The Billings Outpost

Crowded jail leads to pilot program

By STEPHEN DOW - For The Outpost

After voters failed to pass a jail mill levy this past June, the issue of prison overcrowding has been largely forgotten by the citizens of Billings. However, Judge Pedro Hernandez says that it is an issue that needs to be at the forefront of a city-wide conversation.

“Our jail is full and it’s not going to stop,” Hernandez said. “We have to try different programs in order to help the sheriff and the county commissioners cope with this problem.”

Hernandez and fellow Justice Court Judge David Carter spoke at a League of Women Voters luncheon this month about one potential solution to this problem. Approximately 35 people, including former Montana Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger, attended.

Carter pointed out that the Yellowstone County Detention Center is the largest jail in the state and now holds one-quarter of the state’s entire inmate population. The facility was built for 286 inmates, but regularly holds between 405 and 486. It recently hit an all-time high of 501 prisoners.

Approximately 65 percent of the current jail population is composed of inmates awaiting trial for felonies. It often takes a long time for these cases to go to trial.

“There are people who have been in jail awaiting trial in excess of two years,” Carter said. “And that needs to change.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 November 2015 20:12

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Soil leads CO2 fight

By WILBUR WOOD - For The Outpost

“I would love to doubt global warming,” said Kristin Ohlson last Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Northern Plains Resource Council’s 43rd annual meeting in Billings, “but the science won’t let me.”

The author of “The Soil Will Save Us“ (published in 2014 by Rodale Press) was at the Crowne Plaza to talk about how building healthy soil can reverse human-caused climate change.

Building healthy soil – who can argue against that?

And who can complain about one of the results of building healthy soil – removing carbon from the air and sequestering it in the ground?

We can do this by allowing a proliferation of plants (not monocultures) to bask in the energy of the sun, inhale carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, breathe back both O’s in CO2 and convert the C to roots and stems and seeds and other biomass that, properly managed, stashes carbon in the ground. There it feeds the microbes and fungi that keep soil doing its job of transformation: converting mineral to vegetable, inert to animate and allowing life as we know it to exist on this planet.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 November 2015 20:11

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It’s all about the coffee

Demolition is well under way inside the old Carlin Martini Bar on Montana Avenue. Leaning on the bar is Matt Pipinich, one of the partners converting the Carlin to the MoAv Coffee House.
Story and Photo - By ED KEMMICK -

Don’t get Matt Pipinich talking about coffee.

No, actually, do. He’ll talk about coffee in a way you’ve never heard, most likely, touching on the science and craft of roasting and brewing and how coffee should be served and consumed. He might veer off to talk about synergy and community-building and the importance of relationships.

Sometime shortly after the start of the new year, he hopes to be funneling all that knowledge and passion into a downtown business he’s starting with two partners — MoAv Coffee House at 2501 Montana Ave.

They are converting the old Carlin Martini Bar into a big-city coffee shop with its own roasting operation and classroom and seminar space. In addition to coffee they will be serving locally brewed beer, wine, kombucha and “drinking chocolate.”

“Think high-end whiskey-bar feel,” Pipinich said, with the old Carlin’s nightclub-size space sprinkled with lounge furniture, a long booth, high and low tables and servers taking orders from seated customers. By next summer they hope to add food — food not normally associated with coffee shops, at least not in these parts — to the menu.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 November 2015 20:08

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