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

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.

Capitol Hill questions military vehicles given to local police

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:07 PM Sep 10 2014   UPDATED: 11:30 PM Sep 10 2014

Capitol Hill questions military vehicles given to local police

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A Senate committee hearing on Capitol Hill focused on military equipment used by local police. The hearing was prompted by weeks of violent conflicts between law enforcement in Ferguson, Missouri, and protestors upset over the fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old.

Committee Chairman Tom Caper says the government program that provides military equipment to police was created with good intentions.

However, the events in Ferguson have raised concerns about whether state and local law enforcement use of military equipment should be more closely examined.

Flathead County has a specialized military vehicle. The sheriff’s office applied for it and got one about a year ago. Some see the need for it, while others do not.

Charles Williams was deployed in 2007. On active duty in Afghanistan he drove variations of an armored vehicle known as the MRAP.

“I know they’ve saved a lot of guys' lives,” Williams said.

It is meant to withstand mines, IEDs and ambushes.

Now, local law enforcement agencies can get their hands on them, but they’re being criticized for it.

“The militarization of law enforcement question that's come up nationally, frankly offends me. I don't think that having equipment that protects our officers is in any way irresponsible or militarizing civilian law enforcement," said Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.

Curry says the problem isn’t with the equipment, rather the way departments use them.

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office got an MRAP about a year ago. It has been stripped of all military gear, but the sheriff says it plays a critical role.

“If we have to move the team into an area where they may come under gunfire, it just makes sense to have some protection from that fire while we make team movements," Curry said.

“Those guys are willing to put on a small piece of body armor and go drive around in a regular car and get shot at. Why not have the ability to keep them safe trying to keep everyone else safe," Williams said.

After seeing a vehicle similar to an MRAP used in Ferguson, a Flathead resident who has a brother in the military doesn’t think it is necessary.

"The MRAP vehicle has one purpose and one purpose only, and that is war. It’s not meant for riots, it’s not meant for uprisings, it’s meant for complete war," said David Dennison.

“I would rather have it and need it, than need it and not have it,” Williams said.

“There’s many other vehicles that are not as costly and don’t have such a psychological effect on people,” Dennison said.

The MRAP did not cost the Flathead County Sheriff’s office any money. It has only been used once or twice in the past year.

Boat company plans to develop land on Highway 93

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:36 PM Sep 09 2014   UPDATED: 10:34 PM Sep 09 2014

Boat company plans to develop land on Highway 93

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A business owner has a plan to develop a patch of land in the Flathead Valley for a boat sales and services facility.

The area of land is located along Highway 93 south, near the boundary of the Kalispell city limits. The area of land is almost 15,000 square feet.

Josh Bowker has lived and worked in the Flathead since 1986. Over the years he has seen the area south of town develop.

“It doesn’t even compare; I’d go back and wouldn’t even recognize it,” Bowker said.

Another business is about to pop up. Captain’s Marine is a boat sales and service company that sells accessories and has technicians for boat repairs. The owner bought an area of land along Highway 93, last year.

“For my type of operation, I need land to grow and we’re actually just on too small of a piece of ground. So even though the building is nice, I didn’t have enough room to take care of the boats in the spring or fall,” said owner Randell Seyfert.

Seyfert says it was time to expand -- that’s why he strategically picked the area of land south of town.

“We get good coverage from the highway, in particular, we picked that property because we wanted to be close to the bypass, whenever that thing gets done,” Seyfert said.

Josh Bowker works next door to where Captain’s Marine plans to build. He says even though he doesn’t mind the growth he has a few concerns.

“You want some of the farmland to still be used. You don’t want it all completely developed, but it is just bound to happen,” Bowker said.

If more businesses pop up, he says that means more cars to the area.

“You just don’t know how the traffic is going to be and turning off, hopefully you don’t create accidents,” said Bowker.

There might be worry about the traffic, but other neighboring businesses don’t have that concern. They say there are enough turn lanes and a stoplight nearby -- all of which can handle the increased traffic.

“I’m glad the valley’s growing. There’s always negatives but there’s, I think, more positives than anything because it's created jobs,” Bowker said.

Seyfert says he just wants to provide a nice entrance into Kalispell where people can shop.

"We'll be able to create a more efficient operation and I think we’ll be able to present ourselves as being a good member of the community,” Seyfert said.

No permits have been issued yet. The Flathead County Planning Board will be holding a public hearing to address any issues with the permit and application process. The board will then make a recommendation to the city for final approval. Once approved, construction could begin as early as this spring.

There is no cost estimate yet for this project.

Behavior analyst explains pitbull stigma

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 4:31 PM Sep 06 2014   UPDATED: 10:55 PM Sep 07 2014

Behavior analyst explains pitbull stigma

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A few days ago, a pit bull saved an eight year old Oregon boy from a swarm of bees. The dog reportedly pulled the boy to safety after the eight year old couldn’t escape being stung, clashing with the notion that pit bulls are threats themselves, rather than heroes.

They’re the dog that is popping up more and more in animal shelters. It’s easy to find people who say they fear pit bulls and won’t adopt them because they’re dangerous and aggressive.

"If they have it in their history they definitely have it in their nature," said Kalispell resident, Rita Morris.

Certain cities have banned the breed, or they make sterilization mandatory. Also, some homeowners insurance companies won’t cover someone who has a pit bull. This forces people to give up their pit bulls, which is how they end up at shelters.

Animal behavior specialist Aditi Terpstra says the issue is as deep as DNA.

"Genetics can play a part in that. So, unfortunately we can’t change genetics once that dog is born. So, if they’re more predisposed to being a really fearful dog that's where we tend to see some issues crop out. If they're really fearful they’re going to be more apt to express aggression," Terpstra said.

They have such a bad reputation but Terpstra says people often mistake pit bulls for other breeds, and avoid them.

“When people say ‘that’s a pit bull,’ often times they’re referring to a dog that fits a look. So, it is a label given to dogs that have short coats, muscle bodies and blocky heads,” Terpstra said.

Kalispell resident, Linea Springer, has one of her own and does not understand why pit bulls get such a bad rap.

“She is the biggest sweetheart you will ever meet. She just wants to be in your lap, 80 pounds of love,” Springer said.

It’s an opinion backed up by the majority of pit bull owners.

“If you look at the American Temperament Test Society, they conduct an assessment on dogs to evaluate their temperament.  American pit bull terriers and their mixes scored in the 85 percentile,” Terpstra said.

According to Terpstra, that’s above average. It’s higher than border collies, and beagles—dogs typically known as family dogs. But, others say it is just not worth the risk.

“I personally would not want to keep an animal that has been in a very vicious environment in my home with my small children,” Morris said.

People have also been breeding pit bulls, to make a profit, fast than they can be adopted. That’s another reason why a lot of them end up in shelters.

Construction underway for new ski lift at Whitefish Mountain Resort

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:09 PM Sep 05 2014   UPDATED: 11:47 PM Sep 05 2014

Construction underway for new ski lift at Whitefish Mountain Resort

KALISPELL, Mont. -

An almost $1.3 million construction project is in full swing for a new ski lift at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Last summer, crews cut new runs and now this lift will give people access to them. The Flower Point lift will operate on the north side of the mountain, a couple hundred yards from the existing lift 7.

"The Flower Point lift is going to serve us a lot of new terrain, as far as getting us up a little bit higher back there and opening up 200 acres of new territory for us to explore," said Riley Polumbus, from Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Construction crews are using a helicopter to pour buckets of cement in the ground for the lift tower foundations.

The entire lift was bought from a resort in Kimberley, Canada. Over the past year, it has been fitted to the Whitefish Mountain Resort.

After the towers, cable and chairs are brought in, the lift will be able to carry up to 1,500 people per hour.

“It’s going to put some people back on that north side and taking advantage of the runs back there and create this whole new area for skiing on the north side. It is going to alleviate some of the other runs around the mountain,” Polumbus said.

The top shack will serve as an outpost for ski patrol. It is currently being painted.

“This is something that’s not only a big investment and good for our guests, but it’s also something that is going to be good by creating some new jobs,” Polumbus said.

Whitefish businesses say it is good for them too.

“All the stores in Whitefish are open all through the winter. I’m sure that if the people are up on the mountain, they’re going to come down here, because this is where all the restaraunts are,” said Nanci Williams, a Whitefish business employee.

Williams has worked in Whitefish for nine years and she says, “The more, the merrier.”

The lift towers are expected to be flown in by the end of the month, but that will depend on weather conditions. Officials say the construction is on schedule, and the lift will be ready in time for the ski season.

FWP hears comments on proposed motorized boat ban on Whitefish River

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 9:39 AM Sep 05 2014   UPDATED: 6:22 PM Sep 05 2014
FWP hears comments on proposed motorized boat ban on Whitefish River
KALISPELL, Mont. -

A comment period on whether motorized boats should be restricted on the Whitefish River is now closed.

Almost 140 people sent in comments to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks on a possible ban on motorized boating.

Right now, there is a no-wake regulation, meaning boats have to go slow. The City of Whitefish doesn’t want any motorized boats on the river.

FWP wants to compromise and ban motorized boats from July to the end of the September.

"This has been going on for months now and it's -- again for a small stretch of river on a pretty specific issue like this -- it’s obvious that there’s just a lot of energy on the part of folks that want to see it one way or the other, how it's managed," said John Fraley, from FWP.

Officials will use the comments to come up with a solution on whether to ban motorized boats on the river. The comments will be passed on to the FWP commission, which will then make a decision in an October meeting.

New behavioral health clinic opens in Whitefish

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:06 PM Sep 03 2014   UPDATED: 11:26 PM Sep 03 2014

New behavioral health clinic opens in Whitefish

KALISPELL, Mont. -

A new Community Health Needs Assessment in the Flathead shows an unmet high demand for mental health clinics, especially for children.

Flathead County is among the top counties in suicide rates in the state, and the state of Montana has the second highest suicide rate in the country.

Flathead resident Gwendolyn Fratt says, while she doesn’t have kids of her own, she knows if they needed help she wouldn’t know what to do.

“I would feel almost incompetent, because I wouldn’t know what to do to help them,” Fratt said.

That’s because there was only one place for children to go to get help in Kalispell. Now, with the addition of a new Whitefish clinic, that’s changed.

"Other than myself, I believe in Kalispell there may be a child psychiatrist. But, outside of that, the next closest area would be Great Falls or Missoula, and that's a really long way to have to travel to see someone," North Valley Behavioral Clinic Medical Director Dr. Douglas Muir said.

Muir was recruited by the Flathead Health Department after the Health Needs Assessment found out the demand for mental health services.

County and hospital health workers ran focus groups and surveys. They say people found a gap in health care because of few mental health services for children.

With Flathead County having twice the suicide rate of the national average, residents feel that getting people help at an early age might change that statistic.

“If you have someone at an early age to talk to, it could potentially lower suicide rates in teens and young adults,” Fratt said.

The new mental health clinic also means there is even less of a chance Flathead kids will have to travel out of the county to get help.

“I’m really hopeful things will grow here and more people will seek the help that they need,” Muir said.

Fratt also thinks that’s the most important thing.

“I think it will be helpful to parents who especially need, who see something in their child that maybe they need help, and this way they have an option,” Fratt said.

The North Valley Behavioral Clinic has been open for a little over a week now. Muir says he has seen quite a few patients already.

USAF Thunderbirds take flight in Kalispell

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:49 PM Aug 30 2014   UPDATED: 10:47 PM Aug 30 2014

USAF Thunderbirds take flight in Kalispell

KALISPELL, Mont. -

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

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 6:14 PM Aug 29 2014   UPDATED: 11:19 PM Aug 29 2014

Decoy squad car helps reduce traffic speed in Lakeside

KALISPELL, Mont. -

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

FLATHEAD COUNTY

alli By Alli Friedman, KCFW Reporter, afriedman@kcfw.com
POSTED: 5:49 PM Aug 27 2014   UPDATED: 11:10 PM Aug 27 2014

Flathead Co. proposes new tax to fund 911 dispatch center

KALISPELL, Mont. -

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

FLATHEAD COUNTY

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

Bigfork woman charged for hosting commercial weddings

KALISPELL, Mont. -

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

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

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

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

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

Alana Myers has hosted weddings for a few years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New businesses boost Lakeside economy

FLATHEAD COUNTY

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

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

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

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

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

Townsley explained to NBC Montana why now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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