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Thursday, Jan. 17th, 2019

Tickets on sale Jan. 25 for astronaut Scott Kelly lecture at MSU

Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 25, at all Bobcat ticket outlets for the April 4 lecture at Montana State University by Capt. Scott Kelly, a history-making U.S. astronaut who spent a year in space.

Kelly, who is also a bestselling author, is expected to discuss his space travel, share lessons on leadership, reflect on his commitment to discovery and tell stories of perseverance at the lecture, which is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m.

“We are honored to bring to MSU Capt. Kelly, who captivated the world with his 143-million-mile adventure in space,” said Carmen McSpadden, director of the MSU Leadership Institute, which is hosting Kelly’s lecture.

Kelly’s achievements during his two-decade career earned him the coveted position as America’s first year-round astronaut. On his mission that began in March 2015 and ended in March 2016, Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko conducted experiments, reconfigured station modules and captivated millions with live interviews and never-seen-before photos from the International Space Station.

Kelly’s New York Times bestselling memoir, “Endurance: My Year in Space and Our Journey to Mars,” was published in 2017 and has been optioned as a Hollywood film by Sony Pictures. “Infinite Wonder,” a book of photographs that Kelly took from space, was published this fall.

Tickets to the MSU lecture are $10 for students and $20 for members of the public. There will also be $50 VIP seats, which will be located on the first three rows of the floor. Tickets are available at the Bobcat Ticket Office, all TicketsWest outlets and There are convenience fees of $2.50 for the $10 tickets, $3.50 for the $20 tickets and $8.50 for the $50 tickets. In addition, there is a service charge for tickets purchased online, at TicketsWest outlets and over the phone.

Kelly’s lecture is sponsored by the MSU Leadership Institute, the MSU Office of the President, the Associated Students of MSU, the Office of the Provost, MontanaPBS, the College of Letters and Science, the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering, the Honors College, Veteran Services and Murdoch's Ranch and Home Supply.

For more information, call the MSU Leadership Institute at 406-994-7275 or visit or

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Tuesday, Jan. 15th, 2019

Bozeman Symphony Presents FREE Themed Family Concerts “Matthew Potter and the Tuba of Fire”

The Bozeman Symphony Orchestra will perform two free family concerts: 10:30 am and 1:00 pm on Saturday, February 9th at the Willson Auditorium located in downtown Bozeman.  Each performance is 50 minutes in length and will feature a kid-friendly, fun-filled program titled Matthew Potter and the Tuba of Fire written by Matthew Savery and Soren Kisiel of Broad Comedy and starring Paige Johnson of the Verge Theater. With guest appearances by Dumbledorff, Matthew Potter, Flying Monkeys, the Phantom of the Opera, and an invisible conductor taking the stage, this program is sure to delight audiences of all ages. The concerts feature popular music from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Wizard of Oz, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and more. Before the musical adventure with the orchestra begins, an instrument petting zoo, courtesy of Eckroth Music, will be available. Kids and kids at heart are encouraged to enjoy this hands-on learning of the instruments that compose a symphony.

A special presentation of Matthew Potter and the Tuba of Fire will be presented on Friday, February 8th, 2019, for fourth graders in the Bozeman Public Schools and surrounding areas. This performance is aimed to inspire young people to become life-long lovers of the performing arts.
These concerts would not be possible without strong community support and sponsorship. Thank you to David and Risi Ross for their season sponsorship, and to the Gilhousen Foundation and Montana Cultural Trust for sponsoring these performances.
Tickets may be reserved for free online at or over the phone at 406-585-9774 and will be held for pickup at the Bozeman Symphony Office as late as Thursday, February 7th. The Symphony office is located at 1001 West Oak Street, Suite 110, Building C, Bozeman, 59715. Office hours are M-F, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm.

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Monday, Jan. 14th, 2019

Grant applications now available for iGraduate Montana Challenge Fund

Grant applications are now being taken for program proposals that help Montana high school students prepare for college or careers through a partnership between the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Office of Public Instruction.

The iGraduate Montana 2019-2020 Challenge Fund is accepting grant applications from schools, community organizations, tribal governments and post-secondary institutions at until 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6.

Last year, iGraduate Montana awarded 15 grants  to schools and communities across the state.  Grants ranged from $2,000 to $10,000, and many focused on bringing relevant career and college skills to students through strategies such as apprenticeships, work-based learning, mentoring, dual enrollment, career fairs and college visits. The grant awardees   partner with Montana businesses and nonprofits to create opportunities for students to explore in-demand careers and gain real-world experience.

“Dennis and Phyllis Washington believe that giving youth access to a high-quality education is the single most important determinant of success in life, and we are proud to be part of a partnership whose sole purpose is to provide students with the resources and tools they need to succeed in school and in their careers,” said Mike Halligan, executive director of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation.

“This year Montana celebrates record high school graduation rates and must continue to work harder than ever to ensure more students graduate from high school and complete post-secondary opportunities,” saidClaytonChristian, Montana Commissioner of Higher Education. “These grants are critical in helping students understand the importance of graduating from high school and continuing on to either a college or an apprenticeship program.”

“It has been inspiring to watch the first round of iGraduate programs implemented in Montana communities,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen . “I look forward to strengthening existing partnerships and growing new ones as we build for the next steps in a student’s life. We must prepare all Montana students to be college- and career-ready.”

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Thursday, Jan. 10th, 2019

Public Library opens new business center

The City of Bozeman Public Library and Economic Development Department are proud to announce a new business mentoring program available to the people of the Gallatin Valley. This initiative is made possible thanks to a new partnership between the Bozeman Public Library, the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by TechStars at Montana State University, and Bozeman’s Small Business Development Center.

Individuals interested in receiving a one-on-one session can visit the Business Center page on the Bozeman Public Library website to sign up for a 20 minute consultation. Meetings will occur in the Library’s second-floor computer lab on Tuesday afternoons from 1:00 to 3:00 pm starting on January 15th. SBDC and the Blackstone LaunchPad will be providing mentors with broad experience in business and startups. All services are offered free of charge.

“It’s exciting to see our services expanding into the world of business,” says Kit Stephenson, director of Adult Programming and Outreach at the Library “So many libraries around the nation have begun to offer new resources and programs to business owners, and the Bozeman Library will keep looking for more ways to support our local entrepreneurs.”

“Libraries are economic development,” says Brit Fontenot, Bozeman’s Economic Development Director.  “Libraries have large impacts on business development, job creation and workforce development in communities around the world. Hosting the Blackstone Launchpad and the Small Business Development Center at the Bozeman Public Library for office hours provides critical access to an entirely new population of entrepreneurs and solopreneurs in Bozeman.  I hope it’s the first of many library and economic development partnerships.”

The Blackstone LaunchPad is situated on MSU’s campus and provides venture coaching and resources to entrepreneurs. The LaunchPad is also a driving force behind local programs like 406 Labs, 1 Million Cups, and The Local Crowd Bozeman.
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC), hosted by the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, is part of a nationwide network of centers created by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBDC in Bozeman is overseen by Tom Walker, who provides counselling and assistance to business owners.

General questions can be directed to Kit Stephenson at or Brit Fontenot at Inquiries about the Blackstone LaunchPad should be sent to Connor Harbison at Tom Walker of the SBDC can be contacted directly at

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Saturday, Jan. 5th, 2019

Open a Montana Medical Savings Account before Dec. 31 of 2019 and save about $276 on your 2018 Montana Income Taxes

Will you have any medical expenses in the year 2019 that won’t be covered by your health insurance policy, a flexible spending account (FSA), or your Federal Health Care Savings Account (HSA)?  If so, you can still open a Montana Medical Care Savings Account (MSA) by Dec. 31 and cover those expenses. If you deposit up to $4,000, (the maximum in 2019) you can reduce your Montana adjusted gross income by that amount.  For individuals who have a taxable income above $17,900, this will result in a net savings of about $276.

This is really a good deal for Montanans!  Thank your legislators.  Yet, in past years only 1.4 percent of Montanans have taken advantage of this opportunity.  When I ask why, many explain that they were told they were ineligible because they don’t have a high deductible health insurance policy.  WRONG.  You do not have to be in a high deductible health insurance plan to be eligible for an MSA.  And, unlike an HSA, you are still eligible to contribute to an MSA when you are age 65 years or older. Others say they have never heard of a Montana MSA.  Believe it or not these accounts have been around since 1997.  

The income tax advantage of depositing into a Montana MSA does not apply to your federal income taxes and should not be confused with the Federal Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Federal Flexible Spending Plans (FSAs).   

If you do not use any of the money deposited in your MSA during the year it was deposited, it remains in the account and earns interest that is free from Montana income taxation. The money in the MSA then can be used for eligible medical care expenses in future years.

If you pay 2019 medical bills either by check, cash, or credit/debit card, you can still add up those eligible expenses throughout the year, make a deposit by December 31 and reimburse yourself from the MSA account on the same day for eligible expenses paid January through December.

The key word is paid. You can reimburse yourself for paid eligible medical expenses by the end of 2019. But if you haven't yet paid those bills because your health insurance company hasn't sorted out what it will pay and what you still owe, you still can reimburse yourself for those unpaid eligible expenses during 2020 when you pay them.

The amount you can use to reduce your Montana income is the total deposited, not the amount used for medical expenses during the tax year. For example, if you deposited $4,000 in an MSA but only used $500 for eligible medical expenses during 2019, you still get to reduce your income by $4,000. The remaining $3,500 is available for paying medical expenses in future years. 

You can use your MSA funds to pay medical expenses not only for yourself, but also your spouse, parents, dependents and anyone else.  Let me repeat that last part…you can use your MSA fund to pay for eligible medical expenses of ANYONE…your best friend, a colleague who needs the money, anyone except your dog.  Again, thank your legislators for this provision passed in 2017.

Your MSA can also be used as a legacy.  Some Montanans have put money in their MSAs every year, but have not used it because they are saving the funds for long term care expenses.  Others plan to use their MSA as a legacy for their children and grandchildren.  You can place a payable on death (POD) designation on your MSA, identifying who you want to receive the money after your death.  Your spouse, parents and kids can then use the money for their own eligible medical expenses without Montana income tax consequences.

Parents and grandparents could gift money to their adult children and adult grandchildren for an MSA.  Whatever amount is gifted and deposited in an MSA can be taken off the adult children and grandchildren’s income.  The adult grandkids get the tax break, but not the grandparents.

An MSU Extension MontGuide will help you decide if you would benefit from a Montana medical care savings account.  The publication (MontGuide 199817 HR) can be downloaded free
A copy can also be obtained from your local County or Reservation Extension office or by emailing

Marsha A. Goetting is the MSU Extension Family Economics Specialist in Bozeman.  She is going to deposit $4,000 in her MSA in anticipation of higher medical expenses in 2019 than she had in 2018.

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MSU offers fact sheet and film on sagebrush and climate change research

Scientists at Montana State University and their partners have developed a fact sheet and short film that describe the results of a research study on the potential impacts of climate change on sagebrush ecosystems.

The research team, comprising scientists and students from MSU, Colorado State University, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Utah State University, used field observations with ecological models to look at what may happen to Artemisia tridentate – or big sagebrush – under various scenarios of climate change.  

According to researchers, sagebrush currently covers 120 million acres across 14 Western states and three Canadian provinces, providing habitat for hundreds of different species of plants and animals. Wildlife such as greater and Gunnison sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, mule deer and pronghorn depend heavily on sagebrush habitats.

Sagebrush ecosystems are often multi-use: livestock grazing, oil and gas development, and mineral extraction occur along with opportunities for recreation such as hiking, fishing and other activities that support local economies.

The fact sheet is available to download for free at A film shared on the same website also describes the research findings. The roughly 7-minute film was produced by students and faculty of MSU’s School of Film and Photography.

Organizations that would like to have multiple printed copies of the fact sheet for distribution can email requests to MSU Academic Technology and Outreach at

The research was funded by the U.S. Geological Survey with additional support from the Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative and the Department of the Interior North Central Climate Science Center.

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Tuesday, Jan. 1st, 2019
Sunday, Dec. 30th, 2018

MSU-led microbe hunt beneath Antarctic ice sheet featured in Nature

Renowned Montana State University polar scientist John Priscu and a team of researchers from more than a dozen universities will begin the new year hunting for microbes and other living specimens in a lake far beneath the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet.

The expedition, known as SALSA (Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access), is highlighted in “The Hunt for Life Below Antarctic Ice,” a story written by Douglas Fox in the Dec. 12 issue of Nature, an international science journal.

In the article, Fox shares details of the Priscu-led search for microorganisms and other living specimens that live in the dark waters of Mercer Subglacial Lake. The lake, which measures nearly 62 square miles, was discovered more than a decade ago through satellite images but has never before been explored.

Priscu is among 45 scientists, drillers and support staff who make up the expedition team. In Antarctica, about 370 miles from the South Pole, the team will spend the next few weeks working together to drill 4,000 feet to the bottom of the ice sheet that covers Mercer. Once through, they will collect water and mud samples that they hope will be teeming with living organisms.

A Dec. 24 post on the SALSA field blog describes drilling preparations, laboratory set-up, a successful initial drone flight and equipment testing underway at the Mercer Subglacial Lake campsite.

This is the second such expedition for Priscu, a Montana University System Regents Professor in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences in MSU’s College of Agriculture who studies the microbial ecology of Antarctic ecosystems.

In 2013, he and other MSU researchers published the discovery of microscopic life in Subglacial Lake Whillans in the journal Nature and received worldwide attention. It was named one of the top science stories of 2013 by Discover magazine.

Fox writes that the scientists leading the project hope that the Lake Mercer ecosystems will shed light on what kind of life can survive in such remote regions and serve as an on-Earth comparison for habitats deep inside Mars or on the ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn. 

While Mercer will be the second subglacial lake that humans have sampled directly, Fox wrote, it will be the first time scientists will use a remote vehicle to roam beneath the ice sheet, which leads the scientists to wonder if the submersible’s three video cameras might capture images of animals that live in the dark water.

“We don’t know what’s going to be there,” Priscu said in the story. “That’s what makes it so much fun.”

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Monday, Dec. 17th, 2018

New program partners MSU student with mayor to help solve city's challenges

In a new partnership between Montana State University and the city of Bozeman, an MSU graduate student will gain leadership experience while helping the city explore options for conserving water.
Heather Nold, a master's student in MSU's Department of Civil Engineering, is participating in the Mentored by the Mayor program, which MSU's Leadership Institute and the city jointly launched this fall.
During her year in the program, Nold will meet regularly with Bozeman Mayor Cyndy Andrus to learn about the roles and responsibilities of public service at the municipal level. As part of the experience, students are asked to identify a challenge that faces the community and offer solutions. Nold has proposed strategies for managing Bozeman's water supply, a topic of interest for both her and Andrus.

“It adds depth to my experience while I’m developing technical skills at MSU and gives me an outlet to help create solutions at a local scale,” said Nold, who introduced herself to Bozeman's city commission on Oct. 22.
Andrus said she envisioned the program about a year ago as a way to bring new energy to solving the challenges that the city faces while strengthening the city's relationship with MSU and giving students a taste of leadership in municipal government.
"It's about learning what it takes to turn an idea into policy,” said Andrus, who was elected mayor in 2015.
Nold, whose graduate research in the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering focuses on water resources, said the details of her project are still taking shape. She is interested in studying how small-scale structures similar to beaver dams could buffer runoff and hold water longer in the small streams that feed Bozeman's water supply, she said. She is also looking into ways that the city could reuse grey water, which is water from sinks and showers that could be partially treated and used for irrigation.

"Heather has some really interesting ideas," Andrus said.
“Water is a very important issue both for Bozeman and other communities around the West,” Andrus said, adding that the upper Missouri River watershed is a "closed basin," meaning that all water rights are claimed. That makes water conservation an important consideration as Bozeman grows, she said.
Andrus worked with Carmen McSpadden, director of the MSU Leadership Institute, to launch a pilot version of the program last year. Amber Roberts, who graduated from MSU last spring with a bachelor's in agriculture business, conducted a study of the city's roughly 40 citizen advisory boards and recommended ways that the boards might be re-structured to most efficiently carry out the city's strategic plan. As a student associate at the Leadership Institute, Roberts helped shape the volunteer program, which is similar to an unpaid internship with a time commitment of a few hours per week.

“This collaboration connects us with the resource we have at MSU — young minds that can help solve complex problems in the community,” Andrus said.
McSpadden said the program is well aligned with the MSU Leadership Institute's mission of inspiring MSU students to become leaders who serve as catalysts for positive change. Both she and Andrus said they plan to continue the program into the future.
"This program encourages MSU students to envision and help create a brighter future for Bozeman," McSpadden said. "For us, that's a definition of leadership."

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World's Most Technologically-Advanced Chairlift Debuts at Big Sky Resort

On Saturday December 15, Ramcharger 8, the first eight-seat chairlift in North America and the most technologically-advanced chairlift in the world, debuted at Big Sky Resort. “The upgrades unveiled today at Big Sky Resort mark a new age of lift technology in major zones of the mountain,” says Taylor Middleton, president and general manager of Big Sky Resort. Shedhorn 4, a new high-speed quad on the south face of the mountain, will alsoo debut next week.

“Doppelmayr and Boyne Resorts have been collaborating for over 40 years, and together have introduced many firsts to the ski industry,” says Stephen Kircher, president, Boyne Resorts. Boyne Resorts’ history of innovation in the ski industry includes introducing the world's first triple and quad chairlifts and America's first high-speed six-place chairlift. Ramcharger 8’s installation marks the fifth historic chairlift upgrade for Boyne Resorts. “We are incredibly proud to bring the first eight-seat chairlift to North America, setting a new standard for lift technology in the world,” says Kircher.

At the base of Big Sky Resort, Ramcharger 8, the new eight-seat, Direct Drive, D-line chairlift, significantly improves the guest experience on Andesite Mountain, and paves the way for future on-mountain upgrades in that area. Guests will experience a whisper-quiet ride and incomparable comfort, benefiting from ergonomically-shaped, extra-wide heated seats, a weather-proof Big Sky Blue Bubble, and adjustable loading carpet. “Ramcharger 8 is the culmination of everything we have learned so far, and incorporates many firsts for the North American market; first eight-passenger chairlift, first direct drive motor, first locking restraint bar, first height-adjustable loading carpet, first high resolution video display, and the first of our newest generation detachable lifts, the D-Line, says Mark Bee, president, Doppelmayr USA. “We look forward to continuing to work with Boyne Resorts and Big Sky as they execute the Big Sky 2025 vision,” says Bee. Ramcharger 8 whisks up to 3,200 skiers up Andesite Mountain each hour. For more details about Ramcharger 8, please refer to the Ramcharger 8 fact sheet.

Big Sky Resort’s commitment to a world-class mountain experience and the most technologically-advanced chairlift network in North America doesn’t end with the introduction of Ramcharger 8. Shedhorn 4, debuting as high-speed quad on the south face of the mountain, doubles uphill capacity and shortens the ride time from ten minutes to just five minutes.

Improvements to Ramcharger 8 provide more comfortable access to Everett’s 8800, Big Sky Resort’s mountain-top fine dining experience featuring American alpine fare. This season, savor spectacular views at Everett’s 8800 during First Tracks breakfast, lunch and dinner service daily.

Following Ramcharger 8’s upgrade, Big Sky Resort plans to introduce inventive, new experiences for future ski seasons. In the 2019-2020 winter season, Big Sky Resort will add three Omega V gondola cabins to Ramcharger 8. Two will be dedicated Dining Cars, allowing guests to sit around a table installed in the cabin for a premier dining experience. “With the addition of the Omega V dining cars, Big Sky will be home to the smallest restaurant in North America,” says Kircher. Another car will be reserved as a VIP cabin. The Omega V gondola cabins will be the first of their kind to debut in North America. Additionally, Big Sky Resort plans to add a night skiing experience on Andesite Mountain, serviced by Ramcharger 8.

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