Regional News

Updated 6:05 pm

Fire officials in the greater Flathead Valley say there’s been 86 wildfires reported in the area since July 1, and at least half of them are human caused. The area is currently pegged at “Very High” fire danger, as hot, dry conditions and almost daily lightning storms persist.

Lincoln Chute is the fire manager for Flathead County Office of Emergency Services.

(Flickr Creative Commons) / Duke Energy

With coal in decline and wind energy on the rise, one company wants to offer free training to a couple hundred interested people who want to become part of the highest growing profession in the next decade – wind turbine technician.

Lynn Donaldson

Ox Pasture features local big sky flavor. For Executive Chef Chris Lockhart, seasonal produce and products from the environs around Red Lodge shape his menu planning.  Local bounty plays the starring role backed by flavors and food from afar. Contributors to the local offerings include Laurel Farmers Market, owned by Leslyn and Greg Johnson. Even more, “local” also applies to the strong community support, filling the restaurant with eager patrons who have become regulars at the popular restaurant.

Updated 6:50 pm

In addition to the Lolo Peak Fire, several other fires on the Lolo National Forest include a pair on the Ninemile ranger district. Those are the approximately three acre Sunrise Fire, located ten miles south of Superior, and the estimated 12-mile Burdette Fire is located about nine miles southeast of Tarkio. That fire showed minimal activity yesterday.

On the Seeley Lake Ranger District, the Monahan Fire is located about 17 miles north of Ovando and is burning near the Wilderness boundary in remote terrain.

Tom Bensen of Arts Missoula joins MTPR's Michael Marsolek with a report on the economic impact of non-profit arts organizations in Missoula County — a whopping $54 million according to a new report from Americans for the Arts.

"These are numbers that validate what people already know," Bensen says, "that the arts and culture organizations and people contribute a lot to our economy."

The chair of Montana’s utility regulators violated state ethics during the 2016 election, according to a decision released today by Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices.

Update 4:15 PM:

New fires are cropping up and emergency officials are preparing for potentially dangerous fire weather over the weekend. About 2:00 this afternoon evacuations started east of Roundup due to a fire estimated at 2,000 acres that was discovered this morning.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter for evacuees in Roundup, it is unclear at this time how many people might be displaced.

Funding for a Native American language preservation program could get cut next month if revenues don’t increase as the state fiscal year comes to an end. 

The State-Tribal Relations Interim Committee was briefed by legislative staff Thursday that budget cuts will be triggered in mid-August.

Amy Carlson, a Legislative Fiscal Analyst, says state revenues have continued falling below projections since lawmakers passed the state budget in April.

“Yes, we believe we will be hitting triggers," Carlson said, "certainly the most recent revenues would tell you that.”

Fire season arrived in Montana this month. As crew leaders set up command centers and assess the flames, they’re seeing the product of previous management decisions that have shaped the forest.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’ll have an updated health care bill ready Thursday for the legislative body to work on.

In a press call with reporters, Montana’s Democratic  Senator Jon Tester said he’s willing to work with Republicans on compromise health care legislation.

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