The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are cooling and school's back in session. It's that time of year when we start to spend a bit more time around town, watching football or enjoying a slightly darker batch of seasonal brews. And nothing says fall like the kind of slice that comes in a cardboard box.
This week: Zpizza
The 411 in the 406: Missoula’s been a happening pizza town for ages now. From established locals like Biga, Tower and the Bridge to chains like Mackenzie River, dough-tossing is practically an intramural sport around here. The latest arrived just a couple weeks ago—zpizza, a Laguna Beach-founded artisan pizzeria that currently has locations in 17 states. The new North Higgins restaurant marks zpizza’s third foray into Montana’s pizza scene; the company already has two storefronts in Billings.
Maintaining the rep: Zpizza boasts the company’s “passion for great food,” and it shows. Everything that can be organic is, from the dough to the skim mozzarella to the additive-free sausage. Put it all in front of a crust that resembles flatbread more than it does a chewy breadstick and you’ve got a product that won’t dilute Missoula’s already stellar reputation for quality “za.” Oh, and there are both vegan and gluten-free options too.
Buy the slice: We normally wouldn’t touch Hawaiian pizza with a 10-foot rotisserie spit, but it seemed like the ultimate test for a new pizzeria. We were not disappointed. Each pineapple popped with the kind of freshness you wouldn’t expect from something in a display case, and the ham was thick enough to shrug off any association with Canadian bacon. At $3 a slice, we’d definitely go back, especially if it meant a crack at the Casablanca, the Greek or the ZBQ Chicken. Zpizza also offers a range of salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes, as well as a line of specialty flatbread pizzas.
Where to find it: Zpizza is at 525 N. Higgins, right across from the XXXXs. For delivery—and remember, Griz tailgate season is upon us—call 406-926-2770.
Hangriest Hour serves up fresh details on western Montana eats. To recommend a restaurant, dish or chef for Hangriest Hour, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Late last year, members of the Montana Public Safety Officer Standards and Training Council, or POST, the quasi-judicial board that certifies police officers, debated how to appropriately punish Polson Police Officer Cory Anderson. He and Polson Police Chief Wade Nash, while off-duty and drinking, had called and allegedly intimidated a witness in a poaching investigation implicating several Lake County cops.
POST called it “strike two” against Anderson. The council had already suspended him once, in 2005, for alcohol-related domestic abuse. And he’d been involved in a few other drunken incidents over the course of several years while working for the Polson Police Department and Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Still, POST went easy on Anderson, letting him keep his badge as long as he underwent a chemical dependency evaluation, which he completed a couple months ago. Assistant Attorney General Sarah Hart, who serves as POST’s counsel, said during the December 2012 meeting, “My gut, for what it’s worth, is that this guy is going to toe the straight and narrow.”
It appears Anderson toed it about as far as Swanee’s Bar & Grill in Polson. That’s where strike three may have occurred late Saturday night, when Anderson allegedly assaulted someone. He wasn’t arrested, but on Monday Polson Police Chief Wade Nash placed Anderson on administrative leave while Nash’s department conducts an internal investigation and the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office leads a criminal investigation (the Lake County Sheriff’s Office passed it off to avoid a conflict of interest).
Here's the debut of Josh Quick's "Camp Sleepover" in the Indy. Make sure to check the Indy Blog every Tuesday for new editions of our newest comic strip, or find it in the paper's pages every Thursday.
As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency comes under fire for abandoning studies that linked contaminated water to hydraulic fracturing, and oil and gas companies consider how to fix their public image around the issue, states are trying to figure out how much transparency to demand from the industry. Meanwhile, researchers are racing to find the most effective tracer to mix with fracking fluid that could dramatically change how the industry works.
“People (with contaminated wells) usually say (I know it was fracking) ‘because I’ve got methane in my water,’” Barron said. “(But) it’s difficult to discern whether it’s from one source or another.” With new tracer technology to help narrow it down, “It may turn out it was Halliburton that contaminated your water, and in another case, it may turn out it’s the municipal dump that’s dumping into a stream that has ground water close to it.”
For their field test, Barron’s company will mix nano rust particles into at least two million gallons of fracking fluid before pumping it into the ground for hydraulic fracturing (a process that uses pressurized water, sand and chemicals to break up rock and release gas underground). Texas-based Southwestern Energy will host the testing at one of their wells and has also funded some of Barron’s tracer research. When asked if that’s a conflict of interest, Barron asks where else he might be able to test his technology in the field. “It’s not going to be the EPA (to fund us). And I haven’t noticed Matt Damon giving me a research check recently,” he jests, referring to the actor-screenwriter whose so-so 2012 film Promised Land made Damon a target for industry criticism. Barron, and FracEnsure, anticipate they may publish results from the field test in a Society of Petroleum Engineers journal.
Tracers that can already be used in fracking fluid today usually either dilute too quickly or rely on radioactive material, which isn’t a great way to test for contaminated water without contaminating it in the process. Barron says his nano rust solution is harmless, detectable at low concentrations and also lasts at least several weeks, and possibly more, making it easier to detect a slow-moving problem.
Depending on the results, Barron hopes to have the nano rust tracer on the market within a year. He and his colleagues launched a company in 2011, FracEnsure, to use the nano rust product to provide a service for companies, state governments or individuals, in which they test water for contamination upon request. As far as costs go, that will depend on the market. “It’s not the dollar amount; it’s what percentage of the total cost of the well it is. We’re aiming that (the price for our tracer) should be far less than 10 percent of (the cost of) the chemicals" that the drilling company is already using.
A second tracer company, BaceTrace, which popped up last year, is FracEnsure’s biggest competition so far. BaceTrace began as a research project out of Duke University, with grant money from the school, and also hopes to complete a field test before the end of the year. When CEO Justine Chow combined her biology undergraduate work with her curiosity to find a fracking fluid tracer during her graduate work, she came up with what she says may be the perfect solution: artificial deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. Just a thimbleful amount is needed for 7 million gallons, or 11 Olympic-sized swimming pools, of fracking fluid.
Montana, Idaho, Wyoming researchers part of Colorado River dam study
Montana State University professor Wyatt Cross, University of Wyoming professor Bob Hall and researchers from Idaho State University were part of a three-year study on the Colorado River, where they tracked aquatic life and how that life changed from where Glen Canyon Dam dumped water into the river and along the miles away from the dam.
Billings Gazette; Aug. 29
Annual count in Yellowstone National Park finds 4,600 bison
The 4,600 bison counted during Yellowstone National Park's annual summer count is about 9 percent higher than the 4,200 found last year, but still just a bit under the 5,000 reported in 2005.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle; Aug. 29
Three Montanans nominated for prestigious wildlife conservation award
On Wednesday, the Indianapolis Zoo announced the names of 39 nominees under consideration for its biennial Indianapolis Prize, which is awarded for international wildlife conservation work, with three Montanans making the list: Montana state Sen. Michael Phillips was chosen for his work with wolves and bison; Montana State University professor Joel Berger for his research on ungulates and wildlife migration corridors; and ornithologist Denver Holt, the founder of the Owl Research Institute in Charlo, who worked last year with Polar Bears International in Canada researching climate change and snowy owls.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle; Aug. 29
Montana FWP asks DEQ for more study on proposed copper mine
The public comment period on the Montana Department of Environmental Quality's preliminary approval of Tintina Alaska Exploration's request to explore for copper deposits near White Sulphur Springs closed Tuesday, and among the 4,430 responses filed to that plan was one from the state's Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department, which requested additional review of the proposal due to its concerns about dewatering, and in particular, reduced flows in Sheep Creek.
Great Falls Tribune; Aug. 29
Quick is a prolific Missoula-based designer and illustrator who has worked with local businesses, nonprofits and artists on everything from T-shirts to posters to logos. His clients include Big Dipper Ice Cream, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, The Whizpops, Doma Coffee Roasting Company, Missoula Outdoor Cinema, KBGA, Sunday Streets Missoula and many others. His comic strip, “Camp Sleepover,” has been selected two years running for City Pages’ (Minneapolis/St. Paul) prestigious Comix Issue, but makes its first weekly appearance in the Indy.
“Josh is a phenomenal Missoula talent and a great addition to our paper,” says editor Skylar Browning. “We’re excited about helping him launch this strip to a larger audience.”
“Camp Sleepover” will appear in the Indy’s classified section, along with regular weekly content like Rob Brezsny’s “Free Will Astrology,” Amy Alkon’s “Advice Goddess,” Matt Jones’ “Jonesin’ Crosswords” and Tom Tomorrow’s “This Modern World.” Quick’s comic will also appear on the Indy’s website.
Utah governor asks SITLA to reconsider Book Cliffs leases
Citing the importance of the Book Cliffs area for wildlife habitat, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert urged the state's School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration to reconsider its decision to lease 96,000 acres of that land to Anadarko for oil and gas development.
Deseret News; Aug. 28
Idaho governor seeks slice of Walmart's 'buy from America' business
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter was one of eight governors who met last week with Wal-Mart executives in Florida to discuss how their states could participate in the retailing giant's new decade-long $50-billion campaign to buy U.S.-made products.
Idaho Statesman; Aug. 28
Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): You seem primed to act like a ram, the astrological creature associated with your sign. I swear you have that look in your eyes: the steely gaze that tells me you're about to take a very direct approach to smashing the obstacles in your way. I confess that I have not always approved of such behavior. In the past, you have sometimes done more damage to yourself than to the obstruction you're trying to remove. But this is one time when the head-first approach might work. There is indeed evidence that the job at hand requires a battering ram. What does your intuition tell you?
The Lolo Creek Complex fire started Sunday, Aug. 18 and has burned more than 10,800 acres and destroyed five homes. While the evacuation order for residents along Highway 12 was lifted on Saturday, an evacuation warning remains in effect. The fire is currently 60 percent contained.
Photos: Lolo Creek Complex Fire
The Lolo Creek Complex fire started by lightning on Sun., Aug. 18 and has burned over 10,800 acres and destroyed five homes. While the evacuation order for residents along Hwy 12 was lifted Sat. Aug. 24, an evacuation warning remains in effect. The fire is currently 60% contained.
The backstory: It all started last year when the Missoula Tavern Association and local brewers at Bayern, Big Sky, Draught Works and Kettlehouse decided to tickle Missoula’s palate and raise money for local causes at the same time. Twice a year the Garden City Community Brew torch is passed and the chosen brewmeister rolls out something new. Proceeds from the new brew’s sales are donated to a local cause. This batch’s proceeds benefit the MaxWave.
What you’re getting: An Imperial Red Lager crafted by Bayern. With a lingering, silky head and a nice bronze body, you’d easily mistake this for an amber ale if you didn’t know better.
What you’re tasting: Subtlety. Staying true to lager form, the hops are subdued and mainly contribute to this beer’s slightly fruity aroma. As with any good hybrid, this beer brings together the best of two worlds. On one hand you’re getting the caramel-nuttiness of a red ale, but without the hefty mouthfeel that it usually comes with. On the other, you’re getting the light disposition of a lager and losing the metallic or bitter edges that linger in the aftertaste. It’s a great combination with enough alcohol to give you the warm-fuzzies after one glass.
What you’re thinking: This is a beer that warrants another round. It’s kind of like your friend’s Labradoodle—it’s definitely a dog, but there’s clearly two different things going on and it’s not clear which one stands out more. Sure, the beer’s labeled as a lager, but so much about it says ale. Better have another while you think about it.
Where to get it: Look for it at any Missoula Tavern Association bar; we had ours at Tamarack. Note that it is not available in Bayern’s taproom.
Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email email@example.com.
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