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News in brief: Jan. 19, 2018

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Resort tax board has 2 seats open for May election


At the Jan. 10 Big Sky Resort Area District meeting, treasurer Heather Budd announced that she will not be seeking to serve a second four-year term on the BSRAD board of directors.

“I really want to thank this board. It’s such a pleasure to serve with you and I love how everybody’s so respectful of each other’s opinions,” Budd said at the end of the meeting. “We disagree often, but I have never felt that we’ve had anything personal, we leave the discussion at the table, and I think that is such a testament to the people that serve.”

Board secretary Ginna Hermann announced in December that she would not be seeking a third term. The election is slated for Tuesday, May 8, but only two candidates had filed as of EBS press time on Jan. 17. Big Sky community members Sarah Blechta and Steve Johnson will join the board by acclamation if no one else files with the Gallatin County Election Office by the deadline, which is Feb. 12 at 5 p.m.

Ballots will be mailed to Big Sky voters at the end of April and will include elections for the Big Sky school district board, water and sewer district and fire department boards, as well as the resort tax board, if an additional candidate files.

BSCO seeks letters of support


The Big Sky Community Organization has begun the application process for a federal Recreation Trails Program grant to assist with the cost of improvements made to the Ousel Falls trailhead as well as the recently acquired Upper Beehive Basin trailhead.

As a part of the application, BSCO is seeking letters of support to include in the grant submission.

Ousel Falls and Upper Beehive Basin trailheads are the most heavily used in the Big Sky area. Ousel Falls trailhead alone saw nearly 66,000 users during 2017, with a maximum of 880 trail users and 484 vehicles accessing the trailhead in a single day, according to BSCO.

With this high volume of traffic, both trailheads are in need of improvements. BSCO plans to partner with the U.S. Forest Service in order to produce trailhead enhancements and open space features, perhaps beginning work as early as fall of 2018 once funding has been secured.

BSCO owns and manages a total of 91 acres of parkland on behalf of the Big Sky community. All of this parkland is a restricted asset for the purpose of public use.

Letters of support for the RTP grant can be sent to Adam Johnson at by Monday, Jan. 29, for inclusion in BSCO’s application.

For additional information on BSCO’s parks and trails, visit

Leadership changes at Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center


Bozeman Health recently announced that Chris Darnell has accepted the role of administrator of Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center and system director of network development, after former BSMC administrator Tracy Reamy took a new position at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital.

“It has been my sincere honor and privilege to lead Bozeman Health Big Sky Medical Center through its grand opening and initial years of operation,” said Reamy, who served as BSMC administrator since 2015. “We have an incredible team of professionals in place and I am extremely proud of the safe, quality care that we provide to our neighbors and to the people who come to our community to enjoy all that it has to offer.”

As the new administrator of BSMC, Darnell will be responsible for daily operations and will lead development efforts for the Bozeman Health clinically integrated network. 

Most recently, Darnell served as vice president of Bozeman Health Medical Group, overseeing physician clinic integration, operations, and development, having joined Bozeman Health in 2014. A native of Virginia, Darnell spent 15 years in Charleston, South Carolina, primarily at the Medical University of South Carolina. Darnell holds master’s and doctorate degrees in health services administration.

“I am so excited about this new opportunity,” Darnell said. “The chance to work with the amazing Big Sky Medical Center team and members of the community to improve community health and quality of life in Big Sky and the surrounding area is a dream.”

Yellowstone initiates criminal investigation related to bison release


On the morning of Jan. 16, Yellowstone National Park staff discovered 52 bull bison, held at the Stephens Creek facility for possible quarantine, had been released from their pens. The National Park Service has initiated a criminal investigation of this incident.

Currently, park staff are making an effort to locate and recapture the bison. As of Jan. 17, none of the animals had been located.  

These animals were being held and tested for brucellosis as part of a possible quarantine program that would augment or establish cultural herds of disease-free plains bison, enhance cultural and nutritional opportunities for Native Americans, reduce the shipment of Yellowstone bison to meat processing facilities, and conserve a viable, wild population of Yellowstone bison.

“This is an egregious criminal act that sets back bison conservation. It delays critical ongoing discussions about a quarantine program and the transfer of live Yellowstone bison to tribal lands. The park is aggressively investigating this incident,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk.   

“I am absolutely heartbroken for the Fort Peck Tribes who have been working with the park, the state of Montana, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for years to repatriate these bison,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “The criminals who broke into a national park facility to release these bison put at risk the safety of the animals that are now at risk of being culled and our park rangers who are rounding them up.”

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call the Yellowstone National Park Tip Line at (307) 344-2132 or email For more information, visit

Montana US attorney says focus unchanged on marijuana cases

BILLINGS (AP) – The top federal prosecutor in Montana said Jan. 5 there will be “no changes to our approach” on marijuana prosecutions after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the government’s previous guidance on the drug.

U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said prosecutors will focus on cases that pose the greatest public safety threat. That includes those involving violence and drug trafficking organizations, he said.

Montana had more than 22,000 registered medical marijuana cardholders and some 610 marijuana providers at the end of last year, according to state officials. That’s up from fewer than 8,000 cardholders in late 2016.

Medical marijuana was legalized in Montana under a 2004 ballot initiative. Restrictions imposed by lawmakers in 2011 were blocked by the state Supreme Court and later eased.

Montana health department spokesman Jon Ebelt says the agency will follow state law so people with debilitating conditions can access the medicine they need.





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