Kootenai Gazette launches

Mati Bishop wearing his Kootenai Country shirt. Photo by Tracy McNew, edited by Bishop to match the image style in his upcoming issue of the Kootenai Gazette.


By Tracy McNew


Mati Bishop is editor and creator of the new magazine, Kootenai Gazette. His business will be based in Libby, Montana. Bishop spent many summers and vacations visiting family in the Libby area and recently decided to move here from Seattle. Libby, he said, is the smallest town that he’s ever lived in, but it already feels like home.

The Kootenai Gazette is a free online magazine that will be released bimonthly. It will be available for download from their website or you can sign up to receive it automatically by email. The first issue of the Kootenai Gazette will be released on Thursday,  Feb. 20.

Bishop told The Montanian, that the magazine isn’t just free, it’s fiercely free. “The fiercely free concept,” he said, “is for free thinking people. It’s an attempt to embody our more free thinking, self-reliant culture.” He hopes that the magazine will help  draw tourism to Libby and surrounding areas as well as build community  understanding. His intended audience will be spread from Spokane, Wash. to Bozeman, Mont.

“My vision was to develop this project for people who aren’t afraid to think for themselves,” Bishop said. In a teaser of the first Kootenai Gazette issue, he wrote, “We are unapologetically committed to building a better community and that means creating some understanding between people on polarized issues.”

The Kootenai Gazette will be a lifestyle magazine with a feature article on a hot button topic each issue. It will also include content about sports, music, food and coffee, and even some fiction.

For the first issue, wolves are the hot button topic and perspectives from both sides of the issue will be shared along with facts and even an opinion poll. The issue will also include articles on rock climbing and a new sport called arena archery that is described as “dodge ball with bows and soft-tipped arrows.”

A corresponding podcast will also be starting soon. The podcast will consist primarily of interviews with people from both inside and outside of the local community. Bishop also plans to have behind the scenes episodes from the making of each magazine issue.

The Kootenai Gazette magazine and podcast will be free with the hope of contributing to the community but also raising enough money to keep them going. To do so, Bishop isn’t asking for donations but selling advertising, shirts, and coffee.


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Kootenai Aviation

captain retires

By Brian Baxter


The title page of the Kootenai Aviation website shows spectacular mountain flying over the Cabinet Mountains just west of Libby, Montana. The photo depicts Bill Caldwell flying his craft, a Cardinal with the tail number of N-21460, beautifully profiled with a remnant glacier in the background. The red, white, and blue aircraft is approximately level with the top of Elephant Peak, elevation 7,938 feet. Since mountains are generally measured from sea level, and his plane appears to be level, his altitude is about 7,938 feet. This photo and many others on the site, depict some of the intensely stunning mountain peak scenery that anyone who has bagged several peaks, and flown over the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness  even a few times will surely appreciate. And for that matter, any rational human with an appreciation for beauty would also. After 13 years of flying over the East and West Cabinets, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Glacier Park and other areas, Caldwell is now retiring.

As we sat in his home office doing this interview for The Montanian, his sky blue eyes seemed to lighten as he described his adventures. He speaks softly, modestly, and confidently. Caldwell is a modern day Sky King. When asked how he came up with and developed his idea for a private aviation company in this neck of the woods, Bill said, “I went over to Bonner’s Ferry Airport in 1999 to what was then Northern Air and began receiving training and personal use instruction in a Cessna 172.”


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Bill and Linda Caldwell in front of their Cardinal plane. Photos Courtesy of Kootenai Aviation.

Local women’s mission to mobilize, inspire, and empower across seas

By Tyler Whitney


The Seattle international airport hummed with a cold intensity on a Thursday afternoon as planes darted off to every corner of the world. Joyce Vogel, a local midwife, was preparing to board her plane to Nairobi, Kenya, though her ultimate destination was still in question.

Only days before, she had been planning to return to work at a clinic in Kapsowar, Kenya; a small town in the western part of the country, hidden away amongst rolling emerald hills and a large forest. But recent, local tensions have caused the clinic to warn foreigners to stay away for the time being as the situation deescalates. Now, with several suitcases full of medical supplies and nowhere to go, Vogel had to hope that when she landed that either Kapsuwar had become safe again to travel to or that she could find someplace new to lend her service.

Several days passed in a guest house run by missionaries in Nairobi; a gorgeous, brick, two-story structure hosting an array of crisscrossed windows and a large rounded turret in the front. After long days wandering the city and seeing the sights—a elephant orphanage, some friendly giraffes, and a women’s bead factory—the evenings were spent in deep conversations with missionaries and travelers from all over Africa in the sunlight gardens behind the house. Finally, after searching for somewhere to serve, an opportunity opened up in the country next door, Uganda, where a hospital was in need with some help with births. Before long, Vogel was once again in the air, on her way to Kampala, Uganda.

The clinic sits in The Field of Dreams, a community built by SMI, Show Mercy International, just outside Kampala. Offering aid and support to local families and over 350 orphans in the area, SMI’s mission is to “mobilize, inspire, and empower” those individuals most in need all over the world.

The community is nestled on a hill overlooking a small valley filled with a lush greenery: trees sprout tall with crowded bushels of leaves and the underbrush glints from the dew in the daylight. Clouds stubbornly hover overhead, though the hazy mist that drifts in the air promises to leave as soon as the rainbow of flowers have had their fill to drink.

The community is a set of large red roofed buildings surrounding a beautiful brick courtyard and gardens, housing a birthing center, a clinic, a fellowship hall, and staff accommodations. On her first day, Vogel became aware that any help that she could provide would be different than she had planned. The clinic was well staffed by local doctors and nurses, so instead of specifically teaching or providing birth services in a maternity ward, she would fill in where she could, serving those in need regardless of what that need was.

After only a few days serving with SMI Vogel  has already had a long list of new experiences meeting new people and serving them where they are. On the first day, she joined local doctors at the elder care clinic where she met with some local older ladies. She then went to a local high school where she taught the girls and answered questions about feminine hygiene and other “girl stuff.”

Most recently, Vogel visited a local women’s prison to provide what help she could. The complex was mostly barren: a dirt courtyard surrounded by long narrow bleakly painted housing with only a few trees to break up the brown on brown. Though the standard for justice in Uganda is innocent until proven guilty, The Observer noted in 2013 that 54% of all inmates are still awaiting trial and have been detained without conviction. Many of the women that Vogel met were in this exact circumstance, with only thirteen of the 200 women convicted of a crime. Separated from their family and home, they awaited a court date, sometimes for months, in a backed-up legal system.

One women even, waited with her newborn, eagerly hoping that she would not have to raise her daughter in prison when she had not even been convicted of a crime. It was a day then for showing love to those who felt left out and forgotten by society: she painted their nails, talked about personal health, and connected while chatting about normal everyday things.

Only a few days into her trip, Vogel still has several more weeks planned to serve who she can through teaching, helping new mothers with questions and concerns, and with anything else needed by the local doctors. Ultimately, she sees her service as a part of something greater than herself; “I’m here now, serving and helping as I am able. God can use us anywhere, and though it was not where I planned on going, I have peace knowing this is where I was meant to be.”

Vogel will be planning another trip later this year or early next to the clinic in Kenya or Uganda. If you would like to donate supplies, she can be contacted through the Assembly of God church in Libby. For clarity, the author of this piece is Joyce Vogel’s son-in-law.

Joyce Vogel along with other doctors and nurses of the clinic. Photo courtesy of Joyce Vogel.