BSSD board sets sights on reserve fund levy


BIG SKY – A ballot asking voters to approve an $830,000 reserve fund levy to finish Ophir Elementary’s facilities will appear in Big Sky School District residents’ mailboxes on April 15. The levy, approximately 8.17 mills, would cover the cost of completing unfinished parts of the school including the library, locker rooms and music room.

A mill is used to calculate the amount of tax payable per dollar of the assessed value of a property. If the levy passes, the owner of a property assessed at $300,000 would pay just over $33 annually for five years during the five-year loan repayment period.

Ballots will be counted May 3.

In May 2013, voters approved a $10.2 million bond to fund the purchase of two lots and the construction of Ophir’s new building. According to BSSD board chair Loren Bough, problems with soil at the site led to at least $800,000 in unanticipated construction expenses to shore up an unstable foundation. As a result, there was a budget shortfall and parts of the school have remained unfinished since it opened last September.

“The need is really visible the minute you walk into the school,” said BSSD Superintendant Dustin Shipman. “We have upwards of almost 5,000 feet of unfinished classroom space, no library, no common area, no designated music room, no landscaping. We’re asking the community to partner with us in finishing what we started with the kids and community.”

Last March, voters rejected an $840,000 levy similar to the one BSSD is asking for now. The Gallatin County Election Office counted 660 ballots, 283 in favor of the levy and 377 against it; 47.5 percent of eligible voters participated.

The next school board meeting will be held April 13 from 3:30-5 p.m. in the LPHS conference room.

Gov. Bullock to give keynote address at chamber’s June meeting


The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce announced March 25 that Gov. Steve Bullock will be the keynote speaker for its annual “Big Sky, Big Idea” meeting on June 15 at 6 p.m.

The 19th annual event will be held at Big Sky Resort’s Yellowstone Conference Center, and this year’s meeting will celebrate the value of open lands to Montana families and businesses.

“I am proud of the efforts we have made to protect our clean air and pristine waters,” wrote Gov. Bullock in November 2015 when officially recognizing July as Montana Open Land Month, “these efforts truly do make Montana the Last Best Place.”

The chamber’s June meeting is an opportunity to learn about and connect with the Big Sky business community. It is the chamber’s largest event of the year with more than 200 business people typically in attendance. Several awards will be given to businesses and individuals who demonstrate exemplary leadership and give back to the community.

For more information, contact Big Sky Chamber of Commerce Membership Director Margo Magnant at (406) 995-3000 or

Food waste documentary screens at Lone Peak Cinema


Gallatin County Solid Waste Management District, the Big Sky Community Food Bank and Lone Peak Cinema have teamed up to present a public screening of the film “Just Eat It” on April 7 at 6 p.m.

This is a documentary about food waste, rescue and insecurity in which two people challenge themselves to live exclusively on rescued food. Gallatin Waste Management is hosting free showings of the film throughout Gallatin County, and offering information about reducing food waste locally.

The district and Big Sky Community Food Bank will lead a discussion to share information about helping neighbors and ourselves while reducing waste.

Admission is free but food donations to the Big Sky Community Food Bank are encouraged.

Visit for more information about the film.

Big Sky locals to shave their heads for kids with cancer


BIG SKY – The St. Baldrick’s Foundation will host one of its signature head-shaving events in Big Sky on April 6. Locals will shave their heads in solidarity with kids with cancer and raise money for lifesaving research.

Every three minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer, and one in five won’t survive. Events like this one have allowed St. Baldrick’s to fund more than $178 million to support the development of childhood cancer treatments.

“The small, yet big-hearted community of Big Sky is ready to show the kids of St. Baldrick’s, kids unfairly suffering from cancer, solidarity and financial support for cancer research,” said local volunteer organizer Sean Lucy.

For those not quite ready to bare it all, individuals and businesses can financially support the organization that day with a donation or through the Big Sky event’s page on

The Big Sky head-shaving event will be hosted at Hair Shop located at 115 Aspen Drive, Unit 1, on April 6 from 2-4 p.m.

Tester and Bullock announce funding to help conserve wildlife


HELENA – On March 21, Sen. Jon Tester and Gov. Steve Bullock announced that Montana will receive more than $850,000 for the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP), which focuses on non-game wildlife conservation. Tester and Bullock praised the announcement, saying the funds were necessary to maintaining the state’s world-class outdoors and wildlife populations.

“Our outdoor way of life is a fundamental part of our economy and our heritage,” Tester said. “That’s why we need successful initiatives like SWAP to sustain Montana’s scenic beauty, thriving wildlife population, and major economic engine.”

“We’ve come a long way in protecting our clean air and water and safeguarding our land and wildlife – and the tens of thousands of Montana jobs that rely on them,” Bullock said. “Montana’s outdoor economy generates $5.8 billion every year, so it is critical to do everything we can to maintain our Montana way of life.”

In the past, funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant Program have supported various environmental initiatives, including monitoring at-risk species and working with interested private landowners on habitat conservation projects.

The state will also match up to 35 percent of the $850,000 award, bringing SWAP’s total funding for the year to approximately $1.5 million.

Sarah Palin sets sights on reality courtroom TV show


HELENA (AP) – Move over, Judge Judy. Alaska’s mama grizzly is getting a gavel.

A production company spokesman says former Gov. Sarah Palin has signed a deal to make a pilot for a reality courtroom TV show.
Warm Springs Productions spokesman Howard Bragman said Tuesday that the company will use the pilot to try to find a buyer to air the show five days a week starting in fall 2017.

Bragman says Palin is a natural for the role because she’s telegenic and not afraid to give her opinion. She has no legal training.

The Montana-based production company specializes in outdoors shows and programming for the National Rifle Association. This would be its first reality courtroom show.

Palin also starred in “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” a reality show that ran for a single season on TLC from November 2010 to January 2011.

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