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Articles written by Eliza Mclaughlin


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  • Increased school levies back on the ballot

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Mar 29, 2023

    Members of the Three Forks School District Board of Trustees are once again approaching voters this May with a request for more funds. The proposed levy will increase district revenue by $674,000, broken down to $385,350 for the elementary school and $288,650 for the high school. The levy is expected to raise taxes by a total of $64.65 for a $100,000 home and $128.30 for a $200,000. Motivation for the mill levy, District Superintendent Rhonda Uthlaut said, is the district's rising expenses and... Full story

  • Council chats on Chickens

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Mar 22, 2023

    Three Forks City Council members hosted a first reading for an ordinance amending the city’s Livestock and Fowl policies during its March 14 meeting, which would implement an annual renewal fee for residents holding a chicken permit. If the amended ordinance is approved at the City Council’s April 11 meeting, those raising chickens within city limits would pay a $10 annual fee to maintain their permit and cover the “resources used to communicate with each chicken permit holder and verify the permit holder still [has] chickens,” reads the ord... Full story

  • Council approves application for work-live development

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Feb 22, 2023

    Three Forks City Council members approved an application for a work-live development at the Three Forks Market RV Campground Expansion during its Feb. 14 meeting, weeks after approving previous amendments to the site’s permit. The application proposed a single bedroom year-round rental apartment on the second level of the campground’s service building, which was previously designated for campground and storage use only. The proposal also included improvements to the existing service building. Although recent zoning changes allow for this typ...

  • Rest Area a hot topic at Commission Meeting

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Jan 18, 2023

    The recently constructed rest area in south Broadwater County has been a hot topic as of late, and the conversation continued during the Jan. 9 county commissioners meeting. Elizabeth and Butch Barton approached the board during the public comment portion of the meeting, asking why the commissioners had not responded to an email sent to them on Nov. 23. Butch Barton began his comment period explaining that he understood the commissioner weren't supposed to responded to public comments and asked... Full story

  • School Board wraps up for the calendar year

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Jan 4, 2023

    The Three Forks School District Board of Trustees hosted its final meeting of 2022 before the winter break, discussing topics such as the ongoing bond project, coach resignations, and surplus sales. Andy Becker, the bond project manager informed the board that, so far, $21.4 million have been spent in total on the project and that some projects are wrapping up. The north administration offices and high school classrooms are expected to be reading for finishings by Jan. 16; meanwhile, the south... Full story

  • Three Forks Council shows support for proposed bills

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Dec 21, 2022

    The Three Forks City Council approved a resolution supporting legislative positions proposed by the Montana League of Cities and Towns for Montana’s 68th Legislature, during its Dec. 13 meeting. The legislative positions include — but are not limited to — topics such as property tax reforms land use and environmental regulations, investing in local government infrastructure and retirement benefits. The council also supported the Leagues plans to support bills pertaining to the City of Colstrip and other communities impacted by natural resou... Full story

  • Three Forks schools teach 'good digital citizenry', loses coaches

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Nov 23, 2022

    The Three Forks School Board discussed methods to ensure technology does not become a distraction at school as well as ways to teach students to be "good digital citizens" while at home during its Nov. 15 meeting. As part of this goal, the district has scheduled a "Fight the New Drug" assembly for Feb. 7. The program, Superintendent Rhonda Uthlaut said is intended to educate children about the problems involved with pornography use. "Fight the New Drug exists to raise awareness on the harmful... Full story

  • Council pumps the brakes on slower speeds

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Nov 16, 2022

    After racing towards slower speeds, the Three Forks City Council put the brakes on conducting a speed study which could determine whether the town’s 15 mile per hour speed limit signs are enforceable within city limits during its Nov. 8 meeting. Montana law requires that in-town roads have set speed limits of 25 miles per hour, except around parks and schools. To reduce the speed limit on any other street, a speed study must determine that driver behavior at the faster or slower speed could be curbed by a slower speed limit. “Typically, sta... Full story

  • Flood Mitigation Presses Forward

    Eliza McLaughlin|Nov 2, 2022

    The Three Forks City Council unanimously approved the creation of a flood mitigation special improvement district during its Oct. 25 meeting to help gather funds for the construction, maintenance and incidental costs of the project. The council received zero protests from residents regarding the new district, which TK Nathan Bilyeau said was unusual for these types of projects. "I have worked on many of these SIDs and it is very rare to [see] single-digit protests, let alone no protests,"... Full story

  • Three Forks enrollment on the rise

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Oct 26, 2022

    Like the local population, Three Forks School District’s student enrollment has been on the rise and in an attempt to prevent overcrowding, the school board has moved forward with a policy which will close the district to new out-of-district student applications. The decision to no longer accept nonresident students comes after the approval of a bond project which funded both an elementary and high school expansion. Since construction has continued through the start of the school year, the district has operated with limited space for its 804 st...

  • Council receives request from Magris Talc, hears Rest Home Tax presentation

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Oct 19, 2022

    During its Oct. 11 meeting, the Three Forks City Council was approached via a letter by Magris Talc requesting assistance with a federal grant application that would improve the safety of the pedestrian crossing on the Montana Rail Links track near Bench Road and Old Yellowstone Trail. The letter, signed by Magris Talc's Director Pat Downey and Talc Operations Controller Jan Lien, explained that the company plans to use the funds to improve the crossing in preparation for the construction of... Full story

  • Council selects assessment method for flood plain project

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Oct 5, 2022

    Property owners within the proposed Jefferson River flood special improvement district can expect a $194 increase in their taxes to help cover the city of Three Forks' flood mitigation construction costs, after the city council passed a resolution of intent to create such a district and selected a per parcel assessment method during its Sept. 27 meeting. Three Forks city officials plan to construct a $5.5 million flood diversion channel, which will redirect flood waters from the Jefferson River... Full story

  • School Board: Construction continues at Three Forks Schools

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Sep 28, 2022

    The Three Forks School District opened its doors to students for the first day of school on Sept. 6 with the all too familiar sound of construction humming in the background, and school administrators expect that noise to continue through December. Andy Becker, the bond project manager, told the Three Forks School Board during its Sept. 20 meeting that some spaces in the south addition will become available for a phased turnover starting in mid-October, with others following through mid-December. Although Becker does not have specific dates for... Full story

  • Governing body revises, adopts Growth Policy Plan

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Sep 21, 2022

    The Three Forks City Council adopted the amended Growth Policy Plan during its Sept. 13 meeting, after eight months of revisions and public input – but not without further additions. The motion to pass a resolution which would adopt the Growth Policy included the stipulation that a timetable for future review of the policy and a mention of the conditions of sand and gravel pits be added. Three Forks City Clerk Crystal Turner told The Voice that the changes came after a tip from another city clerk. “I was approached by another town’s clerk... Full story

  • City of Three Forks moves forward with flood mitigation

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Sep 7, 2022

    With the city on the brink of a $4.15 million FEMA grant, the Three Forks City Council has begun discussion of methods to fund the remaining 25% of the project cost. During its Aug. 23 meeting, the council received advice from Natural Resources Business Unit Manager for Great West Engineering Jeremiah Theys and attorney Nathan Bilyeu. Potential methods for securing the funds for the outstanding expenses include taxing residents equally or adjusting the fees levied for commercial and vacant lots. The council plans to host public hearings on the... Full story

  • Three Forks schools approve increased budgets

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Sep 7, 2022

    Preparing for the return of students to campus, the Three Forks School Board approved the high school and elementary school’s budgets which featured increases in transportation cost and fund increases resulting from low expenses in the previous school year. Both the high school and the elementary school transportation budgets increased by $16,000 and $18,000, respectively. On Aug. 23, after the school board reconvened from a week-long recess while school administrators completed the budgets, Superintendent Rhonda Uthlaut explained to the b... Full story

  • Council approves FY budget

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Aug 31, 2022

    The Three Forks City Council approved the city’s 2022-23 fiscal year budget during its Aug. 23 meeting, planning for both big expenditures and cost savings. City Clerk Crystal Turner told The Voice that many increases in the city budget resulted from over budgeting in 2021. “We did not expend all the gas tax revenue received last year so we are budgeting to spend that, and this year’s allocation, in this fiscal year,” Turner said in an email. During the meeting, the council discussed how projects budgeted for but not completed last year, s... Full story

  • Bus purchase falls through, school finds 'silver lining'

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Aug 31, 2022

    The Three Forks school board received the disappointing news that the purchase of two school buses had fallen through during its Aug. 23 special meeting, after approving the purchase only a week earlier. What appeared to be a setback in upgrading the schools’ transportation systems, turned out to be a potential blessing in disguise for the district. Superintendent Rhonda Uthlaut reassured the board: “There is a silver lining.” During the week between the Three Forks School Board of Trustees regular and special meeting, it came to Uthla... Full story

  • City closer to FEMA grant

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Aug 24, 2022

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency in Denver has selected Three Forks for further review before awarding the town a Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant, which would fund most of the city’s project. Being selected for further review brings Three Forks one step closer to a $4.15 million grant, which will cover 75% of the town’s project costs. Three Forks City Treasurer Kelly Smith told The Voice that while receiving the award is unofficial, “it does look good.” During the city council’s Aug. 9 meeting, the council was informed that Jeremiah Th... Full story

  • School purchases 2 new buses, seeks other equipment

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Aug 24, 2022

    The Three Forks School Board approved the purchase of two new school buses and tabled discussion on whether or not to purchase grounds maintenance equipment during its Aug. 16 meeting. The new buses will cost the district approximately $225,000. The district plans to supplement the cost of the two buses by trading in three from its current fleet for $86,100, leaving a $138,500 bill for the district to cover. Three Forks School District Superintendent Rhonda Uthlaut said the district could cover the cost using funds in the transportation... Full story

  • Free well test kits available for Three Forks residents

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Aug 10, 2022

    The Gallatin Local Water Quality District, in partnership with the Montana State University Extension Water Quality well-educated program, is offering free well testing kits to county residents using private drinking water wells. Well testing kits are available at the Gallatin Local Water Quality District in Bozeman and the Madison Conservation District in Ennis. Residents who pick up a free testing kit will collect the sample by following the directions outlined on the packaging. They then... Full story

  • Armstrong takes new path after 36 years at Caverns

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Aug 10, 2022

    Thirty-six years ago, Rhea Armstrong took on a summer gig as a tour guide at the Lewis and Clark Caverns. Since then, she has worked in various positions at the park, her most recent being the park manager. Now, she is leaving the multi-decade career behind to pursue other adventures and to return to her teaching career. "We are so thankful for everything she did during her 36 years here," read a Facebook post made by the Lewis and Clark Caverns on July 27. "During her time as manager, she...

  • Find a one of a kind gift at Custom Cups by Kim

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Aug 3, 2022

    While pursuing the Three Forks' Farmers' Market, visitors will come across a booth featuring custom tumblers made by a friendly face. Kim Lazoff, the founder of Custom Cups by Kim, started crafting several years ago after learning how to create each item by watching YouTube videos. After watching a video about sublimation – the process of printing a pattern onto a solid material using ink and heat – Lazoff decided to give it a try, despite not having the tools to do so. "I love the process and b... Full story

  • Growth in Three Forks: As more permits approved, finding housing still presents a challenge

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Aug 3, 2022

    In January, Future West and the One Valley Community Foundation presented a study to the Three Forks City Council explaining the areas need for the construction of approximately 94 to 217 homes in the Three Forks area by 2026. Since the presentation, the council has approved permits and zoning changes to allow for new local housing developments. The approval of building permits and zoning changes follows the city council's recent release of the City of Three Forks Growth Policy Plan and the... Full story

  • Council approves motion to continue test well negotiations

    Eliza McLaughlin, Three Forks Voice|Aug 3, 2022

    On July 12, the Three Forks City Council approved a motion allowing Great West Engineering to continue negotiating to secure another test well site on a property near Talc Road. The property in question is owned by Conner Kent Limited Partnership, a farming and ranching company based out of Three Forks. As part of the negotiations, the city council authorized Great West to permit an ownership swap of the existing well #1 property if the Kent’ property produced two successful drinking water test wells. On July 25, Council member Steve Dahl t... Full story

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