Blog Cabin

Study recommends more work on Lake County Jail problems

(POLSON)- With crime rates and adult arrests climbing, a new study suggests Lake County leaders should renew efforts to develop plans for building a new jail. 

The report, requested by Sheriff Don Bell and prepared by the National Institute of Corrections, is aimed at helping the county re-boot plans to deal with the aging jail and overcrowding. 

The report, conducted in November, found serious violent crimes had declined in Lake County between 2007 and 2011, averaging 55-crimes per 1000 residents. But since then, the crime rate has soared to 73-crimes per 1000, driven largely by substance abuse. In fact, over 51-percent of the inmates were in custody because of alcohol and drugs. The authors say longer jail stays in recent years have also pushed the 46-bed facility to hold as many as 100 inmates, a number that's been limited by court orders. 

The report also found many of the building elements at the Lake County Jail "pose safety and security risks" with portions of the building that are "out-of-date and dysfunctional." 

The report recommends Lake County leaders should continue discussions about building a new jail, reorganizing the Justice System Coordinating Council to head the effort. And the authors say those talks should lead to a formal needs assessment, visiting other similar size jails to see what's possible.

At the same time, the report recommends Lake County use more community "sanctioning and supervision" programs for inmates to ease pressure on the existing jail. 


Flathead County among the leaders in Montana flu cases

DPHHS graphic (HELENA)- Flathead County is now among the leading counties in Montana with flu cases, as the outbreak of influenza continues to soar statewide. 

The latest report from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services shows how the numbers of cases have been climbing since the holidays. Flathead, Gallatin and Yellowstone counties show the highest numbers of new influenza cases through January 6th. Flathead County leads the way with 94-new, confirmed cases reported to the state. 

However, DPHHS says the flu is now widespread across the state, with all but three counties reporting at least some cases through last week. 

Over 230-people have been hospitalized this flu season and a dozen people have died from flu-related complications. 


Glacier National Park sets new yearly visitor record

Dennis Bragg photo (WEST GLACIER)-  Glacier National Park visitation not only breaks the 3-million mark for visitors, but easily crushes that mark. The final report on park visitation from the National Park Service shows over 3.3-million people went through the park gates in 2017, a solid 10% increase over the previous year. The park passed 3-million visitors this year in September, even with the fire season cutting access on the west side of the park. 

The new record wasn't unexpected.  For the first time in Glacier's history, more than 1-million people had come through the gates in the month of July alone. That was a jump of more than 23%. And park visitation was already up 11% through the first half of the year. 

St. Mary was by far the most active entrance to the park, largely driven by the fire closures of Going-to-the-Sun on the west side of the park in August and September. 


Montana gas prices considerably higher than last winter

Montana's gas prices are starting to inch upward again, but more significant than the creeping prices this winter is how much more you're paying at the pump than last year at the same time. is reporting prices have risen almost a penny a gallon this past week, to an average of $2.57 a gallon. That compares with the average gas price nationally that increased 3.5 cents a gallon this past week, to an average of $2.52 a gallon. 

That's not much of an increase, but it is 29-cents higher than a year ago,. However, it's still a bargain compared to five years ago, when the average price was an even $3 per gallon at Montana stations. 


A weekend for quakes in Western Montana

(SOMERS)- It was quite the weekend for earthquakes in Western Montana. The U-S Geological Survey says a pair of small quakes hit at the north end of Flathead Lake on Sunday, with one measuring 2.7 magnitude that hit just before noon. 

Then a few minutes later at 3-point-0. Both of the quakes were centered around Somers, with some people reporting they heard a rumble and felt some shaking. Normally a quake of 2.5 to 3 magnitude is about the point where people noticed an earthquake on the surface. 

And that fault near Lincoln continues to be active, with another small quake of 1.8 magnitude on Sunday, the fourth quake in that area this past week.