Prairie Lights: Food for thought, for a change, in crime news

Reading recent editions of the Billings Gazette—known fondly by some as the Billings Police Blotter—has been an eye-opening and thought-provoking experience.

Amid the usual catalog of serial drunk drivers, oil-patch meth runners, girlfriend-assaulting miscreants and keno-addicted embezzlers, there were a few crimes of genuine weirdness, riveting in their strangeness and even, in a couple of cases, their moral ambiguity.

Eye-catching Montana map art illustrates one-act festival


We went to Sacrifice Cliff Theatre Co.’s “New Works Festival” Friday night and recommend it wholeheartedly.

It consists of 10 one-act plays of about 10 minutes each, all on the theme of “Welcome to Montana.” We have already described the plays in an earlier story, and will add here only that the plays, short as they are, cover a lot of ground and a lot emotional territory. Continue Reading →


Pneumonia kills dozens of bighorn sheep north of Yellowstone Park


Wildlife officials in Montana remain concerned about an ongoing pneumonia outbreak among bighorn sheep near the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park, and have canceled the lone permit that would have been issued for a fall sheep hunt in the area.

The move came after wildlife biologists conducted an aerial survey Sunday of the area near Gardiner, just outside Yellowstone’s North Gate. Continue Reading →

Revel Coffee Roasters: Brewing elusive perfection


Out of a nondescript kiosk in the parking lot of Connect Telephone and Computer Group on Central Avenue, Gary Theisen Jr. brews coffee that just barely “eludes perfection.” As barista and roast master for Revel Coffee Roasters, Theisen strives for a flawless cup of coffee, in keeping with the name of his business.

“It’s revel coffee because revel means to ‘take great pleasure or delight,’ so I want to continually offer exceptional coffees that one can take great pleasure or delight in,” he says. Continue Reading →

A grand start to spring in northwest Montana


TROY—On the first day of spring, and just four days after St. Patrick’s Day, I found myself in what had to be the greenest spot in all of Montana.

I was at the Ross Creek Cedars, a 100-acre grove of western red cedars that reach for the sky a little south of Troy off Highway 56. Some of these monster trees are said to be nearly 1,000 years old and to rise to a height of 200 feet. Continue Reading →

Racism? If the shoe fits, wear it


Sean Hannity knew exactly whom to blame. When two police officers were shot last week during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri, talk radio host Hannity went right after the usual suspects: Al Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder, President Barack Obama and the protesters themselves.

How, Hannity wondered, could Ferguson residents be protesting when a Justice Department report cleared Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson of wrongdoing in the shooting of Michael Brown, whose death last August sparked ugly protests? Outside agitators like the president must be to blame. Continue Reading →