Neal McCoy, Chancy Williams, Bucky Beaver Ground Grippers slated for Friday Homesteader Days concert

HOMESTEADER PARK — The Friday night Homesteader Days concert features a veteran country singer and an up-and-coming Wyoming band, along with perennial crowd favorites Bucky Beaver Ground Grippers.
Chancy Williams and the Younger Brothers Band open the show at 7 p.m. Gates open at 5, and food sales start at 6.
Chancey Williams grew up near Moorcroft, Wyoming, on the western edge of the Black Hills. His band now includes five performers, and Williams has earned the distinction of being one of only two people to perform onstage at Cheyenne Frontier Days as well as compete in its rodeo. (The late Chris LeDoux is the other.)
The band promises a “rowdy, racous” read more

Proposed Billings smoking ban draws ire from business owners

Originally published in the 6/30/17 newspaper print edition of Yellowstone County News.

BILLINGS — Business owners testified at a public hearing last week that a proposed rule by the city-county health department – RiverStone Health — could have a devastating impact on businesses in the City of Billings and Yellowstone County.

Many of those business owners lined up to object to second-hand smoke read more

Huntley Project Museum celebrates past and looks to the future

Dignitaries from Yellowstone County and Senator Steve Daines office were present at Huntley Project Museum’s 110th celebration last weekend.
Dignitaries-L to R-Commissioner John Ostlund’s grandson, Commissioner John Ostlund, HP Museum Director Kelli Maxwell, Jenna Pearson McKinney, representative from Senator Steve Daine’s office, Commissioner Denis Pitman (Photo by Brian Biggers )

Originally published in the 6/30/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.

HUNTLEY PROJECT — About 80 people turned out on Saturday to celebrate both history and progress.

Saturday’s events marked the 110th anniversary of irrigation on the Huntley Project, the transformation and dedication of the Mercantile and opening of the Dassinger Building.

Kelli Maxwell, director of the museum, said nearly 80 people attended. She said the celebration

The museum board of directors received a $10,000 read more

Judge Russ Fagg mulls U.S. Senate run

Judge Russell Fagg

Originally published in the 6/30/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.

BILLINGS — Yellowstone County District Judge Russ Fagg, who recently announced his retirement from the bench, has formed an exploratory committee to consider a Senate race in 2018.

Fagg is one of several Republican candidates who have announced their intent to challenge Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, in the 2018 election.

In a release, Fagg said read more

Paid parking at MetraPark to continue

Originally published in the 6/30/17 print edition of YCN.

BILLINGS — Paid parking at Metra Park events is likely to become more common, according to Steve Solberg, president of the MetraPark Advisory Board.

Expansion of the available paid parking for the Garth Brooks concerts proved to be very well received and was a plus for Metra Park’s bottom line at a time that the county-owned facility needs read more

Guest Column: Tester’s Hypocrisy on Dark Money

Austin Knudsen, Montana Speaker of the House

Originally published in the 6/30/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.

In April, Sen. Jon Tester joined an unsuccessful partisan effort to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. To justify his actions, Tester said at the time, “With Judge Gorsuch on the bench, I am deeply concerned that dark money will continue to drown out the voices and votes of citizens.”

It seems Tester has changed his tune on “dark money” just a few months later.

While the liberal “dark money” group Majority Forward has been pummeling Montana’s voters with Television ads on Tester’s behalf – Sen. Tester has remained silent.

The blatant hypocrisy of bemoaning “dark money” in attempt to score political points and then willfully accepting it when it benefits him personally is appalling.

Here’s the truth: Majority Forward is the read more

Lockwood sewer customers have two years before rate hike kicks in

Printed in 6/30/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.

LOCKWOOD — Lockwood residents who are part of the Phase 2 sewer district will have two years in which to take advantage of system development fees (SDF) at their current rate, before a proposed increase in the fees will be implemented. The Lockwood Water and Sewer District (LWSD) Board compromised on the length of delay, after discussion revealed that some board members wanted to extend the current fees one year and others thought they should be extended three years.

Board members took up the issue at their regular monthly board meeting, last Wednesday, after Lockwood citizens pointed out read more

Roundup is a place to be the week of the 4th of July.

Originally published in the Yellowstone County News 6/30/17 print edition, This story was released online early due to the upcoming holiday.

ROUNDUP — Roundup Independence Days Extravaganza (RIDE) is putting on a celebration in Roundup July 2-4.

There are two days of community parades on the 3rd and Fourth, two rodeos on the 3rd and Fourth at the Musselshell County Fairgrounds, and RIDE events July 2-4.  There will be lots of vendors, free RV parking across from the stage, and lots of friendly folks.

The 2017 RIDE will begin on Sunday, July 2 at the Ridge Riders Arena with Cowboy Church with Dave Collins and the Buttons and Bows Youth Rodeo.  Once again this year, a Civil War Experience Encampment will be near the stage starting at 10 a.m. and continuing throughout the day. The experience is read more

Thieves break into Little League concession stand

Originally published in the 6/30/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.

WORDEN — A group of people who broke into Project Little League’s concession stand at Hansen Park are still on the lam with a large, red plastic box and dozens of snacks and drinks.

Marla Cole, Little League president, said their maintenance man discovered the concession stand had been broken into on Sunday night, June 25, but the break-in probably occurred between Tuesday, June 20 and Friday, June 23.

“It’s a tough loss for us,” Cole said. Damages to the door and lock could cost $750 to $1,000, she said.

“We do have some insurance, but it’s unknown at this point how much they’ll pay.”

She said the sheriff’s deputy who responded thinks the suspects are older teenagers or young adults.

“They obviously had read more

Lockwood group organizes to support Lockwood high school vote

This story will be printed in the 7/7/17 print edition as the meeting completed after going to press last night.

An organizational meeting was held by the Lockwood Community Education Committee, last Wednesday evening, at the Lockwood School Administration Building. About ten people attended, all interested in launching a campaign to get voter approval to expand the Lockwood School District to include high school.

A core group of about ten very dedicated and passionate people is what is needed for a successful campaign, said Bob Reihl, who heads the Lockwood Steering Committee, and who voiced his support of the group and the cause. But, it will take more volunteers to do the work that will lead up to the November vote, unanimously called for by the Lockwood School Board, said Chad Hanson, who will continue as chairman of the Education Committee.

Other officers of the group will be read more

Acton man charged with assault, animal cruelty

Originally published in the 6/30/17 print edition

ACTON — A 54-year-old man was Tazed by sheriff’s deputies and jail on charges of assault and animal cruelty on June 16.

According to records filed by prosecutors in Yellowstone County Justice Court, two deputies responded to a report of a disturbance on Encampment Trail at Acton at about 10:38 a.m. at the scene, Michael Eugene Williams allegedly threatened them with a broom and read more

McNiven Meanderings: media and fake news

Originally published in the 6/30/17 print edition of YCN.  

Jonathan McNiven (left) and Garth Brooks (right)

Well, folks, with so much happening at the mega news headquarters of Yellowstone County News (ok, that part might be stretching it a bit), I wanted to take this opportunity to opine a little bit and reflect on this week’s developments regarding our freedoms.  This edition of the newspaper will basically be our 4th of July Independence Day edition.

Not only am I referring to the freedoms of speech, freedom to worship and all the many freedoms that come with living in our great country of the United States of America, I’m also referring to the freedom to assemble, but this column specifically is referring to the freedom of the press.  Yes, I know, I’m referring to myself and all the rest of the media in regard to stories vs editorials that we provide to the masses.

Since my wife and I acquired the Yellowstone County News about 2 ½+ years ago, I’ve always tried to make sure the content in our newspaper is appropriate for the location in our paper.  For example, I take pride in making sure our information is resourceful, newsworthy and appropriate for each story and location in our paper each week, especially in our news.  Have you noticed that news is on the front page, and within our newspaper the editorials and columnists are in their respective sections and locations? Can you tell the difference between advertisements, news, and editorials?

Just to make sure, I googled the difference between “News vs Editorial” online. Here is what it says:

“Ideally, news articles are unbiased and objective. They present facts or report other people’s opinions, such as those of witnesses or experts. In general, a news article is supposed to be neutral, and an editorial is supposed to be opinionated

Here’s how I see it, “News” is read more

County attorney costs drive county budget

Originally published in the 6/23/17 newspaper print edition of Yellowstone County News

BILLINGS — Of all the budgeting problems faced by Yellowstone County, planning for the future of the County Attorney’s department is of great concern to Kevan Bryan, county finance director. The reallocation of other funds to supplement the County Attorney’s office is not a sustainable approach over the long term, Bryan told Yellowstone County Commissioners during budget hearings this week.

The most direct approach to deal with the problem would be to get voter approval to increase the public safety mill levy by 5-7 percent, suggested Bryan. Already drawing upon its reserves, as well as being supplemented from the general budget, the County Attorney’s department will run out of reserves by the end of FY 2023, said Bryan.

Budget hearings are being held every day this week, during which time, commissioners meet with department heads to review their needs for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. Final budget hearings will be held after the state submits its valuations to the county in late August or early September.

Bryan began the hearing, explaining the situation posed by the ever-increasing demands on the county attorney’s office. “Our county attorney’s office read more

Education Committee quickly organizes Lockwood June 28 meeting

Originally published in the 6/23/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.

LOCKWOOD — With the first step for a new high school in Lockwood having been initiated, the Lockwood Education Committee will hold an organizational meeting on June 28, announced Chad Hanson, committee chairman.

The Lockwood School Board voted last week to put the proposition to expand Lockwood School from a K-8 school to a K-12 school. Now begins the work of getting out the vote, a challenge the Education Committee is taking on. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the School Administration Building. read more

Filings close: 7 candidates line up for Billings mayor position

BILLINGS — Seven candidates, including one current city councilor, hope to replace Tom Hanel as the mayor of Billings.

Several last-minute filings, meanwhile, increased competition for City Council seats.

Hanel is leaving the mayor’s office at the end of the year. He is barred from re-election by term limits.

Mayoral hopefuls include Angela Cimmino, councilor in Billings Ward 2; attorney Bill Cole; architect Randy Hafer; former legislator and Montana read more

Billings mayor race draws 5 candidates, others file for council

Originally published in the 6/16/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.

BILLINGS — Five people have filed as candidates for mayor of the City of Billings. The candidate filing deadline is Monday, June 19.

Mayor Tom Hanel is unable to seek re-election because of term limits.

Candidates who had filed by presstime Wednesday for the non-partisan position were Bill Cole, Randy Hafer, Jeff Essmann, Danielle Egnew and Danny Sandefur. read more

Meanderings 6-16-17 Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood experience

Jonathan McNiven (left) and Garth Brooks (right)

Originally published in the 6/16/17 print edition of YCN.

Well folks, there are many things going on right now that affect many of our local readers so stay tuned as we are on the big issues, whether it’s Homesteader Days coming up, or the new Lockwood High School that the local school board decided they are proposing to the local voters this November to the Garth Brooks concerts this last weekend.

But before I tell you about my last weekend encounters with Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, I want to inform our subscribers that I’ve learned how loyal and valuable our readers look forward to receiving their paper each week “On Time.”

Here is a great case in point example.

All of your calls started coming read more

Lockwood High School vote coming in November for residents

Originally published in the print edition of Yellowstone County News on 6/16/17. 

The proposition for a Lockwood High School will be a three-vote process.

The first of those votes will be held in November of this year, to approve the expansion of the Lockwood School District to a K-12 district. The Lockwood School Board approved a resolution on Tuesday, to request that the Yellowstone County Superintendent of Schools call for an election of voters within the district to determine if a majority support expanding the school to include high school grades.

Chad Hanson, chairman of the Lockwood Community Education Committee, was present to inform the board about community support for a new high school that was demonstrated at a public meeting on May 18, and to ask the board to pass a resolution calling for an election to expand the district.

About 80 people attended that public meeting, said Hanson, of which 58 responded to a survey on whether they wanted a high school in Lockwood. Of those responding, 100 percent said they supported the construction of a high school in Lockwood and almost 97 percent said that they preferred to expand the Lockwood district rather than “working with School District 2 to build a high school in Lockwood under their control.”

The Lockwood Board members previously declared that they wanted the community to take the lead in advancing a new high school. Chairman Tim Sather asked Hanson if they had the support that will be needed to inform the public about the issue, because they want to make sure the proposition passes, since if it fails it cannot be brought back for another five years. Hanson replied that to date, they have 28 volunteers willing to help campaign for the issue and they are ready to begin. read more