Montanans honored for outstanding volunteer service across the state
Office of Governor Greg Gianforte
June 25, 2021 – Governor Greg Gianforte and the Montana Commission on Community Service today announced the recipients of the 2021 ServeMontana Awards at an awards
ceremony and luncheon.
“Service is at the core of our Montana
values, and it’s part of what makes our state the Last Best Place,” Gov. Gianforte said. “Today’s award recipients have gone above and beyond in serving others, making ourstate stronger, our communities more vibrant, and Montana a better place to live.”
Director of the Governor’s Office of
Community Service Sarah Sadowski added, “Ranging in age from 17 to 86, these
Montanans embody the spirit of service.
Serving their neighbors throughout the
pandemic, these individuals and groups
generate light and hope through their selfless commitment to serving others.”
The ServeMontana Award recognizes
outstanding Montanans and volunteer
organizations for their service to Montana.
Recipients represent the best in spurring positive change in their communities through service, volunteerism, innovation, and
2021 ServeMontana Award Recipients
George McClure, Jr. (Bozeman) has served Hospice for Bozeman Health for the past two and a half decades, and his community for even longer. His dedication to service goes beyond the patients he has helped and through his time as a professor at MSU. George and his wife were heavily involved
in campus activities and supporting students’ education. After his wife’s passing, George initiated a scholarship in her honor.
Isaac Nehring (Helena) while still in high school, has managed to hold a job, be an athlete, a Youth Justice Advisory board member, and the Executive Director of Montana Youth Action Network. Having founded and built the Montana Youth Action Network, Isaac has been growing its presence since its inception in 2019. He has worked tirelessly to engage young people on local and rural issues,
advocating for progress and political understanding, as well as providing nonpartisan opportunities for civic engagement.
Janell Running Wolf (Browning) has been an impactful leader in the community through her time spent helping to feed those who live on the street, buying clothing for children, and bringing dinners to the local police department and hospital. During COVID-19, she purchased food and
necessities out of pocket and brought them
to quarantined and isolated families. Janell
also didn’t hesitate to help distribute truckloads of fresh produce to the elders in her community when they needed it most.
Brandy LaTray (Columbia Falls) serves in many different roles within her community. She is a Volunteer Firefighter and EMT
for Badrock Fire Department, a full-time
massage therapist, a part of the Parent
Teacher Organization at Glacier Gateway Elementary School and is the caretaker for her 89-year-old grandfather. Brandy
collaborates with North Valley Food Bank to organize and arrange Christmas dinners for the less fortunate and sets up delivery with the fire department. Serving as the Association President, Brandy provides on scene Critical Medical Services for District Mutual Aide Firefighters.
Suzy Williams (Helena) is a highly
qualified teacher, who makes a huge
difference in the lives of many immigrants
in Helena. Through her work at The Shop
University, Suzy provides English as a
second language instruction to improve
the communication, career, and citizenship goals of community members. Her attention to personalized curriculum affords her
students opportunities to own their own
business, obtain their citizenship or driver’s license, and the ability to vote. Suzy is a
cornerstone to a part of the community that
is often overlooked.
Elkhorn Community Organizations
Active in Disaster (COAD) serves Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, and Jefferson counties. Members include the Salvation Army, United Way, American Red Cross, LDS Charities, Montana Conservation Corps, Helena Food Share, HOPE Dogs and the Montana Radio Network. When it came to executing a plan
to use the Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds to launch a large-scale, drive-through
vaccination site, Elkhorn COAD volunteers enthusiastically said “Yes!”. Over 360
volunteers gave thousands of hours to direct
traffic, provide coffee to volunteers, and staff the snack counter. Volunteers included youth from local Boy Scout troops. To date, over 26,000 vaccines have been given at this clinic, and people have called from all over the
country to learn about the model
adopted in Lewis and Clark County.
Volunteers of America Northern Rockies is a helping hand for all Veterans to get back on their feet. They offer several programs designed to address the needs of our
Veterans and strive to provide a hand up,
not a handout. The VOA works with other community resources to achieve the goal of ending Veteran homelessness. Glenn Scott said, “The VOA helped save my life. They went out of their way to ensure that I had a safe, warm bed and food, and even helped to seek out employment opportunities. They then provided coaching skills and clothes for the interview process and offered transportation. The entire organization has made me feel welcome from day one.”
The ServeMontana Awards are sponsored by Montana’s Credit Unions. The
Governor’s Office of Community Service expands and promotes national service
and volunteerism in Montana and engages citizens in service.
To learn more, please visit serve.mt.gov.
Massive infrastructure spending
Senate Democrats and
Republicans, including Montana Sen. Jon Tester, just rolled out a $579 billion plan to improve roads, broadband and other
by Alex Sakariassen
Montana Free Press 06.25.2021
Following a meeting with President Joe Biden this week, a bipartisan coalition of congressional lawmakers including U.S. Sen. Jon Tester unveiled the framework for a massive infrastructure agreement. The deal would inject $579 billion nationally into a range of projects
including road, bridge,
airport, water system and broadband improvements.
During a call Thursday with members of the
Montana press, Tester
called the proposal a “once-in-a-century investment in
America’s infrastructure” hatched by a group of 10 Senate Democrats and
Republicans over weeks of negotiation. Tester’s role in those negotiations was
spotlighted Thursday by Politico shortly after Biden signed off on the latest
version, which includes $312 billion for transportation projects and $55 billion for water projects. Tester told Montana media that the deal, which has yet to be crafted into a bill, will spur job creation statewide and help shore up Montana’s aging infrastructure.
“It will be one of
the most impactful non-emergency bills in our
nation’s history,” he said, “and it couldn’t be more urgently needed.”
If successful, the
deal would also commit
$65 billion nationally for broadband access — money Tester said would stack on top of recent broadband funding provided to states by the American Rescue Plan Act. The state Legislature this spring allocated $275 million of Montana’s share
of ARPA funds to filling broadband connectivity gaps. Montana Department of Commerce Director Scott Osterman has said it would take $700 million to bring internet service across
the state up to a 1-gigabit standard.
Tester said the COVID-19 pandemic underscored that Montana is “very, very behind the curve” when it comes to broadband service for health care, education and business. How much of the $65 billion the state stands to get remains unknown, along with scores of other details about the deal, including how it might impact municipal wastewater projects and wildland firefighting. But Tester said he is confident the new infrastructure plan, combined with spending from COVID-19 relief packages, would be enough to “change the landscape” for broadband in Montana.
“I think it’s going to put us in really good shape as far as broadband in our state goes,” Tester said.
A spokesperson for Sen. Steve Daines cast doubt on the plan’s potential for
success, however, stating in an emailed comment that President Biden has “made it clear” he would not sign the deal unless his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which includes investments in education and paid family leave, is passed alongside it.
“With a 50-50 split
Senate and each senator having the power to stop any legislation from moving
forward, Sen. Daines hopes that Sen. Tester would not allow President Biden to hold any true infrastructure compromise hostage and refuse to support a multi-trillion-dollar social welfare package with massive tax increases,” the spokesperson said.
As the plan takes on more definition in coming weeks, Tester said, Montanans should get more clarity on whether specific water infrastructure projects such as the Milk River’s St. Mary diversion system will
receive a share of the
funding, and how money for wildfire resilience will end up impacting the firefighting community. He added
that the infrastructure
investments will likely be distributed through existing channels — via the Federal Aviation Administration in the case of airport projects, for example, or via Amtrak in the case of passenger rail improvements. The state government will likely be a part of the distribution
process as well, Tester said.
One concession Tester said he wished hadn’t been made during negotiations was a decision to exclude housing from the infrastructure investments eligible for funding under the plan. He said that with many details still left to be hashed out,
he hasn’t abandoned the prospect of addressing that issue.
“It’s really important
we get more affordable workforce housing, and that may be addressed later in a reconciliation bill,” Tester said. “I hope it does. I think there’s going to be some opportunities to do that.”
Regarding where the $579 billion will come from, Tester listed several likely sources identified by the bipartisan group. Those
include redirecting unused unemployment relief funds from ARPA and enhancing tax enforcement by the
Internal Revenue Service. Again, the debate over those details will now pass to the full Senate, where opposition to portions of the plan
is likely to materialize on both sides of the aisle. But Tester assured members of the media that “we didn’t have to raise any taxes to pay for it.”
Read more from
Alex Sakariassen at