2012 graduate of Billings West High School.

Ticket packages for the “Border War” game are available through the end of August. A 16-seat package is available for $1,000 and an eight-seat package is available for $500. Individual tickets will be sold starting in September. For information visit

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 July 2015 10:25

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Billings man designs top T-shirt

MSU News Service

BOZEMAN – A T-shirt featuring the Bridger Mountains has been selected as the winning design for the Montana State University Gold Rush game, which is set for Thursday, Sept. 3, against Fort Lewis College in Bobcat Stadium.

Now in its ninth year, Gold Rush kicks off the Bobcat home football season and is designed to inspire fans to showcase their Bobcat spirit by filling the stadium in a sea of gold.

Mark Johnson of Billings created this year’s winning T-shirt design. Johnson identifies himself as a lifelong Bobcat fan who has attended every Gold Rush game.

Johnson drew on his love for Bobcat football, love of design and countless memories from past Bobcat games as the inspiration for his winning design.

“We have a great view of the Bridger Mountains from our seats at the games, so that’s one of the first things that came to mind for this design,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s winning entry was one of 60 submissions, according to Scott Jurgens, associate athletic director of marketing and operations for Bobcat Athletics.

 Johnson will receive a $250 cash prize.

“Once again the Bobcat fans stepped up with an overwhelmingly positive response,” Jurgens said. “We received more submissions than ever before from all over Montana. Our fans have proven they are some of

the best in the nation. We’re thrilled the fans are so engaged in Gold Rush and are excited to release the

new design today.”

The limited edition Gold Rush T-shirts are now on sale. T-shirts are $12 and may be purchased at the MSU Bookstore and at Universal Athletic stores in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell and Missoula. Gold Rush shirts are also available online at and at

For more information, contact Julie Kipfer at 994-5737 or visit


Last Updated on Thursday, 23 July 2015 10:16

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Air pollution reduces IQ scores in children

MISSOULA – City smog lowers children’s IQ. This is among findings from a recent University of Montana study that found children living in cities with significant air pollution are at an increased risk for detrimental impacts to the brain, including short-term memory loss and lower IQ.

Findings by UM Professor Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, MA, MD, Ph.D., and her team of researchers reveal that children with lifetime exposures to concentrations of air pollutants above the current U.S. standards, including fine particulate matter, are at an increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Calderón-Garcidueñas’ findings are detailed in a paper titled “Decreases in Short-Term Memory, IQ and Altered Brain Metabolic Rations in Urban Apolipoprotein e4 Children Exposed to Air Pollution,” which can be found online at

The study found that clinically healthy children who live in a polluted environment and who also carry a gene – the apolipoprotein e4 allele, already known to increase a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease – demonstrated compromised cognitive responses when compared with children carrying a gene with apolipoprotein e3 allele.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 July 2015 10:50

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Senior teacher wins award

Two Montana school teachers have been selected as national award winners for the prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) the nation’s highest honor for U.S. mathematics and science teachers in grades seven through 12.

A committee of Montana science and math teachers selected four teachers from a pool of 10 applicants statewide. From these four finalists, a national panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators selected two to be national award winners.

The most recent national award winners from Montana are: Dan Bartsch, Billings Senior High School; and David McDonald, Sidney High School.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 July 2015 10:49

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Read more: Senior teacher wins award

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