Friday, January 19, 2018

Some good news about Stillwater County

With all of the negative news that gets printed in the papers today, I thought that it might be nice to write a few words with a positive theme behind them.
I’m a little late with this but I thought better late than never. Each year the Billings Area Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee sponsors an Ag Tour of the surrounding area to highlight some of the agriculture and ag related businesses that we have in the area. This year we chose to go into Stillwater and Carbon counties.
This year’s tour was held in June and our first stop was at the Special K Ranch where our group of more than 80 was treated to a great tour of the ranch and a nice visit with many of the 30-plus residents.
Mike Oberg, Steve Aadland and Marvin Schieldt were our hosts and we all learned more about the wonderful activities that the residents of the ranch are exposed to and what a great living environment the Special K Ranch provides for them. The ranch provides a much needed service to a special group of residents and we are really lucky to have it in Stillwater County.
Our next stop was the Sunshine Apiaries where Patty Sundberg and the crew discussed the details of how the apiary business is managed and operated in Columbus including the bee hive locations throughout the county. It was interesting to follow how the process works to finally end up with honey and various other byproducts. What a much needed and great ag related business this is.
Our third stop was at the Montana Silversmiths where Judy Wagner, Curt Robbins and the crew took our group on an extensive tour of the processing activities that are used in turning out some of the finest jewelry, trophy buckles and custom design products of all kinds. All of the staff at Montana Silversmiths were so open and engaging with our group and we were able to learn much more about what it takes to manufacture an outstanding product.
Again we are so blessed to have this great business offering employment to so many residents of the area located in Stillwater County.
We then drove to the Fishtail area where we stopped at the White Deer Ranch where we learned about the farm to table operation that Lee is developing in that area. We were treated to lunch there and got a tour of the White Deer Ranch operation. Lee’s operation illustrates the flexibility of finding a niche market that allows him to be involved with agriculture.
Our final stop was just south of Absarokee at the Anipro Arena where Rick Young and family discussed their auctioneering business and also the many uses of the Anipro Arena. Rick has been in the auctioneering business for over 30 years and it has grown to include several of his family members. Rick has developed his business to where he travels throughout the state providing auctioneering expertise to his clients.
Rick was getting ready for a sale the day we stopped which allowed us to see how he had various items displayed in his new building. Rick’s facilities are also used by the community for wedding receptions, business meetings, and 4-H and FFA activities, etc. Rick and his family provide a much needed service for Stillwater County and the surrounding area. Stillwater County Commissioner Maureen Davey also gave a warm greeting to our group at this stop.
Our only stop in Carbon County was just north of Red Lodge at the Red Lodge Ales micro brewery business. Here Sam told our group about how his micro brewery business operates.
He gave us a tour of the facilities and we all had the opportunity to sample some of their micro brews. The micro breweries are truly having an impact on the beer industry. It was a great way to end the day!
I want to say thanks to all of these businesses for hosting our group. Everyone who attended had a great time. I also want to say how proud and fortunate I am to be a resident of Stillwater County!

Dave Kelsey is a Molt resident and a member of the Billings Area Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee