Saturday Apr. 19, 2014
News & Feature Stories
 
Arvon Fielding wields a glass jar of dead honeybees during a Flathead City-County Health Board meeting on April 17. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

A Flathead City-County Board of Health meeting on April 17 had a not-so-sweet outcome for one Kalispell beekeeper.

Arvon Fielding of Never Give Up Apiary in Kalispell has been told he can no longer sell his bees’ raw honey at local farmers markets because of a new interpretation of state code by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, which requires him to obtain a retail food license. In March, Fielding was denied a license after county health inspectors visited his facility and deemed it inadequate.
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Landslide
Susan Storfa's property after the 2010 landslide, as seen from below the bluff in Village Greens. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

A district court judge has ordered that the Flathead County Commission can take no further action on a federal grant that would provide a group of homeowners with money to mitigate the erosion of a bluff near Whitefish Stage Road.

Last month, the commission voted to stop the process of a $400,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant. FEMA had agreed to pay $298,000, and the homeowners whose property is in danger of sloughing away paid the matching $102,000.

The county's role would have been to manage the funds, which the commission agreed to in November, 2013. But the decision to stop the grant process has put the federal funds in limbo.
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Stumptown Marketplace
A rendering of the Stumptown Marketplace, courtesy of Montana Creative

Inspiration can strike in the most mundane of circumstances. Just ask David and Amy Gatton, whose latest inspiration for a business hit when they were trying to get their daughter to eat carrots last fall.

“Last fall, when the (Whitefish) farmers market ended, and we couldn’t get our CSA vegetables, we were trying to get our daughter to eat carrots, but they weren’t the carrots from 10 Lakes Farm,” David Gatton said. “And we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have an indoor market open year round?’”

They talked about the idea on a Thursday, he said, and were in talks with the bank about a loan the next Monday. And from there, the Stumptown Marketplace has continued to evolve, with a potential opening date in June.

The marketplace will be a place for vendors to show their wares despite the weather outside, Gatton said, but there is no urge or desire to compete with the Whitefish Farmers Market.

“I don’t want to take away from the farmers market, I want to add to it,” he said. “It’s not an indoor farmers market so much as a place for local business to get a start.”

Gatton said the Stumptown Marketplace would be fashioned after the indoor markets popular in Italy, France and even San Francisco, with a variety of fresh, local products available all in one place.

The building, located at 12 Spokane Ave. in Whitefish, is currently under construction, with the storefront expected to be completed sometime this week. Inside will be 12 vendor booths, set up in a similar way to the Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, he said, varying in size from 100 square feet to 300 square feet.

Six of the booths will be equipped with the plumbing, gas and electrical needs for a burgeoning restaurant to set up business, he said, and the other six spaces will be reserved for different types of vendors. Already, Gatton said he has spoken with a goldsmith, a chocolatier, a company that makes all-natural makeup products, an all-natural cleaning supply company, and more.

“It’s been really well received,” Gatton said. “I did not expect the amount of interest I’m getting.”

Despite opening up in June and in such close proximity to the farmers market, Gatton said the marketplace would act as the next step up for those vendors who are especially successful in an environment such as the local market.

If a food cart gets really popular and decides to upgrade to a full-blown restaurant, the logistics can be expensive and tricky, Gatton said. The Stumptown Marketplace would be a new option for such endeavors, providing the kitchen space, the bathrooms, the common eating area, and other aspects a restaurant could need.

“This provides that stopgap in between for the little food truck seasonal business that does it one night a week for 12 weeks a year,” he said.
“This gives that next step up at a real reasonable price.”

Already signed on is Pig and Olive, offering innovative sandwiches such as a savory waffle cone with fried chicken and maple syrup, or locally made sausage wrapped in onion rings, then beer battered and served up.

The restaurant booths would likely be longer-term tenants than the other leases, Gatton said, with the non-restaurant vendors likely rotating and turning over more often than a usual storefront.

Gatton said he has also been talking to several butchers about getting local meat into the marketplace; having beef and pork options in one place would make it easier for residents to get their shopping done in one stop instead of driving all over the valley, he said.

And while vegetables and produce might be tougher to come by during the winter due to Northwest Montana’s relatively short growing season, there are potential options with farmers who use hydroponic systems, Gatton said.

Gatton is already known for his business experience as the current general manager for the Izaak Walton Inn, and he oversees Eddy’s Café and Gifts in Apgar in Glacier National Park and a couple other endeavors in the area.

With that experience going into this new idea, Gatton believes the Stumptown Marketplace will be a success in Whitefish, especially because residents make an effort to support their local businesses.

“We’ve had a fantastic response from the community,” Gatton said.

For more information on the Stumptown Marketplace, visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/stumptownmarketplace.
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Rob Parker, EPA site assessment manager, talks to Columbia Falls residents about designating CFAC a Superfund site. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

The Environmental Protection Agency is ready to designate the shuttered Columbia Falls Aluminum Company plant a Superfund site, but it’s looking for public support before conducting a more extensive investigation into the contamination. EPA and Montana Department of Environmental Quality officials hosted a meeting on April 15 in Columbia Falls to discuss a recently completed study that found the land around the site is contaminated with various metals and chemicals, including cyanide and fluoride.

“We want to begin an ongoing dialogue with the community about this site,” said Rob Parker, the EPA’s site assessment manger.
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 The primary election for the Flathead County clerk and recorder is one of the most contested local races this year.

With current clerk and recorder Paula Robinson not seeking a fourth four-year term, the open seat pulled in four GOP candidates for whom the election will most likely be determined after the primary vote on June 3.

The candidates are Debbie Pierson, Char Terry Sherman, Corey Pilsch, and Rebekah “Becky” Eslick Savelle.
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Libby resident Mark Lauer discusses the employment situation in Lincoln County. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

LIBBY – Minutes before Kootenai Job Services opened on a recent Wednesday morning, locals were already gathered outside with their resumes and hopes in hand.

A 52-year-old who gave his name as “Chevy” said he’s a frequent visitor to the small office on Mineral Avenue, especially after he lost his job managing an apartment four months ago. Since then, he’s been sleeping on a friend’s couch.

“I lost everything all at once,” he said. “I do odd jobs here and there to make a buck here and there.”
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Two drivers were injured in a wreck along U.S. Highway 93 south of Whitefish on Tuesday afternoon. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Two drivers involved in a crash along U.S. Highway 93 near the intersection with Timber Lane in Happy Valley sustained non life-threatening injuries Tuesday afternoon.

Montana Highway Patrol reported that the crash occurred after a pickup truck pulled out of the gas station and onto Highway 93 in the northbound lanes. There was a passenger vehicle already traveling in that lane, a trooper reported, and it struck the pickup on the driver's side.

The driver of the passenger vehicle was transported to Kalispell Regional Medical Center, and the pickup driver was taken to North Valley Hospital in Whitefish. The crash occurred around 2:45 p.m., and briefly closed northbound lanes of U.S. 93.

As of 3:40 p.m., both lanes were reopened and the scene was clear, according to MHP.
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 Plans to develop a housing subdivision off East Second Street in Whitefish have resurfaced in the form of a new downsized proposal with half as many units and less open space.

Seven months after withdrawing a larger project that came under fire from neighborhood residents, Will MacDonald and Sean Averill of Community Infill Partners have submitted yet another scaled-down version to the city seeking a zone change and approved building plan that would allow the suburban development to move forward.
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