Alli Friedman

KCFW Reporter

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

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

USAF Thunderbirds take flight in Kalispell


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 5:49 PM Aug 30 2014   UPDATED: 10:47 PM Aug 30 2014

USAF Thunderbirds take flight in Kalispell


It’s the first air show in nine years and the first time the USAF Thunderbirds will perform. The Mountain Madness Airshow is finally here. It’s a two day event happening at Glacier Park International Airport.

About 30,000 people are expected to be in attendance in the two days. It’s been in the works for nearly 10 months.

Between hotel rentals, people eating in restaurants and retail sales, the event will likely bring in between $3 and $4 million for businesses in the Flathead.

People from all over, including Canada, Washington, Idaho and cities across Montana have come to the Flathead to see the Thunderbirds perform.

NBC Montana found out it took a lot to get the Thunderbirds here.

"They are one of three performance teams to get in an air show. We had to compete and show our worthiness to get them here so it means a lot,” said public affairs officer, Courtenay Sprunger.

Several committees met for months to put the event together.

 "They put together everything from fencing, to ticket sales, to concessions," Sprunger said.

Sprunger says the work paid off.

"There are 1,000 eight hour volunteer shifts that are filled over two days. So that's 500 volunteers a day who are here giving their time to make this event possible," Sprunger said.

Also in attendance were private plane owners like Ivy Mciver. She was showing off her turbo charged aircraft that reaches up to 25,000 feet. She says she loves showing it off.

 “It’s really special to be here with all these other planes and just sharing aviation with other people who might normally get to the airport and take a look,” Mciver said.

Mciver also says she wants to generate interest about aviation. She claims it’s a shrinking industry and hopes the air show will break that trend.

"It sparks a little bit of enthusiasm for people who might not aviators. When they get in the plane they think ‘oh it’s like my car’ and if at the end of the day one or two people leave this show after looking at this plane and think, maybe I’d like to learn how to fly that's absolutely rewarding," Mciver said.

Mciver also says it’s about sharing the experience with both pilots and non-pilots.

The last day for the air show is Sunday, August 31st.



Decoy squad car helps reduce traffic speed in Lakeside


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 6:14 PM Aug 29 2014   UPDATED: 11:19 PM Aug 29 2014

Decoy squad car helps reduce traffic speed in Lakeside


If you are driving along Flathead’s west shore, it is likely you’ll notice what looks like a speed trap in Lakeside.

Lakeside is located on Highway 93, south of Kalispell.

Residents say a decoy officer is helping keep drivers in line. The apparent patrol car sits behind a few bushes.

Lakeside resident Shannon Farmer always noticed a speeding problem.

“Coming down this hill at 70 or 80 miles an hour is a regular thing,” Farmer said.

However, the speed limit is 45 miles per hour.

Farmer knew something needed to be done, so he bought a security car off eBay for $2,000. He thought it would be a good decoy to get people to slow down. Farmer then purchased a dummy from an auction for $250. He dressed it, named it “Doug,” and made it look life-like. He says it works every time.

“With that patrol car there, unless it is someone local that’s used to it, they hit their brakes pretty quick,” Farmer said.

Law enforcement officials don’t mind it.

“We obviously think it’s a good idea. Anything that can help us slow people down, obey the traffic laws, do the speed limit, it’s a great thing,” said Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.

"Highway Patrol has told me in the past they appreciate it. They used to sit down here quite a bit and they don't have to patrol this a whole lot anymore," Farmer said.

It looks real and it acts as a real patrol car. NBC Montana spent time in the area and saw people heading north and south on the highway slam on their brakes when they see the car.

“I even slow down when I see it,” Curry said.

The car has real radar. Farmer also says he keeps the parking lights and radio on at night, making it seem real.

"It works. People -- when they see a law enforcement car looking like its running radar -- they lift their foot of the gas," Curry said.

This isn’t the only decoy patrol car. Another Lakeside resident purchased an old black and white and put a dummy in the driver seat. Fundraisers for that car helped fund new flashing speed limit signs in Lakeside, which sit across the street from “Officer Doug.”

"I figured it has saved a few accidents and maybe a few lives in the last couple years," Farmer said.

Farmer’s experiment is catching on. People in Bigfork want some of their own, making more heads turn.

Flathead Co. proposes new tax to fund 911 dispatch center


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 5:49 PM Aug 27 2014   UPDATED: 11:10 PM Aug 27 2014

Flathead Co. proposes new tax to fund 911 dispatch center


Flathead County Commissioners are proposing a special tax district to provide long-term funding for the Flathead Emergency Communications Center.

Residential property owners might have to pay $25 a year, and it would be $50 a year for commercial properties.

Estimates say it would bring in $1.9 million a year for the center.

Right now, the county pays a flat fee and the cities pay based on their population. None of the current funding pays for capital improvements, like equipment.

The center was built on a $6.9 million bond, but they need more money for equipment. They can’t pay for maintaining communication towers.

“They have some fairly high expenditure costs for some of those tower replacements and tower maintenance,” said Kalispell City Manager Doug Russell.

That’s why the county is proposing a communication district that will include a new tax for residents. But, once a district exists, residents fear it will exist forever.

“It’s never cut and dry. So, if they need money for one thing, they should raise money for one thing and be done with it. Then, two or three years later if they need money again, do it again. Taxes, when you institute a tax it never goes away,” said Bigfork resident David Gaines.

Long-term funding has been in the works since the center was built five years ago.

“I think this is just an answer that everyone seems to really be behind to provide that long-term mechanism,” Russell said.

Some residents agree and say no matter what, they will pay the tax, especially if it means clear communication between law enforcement during emergency situations. Others disagree and don’t think the tax is necessary.

“If they keep doing a levy and another levy, I’m fortunate enough that I am still in my working years and I can make money and pay those things. But I know people that an extra $20 a year is a hardship,” Gaines said.

Ultimately it will be up to voters. The measure for the communication district and possible tax will be put on the November ballot.

Bigfork woman charged for hosting commercial weddings


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 5:25 PM Aug 26 2014   UPDATED: 7:17 AM Aug 27 2014

Bigfork woman charged for hosting commercial weddings


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


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 3:21 PM Aug 24 2014
Lakeside businesses continue to grow

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


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 5:20 PM Aug 21 2014   UPDATED: 10:42 PM Aug 21 2014

Megaload arrives in Flathead Valley


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


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 9:46 AM Aug 21 2014   UPDATED: 5:56 PM Aug 21 2014
House Speaker John Boehner visits Whitefish for fundraiser

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


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 6:12 PM Aug 20 2014   UPDATED: 12:01 AM Aug 21 2014

FVCC launches online manufacturing certificate program


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


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
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


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


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 5:40 PM Aug 15 2014   UPDATED: 7:13 PM Aug 15 2014

Whitefish bicyclist dies after being hit by car


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


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 4:11 PM Aug 14 2014   UPDATED: 9:07 PM Aug 14 2014

Flathead Co. Sheriff's Posse begins recruiting process


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


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 4:38 PM Aug 13 2014   UPDATED: 11:02 PM Aug 13 2014

Megaload to pass through Flathead raises concerns


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


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 4:43 PM Aug 12 2014   UPDATED: 11:30 PM Aug 12 2014

Flathead residents speak out on trash 'super site' proposal


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


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 3:20 PM Aug 09 2014   UPDATED: 10:50 PM Aug 10 2014

Demand for farmer's markets on the rise


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


alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter,
POSTED: 4:16 PM Aug 08 2014   UPDATED: 11:27 PM Aug 08 2014

Residents concerned about dangerous Kalispell intersection


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.