Sept. 29, 2017

From the Gallatin County Media Center

On Thursday, September 28, 2017, at approximately 6:25AM, the Gallatin County 911 Dispatch Center received a call from a citizen reporting a vehicle on its side in the ditch near 774 Reese Creek Road.  The caller stated the motor was cold and there was no one around the vehicle.

The Montana Highway Patrol responded to the scene of the accident.  Upon investigation, the driver was located away from the vehicle. The driver was deceased. The Trooper then requested a coroner to respond.

The Gallatin County Coroner’s Office identified the driver as 60-year-old Ellen Cerovski of Belgrade.  The cause and manner of death are under investigation.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be conducting a test of the Emergency Alert System nationwide this Wednesday.  The test will be carried on television and radio stations at 12:20 pm on Wednesday, September 27th here in Montana.  The test will not be transmitted over the NOAA Weather Radio System or by the Wireless Emergency Alert system on cellular phones.

More information on the Emergency Alert System can be obtained at

Full FEMA release below:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on September 27, 2017, at 2:20 PM EDT.  If rescheduling is necessary, the alternate test date is October 4, 2017 at 2:20 PM EDT.

The EAS test will be broadcast through:

  • Radio broadcast stations;
  • Television broadcast stations;
  • Cable systems;
  • Wireline video systems;
  • Direct broadcast satellite service providers; and
  • Digital audio radio service providers.

The EAS test message will read as follows:

“This is a National Test of the Emergency Alert System.  This is only a test.  Broadcast and cable operators in your area have developed this system in voluntary cooperation with FEMA, the FCC and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency.  If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the alert tone. This concludes this National Test of the Emergency Alert System.”

The EAS test will address accessibility in the following ways:

  • The emergency test message will be transmitted in English and Spanish via audio and text so that individuals with disabilities and limited English proficiency will have options for reading the message.
  • In addition to the EAS visual message being displayed in a manner consistent with the FCC’s current rules (that is, at the top of the TV screen, or where it will not interfere with other visual messages), the message is required to be displayed in a size, color, contrast, location, and speed that is readily readable and understandable.
  • The FCC’s current rules require that the EAS message will not contain overlapping lines of EAS text, and will not extend beyond the viewable display.

An American Sign Language (ASL) video about this test can be found at this link:

Attachments area
Preview YouTube video FEMA Accessible Emergency Alert System IPAWS Test Message
FEMA Accessible Emergency Alert System IPAWS Test Message

 The New York Times and ProPublica have teamed up to investigate who is to blame for skyrocketing drug prices — and have turned up some surprising answers.

This story was co-published with The New York Times.

This much is clear: The public is angry about the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. Surveys have shown that high drug prices rank near the top of consumers’ health care concerns.

What’s not as clear is exactly why prices have been rising, and who is to blame.

For the last four months, The New York Times and ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism organization, have teamed up to answer these questions, and to shed light on the games that are being played to keep prices high, often without consumers’ knowledge or consent. Katie reports from the health desk at The Times, and Charles is a senior reporter at ProPublica.

Our reporting journey has turned up some counterintuitive stories, like how insurance companies sometimes require patients to take brand-name drugs— and refuse to cover generic alternatives — even when that means patients have to pay more out of pocket.

Along the way, we’ve asked readers to share their stories about their struggles with high drug costs. We’ve heard from nearly 1,000 people.

In recent weeks, a few stories caught our eye. A woman in Texas, for example, told us that the company that manages her drug benefits, OptumRx, was going to start asking her to pay more out of pocket for Butrans, a painkilling patch that contains the drug buprenorphine. As a “lower cost alternative,” OptumRx, which is owned by UnitedHealth Group, suggested she try painkillers like OxyContin, even though they carry a higher risk of dependence.

A letter sent by OptumRx, a pharmacy benefit manager, to a member in Texas, suggesting she consider switching from the Butrans painkilling skin patch to drugs that carry a higher risk of abuse and dependence. (Letter obtained by ProPublica)

“The whole point of pain management is to take the least amount of medication possible to manage your pain, so that you always have somewhere to go when the pain increases or changes,” she wrote to us. “This is irresponsible and scary ‘cost management.’” She did not want to use her name, saying her employer prohibited her from identifying herself, but she allowed us to share OptumRx’s redacted letter.

Her pharmacy benefit manager, she wrote, is “effectively contributing to the ‘opioid crisis’ with its own policies.”

A spokesman for UnitedHealth, Matthew N. Wiggin, said it takes the crisis seriously and wants to ensure that people with chronic pain get the appropriate treatment.

We’ve closely followed the opioid crisis and efforts to hold various parties accountable, among them drug manufacturerspharmacies and emergency room doctors.

But these stories — about patients who believed their insurers were placing roadblocks in the way of less risky painkillers — felt new to us.

We followed up with several of the readers, and searched social media to see if other patients were talking about this.

Then we asked for documents: billing statements from insurers, denial letters, call logs and doctors’ records. In the case of our lead example, a woman named Alisa Erkes, she also agreed to sign a privacy waiver allowing her insurer, UnitedHealthcare, to comment on her case.

Charles enlisted ProPublica’s deputy data editor, Ryann Grochowski Jones, to analyze data from Medicare prescription drug plans. The results showed that insurers were indeed placing more barriers to drugs like Butrans and lidocaine patches than to cheaper generic opioids.

Insurers say that they are doing their part by placing limits on new prescriptions for addictive painkillers, and that they are also doing more to monitor doctors’ prescribing patterns and to catch abuse by patients. Several insurers said they had seen declines in monthly opioid prescriptions, a sign of progress.

But their behavior has infuriated many patients, who say they want to avoid taking opioids if possible. They argue that insurers are too focused on a drug’s cost, since many of the painkillers with a lower risk of addiction are more expensive.

Our project examining high drug costs is not over. We are already digging into other corners of the prescription drug world, hoping to shed light on more of the hidden forces that are keeping drug costs high. Stay tuned, as well, for more stories that were inspired by our readers.

Have you had trouble paying for prescription drugs? Tell us about it.



At approximately 2:00 am on Sunday, September 10, 2017, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office responded to the area of Sourdough Road and Goldstein Road for a report of gun shots fired.  An errant bullet entered a residence after ricocheting off of a road sign.

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office believes the shots were fired from a moving vehicle and are asking any witnesses to come forward with information related to this incident.  This reckless act could very well have cost someone their life; the bullet entered dangerously close to the homeowners.

Anyone with information regarding this event are encouraged to call the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Detective Division at 406-582-2121.  Information leading to the arrest of the suspect(s) may be eligible for a Crimestopper reward.

Bozeman, MT – Everyone in Gallatin County is encouraged to use safe practices with fire over the weekend and for the remainder of fire season.  The conditions in many areas are very conducive to wildfires starting and rapidly growing into large devastating fires.  Gallatin County officials are asking everyone to limit their recreational fire use even in locations where they are still allowed.  “With much of Western Montana inundated with large wildfires, we don’t want to add Gallatin County to that list and we need everyone’s help to avoid wildfires here,” according to Patrick Lonergan, Gallatin County Emergency Manager.

Patrick Lonergan explained, “With wildfires burning across the West, and Hurricane Harvey in Texas, emergency resources are stretched thin.  The lack of resource availability combined with the vegetation and weather conditions creates a situation that makes catching wildfires when they are small very challenging.  The best way to prevent a devastating wildfire from occurring in Gallatin County is for our community to keep a fire from starting.  Officials are asking our community to avoid starting fires and if they do have a recreational fire, use extreme caution.”

Open burning in Gallatin County is currently closed and the Custer-Gallatin National Forest, Montana DNRC and Montana FWP are enacting Stage 1 Fire Restrictions Saturday on their lands within Gallatin County.  Individuals recreating on these public lands should check with the respective agencies on the exact restrictions, but generally this restricts the use of campfires and smoking outdoors.  Recreational fires are still allowed, but discouraged, on private property in Gallatin County that are not classified forest lands (classified forest lands are regulated by DNRC & USFS).


Below is a detailed release of the fire restrictions taking effect this weekend:

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions Implemented Across the Zone

Thursday, August 31, 2017—Beginning at 00:01 a.m. Saturday, September 2, 2017 Stage I Fire Restrictions will be extended to include most areas in the South Central Montana Fire Zone on federal, state and some county lands.  Yellowstone National Park, the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness and the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area will not go into Stage 1 fire restrictions at this time.  The agencies were prompted to implement fire restrictions over a broader area because there was an increase in fire activity east of the Continental Divide since Wednesday, which further depleted firefighting resources.  In addition, red flag warnings are predicted.

In summary:

  • Custer Gallatin National Forest  The national forest is in stage 1 fire restrictions with an exemption for campfires in improved recreation sites with metal fire rings starting Saturday 9-2-17 at 00:01.  The Absaroka Beartooth and Lee Metcalf Wildernesss are excluded from restrictions at this time.  The East Zone is already in Stage 1 restrictions.
  • BLM lands in both Park and Gallatin Counties will move into Stage 1 restrictions with an exemption for campfires in improved recreation sites with metal fire rings starting Saturday 9-2-17 at 00:01
  • Fish Wildlife and Parks lands which includes fishing access sites and state parks: Park County sites are currently under Stage 1 Restrictions with no campfires. Gallatin County sites will move into Stage 1 restrictions with no campfires starting Saturday 9-2-17 at 00:01
  • Department of Natural Resources classified forest lands in Park and Gallatin County will move into Stage 1 restrictions with no campfires starting Saturday 9-2-17 at 00:01
  • Gallatin County has closed open burning under burn permits and does not implement staged fire restrictions. 
  • Yellowstone National Park has no fire restrictions at this time. However, campfires are always restricted to improved recreation sites with metal fire rings. 

 The purpose of fire restrictions is to reduce the risk of human-caused fires during periods of very high to extreme fire danger. These areas are experiencing critical fire conditions, including dry fuels, hot temperatures, low humidity, and high winds, all of which are expected to continue.

For more information about fire restrictions, and to check what areas are under restrictions, visit the Fire Restriction website at: or call your local fire management agency, volunteer fire department, or county office.

Media Contacts: 

South Central Fire Zone Coordinator:  Greg Coleman This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 406/222-4188

Acting Public Affairs Officer, Custer Gallatin National Forest for forest related questions:  Teri Seth, 406/587-6703