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

FVCC receives grant from NASA for climate change research

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 2:40 PM Sep 27 2014   UPDATED: 9:49 AM Sep 29 2014

FVCC receives grant from NASA for climate change research

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Students at Flathead Valley Community College have a chance to help NASA monitor climate change.

This comes with a $750,000 NASA grant awarded to Montana State University. MSU is sending some of that money to the Flathead, where FVCC will use it to build a new optics lab.

The lab will be used to build a special instrument called a polarimeter. It measures polarization of light, like the glare that comes off a lake.

The devices look up into the sky and with polarization it can determine aerosol contents in the sky, and measure water and ice contents in the clouds. That information is used to monitor climate change.

This won't just be a big help to MSU and NASA. It’s also a great opportunity for students and faculty at FVCC.

$20,000 is the amount Montana State donated to the community college.

"Even though from their point of view it’s not very much money, from our point of view its huge because we started with almost no optical experiments to being able to do quite a few optical experiments," said FVCC physics instructor, Jim Boger.

Boger says it’s an honor to be recognized by MSU. He thinks it’s great to see them support smaller schools.

"They've gotten very good students from FVCC and so they wanted to find a way to support fvcc," he said.

In other words, it's an investment.

"Montana State, they think well if we can get students involved even earlier it’s a really good thing. That way they don't have to train students as much they're more ready to go into the labs to work," Boger said.

At least three students are already working on optical experiments and by spring more will join.

"This semester I’m probably going to be doing mostly the researching it and fiddling around with it....next semester we'll be working on the actual building of the polarimeter," said FVCC student, Audrey Jones.

The four or five students that will be building these polarimeters will take them to schools across the state to teach others how to use them.

"As they learn to build something and they learn about the optical science, then they're able to go do internships at Montana State," Boger said.

Audrey Jones is a physics student at the college who says it’s wonderful to see a small school have such big opportunities.

"It means a lot to me. It’s nice to have these kinds of opportunities as students. It’s nice to see the school have these kinds of opportunities as far as programs go,” Jones said.

Professor Boger says it’s about the opportunities now that benefit students later.

“In the past we’ve had great success where students have gone from FVCC to Montana State. They’ve done internships with Montana State and then they’ve done internships with NASA,” Boger said.

Students are currently doing optical experiments with equipment the college already has. They will spend most the spring semester getting the polarimeters built and working.

Texas man pleads not guilty to charges after firing gun in Glacier

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 4:56 PM Sep 26 2014   UPDATED: 11:14 PM Sep 26 2014

Texas man pleads not guilty to charges after firing gun in Glacier

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A 57-year-old Texas man pleaded not guilty to firing a gun in Glacier National Park

Brian Murphy claims he had to shoot to stop a bear attack. It happened on the Mount Brown Lookout trail in Glacier National Park. Murphy claims he was hiking when a bear got within 15 to 25 feet. He says he tried bear spray, but it didn’t work, so he fired one shot from his gun.

State law lets you carry a firearm with a permit, but federal laws say you cannot shoot it in a national park.

Murphy now faces a misdemeanor charge. He did not make the trip from Texas for his first court hearing in West Glacier, but his attorney entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

The attorney says his client was in fear for his life and was sure the bear would have attacked him.

Glacier National Park wouldn’t comment on the firearm law, so NBC Montana asked officials at Yellowstone National Park, a place with the same laws.

“It is against the law to discharge a firearm in a national park," said Yellowstone National Park public affairs officer Al Nash.

As of February 2010, a new federal law made possession of guns in national parks subject to local and state gun laws. In Montana, you can carry, but in national parks you cannot fire it because park officials say it can be mistaken for hunting.

"It really is simple. You’re not allowed to hunt. Therefore, you can’t discharge a firearm because that might be considered to be hunting," Nash said.

Murphy says he was wearing bear bells and sprayed bear deterrent, but he says that didn't work.

NBC Montana spoke to several visitors in the park and asked them what they thought of the situation. Most of the responses indicated others would have done the same thing.

"If I were him and I had a gun on me and it was loaded, I would -- to protect myself, if the bear spray didn’t work -- I would have probably done the same thing," said Glacier National Park visitor Katie Cannarella.

"It’s my opinion that there is no animal’s life that's worth greater than a human life and you have the right to defend yourself whether you’re in your home or in someone else's home," said Glacier National Park visitor Darrell Ruth.

Some disagree and say, no matter what, it shouldn't have happened.

"You shouldn't be shooting them. The park is for people to see things not to shoot them. If you want to shoot go on a hunting trip," said Kalispell resident Fred Flansburg.

"We advocate that anyone who goes into bear country carry bear spray. Our own law enforcement rangers who are authorized to carry firearms carry bear spray in case they have an encounter with a bear," Nash said.

The judge accepted the not guilty plea. A trial date has been set for October 24 in a Great Falls federal court.

24-hour construction set to begin in Whitefish

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:01 PM Sep 25 2014   UPDATED: 11:19 PM Sep 25 2014

24-hour construction set to begin in Whitefish

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Crews working on a $10.2-million construction project in Whitefish are beginning what they call a milestone period.

Workers are building sidewalks, bike paths, and adding water and sewage systems. They will begin working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on a section of Highway 93 north of Whitefish. The section is from the entrance to the Whitefish Lake Golf Club to Fairway Drive, which is near the entrance to the Grouse Mountain Lodge.

Even though it was always the plan to accelerate construction to around the clock, residents have concerns.

“I’m really ticked off at the construction," said Whitefish resident Wes Flannery.

Flannery lives on the highway and he says he is sick of the noise.

"They’re always running vibrators. They’re out here with the excavators, tearing up the old pavement. They're constantly digging. I mean the noise is terrible," Flannery said.

It was always in the plan to increase the hours of construction. Construction managers say it was the local businesses that picked the time frame for it.

“Grouse Mountain and the golf course negotiated that with the state prior to the project, to help alleviate interference with business and do it more in the off-season, when they’re not as busy," said Marc Blanden, from Schellinger Construction Company.

Flannery says he had no say. "99.9 percent of these people are sleeping, so they would be dealing with it and be totally knocked out of oblivion. I mean there’s going to be major complaints if they go to 24 hours," he said.

Flannery says he doesn’t think it is fair that the businesses picked the time to do it and he didn’t.

"I’ve got kids. They're going to have to deal with it. We've got all these kids going to school and lack of sleep, what’s that do for you? Unprepared,” Flannery said.

Grouse Mountain Lodge and the golf course told NBC Montana they wanted to do it when the tourism season slowed down.

Grouse Mountain Lodge plans to put people only on the south side of the building, to avoid the noise. The manager of the golf course says he doesn’t mind the increased hours because nobody will be golfing at night.

The hours are increased to ensure maximum progression on the project. They only have a short period of time to get the section of highway completed.

"We're allowed 40 days. If we don't complete the work in 40 days, there’s a disincentive for every day that we go past that," Blanden said.

If it is not completed in 40 days, the construction company will be charged $3,500 for every additional day.

The 24-hour construction period will start on October 1 and last until November 10. The entire project was allotted 210 work days, which puts the finish date around July of next year, including a winter shutdown.

Levy for EMS services put on November ballot

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 4:54 PM Sep 24 2014   UPDATED: 11:15 PM Sep 24 2014

Levy for EMS services put on November ballot

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Kalispell residents face another tax hike to fund emergency services. Kalispell Fire Chief Dave Dedman says he's short-staffed and needs new equipment.

There are currently 28 EMS personnel, but Dedman says that’s not enough because 911 calls have increased 11 percent over the last year. The city doesn't have room in their budget to pay for it, so they're proposing a mill levy that would put aside $736,000 a year.

"There’s a definite shortcoming in the funding for EMS services," said Dedman.

He says the department needs more money and more people.

"Just last year we had 143 calls for service get dispatched to an outside agency, because all of our crews were already assigned to another incident; out of which, approximately 96 of those turned out to be transports," Dedman said.

The levy would bring in four new EMS staff members and a fourth ambulance. Dedman says the other three ambulances are out-of-date.

"On a national average they have a seven-year rotation just because of the nature of the business that they're in. Currently, all of our apparatuses are past that mark. They're high mileage and very well used," said Dedman.

The tax will be between $24 and $48 annually, depending on the value of a home.

Kalispell City Manager Doug Russell says he looked at several other options, like combining different emergency departments, or privatizing EMS services. But the city felt the levy was the best option.

Several Kalispell residents told NBC Montana they don’t mind the tax because it goes toward a service that saves lives. Others say no matter what it’s for, they don't want to be taxed.

"I don't think an increase in the tax is a good idea," said Kalispell resident John Battle.

Battle says he has friends who are EMS personnel and they never seem busy. He feels that if they have time to clean their trucks, they don't need more staff.

"The equipment I see looks top-notch, well-maintained. They're out there washing them every day and they have the time to do," Battle said.

"My strategy for this was just to have an overall stability. We're talking about emergency services here, and you want that service to be a stable service, that way you know it’s there when you need it," said Dedman.

This isn’t the first tax being put on the fall ballot to fund emergency services. There is another district tax, county-wide, that would provide long-term funding for the Flathead 911 dispatch center.

That tax hopes to bring in $1.9 million a year, charging residential property owners $25 annually and $50 for commercial properties.

Both levies have no cap but the EMS levy will be evaluated in 10 years.

Residents will vote on both levies on the November ballot.

Proposed ordinance requires pawn shops to submit records electronically

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:50 PM Sep 23 2014   UPDATED: 10:59 PM Sep 23 2014

Proposed ordinance requires pawn shops to submit records electronically

KALISPELL, Mont. -

The Kalispell Police Department wants to change city laws to require every pawn shop to submit inventory reports to the city electronically. It is an effort to track thieves who try to sell stolen property.

The current city ordinance only requires shops submit handwritten records. Kalispell Police Chief Roger Nasset says he won’t force pawn shops to do that, because it is not efficient. Instead, he is pushing for the mandated use of an online system.

First National Pawn Shop is the only pawn shop in Kalispell that voluntarily submits its inventory records to police electronically.

“Back in the day, pawn shops almost had a dark connection to a criminal element, and we want to make sure people know that we don't want to have any part of that. We want to be a legal operation," said First National Pawn employee Mike Ovik.

The shop started using the program Leads Online two years ago when the police started using it.

Nasset says he has proof that it works.

"We've recovered guns, we've recovered jewelry and many other items. We've identified suspects with Leads Online, so we figured this is a valuable tool. Now, we're going forward, take the next step and approach council with an ordinance that would actually mandate it," said Nasset.

Nasset says the city doesn’t have time to go through handwritten receipts, which pawn shops are required to submit daily.

"We're not, on a daily basis, requiring them to submit their reports, just because it wouldn't make any sense. We don't have the man hours to do anything with it," Nasset said.

Nasset wants a new ordinance that would mandate the use of the electronic system. Some aren’t happy about it.

One pawn shop owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, says she isn’t required to submit any documents right now. She also tells NBC Montana that she is against the proposed ordinance because it would make more work for her.

Ovik at First National Pawn explains it doesn’t take much time to get a day's worth of reports in.

“We click a few buttons on the computer and it probably only takes a matter of minutes," he said.

Nasset says it is not about making things more difficult, but better protecting victims of theft.

"We feel bad because we often tell the victims ‘Go search for your stuff at the pawn shops,’ because we don't have the resources to do that. This is going to help us provide a better service to them," Nasset said.

Nasset plans to address the city council with his proposed ordinance next week. He also hopes it can be used as a model for the entire county.

Hops season in the Flathead comes to a close

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 3:38 PM Sep 20 2014   UPDATED: 10:50 PM Sep 21 2014

Hops season in the Flathead comes to a close

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Local beer in the Flathead could soon taste fresher than ever. That’s thanks to a big hop harvest in the Flathead Valley this year.

Hops are the ingredient that gives beer a bitter, tangy flavor. Because of the big hops crop, and a new machine farmers have brought in to harvest it, local breweries can expect to have plenty of fresh hops to work with.

"There’s going to be more fresh hop ales brewed in the Flathead Valley in northwest Montana than ever before," said Tom Britz, owner of Glacier Hops Ranch near Whitefish.

That is partly because of a new machine, the first commercial hop harvester in the state. It came in pieces and now that it is put together, it is being put to work.

"It’s kind of like combining a Cotton Gin, a corn combine, and a Swather all into one piece of equipment," Britz said.

The hops are fed through a feeder; it then goes through blowers and vacuums to separate the hops’ cones from the leaves and stems.

"Growing it is the easy part. The harvesting and processing is the bottleneck," Britz said.

Britz says he started the hops project only two years ago and never imagined it to grow this fast.

"Over the course of the year we went from 17 varieties that we put in, to adding 23 more. We now have 40 varieties of hops. It’s the largest environmental field test between Yakima, Washington and Michigan," said Britz.

The last of the crop was being harvested on September 20th, 2014. The owner of the Tamarack Brewing Company, in Lakeside, plans to put the hops to good use.

"We'll take a few hundred pounds back today and first thing tomorrow morning they'll end up in our brew kettle," said owner of the Tamarack Brewing Company, Joshua Townsley.

He, along with Britz, says it’s really about experimenting.

"The craft brewers can play with all this stuff to come up with a brew that makes their brew unique and that's what they're trying to do, is be unique for their customers," Britz said.

"We don't have a scientific analysis to it yet so we're going to throw it in and we're going to put as much as we can in there and we'll play with it along its fermentation process. We know it will come out to be a good beer we just don't know what kind of beer exactly," Townsley said.

But, Townsley says it’s really about supporting local.

"Being able to use all local products, Montana water, Montana grain, Montana hops, you know that's what it’s about," Townsley said.

Britz says he wants to expand the acreage next year for crop growing and harvesting. But, he says it can costs between $12,000 and $15,000 an acre to grow the crop.

Sochi Olympic gold medalist makes appearance in the Flathead

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 3:50 PM Sep 20 2014
Sochi Olympic gold medalist makes appearance in the Flathead
KALISPELL, Mont. -

A Sochi Olympic gold medalist made an appearance at the Sportsman & Ski Haus “cruncher sale” in the Flathead.

22-year-old, Joss Christensen won the first ever gold medal in Olympic slopestyle skiing at the Sochi games.

He says he grew up watching Tanner Hall (a Kalispell native) ski and that it’s great to see where his idol grew up.

Christensen says he never thought he would make the Olympics, but says winning the gold medal is an indescribable feeling.

He greeted fans and signed autographs at the “cruncher sale” at the Sportsman & Ski Haus in Kalispell.

He explained to NBC Montana that he never thought his life would end up the way it has and that he would have an impact on people’s lives.

"It’s hard for me to realize how much of an outreach I had after the Olympics and how many people actually watched it. It’s so cool to come up here, it’s my first time in Montana, and for people to come up and recognize me and want to talk to me and hangout its awesome," Christensen said.

Christensen says that the first time, winning a gold medal, was a dream come true. But, he cannot wait to get back to training to have a shot at another gold medal.

Korean War veterans honored in the Flathead

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:26 PM Sep 19 2014
Korean War veterans honored in the Flathead
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Over 30 Korean War veterans were honored, in the Flathead, for their service.

All of the veterans who were honored live at the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls.

The Korean Consulate General, Moon Duk-ho, awarded the veterans, or their surviving spouses, with medals and certificates.

They were each individually thanked for their service.

Korean opera singers took the stage after the ceremony, and a video was also shown remembering those who risked their lives to protect others.

"It's an honor. I think it was an honor to be able to serve. So many of us were just kids out of high school," said Korean War Veteran, Braxton Brown.

"The people that the United States was protecting, they were here honoring them [the veterans] which is wonderful and it was very moving," said Lynette Erickson, daughter of a Korean War veteran.

Among those who spoke at the ceremony was a Columbia Falls city councilman and members of the Montana Veterans Home.

Lawyers want Flathead County Attorney’s Office investigated

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:14 PM Sep 18 2014   UPDATED: 8:31 AM Sep 19 2014

Lawyers want Flathead County Attorney’s Office investigated

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A group of attorneys in the Flathead is asking the Montana Attorney General to investigate the Flathead County Attorney’s office over allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

The three attorneys who filed the complaint are from a Whitefish law office called Quatman & Quatman. They claim members of the Flathead County Attorney’s Office mistreated defendants. The complaint specifically points to County Attorney Ed Corrigan and Deputy County Attorney Kenneth Park, along with members of the Northwest Drug Task Force.

NBC Montana read through the letter and found out where these complaints stem from.

The attorneys say they have seen a pattern of “ethical and criminal violations” from the County Attorney’s office, according to the letter they sent to the state. The attorneys say the letter was sent to seek justice for their clients.

Phyllis Quatman, John Quatman and Tim Baldwin are the attorneys who sent the letter to the state asking them to investigate.

“We were concerned. We saw a pattern and practice from 15 years ago involving Ed Corrigan, it’s continued through Kenneth Park. We talked about all of these different cases, we attached two inches of documents,” Phyllis Quatman said.

The three attorneys claim their clients are being intimidated because of their affiliations and actions.

“If you’re an attorney, a defense attorney, who fights back, who files motions, who takes cases to trial, who objects, the pattern of practice has been that the County Attorney’s office really comes down harder on your clients,” Phyllis Quatman said.

NBC Montana found Ed Corrigan in the courtroom to see if he had anything to say. He says he has not received any of the documents and that is why he cant comment.

Quatman claims she’s seen mistreatment in her own clients and the clients of her colleagues.

“They’re being forced into pleas that they shouldn’t be pleading guilty to. Cases are getting dismissed for lack of evidence,” she said.

She mentions one specific instance. According to court documents, a man named Cory Franklin was charged for distributing drugs. His wife, Kristina was an informant for the Northwest Drug Task Force. She allegedly recorded a phone conversation with another drug task force member, without his knowledge.

In the documents, Franklin claims he advised her to fire Tim Baldwin as their attorney, or nothing will go well for her husband, Cory Franklin.

"What’s happening to our clients, what’s happening to the accused in Flathead County is appalling," Quatman said.

Again, Ed Corrigan says he has not received any of the paperwork and that is why he is unable to comment at this time.

The three attorneys say that because they have not heard back from the Montana Attorney General’s office about investigating, they will send the letter to Governor Bullock and the ACLU.

There is still no confirmation from the state as to whether or not this investigation will continue.

Yard sale raises money for doctors who volunteer time in foreign countries

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:15 PM Sep 17 2014   UPDATED: 11:30 PM Sep 17 2014

Yard sale raises money for doctors who volunteer time in foreign countries

KALISPELL, Mont. -

President Barack Obama is referring to the Ebola outbreak as a potential threat to global security.

One organization has sent thousands of volunteer doctors to give emergency aid to people affected by the Ebola epidemic in west Africa. It’s called “Doctors Without Borders.”

Currently, 1,800 national volunteers, who are a part of Doctors Without Borders, are responding in west Africa. Over 200 international volunteers, involved with Doctors Without Borders, are also on site in Africa helping fight the outbreak.

One Flathead County woman has taken it upon herself to help the cause by putting on an annual yard sale.

It is the 14th year Whitefish resident, Ruth Neff, has put on a yard sale to raise money for Doctors Without Borders.

"People like me, about my age, you know later in life felt that it was important to do something positive," Neff said.

People from around the Flathead donate items, like old beds, clothing, furniture and even old skis.

"Bring it over to my house and we'll sell it and send it off to a good cause," said Neff.

Shoppers can bid on the items, or just donate a sum of money for the items they want. Neff says she usually raises between $6,000 and $10,000 every year from the yard sale. So far, this week she has raised $4,000.

But, that amount is not close to what it was in the past and Neff is not sure why.

"We're much more likely to say 'oh you can pay five dollars for that,’ or cut the price right down," Neff said.

She still has frequent supporters, like Christopher Carey who has been shopping at the yard sale every year for the past four years. He has been at this yard sale quite often this week.

"Just about every day this week to check and see what kind of donations have come in and see if there’s anything that I just can’t live without," Carey said.

He says it’s not like any other yard sale and he feels that it’s important to support this cause.

"There’s just a lot of places in this world that don't have the things that we have available to us on a regular basis and in a country where they don't have an emergency room these guys go in and help out,” Carey said.

"We are so fortunate in this country and often I think we don’t realize that we can really be helpful," said Neff.

"I’m not a doctor and I don't go to third world countries so my way of supporting them is coming by and donating some money and getting some cool stuff in the process," Carey said.

The money raised will not only go to Doctors Without Borders, but some of it will also be donated to another volunteer organization called the International Rescue Committee.

Flathead law enforcement agencies disagree on need for homeland security grant

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:31 PM Sep 16 2014   UPDATED: 11:25 PM Sep 16 2014

Flathead law enforcement agencies disagree on need for homeland security grant

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Flathead County law enforcement agencies disagree on the need for federal money to increase security along the United States-Canada border.

Operation Stonegarden is a $55 million federal program that is meant to enhance coordination among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to secure U.S. borders. Of that, 80 percent will be spent in states that border Mexico. The rest can go to local and tribal law enforcement in states like Montana that border Canada or international waters.

The program has been used for at least five years in the Flathead, but the Flathead County sheriff does not want to be a part of it anymore.

The Kalispell Police Department is all for it and is now taking over managing the grant.

In the past, the federal money has been used to send officers from the Flathead to the border to work with border patrol agents. Now the money is spent detecting drug and human trafficking, along with homeland security issues on Highway 93 and Highway 2.

Highway 93 crosses the border north of Eureka. Highway 2 runs from Montana into Idaho and then merges into Highway 95, before crossing into Canada. Kalispell police say that is a high crime area.

A new $65,000 homeland security grant is awarded to law enforcement throughout the Flathead. Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Kalispell Police along with Montana Highway Patrol and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will work with U.S. border patrol.

"Homeland security is a concern for all of us," said Kalispell Police Chief Roger Nasset.

In the past, the Flathead County Sheriff's department managed the grant. This year the sheriff opted out.

"After looking closely at the Stonegarden grant, we feel we were just philosophically opposed to it -- that what it was intended for was not useful for us here at the Flathead County Sheriff's Office and that it was, quite frankly, a waste of tax dollars. So we elected to no longer participate in the program," said Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.

The money from the grant allows local law enforcement to work extra hours.

"We do not have a lot of time to focus on that kind of activity during our regular shifts. So essentially that money allows officers to come in on their time off, to be paid through this grant, and put extra patrolmen out there," Nasset said.

The sheriff says that's one of the reasons he didn't want to participate.

"It primarily turns overtime for officers to work some sort of border interdiction, and frankly when it was done here in the past it just wasn't effective," Curry said.

With the approval from the city council, the Kalispell Police Department has taken over in managing the grant. The police chief says he has seen it be effective, after completing a six-month operation with border patrol identifying drug trafficking along Highway 93 and Highway 2.

"In that six-month period we had 18 arrests -- drug-related arrests with vehicles either coming or going," Nasset said.

The sheriff says everyone at the sheriff's office is concerned about homeland security, but they think the public can be protected without the grant.

"We certainly feel we are at a state where we are ready, and that the money that was being supplied by the feds -- at least in this county -- to us, seemed like a waste," Curry said.

In the past, the grant has allowed law enforcement to purchase equipment, like new digital radios that lets them talk to all agencies involved and also in-car video cameras that document what officers do.

Flathead law enforcement officers are finishing up the last of a $125,000 Operation Stonegarden grant awarded two years ago.

The new $65,000 grant will go into effect at the end of the year. It will also last for two years.

Search and rescue training event brings volunteers together

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 4:10 PM Sep 13 2014
Search and rescue training event brings volunteers together
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Search and rescue crews from across the northwest gathered in the Flathead for training and comradery.

They stay busy, especially during the summer time. The vast majority of these men and women are volunteers.

“These people are really here to help,” said leader of Flathead County Search and Rescue, Brian Heino.

Heino is an employee of the sheriff’s department, but says his 100 person strong team, just like the dozens of others that serve the region, are made up of volunteers.

“The United States is usually volunteer. It’s just the sheer dynamics of search and rescue. It takes a lot of personnel and the cost would be astronomical if it was paid. In this case, we have dedicated volunteers that are some of the best in the nation,” Heino said.

“If it was one of my family members lost, I would want somebody looking for them and I just feel this is my way of serving the community and assuring the family that there are people out here looking for their loved ones,” said North Valley Search and Rescue volunteer, Scott Cheff.

Cheff has been volunteering for over 30 years. He says he loves the work and he isn’t the only one.

“It is kind of reassuring just to see how supportive this area is for each other because there are a lot of people that are willing to just instantly stop what they’re doing and would do anything to help someone they don’t even know. That is pretty cool to see,” said North Valley Search and Rescue volunteer, Andrea Marron.

Almost all of the volunteers say it is not about getting monetary compensation.

“It’s the fulfillment. There is nothing better than going in and rescuing someone that actually needs help and getting the thank you, I mean that’s all we need for compensation,” said Flathead County Search and Rescue volunteer, Diane Phillips.

The crews also volunteer at special events and put in hours on end, to what they say, is to give back to the community.

“In the month of August I can tell you there was well over 1,000 hours of volunteer time, just from search and rescue. That includes hours from the fair and special events and rescue calls. These dedicated volunteers, we just can’t thank enough,” Heino said.

Flathead County Search and Rescue is funded by a mill levy, as well as donations.

New automated weather station debuts at Whitefish Mountain Resort

FLAHTEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 2:03 PM Sep 12 2014   UPDATED: 2:36 PM Sep 12 2014
New automated weather station debuts at Whitefish Mountain Resort
KALISPELL, Mont. -

A new automated weather station had its debut at the summit at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

It will measure live data for snow depth, liquid content in the snow, rainfall, wind speeds and temperatures.

The station will replace the summit's old one that could not measure anything to do with snow. It only measured things like temperature and wind speeds.

BNSF Railway Foundation, The Northern Rockies Avalanche Safety Workshop, Flathead Avalanche Center, Flathead National Forest and Whitefish Mountain Resort partnered to fund the station.

A total of $15,000 was put toward the center to build and maintain the hardwards and infrastructure.

"When we're getting ready for the ski season it is great for us to know what kind of snow conditions we have up there. Skiers and riders at Whitefish Mountain Resort are really excited about new snow conditions and they'll be able to get up to date conditions throughout the night before, as the snow is falling. So it's going to be a really exciting thing for anyone who;s a snow enthusiast," said Riley Polumbus, from Whitefish Mountain Resort.

The public will likely be able to access the data gathered from the weather station online.

New school policy in Kalispell implements background checks for volunteers

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:04 PM Sep 11 2014   UPDATED: 11:49 PM Sep 11 2014

New school policy in Kalispell implements background checks for volunteers

KALISPELL, Mont. -

Teachers, bus drivers and maintenance workers are among those who must be fingerprinted before working in the Kalispell Public School District.

Now the district is preparing to take it up a notch. They’re implementing a plan to check volunteers' backgrounds.

The policy comes after school officials attended a Department of Justice workshop where school safety was discussed.

Tanya Belstad had four kids go through the school system in Flathead County. She claims she found out one of her kids’ teachers was a registered sex offender.

“It made my heart just literally stop, and that’s where I made my decision, way back then, that anybody who is going to be around my children, I have and I did do background checks on them,” Belstad said.

Several school districts have adopted background check policies. Kalispell Public School District is expanding its policy to check volunteers too.

“We always want to make sure we’re doing due diligence and that we have safe schools and continue to provide that great learning environment to our students. So this is just another way to ensure that,” said Tracy Scott, Kalispell Public School District Human Resources Director.

As of now, teachers, substitutes, and even bus drivers have to get fingerprinted before they can begin to work.

For volunteers, however, the background check will be on a case-by-case basis and the district will decide what type of background check they receive.

There are two types. The first is an FBI background check that involves being fingerprinted. The second is a name search background check that’s limited to a person’s criminal history only in Montana. Both look at the national sex offender registry.

“As we develop the procedure, we’re going to make a decision as to, do we have certain volunteers that we may or may not do backgrounds on, or does everybody at least get a name search background? I think we are leaning toward the name search background,” Scott said.

That all depends on the extent the person volunteers.

“We would look at the volunteer role, how much one-on-one time they might be having with a child, to what capacity they’re volunteering. Are they a coach? Are they a parent helper in the classroom? We’d be looking at certain things like that,” said Scott.

The district will pay for the volunteer background checks. The FBI check costs around $27 and the name search costs around $11.

School officials say the new policy does not stem from any specific incident.

For Belstad, she says it’s better to be safe than sorry.

"I think it’s a win-win situation. I can’t see where that would be a bad thing to do background checks on anyone -- volunteers or teachers," she said.  

The school district is still in the process of finalizing the policy. They plan to have it in effect within the next few weeks.

Kalispell resident celebrates 101st birthday

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:22 PM Sep 10 2014   UPDATED: 11:33 PM Sep 10 2014

Kalispell resident celebrates 101st birthday

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A Kalispell resident has outlived most and celebrated his 101st birthday in the Flathead.

Bob Ewing was born in 1913. He was a member of the Army Air Corps during World War II. He moved to Somers in 1948 and worked for the Somers Lumber Company. He also worked for Kelly Main Street Furniture.

Friends and family members of Ewing celebrated his 101st birthday at the Prestige Assisted Living Center in Kalispell. The western theme got everyone to dress up and wear their best cowboy hats and sheriff pins.

Ewing jokes that now that he has hit 101, he has hit the reset button and plans to start over again at one.

“Well, I don’t feel old,” he said.

“101 years. We weren’t sure we were going to make it past 90. We had a big party then, it was great fun. So, then we had another one at 100 years old, over 100 people showed up. That was great fun at my brother’s house and now 101. How do you figure that? It’s great,” said Bob’s son, Dan.

The birthday boy says the celebrations did not stop at lunch. He said he was ready to go dancing, but instead spent the rest of the day with family and friends.