Energy Share of Montana
offers help with heating

Cold weather is coming and heating bills can pile up fast.  Are you or someone you know worried about how to pay those bills?

Energy Share of Montana is a private, nonprofit organization whose main purpose is to help Montanans facing energy emergencies.  An “energy emergency” usually means someone facing loss of heat or lights in their home due to unforeseen circumstances or issues beyond their control, and who have no resources to pay that bill themselves.

Energy Share helps people from all walks of life:  Senior citizens, veterans, unemployed or under-employed, families facing financially-challenging circumstances, and more.  One example is “Susan”, an elderly woman with multiple medical issues.  She wasn’t able to keep up with all her bills, so Energy Share helped with her home energy costs.

Energy Share partners with Community Action Partnership of NW Montana (CAPNM) in Kalispell to process applications.  A local Energy Share Committee, members of which are bound by confidentiality agreements, works with CAPNM to review applications.  Within contractual guidelines from Energy Share they determine who will receive assistance.

Because Energy Share is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, donations are welcome and are tax-deductible.  100% of your gift is used to help someone in need – none of it goes to administrative expenses.  This is possible because electric cooperatives, utility companies and large electric users also support Energy Share.  In some cases these corporate donors direct Energy Share to use a percentage of their contribution for overhead costs.

To learn more about Energy Share and where to apply, contact CAPNM at 406-758-5433 or www.capnm.net.  You can also visit www.energysharemt.com or call 1-888-779-7589 for more details on how to donate.

Rachel Haberman  of Community Action Partnership of NW Montana


Lincoln County Libraries
Foundation receives $32,500 to close digital divide

Funding will help expand internet access, improve availability of technology, create digital literacy workshops, and keep Lincoln County residents connecte.

As a part of his continued effort to connect rural Montana to high-speed internet, address technology needs, and improve digital literacy, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced $32,500 in American Rescue Plan funding to Lincoln County Libraries Foundation in Libby, Montana to advance digital inclusion in the rural communities of Libby, Eureka, and Troy and in more remote, unincorporated areas of Lincoln County.

Tester was the only member of Montana’s Congressional delegation to support the American Rescue Plan.

“Ensuring reliable access to digital resources is essential to growing Lincoln County’s economy in the 21st century,” said Tester. “The past eighteen months have exposed the digital divide in rural Montana, and it’s critical that we get folks connected to high-speed internet so that we can support communities and small businesses in Northwest Montana. Montana’s libraries are hubs in our frontier areas, and this funding will help them identify where Montanans are falling through the digital gaps and find solutions to make sure folks in Lincoln County can stay connected.”

Tester secured this funding through the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant program, created by the American Rescue Plan to support museums and libraries in addressing community needs created or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The libraries will conduct a community digital access assessment to identify gaps and needs in equipment, staffing, and program development; a technology specialist will be hired to manage the community survey and data collection; community feedback will inform the development and implementation of a six-part digital literacy workshop series; and free, in-person workshops will take place at three library branches and will be recorded for future use by additional audiences.

Tester has prioritized closing the digital divide in rural Montana, and the Senate recently passed his bipartisan infrastructure package which will make urgently needed investments in expanding high-speed internet to every corner of Montana. He also recently secured more than $850,000 in American Rescue Plan funding to help students access high-speed internet through the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.

In the Know: Arthritis a column by Karen Morrissette

Medical Article #2

Arthritis, or joint pain and stiffness, is a very common ailment, especially as people age. Because of this, many assume it is just something they have to deal with. This is not always the case. There are different kinds of arthritis and they are treated differently.

Osteoarthritis refers to gradual wear and tear on a joint over time and tends to happen to nearly everyone to some degree. It is often worse in joints that are used the most – knees, hips, hands, spine – and is frequently not symmetrical. For example, it can be more prominent in the dominant hand. The location can depend on the occupation and hobbies in which that person participates. The joint may feel tender and at times produce a grating or crackling sensation. On x-ray, bone spurs can be a common finding. Treatment may involve avoidance of aggravating activity when possible, medications for inflammation and pain, physical therapy, joint injections of either steroids or synthetic joint fluid, or even surgery to replace the joint depending of the severity of the damage.

Other types of arthritis are classified as inflammatory arthritis with a more acute and aggressive attack on the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout are probably the most common types of inflammatory arthritis but there are others. Many different autoimmune disorders have potential to involve the joints at some point.

Rheumatoid arthritis can begin as early as childhood but more commonly presents in middle age. Sometimes it runs in families. The joints involved are usually symmetrical, such as both knees or both hands. Involved joints are often swollen and some patients develop tender nodules close the affected joints. This is frequent in the small joints of the hands or feet. Morning stiffness can be pronounced and takes longer to improve than with osteoarthritis. Destruction of the joints can occur fairly rapidly in some patients and joint replacement is sometimes needed. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. Treatment often involves medications aimed at decreasing this abnormal activity of the immune system.

Psoriatic arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, is an autoimmune disease and has a somewhat similar presentation, although affected joints tend to be on one side of the body, not both, and nodules are rare. Individuals often have a rash called psoriasis, which results in patchy, dry, raised lesions on the skin that tend to itch. Treatment involves medications similar to those used in rheumatoid arthritis.

Gout occurs as the result of a build-up of uric acid crystals inside a joint, usually affecting only one or two adjacent ones. It is most common in the great toe, foot, or ankle and presents with a red, hot, extremely painful joint. Gout can be associated with consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol, red meat, or seafood and is more likely to occur in patients with underlying liver disease, however, this can also sometimes run in families. Moderation or even abstinence is the best treatment, but medications to help control the levels of uric acid are needed at times.

If you have symptoms of arthritis, you may want to see your primary care provider. A work up to determine the type of arthritis you have may include a detailed history, x-rays, and blood work. You might be referred to a specialist called a Rheumatologist. For certain types of arthritis, identifying the problem early and starting treatment can delay or prevent pain and disability down the road.