Riverfront Blues Festival is Canceled for 2020

The Riverfront Blues Festival announced this week that they are canceling their 2020 event due to challenges created by the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak. Their summertime staple event is the latest casualty of the pandemic and could mean another blow to our local economy.

Even as the economy in Lincoln County starts to reopen, large scale events including the Blues Festival, the CARD Foundation’s Big Sky Bash, and Logger Days are losing their opportunities to bring in necessary sponsorship dollars due to  uncertainty about the business and social climate throughout the upcoming summer months. The result will be lost revenue for vendors, performers, hotels, restaurants, news outlets and more.

The 2020 Blues Festival would have been the 12th edition of the event that has brought musicians and fans from all over the country to Riverfront Park in Libby. In addition to featuring legendary blues musicians, the events included an all-star jam at the end of the session. The all-star jam  provided a unique and memorable experience for blues fans year after year.

Current plans are for the event to return to Riverfront Park in 2021.   Details will be available as they are released through riverfrontbluesfestival.com.

By Mati Bishop, The Montanian


School Resource Officer (SRO) levy voted down

Libby voters rejected a proposed levy that would have allowed the Libby School District to take advantage of a community grant from Flathead Electric Cooperative. The grant would have provided $100,000 over five years to help offset the cost of salary and benefits for a school resource officer.

The levy lost by 625 votes. A larger margin than the same levy lost by last year. The bill had been reintroduced for a second vote because of community feedback and a renewed effort to help start the program by the Flathead Electric according to the Facebook page established to promote the levy, facebook.com/sroforlibby.

Concerns were raised throughout the campaign regarding the $70,000 per year price tag for the SRO. According to the Facebook page, the salary for the officer would have been $38,766, but the total cost including training, equipment, benefits and other expenses was $76,016 per year. The Flathead Electric grant would have provided $100,000 over five years to help offset those costs. After the five years, the school district would have been responsible for the full cost of the SRO.

The levy’s failure is seen as an opportunity lost by its supporters who touted the benefits of having a resource officer as more than just an armed presence on campus in case of an active shooter or similar threat.

The supporters Facebook page cited a study from nasro.org that touted decreased drop-out rates, decreases in property damage to schools and surrounding areas, and a higher likelihood that students with mental health issues would get the help they need as some of the additional benefits of having a SRO on campus.

By Mati Bishop, The Montanian



Grizzly Bear Advisory Council to live stream meeting

The Governor’s Grizzly Bear Advisory Council will convene through video conference for its May meeting and the event will be streamed live online for the public.

The citizen council will meet from May 11 to 13 via video teleconference. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. each of the three days and will conclude at 4 p.m. on May 11 and May 12, and at noon on May 13.

The video conferences will be streamed at fwp.mt.gov/gbac.

The council will discuss key issues and the progress of draft documents from four separate working groups.

Information from past meetings, including presentations and reports shared with the council, is available online. The public is encouraged to provide input to council members online at fwp.mt.gov/gbac.

Submitted by Dillon Tabish



KNF  works to reopen camp-grounds

Kootenai National Forest staff is working hard to reopen many developed campgrounds by Memorial Day weekend, or shortly after depending on current conditions.

Additionally, rental facilities will begin a phased reopening on May 22 based on seasonal availability and facility conditions. Until then, developed campgrounds and rentals remain temporarily closed.

All recreation areas and campgrounds may not be immediately open and available for use. Expect continued forest closures and modified operations to happen on a case-by-case basis.

“We are looking forward to opening our developed sites soon for public use and enjoyment,” said Chad Benson, Kootenai National Forest Supervisor. “As the weather improves, recreationists and other visitors are understandably excited to visit their favorite recreation areas, but please continue to follow local, state, and federal guidelines on protecting yourself and staying safe.”

Those with existing campsite, cabin rental and lookout reservations through Recreation.gov will be notified via email and/or text message if there are any changes. Please be aware that rentals and lookouts will not be cleaned in between use. As in previous years, it is up to the individual renters to bring their own cleaning supplies, and to clean before and after use of the site.

Many dispersed camping areas, trails and trailheads across the forest remain open. Please remember to avoid congregating at trailheads and/or parking areas and refrain from gathering in groups of 10 or more.

The Kootenai National Forest continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation. Please remember to review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with local and state guidelines for social distancing and cloth face coverings.

For information on the projected recreation site opening dates by District and location, please visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/kootenai, call your local Ranger Station, and follow the Kootenai Forest on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kootenainf/.

Submitted by Willie Sykes

Bloom MT one year anniversary

Left to Right: Hailey Bowe, Caleb Smith, and Amanda Trecy. On Thursday May 7,  Bloom Montana had their one year anniversary. They provided chips, hotdogs, and soda for their patients.  Bloom now is open 7 days a week, Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Patients can now shop in the shop while still practicing social distancing. No more than 2 to 3 people at time. For more information on Bloom call 291-6638.