Bold predictions for 2014 

Grizzlies, the Griz, guest prognosticators and more!

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How'd we do with last year's bold predictions?

The Montana Legislature concludes a shockingly punch line-free session: Depends on whom you ask. There were plenty of bizarre bills, headline-grabbing debates and, yes, punch lines. That said, the 2013 session seemed far more professional than the 2011 circus.

Volumen reunite for one last show, courtesy of guest prognosticator Colin Hickey: Unfortunately for loyal local fans, they did not. But we're now holding out hope for 2014.

The Spokanification of Missoula reaches new levels: Yes, without a doubt. We predicted that our valley would see plenty of new national chains open their doors, and specifically a new Cabela's. In fact, the national outdoor retailer is set to unveil a new Outpost on Brooks Street this spring, surrounded by a Kohl's department store, Petco and an already opened Boot Barn. World Market, a San Francisco-based chain, announced its own opening near Southgate Mall. In downtown Missoula, Dickey's Barbecue Pit, based out of Texas, bumped a local grill inside the Badlander complex, while Subway opened a new location inside the bus terminal that was previously occupied by a local pizzeria.

John Mayer plays back-to-back benefit concerts at the Wilma; ends second show with proposal to Katy Perry: Not so much. But the on-again, off-again celebrity couple did collaborate on two duets this year (one for Mayer's Montana-inspired album, Paradise Valley, the other for Perry's upcoming release) and multiple tabloids report the pop stars are set to get engaged. Could that proposal happen at Mayer's Montana ranch?

Gov. Brian Schweitzer announces a 2016 presidential run: Not yet, although the former governor does continue to toy with the idea by teasing the national media with suggestive remarks and trips to key primary states.

Republicans line up to challenge Max Baucus; campaign spending goes through the roof: Baucus pulled the rug out from under this prediction—and national politics—when he announced in April that he'd retire at the end of his term. Things got further muddled when President Barack Obama tapped Baucus as the next ambassador to China, forcing Gov. Steve Bullock to appoint an interim lawmaker to the senior senator's seat. All the chaos puts Montana's 2014 race for U.S. Senate in the national spotlight, and prompted three different predictions from our guest prognosticators this year.

Four of Montana's largest cities embrace LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances, courtesy of guest prognosticator Caitlin Copple: Progress is being made, but this prediction fell short. Only Helena and Missoula have LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances, passed in 2012 and 2010 respectively. Bozeman is close behind, however. In December, activists launched the Bozeman Non-Discrimination Ordinance Campaign to pressure city council members to enact such a proposal.

Montana's medical marijuana law becomes moot, courtesy of guest prognosticator Dan Brooks: Kinda, but not for the reasons Brooks suggested. He believed legalization in Colorado and Washington would flood the state with product. Whether or not that's true—ask your dealer, we're not sure—Helena District Court Judge James P. Reynolds ruled in January that elements of the Montana law were unconstitutional, leading to new dispensaries opening in Missoula.

Missoula experiences a robust economic rebound, courtesy of guest prognosticator James Grunke: Sorta! Grunke, who serves as CEO of Missoula Economic Partnership, put it this way: "We did not achieve robust, but we did achieve rebound." Grunke says the county exceeded its growth expectations, with the local economy growing about 2.5 percent in the last year. The state created 3,100 jobs in the third quarter, with 90 percent of those coming in Missoula, Cascade and Yellowstone counties. Unemployment, meanwhile, hovers around 5 percent in Missoula County.

Construction of the Keystone Pipeline in Montana stalls amid more protest: Winner, winner, chicken dinner. TransCanada started construction on the southern portion of the pipeline two years ago, but in Montana no construction has begun, thanks to public opposition. The northern section of the pipeline, which crosses into the United States from Canada, remains under final review from the State Department.

Winter In the Blood makes Roger Ebert's list of top films: Sadly, no, because there wasn't a list. The beloved film critic died in April after a long fight with cancer. The Montana-made drama did, however, debut in 2013 to mostly positive reviews.

Montana celebrates its first MMA world champion, courtesy of guest prognosticator Ben Fowlkes: No Rocky storyline here. Lloyd Woodward, a MMA fighter from Missoula, lost in the Bellator Season 8 Lightweight Tournament quarterfinals in January.

UM hires Dave Dickenson as football coach, courtesy of guest prognosticator Chad Dundas: This was among our more detailed and creative predictions, but there are no moral victories in sports. Current coach Mick Delaney, who led the Griz back to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs in 2013, earned a one-year contract extension in November.

Montana's first wolf-trapping season backfires: Somewhere in between. Our harvest prediction was off. Last season's total of 166 wolves increased to 225 this year, with 97 taken by trappers. But the latter half of the prediction—about emboldening the anti-trapping contingent—definitely held true. Footloose Montana's running tally of incidental captures ballooned at the onset of last year's trapping season. Numerous petitions to stop wolf trapping popped up online. And then there's the "Wolf Hunt Sabotage" manual released to the public by Earth First! Media this fall, detailing methods of disarming, dismantling or otherwise messing with traps without getting caught.

Global oil prices spike, sending U.S. gas prices to $6 per gallon, courtesy of guest prognosticator Steve Running: This very bold prediction from the UM climate scientist didn't happen. Average U.S. gas prices never went above $3.75.

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