The Billings Outpost

NILE celebrates 45th Stock Show and Rodeo

The 45th NILE Stock Show and Rodeo is the region’s largest livestock event, showcasing multiple cattle breed show and sales, horse sales and futurities, and rodeo with the Ranch Rodeo Finals and ProRodeo.

This year the NILE will take place at MetraPark in Billings on Wednesday, Oct. 17 through Saturday, Oct. 20. While this year offers many of the same events and activities that people have enjoyed there are also many new and exciting elements as well to celebrate the 45-year history.

It was the fall of 1968 when the founders of the Northern International Livestock Exposition held the first Stock Show. That year it was at the Public Auction Yards in Billings. However, it was not an event that was just pushed together in the few months prior.

In fact, the concept of a region or national livestock show come out of a committee leading agriculture businessmen and area ranchers over a year earlier in 1967. Now in 2012, the NILE will celebrate 45 years of upholding the mission of what the original founder believed was important to promote our region’s livestock industry.

Throughout the years of the NILE, there have been as many good times as there have been turbulent times. Fortunately, the commitment and desire by NILE directors, members, staff, and sponsors have tipped the scales of existence in a positive direction. Which is why this year the NILE is excited about this year’s event and some of the new things that are available for people to enjoy.

“It going to be a great show,” says Justin Mills, NILE general manager. “We expect around 35,000 visitors to attend the NILE over the four days. With some of the things we’ve added will really create an event that has something for people of all ages.”

The foundational element of the NILE each year is the Stock Show. This year the NILE Stock Show will host over 20 livestock shows and sales in the short four-day window.

“People are busy these days and it is hard to commit to being away from home very long. We want to make it so that no matter what day you come to the NILE, there is a lot going on,” says Mills. Eleven cattle breed shows will be encompassed in this year’s schedule: Shorthorn, Hereford, Red Angus, Galloway, Angus, Texas Longhorn, Gelbvieh, Balancer, Miniature Hereford, Lowline Angus, and an All Other Breeds Show. In addition, there will be a Jr. Fed Show held on Wednesday, Oct 17, that will include a Swine Show, Steer Show, and a Lamb Show.

Meanwhile, the Merit Heifer Show, which will be held on Friday at 9 a.m., is arguably the most attended show all week. It is the culminating event for 25 young aspiring livestock producers that were awarded a free heifer one year earlier from donor ranches.

A Jackpot Show as well as a Showmanship Contest is held in conjunction with the show and then one individual is selected as the Top Herdsman based upon their monthly reports, interview, and showmanship skills.

One show that was not in existence in the very first NILE but has become extremely popular is the NILE Club Calf Show and Sale. This show features both steers and heifer calves that are shown and sold to 4-H or FFA members for their project through the next year.

This year along with the Junior Fed Sale of Champions, that will be at 5 p.m. in the Pine Coulee Bull Sale Arena in the Expo Center, there are four other cattle sales. The Club Calf Sale will be at 10:00 a.m. Thursday with all sale animals eligible for futurities that award over $4,000 each year.

Next will be two sales on Friday. The NILE Prestigious Red Angus Sale will be at 1 p.m. while the NILE Gelbvieh Sale will be at 5 p.m.

Then the week will conclude with the NILE Angus Female Sale at noon. The following sales will be webcasted by that will also offer live bidding: Junior Fed, Club Calf, Gelbvieh, & Angus.

Finally, the week of cattle events will conclude with an exciting and new addition of the NILE Supreme Row Show presented by Little Horn State Bank. The Supreme Row Show will feature all of the Grand Champion Bulls and Females of each show in one show for each respective gender. The show will take place on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Ford EcoBoost Arena. However, the final selection of who will be crowned the 2012 Supreme Bull and Female will not take place until Saturday night during the NILE ProRodeo. Each winner will receive a $1,000 and a Bronze Boot Trophy.

Horse events have always been a major component of the NILE. This year is no different as the NILE Gold Buckle Horse Sales and Futurities will be held over three days on Thursday through Saturday. In the last few years, the NILE Gold Buckle Horse Sales have seen incredible growth. The struggles that have beset the horse industry through over the last several years have eluded the NILE horse sales.

“We work hard to make sure our sales offer quality consignments,” says Ward Fenton, NILE Horse Sale Chairman. “Our process is not perfect, but we take it very serious. In the horse business, your reputation does more than anything else.”

It is a reputation that has spread profusely over the past couple of years and has established the NILE Gold Buckle Horse Sale as the premier sale in the region. Futurities have also been a major component that has spurred the growth of the sales.

“The market for young horses just has not been there,” says Fenton. “However, with the futurities tied to our sales, we have been able to provide an extremely strong market for good young horses from reputable breeders that you can’t find anywhere in the country.” This year the Weanling Yearling Sale presented by Copper Spring Ranch will be on Friday at 1 p.m. Then on Saturday, the Performance Horse Sale presented by First Interstate Bank will be at 1 p.m. Both sales will take place in the Rimrock Auto Arena.

The Gold Buckle Horse Sale Futurities presented by Pfizer will take place over the three days and include the Yearling Futurity, Snaffle Bit Futurity and 3-Year Old Futurity.

, and a new futurity called the Midnight Corona Barrel Racing Futurity. Over $13,000 will be paid out through all the futurities with over $3,500 just in the barrel racing futurity. Finally, the NILE Raffle Filly has been a long-standing tradition of the NILE. With the proceeds going towards NILE Youth Scholarships, this year’s filly was donated by Gary and Ginger Decock of D&S Cattle of Hysham, MT. She is fancy sorrel filly with Doc Bar on the top side of her pedigree. She has a great disposition and will have had over thirty days riding on her for the lucky winner and/or buyer. She will be on display throughout the week and tickets are $5/each or six for $25.

If you had attended the first NILE Stock Show, you would have not seen a rodeo. However, in just a few years, a NILE Rodeo was added to the list of events. At that time is was just an amateur rodeo held in the Auditorium and Exhibition Hall of what was then called the Midland Empire Fairgrounds, later named MetraPark. However, that building burned down in 1969 and it was not until 1975 that the NILE returned with a rodeo in the newly built Metra Arena, this time it was sanctioned with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). Over the years, the NILE ProRodeo has been one of the most outstanding rodeos in the region. This year the NILE continues with its PRCA rodeos however, the addition of the NILE Ranch Rodeo in 2007 added a new style of rodeo that has been extremely popular and entertaining. The NILE Ranch Rodeo Finals will be held on Wednesday, October 17 at 7:00 pm. Twelve ranch teams from across the region that have all won their qualifying local ranch rodeos will be participating in this year’s event. A new addition this year is the NILE’s sanctioning under the Working Ranch Cowboy’s Association (WRCA). This allows the winning team from the NILE Ranch Rodeo New a spot in the WRCA World Finals in Amarillo, should that team meet their ranch and membership qualifications.

The NILE ProRodeo has always been one of this region’s most revered PRCA rodeos. Prior to 2008, the NILE was one of the last major rodeos of the season for contestants to qualify for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. However, now the NILE sets as one of the first rodeos of the year for PRCA and WPRA contests. This has created a challenge to get the NFR bound contestants to the NILE and the rodeo attendees to the NILE to see the NFR caliber contestants. In 2010, the NILE hired Brookman Rodeo as the primary contractor but stipulated that two additional stock contractors must provide the other two-thirds of the rough stock. “We just felt that if we wanted to get high caliber contests to the NILE, we needed to make sure that they had an opportunity to win on any horse or bull in the pen that night,” says NILE General Manager Justin Mills. Additionally, the NILE began looking at ways that they could provide a high quality event that was second-to-none in terms of fast paced and highly entertaining, yet reverent to the tradition of the sport. “This year I believe we have put several elements together to make this one of the best rodeo’s we’ve ever had.” Wayne Brooks, who has been PRCA Announcer of the Year, will handle things from the announcers stand while JJ Harrison from Wala Wala, WA will provide the entertainment from inside the arena and barrel. “Both Wayne and JJ are excellent,” says Mills, “I don’t think there’s a better combination out there right now. JJ is no doubt the best in the business right now and it is worth the ticket just to listen and watch his antics.”

The NILE ProRodeo will start Thursday, October 18 at 7:00 with the theme being the Cat/Griz Rodeo Shoot-Out. “This was something was started last year,” says Justin Mills, “and everyone really enjoyed it.” Spring boarding off the instate rivalry between the Montana State Bobcats and University of Montana Grizzlies the night will contain a competition using drafted rodeo contestants to gain points for each school. At the end of the night the winning school gets 60% of the money offered by the NILE from ticket sales will the losing school get 40%. Money paid to each school is used for scholarships to their respective rodeo teams.

Are you Tough Enough To Wear Pink? That is the theme for Friday Night’s NILE ProRodeo presented by St. Vincent Healthcare. If you are, come Friday night for the rodeo where $1 of every paid ticket is given to the St. Vincent Healthcare’s Eva Project that works to help with awareness and early detection of breast cancer.

On Saturday, the NILE will be teaming up with the Big Sky Honor Flights for Wrangler Patriot Night. “Honoring our veterans is not something you do because it feels good, we do it because we owe them that and they deserve it,” says Mills. In addition, the Saturday night performance will provide a “side competition” between the bulls and the bull riders with the proceeds offered by business sponsors going towards the Montana Special Olympics.

A new element will be included in this year’s ProRodeo openings that will provide something never seen at a rodeo in the Rimrock Auto Arena, or even a rodeo Montana. A laser light show will dazzle and amaze those in attendance each night of the ProRodeos that will be Thursday, October 18 through Saturday, October 20 starting each night at 7:00 pm. “It’s something a lot of people have never seen and it just simply amazing to experience a laser light show,” says Rob Erickson, NILE Rodeo Committee Chairman. Brookman/Highland Rodeo out of Sidney, MT will be the primary contractor while Burch Rodeo (Rozett,WY), Corey & Lange Rodeo (Moses Lake, WA), and C-5 Rodeo (Lac La Biche, BC, Canada) will be bringing bucking stock. Timed event slack will be Thursday, October 18, at 7:00 am while WPRA Barrel Racing slack will be following the Friday Performance.

Tickets for all rodeo performances can be purchased at the MetraPark box office or any ticket outlet location, online at, or on the phone at 800.366.8538.

A trade show was also something you would have not seen at the first NILE Stock Show. However, do to the nature of many NILE events bringing people together into one spot; it was only natural that a trade would evolve. This year the Western Expo, which runs from Wednesday, October 17 through Saturday, October 20, includes not only a trade show but many other events as well. The NILE trade shows have always featured exhibitors with exquisite western art or jewelry, saddle, tack, and western ware as well as livestock equipment, feed and supplement, and cattle genetic based companies. “This year we are sold out,” says Justin Mills “that hasn’t always been the case, but this year we have had a lot of interest with vendors coming in to the NILE.” Several years ago, the NILE began adding other events in association with the NILE trade shows. Each day free entertainment including western music, poetry, bluegrass music, and Dutch Oven Cooking will be featured. A talented line-up of clinicians will give a variety of demonstrations on Friday and Saturday of The NILE in the Ford Super Duty Arena of the Montana Pavilion. Two sessions will be presented by each clinician daily. Demonstrations start at 10 a.m. and run until 6 p.m. on October 19 and 20. Ed and David Fryer along with Montana Beef Quality Assurance program show tips and tricks for making a day of working cattle just a little easier through their demonstrations on Low Stress Cattle Handling. A father-son team out of White Sulphur Springs, the Fryer’s have a passion for teaching others about cattle handling and show how it can make your ranch life easier too! Stock dogs have been a cowboys right-hand-man for years. Tim Feddes of Manhattan, Montana has been using stock dogs on his family’s Hereford ranch for years. Sharing how stock dogs can make a difference in life on the ranch for working livestock, Tim will show his dogs work a group of sheep live. Horse enthusiasts and trainers alike have been amazed by horse trainers like Chris Cox, Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson and Dennis Reis. These same trainers have inspired Jacque Richey to teach others Natural Horsemanship and equine choreography, where they perform demonstrations to music without aids. Jacque currently offers lessons at Standing Rock Ranch in Billings, Montana and will be performing at NILE with some of her students. Finally, the Northern Range Ranch Roping Finals will take place on Saturday, October 20 in the Buckaroo Businesses Arena, however, come a day early and catch a qualifying ranch roping event for those working to make it to the finals the next day.

New this year will a unique area just for kids of all ages called the Young Guns Zone sponsored by Two-W Livestock Equipment and Taco Johns. “We wanted to provide some activities that would not only bring families to the NILE but offer them a fun experience,” says Mills. The big component that will be part of the Young Guns Zone will be three sessions of Mutton Bustin’ held each day. There is an entry fee for kids to participate of $10 and winners from each round during the day will be able to compete in the evening rodeo in Rimrock Auto Arena. “In the past we could only do ten Mutton Busters each night, which meant there were a lot of kids that didn’t get a chance to ride. This year we will be able to offer every kid that wants to, a chance to ride a sheep.” Mutton Bustin’ will taking place each afternoon at: 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00 for kids that are four-six years old and under forty-five pounds.

Other activities that will be in the Young Guns Zone will be the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Shooting Gallery and Dummy Goat Roping with special jackpot competitions at: 11:00am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm. Finally, each day will conclude with the Little Wrangler Stick Horse Rodeo at 5:00 pm where kids can compete in their favorite rodeo events with Miss Rodeo Montana Mariah Rys-Sikora as the host.

Since the inception of the NILE, an agricultural education component has become a major part of the NILE Stock Show & Rodeo. Each year nearly 2,000-area fourth graders make their way onto the Metra grounds to learn about agriculture and how it affects their daily lives. “This program is why we do what we do,” says Mills. It is a partnership between the NILE, Yellowstone County Extension, Yellowstone County Conservation District, and several other entities. The program provides teachers with curriculum material that meets state standards and pays for transportation for schools to participate in the program.

To conclude the week of activities the NILE turned to their history and roots of the livestock industry in the region to provide a finale event. New this year will be a full-fledged Cattle Drive and Parade. The NILE Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters Cattle Drive and Parade will take place on Saturday, October 20 at 10:00 am and will travel through downtown Billings. “We are working with Chas Weldon, curator of the Yellowstone Museum to help in recreating a Cattle Drive similar to what would have been seen traveling through the valley over 100 years ago,” says NILE General Manager Justin Mills. This year the Cattle Drive will contain 50 head of steers with a Trail Boss (Turk Stovall), out riders, a chuck wagon and a bunk wagon. The Cattle Drive will lead the parade and then continue past the normal parade route all the way from downtown Billings out to MetraPark. Following the parade will be a community Chuck Wagon Barbeque in the courtyard of MetraPark from 11:45 am – 1:30 pm. Those interested in being a part of the NILE Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters Cattle Drive & Parade can find an entry form and details at the NILE website ( or by calling the NILE Office at 406.256.2495.

The NILE is a non-profit organization established in 1967 that is dedicated to the promotion of livestock, agriculture education, and respect of the western tradition. For more information on the NILE Stock Show and ProRodeo contact the NILE office at 406-256-2495 or visit

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 October 2012 10:59

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Measure examines healthcare law

By KEELE SMITH - Community News Service - UM School of Journalism

If backers of LR-122 succeed on Nov. 6, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the federal health care reform act may not be the last word on the matter in Montana.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, derided by opponents as Obamacare, represented one of the most significant overhauls in the nation’s health care system in 50 years.

Under the new federal law, individuals must buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty when filing their federal tax returns.

It is this so-called “individual mandate” that riled many Republicans in the state Legislature and prompted them to put LR-122 on the ballot.  Sen. Art Wittich, the Bozeman Republican who sponsored the legislation, said he believed “it was the state’s obligation to put this issue before the voters and allow them to have a say in it.”

In March 2010, President Obama signed the ACA into law, saying it would help control health care costs, expand insurance coverage and improve the health care delivery system.

The ACA requires insurance companies to pay at least 80 percent of premiums for medical care, cover people regardless of pre-existing conditions, and allow young adults to be covered by their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.

The measure’s origins

Although the high court upheld the ability of the federal government to penalize those not purchasing insurance by requiring them to pay an additional tax, it also ruled that states could opt out of another element of the law: expanding Medicaid availability to anyone 133 percent above the federal poverty line. That provision aimed to cover another 17 million Americans.

Montana lawmakers will have to decide whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program, but LR-122 targets the individual mandate part of the law.

Beginning in 2014, people without coverage would pay $95 or 1 percent of taxable income, whichever is greater.  That tax grows to $695 or 2.5 percent of taxable income in 2016.

After that, the penalty would increase annually by the cost-of-living adjustment.

LR-122 will give Montana voters a chance to support or oppose the idea.

The ballot measure came after the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a similar bill that was vetoed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Because the Legislature lacked the votes to overturn the veto, they voted to put the same proposal on the ballot with LR-122.

LR-122 would prohibit the state and federal governments from requiring the purchase of health insurance or imposing a penalty, tax, fee or fine on those who don’t buy it. This position would put the state in conflict with the Supreme Court decision from June.

Feds hold the cards

If it passes, “someone would go to court and challenge it right away,” predicted Jim Lopach, a longtime professor of political science at the University of Montana.

Lopach said even if the referendum becomes the law of Montana, it wouldn’t end the individual mandate.

“It’s like a game of cards,” he said. “Federal law trumps state law.  State law can’t trump federal law.”

According to Lopach, federal law was set when the Supreme Court upheld Congress’ power to enact most provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate in the ACA is constitutional under the taxation powers given to Congress by the U.S. Constitution.

Despite that ruling, Wittich said it’s important to put LR-122 before the voters because they should have a say as the state begins implementing the health care law.

“We drafted this 18 months ago so that the people of Montana had a right to provide their voice as to whether or not the mandate was legal,” he said.

Political gamesmanship?

Opponents of the ballot measure said it has nothing to do with law and everything to do with politics.

“It’s intended to get people riled up about the health care act when they don’t need to be riled up about it,” said Rep. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula. “They should actually recognize that it’s done good things for Montana, and the individual mandate is an important part of it.”

Barrett was quick to list the new law’s benefits: Montanans with pre-existing conditions can get insurance, more young people can remain on their parent’s insurance, and patients are guaranteed that their insurance will cover at least 80 percent of their premiums.

Even though LR-122 focuses on the individual mandate, Wittich said the way the public votes on the measure may affect the debate over how Montana responds to the law.

“I think there’s an important role for the states as to how Obamacare will be implemented and if it will be implemented,” Wittich said.

Last Updated on Thursday, 11 October 2012 10:49

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$20,000 to Honor Flight

A donation of more than $20,000 from independent Budweiser distributors across Montana puts the next Big Sky Honor Flight closer to reality.

Wholesalers met with representatives of Big Sky Honor Flight on Thursday, Oct. 4, to present the nonprofit group with a check for $20,575.87. The donation represents a substantial share of the purchase of each case of Budweiser sold in Montana in May, June, July and August. It also represents a statewide commitment by the wholesalers to sending World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to see their memorial.

“We just felt that this was something we needed to do and wanted to do,” said Bruce Jensen, beer sales manager for Intermountain Distributing.

Big Sky Honor Flight’s mission is to recognize World War II veterans for their sacrifices and achievements by flying them to Washington, D.C., — at no cost to them — to see their memorial. Top priority is given to terminally ill veterans. About 190 veterans have already made trips to Washington as part of the Honor Flight program. The contributions made through Budweiser purchases and through other donations will help keep the flights going until all Montana World War II veterans who apply can complete one last mission.

The Budweiser donation moves the program a big step closer to a third flight in the spring, committee members said. Two tours of Big Sky Honor Flight veterans have already been to Washington, D.C. and back. Another 256 World War II veterans are on the waiting list, so as many as three more flights might be needed.

Memories from the flights are priceless and each veteran has felt honored to be a part of it, said Bill Kennedy, vice president of Big Sky Honor Flight.

“The tears that came as soon as we arrived back in Billings said it all,” Kennedy said. “When they saw the 500-plus people cheering them on and they said, ‘this is for us?’ We’re 60 to 70 years late on giving them the homecoming they deserve, but we’re making good on it.”

The trips include stops at important memorials and landmarks in the Washington area including Arlington National Cemetery. The highlight of the trip will be a stop at the National World War II Memorial, which was opened in 2004 and serves as a tribute to the 16 million Americans who served during the war.

The overall fundraising continues as Big Sky Honor Flight aims to get another two or three flights scheduled from Montana over the next two years. About $152,000 is needed to get each flight off the ground.

Through the Honor Flight Network, veterans are flown to see their monument on a “first-come, first-serve basis” with preference given to terminally ill veterans.

To find out more about Big Sky Honor Flight, how to donate and how veterans can apply, go to, or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . All donations are tax-deductible.

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 May 2013 22:31

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Insurance rates examined


MISSOULA – Getting a second opinion is standard procedure when facing health problems, and a local consumer advocate wants the same standard in place for health insurance rate hikes. 

Steph Larsen, an assistant director for the Center for Rural Affairs in Missoula, says oversight can save Montanans money. She says an insurance company that operates in both Montana and South Dakota wanted to raise rates by 18 percent last year. The hike wasn’t questioned in Montana, but in South Dakota, it was found not to be reasonable.

“It was knocked back to eight percent because South Dakota has the authority to question whether the rate hike of 18 percent was justified.”

Larsen claims reviewing rates helps keep insurers honest, and it’s up to the state legislature to set a rate review law. Insurance companies have resisted reviews, saying that consumers can switch companies if they don’t like rate hikes. Larsen adds that most states review rate increases: only three do not.

Larsen says a competitive marketplace would work in Montana to control insurance rates if there were a host of competitors, but that’s not the case in Big Sky Country.

“Health insurance really isn’t a free market system right now in Montana, because two insurers control over 80 percent of the market.”

Larsen says the state should seriously look at ways to keep health costs down, because those are factored into rate hikes. She also wants the state to consider expanding Medicaid, so more families will receive regular care rather than pass on expenses by using emergency rooms for routine care and delaying treatments.

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 October 2012 22:16

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Red flag warning set


Below is a National Weather Service Red Flag warning which will be in effect from 6 am to midnight on Tuesday 10/2/2012.  The weather conditions will create explosive fire growth potential. Aggressive initial attack and mutual aid will be crucial as resources will likely be stretched thin. If there are any questions concerning this, please contact me. Please urge everyone to use EXTREME caution during this critical period! Thank you.


939 AM MDT MON OCT 1 2012
















Duane Winslow

Emergency and General Services Director

Yellowstone County

Last Updated on Monday, 01 October 2012 23:57

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President Mace says he’ll retire at Rocky

Rocky Mountain College

Rocky Mountain College President Michael R. Mace announced his retirement, effective June 30, at the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday, Sept. 21.

“We thanked Mike for his dedicated service and with best wishes to him in his retirement,” said Carl Hansen, chairman of the Rocky Mountain College Board of Trustees. “We hired him for one year and we were fortunate to keep him for five more years. He leaves a solid record of growth with stability.”

Mace, who was named interim president on Oct. 12, 2005, when Thomas R. Oates resigned, was deemed “the right man at the right time,” by William Ballard, a member of the RMC Board.

Mace said he intends to enjoy “spending time with family, traveling, fishing, and relaxing” when he finishes his career at RMC.

“I’ve enjoyed the work I did at Rocky more than any job I’ve done in my life. I’ve been fortunate to work with great people doing meaningful work,” he said. “I feel we’ve accomplished what we set out to do: grow the endowment, the enrollment and maintain a balanced budget.”

Hansen said the college will conduct a national search for a replacement.

“We have Mike for another nine months and he will help with a smooth transition and finding a replacement,” Hansen said.

During his tenure, Mace was praised for leadership in the community, for fostering good relations with the college’s constituents, and for overseeing sustained growth in the college’s finances. The endowment and trusts increased from $17 million to nearly $30 million during his tenure; enrollment increased from 650 to almost 1,000 students. RMC’s annual scholarship fundraisers – Black Tie Blue Jeans – flourished during his presidency, with increases in total funds every year. The college continued to be named one of the best

colleges in the West by U.S. News & World Report, as well as one of the top five best value colleges in the West. Forbes named RMC the top college in Montana in 2010.

The Masters of Physician Assistant Studies program was also successfully reaccredited for five years, with its graduates testing in the top 10 percent nationally under Mace’s leadership. The 2012 class was in the top 9 percent in national testing with one third achieving perfect scores.

For the past two years and four of the last five years, 100 percent of RMC’s students have passed the PANCE on the first testing, averaging 92 percent.

“We are grateful for how Mike helped turn this college around. His successor certainly will step into a very much better atmosphere than he found when he took over,” said Barb Skelton, a current trustee and immediate past chair.

Mace has a bachelor’s degree in business from Montana State University-Bozeman and has a certificate from the Carlson Graduate School of Management at the University of Minnesota. The program teaches senior executives of Fortune 1000 firms a master’s of business administration curriculum over 14-months.

Married to Karen, a retired elementary school teacher, he has two children: Anne and Joseph.

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 September 2012 20:11

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Static-X moves

The Static-X concert on Wednesday has moved from the Babcock Theater to Manny's Sports and Entertainment. Refunds for previously purchased tickets can be made at their point of purchase. Questions on tickets can be directed to Tickets300 at (866) 300-8300.

The lineup also has changed. Playing are 9 Electric and the Farthest Edge.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 September 2012 08:57

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9-11 ceremony on Tuesday



A year after the Billings community dedicated a memorial to honor those who died and served in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy, a commemoration ceremony will be held at its site at City College at Montana State University Billings.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept., 11 at the site of Montana’s 9/11 Memorial at City College (formerly the College of Technology). The ceremony will involve administrators, faculty, staff and students from MSU Billings as well as representatives from the Billings Police Department, Billings Fire Department and local Boy Scouts.

Here is a look at the schedule for the event:

  • 7:30 a.m.:  Sirens sound memorial remembrance by City College paramedic program
  • 7:31 a.m.: Flag- raising by the MSU Billings Army ROTC members
  • 7:35 a.m.: Laying of Wreaths by MSU Billings Chancellor Rolf Groseth, City College Dean Marsha Riley, Billings Police Chief Rich St. John, and Billings Fire Chief Paul Dextras, paramedic student Brianna Kaftan, fire science student Michael Kooy, and Ben and Josh Winn, members of Billings Boy Scout Troop 394
  • 8 a.m.: Lessons learned from 9/11. Room 127 Health Sciences Building. Special guest speaker will be George Menig. Menig will discuss medical issues and the physical and mental after-effects that catastrophic events can have on first responders. Menig was a member of the NYPD from 1981 to 2001. He retired as Commanding Officer of the 33rd Precinct Detective Squad and was previously assigned to the NYPD Emergency Service Unit.  Of the 23 NYPD police officers killed on 9/11, 14 were members of the Emergency Service Unit.

Montana’s 9/11 Memorial stands as a steadfast, silent witness to the memory of those who lost their lives at the hands of terrorism on that landmark day 11 years ago. It also provides a place of reflection and honor for those who serve others, whether in the armed services, police, fire or emergency response.


The centerpiece of the memorial is a 600-pound piece of steel I-beam recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center, which collapsed after the attacks a decade ago.  I was formally dedicated on Sept. 11, 2011.

Volunteers from across the community worked together through the spring and summer of 2011 to make the project a reality. City College faculty members developed the idea for the memorial and secured the piece of iron. Representatives from MSU Billings, Exchange Clubs of Billings, Stockman Bank and the Billings Fire Department broke ground on the site and worked by hand to give the area its shape. Workers from EEC Inc., and CMG Construction followed up with dirt removal and site preparation. Fisher Sand and Gravel poured the slab. 

Set on a 40-foot diameter concrete pad, the 4,150 square-foot memorial features benches for personal reflection as well as informational panels set in sandstone around the edges. At the center is a 12-foot diameter raised platform on which the I-beam rests. Rising above the I-beam are two 16-foot tube steel towers, a scaled-down visual replica of the World Trade Center towers that fell on Sept. 11, 2001.

Faculty and students make use of the memorial ways to enhance the academic experience. Awards will be given to 10 students for outstanding 9/11-related class or personal projects produced during this academic year. These projects could include a research paper, report, speech, lesson plan, literary work, art, computer animation or music. Five $100 awards are open to students from all colleges and departments, and five will be awarded to City College students. The 10 awardees will be selected by a university-wide committee of faculty and staff.

In addition, the memorial led to a community project. The Montana 9/11 Oral History Project was a service learning activity for students and community members. The objective is to collect, record and archive 9/11 memories from the Billings community with the intention of sharing their unique perspectives with future generations.  Ultimately, the project will create a greater understanding of what the 9/11 attacks mean to Montanans and how the events of September 11, 2001, shaped our community over the course of the last decade.



Last Updated on Sunday, 09 September 2012 17:10

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Liquor licenses available

HELENA – The Montana Department of Revenue is publishing the availability of additional liquor licenses and accepting applications in three Montana communities.

After reviewing this year’s population estimates by the U.S. Bureau of Census, DOR is adding one Floater All-Alcoholic Beverages License for Billings and new All-Alcoholic Beverages Licenses for Broadwater and Liberty counties.

Every year about this time, DOR adjusts the number of licenses available in each quota area based on the population estimates and advertises for lottery applications.

“The population in Billings increased enough to allow one license to be floated into that quota area, and the populations of Broadwater and Liberty counties grew, which increased the license quota,” said John Flynn, DOR Liquor Licensing Bureau Chief.

The notices began this week and continue for four consecutive weeks in the Billings Gazette, Townsend Star and Liberty County News. DOR will accept lottery applications for the available liquor licenses until 5 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2012. To apply, visit

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 September 2012 23:03

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New magazine to focus on native life, issues

By ADRIAN JAWORT - For The Outpost

Bethany Yellowtail, 23, a Northern Cheyenne Tribal Member also with Crow descent, has come a long way from the tiny town of Wyola (population 215) on the Crow Indian Reservation to where she now resides in Los Angeles and holds the title of first patternmaker on the design team of hip-hop mogul Russell Simon’s popular urban clothing line Baby Phat.

Yellowtail was exactly the type of person Mary White, a Crow Indian who grew up in Pryor, was looking for to represent the debut of the Native Strong Magazine launch that took place Aug. 17 during this year’s Crow Fair.

White said the magazine is the culmination of ideas from American Indian tribes from Montana, California, Oklahoma and other western states that aim to inspire American Indians from ages 15 to 30 “to be proud of who they are and to live healthy, productive and positive lifestyles.”

“Inspiration” was the theme of the model casting call contest and follow-up concert accommodating the magazine’s kickoff.

It will cover everything from Native American pop culture, current events and native humor to serious social issues like high suicide and poverty rates plaguing reservations.

“We come from a lot of hardships, but we also have a lot of belief and faith in our culture,” White said. “We really want to bring up and highlight the good of our people.”

Native Strong Magazine’s motto, “In Beauty We Walk,” was brought to life by the model casting call where female and male contestants walked on a runway, answered a few basic questions, and sought to win a professional photo shoot to help their budding modeling careers and inclusion into the magazine.

The model casting call judges included Yellowtail and this year’s America’s Next Top Model contestant Mariah Watchman, a Umatilla Tribal Member from Pendleton, Ore. Watchman has Montana roots in Missoula – where she was born - and Wolf Point, where she spent considerable time growing up with her mom’s family on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

The 21-year-old Watchman was also one of the models who helped debut Yellowtail’s designs in Billings in April during a fund-raising fashion show for Crow Democratic primary congressional candidate Jason Ward.

“When we look at a contestant, we want a candidate to be confident and proud of who they are,” Watchman said of the judging criteria. “A model can always be a pretty girl or good looking, but what’s important to me is that they have a really good personality.”

At least a couple of dozen contestants from 4-year-olds to 20-somethings entered, although most contestants were in their teens.

One young woman, Natasha Laforge, said she wanted to go to college at Central Arizona College to study equine science and become a horse veterinarian. Another teen named Mika wanted to become a nurse after joining the Navy, while 8-year-old Tina wore a pink cowboy outfit and naturally aspired to be a cowgirl.

Bridgette Shields, an Assiniboine tribal member from the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, won the female model contest. Stephen Yellowtail, a Crow Indian from Wyola and Sheridan, won on the male side. Both contestants wanted to become models and positive role models for their communities as Watchman and Bethany Yellowtail were.

Watchman, who has modeled internationally since she was 15 after signing her first contract, said the Umatilla Reservation always gave her positive support whenever she came back home so she tries to give back to Indian reservations however she can. She speaks fluent Umatilla, is always quick to tell people she’s American Indian and grew up on reservations, and is proud to use her personal success to be an ambassador of sorts for all natives.

However, Watchman and Yellowtail both want to see all Native success become the norm and not the exception in mainstream culture. Yellowtail said, “We don’t want to stay doing casting calls on the reservation and be pigeonholed here, because we have beautiful models and women who are strong and have dreams to do other things away from here. We want to be successful inside and outside the reservation.”

In spite of their young ages and already high level of success in their chosen careers, Yellowtail and Watchman want to continue setting their personal bar of achievements higher to help inspire other native youths who may struggle to find role models.

“We’re not even at the peak of our careers,” Yellowtail said. “We’re on the incline.”

Watchman concurred, and related a story of how when she was eliminated from the “America’s Next Top Model” show, her disappointment was short lived after Tyra Banks told her while she might not be America’s Next Top Model, she could be Native America’s first supermodel.

Now whenever Watchman gives speeches to youth on Indian reservations, she tells them, “I was the first Native American to appear on ‘America’s Next Top Model.’ Who wants to be the first native to win it?”

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 22:11

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