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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Lakeside likely to be new host for annual Dragon Boat Festival

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 4:47 PM Jan 30 2015   UPDATED: 6:17 PM Jan 30 2015
Montana Dragon Boat Festival 2014
KALISPELL, Mont. -

The annual Dragon Boat Festival has a new venue. It’s an event that brings in thousands to the Bigfork area every year, but it will soon bring in thousands to Lakeside instead.

The Flathead Lake Lodge has been the host for the past three years.

"The first year we did it, we did the parking at the lodge, and I think we had 8,000 or 9,000 people and we decided it was too much impact in this area to have that kind of parking," said Flathead Lake Lodge owner Doug Averill.

That’s why the Kalispell Convention and Visitors Bureau rented parking space in a lot three miles away. They were paying to have a shuttle service, but it got too costly.

"Bigfork didn't really have the space. When they found the space it was costly to shuttle people back and forth, and they're not planning on shuttling anybody here," said Somers business owner Michelle Ahern.

That’s why the venue’s being switched. Lakeside residents and businesses approached the visitor's bureau. They say they are confident they can solve the parking issue and be the new host.

"I think it can only get better if it moves over here. We've got the space, we’ve got the people that are organizing it, who are excellent," Ahern said.

Now that word has gotten out about the venue switch, people in Lakeside say they are thrilled.

"I was excited. I think it’s going to be a boom to our community, as we go into the shoulder season," Ahern said.

It’s also a big economic driver for the entire Flathead Valley.

"It has a ripple effect. It fills motel rooms in the valley and restaurants and everybody benefits," Averill said.

"When you bring in thousands of people for an event, there’s going to be vendors, the lodging establishments fill up. There’s all kinds of opportunity for people to capitalize on this and I think anything we can do to promote business along the west shore is a positive," Ahern said.

Some Bigfork residents say they don’t mind the venue switch. They say no matter who hosts it, it will still be a fun and successful event.

The Kalispell Convention and Visitors Bureau has secured the venue, they are just waiting for the county to approve a conditional use permit.

Snowmobilers cited for riding in wilderness area

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 5:49 PM Jan 29 2015   UPDATED: 11:37 PM Jan 29 2015

Snowmobilers cited for riding in wilderness area

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Seven snowmobilers were handed citations after reportedly getting caught while riding out of bounds in the Flathead National Forest.

Forest Service law enforcement officials say they caught the snowmobilers after noticing snowmobile tracks in the snow in the Mission Mountain Wilderness Area, in the Swan Valley on the Flathead National Forest.

Four of the people cited are from Kalispell and the other three from the Polson area. Each was given a citation for $325.

“Even me as a rider, you’re in the zone and you kind of get in that play area and you can venture off, for sure,” said snowmobiler Jacob Bell.

Bell has been riding for more than 10 years, and he says it is sometimes not very clear where the boundaries are.

“It is definitely harder to see than it is easier to see. It’s not as simple as a big sign that’s sitting there that says ‘off limits,’” Bell said.

“There are boundary signs. So if somebody comes across and sees a National Forest Wildnerness boundary sign, they’re crossing into the boundary," said Teresa Wenum from the Flathead Forest Service.

Gor those like Bell who go riding, they say sometimes you just get in the zone and don’t think about looking for signs.

"It’s definitely easy to get sidetracked. You’re out there, you’re on your sled things are loud, you’re riding with buddies, you’re paying attention to the next hill you’re going to hit or the next ditch you’re going to drop into -- not so much what everyone else is telling you to do," said Bell.

Officials say wilderness areas are, by law, used for other forms of recreation like hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

"In wilderness areas it is a unique place where, by law, it was saying it was set aside for a more primitive form of recreation where people can experience the quiet and solitude of a backcountry area," Wenum said.

That’s why officials encourage those who do ride in the backcountry to use maps and be aware.

"It’s just a good reminder for folks that our law enforcement officers are out, they’re patrolling, they’re monitoring and if you do get caught within the boundary there you could get cited," Wenum said.

Authorities say the fines could have been much more severe. The limit is a $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for an organization. There is also the possibility of six months in jail.

Kalispell plans industrial rail park to foster economic growth

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 4:50 PM Jan 28 2015   UPDATED: 9:05 PM Jan 28 2015

Kalispell plans industrial rail park to foster economic growth

KALISPELL, Mont. -

The Montana West Economic Development Agency hosted its 13th annual economic forecast meeting at Flathead Valley Community College.

Economists are predicting a 1.6-percent employment growth in 2015, and say they see no sign of a recession.

The three Flathead municipalities -- Columbia Falls, Whitefish and Kalispell -- talked about the current projects that foster future growth.

NBC Montana found out what the City of Kalispell is working on.

“The tracks are a blighting influence. While they once brought life to the City of Kalispell, now they're strangling the city of Kalispell," said Tom Jentz, the director of Kalispell city planning.

Jentz is talking about the railroad tracks that run through downtown Kalispell.

“We have over 20 acres of vacant land along the tracks right now,” he said. But the land is not accessible.

“The access we have across the tracks today are all we're ever going to get. So our focus is to pull the tracks out opening up significant amount of new developable land in our downtown area," Jentz said.

That’s why the City of Kalispell is working on a project to create an industrial rail park. It would remove all the tracks in town, and move several industrial businesses, like the Cenex grain elevator, and put them in an area with an accessible railroad.

“We’re looking at a 40-acre site and the idea is to put four to 10 rail users in that park," said Jentz.

Jentz says having the railroad tracks present is restricting development and, in turn, restricting growth.

"The Kalispell Center Mall owns land to the north on the other side of the tracks but they don't have easy access because the tracks are there. The tracks separate them from potential future development, and that's just one example," said Jentz.

Jentz says he looks at removing the tracks and opening up land as an opportunity for retail businesses and houses to move in, which together create construction jobs. The city also claims it’s a win for the businesses in the industrial park.

"It brings in base industrial jobs. Those are good-paying jobs; those are jobs that bring in outside money to our communities," said Jentz.

Final designs for the multi-million-dollar park will start to be picked within the month.

As for Whitefish and Columbia Falls, both are working on projects to build hotels to foster growth in their towns.

Deserted Columbia Falls baseball fields to get facelift

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 5:26 PM Jan 27 2015   UPDATED: 11:24 PM Jan 27 2015

Deserted Columbia Falls baseball fields to get facelift

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A pair of deserted baseball fields in Columbia Falls are getting a facelift.

The Deer Park Fields, off Highway 206 and Jensen Road, have been around for more than four decades, but haven’t been used for the last four years. Now The Columbia Falls Youth Softball Association plans to call them their home.

"Baseball has been in this community for a long time and baseball had gotten the use of every city field and so when softball came it was great, we're glad that you’re offering this program but nobody was willing to share field space," said Kathy Price from Columbia Falls Youth Softball Association.

Price says the club has spent years competing with the Columbia Falls High School for field space.

"It’s really hindered us because we have to sit and wait for the high school program to use that entire facility for one team and here we have 60 kids down there waiting to use the field," Price said.

Now the youth softball club will have a place to call its own.

“It’s something that we’ve been looking for, for a long time,” Price said.

The field is currently owned by a nonprofit and has been vacant for the past four years. The league that used to play there dissolved because of Cal Ripken rule changes.

An agreement has now been made to allow the softball club to start restoring the property.

"We're putting in three fields on there, two full-size fields and one smaller field which will be used for the younger kids and warm-ups," Price said.

A snack bar, batting cages and a substantial amount of parking are also in the plans. Price says it could cost more than $125,000 per field, but she says it’s worth it.

"It’s exciting because now the girls will be able to practice more, we'll be able to get more games in," she said.

Price also stresses that it’s for the community too.

“You know I would ultimately like to see it be part of a community where you could come out to the facility and play a family softball game or class reunions come out. Ultimately, that's the big picture and we just have to start at the beginning to build upon that," said Price.

Construction is scheduled to begin this spring with money the softball club has saved.

Fire destroys algae powerhouse in Columbia Falls

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 5:10 PM Jan 27 2015   UPDATED: 5:53 PM Jan 27 2015
Fire destroys algae powerhouse in C. Falls
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Details are still emerging about a fire that ripped through a manufacturing plant in Columbia Falls.

The building belongs to Algae Aqua-Cultures Technologies and it was used to grow and harvest algae and run it through a process to create liquid fertilizer products.

The company built the green powerhouse on the F.H. Stoltze Land and Lumber facility.

Workers from the lumber company called in the fire. We’re told damage was so extensive that the powerhouse is a loss.

Employees of Algae Aqua-Culture Technologies say they were shocked to hear about it, but say they won’t let it affect their business. They look forward to moving on and rebuilding a second version of the powerhouse.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation and it’s unclear what the total cost of the damage will be.

Annual skijoring event draws thousands to Whitefish

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 3:48 PM Jan 24 2015   UPDATED: 9:38 PM Jan 24 2015

Annual skijoring event draws thousands to Whitefish

KALISPELL, Mont. -

It’s an event that draws thousands to Whitefish every year, the annual winter skijoring championships.

It’s a sport where skiers are pulled by a horse around a race course, they get timed and ranked.

"Skijoring started out, it was a bet between who had the fastest skis, who had the fastest horse and who could drink as much beer and they just kind of turned it all into one event," said skijoring competitor, Brandon Hightower.

That’s how Hightower says skijoring was born. It’s now a global sport, that boasts the Flathead Valley as its home base.

"You’ll see people that are just new to skiing and they’re just wanting to go out and have an adventure and ski behind a horse or you've got people that have a racing background and they grew up on a pair of skis, so you can see the whole gambit of it,” Hightower said.

Competitiors like Hightower have been doing it for years, and they say it’s a great Montana tradition.

"It’s fun and its part of Montana and I grew up watching my step dad do it and he showed me a few things and I just like being out in the atmosphere and the people and getting to say ‘yee-haw’ and have a beer at the end of the day," said Hightower.

Skiers and riders compete in different classes and they have to weave in and out of poles as they head over jumps.

We’re told most of these skiers work hard to prepare for this day.

"We’ve been able to train the last couple of Sundays and we got skiers and riders to turn out and that's where the teams really start to meet up," Hightower said.

"It definitely helps to go to some ski conditioning classes if you can find them somewhere because these are 5 foot plus jumps and it’s good to have solid legs underneath you," said Bart Slaney.

Slaney, another skier competing, has been racing for four years. He says it’s the excitement that brings him back every year.

"You still get the jitters a little bit just because it’s an adrenaline rush and you know there’s so many uncontrollable things that can happen and it’s just fun," Slaney said.

The event is also a fundraiser. The money people paid for parking will be donated to an organization called Human Therapy on Horseback.

Plans for downtown Whitefish hotel in final stages

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 4:29 PM Jan 23 2015   UPDATED: 11:26 PM Jan 23 2015

Plans for downtown Whitefish hotel in final stages

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Developers in Whitefish have released designs to a newly proposed hotel in downtown Whitefish.

The Whitefish Planning Board already gave the OK, and they will make a recommendation to the city council to approve it.

If the city does approve it, the $10 million, three-story hotel will be built across the street from Whitefish Middle School on the corner of Spokane Avenue and Second Street.

“I think it’s good that we’re going to have another hotel in downtown Whitefish. We really only have one,” said Whitefish business employee Lynnette Ludviksen.

Right now, the area is a parking lot. If approved, the hotel would replace the parking lot.

"It will be great for the downtown area. It’s disappointing that it’s going in on a lot that most of the employees who work downtown use for parking," Ludviksen said.

Ludviksen said some businesses are worried they will be faced with parking far away, and take up residential street parking.

"If you’re visiting family, there’s not going to be enough parking," said Whitefish business owner Cheryl Watkins.

Developers plan to shuttle hotel employees so they won’t be taking up public parking spots. But it’s not just the parking that worries Watkins.

"I’m surprised somebody hasn't been killed at that intersection. People don't stop," Watkins said.

She’s talking about the intersection of Spokane Avenue and Third Street. There is no stop light.

"How are you going to get cars in and out at that intersection if they’re checking into that hotel and they don't have any way of getting in and out," Watkins said.

"I think we need more traffic lights and more left turn lanes because in the summertime you can’t make a left turn, you cannot find a parking place,” Ludviksen said.

Developers say they feel the new hotel will be a great thing for Whitefish; it will bring in more people and business to town. Putting the parking issues aside, local businesses agree.

"People who stay downtown shop downtown. If they're staying in Kalispell they're less likely to come to Whitefish to shop," Ludviksen said.

"I do not object to somebody putting in a business. I think competition is fairly good for people. You really have to up it on every level to stay in business," Watkins said.

The city council will make its decision at an upcoming meeting. If approved, the site will go through an architectural review to finalize the design.

New ordinance requires pawn shops to submit records electronically

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 4:23 PM Jan 22 2015   UPDATED: 11:25 PM Jan 22 2015

New ordinance requires pawn shops to submit records electronically

KALISPELL, Mont. -

The City of Kalispell passed a new ordinance that requires every pawn shop to submit electronic inventory reports to the Kalispell Police Department. Police say the change will help them more easily track thieves and stolen items.

The old ordinance required shops submit handwritten records every week. But, that rule was never enforced.

Now, the stores will use a system called Leads Online. Pawn shop workers have to file every time they buy something worth $50 or more. They have to fill in information about the seller, like name and address.

The ordinance will also apply to jewelry stores that buy jewelry from people.  

"It’s going to make it easy for us to search for stolen items, search for individuals who we think might be suspects in thefts, to see if they're pawning items at the different pawn shops," said Kalispell Police Captain Scott Warnell.

First National Pawn has been voluntarily submitting records electronically for the past two years. They chose to do it to help the police track stolen items.

"It really helps them a lot with being able to just sit at their desk rather than wasting their manpower going from shop to shop," said First National Pawn General Manager Matt Moore.

Officials say it’s worked. Kalispell police say they have been able to track more than $100,000 in stolen items from the locations that use the database.

“We have no problems doing it at all,” Moore said.

Anytime an item is pawned or sold, information gets uploaded into the Leads Online database -- information like the seller's name, address, phone number, driver's license number and a description of the item.

"Immediately upon suspect of an item being stolen, I get an email that goes directly to my computer or my phone and I can instantly tell whether or not an item's stolen or not and an officer emails me and says 'Please hold it,'" Moore said.

Some Kalispell pawn shop workers think inputting all that personal information into a database is not a good idea.

"I think it’s an invasion of privacy for some of our customers," said pawn broker Scott Alsbury, from Anything Pawn.

Alsbury says he thinks the new ordinance is going to drive some of his customers away.

"Some of our customers wouldn't want their friends to know that they had to borrow money from the pawn shop. I think they feel they aren't doing as successful in their life as they have wanted to," said Alsbury.

Alsbury is also worried that inputting personal information online isn’t safe.

"Everybody’s stuff is on an online database then, which could be hacked or could be used for whatever purposes," he said.

For those at First National Pawn who have been using Leads Online, they say it’s a safe and quick process.

“Literally, it takes less than five minutes at the end of the day,” Moore said.

None of the pawn shops have to pay for the program. The Kalispell Police Department pays a yearly subscription to use Leads Online.

New Polson hotel to be completed this summer

LAKE COUNTY

POSTED: 5:00 PM Jan 21 2015   UPDATED: 11:51 PM Jan 21 2015

New Polson hotel to be completed this summer

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Construction is underway for a project to build a new Red Lion Hotel in Polson.

The three-story, 80-room hotel will also have a Mackenzie River Pub & Grill attached to it. It’s being built on Ridgewater Drive and Highway 93.

News of a new hotel being built in town came as a surprise to many Polson residents.

"My initial thought was I just didn't believe it because the KwaTaqNuk is a big hotel and then we have three other motels and Ronan's got a motel, so I just assumed that it was people talking," said Polson resident Eric Donovan.

But Donovan quickly learned they’re not rumors. Construction has already started. The hotel and attached restaurant are expected to create over 40 new full-time jobs.

“I’m believing it now, there’s a Red Lion coming in,” Donovan said.

The Montana Community Development Corporation gave $11.4 million to the project, through a special program that helps bring the cost of development down.

This kind of program has paid off before in Lake County -- the Mission Valley Aquatics Center is proof. Managers say the project ran out of money until the Montana Community Development Corporation stepped in.

"Tax credits came in with the Montana Community Development program and really helped us to secure that last bit of funding," said Aquatics Director Ali Bronsdon.

Donovan thinks projects like these are being funded to bring more business to town, especially during the slower months.

“That’s what corporate America would be looking at when you have six or seven corporate stores come in, they’re banking on, down the road, this area growing," Donovan said.

Even though Donovan likes his hometown just the way it is, he believes this project is a bonus for Polson.

"I’m not a pro-development, pro-building kind of person, but I know change is inevitable," he said.

Construction for the hotel is expected to be completed this summer.

Flathead hospitals see increased number of falls due to icy roads

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 5:11 PM Jan 20 2015   UPDATED: 11:09 PM Jan 20 2015

Flathead hospitals see increased number of falls due to icy roads

KALISPELL, Mont. -

The cold weather is causing snowmelt to re-freeze overnight, making side roads in the Flathead slick and icy.

Flathead hospitals say they are seeing an increased number of emergency room visits because of people slipping and falling.

“It’s pretty slippery out here,” said Kalispell resident Diane Groves.

NBC Montana found Groves walking around a neighborhood in downtown Kalispell. She says it’s the first time she’s been out all winter.

"I’m literally forcing myself to get some fresh air because I figured it would be a lot healthier than just staying in the house all the time. But, boy if you have bad hips or bones or anything I’m not so sure it’s a good idea to do that," Groves said.

That’s because snow and ice are melting, then when it freezes at night, sidewalks and roads become dangerously slick. It’s not just dangerous for drivers.

Both Flathead hospitals agree -- they are seeing more people come into the emergency room from slipping and falling.

"Lots of falls; our census over the last month was up 10 percent, I believe, just from the falls. I’ve had a couple of staff that have fallen. One had to have surgery on her shoulder. It happens so quickly," said Mary Mae Stubbs, Kalispell Regional Medical Center emergency services director.

People are falling in parking lots, in their driveways and on the sidewalks.

"You can hurt your ankle, your hip. You know, hips are a big one for the elderly," Stubbs said.

"You got to really watch out for black ice, even when you’re walking," said Groves.

Doctors are recommending people wear shoes or boots with good traction or get ice grippers that fit on your shoes to give you extra support.

"I use those just to go from the house to the garage," Groves said.

"I think the more present you are when you’re walking the better off you are because you’ll notice that ice," said Stubbs.

Groves just hopes her first time out won’t be her last.

"[I’m] just hoping I make it home without a broken leg or hip," she said.

There have also been several reports of cars spinning out into snow banks, so folks are urged to be careful out there.

Whitefish brewery cancels event after city denies permit

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 3:37 PM Jan 17 2015   UPDATED: 8:12 PM Jan 18 2015

Whitefish brewery cancels event after city denies permit

KALISPELL, Mont. -

For the second year in a row, a Whitefish brewery has been denied a permit to host an event during Winter Carnival.

The Great Northern Brewery wanted to try something different this year, but managers say the couldn’t come to terms with the city on insurance and liability coverage.

"The Beer Barter was a fantastic event for us for many years and it had run its course and we decided, let’s keep things fresh. Let’s keep in partnership with Whitefish Mountain Resort and come up with a rail jam downtown during Winter Carnival," said Great Northern Brewery Manager, Marcus Duffey.

But, the rail jam won’t happen. Duffey says the city wouldn’t approve the permit for them to host the event, which is what scuttled the brewery’s Beer Barter last year.

"There was the understanding or the belief that we perpetuated open container and had failed to respect the laws to bring that back and keep it harnessed," Duffey said.

In an email to Duffey, City Manager Chuck Stearns said the brewery was “in the penalty box for non-compliance in past events.”

The city wanted the brewery to sign an indemnification, which means they would have to compensate for damages or injury.

"We could not come to terms with the city on that language in the indemnification. We believed, and our attorneys believed, and our insurance provider believed it was far too broad leaving us liable for anything and everything that may occur in the City of Whitefish on February 7th," Duffey said.

The indemnification said the brewery had to agree that they hold the city “harmless from any and all claims, costs and liability of every kind of nature,”

"We don't believe we should be responsible for anything and everything in the City of Whitefish. We should be responsible for what happens within our event permitted area," said Duffey.

The city was also worried about making taxpayers liable for the risks that come with the event.

"I think the risk is greater to the taxpayer when you get bureaucratic overreach, like this, and events like this are shut down and the fun and spirit of Whitefish is lost," Duffey said.

The brewery says they tried to communicated with the city last year to avoid the same problem this year.

"We thought we had done that properly. We had positive communication with several city officials and then ultimately got the denial back from the city manager," Duffey said.

But, Duffey says this will not stop brewery goers from having fun during Winter Carnival.

“Regardless of the rail jam or not were going to have one heck of a party," he said.

The brewery says they do not intend to appeal the decision. But, they will push for the event permit again next year.

Updated ordinance could eliminate rabies vaccination requirement

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 5:12 PM Jan 16 2015   UPDATED: 11:16 PM Jan 16 2015

Updated ordinance could eliminate rabies vaccination requirement

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Flathead County Commissioners are proposing changes to current dog licensing rules that have some people concerned. They want to get rid of the rabies vaccination requirement.

The current ordinance says before a dog can be licensed the owner must present a certificate from a veterinarian saying the dog has a current rabies vaccination.

There is currently no state law that requires dogs to have a rabies vaccination in order to get licensed. The state law does allow counties to mandate dog licensing.

That’s why county commissioners are questioning whether they can enforce a rabies vaccination requirement in order for dog owners to obtain a dog license.

“From a public health perspective it’s a little scary," said Flathead County Animal Shelter Director Cliff Bennett.

Bennett and other health officials are worried.

"We would like to see people have the incentive to keep their animals vaccinated. We don't need them in here and we don't need the fees that we collect on that," Bennett said.

But county officials say they have no authority to enforce it.

“The issue arises because the state has not authorized the county, or in other ways enacted a statute that requires a rabies vaccine," said Flathead County Deputy Attorney David Randall.

That’s why the county wants to update the current ordinance.

"The Flathead County Attorney's Office was originally tasked with bringing the dog ordinance into compliance with Montana code, and basically that's what our office did," Randall said.

Montana code says you can require licensing, you can control vicious dogs and dogs running at large. But it doesn’t say you can require a rabies vaccination in order to get a license.

"We get dogs in here who have bitten people and cannot show a rabies currency and they have to be quarantined for 10 days," said Bennett.

Last year there were more than 100 possible cases of human exposure to rabies.

Bennett isn’t sure why the ordinance is being questioned.

"It is done in other communities in Montana without being impuned," Bennett said.

"To my knowledge there has not been any legal implications of enforcing a rabies vaccine requirement attached with licensing as it has been done previously," Randall said.

Randall says there is some value in changing the current ordinance.

"By bringing our ordinance into compliance with Montana state statute, we run less of a risk of having the ordinance challenged," said Randall.

Bennett says if there is no true consequence, it is important to keep people and dogs safe.

"I’d like to think that we can find a way to please everyone and keep requirements for rabies vaccinations going," said Bennett.

No official decision has been made yet. There will be a second reading of the ordinance and opportunity for public comment on January 28.

Plan proposed to solve parking congestion near Flathead High

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 6:04 PM Jan 15 2015   UPDATED: 11:50 PM Jan 15 2015

Plan proposed to solve parking congestion near Flathead High

KALISPELL, Mont. -

After years of debate, Kalispell’s planning board came up with a solution members will hope solve parking problems around Flathead High School.

Residents say they can’t park in front of their own houses because students take up all the spaces. The solution calls for a residential parking district.

Residents on a four-block stretch of Third Ave West must buy and display a permit to park on the street. The same rules could apply to a one block stretch of Fourth Ave West, between Eighth and Ninth Street.

"We need to just have the kind of quality of life that everybody else has and gets to go home to," said Kalispell resident Marta Moore.

Moore has lived one block from the high school for seven years. She always noticed the parking congestion around her house.

"Not everyone works an 8 to 5 [job] and gets to come home and the streets look normal. There’s a lot of people like me and the next-door neighbors, they work a night shift. They’re emergency room nurses. You know, you come back at 8 o'clock and you’re hosed every day," Moore said.

That’s why Moore says she’s happy after all these years a plan has finally been proposed.

"I think it's a step in the right direction. This is what has been needed for years and years and years," she said.

"We worked with avenues because most of the houses fronted on avenues. Streets in this neighborhood are still open to public parking," said Tom Jentz, of Kalispell City Planning.

Residents will have to buy a permit which could cost anywhere between $15 and $80 a year. The city says it will cost them around $5,000 to put up permit signs. They hope to use money from parking violations to help fund administration of the program.

Moore says by only restricting avenues, that only fixes half the problem. She says the streets, which run east and west, are also problem areas.

"The roads are really quite congested. You can’t even get city buses through Sixth Street. At times you can’t get dump trucks. It’s really hard to back out blindly onto the road, so those need to be addressed," Moore said.

"You had School District 5 and representatives from the neighborhood both saying there are things in here, we didn't get what we wanted for our respective sides, but we can live with it. It’s a compromise. It's a starting point," Jentz said.

Flathead High School and Elrod Elementary have agreed to find a way to add between 50 and 55 parking spaces.

Jentz says the plan can be amended in the future. Blocks can be added or eliminated if 75 percent of residents on that block petition.

The plan is not official yet. The city council has the final say. If the plan is approved, it will go into effect at the beginning of the school year in the fall.

WINGS radiothon raises money for cancer patients

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 6:14 PM Jan 15 2015   UPDATED: 7:04 PM Jan 15 2015
WINGS radiothon raises money for cancer patients
KALISPELL, Mont. -

WINGS Regional Cancer Support is hosting its 19th annual radiothon in Kalispell. It’s the only fundraiser for the nonprofit organization.

The organization raises money to help cover transportation costs for people with cancer in Flathead, Lake and Lincoln counties.

Last year, the radiothon helped raise $80,000. The organization hopes to raise that much, if not more, this year.

The event will continue on Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

People can bring in donations to the Sportsman Ski Haus in Kalispell, or make a pledge by calling 257-WING (9464).

Flathead scam alert could be misunderstanding

FLATHEAD COUNTY

POSTED: 6:20 PM Jan 14 2015   UPDATED: 6:16 PM Jan 14 2015

Flathead scam alert could be misunderstanding

KALISPELL, Mont. -

NBC Montana followed up after the Kalispell Police Department warned people last week about a possible scam.

It all started with reports of people going door to door, reportedly claiming to be raising money for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and the Boys and Girls Club.

Kalispell police said neither charity had approved the fundraising, but now the people who did it say they’re legitimate and it’s all a big misunderstanding.

Police issued the possible scam alert last Friday, after talking to charities who said they had never heard of Montana Community Partners.

The two partners were picked up Friday night, and say they showed officers what they showed NBC Montana -- “for profit” state business and IRS registration numbers.

"We didn't realize we were going to be creating that mass confusion and we definitely weren't intending on misleading anybody or deceiving anybody in any way," said Casey Hilde, a partner with Montana Community Partners.

Montana Community Partners claim they were going door to door to collect money for a magic show, for people who cannot afford entertainment.

"Maybe the families don't have a lot of recreational dollars and we thought this would be a great kick-start campaign so that we can gain some recognition for Montana Community Partners," said Richard Bisbee.

The two showed NBC Montana an invoice, which they say is proof they booked a magician for $636, from a company called Philip & Henry.

Problems started when someone complained the partners might be running a scam.

"When we get a call about a possible scam, we try to contact the people who are involved in the fundraising and try to check out who they are, who they're affiliated with, what credentials they have," said Kalispell Police Administrative Captain Wade Rademacher.

Police found out the charities the partners mentioned, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Club, weren’t associated with them. That’s what prompted the warning.

Montana Community Partners say they weren’t raising money for the two charities, but rather had hoped to use those organizations as a venue for a magic show.

"We were in belief that we had an equally excited party about this magic show as far as the venue goes. However we weren't exactly on the same page as them," Bisbee said.

While no charges have been filed, Kalispell police still offer a general warning.

"People should research who they're giving money to. If you go online you can look up the organization and see where they give their money," Rademacher said.

They are keeping a close eye on this one, but Montana Community Partners isn’t worried.

"It doesn't hurt our feelings. It definitely gives us more motivation because what we're doing is a whole-heartedly good thing," Bisbee said.

Montana Community Partners formed their LLP around one month ago. They say this is the first of many events they want to put on for the community.