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  • Writers on the Range: You're not the boss in wilderness

    John Clayton, Writers on the Range|Feb 28, 2024

    Disclaimer: The views expressed in Op-Ed's published in the Three Forks Voice are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the publication. When my friends and I encountered the fresh grizzly bear scat, we were deep in Wyoming's Teton Wilderness, 20 miles from a trailhead. I'd seen grizzlies before-from the car. But this experience was on a whole other level. I felt vulnerable, nervous. I also felt fully alive. That feeling owes much to the Wilderness Act, which became law 60 years ago, in 1964. When President Lyndon B....

  • Column: You gotta love the Southern B Tournament

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Feb 28, 2024

    Weather pending, the day this column is published, I'll travel to Billings to cover the Three Forks High School Boys' Basketball team at their opening round game against Lodge Grass at the Southern B Divisional Tournament. While I have covered basketball tournaments across the western United States over the past two-plus decades, there is nothing quite like the atmosphere at the Southern B Divisional Tournament. The combination of great basketball, rabid fans, and a venue perfect for a high school basketball make it one of my absolute favorite... Full story

  • Guest Editorial: Setting the record straight

    Kim Gillan|Feb 21, 2024

    Plain and simple — people get sick. Right now, more than 250,000 predominantly low-income Montanans get help with health care through Medicaid — a state-federal partnership. Montana has overall and primary responsibility, while the Feds pick up most of the costs, averaging 80% (of total Medicaid spending). In 2022, the federal government provided $1.8 billion to cover health care for Medicaid-eligible Montanans who live in every county across the Big Sky. Remarkably, two-thirds of Medicaid recipients live in our rural communities. So, what...

  • Column: The spectacle of restaurant fajitas

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Feb 21, 2024

    The other day, Melissa worked a little later than usual, so I decided to watch some television. Because I will get in trouble if I watch any of our favorite shows, I usually try to find a basketball game to watch, and if one isn't on, I'll often watch a cooking show. On this occasion, I watched a show where they showed the absolute theatrics of someone ordering fajitas at a restaurant. It was a pure spectacle as the server brought the cracking and popping piping hot cast iron skillet to the... Full story

  • Guest Editorial: Get to know your judges

    Barry Usher, Montana State Senator|Feb 14, 2024

    As you learn about all the candidates for various offices this year, the most important ones are the ones that most Montanans know the least about. The politicians you need to do the most research on are not the would-be congressmen, governors, or even legislators. It’s the judges. Although they claim to be above the political fray, judges in Montana are in fact politicians. From the district courts to the state Supreme Court, they’re elected. They have to run campaigns, raise money, and their fate is ultimately decided by voters.... Full story

  • Column: What if we get to meet Jeff?

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Feb 14, 2024

    The other day, I was excited to read that the band Pearl Jam would be releasing a new album soon. From the moment my friend Paul loaned me the Pearl Jam debut album "Ten" in the early 1990s, I fell in love with the band. I would spend hours in my room in the basement listening to Pearl Jam, and it was such a phenomenal experience to see them, at the height of their popularity, open a tour in Casper, Wyoming, just a few hours from my hometown. While I certainly don't listen to them as much as I u... Full story

  • Guest Editorial: Montana's Public Lands Should be Run by Montanans, Not D.C.

    U.S. Senator Steve Daines|Feb 7, 2024

    As a fifth-generation Montanan, I have fond memories with my Grandpa Daines of learning how to fish and hunt north of Big Timber, and my goal is to pass these traditions on to my own children and grandchildren. There is no better way to experience Montana than backpacking, hunting, hiking or fishing. I share this passion with many Montanans, which is why improving access to our public lands is such a high priority. That's why I introduced my "Montana Sportsmen Conservation Act." Montanans should determine what is best for our public lands, not... Full story

  • Column: Poutine is a treasure

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Feb 7, 2024

    Whenever I visit my hometown in Wyoming, my first stop is always Grub’s Drive-In. From the first time I had a “Shamrock” cheeseburger, I was hooked, and it is one of my all-time favorite things to eat. On my last visit to Rock Springs, I was horrified that the local landmark had shut down. I was also dismayed that nobody from home bothered to tell me about this, but maybe it was because they knew it would not go well. Shortly before Christmas, I heard the fantastic news that one of my former classmates who worked at the restaurant while... Full story

  • Column: 'Granny' sure was mad at me

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Jan 31, 2024

    Over the years, I’ve learned that a first impression is not always the best way to judge a person. Sometimes, people are standoffish, and you’ve got to get to know them a little bit better, and sometimes, people have bad days. One of the best examples is my friend, “Granny.” When I moved to Montana nearly nine years ago, I was overwhelmed. While I had plenty of experience in the newspaper business, I was not quite prepared for how difficult it would be to take over an established publication in Whitehall. Every day was a learning... Full story

  • Guest Editorial: Montanans can help law enforcement stop human trafficking

    Austin Knudsen, Montana Attorney General|Jan 24, 2024

    Human trafficking is not just a big city problem — it’s happening right here in Montana. Which is why, during National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, I’m encouraging Montanans to learn the signs of human trafficking and report it if they see it. If folks don’t know what it is and how to report it, they can’t help us stop it. Let’s call human trafficking what it is: modern-day slavery. Traffickers — often organized criminal enterprises — are profiting at the expense of adults and children who are forced to perform labor or e... Full story

  • Column: It's so good, double dipping is okay

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Jan 24, 2024

    With the NFL playoffs now down to four teams, plenty of football has been on at my house lately. While I would love to throw some ribs on the pellet grill, the temperatures as of late have not been ideal for outdoor cooking, so I’ve instead used my trusted friend, the crock pot. I’m unsure how old our crock pot is, but it is getting up there. While its days are numbered, it’s still doing its job, and there is no better time to use it than for a big game. We will do a lot of roasts and soups, but I cannot think of anything better than... Full story

  • Column: Why do you feel the need to speed up when I'm trying to pass you

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Jan 17, 2024

    When I was younger, there wasn’t much that scared me. One of those things that frightened me was snakes, but in seventh-grade biology class, I could still hold four or five different ones without being too nervous. I was proud of myself because now in my 40s if I saw a snake in my house, I would probably run out the door and never return. One of the other things that has always scared me is driving in inclement conditions. The first time I drove in snow, I had a minor accident. The weather conditions were fine when I went to play practice at... Full story

  • Guest Opinion: New Year brings lower taxes to Montana residents

    Jan 17, 2024

    By Jason Ellsworth, Becky Beard, and Greg Hertz There’s no way Republican legislators would rather ring in a new year than with lower taxes, and that’s exactly what we’ve done to kick off 2024. As of Jan. 1, Montanans of all income levels are now paying lower income taxes, thanks to legislation that just went into effect. Those tax savings will be felt either on upcoming paychecks or when you file your 2024 taxes next year, depending on where and how you get paid. Senate Bill 399, passed in the 2021 legislative session, made a number of...

  • Our View: Recognizing the 'Heart of the Community'

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Jan 10, 2024

    It’s always a great feeling to share positive news about area residents in the Three Forks Voice and Lewis and Clark Journal. This was certainly the case at the conclusion of 2023 with an article about Three Forks Mayor Randy Johnston stepping up for the betterment of the community by taking a job as a driver for the HRDC. With the Three Forks paratransit service in dire need of a driver to continue service, Johnston went above and beyond for both Three Forks and neighboring communities. It was also wonderful to recently see pictures online o... Full story

  • Column: The trivia question that went wrong

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Jan 10, 2024

    In grade school, there was little doubt about what I wanted to do when I grew up. Not only had I decided by eight years old that I wanted to be a play-by-play announcer, but I was already preparing myself to be the replacement for University of Wyoming legend Mr. David Walsh. I’ve listened to countless games on the radio and watched even more on television and have never seen anybody quite as good as Walsh, who retired a couple of years ago. Growing up in a family who were huge Wyoming fans, there were plenty of trips to Laramie and across... Full story

  • Guest Editorial: Montana's vital role in economy energy and national security

    Todd O' Hair, Montana Chamber of Commerce|Jan 3, 2024

    Advancement in technology is rapidly changing the world we live in, the careers we pursue, and undoubtedly affecting nearly every aspect of our lives. Traditional “big iron” companies like John Deere and GM have become “technology companies.” Electric vehicles, medical devices, military innovation, energy production and storage, are a small sampling of how technology is inextricably woven into our lives. This is the new frontier, with businesses and our nation investing massive sums in advancing technology to reclaim global leadership,... Full story

  • Column: The ballad of vacations and panini presses

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Jan 3, 2024

    I am not going to lie -- it felt awesome and very relaxing to take a week off at the end of 2023. This had been only the second time I had been able to take off that much time in the past eight years, and I tried to enjoy it the best I could. While I had planned to get out of the house a little bit more, I won’t complain about putting a permanent dent in my couch cushion from watching countless hours of games and binge-watching some fantastic television shows. After a few days, it started to get a little bit weird because I wasn’t quite... Full story

  • Guest Editorial: Court order on 95 mills protects taxpayers and students equally

    DR. DOUGLAS REISIG, Montana Quality Education Coalition|Dec 20, 2023

    The Montana Supreme Court’s recent order upholding the Montana Department of Revenue’s calculation of the 95 school equalization mills provided a protective shield for residential property taxpayers and students educated in Montana’s public schools. The court’s decision respected and preserved bipartisan decisions made by the 2023 Legislature estimating revenues and appropriating funds to fund Montana’s public schools. Some county officials erroneously asserted that levying 77.89 instead of 95 school equalization mills would have... Full story

  • Column: Thinking about the upcoming New Year

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Dec 20, 2023

    With this being the last edition of the Three Forks Voice for 2023, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the new year. While 2023 was not my favorite year, it wasn’t the worst. There were a few great memories, another year of questionable decisions, and a flying off-the-road incident in the middle of nowhere I’d like to forget. As I look to 2024, I have a few things I’d like to try and see if they will help with my constant aggravation in the world. The older I get, the grumpier I seem to be, so I hope a... Full story

  • Guest Editorial: This year, more Montanans will be holiday shopping for health insurance

    Olivia Riutta|Dec 13, 2023

    This holiday season, more Montanans will be navigating the annual open enrollment period for health insurance, seeking quality and affordable health insurance plans for their families. Cover Montana has a team of health insurance navigators who can help Montanans make sense of their options during this crucial period, which runs from Nov. 1, 2023, to Jan. 15, 2024. But this year stands out because more than 100,000 Montanans are no longer covered by Medicaid or Healthy Montana Kids (HMK). Like all states, Montana's DPHHS is reviewing its... Full story

  • Column: The curious case of the phantom dumper

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Dec 13, 2023

    Sometimes, the little things in life can make someone happy. After living without trash service for four and a half years, I was delighted to finally have a can that would be picked up once a week. Going to a sanitation site several times a week was never fun, and I would have much rather just wheeled out a can. When we got everything moved into the house, we discovered we had two wheelable cans, which was ideal after the torture of unpacking, but I figured outside of Christmas, there might not be an occasion when we would need to use the two... Full story

  • Our View: The importance of shopping local

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Dec 6, 2023

    With three weeks until Christmas, there are many people with plenty still left on their holiday shopping lists. With the holiday nearing and many gifts still to be purchased, it is essential to remember the significance of shopping locally. For many small businesses, the Christmas shopping season plays a pivotal role in their income, and it is important to remember not only the shops along the main street but also the many vendors and those who are based out of their homes. Over the past few decades, Black Friday and internet shopping has... Full story

  • Gallatin County Commission's Statement on Montana Supreme Court's Decision on 95 Mills

    Dec 6, 2023

    The Gallatin County Commission is disappointed in the Montana Supreme Court’s ruling last week that will force us to collect over $12.3 million in additional taxes to the state. Earlier this fall, Gallatin County joined 48 other Montana counties in levying 77.9 mills this tax year for the state’s school equalization mills, instead of the 95 mills requested by the state. This appraisal year, there were unprecedented increases in property values across Montana. The Gallatin County Commission saw this as an option to ease the escalating tax bu... Full story

  • Column: TV station Santa was much better

    Jack H. Smith, Three Forks Voice|Dec 6, 2023

    When I was a kid, the lead up to Christmas was excruciating. I could not wait until Christmas Eve to go and spend time at several different family gatherings and open a single present when we got back home. One year, I think my mom and stepdad might have had too many drinks at a Christmas party, and we ended up opening all of our presents, but usually, it was just one. I really enjoyed that evening, but it made for an awkward Christmas morning for those who did not receive a visit from Santa. Speaking of Saint Nick, I was always amazed that he... Full story

  • Guest Column: Data-Driven, Public Safety Progress in the County Attorney's Office

    Audrey Cromwell, Gallatin County Attorney|Nov 29, 2023

    As your Gallatin County Attorney and elected public servant, I believe in on-going transparency and accountability to the community. In that respect, I’d like to update you with regard to the 113 unprosecuted sexual assault cases (52 involving children) dating back over 15 years that I discovered upon taking office. As pledged in my initial press release, I spearheaded a Joint Task Force comprised of Bozeman and Belgrade city prosecutors and detectives, the West Yellowstone and Manhattan prosecutor, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office,... Full story

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