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News in Brief: Nov. 21, 2017

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Rotary Club sponsors Christmas Giving Tree


Once again, the Rotary Club of Big Sky will sponsor the annual Christmas Giving Tree to assist families during the holiday season. For the 10th year in a row, the Giving Tree will help families during Christmas by providing gifts for children and a Christmas dinner for families.

The Giving Tree is located in the Big Sky Post Office lobby, decorated with cards that indicate each child’s wish for a gift. Community members are encouraged to fulfill those wishes by donation, and gifts must be received no later than Dec. 13.

Last year, 28 Big Sky children received gifts through the Christmas Giving Tree.

Families wishing for support this holiday season can make their requests by picking up a Santa Letter from First Security Bank, American Bank, Big Sky Western Bank, Big Sky Food Bank, or the Country Market. Santa Letters, which remain completely confidential, must be returned by Dec. 12.

Wrapped gifts and a family Christmas dinner basket will be delivered by members of the Rotary Club on Dec. 20 and 21.

Survey on community housing needs circulating in Big Sky


The Big Sky Community Housing Trust and Resort Tax Board have commissioned a study to update the housing needs of Big Sky residents and develop a Housing Action Plan to address housing needs in the community.

WSW Consulting, Inc., out of South Lake Tahoe, California, has been contracted to conduct the study and is comprised of housing research and development professionals that specialize in mountain resort communities in the intermountain west.

Using the 2014 Big Sky Chamber of Commerce/EPS Housing Development Plan as a base, this study will update housing information and solicit input from Big Sky residents and employees on their housing needs and preferences to target housing goals.

The study will then help Big Sky develop an action plan containing various housing strategies for addressing those needs. The housing needs phase of the project will be completed in February. The action plan phase, which will include a series of work sessions with community stakeholders, will be completed in early June 2018.

From Nov. 27 through Dec. 27, Big Sky residents can participate through an online survey. The confidential survey responses will help BSCHT to understand the housing needs, preferences and challenges of Big Sky residents and employees.

The survey will become available Nov. 27 and the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce as well as various town employers will distribute a link to the online survey.

For more information on the study or the upcoming survey, please contact Brian Guyer with the Big Sky Community Housing Trust at (406) 585-4863 or

Citizen petition to protect open lands circulating in Gallatin County


BIG SKY – A coalition of local land conservation organizations, including the Gallatin Valley Land Trust, Montana Land Reliance and The Trust for Public Land, are circulating a citizen petition that would place a $20 million open lands bond on the November 2018 ballot.

“As the population in Gallatin County continues to increase, the need for funding to protect open space is more and more critical,” said Jessie Wiese, southwest manager for MLR and a resident of Big Sky. “We’re just trying to get it on the ballot so Gallatin County voters can make the decision themselves.”

This initiative comes several months after the Gallatin County commissioners voted in a 2-1 decision to decline a $15 million bond on this year’s ballot. Commissioner Steve White voted against the initiative, saying his priority is to fund improvements to the county’s law enforcement and judicial infrastructure.

Without unanimous approval from the commission, an initiative cannot be included on the county ballot. However, a petition with support from at least 20 percent of registered voters allows citizens to place initiatives on the ballot. In order to be successful, the groups will need to gather 15,097 in-person signatures.

The open lands bond is a part of the Gallatin County Open Lands Program. If enough signatures are gathered and voters approve the initiative on next year’s ballot, it will result in an anticipated cost of $15.92 a year for every $200,000 of home value. The $20 million levy would allow for future conservation of open land for another 15 to 20 years.

For 17 years, GVLT, MLR and others have worked within the county to protect land from future development as a way of ensuring space in the future for working farms and ranches and wildlife habitat.

Wiese said previous open space bonds have been allocated for local projects. “We’ve seen the benefits here in Big Sky with several conservations easements and the Big Sky Community Park being made possible by open space dollars.”

Documents detail Gianforte’s assault on reporter

BILLINGS (AP) – Law enforcement officials in Montana have released a trove of materials from their investigation into a Republican House candidate who assaulted a reporter on the eve of his election to the U.S. House.

More than 100 pages of documents, photos and audio from the investigation into Rep. Greg Gianforte were released under a court order Nov. 17 following requests from The Associated Press and other news organizations.

Gianforte threw Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs to the ground on May 24—the day before his victory in a special election over Democrat Rob Quist.

In the attack’s immediate aftermath, the Republican’s campaign portrayed Jacobs as the instigator. That version of events was contradicted by audio from Jacobs and by a Fox News reporter who witnessed the attack.

Gianforte later pleaded guilty to assault.

Montana campus leaders promise no faculty furloughs

BOZEMAN (AP) – Montana State University’s president is promising that faculty and staff won’t be furloughed though the state university system faces $4.5 million in budget cuts.

Montana lawmakers wrapped up a special session the week of Nov. 13 intended to fill a state budget shortfall. The Montana University System anticipated a $44 million budget cut without a special session.

Montana State University President Waded Cruzado said Nov. 16 that she plans to shield faculty and staff from any cuts the wider university system makes. Cruzado told members of the Montana Board of Regents that faculty and staff “are our most important assets.”

But higher education officials at the meeting said the university system will have to make other adjustments because of the cuts.

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