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News in Brief: Aug. 18, 2017

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Baucus to speak Sept. 7 at MSU


Max Baucus, former U.S. ambassador to China and long serving senator from Montana, will reflect on his life in public service in a lecture celebrating his return to Montana at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, in room 101 of Gaines Hall on the Montana State University campus.

The lecture, sponsored by the Burton K. Wheeler Center at MSU, is free and open to the public. However, because space is limited, tickets are required.

Baucus served as six terms as Montana’s U.S. senator, from 1978 until 2013, making him the state’s longest-serving senator. While in the Senate, Baucus served on various committees, eventually becoming the ranking member and chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and vice-chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation. President Barack Obama appointed him as the U.S. Ambassador to China in 2013. He served in that post until January 2017. He is now retired and living near Bozeman.

For nearly 40 years, the Burton K. Wheeler Center has worked to provide opportunities for Montanans to explore and engage in discussions about policy. Previous Wheeler Center lectures have featured Sally Jewell, John Snow, Lynn Cheney, Lawton Childs and Brian Schweitzer.

Tickets may be reserved at For more information email

Big Sky Fire Department receives FEMA grant


U.S. Sen. Jon Tester announced Aug. 10 more than $750,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to support the Big Sky and Red Lodge fire departments. Big Sky received $564,783 from FEMA’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, which provides funding to professional and volunteer fire departments across the U.S., to ensure there are a sufficient number of well-trained firefighters to protect rural communities.

The grant will help to fund three firefighter positions over the next three years—two-thirds of the three salaries during the first two years, and one-third of the salaries in the final year. The balance of the salaries will be funded Big Sky Resort Area District tax appropriations.

“This expansion is part of a larger plan to seek a mill levy in order to add enough staffing to meet our emergency response growth and better cover the large geography of Big Sky,” wrote Fire Department Chief William Farhat in an email.

Morningstar throws family fundraising event Aug. 26


Morningstar Learning Center, a Big Sky daycare and preschool facility, will host its annual Garage Sale & Kid’s Carnival on Saturday, Aug. 26, at Town Center Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Comprised of donations from Big Sky area residents and businesses, the garage sale will feature deals on home goods, clothing, gear for kids and adults, toys and more. New this year, the event will also have a bounce house, face painting, a 50/50 raffle and food.

“The annual Morningstar Learning Center Garage Sale is a critical fundraiser for our operating budget,” said Stephanie Kissel, executive director of MLC. “Profits support staff salaries, building upkeep, and classroom supplies, among other things.”

With the new infant building under construction, MLC anticipates greater demands on the operating budget. Typically grossing over $4,000, this year MLC looks to increase the results of their fundraising efforts with the inclusion of a kid’s carnival with activities and food.

“Local organizations such as the Yellowstone Club and Spanish Peaks Club have generously donated equipment to help make this a successful event,” Kissel sad. “We couldn’t do it without all of the community support and look forward to seeing everyone there!”

You can drop off donation items in good condition at Morningstar from Aug. 21-25 during business hours; or Friday Aug. 25, from 3-7 p.m. at Town Center Park.

For more information, please contact Stephanie Kissel at

United expands winter air service to Bozeman


To better service skiers eyeing southwest Montana slopes this season, United Airlines announced Aug. 8 that it’s significantly expanding air service into Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport for the upcoming winter.

Beginning around the end of December, United will increase the number of flights and the available seats to Bozeman from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Houston and New York/Newark. This will increase air service into the Bozeman region by 30 percent, and United will offer up to 12 daily departures during the peak winter season.

“New air service like United just announced is a critical piece to the economic growth and lifestyle that makes Big Sky and the Gallatin [Valley] such a great place to work, live and visit,” said Big Sky Resort General Manager Taylor Middleton.

This the single largest expansion of winter air service into Bozeman Yellowstone International, according to airport director Brian Sprenger.

United will also increase its year-round service with up to five flights daily to and from Denver, and up to three flight daily to and from Chicago.

“United is proud to offer easy access for our customers flying from six of our U.S. hubs to Bozeman,” said Jake Cefolia, United’s vice president of sales. “More flights to world-class skiing in Bozeman is now just a short flight away.” 

Moonlight and Spanish Peaks Community Foundations announce new executive director


Tarsha Ebbern, the new executive director for Moonlight Community Foundation and Spanish Peaks Community Foundation, joined the Big Sky community after living in Steamboat Springs, Colorado for 16 years.

Ebbern moved to the U.S. from Australia after competing on the World Cup circuit in freestyle skiing for many years and becoming a winter Olympian in 1992.

Ebbern has experience advising, operating and managing individual nonprofit organizations and fundraising events including a community foundation serving northwest Colorado.

“I am thrilled at the opportunity to help both Moonlight and Spanish Peaks Community Foundations reach the goals of their donors, facilitating gifts to all sectors of the local nonprofit community as well as serving and educating the nonprofits themselves,” Ebbern said.

In other community foundation news, SPCF recently awarded nearly $60,000 total to Big Sky Rotary Club and Montana Land Reliance as a result of proceeds from the Calcutta event held on both evenings of the Big Sky PBR.

Moonlight Community Foundation awarded 10 grants totaling $87,864 in its 2017 spring grant cycle to nonprofit agencies that included those focused on the arts, education and youth advocacy.

In addition, the foundation recently held its annual “Ski Bridges of Madison County” fundraising event with proceeds directly benefiting the MCF granting fund, which has awarded more than $300,000 in grants in the past two years.

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