Alli Friedman

KCFW Reporter

POSTED: 7:38 AM Aug 06 2014   UPDATED: 2:05 PM Jul 02 2014
alli

Alli Friedman is a reporter for KCFW in Kalispell. She was born and raised in southern California, and is excited to be living in northwest Montana.

Alli earned her BFA in Television and Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University in Orange County, CA. 

While in school, she interned for NBC LA, KTLA-TV, and PBS SoCal. 

When Alli isn't in the newsroom, she loves to travel, work out, watch hockey and hang out with friends and family.

Being new to Montana, Alli is excited to adventure and explore the outdoors. 

If you have any questions, comments, concerns or story ideas please contact Alli by email.

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Alli Friedman's Latest Stories

Bigfork woman charged for hosting commercial weddings

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:25 PM Aug 26 2014   UPDATED: 11:32 PM Aug 26 2014

Bigfork woman charged for hosting commercial weddings

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Prosecutors charged a Bigfork woman with a misdemeanor for hosting commercial weddings in her backyard. They claim Alana Myers is breaking zoning laws.

Last July, neighbors started complaining about loud noise and crowds at Ten Arrows Ranch during weddings.

The county apparently found out the owner made money off the weddings and sent a letter notifying Myers to stop.

Myers applied for a special permit so she could rent her ranch to couples getting married, but withdrew that application last year.

Now, NBC Montana learned neighbors are still upset, so county prosecutors have filed charges.

Alana Myers has hosted weddings for a few years.

“I love doing the weddings because I get to meet the most awesome people. I get to help a bride and her family prepare and get ready for one of the most special days of her entire life,” Myers said.

There is one problem -- the area is zoned suburban agriculture. To make money off a wedding, Myers needs a special permit, but she doesn’t have one.

Myers admits to taking $1,900 from a bride who wanted to rent the ranch.

“Yeah, I shouldn’t have done it. It was stupid and I wish I hadn’t done it, obviously,” Myers said.

Now Myers is facing charges for criminal misdemeanor for violating the zoning law. The documents also show neighbors' complaints for loud noise, large crowds and increased traffic during events.

Neighbors think it is too bad it came to this, but say they’re sick of the disturbance.

"I guess my biggest concern is with the traffic -- the volume of traffic out here on the road and the problems that's created. A lot of these parties serve alcohol later in the night, live bands, the noise is horrendous from them,” said Dan Demars, a neighbor.

"Noise is the No. 1 complaint, and I would like to point out we are standing right now in front of the ceremony area...Our very closest neighbor lives over 1,000 feet away,” Myers said.

Myers says the music is always off by 10:30 p.m. at the latest. When it is playing, she says she takes decibel meter readings, which she claims are always under 55 decibels.

NBC Montana double checked and that’s normal household noise.

"They may be able to hear the music, it is low enough that it should not be any more bothersome than a dishwasher or air conditioning running in their homes," Myers said.

It’s not just the noise that bothers neighbors; they say they have to deal with people trespassing and littering.

"We pick everything up from beer cans, beer bottles, napkins, party hats, paper towels, just everything that goes with that type of a deal. Anytime the wind blows it just carries out through this field," Demars said.

Myers is scheduled to present an application to the Bigfork Land Advisory Committee for a conditional-use permit to operate the ranch as a high-impact recreational facility.

New businesses boost Lakeside economy

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 3:21 PM Aug 24 2014
Lakeside businesses continue to grow
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Growth is usually good, but some residents of a small Montana town on Flathead Lake are worried an influx of construction and new businesses are coming at the cost of its small town charm.

Lakeside, is on the west shore of Flathead Lake, about 20 minutes south of Kalispell.

NBC Montana tracked a huge growth there in the past year. More than a dozen people have joined the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce. There is a brand new town center and over seven new restaurants. Lakeside also has a new medical center, pharmacy, and a fitness center has also just opened up.

Seven years ago, Andra Townsley opened up the Tamarack Brewing Company in Lakeside. This year, she opened up two new restaurants, the Farmhouse which serves breakfast and lunch and a dinner sports bar called Seven.

Townsley explained to NBC Montana why now?

"To see a small town kind of start to take flight we thought that it was really important to see it done well and see it done with respect and integrity keeping that small town feel. You know, we’ve seen other small towns where big businesses come in and kind of changes the character and we didn’t want that," Townsley said.

But, Townsley isn’t the only one setting up shop. The Docks is now opening up as Scottibellies Pizza. And, it’s not only the restaurants. Kat's Korner is a boutique that opened up this summer. The store sells clothing and jewelry.

David Fetveit from the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce says opening up these stores means a lot to Lakeside residents.

"All these new businesses everything from the restaurants to the medical clinic, the fitness center some of these things, locals and visitors were leaving the area to enjoy those types of benefits. Now, we don't have to leave,” Fetveit said.

However, residents fear that the small town of Lakeside might not stay so small with the business growth. Fetveit is not worried.

“We’ve got a long way to go before we have any of those types of concerns,” Fetveit said.

"We want people to be able to come to Lakeside and say ‘where am I going to eat’ and not just 'I want to go to tamarack tonight.’They have a variety of places to choose from so when we heard Scottibellies was going in, we were thrilled,” Townsley said.

More businesses mean more people and Townsley says the more the merrier.

Megaload arrives in Flathead Valley

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:20 PM Aug 21 2014   UPDATED: 10:42 PM Aug 21 2014

Megaload arrives in Flathead Valley

KALISPELL, Mont. -

NBC Montana is tracking the megaload headed for Great Falls. Haulers are preparing to drive through the Flathead Valley.

The load is carrying the first of three pieces of a refinery machine. It’s taking a new route through Montana to avoid construction.

The megaload spent the day at a weigh station on U.S. Highway 2 west. Thursday night, it will travel up Meridian Road, one of the Flathead’s busiest streets. Then, from Columbia Falls it will travel south on Swan Highway to Bigfork. Eventually, it will hit Highway 200 at the Clearwater Junction, and then head to Great Falls.

The last time a megaload moved through Missoula, protestors greeted it, and were arrested. NBC Montana found out that some people in the Flathead are plenty angry the load’s moving through their backyard.

With all the push and pull trucks, the load weighs around 1 million pounds. It is very long -- about a football field in length.

“It’s huge,” said Leslie DeWitt, a Kalispell resident.

It’s a first for Flathead residents to see a megaload pass through. That’s why several people stopped to get a closer look.

“I just wanted to see, you know, I’ve seen big loads before, but I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about,” said Flathead truck driver Melvin Marshall.

NBC Montana found out there is more to the load than a piece of equipment. People have mixed feelings about it.

“We’re kind of excited to see this happen coming through our area. It means jobs in Montana, as far as I’m concerned, and it’s not going to happen that often. So I really don’t think it’s a major concern,” DeWitt said.

Some agree and say they think it will bring more money to the state. Others say hauling the megaload through Montana will threaten the environment. People are particularly worried when the load passes through the Swan Valley, a pristine forest area.

“If you’ve driven down the Swan, you know there are a lot of critters on the road. Deer, sometimes elk, bears, and so if we start having this is an industrial highway there is going to be an increase in wildlife fatalities,” said Arlene Montgomery, from the Friends of Wild Swan.

Montgomery also worries about what the weight will do to the road. We found a long-haul trucker to put that concern into context.

“If you knew all the facts, you would understand that. That’s why these loads have so many tires, to handle all the weight. So they don’t destroy the roads or hurt the roads in any way,” Marshall said.

There are more than 150 tires on the load, which help even out the weight. That’s why Marshall thinks a normal car or truck probably does more damage than this load.

But, concerns aside, the load’s a looker and people are stopping to stare.

The Montana Department of Transportation says it’s been smooth sailing for the megaload. There have been no protests or traffic issues along the route.

Thursday will be the third night the load travels through Montana. It will make it way through the Flathead by the morning. It will be escorted by Montana Highway Patrol.

The other two pieces of refinery equipment making their way to Great Falls will not be taking the same route through the Flathead. Those will be transported by rail, along Interstate 15.

House Speaker John Boehner visits Whitefish for fundraiser

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 9:46 AM Aug 21 2014   UPDATED: 5:56 PM Aug 21 2014
House Speaker John Boehner visits Whitefish for fundraiser
KALISPELL, Mont. -

House Speaker John Boehner visited Whitefish for a private fundraiser for Republican U.S. House candidate Ryan Zinke.

The fundraiser began at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday. The event featured a VIP roundtable discussion that cost $10,000 per couple. Guests were also able to take photos with Boehner and Zinke for $2,600.

The event was hosted by Peter Busch and Dick Boyce. Busch is a big Republican donor. He lives in both Florida and Montana.

NBC Montana tracked his political donations since 1997 and added up a total of over $140,000. He has donated to Mitt Romney for president, George Bush, former Rep. Denny Rehberg and Rep. Steve Daines.

Dick Boyce contributed $200,000 to a conservative group called Restore our Future. That’s a soft money contribution, meaning there are no limits to the dollar amount. He has also backed other big name Republicans, including Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.

FVCC launches online manufacturing certificate program

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:12 PM Aug 20 2014   UPDATED: 12:01 AM Aug 21 2014

FVCC launches online manufacturing certificate program

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Starting this fall residents in Northwest Montana can earn a certificate online in advanced manufacturing programs from the Flathead Valley Community College. The classes are taught by FVCC instructors but can be taken anywhere in the state.

Brett McCoy is a student at FVCC, studying computer science. He has a wife and kids and sometimes finds it hard to make it to class, so he’s taken classes online before.

“They allowed me to work within my own schedule. I didn't have to show up to the school for any specific set hours. I was able to do more things on my own time, and with a job and kids and a wife that's very helpful," McCoy said.

However, when McCoy heard the online courses were for manufacturing, he was confused. He wasn’t sure how such a hands-on program can be taught online.

NBC Montana got an explanation from the program coordinator.

"It really is a lot of the coursework that is traditionally face-to-face lecture format and a lot of theory, not the hands-on," said Dan Leatzow, the advanced manufacturing program coordinator.

“If it’s mainly concepts, you’re able to do that more with reading in an online atmosphere," McCoy said.

The classes that do have hands-on activities will require students to go to their nearest college and complete those assignments.

Leatzow says there are several ways these classes can be taught.

"One aspect could be using standard slide presentations with voice-overs," he said.

Or teachers can use a light board device that allows teachers to lecture and write as if in front of a class.

Leatzow believes the program will be of great benefit to people statewide. People in Helena, almost 200 miles away, are already signed up, as well as people in Hamilton and the Flathead.

“It’s about having the ability to access that where you’re at, really at any time of a convenience of your schedule, so that you can continue to live the life that you have and better yourself at the same time," Leatzow said.

McCoy thinks its also about bringing education to people that aren’t close.

"I think any chance that you can include more kids into an online classroom atmosphere, where it’s not something you have to have close proximity to, would help encourage students be able to come in through the college atmosphere," McCoy said.

Classes start next Thursday, August, 28.

Kalispell Unified School District plans to purchase land for new schools

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 4:50 PM Aug 19 2014   UPDATED: 11:24 PM Aug 19 2014

Kalispell Unified School District plans to purchase land for new schools

KALISPELL, Mont. -

The Kalispell Unified School District just approved a $56 million budget for the 2014-2015 school year. Half of that will go towards the elementary schools and the other half for the high schools.

This year's budget is larger than last year's. There was about a 5-percent increase for the elementary schools and about a 9-percent increase for the high schools. The increase is because of increased enrollment.

In the wake of passing that budget, the school district just signed an agreement to purchase land to build new schools.

It’s about 25 acres of land with a $385,000 price point. The land is located south of downtown Kalispell, along Airport Road.

The land the school district originally wanted to purchase was sold before they were able to buy it. However, signed an agreement to purchase the adjacent property and will make a trade.

They want the other piece of land because it is flat and more reasonable to build infrastructure on. It’s also a lot closer to town and closer to neighborhoods.

School officials say they needed the new land.

“We have a real solid overcrowding issue,” said Kalispell Public School District Superintendent Mark Flatau.

Flatau says the increase in enrollment over the past 10 years has been huge.

Last year, voters approved a bond to build additional classroom space in the elementary schools, but apparently that wasn’t enough.

Now, with the purchase of this land, a new middle school or elementary school can be built -- or even both.

“We’ve already looked at that size of piece of property and you actually have room, if you strategically place the facilities at either end, you would have room for two school sites,” Flatau said.

Several of the elementary schools say they notice the overcrowding issue and say they need more schools. Residents agree.

“I just noticed that with Elrod their classrooms are kind of full,” said Wayne Hall, a Kalispell resident.

Other people think this land is the solution.

“I think it’s a great idea. You know, anytime you can have the teacher-to-student ratio lower, they’re going to get more attention and they’ll have targeted instruction for what the kids need,” said Brianne Wilson, a school educator.

Kalispell residents have voiced concerns about raising taxes to build new schools, but the superintendent said that won’t be the case.

“No taxes needed. The money is in the bank,” said Flatau.

The district has been allocating and saving money from the school budget for the $385,000 land purchase.

“All we need is permission to purchase the property, from the voters,” Flatau said.

In order to move forward with the purchase, voters will have to approve it. It will be placed on the November ballot and if approved, the district can begin preliminary planning for what type of school should be built.

Whitefish bicyclist dies after being hit by car

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:40 PM Aug 15 2014   UPDATED: 7:13 PM Aug 15 2014

Whitefish bicyclist dies after being hit by car

KALISPELL, Mont. -

New details are emerging about a deadly bike accident that happened in Whitefish Thursday night.

Police say 28-year-old Jared Kinney was hit by a car at the intersection of Edgewood and Wisconson.

Kinney was trapped under an SUV and resuce crews had to use airbags to lift the car high enough to extract the victim.

NBC Montana found out Kinney had just moved to Whitefish recently from New York. Friday would have marked one month of his working at Big Mountain Resort in the lifts department.

Friends and family members have been posting on Kinney’s Facebook page saying he loved to laugh and make people smile.

“We’re shocked and saddened by the news. Jared was very excited to be here and looking forward to working here [at Big Mountain Resort] in the winter,” said Riley Polumbus, from Whitefish Mountain Resort.

NBC Montana went to the intersection where the accident happened and, within minutes, people told us about how dangerous it is.

It’s a popular place to bike, but it’s a place where accidents are likely to happen. Three different bike paths meet at the intersection. Bikers have to cross the street in order to continue on the next bike path.

“There’s three trails that are coming together and then you have bicycle and pedestrian traffic coming over the viaduct on the sidewalk and on the roadway,” Ron Brunk said.

Brunk owns Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish. He’s ridden through that intersection hundreds of times and never saw it to be dangerous. But NBC Montana found it to be quite the opposite.

It’s an intersection that people take to get to the resort and there’s a turnoff for people to go to Whitefish Lake. It’s heavily populated with bikers.

Most cars turning don’t have to stop because they have a flashing yellow arrow. Residents told NBC Montana they think the arrows are what causes the accidents because traffic flows faster and cars don’t have to stop.

However, those arrows are new. The Montana Department of Transportation implemented the flashing yellow arrows at this specific intersection last year. They thought it would be a safer and more efficient way to have cars turn left.

Residents say more people are worried about what a flashing yellow means, rather than paying attention to bikers in their path.

Despite all of this, its not just the intersection that’s a problem. NBC Montana found out the victim made some mistakes.

Officials say he was riding against traffic, which Brunk says was his first problem.

“The biggest thing about bike safety, whether it be day or night, is just being on the proper side of the road, on the right hand side of the road, riding and behaving as a car would,” Brunk said.

Brunk also says the hardest thing about biking at night is being seen. Whitefish Police confirm Kinney did not have any headlights or taillights on his bike.

“I think the key thing in bike safety is you need to be visible,” Brunk said.

The Montana Highway Patrol conducted a forensic investigation of the crash. Those results will determine whether any charges will be filed against the woman who was driving.

Flathead Co. Sheriff's Posse begins recruiting process

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 4:11 PM Aug 14 2014   UPDATED: 9:07 PM Aug 14 2014

Flathead Co. Sheriff's Posse begins recruiting process

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A group of Flathead Sheriff’s volunteers needs help. The Flathead County Sheriff’s Posse volunteers at crime scenes, and handles crowds at big events. The problem is there aren’t enough volunteers.

"One of the issues you have with a volunteer organization is that you have family issues, you have job issues, you have health issues. You get good people in, but they essentially will move away for a better job or just their job changes and they can’t dedicate the time that they used to," said John Goroski, a Flathead County Sheriff's Posse member.

Goroski has been with the Posse for years and he says it’s about brotherhood.

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office calls upon the posse when they need additional people to help them.

“Primarily, we want to make sure our deputies and other law enforcement are able to stay on the road and serve the public,” Goroski said.

This week, the Posse is bringing a law enforcement presence to the Northwest Montana Fair. Other times, they are preserving crime scenes or working detention duty.

They are not paid. They are all volunteers and all their equipment is self-supplied, even their horses.

"For us and for the taxpayers, the main benefit for us is having that additional manpower that really is at no additional cost to us," said Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.

But for Goroski and other posse members, it is not about money.

“Members of the public come up and they thank you. That, in itself, is the biggest pay you can get,” Goroski said.

Most of the volunteers have other jobs. Goroski had to take the week off to volunteer at the fair. He wouldn’t have to do that if there were more members.

As of now, the Posse is recruiting by word of mouth, but Curry explained to NBC Montana why people should look into joining.

"It’s a great way to be involved in the periphery of law enforcement and provide a valuable community service," Curry said.

For Goroski, that’s exactly what it’s about.

“We do it because we enjoy doing it,” said Goroski.

Anyone who is interested in applying to be a Flathead County Sheriff's Posse member should visit their website or call the Flathead County Sheriff’s office.

Megaload to pass through Flathead raises concerns

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 4:38 PM Aug 13 2014   UPDATED: 11:02 PM Aug 13 2014

Megaload to pass through Flathead raises concerns

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A new permit has allowed a megaload to travel in northwest Montana. The new route will go through the Flathead Valley.

The load is just over 21 feet wide and 16 feet 9 inches tall. The length of the load will vary depending on the number of push and pull trucks it takes to move the load, but the permit limits it to 400 feet.

The megaload will enter Montana near Clark Fork, Idaho, on Highway 200. It then will travel northbound toward Libby, then head south to Kalispell. Once in Kalispell, it will travel up Meridian Road to Highway 93. It will hit Columbia Falls and then travel south to Bigfork. Eventually the megaload will reach Highway 200 at the Clearwater Junction and then head to Great Falls.

Even the Montana Department of Transportation figured there was an easier route, along Interstate 90 or Interstate 15. However, with construction on I-90 and detours, that is why the load has to travel through the Flathead.

The megaload is carrying the first of three pieces of a refinery machine, used to process Canadian oil sands. It is on the move, currently making its way through Idaho toward Montana. It could reach the Flathead as early as Sunday night.

The megaload weighs close to 1 million pounds, and that worries some residents.

“I’m sure there’s going to be some kind of damage to the roads and the local infrastructure by having all that weight,” said April, a Kalispell resident.

NBC Montana drove the route and found some narrow roads and steep hills, especially the hill on Meridian Road. It’s a road that connects U.S. Highway 2 with Highway 93.

MDT says a hill like that could be a challenge.

“They very well may need to put both pull and push trucks to climb that hill,” said Duane Williams, from the MDT Motor Carrier Services.

There is also concern that the load won’t fit under street lights. However, because it is less than 17 feet MDT says they won’t have to remove any lights or electrical poles.

There are requirements. The load will only travel at night, and only during the week. During the day, it will pull into designated staging areas. When in route, there will be traffic control.

“There will be ‘leap frogging’ flag stations ahead of the load and they’ll be stopping cars while the next flag station is leaping forward. Cars will be asked to pull off on the side of the road,” Williams said.

But for Flathead residents who work overnight, it could pose a problem.

“I’m really concerned what’s going to happen if I end up meeting one of these megaloads at 2 in the morning trying to get out of Libby. I’m on a time frame for my job,” April said.

Environmentalists have already protested the megaload as it passed through Moscow, Idaho, on Monday. Those protesting don’t want the equipment because it’s a part of the tar sands oil project.

MDT will keep these protests in mind during the seven-night travel period.

“We hope to move this load along with as little inconvenience to the traveling public as possible,” Williams said.

Montana Highway Patrol will be escorting the load the entire way. They usually don’t always escort megaloads, but are doing it for this one. They say it’s because of the potential for more protests and because the load can cause a massive safety issue.

MDT wants to remind drivers that there will be traffic delays, so people traveling at night should find alternate routes.

Flathead residents speak out on trash 'super site' proposal

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 4:43 PM Aug 12 2014   UPDATED: 11:30 PM Aug 12 2014

Flathead residents speak out on trash 'super site' proposal

KALISPELL, Mont. -

For years, the Flathead County Commissioner’s Office has been working to consolidate trash and recycling container sites across Flathead County.

The most recent plan looked at eliminating the Bigfork and Lakeside sites, but the county has made a change in that plan after hearing the public’s input.

The public’s voice was so strong that instead of getting rid of the Bigfork site, the county wants to make a container super site.

John Buswell goes to the Bigfork recycling center at least twice a week. We talked to him when he was there recycling drywall and he knows something needs to be done with the site.

“This site should be closed. They should have another one that’s more accessible -- less traffic, off the beaten site, with a fence around it,” Buswell said.

But he doesn’t think the county should get rid of it, and after hearing the public’s input, county officials think they will.

“Folks really love these container sites and want to continue to have them. They’re convenient, they’re a good way to move garbage,” said Flathead County Public Works Director David Prunty.

Instead, the county wants to purchase about five acres of land near the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 83 and make a super site.

“We need to make them better sites with fencing and a paved approach with a night light and hours of operation,” Prunty said.

The county wanted to consolidate four trash sites in Bigfork, Lakeside, Somers and Creston into two sites. They wanted to get rid of the ones in Bigfork and Lakeside to save money.

“We learned when we consolidated west of town with the Kila and the Marion site, and put one right in the middle of those two, we were saving about $70,000 a year,” said Prunty.

If the county does decide to move forward with the super site, people in the Ferndale, Swan River and Bigfork areas will have to pay more -- between $30 and $40.

However, that does not bother residents. They say they are willing to pay more if it means keeping a site in Bigfork.

“We heard a lot through the process of folks saying, ‘Charge us a little bit more; we’re happy to pay more,’” Prunty said.

That’s the case for Buswell.

“Put it on my taxes. As long as it’s done right and it’s out of sight and safe, I could do it,” Buswell said.

County officials say they won’t put any money on people’s taxes until one year after the site is up and running.

The Flathead County Public Works department is giving the public one last chance to voice their opinion on the proposed super site in a meeting on Tuesday, August 12, at 6 p.m.

Demand for farmer's markets on the rise

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 3:20 PM Aug 09 2014   UPDATED: 10:50 PM Aug 10 2014

Demand for farmer's markets on the rise

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the demand for farmer’s markets is on the rise. Montana is one of the states that tops the list.

Since 2008 there has been a 76% increase in markets. There are now over 8,000 markets nationally.

The farmer’s market is a place where growers can sell directly to the consumer at decent prices and a convenience.

Jerome Robideau has been growing vegetables in the same garden for nearly 50 years. He never thought about selling his produce at the Kalispell farmer’s market until this year.

“The market is good for the people and good for the vendors because you get farm fresh stuff,” Robideau said.

But why now? He says he joined the farmer’s market as a vendor not for the money, but he did it for the buyers. He claims it is better than having people shop in the stores.

“It’s better, it’s fresher and it doesn’t lay around in storage,” Robideau said.

Robideau is just one of the many vendors that joined the market this season. The Kalispell farmer’s market just keeps growing.

Robideau thinks more people are choosing to buy and sell at farmer’s markets because it’s a day in age where people worry about pesticides.

“I raised a garden without insecticides, or pesticides or any commercial fertilizer,” Robideau said.

That’s why he thinks the demand for farmer’s markets is so high. Even though he is not a certified organic, he knows his produce is chemical free.

NBC Montana talked to several people buying produce who say that could be one reason. But, residents feel it’s more about supporting local businesses.

“It gives us the opportunity to see what is grown in the Flathead Valley. I really enjoy seeing what’s out there and what I can get locally,” said Kalispell resident, Chantelle Delay.

Other shoppers agree. They say it’s not just about the farmer’s but the craftsman who sell furniture, clothes, or even jewelry. It’s about getting to know the people who make the products you’re buying.

People also come to the farmer’s market for the communal feeling.

“It’s pretty relaxed and friendly. You see people you know, you talk to them and you socialize,” Delay said.

According to the USDA report California, Ohio, Illinois and Virginia are among the states with the most reported farmer’s markets. All regions, including Montana, saw an increase in their market listings with the most growth happening in the south.

You can visit the National Farmer’s Market Directory to find a farmer's market near you.

Residents concerned about dangerous Kalispell intersection

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 4:16 PM Aug 08 2014   UPDATED: 11:27 PM Aug 08 2014

Residents concerned about dangerous Kalispell intersection

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Residents are raising concerns over one of the most dangerous intersections in Kalispell. They want something to be done. 

They're concerned about the intersection of Highway 2 and Springcreek and Dern roads, just west of Kalispell.

The combination of fast cars and blind spots causes a lot of accidents, including fatalities.

NBC Montana looked into why this intersection is so dangerous and found out what transportation officials are doing about it.

"It’s just a dangerous spot," said Kalispell resident John Weaver.

Weaver has lived near the intersection for 22 years and he always knew it wasn't safe.

"I’ve heard crashes and gone to see and there have been some pretty bad ones there," Weaver said.

Cars headed east and westbound drive fast. There are curves and a steep incline.

The speed limit used to be 70 but was changed a while ago to 60 miles per hour. According to Montana Highway Patrol, the change only helped a little.

The biggest issue is that drivers can’t see oncoming traffic until the last minute.

"I think the primary problem is we have an increased amount of traffic and just limited visibility," said Montana Highway Patrol Trooper David Mills.

NBC Montana witnessed it firsthand. If a car is turning from Springcreek Road onto the highway, it’s hard to see when a car is coming. That is how most accidents happen.

“We do see, unfortunately, fatal accidents here,” said Mills.

Mills told NBC Montana that just last week there was an accident. Someone wanted to turn right off of Highway 2. The car behind it didn’t stop in time, causing a rollover accident. The driver walked away with minor injuries.

Accidents happen often. That’s why residents think something needs to be done.

"I would like to see something done. Like maybe a flashing red light, or a light that flashes off and on so people would have to stop," Weaver said.

Other residents agree. They say it’s like taking your life into your hands when you want to go somewhere.

NBC Montana found out that the Montana Department of Transportation has a plan in place to make the road safer.

They want to put up flashing signs along the highway, that alert drivers of the intersection ahead, or to alert them of the possibility of cars turning left and right up ahead.

MDT says there is even the possibility of putting in turning lanes. That project could cost between $2 million and $3 million. Residents feel the sooner it happens, the better.  

Wildfire continues to grow near Thompson Falls

SANDERS COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 8:21 PM Aug 07 2014   UPDATED: 11:11 PM Aug 07 2014

Wildfire continues to grow near Thompson Falls

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Crews continue to battle the state’s largest wildfire northwest of Missoula. It is located off Highway 200, near Thompson Falls.

Officials say two fires have merged in the Thompson River Complex.

NBC Montana was on the scene and saw firsthand what fire officials are doing to combat the flames.

A lightning strike caused the fire, and it has been burning for several days. Over 600 acres have been burned.

The rugged terrain and steep slope of the mountain limits access for firefighters on the ground.

“That isn't a very good combination for a firefighter or for anybody really. It’s just a pretty dangerous situation to walk on, let alone fight fire on," said John Hamilton, of the U.S Forest Service.

That’s why fire officials have started making water drops. It started with only one helicopter making the drops. But, when the winds started to pick up, two more helicopters joined the fight.

Several people driving by stopped on the side of the road to get a good look. Most of them say that seeing wildfires is something you expect in the summertime, especially with weather conditions. With temperatures in the upper 90s, and winds reaching up to 25 even 35 miles per hour, weather is a concern for firefighters.

“It’s a bugger to get around in and no place to find a good safety zone; we don’t want to put any firefighters in danger,” Hamilton said.

Residents who live in the area tell NBC Montana the hazy skies and the air quality are something they can’t get away from.

"You can smell the smoke. I’ve had a sore throat for the last few days because it’s kind of stuck in this valley. I hang my clothes on the line and when you bring them in it smells like smoke, like a campfire,” said Thompson Falls resident Krista Olesen.

But residents including Olesen aren’t worried too much.

"I worry that if the wind comes by that it could come over, but it seems like there’s enough space between us. We live just a little bit down the road and it seems like they’re [the firefighters] pretty aggressive with it," Olesen said.

"We have pretty professional people here that know what they’re doing with fire,” Hamilton said.

So far, no buildings, people or property have been threatened. There have been no evacuations. Firefighters will continue to work day and night to contain the fire.

Scam artists target Flathead businesses

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:02 PM Aug 06 2014   UPDATED: 11:11 PM Aug 06 2014

Scam artists target Flathead businesses

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Scam artists are targeting Flathead County. They’re posing as electric company employees and have been calling businesses threatening to shut off power within a couple of hours. They claim to have a disconnect crew on the way to shut off the electric if they don’t receive a payment right away.

They are requesting the payment in the form of a pre-paid credit card or through PayPal, and are calling restaurants during busy times to catch them off-guard.

Officials say it is not a new problem and that it happens around the world. However, in the past scam artists used to target elderly people. Now, they have moved on to businesses and it's happening in the Flathead.

"She [an employee] received a call at 7 p.m., which is when our busiest time is, from a Brian Lee with his badge number. He said that he was with Flathead Electric and that they were on the way to disconnect our power," said Julie Smith.

Smith owns the Tree Frog Tavern in downtown Kalispell. One of her employees was ordered to give the person on the phone a chunk of money.

"First thing I did was call Flathead Electric to ask if this was indeed true. They said ‘Oh no, it is not true, we don't do that, that way’" Smith said.

Smith knew she paid her bills on time. She even showed NBC Montana check stubs to prove it.

"The concern, for me, was that they knew exactly the last payment that I made to Flathead Electric on three different accounts,” said Smith.

She usually makes her payments over the phone and is worried that people are eavesdropping and obtaining personal information.

Law enforcement officials are still investigating the situation, and even though they weren't able to trace the exact number they have reason to believe it came from out of the country.

"Usually the scam artists aren't local, sometimes they're even out of the country ,so it would be really hard for us to identify who the culprits are," said Kalispell Police Officer Karen Webster.

That’s the case here. When Smith called the number back she got the answering machine.

“The voice that was on the message was a foreign accent,” said Smith.

NBC Montana called that number and heard the voicemail. It did sound like someone from another country. The recording answers as Rocky Mountain Collection Company.

Flathead Electric says situations like this are popping up more and more.

“This used to be an occasional situation, but now we are finding it to be almost a regular course,” said Wendy Ostrom-Price from Flathead Electric.

Now that it is happening the Flathead, Smith is appalled.

“I think these people are despicable and it’s theft,” Smith said.

Flathead Electric and law enforcement are encouraging people that if they have any doubt with a payment or phone call they should contact authorities immediately. 

Otter attacks boy near Echo Lake

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 11:30 PM Aug 05 2014

Otter attacks boy near Echo Lake

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A young boy is out of the hospital after being attacked by several otters at Lake of the Woods, near Echo Lake in Flathead County.

The boy suffered several bites to both of his legs. He was treated and released from the hospital yesterday. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is investigating the situation.

It’s an animal that may look cute, but it can be dangerous.

“I’m very surprised; I didn’t think they could even bite,” said Kaydee Jensen, an Echo Lake swimmer.

That’s the same reaction that NBC Montana got from most swimmers when they found out about the otter attack.

“It shocks me, actually. I would never guess that would happen,” said Echo Lake resident Janelle Neilson.

Neilson has noticed the otters swimming in the lake, but has never seen them as a threat.

“I wouldn’t guess that they specifically come to attack the kids. I haven’t really thought much about them,” Neilson said.

But otters can be dangerous. FWP says that most people underestimate otters because of the way they look.

"They're not something to be ignored or thought of as cute little animals. They're a wild animal, they're a carnivore, they're a member of the weasel family and they can be aggressive," said John Fraley, of FWP.

However, this is not the first time otter attacks have happened. Last year in Echo Lake, otters attacked a dog that was swimming near shore. That dog drowned. Then, in that same month, a woman near Yellowstone got bit, prompting wildlife officials to put up warning signs about “vicious otters."

Just last week a woman and her grandson were attacked by several otters in Washington. They suffered severe injuries and are starting to recover.

These incidents leave swimmers near Echo Lake concerned.

“When they're [the otters] swimming on the side and we're kayaking and my feet are hanging off, I don't want them to bite me," Jensen said.

"I think we’ll obviously look out for them maybe a little bit more than we have in the past," Neilson said.

FWP says it may be possible that they have to remove the otter from the area, but that is determined on a case by case basis.

Wildlife officials also say that otters often move around a lot and it might be hard to find the otter that attacked the young boy.