• The long-awaited Northend Bypass which will connect the Billings Heights and Lockwood with a bridge across the Yellowstone River has been given a Record of Decision regarding the preferred route and sets the project in motion for eventual completion. The Montana Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration released the decision on Monday, identifying the preferred route as the
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  • Montana's economy seems to be slowing. The Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) at the University of Montana is projecting a 2.4 rate of growth for Montana in 2014, after readjusting their 2.7 percent rate in 2013 to 2.2 percent. BBER's lead economist, Dr. Pat Barkey explained during their mid-year update on the state's economy, that the newer data
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  •   Tricia Hansen has been promoted to assistant vice president, marketing department manager for Stockman Bank. She will oversee and manage the marketing department for Stockman Bank’s 32 locations. Her responsibilities include implementing the overall marketing strategies, public relations, sponsorships and advertising campaigns, and working directly with the Billings and Southwestern area markets.
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  • The remodeled and revamped "Granary" will open during the first week after Labor Day as "Bistecca at the Granary," under the ownership and management of Jim Bos and his son, Kevin. "Bistecca" means "steak" in Italian, which reflects the vision held by Jim and Kevin of continuing the operation of the landmark Billings restaurant as an Italian steak house, serving
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  • Alex Epstein, founder of the Center for Industrial Progress, will give the luncheon keynote speech, "Moral Case for Fossil Fuels," for the Montana Petroleum Association annual Petroleum Industry Appreciation Day Luncheon. The public is invited, on August 27, 11:30 a.m., at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Billings. The event is part of the Montana Petroleum Council's annual meeting, Aug. 26
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  • It was supposed to be just a side line. A project, that would take two or three months' work to put together. But, over thirteen years, it has taken on a life of its own. The Magic City Blues has become a big deal for Billings' entertainment, a year-long endeavor, and one family's mainstay business.
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  • Coo coo, coo coo- we've all heard that pleasant, yet almost mysterious, even haunting sound (late at night in a hallway) emanating from a wall in Grandma's house, or Aunty Em's kitchen, usually in a house with collectibles, antiques or a collection of notables and curios. A satisfying sound for many, an annoying sound for some, yet it is as
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  • There are several reasons Montana is lagging behind neighboring states when it comes to oil and gas development. While North Dakota maintains nearly 200 drilling rigs at any given time, Montana has struggled to keep rigs running. North Dakota issued over 2,500 drilling permits last year. Montana issued only 297. Considering these numbers, it should come as no surprise that
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  • Shiptons is building a new location in the Heights and a 3G's convenience store on Wicks Lane is constructing a new building. Local business of all kinds are expanding and growing as reflected in the report of those recently acquiring 504 Loans through the US Small Business Administration, as processed by the Big Sky Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Manager of
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  •   The big challenge in putting together an almost $100 million budget for Yellowstone County for fiscal year 2014-15 will be finding enough money to fund an addition to the county jail without asking the voters to approve a special mill levy. At the opening of a week of budget hearings on June 23, County Commissioner John Ostlund said that
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  • The Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) gave local planners approval to pursue a railroad corridor study to address a number of transportation issues in downtown Billings. The study could prepare the community to apply for a TIGER grant in early 2015, should the federal Department of Transportation offer grants at that time. But, there is also another local entity interested in
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  • The consequences of drinking and driving are becoming increasingly life altering. Not only do drunk drivers pose a threat to the lives of other drivers and pedestrians, the legal penalties and career ramifications, when they get caught and cited, can change the entire course of their lives, as it did for a friend of Alex Crosby of Bozeman, Montana. Because
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MSU Has Record Enrollment

Montana State University set an enrollment record this fall, with 12,764 students attending classes, MSU officials announced.

MSU has set enrollment records in three out of the last four years. The 2009 headcount is 395 more students than the previous record, set in 2008.

Significantly, the university has a record number of freshmen enrolled, 2,281. The previous record of 2,225 was set in 2005.

"A big freshman class is a vote of confidence. Both Montana residents and out-of-state students are choosing us," said MSU President Geoff Gamble.

A 20 percent increase in Native American freshmen helped set the record. The number of Native American freshmen rose from 54 students in 2008 to 65 students this fall. Overall, Native American enrollment is at a historic high of 377 students - a 79 percent increase since Gamble took office in 2000. Increasing Native American enrollment has been one of his primary objectives.

"All our students receive a great education here, with hands-on opportunities to do cutting-edge research or explore creative endeavors in the humanities - both preparing them well for their careers after college," Gamble said.

Not only is it MSU's largest entering freshman class, but on average, it is also the brightest.

The average ACT score of this fall's, full-time, entering freshman is 25.14. A common measure of a student's academic accomplishment in high school, the ACT scale is from 0 to 36.

This fall's full-time freshmen have an average ACT score 0.7 higher than the university's previous record holders, the entering class of 2008. Since 1998, the university has never seen a jump in ACT scores greater than 0.3 from class to class.

 

"This is remarkable. MSU is seeing an unprecedented jump in the quality of its entering, full-time freshman," said Allen Yarnell, vice president of student affairs.

Additionally, 58 entering freshmen scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. One freshman had a perfect score. Together, they make up the largest group of top-scoring ACT students ever in an MSU freshman class.

"We have committed staff; we have superb faculty; and we prepare our students for great success. Quality students recognize that," Yarnell said.

Since 2006, MSU has been the only university in the five-state region of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and North and South Dakota to meet the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's criteria for the highest research classification. Since 2000, research funding earned by the university has grown 61 percent, from $61 million to $98.4 million in fiscal year 2009.

Last year, MSU's research directly provided $7.76 million in undergraduate and graduate salaries, benefits, scholarships and fellowships. Additionally, two MSU students won Goldwater Scholarships last year, the nation's premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences and engineering. MSU is ranked 11th nationally for Goldwater winners, just behind Yale and MIT.

"On top of all we have to offer academically, MSU students get to live in this beautiful setting that is the Rocky Mountains. That's part of our message and we believe it's being heard," Gamble said. "We are Trout U and the University of the Yellowstone. That's very appealing to students."

In the past six years, MSU has been ranked No. 1 in the country by Fly Rod & Reel magazine for undergrads angling for an education near trout streams; No. 5 in Outside magazine's "40 Best College Towns;" No. 4 ski town by Skiing magazine, and in the top 10 hunting and fishing universities by Outdoor Life magazine. Bozeman was named one of top three cities for an adventurer to start a family in the October 2009 issue of National Geographic Adventure.

MSU also has a good reputation among employers, which translates into opportunities for graduates, Gamble said.

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