By Ashley South
The City of Troy employees and Dreamland Skateparks recently completed the new water splash pad feature at Roosevelt Park. The goal was to have it completed by Troy’s Old Fashion 4th of July Celebration. The splash pad has multiple new above ground water features and twelve in slab ground sprayers, for the ultimate splash pad experience. The water will not run continuously and can be activated by pressing the green post on the edge of the feature. The City of Troy also put up a new sun shade over the large playground equipment area to keep sun off of the play ground.
Photo left and middle of the new splash pad feature at Roosevelt Park in Troy. Photo on Top is of the new sun shade and Troy City Work Crew over the playground equipment at Roosevelt Park in Troy. Photo courtesy from The City of Troy.
Libby’s Ryggs Johnston qualifies for
123rd U.S. Amateur Championship
By Ashley South
Ryggs Johnston of Libby Montana has qualified for the 123rd U.S. Amateur Championship, with a 13-under-par total of 131 for 36 holes, out of 78 competitors. Golfing throughout his adolescent years, Johnston has continued past high school with his golfing successes as a five year standout at Arizona State University.
Johnston hit rounds of 64-67 at the 7,400 yard Old Works Layout in Anaconda Montana. The top three finishers earned spots into the U.S. Amateur Aug. 14-20 at Cherry Hills Country Club and Colorado Golf Club in the greater Denver area.
Two-time Montana State Amateur champion Joey Lovell of Bozeman (73-67) and Garrett Endicott of San Antonio (64-76) tied for fourth place at 140. They will be alternates for the national tournament later this summer.
Johnston is likely to turn professional after the U.S. Amateur Tournament. He is one of the most decorated junior players in Montana state history.
Century 21 Ribbon Cutting Celebration
Helen Goucher of Century 21 Summit Realty celebrated their ribbon cutting and grand opening on June 30th at their office location 904 Utah Ave. in Libby. The celebration was full of vising community members, food, drinks, and fun activities. Photo courtesy from Libby Chamber of Commerce
Northwest Montana’s Housing Delema is Impacting Local Communities
By Justin Franz, Freelance Writer
Over the last few years, as home prices have risen across Montana, much attention has been paid to that phenomenon in places like Flathead and Gallatin counties. But even more remote communities have felt the pinch of rising home and rent prices since 2020, including in far northwest Montana. Since the beginning of 2020, the median sales price of a home in Lincoln County has more than doubled, from $179,000 in January 2020 to $435,000 in May 2023, according to data from Montana Regional MLS. That increase is also impacting rent prices. For years, communities like Libby, Lincoln’s county seat that has struggled with the decline of the local timber and mining industries — compounded by a massive federal cleanup of an asbestos mine — were flush with affordable housing but lacked a strong job market. That’s according to Cassidy Kipp, deputy director of Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana, which helps people get out of poverty through rental assistance and home-buying education. It wasn’t unusual, then, for people to live in Lincoln County but commute to the Flathead (it’s about a 90-minute drive from Libby to Kalispell) for work. But that has changed in recent years. Sean O’Neill, community service department director with Community Action Partnership, said that five years ago it was possible to find a one-bedroom rental in Libby for $400 to $600. Now that would set a renter back anywhere from $800 to $1,200.
“It’s alarming,” O’Neill said, adding that in some cases rents are so high they don’t qualify for government assistance, better known as a Section 8 voucher, that is administered by Community Action Partnership. Another issue, Kipp added, is that rentals priced at what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (which provides Section 8 funding) considers a fair market price often don’t qualify for the program because they’re too old or haven’t been upgraded. In hopes of addressing that, Community Action Partnership is working with local landlords to upgrade some properties.
“The current housing market is just putting more strain on the [rental market],” Kipp said. “Because of that, people are being squeezed out of the market.”
But perhaps the biggest effort to address Lincoln County’s housing shortage is the pending construction of a housing development in Libby, across the street from Flathead County Community College’s Lincoln County Campus. The development will include 24 units of varying types and sizes that will have rents set at 30%, 50% and 60% of the area’s median income. Kipp said Community Action Partnership has worked with American Covenant Senior Housing Foundation to secure tax credits for construction and they hope to break ground on the project this summer. If everything goes according to plan, the duplexes will be ready for tenants by late summer or early fall of 2024. Community Action Partnership also plans to establish an office within the new development so residents will have easier access to its services. Kipp said that the organization serves 13% of households in Lincoln County with various programs.
Homicide Manhunt Concluded in Libby
Submitted by Lincoln County Sheriffs Department
On June 28, 2023, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) dispatch received a citizen report of a possible sighting of a man who was wanted for a homicide that occurred in Michigan, was considered armed and dangerous, and was the subject of a nationwide manhunt.
This sighting was based upon an LCSO Facebook post that was published about 4 hours prior to the arrest. Deputies and detectives from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and the Libby Chief of Police responded to the area of Mac’s Market, North of Libby, Montana where the fugitive had been seen. Responding officers arrived and contacted the male who was then identified as Chadwick Shane Mobley.
Mobley was arrested for Homicide – First Degree – Premeditated, Homicide – Felony murder and Weapons – Felony Firearm.
Mobley is currently being held in the Lincoln County Detention Center. He will make an initial appearance in Lincoln County Justice Court and be held pending extradition to Michigan.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the citizens involved for their identification of the suspect.
Federal Judge Halts Logging Project on the Libby District
By Ashley South
A federal judge halted the Ripley logging project on Monday. The project is located on the Libby District of the Kootenai National Forest. The court said federal officials didn’t properly evaluate whether the project would harm federally protected grizzly bears and Canada lynx.
The Ripley Project on the Kootenai National Forest near Libby would include 11,000 acres of commercial logging and the construction of nearly 20 miles of new roads. Alliance for the Wild Rockies sued the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) over the project, saying the project would harm threatened grizzly bears and Canada lynx.
Montana District Court Judge Dana Christensen ruled that the USFS and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service failed to properly analyze how the logging project could harm those species and consequently violated the Endangered Species Act. The Agencies were ordered by Christensen to reassess the project’s impact in accordance with the law.
Photo left: USFS prescription of a clearcut with reserves, bordering unmanaged federal land. Photo Courtesy of the