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As all types of governments prepare to reopen the US economy, it is uncertain when National Park gates will  open. On April 22, President Trump announced the  national parks will reopen soon.

 

Whitefish and Glacier high schools are among Montana’s top 10 high schools, according to a U.S. News & World report. Eighty-three Montana public high schools were ranked in the 2020 Best High Schools report. To view a complete list of ranked schools visit https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/national-rankings.

 

Grady Higgins has been named editor of the Great Falls Tribune. A Great Falls native Higgins,  has worked in the Tribune newsroom since 2015. He is a graduate of Great Falls High and the University of Montana School of Journalism.

 

The Montana Historical Society has unveiled an updated design plan for a more than $32 million addition and renovation that no longer calls for an underground tunnel. The original plan was to build a tunnel connecting the society’s existing building to the new Montana Heritage Center which was planned across Sixth Avenue in Helena. The new plan includes the removal of Sixth Avenue.

 

Kart Kleen, a Missoula company, has developed a patent-pending invention to eliminate viruses like COVID-19 from Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The Missoula-based company is in the process of sharing manufacturing blueprints and plans to begin production immediately in Montana. The owners quickly converted an existing product that sanitized shopping carts plus other items to a mobile machine that disinfects N95 masks, face shields, protective goggles and gloves. Initial test with the units indicate just three minutes of treatment would inactivate greater than 99.9% of all viruses present.

 

Montana ranks among the top 10 states in the nation in low unemployment filings, according to WalletHub, which tracks economic issues impacting employers and employees across the US. As of April 22, 2020, Montana ranked 44th, according to WalletHub.

 

NDIC will hold a hearing on May 20 “to consider how to determine the oil price at which the production of oil in excess of transportation or marketing facilities or in excess of reasonable market demand constitutes waste…” North Dakota producer Continental Resources has declared force majeure, a legal term defined in contracts, in shutting in its oil wells and breaking contractual obligations to deliver oil. If the NDIC decides North Dakota oil production is waste, then the midstream and pipeline companies who committed billions of dollars to build pipes to North Dakota lose out. Shale producers are among the high-cost producers in the global oil market and are vulnerable to predictable price wars with low-cost producers. Necessarily, North Dakota producers receive relatively lower prices than other nodes in the global market because of transportation costs.

 

Joe Evert, the director of operations at GB Remanufacturing in Long Beach, California, finally found someone to help create his models. Brian Knick, who runs Knick Machining in Bozeman, was willing to help out. Evert sent 100 ventilator parts to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. Also involved in the project was Zack Evert, Joe’s son, who attended Montana State and is GB’s engineering manager. The Everts combined their engineering background with a machine manufacturing company like Knick’s to create new ventilator parts and assist the health care system. Both companies donated their time and production to help treat COVID-19 patients.

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The staff of Butte’s Headframe Spirits are creating 25,000 gallons of hand sanitizer each week. Since mid-March, Headframe Spirits has been distributing hand sanitizer to essential workers in Montana: grocery store clerks, taxi drivers, delivery drivers, first-responders, police and healthcare workers.

 

Missoula-based VIM & VIGR has begun a Buy One—Give One program for their compression socks. For every sock purchased on our website they are giving a pair of compression socks to healthcare providers on the front line.  Over 225 hospital systems inquired about the program. VIM & VIGR have had requests for close to 10,000 pairs of socks.

 

West Paw pet toys of Bozeman has shifted the company’s manufacturing from pet toys, beds and leashes to medical masks for the local hospital. They started making sewn cloth masks for Bozeman Health. So far they have donated thousands of them. As soon as West Paw has geared up their sewing capacity, the company has plans to start selling masks online to the general public.

 

Red Ants Pants in White Sulphur Springs is providing personal protective equipment, or PPE. Employees in White Sulphur Springs are busy sewing general-use cotton masks. For each mask sold, $1 goes to the Meagher County Community Foundation for COVID-19 relief efforts. The company is also partnering with Bearpaw Outfitters Manufacturing in Billings. Currently the company is producing gowns for Billings Clinic, face masks for the Highway Patrol, the Forest Service and some mines.

 

Acela Truck Company of Belgrade, has been asked by several federal agencies to manufacture up to 200 mass fatality portable morgue trailers over the next several months.  The Disaster Portable Morgue Units (DPMUs) are mobile, self-contained refrigerated trailers and shipping containers used to expand morgue and hospital mortuary capabilities. The DPMUs are specifically designed by Acela to address the multiple challenges of the existing, makeshift refrigerated semi-trailers that the federal agencies have been using. Each unit is outfitted with low-entry floors and ramp systems, seamless interior surfaces and customized, expandable racking. To accommodate the demand for the DPMUs, Acela has halted its truck production lines and retooled its manufacturing capabilities for the next 60-90 days. The Montana-based manufacturer has expanded its production to seven, 10-hour days per week and is hiring up to 20 new production staff. Acela Truck Company delivers the most capable Class 5-8 high-mobility 4x4 and 6x6 truck chassis in North America. To learn more, visit www.acelatruck.com

 

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) announced a proposal to install erosion control measures under the Beaver Creek Bridge on MT Highway 7 located at the south edge of Wibaux in Wibaux. Proposed work includes placement of bank and stream bed stabilization material into the stream channel. 

 

A group of companies in Manhattan are combining forces to deliver both opportunities for jobs and safety gear. Face shields are a large requirement for healthcare providers and Plastic Design and Manufacturing (PDM) has geared up to produce masks. The company usually produces injection molded products for local manufacturers, Mystery Ranch, Simms, Blackhawk. Ascent Technologies recognized the need and potential response and quickly involved PDM and Blackhawk and Advanced Innovations to make the mold. They plan to produce masks 24 hours a day until the demand has been met.

 

The Gallatin Association of Realtors (GAR) announced the hiring of Rob Wigton as its new Chief Executive Officer following a nationwide search. Wigton, who most recently served as CEO of the Williamson County Association of Realtors in suburban Nashville, TN, takes the reins on June 1. Wigton has a nationally recognized career in the real estate industry. He co-owned and operated a 45-agent firm in Minden, NV for 11 years

 

Madison County health officials have ordered the closure of hotels, RV parks and short-term rentals amid the coronavirus pandemic. The order is in effect until the state’s stay-at-home order expires. Violators will be fined up to $200.

 

The city government of Whitefish enacted an ordinance prohibiting hotels and motels from accepting reservations for non-essential purposes through April 30, eliminating an estimated $1 million in economic revenue for Flathead County businesses.

 

Butte cancelled the Montana Folk Festival usually held in July. Organizers estimate the annual event brings in $8 million to $10 million to the Butte economy over a two-week period. The cancellation is due to the ongoing threats posed by the spread of COVID-19.

 

 

 

Yves Idzerda, who currently serves as head of the Department of Physics and professor of physics at Montana State University, has been named dean of the MSU College of Letters and Science after a national search that produced many strong candidates. He will begin his new responsibilities on July 1.

 

 

 

Mountain Valley Irrigation of Great Falls has moved and expanded into a new 7,200 square foot building in the Manchester Industrial Park. .

 

In Havre, Affiliated Developers secured $3.6 million to acquire and preserve 60 affordable homes at Oakwood Village in Havre under the Montana Boar of Housing and the Multifamily Coal Trust Homes Program at the Montana Department of Commerce.

 

The C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls is being expanded by the Cascade County Commission.

 

In Great Falls, Cassie Campbell has opened Spices N Spurs Catering & Food Truck.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit for Tintina’s Black Butte copper mine project north of White Sulphur Spring.

 

Students applying to any of Montana University Systems four-year colleges will not have to provide ACT or SAT scores through September 2021. The Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education (BOR) temporarily suspend the requirement in response to disruptions from the COVID-19 virus.

 

 

 

Bank of the Rockies, Bozeman, announced that Bill Lucas has been named the Bank’s Vice-President and Strategic Team Leader. He will be responsible for leadership to help build on the bank’s sales and service culture to enhance bank growth.  He will support executive management and lead bank initiatives focused on people, technology and vision. Lucas was based in Billings, where he served as Community Bank President and Team Manager – Business Banking.  He will continue to reside in Billings.  

 

 

Gallatin County’s Realtors Association reports that in Bozeman the median sales price increased 14.7%, from $423,000 in March 2019 to $485,000 in March 2020. The average number of days on market until sale dropped 8.7%, from 92 to 84. The inventory of available homes increased 15.8% compared to last year, from 341 to 395, and the month's supply of inventory increased 11.1%, from 2.7 to 3.0. Sellers received 99.1% of their list price in March, up slightly from 98.6% last year. The number of new single-family listings increased 27.8% compared to March 2019, from 133 to 170. Pending sales decreased 23.3%, from 139 to 108, and the number of closed sales dropped 4.8%, from 125 to 119.