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Two new restaurants have opened in the Marriott Hotel in downtown Missoula. The hotel complex is at the corner of Higgins and Front. Basal offers salads like smoked salmon.. The other new restaurant, 1889 is a steak and seafood bar and restaurant. Two clothing stores, Olive and Iron and The Montana Scene occupy space on the ground floor.

 

Butte-Silver Bow commissioners have verbally agreed to let a media production venture, with operations near Hamilton, take ownership of the NorthWestern Energy complex in Uptown Butte. Bitterroot Gateway Development LLC of Missoula plans to turn the complex into the headquarters for Montana Studios. All five buildings would be used for production sound stages, and interior filming. The project will cost $10 million to $12 million.

 

A new technology was used last week on a Navy ship in the Middle East to thwart an Iranian drone. It was designed by Belgrade-based Ascent Vision Technologies. The technology destroyed an Iranian drone that came within 1,000 yards of a Navy warship in the Strait of Hormuz. The counter-drone technology from Ascent Vision Technologies uses a radar system to detect a drone within a 5-kilometer radius. A camera system tracks the drone and can identify if it’s hostile or not. Then a “jammer” disrupts the signal between the drone and its operator.

 

 Blink Rides, an electric scooter company, opened recently in Bozeman. The business plans to offer about 100 scooters to the public across town.

 

ONEOK has announced that it will expand gas processing capacity by 200 million cubic feet per day at its existing Bear Creek facility in Dunn County. The expansion will cost an estimated $405 million. It’s expected to be completed by first quarter 2021. The Bear Creek expansion was one of three new projects announced recently by ONEOK. The company is also expanding its Mid-Continent NGL fractionation facility by 65,000 barrels per day. It is also adding 40,000 barrels per day in NGLs to the West Texas LPG pipeline in the Permian.

 

North Dakota has asked the federal government to step in amid a dispute with Washington State over a new law there that places restrictions on shipments of oil by rail. A petition has been submitted to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration requesting that the agency overturn Washington’s law, which places a cap on the vapor pressure allowed in oil unloaded from trains. More than 160,000 barrels of oil make their way from North Dakota to refineries in Washington by rail each day. That equates to about 11% of North Dakota’s daily oil production. Washington’s Legislature passed the law requiring oil unloaded from trains to have a vapor pressure less than 9 pounds per square inch earlier this year.

 

The historic Rainbow Powerhouse in Great Falls may have found a new purpose. NorthWestern Energy submitted a plan to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that calls for the Rainbow Powerhouse to be leased to Susteen Inc. for a blockchain model data center. If the plan is approved, the California-based company will lease the facility. The Rainbow Powerhouse was constructed in 1910 to house power generation and transmission equipment.

 

The appointment of William Perry Pendley as director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, has caused an uproar among members of the Blackfeet tribe plus US?Senator Jon Tester. They argue he supports the sale of federal public lands and oil and gas interests. Pendley is former president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), a not-for-profit public-interest legal foundation  that defends clients in litigation in defense of constitutional liberties and the rule of law.

 

Montana hospitals lead the state in wages and jobs, according to a study released recently. The Bureau of Business and Economic Research study showed Montana hospitals employed more than 24,500 people in 2017. Those jobs came with larger paychecks than what’s typical in Montana. The average private sector wage in Montana is $40,981. For hospitals, that number is $61,444.

 

One of the oldest working ranches in the Missoula Valley is going up for sale. A large portion of the historic, 147-year-old Deschamps Ranch is for sale. Charlie Deschamps and his wife Nancy recently decided to sell 279 acres of the ranch. The acres for sale are the irrigated portions, he said, meaning they are technically in the floodplain of the Clark Fork River and can’t be developed. The ranch was first homesteaded in 1872 by his great-grandfather Gaspard Deschamps.

 

The Sidney Area Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture and Richland Economic Development Corp is conducting a survey of area consumers to gauge the needs and resources available in Sidney’s retail market. As retailers including J.C. Penney’s and Shopko have closed in Sidney during the past few years, local consumers and businesses have faced challenges. Stated Leslie Messer, REDC executive director, “There is economic opportunity here, and this research will help provide data for Sidney area retailers.”

 

 A Montana State University doctoral student has received a $100,000 fellowship from a honey bee-focused nonprofit to advance his work studying antiviral defense mechanisms in bees. Alex McMenamin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Molecular Biosciences Program. The fellowship will provide funding for the next two years of McMenamin’s research, which focuses on key proteins involved in honey bee antiviral defense, including a class of proteins called “heat shock proteins.”

 

FEMA funding has been approved to help fight the North Hills Fire in Lewis & Clark County by covering 75 percent of the firefighting costs.  At the time of the request, 600 homes were immediately threatened. Mandatory evacuations have occurred for approximately 500 people. The 5000 acre fire was zero-percent contained.

 

The Montana State University College of Nursing, supported by a four-year, nearly $2.8 million federal grant, is expanding and enhancing its Doctor of Nursing Practice program to help address shortages and create nurse practitioners ready to hit the ground running in rural areas of the state. The Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Training grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will support a new College of Nursing program known as the Rural Ready Nurse Practitioner Program.

 

National parks are working to “sniff out” a solution to aquatic invasive species. Grand Teton and Yellowstone parks are using dogs to assist in boat inspections for invasive species. Zebra and quagga mussels are the primary known threats to the natural ecosystem.

 

The Montana Cable Telecommunications Association is calling it quits after 60 years of advocating for the industry. The association, which formed in 1959, cited cable “cord cutters” and programming rate pressure as reasons for disbanding.

 

The city of Helena says it’s refining parking downtown and rolling out educational materials after several businesses voiced concerns over new parking meters and kiosks. The Business Improvement District requested a change in parking due to employees taking up customer parking spots. In 2016, the city decided to go forward with electronic kiosks and meters like Missoula and Billings at the cost of $500,000. The new devices offer the ability to pay with a credit card as well as a new smartphone app, downtown customers seem unimpressed.

 

Montana’s unemployment was reported at 3.5 percent in June – the lowest unemployment rate in ten years. The national unemployment rate in June was 3.7 percent.

 

During the first half of 2019, North Dakota’s commercial service airports provided a total of 580,343 passenger boardings.  This is a growth of 53,240 passengers or a 10% increase from this same time period in 2018.  The increased number of passengers throughout the state has allowed communities to attract, retain, and grow additional air service opportunities, including 9 non-stop destinations.

 

In North Dakota, the Williams County Commission gave a Montana brewery an extension on the time it has to complete the purchase of a county-owned building. In February, the commission accepted a $700,000 bid from Glasgow brewery, Busted Knuckles Brewery to buy the old county highway building, located at 213 11th St. W in Williston. The owners asked for an extension on the closing deadline to Aug. 31, since getting an appraisal and environmental report has taken longer than expected.

 

Cape Air officials plan to continue air service to northeastern Montana. The Essential Air Service contract is up for renewal. On July 12 the company submitted a proposal to add new twin engine Tecnam P2012 Traveller airplanes to their fleet. Cape Air will take delivery of the first eight planes by the end of 2019, then one per month in 2020. The planes will be phased in to the market once pilots have completed training at their headquarters in Hyannis, MA.

 

Oil production in North Dakota held steady this spring, and state officials say they expect challenges related to the transportation of both oil and natural gas to persist. May’s numbers show that North Dakota wells produced 1.39 million barrels of crude per day, just 800 per day more than in April. Natural gas production dropped slightly to 2.82 billion cubic feet per day.

 

Median home sale prices in Gallatin County increased in June compared to last year, while the inventory of available single-family homes remains tight, according to the Gallatin Association of Realtors.  The number of new single-family listings last month was nearly identical to June of 2018, rising from 260 to 261. Pending sales increased by 25.5%, jumping from 141 to 177, while the number of closed sales decreased slightly from 181 to 170, a 6.1%, drop. The median sales price increased by 12.7%, going from $379,950 to $428,350. The number of days a home spends on the market rose by one from 55 to 56, a 1.8% increase. The inventory of homes for sale dropped 17.9% from last year, going from 537 to 441, and the months supply of inventory decreased 19.5%, from 4.1 to 3.3. Sellers received 99.1% of their list price in June, up from 98.9% last year.

 

The University of Montana has made a new website called Wilderness Institute  which makes it easier for backcountry visitors to plan backpacking, rafting and hiking trips. Wilderness.net provides interactive maps of all the federally designated wilderness areas in Montana, including the Bob Marshall, Scapegoat and Selway-Bitterroot. The maps also cover the rest of the United States,.

 

A $200-an-acre bonus paid for a 640-acre tract in Richland County accounted for more than half of the total revenues from the June 4 Montana state oil and gas lease sale. Kraken Oil & Gas, LLC of Houston, the most active driller in that county, paid a total of $128,000 for a lease. With bids averaging $43.80/acre for a total of $241,534, tracts in Fallon and Toole counties netted bids for leases on 5,514 acres. Northwestern Energy of Sioux Falls, SD posted the two highest bids, paying $45/acre in Toole County for 160 acres  and $30/acre for 320 acres. The remaining tract of 320 acres went to high bidder Farleigh Oil Properties of Casper, which paid $12/acre.  Primary Fuels LLC of Tulsa dominated the high bidding for all eight tracts in Fallon County with the highest bid of $34/acre for two 640-acre tracts. It also paid $28/acre for 320 acres .

 

The goal is within reach for Montana State University’s planned Bobcat Athletic Complex and Academic Excellence Center, but ground can’t be broken on the 40,000-square-foot student-centered facility until fundraising is complete. Over $16.5 million has been raised and another $1.5 million is needed before construction can begin. The Bobcat Athletic Complex will be a two-story building constructed at the north end zone of Bobcat Stadium. It will provide student-athletes with study spaces, locker rooms and team meeting rooms, as well as training, health and rehabilitation facilities. It will also house the football program, including offices for coaches and staff. In addition, the project will transform the office space vacated by the football coaches in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse into a 3,400-square-foot tutoring, advising and study area.

 

The National Institutes of Health has awarded a five-year, $17.6 million grant to the Montana INBRE program to continue its work growing the state’s biomedical research capacity and training new scientists in fields related to human health. INBRE is a network of Montana universities, community colleges and tribal colleges that invests in biomedical research capacity and workforce development . This grant renewal brings the NIH’s total commitment in Montana INBRE to more than $75 million.