Mary Bishop has been appointed the Youth Program coordinator for the Billings Family YMCA.
Born and raised in Great Falls, Mary Bishop earned her bachelor of arts degree in liberal studies with English emphasis degree at Montana State University Billings, and was certified by the state to be a primary preschool teacher in 2011.
With eight years of experience in a preschool teaching, Bishop has been hired as the YMCA’s afternoon preschool teacher, and will also help coordinate afterschool programs and summer camp activities at the Y.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 10:52
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game wardens are offering a reward for information about a mule deer buck that was killed illegally south of Columbus over the weekend.
Game warden Paul Luepke said the mule deer buck was shot illegally sometime late Saturday or early Sunday on private land eight miles south of Columbus. The poacher removed most of the meat, but left the head and antlers, he said.
FWP is offering a reward of as much as $1,000 for information leading to a conviction of the persons responsible for the illegal kill.
Anyone with information about the crimes is encouraged to call Luepke at (406) 690-8888 or FWP’s 24-hour wildlife tip line at 1-800-TIP-MONT (800-847-6668).
The 1-800-TIP-MONT program is a toll-free number where people can report violations of fish, wildlife or park regulations. Callers may remain anonymous. It is similar to the well-known Crimestoppers program and offers rewards for information resulting in conviction of persons who abuse Montana’s natural, historic or cultural resources.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014 15:22
Billings resident Danielle Egnew could be described as a singer, producer, actress, writer and even a psychic. However, when she spoke at the Western Heritage Center last month, her primary topic was songwriting and how she becomes inspired when doing creative work.
Egnew’s speech was part of the Western Heritage Center’s “Montana Inspiration Project” in which local artists discuss the sources of their creative inspiration.
Egnew says her inspiration has come from multiple different sources. One of these is her home state of Montana.
“I have personally drawn a lot of inspiration from being a Montanan,” she said. “What I noted, with being from Montana, is that the creative people here very much tune into nature to receive inspiration. In Montana, we have not separated ourselves yet from the ground or the sky. One of the hardest things for me while living in Los Angeles for 11 years was that the culture there had separated itself dramatically from nature.”
Egnew told a story about recording her first solo album in 2008 while living in Los Angeles. The album was called “Red Lodge” and inspired by her life in Montana, but she found herself having difficulty with the album because she was separated from the area that she was writing about.
Even though the album proved to be a hit, Egnew learned an important lesson from the experience: She moved her recording studio to Montana and now only lives in Los Angeles when she has to work with other music executives and writers.
“Once I got back here, I could connect again with the ground and the sky and I’ve just been cranking out material,” she said. “I have come to peace with the fact that my creative juices are connected to the ground and the sky. It is better for me to have space around me when I create.”
Like many artists, Egnew has also derived inspiration from her personal experiences.
“Creating stuff, whether it’s a song, a book, or a TV show, is a reflection of the self,” she said. “It’s usually something in the self that you’re trying to work out of your system. For example, I wrote some of my best songs when I was sad and needed to work through pain.”
Egnew suggested to the audience that creative people should stay true to whatever their inspiration may be and provide their audience with a sense of authenticity in everything they create.
“Remember where your center is and don’t place any sort of judgment on where you get your inspiration from,” she said. “You might get inspired by the grass or the bunny rabbits or your tennis shoes. It doesn’t matter as long as you honor whatever you need to honor. To be a creative person, you need to accept who you are in your entirety and not try to be somebody you’re not. … Authenticity in creation is where the joy of creation comes in. Human beings connect with authenticity.”
Egnew says that some of her most popular music has been the songs that were most true to her real life. For example, her solo album “Red Lodge” became her best-selling album ever.
Another example is “Play Some Merle” - a song she wrote recently for legendary country musician Merle Haggard. Egnew’s songwriting partner originally wanted the song to be about Haggard’s life, but Egnew rewrote it and based it on her experiences from touring with her all-female rock group Pope Jane.
“When Pope Jane played in Montana bars and we had gotten to the third set, the audience would start to get full of Jack Daniels and get sick of hearing all original rock music sung by chicks,” she said. “Pretty soon somebody in the back would shout ‘Play some Merle!” Not wanting a beer bottle thrown at my head, I would say ‘Here’s a Merle Haggard song for you’ and then play a Pope Jane song with a country twang to it.”
Egnew drew on this experience to make “Play Some Merle” a story about how a woman at a bar uses a Merle Haggard song to break up a fight. The song became a major hit for Egnew – the song’s music video on YouTube has been watched more than 73,000 times. She has received fan mail from people all over the world complimenting her on the song. But Egnew is especially thrilled about one particular fan.
“I actually got to meet Merle Haggard once and he told me, ‘Hey, that is a great song,’” she said. “That was pretty awesome because he’s usually a very quiet man.”
However, there is a drawback to making art that is so personal. When somebody criticizes your work, she said, it can often feel like they are criticizing you. Thus, Egnew says it is important to separate oneself from criticism.
“If I have a child, that child is not me – it is separate,” she said. “If I have a creative work, that also is separate from me. If somebody doesn’t like the piece, it doesn’t mean that they don’t like me. Not all art is for all people. Art is supposed to make people feel. … If people don’t like your work, you still did something right. You were still able to make them feel something.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 14 August 2014 17:16
Paul Metzger was a millionaire, but you wouldn’t have known that by looking at his apartment.
“His home was very simple,” said Jim Duncan, president of the Billings Clinic Foundation. “He had a long couch, an end table, a lamp on that and very few other things around the house. He still had a rotary phone. He lived a humble life and never really took advantage of the opportunities that his success could have given him personally.”
This frugality and a knack for making wise investments helped Metzger to accumulate $38 million before his death in May.
But perhaps Metzger will be most remembered for is his generosity. He left his entire fortune to Billings Clinic and St. Vincent Healthcare. Each hospital will receive $19 million - the largest gift ever received by either institution.
“Most of the great healthcare organizations of our country have gotten where they are thanks to philanthropy,” Duncan said. “Think about the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins. A lot of those places carry the names of people that have had a profound difference through their transformational philanthropy. Mr. Metzger is just like that. You’re going to continue to see great things from our organizations because people like Mr. Metzger believe in them and are willing to invest further in them.”
Paul Metzger was born in Laurel on June 29, 1916. His parents, Louis and Nora Metzger, homesteaded on land south of the Yellowstone River between Billings and Laurel. It was here that Metzger learned to live simply - he didn’t live in a house with electricity until the early 1950s when he bought his own farm.
Farming was one of Metzger’s passions and he enjoyed experimenting with different crops. He eventually purchased and expanded his parents’ operation.
Metzger retired from farming life and moved into his apartment in Billings in the mid-1970s.
He then started developing his interest in stock trading. He became a member of the D.A. Davidson Co. the first week that it was opened. He came to the office every day and would often pass the time reading financial magazines and considering how to expand his assets.
“He was here every day, so the whole office can tell stories about him,” said Todd Preston, senior vice president of D.A. Davidson.
It was around this time that Metzger began considering the best use for the wealth he had accumulated. He eventually settled on giving to the hospitals because they had an immense impact on the community in which he had grown up.
Metzger made up his will nearly 30 years ago and never changed his mind .
“I’d ask him periodically if he wanted to put any restrictions on this big gift,” said Metzger’s attorney Gary Everson. “He always said, ‘No, the hospitals will know what’s best to do with it.’ He didn’t want to tie their hands – he wanted to help the community.”
D.A. Davidson employee Stacey Suydam added, “He was a true German. Once he made a decision, he didn’t budge. This was something he was set on from day one.”
Metzger died two months short of his 98th birthday, but his legacy lives on.
“Paul is a great example of the Greatest Generation,” said St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation President Dave Irion. “He started with little, worked hard, saved and believed in the importance of impacting the community in which he grew up.”
Both Duncan and Irion said they were excited about what the sizable donation would mean for their hospitals.
“We hope that these dollars will transform health care for generations to come in the Billings area,” Duncan said.
Irion added that the money would be given in an endowment-like fashion so that “these resources are going to be available for many years to come.”
Neither hospital currently has plans for how to use the money.
“In line with the magnitude of the gift, it is going to take both institutions time to analyze the long-term needs of the hospitals and the proper uses for this gift.” Irion said. “We have an awesome responsibility moving forward, but one thing’s for sure – today is a big day in Billings, Montana.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2014 12:12
Robert K. Elder has 6-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, who’ve never been to Billings.
So when Elder brings them to his hometown town in early August, he’s planning to take them to all those places he visited as a kid — including Cody, Wyo., Yellowstone National Park and MontanaFair. Elder hopes also hopes that he and his wife, Betsy Edgerton, can take in one night of the Magic City Blues festival.
“It’s a three-car pileup of things to do,” he said.
And the list doesn’t even include the two events that are bringing Elder back to Billings. One is his Senior High 20th class reunion, on Aug. 8 and 9.
The other is a book party and a screening of “The Wizard of Oz” at the Babcock Theatre on Sunday, Aug. 3. He’ll be the guest of honor, talking about two of the growing number of books he has written while pursuing a journalism career in Chicago.
The two books both deal with movies. One is “The Film That Changed My Life,” in which 30 directors talk about the films, to quote Elder’s website, “that shaped their careers, and, in turn, cinema history.”
The other is “The Best Film You’ve Never Seen,” in which 35 directors pick a movie they really liked but which was overlooked by moviegoers or trashed by the critics.
Elder said he chose “The Wizard of Oz” for the event because it’s a movie for everyone in the family. Coincidentally, according to his website again, it was the movie that changed director John Waters’ life.
Waters says in Elder’s book that “when they throw the water on the witch, she says, ‘Who could ever have thought a good little girl like you could destroy all my beautiful wickedness?’ That line inspired my life. I sometimes say it to myself before I go to sleep, like a prayer.”
The event will begin at 6 p.m. with a reception and book signing. At 7, Jaci Webb, entertainment editor of the Billings Gazette, will conduct a short Q&A with Elder, followed by a showing of “The Wizard of Oz” at 7:20. Tickets are $5.
Elder said the event brings together a lot of threads in his life. He hasn’t done a book signing in Billings since his first book, “John Woo: Interviews,” was published in 2005, and he has fond memories of the Babcock Theater, in the heart of downtown Billings.
It was there he saw the last Indiana Jones movie, the fourth “Star Trek” film and “The Hunt for Red October.”
“I love the Babcock,” he said. “I grew up with it.”
He also remembers the Hastings store where, all through junior high and high school, he rented countless movies.
He put that background to work in his professional life, when he worked as a reporter and film critic in Chicago. He worked for the Chicago Tribune and wrote for, among other publications, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe.
Studs Terkel, the legendary Chicago journalist, wrote the introduction to “Last Words of the Executed,” Elder’s compilation of the final statements from death row prisoners.
A little more than a year ago, Elder was named editor-in-chief of Sun-Times Media Local, overseeing 36 publications in suburban Chicago. But why try to summarize his many accomplishments? You’d better go to his website and have a look.
Elder said he is also excited about the Babcock event because it is being produced by Sean Lynch of 11:11 Entertainment. Lynch was three years ahead of Elder and graduated from West High, and Elder remembers contributing a story to a publication put out by Lynch in high school.
For the Babcock event, Elder said, “Sean was wonderfully supportive, as he always is.”
When asked — how could we resist? — to name the film that changed his life, Elder chose “Reservoir Dogs,” Quentin Tarantino’s violent, profane crime film of 1992. Elder first saw it on a video rented from Hastings.
“It just completely blew my mind about what a film could be,” he said, and he remembers it as being the first film in which he felt the overwhelming presence of the director. “You could really feel Tarantino’s DNA stitched inside that film.”
As for a film that he thought was underrated or overlooked, Elder couldn’t settle on one, so he named three: “State of Grace,” a 1990 crime drama starring Sean Penn; “Panic,” 2001, about a reluctant hit man played by William H. Macy; and “Without Limits,” a 1998 biopic about the distance runner Steve Prefontaine.
It sounds like he’ll have a lot to squeeze into that 20-minute Q&A.
Last Updated on Thursday, 31 July 2014 10:48
Fresh peaches from Palisade, Colo., will be here in August.
Each year, the Billings Chi-Tu Do martial arts school sells Rocky Mountain peaches as a fundraiser for the school’s scholarship program. This program enables at-risk and under-resourced children in the community to participate in martial arts training.
These children learn respect, discipline, focus, patience and perseverance through the practice of and participation in martial arts, a news release said.
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 11:28
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is offering a reward of as much as $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of those who illegally killed two deer south of Roundup.
FWP game warden Lee Burrough said someone killed two mule deer on private property off of Fattig Creek Road south of Roundup Sunday night, July 13. The perpetrators field dressed both deer, a buck and a doe. They removed the doe carcass and just the buck’s head, leaving the buck carcass next to the road.
Montana’s deer hunting season was closed at the time. In addition, Montana law makes wanton waste of game meat a crime. Anyone with information about the crimes is encouraged to call Burroughs at (406) 860-7802 or FWP’s 24-hour wildlife tip line at 1-800-TIP-MONT (800-847-6668). The TIP-MONT program is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to a conviction.
The 1-800-TIP-MONT program is a toll-free number where people can report violations of fish, wildlife or park regulations. Callers may remain anonymous.
It is similar to the well-known Crimestoppers program and offers rewards for information resulting in conviction of persons who abuse Montana’s natural, historic or cultural resources.
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 11:20
In preparation for the upcoming exhibition, “The Art of the Brick,” the Yellowstone Art Museum is putting out a call for donations of gently used and/or unwanted LEGO brand bricks. The exhibition opens Sept. 4.
Lawyer-turned-artist Nathan Sawaya devotes his time to building sculptures from plastic LEGO building blocks. The exhibition comprises works that each take hundreds of hours to complete and use up to 500,000 LEGO building blocks apiece.
Since their invention in the 1940s, LEGO toys have inspired engineers, inventors, and artists (as well as children), and Sawaya builds on personal memories and international LEGO-building achievements. Visitors will be able to build their own LEGO toy sculptures in a special section in this exhibition.
Donations may be delivered to the museum at 401 N. 27th St., Tuesday through Sunday, labeled ATTN: Liz Harding.
Last Updated on Thursday, 17 July 2014 09:58
In an effort to combat child hunger, the Billings YMCA is offering its free Summer Food Program, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation.
Combining food and fun, the program provides nutritious meals and snacks and fun learning enrichment activities to keep youth healthy, active and well-nourished all summer long. The summer program runs to Aug. 22 and is open to kids from kindergarten to the ninth grade.
Research shows that more than 30 million children in low-income communities receive free or reduced-cost meals during the school year, but only 2.3 million of these same kids have access to free meals when school is out. To help fill summertime gap and ensure fewer children go hungry, the Billings Y will serve more than 300 kids snacks every weekday this summer. At more than 1,100 summer food program sites nationwide, the Y will strive to serve 5 million healthy meals and snacks to 150,000 kids this summer.
“At the Y, we are focused on keeping kids mentally and physically active while ensuring they have access to healthy food so they’re well-nourished and avoid the ‘summer slide’,” said Shannon George, afterschool and summer camp program director.
In addition to providing nutritious snacks for campers, the grant helped the Y purchase additional refrigerators, and a new water fountain for kids to fill up their reusable water bottles, which are an important part of keeping kids hydrated during the summer months.
The program provides a free lunch Monday through Friday. The lunch is free to any one age 0-18; adults can also eat for a small fee. Lunches will be available in the Underriner Family Playground on Fourth Avenue North.
The Y is committed to nurturing the physical, mental and social-emotional development of youth and is working to ensure that all kids have access to nutritious meals, so they can continue to be healthy and thrive when out of school. The YMCA’s Summer Food Program, now in its fourth year, is part of a year-round effort to fight child hunger in partnership with the Walmart Foundation. In 2013, the Y provided a total of 7.5 million meals to children across the country through Afterschool and Summer Food Programs. During the school year, the Billings Y will also serve healthy meals and snacks in its afterschool program to provide kids with nourishment and academic enrichment.
Last Updated on Thursday, 17 July 2014 09:48
Family, friends and members of the local rodeo community took time last week to celebrate the accomplishments of two-time World Champion team roper Clay Tryan.
“Team roping is a big deal in this market,” said Yellowstone River Roundup Cowboy Club member Todd Buchanan. “When a Billings guy elevates it to the next level – we need to recognize that.”
Tryan, who was raised in Montana and now lives in Texas, has been a part of the local roping community ever since he was a young child. He won his first Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association World Championship in Las Vegas in 2005. He won his second in December.
Local sportscasters Scott Breen of Q2 and Chris Byers of KULR8 were on hand during the event to show video footage of Tryan’s two world championships and share their recollections of a young man they have been following for many years.
“I actually did my very first interview with him when he was 10,” Breen said. “That wasn’t the beginning of greatness – he was already in the middle of it.”
“He knows how important rodeo is to the folks of Montana,” Byers added. “When you see his name at the National Finals Rodeo, he’s not listed as being from Texas - he lists his hometown as Billings, Mont. You all should be very proud of that.”
When Tryan stood up to speak in front of the audience of nearly 30 people - including county commissioners Bill Kennedy and John Ostlund – he took time to thank everyone who has supported him throughout his career.
“The support means a lot when you come from an industry where people think you have to come from Arizona or Texas to be great,” he said. “My family and friends never let me believe that … . It’s nice to see all you guys that I roped with or against while growing up. Those early years are what made me great. Those days just starting out as a 13- or 14-year-old kid … . Without all that and my family’s support, it wouldn’t be possible to do what I do now. I’d like to thank everybody that was there along the way.”
The event was sponsored by the Yellowstone River Roundup Cowboy Club, which exists to support the Yellowstone River Roundup Rodeo, held during MontanaFair in the Grandstands at MetraPark. Members and their contributions to the club have helped the YRRR grow into one of the region’s most attended rodeos.
Thanks to the contributions of members, the Cowboy Club has been able to increase the purse for each event at the rodeo from $1,500 to $6,500 this year in the hopes that it will attract more competitors.
This expanded purse will also affect the team roping event. Previously, the two winners in the team roping category had to split a $6,500 purse. Now both the header and heeler will each receive that amount.
“We doubled the team roping purse this year, and I said to Clay, ‘Now you don’t have any excuses for why you can’t come to Billings,’” said Bob Dunker, chairman of the Cowboy Club.
With two world championships under his belt, Tryan is hoping that he can win a few more times before he retires.
“I don’t know how many I have to win in order to get a statue in front of the Metra, but that’s my goal,” he said with a smile. “I still have a lot of energy and I’m still trying. I’m still hoping I can win a few more.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 19 June 2014 10:47