Area accomplishments of 2018, told by local leaders

By Tracy McNew


According to William Shakespeare, “What’s past is prologue.” In other words, 2018 was an introductory scene preparing us for what’s in store next: now, in 2019.

Unique in an era of 24-7 news that can be overwhelmingly negative; The Montanian aims, every week, to share positive local news stories about good things happening in our communities. We help inform and inspire residents with encouraging local news stories.

This week, instead of sending our reporters out to write a uniquely positive local feature, we let the community do the talking. Here’s a recap of just a few of our local 2018 achievements to remind us that last year is sure to positively influence this year.

Cabinet Peaks Medical Center’s CEO, Bruce Whitfield, told The Montanian, “Our staff and providers are doing an outstanding job. We received three different quality awards in 2018, and the 3D mammography that will be coming soon is pretty spectacular too.” The hospital stood at 90% of their fundraising goal for the purchase of a 3D mammography machine as of the end of 2018. The new machine will likely be purchased in April, and it will provide more advanced imaging. It will also be more comfortable and convenient for patients, and decrease false positives, Whitfield said.

In addition, CPMC’s new clinic that opened at Bull River in 2018, has been a “smashing success.” It has provided a win-win for getting primary care to rural residents and for establishing patients’ long term healthcare relationships with the local hospital.

Troy City Councilwoman, Shawna Kelsey, told The Montanian that some of the city’s 2018 highlights included being chosen for the Main Street Montana Project, record breaking attendance at the Timberbeast Disc Golf tournament held annually in July, and a 50% increase in vendor revenue at the Troy Farmer’s Market.

Through the Main Street Montana Project, Kelsey said, “We have been able to access assistance in economic and community development goals including increasing connectivity in and around Troy. We are also looking at some projects related to geotourism, local food, and small business development.”

In addition, Kelsey said, about the Troy Town Pump expansion, “We have dealt with a controversial issue, made a difficult decision, and come out the other side as a whole community.” By only three votes, it was decided during November’s election not to sell a portion of 2nd Street to Town Pump. The issue was addressed at several meetings with “lots of back-and-forth and differing yet passionate opinions,” said Kelsey. This achievement lends confidence to our communities’ connectivity and resiliency.

Lincoln County Commissioner, Jerry Bennett, told The Montanian that he saw the end of EPA’s asbestos cleanup as one of the most positive things that happened in 2018. “As the County and MT DEQ negotiate to take over the reins, the devil is always in the details. We have verbal assurance as well as documentation in the works, that verify that citizens will be protected and cleanup provided at no cost as in the past. So, believing there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, we look forward to 2019.”

County Health Officer, Dr. Brad Black agreed. He said, “EPA’s completion of the Libby asbestos superfund cleanup was a great asset and accomplishment for the community in 2018. 2019 will bring opportunities for the community to continue to maintain the safe environment and to move forward.”

Superintendent of Libby Public Schools, Craig Barringer, told The Montanian that one of the highlights of 2018 for the school and all of its students was receiving a PreK-12, four-year, $1.3 million, Montana Comprehensive Literacy Grant. The grant will help improve students’ writing across the district.

In addition, high school senior, Ryggs Johnston became a four time state golf champion. He holds the record for the lowest score in Montana high school history, and for the lowest score ever shot in Class B and in Class A. Deanna Malyevac was selected as the Montana GEAR UP Liaison of the Year, and  Mikayln Zeiler was chosen to sing with a prestigious choir at the Sydney Opera House in Australia during the summer of 2018.

According to Barringer, “There were other things, and maybe some even better,” and even though he couldn’t detail all of them, overall, 2018 was a very good year for area schools and their students.

Lincoln County Administrator, Darren Coldwell, summed up the idea of last year’s events leading to positive new beginnings. He said 2018 brought new energy that the county wasn’t used to. With new changes and officials in three different elected departments, there will be fresh energy, new eyes looking at old issues, and new ideas. “2019 has a very positive outlook for the county,” Coldwell concluded.

2018’s final Libby asbestos cleanup at a property on Hwy. 2 south of Libby owned by Warren Winn. Photo by Tracy McNew from the Nov. 28, 2018 issue of  The Montanian.

Troy Mayor, Dallas Carr, shows a diagram of the building plan for Town Pump’s proposed expansion at a Jan. 2018 meeting with about 100 people in attendance. Photo by Chris Wetherell from the Feb. 14, 2018 issue of the Montanian.