For now, at least, Laurel resident Chase Brownlee is the face of Billings.
The 26-year-old Stillwater Mine geologist is on the cover of the September issue of Outside magazine, which just hit the newsstands today. Another photo of Brownlee dominates the Contents page and there’s a two-page spread of him standing atop the cliffs of the Four Dances Recreation Area (also known as Sacrifice Cliff) overlooking the Yellowstone River.
For good measure, there’s another photo of him skateboarding near the McCormick Cafe and one more more small photo of him running at Four Dances, these two photos being part of the two-page article about how Billings won Outside’s Best Towns 2016 contest. The cover photo shows Brownlee jogging in Zimmerman Park.
Brownlee’s fiancée, Shay Bjordahl, had just brought the magazine home Friday evening, so he hadn’t even read the article yet, but he was impressed with the thoroughness of the reporter, Elliott D. Woods, and the photographer, Peter Frank Edwards.
“They were pretty in tune to getting the nitty-gritty,” Brownlee said. “It was a positive way to portray Billings nationally as a great place to live.”
The short article leads off with a description of Taubert’s Ranch Outfitters, at Second Avenue North and North Broadway, and a few quotes from 82-year-old Lou Clayton, who’s been working there since 1979.
Most of the quotes, though, come from Caden Kosovich, 26, who works at the Spoke Shop. He also has the best quote, in my humble opinion:
“We’re in a renaissance stage,” Kosovich says. “There’s so much to do, but Billings won’t come to you. You have to go out and find it.”
Next up is Ben Harman, the chef and owner of the Fieldhouse restaurant, whose pending expansion we just reported on. The final person featured, perhaps unfortunately given his recent appearance in the news, was Jim Heurtas, the owner of Prohibition Brotique and Barbershoppe.
Brownlee said the Outside people asked him for good locations for photo shoots, and to get a feel for the town, so he took them to Four Dances, Zimmerman Park, Pictograph Caves State Park, Steepworld climbing gym, the Fieldhouse, the Spoke Shop and Art House Cinema & Pub.
He said Kosovich and another Spoke Shop employee, Simon Harris, spent even more time with the Outside folks, mostly a videographer, who accompanied them on various outdoor ventures in the Billings area. That video presumably will be posted on the Outside website one of these days.
The September issue is not yet featured on the site.
Brownlee’s appearance in Outside magazine was “just dumb luck,” he said. Bjordahl, his fiancée, who has done some modeling, wrote to Outside after Billings won the contest, offering herself up for any photo shoots. She also mentioned Brownlee, and since Outside is fairly guy-centric (the only woman pictured is giving a dude a haircut at Prohibition Brotique), Brownlee got the call.