Recent Posts

In Sidney, hometown boy makes good — beer, that is


SIDNEY — Travis Peterson’s career as a civil engineer lasted five years. A native of Sidney, Peterson graduated from Sidney High School in 2001 and went on to earn a civil engineering degree from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. Then he headed to the West Coast, where he worked as a marine contractor. He enjoyed working on bridges, piers and other projects, and he was good at at it, but he had other interests as well. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Fleeing the Bakken, leather worker lands in Shepherd

Like many people, Ron Jore came to Yellowstone County because of the Bakken oil field. But he wasn’t trying to get closer to the field. He was trying to get away from it. Jore brought his leather-working business here two years ago from Watford City, N.D., where he had planned to spend his entire life. His grandparents had moved there from Norway, and his parents had spent their lives there. Continue Reading →

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Film on Bakken oil boom has Billings premiere this Sunday


“Makoshika,” a documentary about boom-and-bust times in the Bakken oil field, will have its Billings premiere this Sunday. The 50-minute documentary made its Montana premiere on Monday at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula. It will be shown at 7 p.m. this Sunday at the Babcock Theater in Billings and then from March 4-10 at the Art House Cinema & Pub, also in downtown Billings. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Another lawsuit filed over oil tank inspection death


Last Best News has learned of another lawsuit filed on behalf of a Montana man who died while inspecting oil storage tanks in the Bakken oilfield of North Dakota. The lawsuit was filed last February in District Court in Sidney by Nicole Buckles, of Glasgow, on behalf of her son, 20-year-old Zachary Buckles, who died on April 28, 2014, while manually gauging crude-oil production tanks near Alexander, N.D. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Another suit filed over oilfield death, more cases to follow


The family of a Sidney man who was found dead near the oil storage tank he was inspecting near Keene, N.D., has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Billings, blaming the death of Blaine Otto on the negligence of the company that owned the oil well. The same attorney who filed that suit represented Dustin Bergsing, a 21-year-old oilfield worker from Edgar, Mont., who died under similar circumstances, and whose family reached a confidential settlement with Marathon Oil in 2013. The terms of that settlement were not disclosed, but a pretrial statement said a computation of damages put the value of the case “in the seven-figure range.” (more…) Continue Reading →

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Montana, home of the entrepreneur

The New York Times is reporting today that Montana “leads the nation in business creation.” The Times attributes all the business-creation activity to the Bakken effect: so much money has been flowing out of the oil patch, and so many people have been flooding into the region, that new businesses are being founded to meet new demands. The same study quoted by the Times lists Wyoming as second and North Dakota as third in start-up activity. What the story does not note, for some reason, though the study itself does, is that Montana was first last year as well, and North Dakota was, as it is this year, third. Only Wyoming’s status changed, jumping from sixth place to second. Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Distractions result in column cancellation


I regret to inform you that there will be no Prairie Lights column today. When I launched this basically one-man operation, I was warned to be on the alert for signs of burnout, things like neglecting to shave for several weeks, sacrificing small animals on the altar of Google Analytics and finding myself, unaccountably, in a closed casket. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Oil tank deaths raise serious questions


Since 2010, four Montana natives have died under similar circumstances in the Bakken oil fields. All were found unconscious or already dead on steel catwalks above tanks of crude oil whose levels they were checking. Trent Vigus, 30, of Glendive, originally of Butte, died at an XTO Energy well site near Lambert, Mont., on July 2, 2010. Dustin Bergsing, 21, of Edgar, originally of Livingston, died at a Marathon oil well near Mandaree, N.D., on Jan. 8, 2012. Continue Reading →

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Assiniboine leader resists Bakken’s ‘quick fix’


Lawrence Wetsit is a man with a sense of history. An administrator at the Fort Peck Community College in Poplar, he’s also the cultural leader for the Assiniboine tribe. His great grandfather, I Ax Ba, also called Chief Wets It, was known for his antelope horn bonnet and his ability to steal horses at night from a neighboring tribe. Wetsit speaks with a sense of great fondness for the land of his people. (more…) Continue Reading →

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