Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Rockies Today, September 6

Posted By on Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org

In looking local, a Colorado electric co-op could set national precedent

The Delta Montrose Electric Association, in an effort to generate more electricity locally from renewable sources, brought a case before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that could allow rural utilities across the country to tap into more distributed energy.

The ruling could effectively lift local generation caps for rural co-ops, explained Kevin Brehm, with the Rocky Mountain Institute. He estimates that if the nation’s rural co-ops were to transition completely to renewable energy, it would create a 200 gigawatt market — the equivalent of at least 100 Hoover Dams.

The Bundys, after two standoffs with the feds, have their day in court

On Wednesday, brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy and six other defendants charged during the 41-day occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge go on trial.

…the upcoming trial will be an unpredictable affair with a good amount of gaveling and a decent chance of some contempt-of-court rulings. But it may also prove to be the last stand for a family that has become the face of the West’s anti-government angst and the movement to transfer federal lands to states that has swelled in recent years.
“The Bundy family and their outlandish opinions on American democracy and American public lands will no doubt be on display during this trial,” says Greg Zimmerman, of the progressive research group Center for Western Priorities. “But let’s not lose sight of the fact that the Bundys have continued to receive support from elected officials.”

Dakota Access Pipeline protests turn violent

A day after the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed court papers saying it found several sites of “significant cultural and historic value” along the path of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, construction crews bulldozing land on Saturday sparked a violent face-off between protesters and security officers. On Sunday, the tribe filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order “to prevent further destruction of the tribe’s sacred sites.” A ruling on the tribe’s earlier request to stop construction of pipeline while the tribe pursues its lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, alleging violation of the National Historic Preservation Act during the pipeline permitting process, is expected by the end of the week.

The economics are dubious, and opposition to coal-export terminals up and down the West Coast is strong, yet some Wyoming coal producers believe prices will rebound and Asian demand for electricity will offer an additional market niche.

…some see exporting coal as a vain hope for Wyoming, as the industry faces a potential long-term drawdown in demand from China, the largest consumer of coal worldwide.
Wyoming coal production is down 25 to 30 percent over the last five years, and there are concerns that it will not bounce back the way it has in the past, said Rob Godby director of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming.
“Korea and Japan, while they would be good markets for Wyoming if Wyoming could get their coal there, are not big enough,” he said. “To really make a difference for us, we would have to be shipping to Korea, Japan and China. To really get us back to where we were, we need to get 100 million tons of production back.”

What’s causing Utah Lake’s massive algae problem?

The Salt Lake Tribune’s two-part series exploring water-quality issues along the Wasatch Front finds that “the path to clear water is mired by competing politics and science — and a population that might not care enough.”

Today, about 71 percent of Utah’s effluent — treated sewage — ultimately ends up in the Great Salt Lake. Upstream, about 13.5 percent of the water in Utah Lake comes from wastewater treatment plants, according to the latest count in 2010.
The current projection — assuming all other factors remain constant — is that as Utah County continues to grow, effluent discharge will account for more than a quarter of all the water flowing into Utah Lake by 2050, Baker said.
He believes addressing this trend is the first step to limiting algal growth on Utah Lake.

Pyrocumulus clouds rise over Boise

Idaho’s Pioneer fire, which had charred 181,145 acres as of Monday, the largest active fire in the nation, is burning so hot that it’s producing pyrocumulus clouds, meteorological phenomena that have become more frequent across the West over the past 30 years.

Enbridge looks to become largest pipeline company in North America

In acquiring Houston-based Spectra Energy for $28 billion, Calgary-based Enbridge would further consolidate the pipeline business with the biggest foreign purchase by a Canadian company. The news comes as pipeline projects face mounting opposition. Last week, Enbridge essentially pulled the plug on the Sandpiper pipeline because it drew “fire from environmentalists and American Indian tribes and has been mired in the state’s regulatory process for 2 ½ years.” A month ago, Enbridge announced it was partnering with Marathon Petroleum and buying a $1.5 billion stake in the Bakken Pipeline System, which includes the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

EPA work at the Gold King is emerging as the most visible and potentially precedent-setting effort to address a toxic mine problem that each day contaminates more than 1,800 miles of streams around Colorado and thousands more waterways across an arid, increasingly populated West that cries for clean water. In Colorado and other states, an estimated 160,000 inactive mines — mostly dormant for decades like the Gold King — ooze acid metals, festering sores on fragile tundra. Near the Gold King, three other mining tunnels spew an additional 528 gallons a minute that isn’t treated as it goes into the Animas River headwaters.

Biologists appear to wipe out brook trout in Yellowstone tributary

Over the last two weeks, about 40 fishery personnel from the park, the Forest Service, and fish and game agencies in Montana and Wyoming removed native Yellowstone cutthroat trout, put them in a holding stream, and then poisoned about 28 miles of Soda Butte Creek and its tributaries to eliminate non-native fish, especially brook trout. “We’re pretty confident this is totally done,” said Todd Koel, director of Yellowstone’s native fish conservation program. “If there’s one out there, (she’s) going to have a tough time finding a mate.”

With non-native brook trout removed from Soda Butte Creek, the park’s fisheries staff is one step closer to returning Yellowstone to a native fish stronghold, yet there are many waters still harboring introduced fish species.
Out of 400 miles of Yellowstone’s waters that originally supported native species, only 30 miles did not include introduced fish by 2013. In the past few years the work of fisheries staff has increased that number to about 80 miles of streams and 50 acres of lakes, including Goose Lake in the Firehole River drainage.

Little Blackfoot restoration revived

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Trout Unlimited are partnering to restore Telegraph Creek, part of the Little Blackfoot drainage that’s dotted with more than 200 abandoned hardrock mines and about 100 sources of acid mine drainage.

In 2008, DEQ investigated the shuttered silver and lead Lilly/Orphan Boy located 10.5 miles south of Elliston, with the goal of treating or stopping acid-producing discharge and removing heavy metal contamination.
Piles of waste rock including one pile split by Telegraph Creek were identified as pollution sources, along with a collapsed adit turned orange from acid mine drainage.
The efforts to neutralize the acid discharge, including introducing tons of manure into the mine as one remediation technique, were unsuccessful.
In 2012, the [Abandoned Mine Lands Program] stopped funding hardrock projects to focus on abandoned coal mines, Coleman said, essentially shelving the work done up to that point.

Monday, September 5, 2016

The man who buried his wife in the front yard (and more News of the Weird)

Posted By on Mon, Sep 5, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Outstanding in Their Fields
The recently concluded Olympics included a few of the more obscure athletic endeavors (such
 as dressage for horses and steeplechase for humans), but U.S. colleges compete in even less-heralded "sports," such as wood chopping, rock climbing, fishing and broomball. University of Alabama, 2015 national football champions, dominates also in the 280-school bass-fishing competition, and New York's Paul Smith College's 5,000-student campus raucously cheers its championship log-splitting team (against seven other schools). And Ohio State whipped another football powerhouse, Nebraska, in ice-based broomball.

Why? Because We Can, That's Why
 We now have computer or cellphone apps to, for example, analyze the quality of one's tongue-kissing; alert you when your zipper is inadvertently down; make a refrigerator also be a stereo and photo album; notify you when you need to drink more water; check the male-female ratio at local bars so, if you're on the prowl, you can plan your evening efficiently; and reveal whether your partner has had someone else in bed while you were away (via differential contours of the mattress). And then, in August, the creators of the new "South Park" virtual reality game announced that they had figured out how to release a "fart" smell that is crucial to  game-players when they put on the VR mask.  Inexplicable: Pizza Hut announced in August that it had finally mastered the technology to turn its cardboard delivery boxes into customers' workable disk-jockey turntables and will make them available shortly in five stores in the United Kingdom. (Each box has two record decks, a cross-fader, pitch and cue controls, and the ability to rewind.) Music stars P Money and DJ Vectra are featured, and the boxes will sync via Bluetooth to phones and computers.

Compelling Explanations
Lame:  Steven Scholz was sued for $255,000 in Oregon City, Oregon, in July after he allegedly fired on a family's house (15 gunshots) and traumatized their young son inside. Scholz explained that he thought the Biblical Rapture had just occurred and that he was the only survivor. (2) Aman Bhatia, 27, was charged with battery and lewd molestation in July after allegedly groping six women at Disney World's Typhoon Lagoon water park. Despite witnesses telling police that Bhatia was positioning himself for furtive groping, Bhatia claimed that his glasses were broken and thus he was not aware that women were in his path.

In July, Ryan Bundy (a leader of the Malheur federal land occupation protest in Oregon in January), exercising his philosophy as a "sovereign," wrote his judge that he rejects the federal court's jurisdiction over him in his upcoming trial, but that he would agree to co-operate – provided the government pays him $1 million cash. Bundy (who signs court documents "i; ryan c., man") said for that sum, he would act as "defendant" – or, as a bonus, if the judge prefers, as "bailiff," or even as "judge." (Bundy's lawyer, not surprisingly, is Bundy.)

Recurring Theme: People with too much money have been reported over the years to have paid enormous sums for "prestigious" license plates, usually the lowest-numbered. In China, the number 8 is regarded as lucky, and a man identified only as "Liu" obtained Shanghai province's plate "88888" — for which he paid the equivalent of $149,000. Shanghaiist.com reported in June that "Lucky" Liu was forced into annoying traffic stops by police eight times the first day because officers were certain that the plate was bogus.

Greenland's first "world-class tourist attraction," opening in 2020, offers visitors a "stunning view" of the rapidly melting ice sheets from the area's famous, 250,000-year-old Jakobshavn Glacier. The United Nations-protected site is promoting a "tourist" vista that some call "ground zero for climate change" — and which others hope won't be completely melted by 2020.

Unclear on the Concep
 Third-grade teacher Tracy Rosner filed a lawsuit against the county school board in Miami in July (claiming to be the victim of race and national origin discrimination) after being turned down for a job that required teaching Spanish – because she doesn't speak Spanish. (Rosner said "non-Hispanics" like her are a minority among Miami schoolteachers and therefore that affirmative-action-style accommodations should have been made for her.)

An Idaho man took his pregnant daughter, 14, and the man who raped her, age 24, to Missouri last year to get married (because of that state's lenient marriage-age law) – asserting that it is the rapist's "duty" to marry a girl he gets pregnant. The father now says he was wrong, but an Idaho judge nonetheless sentenced him to 120 days behind bars for endangering his daughter. (The rapist received a 15-year sentence, and the pregnancy ended in miscarriage.)

Continue reading »

Friday, September 2, 2016

Florence man sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for child rape case

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 2:45 PM

A Florence man pleaded guilty to charges of rape and incest in Missoula County District Court Sept. 2, in exchange for a 50-year sentence with 40 years suspended. Daniel Dodson, 32, was arrested in April on charges of sexual assault and incest involving two girls, ages 9 and 12.

Daniel Dodson, 32, pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and incest. - KATE WHITTLE
  • Kate Whittle
  • Daniel Dodson, 32, pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault and incest.

The proceeding included testimony from the mother of Dodson's 12-year-old victim, who detailed how Dodson started abusing the girl when she was two years old, leading to severe trauma, depression and suicidal thoughts. The mother broke down into tears at one point, and the judge handed her a box of tissues.

The victim's mother also asserted that she would do the best she could for her child, and is providing the girl with ongoing therapy. 

"I promise you that she will heal," the mother said, directly addressing Dodson. "And you did not break her, Dan."

Judge Robert Deschamps told the victim's mother that her testimony was moving. He noted that he'd prefer imposing more prison time, but he was restricted by the terms of the plea agreement.

"Because of the risk that he might be found not guilty, and the emotional trauma this creates on the victims and people who are associated with them, sometimes prosecutors enter into these agreements to try to get the measure of justice, and save the uncertainty," Deschamps said.

Chief Deputy County Attorney Jason Marks said he agreed that it was preferable to avoid the trauma and uncertainty of a trial.

Dodson, who was represented by attorney Daniel Mandelko, read a statement apologizing to his victims and their families. He told the judge he hoped treatment would help him understand and correct his own behavior.

Deschamps handed down 10 years in prison and an additional 40 years of a suspended sentence for Dodson, plus requirements to complete sex offender treatment programs. Dodson will not be eligible for parole before the 10 years are up.

Deschamps drummed his fingers on the bench while doing the math.

"You'll be under state supervision until you're 82... Think you'll live to be 82?" he asked Dodson.

"If I'm lucky, sir," Dodson responded. 

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Missoula locals gather supplies for Standing Rock camps

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 4:00 PM

Timmy Arrowtop’s living room on Missoula’s Northside is spilling over with provisions. Camping gear, art supplies, giant cans of refried beans. It’s a “hilarious” sight, he says, and on Friday, it will all be loaded up for the long trip to North Dakota.
Supplies for the Standing Rock protest camps stacked in Timmy Arrowtop's Missoula living room. - PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN
  • Photo by Alex Sakariassen
  • Supplies for the Standing Rock protest camps stacked in Timmy Arrowtop's Missoula living room.

“I’ve got two 25-pound bags of rice staring at me right now,” he adds, laughing.

The collection effort began when Arrowtop was contacted by former Missoula resident Laura John, who told him she’d be picking up supplies from several towns on her journey from Portland to the sprawling protest camps near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. As the Indy reported today, tribal members from across Montana have been traveling to join the stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline over the past few weeks. John gave Arrowtop a list of items needed at the camps, and Arrowtop put out the call to locals on Facebook.

“I’m just surprised, Missoula has just really, really rallied,” Arrowtop says. “We’ve got people stopping by constantly dropping stuff off.”

Burns St. Bistro chef Walker Hunter had already seen a steady stream of news about the protest on social media when Arrowtop tagged him in a Facebook post about the need for supplies. Hunter says he only really knew the broad strokes of the debate over the oil pipeline, “but the broad strokes were enough.” He went through the Bistro’s storerooms and filled his Jeep with dry food goods. Then he sat down and composed a Facebook post of his own, tagging numerous friends from Missoula’s restaurant and catering community.

“I thought it would be a neat thing to get the local food community, the food-making community, involved in something like that,” Hunter says. “The response has been great. Beth Higgins [of Two Sisters Catering], I don’t even know how she’s going to cater this weekend because she just unloaded her entire storeroom into the back of my Jeep.”

Dry food goods from Burns St. Bistro, destined for protest camps in North Dakota. - COURTESY OF WALKER HUNTER
  • Courtesy of Walker Hunter
  • Dry food goods from Burns St. Bistro, destined for protest camps in North Dakota.
Hunter also picked up donations from a cook at a local fraternity house, and was heading to Masala to load up a collection this afternoon. He says he’s happy to donate an afternoon or two to driving around and double-parking, not only because he appreciates the cause those at Standing Rock represent but also because Arrowtop and other friends clearly have a personal connection to the movement.

“It’s hard to have your friends impacted by something and not be impacted yourself,” Hunter says.

For Arrowtop, collecting the local donations and storing them until John’s arrival was a way to finally get involved on an issue impacting Native people. He hails from Heart Butte on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, where tribal members succeeded last year in blocking resource development in the sacred Badger-Two Medicine. But Arrowtop feels he’s long stayed on the sidelines of such actions.

“I’ve always been concerned about this stuff, but I never really had an opportunity and never placed myself in positions where I could actually help,” he says. “In a way this is my first time actually being active.”

John arrives to pick up the supplies sometime tomorrow. In the meantime, Arrowtop is still hoping to collect a few more items from the list.

“Tents, camping gear, shovels and rope—stuff like that, working items,” he continues. “I have like 50 pairs of work gloves from an anonymous donor who got them from the Halliburton Company. We were laughing about the irony of that.” 

Rockies Today, September 1

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2016 at 3:07 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Montana's changing medical marijuana program, by the numbers

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 4:19 PM

Today is the day Montana medical marijuana advocates have been dreading. A slate of restrictive laws passed in 2011 just went into effect, limiting providers to just three patients and likely leaving thousands of people without access to medication they’ve been using legally for years. The Indy checked in the the Montana Department of Health and Human Services recently to figure out how the numbers of patients and providers have changed ahead of Wednesday’s implementation. Here’s what we found.
  • Photo by Cathrine L. Walters

One way patients can maintain their access to medical marijuana under the new rules is to become their own provider. DPHHS Public Information Officer Jon Ebelt says the agency communicated that option to cardholders, and roughly 1,350 of the state’s 13,170 patients have submitted forms to initiate that change since July 1.

As for providers, Ebelt says DPHHS asked them in early July to identify the three patients they would continue to serve or confirm their desire to be removed from the state’s registry. Since then, 305 providers have returned forms indicating they intend to keep serving cardholders. The remaining 84, according to Ebelt, have either asked to be removed from the registry or have not returned their change forms.

Patients and providers alike had held out hope until mid August that a district court judge in Helena would stay implementation of the new rules until Nov. 8, when voters will decide on a ballot initiative to reform Montana’s medical marijuana program. I-182 would roll back the restrictions enacted today in part by repealing the three-patient limit on providers, and would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of qualifying conditions. DPHHS was supportive of delaying the new rules, Ebelt says, based on "concern for the thousands of patients with debilitating conditions who could find themselves without an effective, physician-recommended treatment.”

Ebelt expects DPHHS will post a new batch of statewide registry numbers later this week. In the meantime, the agency is sending out permanent marijuana cards to 1,900 cardholders who have either found a provider or signed on as their own. That leaves an estimated 11,270 patients wondering what Election Day might bring.

Happiest Hour: Beer floats

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 1:00 PM

What you’re drinking: Gwin Du, with a twist. For the past three summers, Draught Works has dedicated every Sunday to a malty mix of Big Dipper’s vanilla ice cream and the brewery’s flagship Welsh-style oatmeal stout. Co-owner Jeff Grant attributes the idea to in-house interest in utilizing Draught Works’ root beer for floats. “I think we’ve all been to pubs and breweries that have done different float pairings,” Grant says, “so we thought we could offer the beer side as well.”
  • Courtesy of Draught Works

Why you’re drinking it:
Draught Works has been on the forefront of food and beer pairings in western Montana over the last few years, hosting popular events like the Bacon N’ Beer Breakfast or its spring Beer and Cheese Pairing night. Grant feels it’s “always fun” to see how the complexities of a particular beer complement other foods, and the beer floats are a summertime extension of that flavor-mixing spirit. Unfortunately, Labor Day marks the end of Ice Cream Sunday season at Draught Works, but Grant was willing to share some tips on how to stretch it out should you miss that final beer float afternoon.

How to keep the summer going: If you want to stick with the Draught Works recipe, you’re lucky. As a flagship, Gwin Du Stout is available for growler fills year-round, and vanilla is a pretty common Big Dipper flavor on store shelves. For those feeling a little bolder, Grant advises that it’s the dark, malty beers with low bitterness that blend best with ice cream.
“Dark-roasted chocolate, coffee—all those types of flavors, just from a pairing standpoint—blend really well with that dairy-vanilla flavor,” he says.
In other words, once those heavier fall seasonals start showing up on taps, the possibilities will be endless.

Where to get it: Dip your spoon at Draught Works on Sept. 4 at 915 Toole Ave. Beer floats are $6, root beer floats are $4.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email editor@missoulanews.com.

Rockies Today, August 31

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 12:28 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit mountainwestnews.org

Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 9:00 AM

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)
: Truth decay is in its early stages. If you take action soon,
 you can prevent a full-scale decomposition. But be forewarned: Things could get messy, especially if you intervene with the relentless candor and clarity that will be required for medicinal purification. So what do you think? Are you up for the struggle? I understand if you're not. I'll forgive you if you simply flee. But if you decide to work your cagey magic, here are some tips. 1. Compile your evidence with rigor. 2. As much as is humanly possible, put aside rancor. Root your efforts in compassionate objectivity. 3. Even as you dig around in the unsightly facts, cherish the beautiful truths you'd like to replace them with.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Are you willing to lose at least some of your inhibitions? Are you curious to find out what it feels like to cavort like a wise wild child? If you want to fully cooperate with life's plans, you will need to consider those courses of action. I am hoping that you'll accept the dare, of course. I suspect you will thrive as you explore the pleasures of playful audacity and whimsical courage and effervescent experiments. So be blithe, Taurus! Be exuberant! Be open to the hypothesis that opening to jaunty and jovial possibilities is the single most intelligent thing you can do right now.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): What's the current status of your relationship with your feet? Have you been cultivating and cherishing your connection with the earth below you?
The reason I ask, Gemini, is that right now it's especially important for you to enjoy intimacy with gravity, roots, and foundations. Whatever leads you down and deeper will be a source of good fortune. Feeling grounded will provide you with an aptitude for practical magic. Consider the possibilities of going barefoot, getting a foot massage, or buying a new shoes that are both beautiful and comfortable.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): A woman in the final stages of giving birth may experience acute discomfort. But once her infant spills out into the world, her distress can transform
into bliss. I don't foresee quite so dramatic a shift for you, Cancerian. But the transition you undergo could have similar elements: from uncertainty to grace; from agitation to relief; from
constriction to spaciousness. To take maximum advantage of this blessing, don't hold onto the state you're leaving behind – or the feelings it aroused in you.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In one of my dreams last night, a Leo sensualist I know advised me to take smart pills and eat an entire chocolate cheesecake before writing my next Leo horoscope. In another dream, my Leo friend Erica suggested that I compose your horoscope while attending an orgy where all the participants were brilliant physicists, musicians, and poets. In a third dream, my old teacher Rudolf (also a Leo) said I should create the Leo horoscope as I sunbathed on a beach in Maui while being massaged by two sexy geniuses. Here's how I interpret my dreams: In the coming days, you can literally increase your intelligence by indulging in luxurious comforts and sensory delights.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Play a joke on your nervous anxiety. Leap off the ground or whirl in a circle five times as you shout, "I am made of love!" Learn the words and melody to a new song that lifts your mood whenever you sing it. Visualize yourself going on an adventure that will amplify your courage and surprise your heart. Make a bold promise to yourself, and acquire an evocative object that will symbolize your intention to fulfill that promise. Ask yourself a soul-shaking question you haven't been wise enough to investigate before now. Go to a wide-open space, spread your arms out in a greeting to the sky, and pray for a vision of your next big goal.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Longtime Rattlesnake restaurant enters new era

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2016 at 1:46 PM

In the late 1990s, if a family moved into the Rattlesnake neighborhood and needed to run out for pantry staples or a bite to eat, there was one place to go—Rattlesnake Gardens, a market, coffee shop, restaurant and greenhouse.

Karen Byrne remembers that when she and her husband, Barrett, moved to the Lincolnwood area about 17 years ago, with two toddlers in tow, they beat the moving truck and didn’t have any kitchenware. She headed over to Rattlesnake Gardens and introduced herself to the owner, Craig McDonald.
Since 1997, a small market on the corner of Rattlesnake Drive and Powell has served residents of the quiet neighborhood. The new owners say they're excited to carry on the tradition. - KATE WHITTLE
  • Kate Whittle
  • Since 1997, a small market on the corner of Rattlesnake Drive and Powell has served residents of the quiet neighborhood. The new owners say they're excited to carry on the tradition.
“So we said, ‘Gosh, can we borrow some bowls and spoons?’ And he was a very gracious neighbor,” Byrne says. “That was our first really great impression of what was in Rattlesnake Gardens.”

Over the years, she and her husband thought about purchasing the market and carrying on the spirit of a friendly local gathering place. On April 11, they officially bought the business and renamed it Rattlesnake Market and Cafe. The first big change: accepting credit cards for the first time in the location’s history.

“So that’s part of getting into new era,” Byrne says. “It’s the funniest thing. People thank us for taking cards.”

Byrne aims to continue renovating the business while retaining a lot of the quirky, historic character of the building, which sits next to the frame of the now-unused greenhouse. The market’s offerings now rotate a wider selection of craft beers, wines and kombucha, while the restaurant menu includes new kale salads, homemade veggie burgers and wraps. But longtime favorites—such as the Monday night chicken parmigiana special—will still be available.
  • Kate Whittle
Byrne says she knew it would be a balancing act to update the establishment, which first opened in 1997, without unsettling regulars. But several staff, including the cook, have remained with the market and kept it feeling familiar.

“We like people to feel at home, we like people to feel comfortable and welcome,” Byrne says, “whether they’re from this neighborhood or outside.”

She’s pleased, for instance, that the market is serving as a meeting place for staff at Rattlesnake Elementary, which is undergoing major renovations. In the same spirit of neighborliness she encountered when she first moved in, she donated a batch of cookies to the school before class started.

“Just to kind of tell ’em, ‘Hey, we’re thinking about you guys,’” she says.

It was also important to her to support the Rattlesnake’s other prominent commercial enterprise, Ten Spoon Winery. She suggests that customers grab their dinner in to-go boxes before heading to a wine tasting.

Ten Spoon’s Andy Sponseller says Rattlesnake Gardens was one of the first stores to start carrying his wines, which he’s been making for 14 years now. He’s happy to continue recommending the market, even if the name and owners are different.

“We’re really sold on the idea of local businesses in Montana supporting each other,” Sponseller says. “It doesn’t get more local than Rattlesnake Market, in terms of proximity.”

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