Olive B’s hosts LPHS Nepal service trip fundraiser


The Lone Peak High School Interact Club has partnered with local restaurant Olive B’s to raise funds for the club’s upcoming service trip to Nepal. The second annual benefit dinner will take place Jan. 9 from 5 to 9 p.m.

In four months, nine LPHS Interact Club seniors will board a plane bound for Kathmandu, Nepal. The students will be visiting orphanages, schools, and senior homes while trekking between Nepali villages. Students will bring donation items such as clothing and children’s toys for locals in need.

The price-fixed dinner will consist of a meal of spaghetti and meatballs as well as salad and dessert, prepared by the Olive B’s chefs. The full dinner menu will also be available with regular pricing. All proceeds from the evening, courtesy of owner Warren Bibbins, will benefit the Interact Club’s 2018 service trip to Nepal.

The seniors embarking on the trip will be helping the Olive B’s staff the night of the event, and will be available to answer questions about the trip. Katie Hoffman, president of the Interact Club, said its members are “exceedingly grateful for the support the Big Sky community gives to our club. We are lucky to have the support of local businesses such as Olive B’s to back such a unique trip.”

LPHS Interact students invite community members and visitors interested in enjoying a gourmet dinner while supporting their trip to Nepal to join them at Olive B’s for this special dinner. Doors open at 5 p.m., and reservations are recommended.

Montana tourism industry notches strong 2017


Tourism is a leading industry in Montana and the sector continued its strong economic performance in 2017, supporting more than 53,000 jobs in lodging, restaurants and retail, as well as indirect positions in real estate, construction, architecture and banking.

Non-resident visitors spent $3.3 billion according to the preliminary traveler expenditure report from the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research.

The year started off strong with the second highest skier visits on record with 1.5 million skier days, and five of Montana’s 14 ski areas attracted record skier visits. Lodging receipts for the first quarter were also at record numbers with a 6-percent increase from 2016, based on lodging tax collections.

After the strong winter start, an early spring melted valley snow prompting early biking, hiking and fishing. National park visitation launched at a record pace in Glacier National Park and Yellowstone held steady from its record numbers the year before.

By summer, temperatures rose and forest fires became an issue persisting into the fall. ITRR released a report stating that smoke and fires had a negative impact on tourism spending. In response to the revenue loss, Montana’s Department of Commerce set up an expedited grant and loan program for small businesses.

In the autumn, most major Montana airports were announcing increased service with new direct flights to cities around the country, as well as important infrastructure investments.

“With increasing air service, private industry capital investments, and strong statewide and regional marketing programs, Montana has all the ingredients for growth in the visitor economy,” said Dax Schieffer, Voices of Montana Tourism director.

Montana revises feared revenue hit from tax bill

BILLINGS (AP) – Federal tax cuts passed into law will deliver less of a blow to Montana revenue than first expected, state officials say.

The Montana Department of Revenue initially forecast a $72 million a year loss due to the legislation. That’s after the Legislature recently met to address a $227 million hole in the state’s two-year budget.

The state funding outlook is improving, however: Montana State Revenue Director Mike Kadas no longer expects to lose $24 million in federal royalty payments for at least a year. State officials now forecast only a $46 million hit to state funding in 2018, the Billings Gazette reports.

Montana tax law will still be in need of changing to avoid a revenue loss due to a deduction allowed for pass-through businesses, said Department of Revenue tax analyst Ed Caplis.

But Rep. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, doubted that would indeed be necessary for pass-through businesses, or small businesses whose proprietors pay individual rather than corporate income tax.

“Why the government, that’s been talking all year about budget cuts that harm the needy, would be pushing this interpretation that would cost a $40 million loss mystifies me,” Essmann said.

The impact should be even less after people reinvest federal income tax savings back into the state, Essmann said.

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Bozeman lawmaker pulls out of US House race


Democratic state Rep. Tom Woods of Bozeman has decided to abandon the race to challenge Montana’s lone U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte in the November 2018 election, citing a lack of financial support.

Woods announced the decision Jan. 2 on his Facebook page Tom Woods for Congress.

“Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to raise enough money to remain competitive with my primary opponents, some of whom have been able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past few months,” Woods wrote. “The sad reality is that modern campaigns take a lot of money and that’s in short supply in a six-way Democratic primary.”

The five remaining candidates seeking the Democratic nomination are Billings attorney John Heenan; Grant Kier of Missoula, the former executive director of the Five Valleys Land Trust; former Billings lawmaker Lynda Moss; Bozeman attorney Jared Pettinato; and former Bozeman lawmaker Kathleen Williams. The Democratic primary is June 5.

Woods is still eligible to file for his state legislative seat representing Bozeman, and plans to make an announcement Jan. 11.