Jesse and Sasha Mullen, have recently purchased Browsing Bison Books, the local bookstore in Deer Lodge. Chris Walrath and Nancy Kelley, opened the store nearly 20 years ago. They had planned on closing the store so they could retire.


Stokes Market in Butte will close its Harrison Avenue location in order to expand it’s True Value franchise. The other Stokes Market locations will not be affected. The Idaho-based grocery chain, announced that the company will begin selling off its grocery inventory at its Butte location at 1301 Harrison Ave on May 1.


As the tech sector grows, women are making gains in Montana. In 2017, Inc. magazine used data from the U.S. Census Bureau to determine that Montana had the highest percentage of women-owned businesses in the U.S. The same year, Montana was also No. 8 on American Express’s list of states with highest employment vitality for women-owned businesses.


U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry appointed Conrad Stewart to the National Coal Council on March 21 “to represent the viewpoints of tribal energy interests.” The main role for the council, which has operated for 35 years, is to provide advice and recommendations to the U.S. secretary of energy on matters relating to the coal industry. It also advises the secretary on a broad range of matters from coal mining to equipment, as well as pollution and transport. Members serve without compensation. 


A federal judge has ruled that Columbia Falls Aluminum Co.’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. should move forward. The two companies are disputing who should have to pay for the bulk of the cleanup of the former aluminum plant Superfund site at the base of Teakettle Mountain. CFAC has already paid for demolition of the buildings and an extensive investigation of the site.


Ticket prices at Missoula International Airport dropped $50 a seat from the last quarter of 2017 to the same time in 2018. The average cost dropped from $456 to $406, the lowest in Montana, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. More than 103,000 passengers departed Missoula during the last quarter of 2018. The 11% reduction in airfare resulted in direct savings to passengers of more than $5 million. Missoula is Montana’s third-busiest airport behind Bozeman and Billings.


The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded contracts totaling nearly $1 billion for removal and replacement of vehicle fencing with pedestrian fencing along two sections of the U.S.-Mexico border. One of those contracts went to Barnard Construction Co. Inc. of Bozeman, which  was awarded a $187 million contract for the part of the project work.


Median sale prices increased and the inventory of available homes remained tight in March in Bozeman, according to the Gallatin Association of Realtors (GAR).  “While the number of new listings is down in both the single family and condo/townhouse markets, median sale prices continue to rise,” said Steve Candler, GAR CEO. The number of new single-family listings fell from 176 in March 2018 to 130 last month, a 26.1% drop, and the number of pending sales dropped 12.9%, decreasing from 155 to 135. The number of units sold rose from 114 in March 2018 to 124 last month, an 8.8% increase, while the median sales price jumped 6.5%, from $399,000 last March to $425,000 this March. The months supply of inventory decreased 19.4%, from 3.1 to 2.5 Sellers received 98.7% of their list price in March, down slightly from 99.2% last year.


The American Lung Association’s 20th Anniversary “State of the Air” 2019 report found that the Missoula area is now the fifth most polluted in the country for short-term particle pollution and tied for the 11th most-polluted area for annual particle pollution. Missoula County had its most short-term particle pollution days ever recorded, with a weighted average of 16.5 days in 2015-2017, more than twice the number of days in 2014-2016. Many of these spikes were directly linked to events like wildfires. This year, Montana is home to six of the 25 counties in the U.S. most polluted by short-term particle pollution. Ravalli County is the third most polluted county. Lewis and Clark County and Missoula County round out the top 10 at seventh and ninth respectively. Lincoln, Silverbow and Flathead County are 14th, 18th and 23rd respectively, all worse than last year’s report. Missoula had no unhealthy ozone days, and ranked among the cleanest cities for ozone.


U.S. farm banks increased agricultural lending by 5.3 percent, or $5.5 billion, to $108 billion in 2018, according to the American Bankers Association’s annual Farm Bank Performance Report. The report—an analysis by ABA’s economic research team based on FDIC data—examines the performance of the nation’s 1,772 banks that specialize in agricultural lending. In 2018, farm banks’ asset quality remained healthy and non-performing loans stayed at a pre-recession level of 0.52 percent of total loans. More than 94 percent of farm banks were profitable in 2018, with more than 63 percent reporting an increase in earnings. Farm banks also served as job creators, adding more than 1,500 jobs in 2018, a 1.8 percent increase, and employing more than 86,000 rural Americans.


WholeFoods Magazine has published the results of the 41st Annual Retailer Survey. Despite increasing competition from mass marketers, the independent natural products retailers surveyed reported growth during the survey period of July 2017 to June 2018. Average sales per store from the reporting period were $2,439,257. Since Amazon closed its deal to buy Whole Foods Markets in August 2017, this year’s results reflect 10 months of competition from the new Amazon-Whole Foods. While some retailers reported sales declines, many reported increases, and majority reported that sales remained stable.



tokes Market in Butte with its True Value franchise is planning expansion at the market’s Harrison Avenue location. The grocery store will close. Stokes Market also has locations in other areas, including Anaconda. Other Stokes Market locations, including the one in Anaconda, will not be affected. Stokes Market operates at the former location of Butte’s Albertson’s store. After the merger between Safeway Inc. and Albertson’s in 2014, Stokes purchased the Butte Albertson’s and a Safeway in Anaconda, taking over both locations in 2015.




Passenger traffic increased at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport 23 percent so far in 2019 and is once again on track to have a record-breaking year. The increase is attributable to the good ski season, additional local resident travel and the Ikon Pass, a new multi-resort ski pass that includes Big Sky.


Richland Economic Development Corp awarded its sixteenth loan for the expansion of a business in Fairview. The loan was for Tim Neu for Neu’s SuperValu. The loan was applied for in partnership with Stockman Bank of Sidney. Neu purchased the SuperValu from Bill Huft in 2015, and then began upgrading the store.


Bittersweet Hide Out & Coffee Shack has opened in the Shoppes at Peifer’s General Store, 141 7th St. S.W. in Sidney.


Wyoming’s economy continues to rebound from its latest energy bust, but economists say the state has only recovered about a third of the jobs lost during that time. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports an economic analysis released by the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information shows growth across multiple sectors in the fourth quarter of 2018. The state’s total employment grew by 2,800 jobs in the last quarter compared to a year earlier. It is the largest year-over-year growth since 2015.


North Dakota became the latest state to eliminate licensing requirements for natural hair braiders and eyebrow threaders as a result of new legislation. Previously, threaders could only work in North Dakota if they became licensed estheticians, a credential that requires a minimum 600 hours of coursework. The requirements for braiders were even more burdensome: They needed a license in cosmetology, which takes at least 1,800 hours of classes, or around 420 days. In contrast, pharmacy technicians need just three months of experience to become licensed. One commentators compared those requirements with those of emergency medical technicians—“who literally hold the lives of others in their hands”—but only have to finish at least 150 hours of coursework.