Gyms, theaters and museums get the green light to reopen

Ceanna and her brother Benjamin. Photo by Bob Hosea


By Mati Bishop


Montana’s Governor, Steve Bullock, last week, announced revisions to phase one reopening guidelines that include the option for fitness facilities, theaters and museums to reopen beginning on May 15. All businesses choosing to reopen will have screening and social distancing requirements that must be met in order to comply with the order.

Bullock credited ongoing social distancing efforts of Montanans to  flatten the COVID-19 curve for additional businesses being able to open.

In a press conference on May 8, Bullock acknowledged that since the beginning of Montana’s phase one reopening, there have only been three new cases of COVID-19 two of which were Montana residents who had traveled out of state.   He said that more positive tests are expected and that Montanans, especially those in high risk categories, need to continue to practice social distancing to continue helping to  limit the spread of the virus.

Business owners, their customers, and Lincoln County Commissioner Mark Peck, have all expressed frustration at the original phase one reopening plan which included churches, retails storefronts, bars and restaurants, but not fitness facilities. At the Lincoln County Board of Health meeting held on April 23, Peck expressed frustration that fitness facilities were not being given the same opportunity to open following the social distancing rules as other businesses.

The May 15 reopening date was chosen to give businesses and local health boards time to establish procedures and protocols for ensuring the safety of their customers and citizens, according to Bullock. As of press time, local businesses were developing strategies and working with the local health department to ensure compliance with regulations and safety when they reopen.

Both Studio B and Pure North Fitness have been offering outdoor fitness classes which are already allowed by the reopening order. Other businesses able to reopen under the new provisions including the Dome Theater are still considering their options.

Under the new regulations, gyms and fitness facilities will only be able to open to their members. No drop-ins or day passes will be allowed, and they will have to operate at a 50% capacity with additional cleaning responsibilities by staff.

Movie theaters will have to maintain social distancing and add extra cleaning time between showings to follow the reopening order. An additional challenge for movie theaters is the fact that most movie studios have suspended theatrical releases until at least July, so there aren’t many new movies to show at this time.

Museums will also be required to function at a 50% capacity if they choose to reopen and they  must also clean commonly touched areas frequently. There are also restrictions on reopening of hands on exhibits that involve visitors touching the displays.

Lincoln County Health Office, Dr. Brad Black, said after the original phase one reopening order, that targeted surveillance and robust testing were key for containing further spread in Lincoln County during the reopening process. His goal is to have between 1,000 and 1,300 Coronavirus tests per month conducted in Lincoln County to track the emergence and spread of the virus if it occurs.   There have been approximately 1,000 tests conducted in Lincoln County since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Residents are encouraged to get tested if they show any symptoms of COVID-19, if they may have come into contact with someone diagnosed with the virus, or if they have travelled to areas with active cases. In addition, employees of businesses who work with the public and out of state travelers, such as hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, and healthcare are encouraged to get tested even if they are not showing symptoms. This will help track and control the spread of the virus by asymptomatic carriers.

For information specific to Lincoln County, including getting tested for COVID-19, visit or by calling 293-6295. More information about the governor’s order can be found at

Hecla donates to food banks and Libby Volunteer Ambulance

The Hecla Charitable Foundation provide funding last month for food banks serving the  Libby, Troy, and Noxon areas. The Foundation was established in 2007 to provide grants and disburse funds for educational and charitable purposes. Their mission is to enhance quality of life and promote social, environmental, and economic sustainability and development of those communities where Hecla has operations and activities.

Since 2009, they have made more than $3.3 million in contributions to rural communities where we operate.

Photos courtesy of 

Jeralyn Jones, Montanore Minerals, a subsidiary of Mines Management Inc. owned by Hecla.

New scholarship established to honor Troy’s Ceanna Diller

By Brian Baxter


A new scholarship foundation and fund is being set up in the name of recently deceased, Ceanna Diller.

Foundation scholarship funds are grant-in-aid monies awarded to a student by a foundation. The main aim of granting scholarships is to assist individuals in need of financial assistance to help pay for their educational costs. Groups building a foundation fund establish a budget, raise or find funding, choose awarding criteria, set time limits, promote the effort, select winners, and then award the scholarship.

Lisa Christian, one of the main fund organizers said, “We have the scholarship set up at Troy High School with no parameters for applying yet. We are hoping to be able to set those when we can all get together after quarantine orders have lifted, and open applications for graduating seniors during the 2020-2021 school year.”

Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so by putting Ceanna Diller in the memo line of their donation. Donations can be sent to Troy High School to the attention of Trinetta Todd. The address is PO Box 867, Troy, MT 59935. For more information, contact Lisa Christian at lisa.christian86@g

Diller was known as a great friend to all, including her animal friends. She enjoyed learning about wild felines, and loved to adopt stray domestic cats. As a high school senior, she volunteered at the Troy Senior Citizen’s Center. She assisted there by helping out the seniors and cheering them up. She was also a very intelligent young lady, and acted as Troy’s National Honors Society President. Diller was a member of the D.C. and Montana Close Up groups, and she also received a Presidential Award. May her memory live on.

Irene Loveless of Loveless Realty retires after 30 years

By Tyler Whitney


It will be hard for many across the country as they begin leaving their homes for the first time in the coming weeks to find that the world kept turning despite stay-at-home orders: trees have blossomed, friends are older, and the summer is nearly here. For those of us in Libby, we might in particular notice that Loveless Realty will have left from its perch along Highway 2 with the retirement of Irene Loveless.

After just over 40 years of building communities and finding homes, Loveless saw that it was finally time to end her work in realty and look to a future sitting by Flathead Lake and planning trips to around the world with her son.

Born under the promise of Independence Day rockets in 1929, just months before the first bells on Wall Street began their panicked warning of the impending depression, Loveless nary saw a birthday party until she was thirteen.

Friends and family were often committed to rodeos and parades, unable to come to a separately planned celebration. But this did not keep the day from containing its own magic in outings on the lake or picnics in the warm summer twilight below showers of orange and yellow. Of course, though 91 years will have passed this coming Fourth of July, Loveless still plans on continuing the ritual of cuddling inside a warm blanket out on the water with her family; it may be a different boat and different fireworks, but tradition has a way of binding distant decades together.

In 1957, Loveless moved to Libby with her husband Howard and her oldest son, Jay. Though not far from where they lived before, it was still not an easy adjustment to the new school and new places. Jay had difficulty adjusting, hoping that if he failed his classes the family would have to move back home. The tactic failed of course, and in time, even Irene’s worries about moving dissipated under Libby’s charm and dawning sense of purposeful permanence. Irene found odd jobs here and there in bookkeeping, insurance, accounting, at a funeral home, in ranching, and Christmas tree farming (to just name a few). She would take up anything to keep busy and support her family. It was not until 1978, that she found her true purpose and calling in helping people find homes and futures.

Continued on page 6

Owner of Loveless Realty, Irene Loveless retires after 30 years of business. Photo courtesy of Irene Loveless