Gallatin County now capable of Wireless Emergency Alerts

GALLATIN MEDIA CENTER

Gallatin County is now one of only a handful of counties in Montana that can generate Wireless Emergency Alerts during an emergency. 

These alerts allow officials to send emergency messages to any cell phone in a defined area, without the need for cell phones being registered or downloading an app. This operates in the same way as AMBER Alerts where the phones will display an emergency message.

“Now we can reach out to visitors, as well as residents who have not registered in the Community Notification System,” said Gallatin County Emergency Manager Patrick Lonergan.

While Wireless Emergency Alerts bring a great advance in warning to county residents, the system is not perfect and is still being refined by industry and the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Limitations in the message length, content and size of the alerting area currently exist with WEA. Many of these limitations are currently under revision and will likely be refined over the next couple of years.

Despite the ability for agencies in Gallatin County to send a WEA message to cell phones, all residents are encouraged to register with the Community Notification System, as WEAs are generally only used for large widespread events.

Register with the Community Notification System at alerts.readygallatin.com

Montana Legislature starts 65th session, budget battle looms

By Matt Volz Associated Press

HELENA (AP) – Just before the Montana Legislature gaveled in its 2017 session Jan. 2, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock looked to ease the tension building over a looming budget battle by calling on the two parties to work together for the state’s best interests.

Bullock used his second inaugural address in the packed state Capitol’s rotunda to appeal to the Republican legislators in the audience to rise above partisan rancor as the session begins.

“I ask all of you taking an oath today, how will you positively influence Montana?” Bullock said. “Will you be remembered for your rhetoric or your results?”

After Bullock’s speech, House Republicans gave no sign that they were ready to play nice.

In a news conference outside the House chamber, Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, blamed Bullock and his predecessor, former Gov. Brian Schweitzer, for a sagging economy that must now be fixed because of poor management, excessive regulations and too much government spending.

“We have a problem in this state,” Knudsen said. “We have 12 years of growth under Democratic administrations and we don’t have the revenue to pay for it.”

A drop in energy production has had a ripple effect across the different taxes the state collects to pay for government operations. As a result, the revenues collected last year are not enough to cover existing state spending, meaning cuts loom for the next two-year budget cycle.

Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

4 rehabilitated raptors find permanent home

 
MONTANA RAPTOR CONSERVATION CENTER
 
The Montana Raptor Conservation Center is set to transfer four rehabilitated, but not yet releasable birds of prey to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone during the week of Jan. 9.

The raptors—two great horned owls, a short-eared owl, and a peregrine falcon—will be on display at the Discovery Center and may become part of the center’s education program.

The two male great horned owls came to MRCC as nestlings—one in 2014 and one in 2015. They both have limited eyesight, which impairs their ability to hunt for themselves. The male short-eared owl came to MRCC from the Lewistown area in 2015. It soon became apparent that he was imprinted on humans, and would therefore always look to people for food.

The female peregrine falcon was admitted to MRCC in 2015 with a fractured wing that has left her with compromised flight.    

“None of these birds would be able to make it on their own in the wild,” said MRCC Director Becky Kean. “While releasing them would have been our first preference, it’s rewarding to know that they can act as ambassadors for their species and teach the important message of conservation to so many members of the community and visitors to the Yellowstone area.”

For more information visit montanaraptor.org.

BSSHA hosts 7th annual Marty Pavelich Invitational

EBS Staff

The Big Sky Skating and Hockey Association (BSSHA) hosts the seventh annual Marty Pavelich Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 7, from 2-4:30 p.m. at the ice rink in Town Center Park.

The tournament is held in honor of Big Sky resident Marty Pavelich, the unsung hero of the 1950s powerhouse Detroit Red Wings. Pavelich’s outstanding ability, statistical performance, and character ultimately helped the Red Wings achieve four Stanley Cup victories during his time with the team, according to a BSSHA press release.

Pavelich, 87, moved to Big Sky more than 20 years ago and was instrumental in making the local ice rink a reality. Keeping with tradition, Pavelich will drop the ceremonial puck at 2 p.m. sharp.

“This is outdoor hockey at its best,” said BSSHA President Ryan Blechta, “played between Big Sky locals who helped make this rink happen, in honor of Marty Pavelich, four-time Stanley Cup champion. Come out to support the BSSHA, get out and enjoy some good old hockey, and come and meet Marty Pavelich himself.”
 
Carmen Wooldridge will sing the national anthem, and Sarah Phelps will sing the Canadian anthem. Big Sky Resort’s Brandon Bang—of Pond Skim fame—will emcee the event. 

The BSSHA—a nonprofit that has been bringing ice hockey and skating to Big Sky since 2009—encourages locals and tourists to come out for this free, family-friendly event. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and other items will be available for sale or donation. The Pleasure Rink will be open during the tournament for kids.

Visit bssha.org for more information.

New, permanent beacon park opens in West Yellowstone

EBS STAFF

A new beacon park in West Yellowstone will give snowmobilers, skiers and snowboarders the opportunity to practice their avalanche beacon skills before heading into remote, avalanche-prone terrain.

The park, located in West Yellowstone near the trail leading up Two Top Mountain, opened on Dec. 19, 2016. This new park will be permanent; West Yellowstone’s previous beacon park was temporary and located out of town near the old airport.

Eric Knoff, an avalanche specialist with the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, said beacon proficiency is critical in the event of an avalanche.

“Being efficient with your beacon will give you the best chance of recovering a buried victim,” Knoff said. “Companion rescue is the No. 1 chance of survival if you’re buried in an avalanche.”

He said a portable beacon park that the GNFAC has been setting up in Cooke City every weekend has been met with a positive reception and a decent amount of use. “People are very interested in becoming better with their search and rescue skills,” Knoff said.