The Farm to Fork in Bigfork has recently begun selling dishes such as enchiladas and queso which are made completely with plants - no eggs or cheeses. Owner Anna McCabe has created many meals which use chick pea mix and tofu. She uses as many locally sourced ingredients as possible.


A new Town Pump convenience store and Montana Lil’s Casino will be located at 2910 U.S. 93 South in Kalispell. Construction on the new building began May 4. The new convenience store/casino/gas station will be completed in early 2021. The project will increase the size of the convenience store and the casino. The general contractor is Crew General Contractors, based in Utah.


Farmers markets throughout the Flathead Valley are announcing plans to open for the summer season: The Columbia Falls Community Market will open this summer at The Coop. The first market will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. May 14. ; The Bigfork Farmers Market will host its first market of the season from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 13, at a new location for the event, the Bigfork Liquor Barn. Booths will be spaced farther apart than in the past, with customers and vendors practicing social distancing guidelines; The Bigfork Village Market, will begin the community event series starting June 1 with a partial opening. Until Montana moves to Phase 2 of the reopening plan, the event will be limited to food and produce vendors only; Whitefish Farmers Market is scheduled to open Tuesday, May 26. Hours are 5 to 7:30 p.m.


Montana state parks and fishing access sites have experienced major visitation increases as people spend more time enjoying the Montana outdoors. Estimated visitation at state parks climbed by more than 60% over previous years. Park personnel estimated there were close to 152,000 visitors at state parks in March and April this year.


The Montana State Parks and Recreation Board voted unanimously to allow the interested parties to continue evaluating Somers Beach as the suggestion it become a state park. This proposal is must undergo assessment, research and public scoping before any sort of decision is made. The parcel, which spans about half mile of shoreline, contains 60 acres of wetlands, 69 acres of 100-year floodplain and is located on the north shore of Flathead Lake.


The Helena Farmers’ Market opened its on Saturday. Approximately 15 vendors set up shop on  Fuller Avenue, just south of Neill Avenue. This week’s market was limited to sellers of plants, produce, meat and prepared meals. Some vendors were also selling hygiene-related products, such as hand sanitizers and soaps. Masks and gloves were a requirement for vendors.


Kels Koch has come back to open his own record store. The Wax Museum now open in Bozeman, a record shop on the north of town specializing in used records and good company. The Wax Museum is located at 404 East Bryant St.


Bozeman playgrounds won’t be disinfected when they reopen in Phase 2 of the Covid 19 lockdown. Some other towns in Gallatin County have decided to open play areas. They are cautioning  that playgrounds aren’t being disinfected. In Belgrade reopened playgrounds are using signs around equipment warning that the surfaces there are not being disinfected; Three Forks opened playgrounds at Stevenson and Bellach parks on May 1 after the city installed a tank to hold disinfectant on the bed of one of its trucks. Employees wear backpacks full of disinfectant and are able to clean high touch surfaces like playgrounds, picnic tables and park benches in three hours.


The impact of lack of energy activity in the Williston area has led the City to take stock of some programs scheduled for 2020. Williston’s economic impact is currently, and what some of those long-term effects might be. A projected reduction in sales tax and general revenue, the city made the decision to lessen some of their projects for the year.

 Vacating Dakota Access’ permits now would deepen North Dakota’s current economic crisis. The future of the state’s entire energy industry in doubt according to a brief the state has filed in Washington, D.C. not to suspend the pipeline’s permits while it undergoes further, court-ordered environmental review. Dakota Access was ordered to do a more extensive environmental study than that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did. The judge claims they should have conducted a full-scale Environmental Impact Study. There has been a hearing set to consider whether or not to vacate the pipeline’s permits while that review is conducted. Energy is a substantial portion of the state’s economy, and many jobs are reliant, in spider web fashion, on the industry. Shutting in the pipeline would not only be economically catastrophic to North Dakota. Fourteen other states have filed a brief outlining the harm and disruption vacating the Dakota Access permits


TC Energy Corp. has started construction of its 1.2 mile section of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline that crosses the Canadian border. In the US it has begun pre-construction work. The $8 billion pipeline that will move 830,000 BOPD has been delayed for ten years by lawsuits filed by environmental and native Indian groups. TC notified the US District Court in Montana that it would start mobilizing heavy construction equipment in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. Work on the border-crossing segment is subject to receiving federal approvals, including a right-of-way and temporary use permit, TC said.


Bank of the Rockies announced that Tim Ellis has joined the bank as an Ag/Commercial Lender at their White Sulphur Springs Office.    “We are glad to have Tim here in White Sulphur Springs,” said Linda Holm, Office Manager.  Ellis  grew up on a dairy farm outside Portland, OR where his parents still reside.  Prior to beginning his banking career, he spent 7 years as a police cadet in Portland and also worked for 5 years as a territory sales manager for a transportation company.  Tim has been in banking for 15 years, most recently as an Ag/Commercial Lender in Idaho.  Prior to that he was a banker in Oregon, Minnesota and Montana. 


In Missoula, Kettlehouse Brewing is shutting down their Northside taproom location permanently due to COVID-19 concerns. They ran business in the Northside taproom for the past 11 years. They plan to keep the Bonner and the Southside K-Hole taprooms open.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the Blackfeet Tribe, the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribe and the Bear Paw Development Corporation will each receive $300,000 in EPA Brownfields grant funding to assess, cleanup and revitalize property in rural and tribal communities across northern Montana. 


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Northern Cheyenne Tribe Department of Environmental Protection will receive a $364,500 Brownfields grant to remove contaminants from six buildings in the city of Lame Deer, Montana. The Tribe is among 151 communities across the nation receiving over $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding through our Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant programs. Under President Trump’s Administration, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfields grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of over 948 grants.


The Rocky Mountain Oil Journal has ceased publication. The website states, “It is with great regret and sadness that the owners, publishers, and staff of the Rocky Mountain Oil Journal are announcing suspension of the paper. After being in uninterrupted circulation for nearly 100 years (throughout the Great Depression and in times of war and peace), and as one of the oldest upstream energy publications in the United States, a difficult decision has been reached to ‘stop the presses.’”


A huge expansion costing between $35 million and $40 million, that will more than double the capacity of the Dakota Access Pipeline to 1.1 million BOPD, was proposed by Energy Transfer Partners. Work will be completed by February 2021. It is anticipated that crude oil production out of the Williston Basin will increase between 350,000 to 450,0000 BOPD over the next five years, with current production exceeding 1.3 million BOPD.The 36-inch crude oil pipeline runs 1,172 miles from Stanley, ND to Patoka, IL. (Oil Patch Hotline)