Email Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Montana’s U.S. Sen. Jon Tester introduced an amendment to exempt certain small farm operations from regulations in the upcoming Food Safety Bill. Senate Bill 510, called the Food Safety Bill, is aimed at giving the federal Food and Drug Administration broader control when dealing with food-borne illnesses and recalls, including the power to increase food processor inspections and require more rigorous food safety standards. Tester’s amendment would exempt small-scale food producers from the new regulations. Such producers must have annual sales of less than $500,000, and sell the majority of their product directly to consumers, restaurants and retailers within the same state or within 400 miles, or that fall within the FDA’s “very small business” category. These producers would still be under local and state food safety and health organization oversight, according to a statement from Tester’s office. “The folks with me here today know firsthand that food-borne illnesses don’t come from family agriculture,” Tester said in a statement after a visit with Missoula farmers in September. “As we do the vital work to make sure the food on our kitchen tables is safe, we’ve also got to make sure we don’t treat small producers the same way we treat big corporate farms. That’s exactly what my amendment will fix.” The senator’s office reported that the amendment has the support from over 150 local, state, and national food organizations and by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-IL, introduced the Food Safety Bill last March and it was amended again last December. Opponents to the bill say it would be too costly for small producers, while proponents argue all food should be inspected the same way to avoid massive recalls. Currently, the bill remains in the Senate for a vote after passing the House last year. According to the Associated Press, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, blocked consideration of the bill in late September because on fiscal concerns. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., moved to vote to end debate on the bill when Congress returns after the Nov. 2 elections, the Associated Press reported.
BOZEMAN – Montana State University says all of the season tickets for the expanded section of Bobcat Stadium have been sold for the upcoming football season.MSU Athletic Director Peter Fields announced Tuesday that all 2,250 of the new seats have been sold three months before the Sept. 10 home opener against University of California-Davis.In addition to the 2,250 seats for the season ticketholders, the end-zone complex will have 4,100 student seats and 850 additional seats available on a per-game basis for all but the Montana-Montana State game. Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Email
MISSOULA – Authorities thought their dayslong manhunt for a fugitive former anti-government militia leader was reaching a climax as they closed in on a remote Montana forest camp Wednesday after hours of surveillance.But when officers entered the clearing they discovered that the man they had been watching was a squatter — and that David Burgert is still on the run.Authorities say the ex-convict Burgert planned an armed confrontation with sheriff’s deputies Sunday and then disappeared into a remote Montana forest, relying on previously stashed caches of food, weapons and even vehicles to elude law enforcement officers.Missoula County Undersheriff Mike Dominick told The Associated Press that Burgert — former leader of the outlaw Project 7 militia — has been living in recent weeks in a truck in the Lolo area, moving among different campsites.Authorities say he may have left the area in a stashed vehicle, a tan Jeep Cherokee. Officers so far have recovered two other jeeps registered to Burgert and both had ammo in them.The manhunt began Sunday with what Dominick called a plot by Burgert to attack sheriff’s deputies and disappear into the backcountry.Burgert led deputies, who were checking on him at a forest parking lot, on a low-speed chase near Lolo, Mont., about 25 miles west of Missoula.Eventually, he pulled onto a logging road, stopped and shot at the deputies, who returned fire before Burgert grabbed gear from his Jeep and ran into the woods. No one was hurt.Burgert, 47, had recently told police “he wasn’t going to be taken down like last time.”“He was prepared for a confrontation,” Dominick said earlier this week.Authorities say the abandoned jeep was registered to Burgert and that the man who ran into the woods fit Burgert’s description.Dominick said Burgert stole three rifles from a former employer in eastern Montana, two of which have been recovered. Burgert is believed to be carrying the handgun used Sunday, Dominick said.Burgert, as the leader of the Project 7 militia in northwest Montana, was convicted in 2003 of illegally possessing a machine gun and sentenced to federal prison.Before his arrest in that case, Burgert eluded authorities by staging his death along the Flathead River and then retreating to a secluded forest encampment near Kalispell, Mont. He was caught about a month later after an armed standoff in the forest. He was arrested carrying a military-grade assault rifle, authorities said.The similarities between that escape attempt and the current manhunt are striking: Nearly 10 years ago, authorities found caches of weapons, food and gear believed to be Burgert’s stashed around the search area.The militia he once led was accused last decade of planning to assassinate local officials and a plot overthrow the federal government. The group was named for the number “7” on Flathead County license plates in Montana.In 2003, he pleaded guilty to federal weapons charges, including possession of a machine gun. Other members of Project 7 pleaded guilty in the case and received lesser sentences.Five of Burgert’s associates were convicted the federal case against Project 7 members.Records show four of them — James Day, Larry Chezem, Steven Morey and Tracy Brockway — have been released. The whereabouts of the fifth, John William Slater, were unknown, said bureau spokesman Chris Burke.Burgert was released from prison in March 2010 after serving eight years. He was barred from contacting former militia members and from entering Flathead County.No evidence has emerged to suggest Burgert has been in contact with former militia members in the Kalispell area, although authorities say they have been reaching out to known associates for leads.Kalispell Police Detective Scott Warnell, who was on the tactical team that apprehended Burgert in 2002, said former members of Project 7 live in northwest Montana but that the group is no longer active.“That group has been totally disbanded with Burgert going to prison,” Warnell said.Burgert was on three years’ probation under terms of his release. A representative of the U.S. Probation Office in Missoula, where Burgert’s case was assigned, said the agency was not permitted to disclose details on the case.Burgert has a history of mental health problems. He was diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder before his sentencing in the militia case. Burgert disputed that diagnosis after his conviction.At the time, public defender John Rhodes acknowledged a “long history of mental health issues.” But he cited a 2004 diagnosis while Burgert was in prison that Burgert suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder and depression — not paranoia.Burgert said he had been abused as a child by his alcoholic father and witnessed abuse of his mother, court documents show. He began abusing alcohol “at a young age.”As an 18-year-old in the Marines, Burgert was counseled for behavior and social problems but was honorably discharged. Court documents also detail a 2001 arrest by the Kalispell Police Department in which Burgert was allegedly pepper-sprayed and later had a bag placed over his head because he was spitting on officers.“The incident traumatized Mr. Burgert, who later told a Bureau of Prisons’ evaluator, ‘I will never regain the dignity they took,’ ” Rhodes wrote.Rhodes argued for a reduction in Burgert’s 10-year sentence, saying “protection of the public has been accomplished by providing Mr. Burgert with the medications and psychological services he required to address the mental health problems that contributed to his criminal conduct.” Email Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.
Summer entertaining can be simple and painless. All you need to wow your guests is a natural main course paired with a creative side dish that is effortless to prepare. Summer classics like salmon and farm-to-market bone-in pork loin can be perfectly matched with fresh-from-the-market delights such as lemony peas with pea tendrils and a bright lima bean puree. Add a fresh fruit dessert along with a crisp Chardonnay or white Burgundy to sip, and your fresh, healthy, quick and easy dinner is complete and ready to impress your summer guests.Preparation for fresh salmon: Yield: 6 Servings2 tablespoons olive oil2 1/2 pound center-cut wild salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed, and pre-portioned into 6 pieces1/2 cup fresh orange juice1/4 cup fresh lemon juice1 teaspoon sea saltpepperBrush small-rimmed baking sheet pan with one tablespoon of oil. Place salmon onto prepared baking pan. Mix orange and lemon juices in a small bowl. Pour over salmon. Drizzle remaining oil over salmon and sprinkle with course sea salt and pepper. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.Broil salmon on the middle rack of a preheated oven without turning fish over until opaque in the center. Chef’s Tip: Use metal skewer to penetrate center of the thickest part of fillet. If skewer penetrates the flesh smoothly without feeling the muscle tone, the fish is cooked to perfection. Watch closely, and turn baking pan once for even broiling. The cooking time is 10 to 12 minutes. Use a metal skewer to confirm it is completely cooked.Preparation for peas and pea tendrils with lemon dressing: 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice1 teaspoon sugar2 cups shelled fresh, or one 10-ounce package of thawed petite peas8 ounces pea tendrils cut into 4-inch lengthsWhisk oil, lemon juice and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add peas, and cook for 3 minutes. Add pea tendrils, and cook for one minute. Drain, and return pea mixture to pot. Add oil-lemon-sugar dressing, and toss to coat. Season with sea salt and pepper.Preparation of dill-cucumber sauce: Yield: 2 Cups1 1/3 cups fresh dill, packed and coarsely chopped1 cup of half-inch cubed unpeeled English cucumber1 1/2 tablespoons shallot, minced1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper3/4 cup mayonnaise3/4 cup sour creamsea saltpepperBlend dill, cucumber shallots and cayenne pepper in processor until cucumber is finely chopped (not pureed). Transfer to medium bowl. Whisk in mayonnaise and sour cream. Season with sea salt and pepper.Preparation of lima bean puree (optional):1 pound of fresh lima beans, shelled1/2 pound of white mushrooms, quartered1/2 cup chicken stockHeat chicken stock. Add lima beans and mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes. Blend and season into puree.To plate, place broiled salmon filet onto a dinner plate. Place a serving of peas and tendril with lemon dressing on one side of the salmon. On the opposite side, lay a serving of dill-cucumber sauce. Top the center of the salmon with a nice dollop of lima bean puree.I hope you and your guests will enjoy this fantastic summer dish. Please send your comments to me at [email protected] Bon Appétit! Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Email
Email WASHINGTON – The government is likely to lose more than $1 billion in airline ticket taxes because lawmakers have left town for a month without resolving a partisan standoff over a bill to end the partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration.The government already has lost more than $200 million since airlines are unable to collect taxes on ticket sales because the FAA’s operating authority has expired.The Senate recessed on Tuesday until September, erasing any possibility for quickly resolving the issue. The House left Monday night.Caught up in the partisan acrimony are nearly 4,000 FAA employees who have been furloughed. The FAA also has issued stop work orders on more than 200 construction projects, threatening the jobs of thousands of other workers. Air traffic controllers, however, remain on the job.The debacle could have had an upside for airline passengers because ticket taxes, which typically average about $30 on a $300 round-trip fare, are suspended during the shutdown. But airlines decided to pocket the windfall. Within hours of the shutdown on July 23, most airlines raised their fares by amounts equivalent to the taxes that disappeared.Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called airline CEOs to complain and lawmakers have sent letters demanding the fare hikes be reversed and the profits be placed in escrow. But their howls have largely been ignored. Airlines collectively lost about $440 million in the first six months of this year, according to the Air Transport Association.Some passengers will be due tax refunds if they bought their tickets and paid taxes before the shutdown, but their travel took place during the time airlines no longer had authority to collect the money. Airlines and the Internal Revenue Service are quarreling over who will handle the complicated and expensive process of getting those refunds to passengers.President Barack Obama implored Congress on Tuesday to settle the dispute before leaving town, calling the stalemate “another Washington-inflicted wound on America.”LaHood, a former GOP congressman, conveyed the same message in a series of private meetings on Capitol Hill and in phone calls to lawmakers, but was unable to clinch a deal.Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate committee that oversees the FAA, held out the possibility that if the Senate were able to pass a bill acceptable to Democrats, it could still be approved by the House using obscure parliamentary procedures, and sent to the White House.But his House counterpart, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., ruled out that possibility. The only way left to end the shutdown is for the Senate to agree to a previously passed House bill containing $16.5 million cuts in air service subsidies to 13 rural communities that some Democrats — particularly Rockefeller — find objectionable.“The only one holding this up now is Mr. Rockefeller,” Mica said. One of the 13 communities that would lose subsidies is Morgantown, W.Va.The entire air service subsidy program costs about $200 million a year, roughly the amount the government lost in uncollected ticket taxes in the first week of the shutdown. The program was created after airlines were deregulated in 1978 to ensure continued service on less profitable routes to remote communities. But critics say some communities receiving subsidies are within a reasonable driving distance of a hub airport.Subsidies per airline passenger range as high as $3,720 in Ely, Nev., to as low as $9.21 in Thief River Falls, Minn., according to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Republicans were trying to force Democrats to accept policy concessions they would be unable to enact through normal legislative procedures. Democrats tried repeatedly over the past two weeks to pass a bill extending the FAA’s operating authority without the subsidy cuts, but were blocked by Republican senators each time.“Republicans are playing reckless games with airline safety,” Reid said in a statement. “We should not let ideology interfere with making sure that Americans’ air travel runs as smoothly and safely as possible.”Underlying the subsidy dispute, was a broader, more politically-charged dispute over a labor provision inserted by House Republicans into a separate, long-term FAA funding bill. The FAA’s last long-term funding bill expired in 2007. Since then, Congress has been unable to agree on a long-term plan. The agency has continued to operate under a series of 20 short-term extensions.Democrats said the air services cuts were being used as leverage to force them to give in to the House on a labor provision, which the White House has said Obama would veto. They see the provision as part of a national effort by Republicans, both in Congress and in state capitals, to undermine organized labor.The provision would overturn a National Mediation Board rule approved last year that allows airline and railroad employees to form a union by a simple majority of those voting. Under the old rule, workers who didn’t vote were treated as “no” votes.Democrats and union officials say the change puts airline and railroad elections under the same democratic rules required for unionizing all other companies. But Republicans complain that the new rule reverses 75 years of precedent to favor labor unions.“Democrats have to decide if they are going to be the handmaidens of the labor unions in every policy,” Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Senate GOP leader, told reporters. “Every now and then they should put the American people first instead of their constituency.”The 13 cities targeted for air service subsidy cuts are Athens, Ga.; Morgantown, W.Va.; Glendive, Mont.; Alamogordo, N.M.; Ely, Nev.; Jamestown, N.Y.; Bradford, Pa.; Hagerstown, Md.; Jonesboro, Ark.; Johnstown, Pa.; Franklin/Oil City, Pa.; Lancaster, Pa., and Jackson, Tenn. Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.
Email The Flathead County Board of Adjustment approved a conditional use permit for a major expansion at the Sonju Industrial facility in Kalispell, located on U.S. Highway 93 north of town.The expansion will include demolishing a residence on the property and building a 19,513-square-foot addition that would house additional machinery, extra workspace, offices and more parking spaces.Sonju Industrial currently works out of a 14,000-square-foot building, converted previously from an auto-body repair and coatings shop. The company also has a facility on U.S. Highway 93 south of Kalispell. Sonju Industrial is a firearms and aerospace component manufacturing company.According to project designer Terry Kramer of Kramer Enterprises, the expansion has been in the works since 2009. The following year, Sonju Industrial got the go-ahead from the adjustment board for a CUP that included an expansion and a retail front that would have sold their firearms in a storefront, as well as an indoor shooting range.Kramer noted that both the storefront and the shooting range were dropped from the current CUP request. He said the Sonju family hoped to include those aspects in their expansion in 2010, but the economy was not receptive at that point. Now, Kramer said, business for Sonju Industrial is picking up considerable speed, with contracts with Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Boeing. “Now they’re rolling,” Kramer told the board of adjustment during the May 7 hearing.The new, larger building would allow Sonju Industrial to house all of its operations in one place, Kramer said, which is especially important for its engineering department. Sonju Industrial currently runs two shifts, with the day shift larger than the night shift, Kramer said. The new building will take up a considerable amount of the existing 2.28-acre property, which is located within the Highway 93 North Zoning District. The land surrounding the facility is zoned SAG-10, an agricultural designation that does not allow manufacturing. However, the property is an existing non-conforming use, meaning it was not conforming to agricultural uses before the zoning was put in place. Kramer said the building colors would be muted, and there would not be lighted signage added to the property. The owners are aware of how close they are to the highway, Kramer said, and they don’t want to be an eyesore. Along with the new building, the expansion will include adding 44 new parking spaces and shifting the highway entrance to the northern end of the parking lot. The plans also include drilling a new, 350-foot well, and an on-site septic drain field system. There will also be a stormwater retention feature.Planning department staff recommended that the board approve the CUP, upon 11 conditions. Kramer said the Sonjus had no problem with the conditions, which include various aspects such as parking restrictions and lighting concerns.After no public comment and very little discussion among the three board members present for the May 7 hearing, the CUP was approved unanimously. Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.
Pat Carloss won’t come right out and say it, but Columbia Falls has been begging for this.Swarms of locals descended on the new Gunsight Bar and Grill during its opening weekend, June 7-9, taking in the handiwork that Carloss and his army of contractors have done to breathe life into the Nucleus Avenue bar that was most recently known as the Bandit. And while the Bandit sometimes attracted crowds that lived up to its name, the Gunsight is a pristine, affordable, family-friendly restaurant and bar unlike any other spot in fast-growing Columbia Falls.“My sense, from the moment we started, was that people couldn’t wait to see the change, to see it rehabbed,” Carloss said while sitting at one of the newly installed high-top tables next to the newly installed sidewalk-facing windows. “There’s a kind of fondness for the space … It was a very popular place.”To give the Bandit a facelift, Carloss dipped deep into his reserves of experience from opening and operating a number of other local restaurants, and dipped deeper than expected into his pockets. The interior of the building, both he and Director of Operations Paul Abu-Taleb said, was essentially torn to the ground and rebuilt. Elements of the building’s structure remain, along with a center portion of the main bar, but the rest has been completely overhauled, including a large outdoor patio and green space with perfectly manicured landscaping, an outdoor stage and a single-piece, 32-foot Douglas fir bar created custom by RBM Lumber.Carloss said he had not spent much, if any, time inside the Bandit before some Columbia Falls community leaders approached him about taking on the project. That was in late September last year, not long after developer Mick Ruis had first bought the building from its prior owner and shut the Bandit’s doors.“I didn’t know it well at all, but you could pretty much base your judgment off of the visible signs,” Carloss said. “It was rundown, period; but good bones.”For Carloss and Abu-Taleb, Gunsight also represents a serious shift in style from the other two restaurants under their leadership — Whitefish’s upscale Tupelo Grille and Abruzzo Italian Kitchen.“It’s a nice departure from what we typically do,” Carloss said. “We still want good service, but to be casual and free-flowing is kind of nice.”Gunsight is wide open on the inside, with a couple of pool tables and a small gaming area providing the only breaks from booth and table seating throughout, along with the indoor and outdoor bars. An entirely new kitchen area was built as part of the remodel, and food is sold at a counter near the back patio, meaning long reservation lists and the headaches of table food service are not a problem at Gunsight, although cocktail servers do roam the bar area. The menu is casual and evolving, right now featuring a handful of sandwiches and burgers with a trio of salads and mix of appetizers.“Options, that’s the big thing — we want options,” Abu-Taleb said. “The idea being that you can kind of hit every palate, and we did want to keep the price point approachable.”Columbia Falls, in part because of its proximity to Glacier National Park, has seen significant development and a number of new businesses open in recent years to cater to an influx of tourists. And while Gunsight expects to attract a fair number of out-of-towners, Abu-Taleb believes their core clientele must be locals, the same way he says the other restaurants have taken hold in tourist-heavy Whitefish.“If it ends up being a hometown bar, that would be ideal,” he said. “It takes time, and I think we need to be a place that is kind of the de facto choice, whether you’re having a family outing or getting together with buddies after work or on the weekend, it’s just where you want to go.”Gunsight Bar and Grill is now open at 624 Nucleus Ave. in Columbia Falls, with food service from 4 to 10 p.m. seven days a week. The bar may remain open as late as 2 a.m.Elsewhere in the Flathead Valley, two other established food and drink spots are getting a companion.In Lakeside, Steve and Bettina Patyk have opened Beargrass Bistro in the same building as their thriving breakfast and lunch stop, Farmhouse. Beargrass has the look of an upscale eatery while still catering to fresh-off-the-water boaters or sweaty hikers looking for a bite to eat. CeCe Andersson, formerly the executive chef at Tupelo Grille, has created a menu that features locally sourced meats and produce used in everything from pork tenderloin schnitzel to beer-braised boneless short ribs and Waygu meatloaf.“It’s upscale food at casual dining,” Bettina Patyk said. “I don’t feel like you have to go to a pub to wear shorts and get pub food. We wanted a place where you could dress up or you could wear shorts and the food is going to be fantastic. That’s hard to find and that’s what we want.”Meanwhile, in the shadow of Glacier National Park, Coram’s newest entrant into the market is Josephine’s Bar and Kitchen, a cozy spot with indoor and outdoor seating located next to Glacier Distilling. Executive chef Erin Grimes honed her craft at the Belton Chalet, among other local restaurants, and has put together a menu with sharable small plates and sandwiches ready to be picked up at the counter. And, of course, a full craft cocktail list using liquors from Josephine’s neighbors at Glacier Distilling is available. [email protected] Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Email
The U.S. timber industry scored a win on April 9 in the decades-long battle with Canada over softwood lumber, after the World Trade Organization ruled in its favor.On April 9, the WTO decided that the United States Department of Commerce had done the correct calculations when it determined anti-dumping duties on Canadian softwood lumber.“It’s a victory for the United States and the forest products industry,” said Chuck Roady, general manager of F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber, as well as the president of the Montana Wood Products Association. “It was great to see an excellent decision on our part, because the U.S. rarely prevails in the WTO.”Softwood lumber has been the subject of an enduring trade dispute between the two countries, and the most recent Softwood Lumber Agreement (SLA) lapsed in 2016 after 10 years.The roots of the dispute come down to two different forms of government having two different methods of lumber harvest. Canada’s provincial government owns the majority of timberlands that provide trees to Canadian producers, charging an administered fee. In the U.S., the timberlands are typically privately owned, and the market determines the price of those logs through public sales.“Both systems work until you sell the lumber in the United States,” Roady said.In November 2017, the U.S. Commerce Department determined that Canadian exporters had sold lumber in the U.S. for 3.2 percent to 8.9 percent under fair market value, and that Canada is subsidizing softwood lumber producers at rates of 3.34 percent to 18.19 percent. The department determined that Canadian lumber producers should then pay a combined tariff of 20.83 percent.In its mixed ruling on April 9, the WTO determined that the U.S. use of “zeroing” to calculate the anti-dumping duties is not prohibited. In the past, the organization had ruled against the methodology.The ruling also determined that the U.S. had violated international trade rules when it calculated the tariffs on softwood lumber imports, which Canada applauded.“We are pleased to see that the WTO has found the United States did not follow the rules in calculating the anti-dumping margins. However, we are concerned by the WTO ruling on zeroing,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a prepared statement. “This is a practice which in past rulings has often been condemned and we are now looking at next steps which Canada can take to challenge this including possibly an appeal.”Both countries have 60 days to appeal the ruling.Montana’s congressional delegation said the ruling is a win for the United States, as well as Montana.“I applaud this decision in favor of Montana and U.S. lumber mills that will help level the playing field against unfairly subsidized Canadian lumber,” U.S. Sen. Steve Daines said. “I have long fought to support Montana families and communities that rely upon good-paying lumber jobs and ensure that Canadians play by the same set of rules that Montanans do.”“This is a win for good-paying jobs in rural Montana,” U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said. “We need to continue to hold trading partners accountable when they intentionally undermine Montana businesses.”“A win for Montana, this ruling levels the playing field against Canada’s unfair trade practices,” U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte said. “I’ll continue pushing for a long-term trade agreement that protects U.S. timber workers and producers.” Email Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Email Debbie Street has heard it so many times that she barely even needs to think about what she’ll do when she hears screeching tires and a crash: She goes out to her garage, gets her ax and goes out to help another person out of the ditch, hoping that she’s not walking up on a tragedy.She says that’s life at the bottom of the hill on Rose Crossing north of Kalispell, a once-lightly used back road that is becoming a safety valve for the frequently congested West Reserve Drive.Rose Crossing is a generally straight road connecting U.S. Highway 93 near the Kalispell North Town Center and U.S. Highway 2 in Evergreen. However, near the Whitefish River, the road takes a sudden 90-degree turn down a hill. Historically, the road only went between U.S. Highway 2 and Whitefish State Road, but with the development in north Kalispell it was connected all the way across in 2017, resulting in a sudden spike in traffic, Street said. Ever since then, Street has been helping fish more and more people out of the ditch.“I am always the first one on the scene. I’m the one who picks up people out of their upside-down car, and that’s why I’m so concerned about this,” she said, adding that the most recent crash she responded to was within the last month. “I’m scared that one of these days I’m going to find someone dead.”Others have also raised concerns in letters to the editor.In 2018, Street brought her concerns to the Kalispell City Council, since it was the city that opened up the west end of Rose Crossing after that land was annexed into Kalispell. However, city officials have noted that the curves on Rose Crossing that are the root cause of the road’s issues are in the county’s jurisdiction, not the city’s.Last week, Street and an engineering consultant she hired, Mike Fraser, brought their concerns to the Flathead County Commission. As part of their presentation on Feb. 18, Street and Fraser noted the significant increase in traffic on the road. In 2012, Street and Fraser said an average of 905 vehicles used the road every day. In 2018, it had increased to 1,847 daily vehicle trips, and in 2019 it was up to 2,663 vehicle trips each day, a 44% increase in just 12 months.Street said she wants the county to conduct a full traffic impact study to create a plan to help ease the problems in the future. She said she got an estimate of what it would cost and found that it would be just $8,500.“They need to come up with a long-term plan done by actual traffic engineers, not Debbie Street,” she said.Flathead County Public Works Director David Prunty said the county is aware of the issues on Rose Crossing and has tried to improve the situation by adding concrete barriers and a motion-activated warning light that informs drivers of the turn ahead. But Prunty said there are limitations to how much the county can do.“The county has to live within the right-of-way we have, and we’re doing the best we can to deal with the traffic issues there,” he said.Street said the concrete barrier only slows people down when they’re careening over the embankment.Prunty said while the opening of the west side of Rose Crossing has contributed to traffic on the road, the real culprit is West Reserve Drive, which is heavily congested in the morning and evening. People looking to avoid West Reserve often head north for Rose Crossing. Prunty said if West Reserve was widened and had turn lanes added, especially around Whitefish Stage Road, the issues on surrounding roads might be resolved.Montana Department of Transportation District Administrator Bob Vosen said West Reserve has been identified as an area the state would like to address but that there is currently no funding earmarked for it.“It’s high on my list of projects to get done,” Vosen said. “We recognize the needs we have there.”
Facebook Homepage BannerNews Facebook Pinterest Further drop in people receiving PUP in Donegal 75 positive cases of Covid confirmed in North Google+ Twitter Google+ Donegal County Council has agreed to review the strict criteria for those with a disability applying for a grant to adapt their homes.It follows a motion from Councillor Patrick McGowan who said that as a result of the recession there was less money available for the grants and fewer people qualified to apply for them.The grants can be used to improve access to a property or to adapt it to make it more friendly for a person with a disability.Councillor McGowan hopes that more grants will now be available to more people:Audio Playerhttp://www.highlandradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Patrick7am.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume. WhatsApp WhatsApp RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Pinterest LUH still not ready to restore IT systems Previous articleExpert group examining the Mica blocks issue vows to resolve the problem the best they canNext articleTwo men to go on trial in connection with bomb attack on Waterfoot Hotel, Derry admin Twitter Pregnant women can receive Covid vaccine at LYIT’s vaccination centre By admin – October 7, 2016 Donegal County Council agrees to review its criteria for disability home improvement grants Lárionad Acmhainní Nádúrtha CTR to take part in new research project Gardai continue to investigate Kilmacrennan fire