The Billings Outpost

The Titanic, 100 Years Ago

As I write this, it is April 14, 2012, and one century ago, the Titanic sank. This is a sad occasion, and the subject of movies. But, I prefer to remember the heroes who gave their lives so others might live. 

The engineers, boiler room workers, pump operators, electricians, officers, and many unknown people worked to keep the ship afloat as long as they could, saving over 700 lives. And, the heroic radio operator who was still calling for help, minutes before going to his icy grave. 

And, don’t forget the men who stayed on the ship, so women and kids could survive on the too few lifeboats. There were some women who refused to leave their husbands side, and died in their arms. That is love.

I wonder what would happen today? Would there be as many heroes? It seems like it is just every man for himself today. But, in a disaster, people who may not agree in their religions and politics, help each other when needed. 

I have wondered if I were on the Titanic, what would I do? That question is hard to answer without actually being in the situation. Maybe I would be playing with the band. Those guys might play music with the angels when the time comes.

My wife said she would not leave my side on the ship, and I know that is true. I am a lucky/blessed man. I don’t have to be on the Titanic to know that.

Bill Ackerley

Wyarno, Wyo.


Last Updated on Monday, 18 June 2012 11:09

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Support public schools

It is dismaying to note how many Republican Montana legislative candidates see “charter schools” as a way to “improve education.”

Diverting taxpayer public education funds to private schools does not “improve” education at all. In fact, where public funds are diverted into private education, then public schools deteriorate and become sad places for poorer left-over children who are not admitted to “better schools.”  It is class warfare.

Part of our democratic national heritage is educational opportunity for all children, and that requires publicly funded education.  Support public schools, not privatization.

Joan Hurdle



Last Updated on Thursday, 07 June 2012 20:36

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Don’t follow all commands

Let’s applaud President Obama’s approval of equal rights to all citizens including homosexuals.

However, some quote the Bible such as Leviticus 18:22 saying to kill homosexuals.

Could they please clarify these Bible quotes ?

Exodus 35:2 says anyone working on the Sabbath shall be killed. Am I obligated to kill them?

Exodus 21:7 says I may sell my daughter into slavery. Today, what is a fair asking price?

Leviticus 25:44 says I may own slaves if bought from neighboring nations.  May I own Canadians and Mexicans?

Leviticus 20:9 says anyone who curses father or mother shall be put to death. How soon ?

Leviticus 11:10 says it is an abomination to eat shellfish or fish without fins or scales. Is this a lesser abomination than being born homosexual? I don’t agree.

If they quote the Bible condemning homosexuals, should they also say, “Go thou and do likewise” to all the above?

Thankfully, we live in a democracy not a theocracy. America has a secular Constitution. No wonder we’ve been so fortunate since 1789!

Vern L. Klingman

Spokane, Wash.


Last Updated on Thursday, 07 June 2012 20:34

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Support Ron Paul

In regard to the upcoming election, I feel your news coverage should emphasize how important it is for Republicans to consider who will do the best job of repairing our economy. In this respect, Dr. Ron Paul stands head and shoulders above other candidates. Others will allow our overgrown government to interfere in our lives, but Dr. Paul understands the importance of keeping taxes low and maintaining freedom for businesses and citizens. Given the importance of such American principles as liberty and self-determination, Ron Paul is the only option.

Peter Olson



Last Updated on Thursday, 07 June 2012 20:34

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Upward Bound faces cutback

When the U.S. Department of Education announced the annual grant winners for the TRIO Upward Bound program last month in Washington, D.C., the impact was felt by hundreds of students and their families in Montana. And it wasn’t good news.

Upward Bound has helped more than one million students from low-income families, where neither parent graduated from college, prepare, enroll, and earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degrees from institutions of higher education. Located on nearly 1,000 college campus sites across the country, Upward Bound programs provide much-needed after-school, weekend and summer college preparation and instruction to these students.

But due to a lack of adequate support from the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress this year, nearly 5,000 students and families across the country will lose the guidance and support services they need to achieve the college dream. Without Congressional support, the cut of $44 million, compared to last year’s budget, will force a number of Upward Bound programs to shut their doors and immediately terminate life-changing educational services to thousands of students and families.

As a result of these cuts, Montana lost four out of its nine Upward Bound programs, a loss of services to 245 students in 20 high schools, 28 percent of whom are Native American.  Both Montana high schools and colleges will feel the direct loss of $5 million federal dollar investment in college post-secondary preparation services to the Montana secondary school students.

It is estimated that the lost tuition and fees that are generated as a return on investment of the Upward Bound services, is as high as $10.9 million for Montana colleges. This cut will fall hardest on some of the most vulnerable populations in our state, including tribal communities such as Lame Deer, Northern Cheyenne Tribal School and St. Labre in Ashland on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

Rurally isolated communities were hit very hard as well, with services being lost in the following towns: Twin Bridges, Harrison, Sheridan, Whitehall, Ennis, Alberton, Plains, Thompson Falls, Superior, Kalispell, Columbia Falls, and Big Fork.

This decision to limit funding was clearly not based on Upward Bound’s effectiveness as a program. In fact, the Education Department’s own data have shown that:

• More than three quarters of all students who participated in Upward Bound programs went to college in the fall immediately following high school graduation.

• This figure rose to more than 90% for students who participated for three years or longer in the program or remained involved through high school graduation.

• Upward Bound students were 50% more likely to attain a bachelor’s degree than their counterparts.

As chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations, Rep. Denny Rehberg is in an excellent position to reverse these devastating cuts. If you support the program, you can reach out to Rep. Rehberg at and tell him you hope he will continue his strong support for the program this year by helping reverse the Department’s decision and restore this much-needed funding.

Upward Bound represents only a drop in the bucket in the overall federal budget. But it can be life-changing experience for many hard-working underserved students in Montana and around the country who dream of becoming the first in their family to earn a college degree.

Amy L. Verlanic

Montana Tech



Last Updated on Thursday, 07 June 2012 20:33

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Think coal ideas through

I read with interest the Gazette’s March 28 article about the Port of Coos Bay Port Commission demanding citizens pay thousands of dollars for a public records request for a proposed coal export port. The plan for the port involves transporting coal in mile-long trains from the Northern Plains to Oregon for export overseas. While I believe that the port should be open with their plans, what really baffles me is the idea that our nation is making plans to export our finite resources.

According to the recent Billings coal export conference, coal companies plan to export 110 million tons of coal annually. If these plans proceed, we could be facing 40 additional trains per day traveling through Billings and every other Montana city and rail crossing along the route. We will lose time waiting for trains, while ambulances, fire engines, and police vehicles will be delayed responding to emergencies. We’ll also be impacted by coal dust, diesel fumes, noise, and safety concerns.

It is time we thought through this coal export idea and determine who it will benefit. Montanans whose towns will be divided by a wall of train traffic are certainly not going to be at the top of the list. If anything, we are going to be left paying for ways to mitigate the problems via personal health costs, and city, county and state taxes.

Lana Sangmeister



Last Updated on Thursday, 07 June 2012 20:32

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