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Thursday, June 28, 2018 - With Justice Kennedy announcing his retirement major decisions on hot-button issues are in the balance. Also on the rundown: sparked by family separations, protestors nationwide occupy ICE buildings; and now less than 100 days to go before the Land and Water Conservation Fund evaporates.   



Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Trump administration’s travel ban – we have reaction from a Muslim community. Also

on the Wednesday rundown: A new report looks at the threat Census under-counts pose to kids in all 50 states, and a storm of controversy surrounds NC

shellfish legislation.


Big Sky Connection

Eric Tegethoff

June 27, 2018

HELENA, Montana - Montana kids are faring better in an annual report on child well-being released today.

The 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation looks at how kids are doing in the areas of health, education, economic well-being, and family and community.

The Treasure State ranks 23rd overall in the report, making promising reductions in the child poverty rate, from 20 percent in 2010 to 15 percent in 2016 - lower than the national average.

Jennifer Calder, outreach and communications director for Montana KIDS COUNT, agreed that families are doing better.

She points to another promising indicator - the increase in Montana households with two parents, which also increases the number of breadwinners for families.

"Those kind of help us get this picture of some forward momentum coming from the 2008 Recession, and Montana is seeing some real gain," Calder said.

Montana ranks lowest in the area of health, at 46th. But the state has made major gains in decreasing the number of children without health insurance, dropping from 12 percent in 2010 to 5 percent in 2016.

Calder credited the state's expansion of Medicaid in 2016 as a likely reason the uninsured rate is dropping.

The report also highlights the need to ensure the 2020 U.S. Census is accurate. The young-child under-count has gotten worse with every census since 1980; the census was 1 million short for this age group in 2010. Without the proper resources, that could happen again in the next census, Calder warned.

"We know that about 8,000 Montana children under the age of 5 live in these sort of hard-to-count census tracts and we know that American Indian and rural populations are more likely to be under-counted," she said.

Roughly 300 federal programs use census-derived data to allocate more than $800 billion a year. For a more precise 2020 Census count, government officials need to address the digital divide, according to Laura Speer, associate director for policy reform and advocacy at the Casey Foundation.

"This will be the first census that's conducted primarily online," Speer explained, "so we want to make sure that people who don't have access to the Internet easily are able to complete the census, and to be represented and counted in the democracy."

The full report is online at


June 27, 2018

(West Yellowstone, Mont.) On June 26, at 2:46 p.m., West Yellowstone Police Department Dispatch received a call reporting a horseback rider had been injured when she was thrown at Lower Whits Lake 10 miles north of West Yellowstone.

Rescuers from the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Hebgen Basin Fire Department and a helicopter from Air Idaho responded.

Based on the reported injuries along with an initial assessment by a Gallatin County Deputy, the decision was made to launch a helicopter. Meanwhile, a second ground team responded with a wheeled litter. The helicopter was unable to land at the immediate scene and chose a second landing zone a short distance away. A third team responded to the second landing zone and led the Air Idaho Medical Team to the patient’s location.

The injured rider, a 37 year old female from Indiana, appeared to be in an extreme pain and was complaining of neck, back, shoulder and head pain. The Air Idaho medic was able to administer pain medication before the patient was packaged onto the wheeled litter. Rescuers then transported the patient the short distance to the Air Idaho helicopter that then transported her to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital for evaluation.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to remind people on horseback adventures in Montana’s backcountry that they should keep an eye out for hazards such as unsecured gear or belongings that can suddenly fall causing your horse to react. Horseback riding can be very enjoyable and safe but always consider that the horse has a mind of its own.  Photos courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office.



Tyler Morrison

Did anyone else notice that Zima has quietly appeared on store shelves again? I don’t care what anybody says. I like a good wine spritzer. I know, I know, it’s super unfashionable to mix anything with wine. But if you’ve ever read my column before, you’d know that I don’t think there is a wrong way to eat or drink anything.

For years, wine cocktails got a bad rap, and it was almost exclusively because of a thing called the wine cooler. Like yacht rock and The Golden Girls, wine coolers were associated with a different time in American culinary history, a time before artisanal cocktails and craft beer were listed on every other restaurant's menu.

Now the butt of jokes, wine coolers are made from a combination of wine, fruit juice, carbonated water, and sometimes sugar. But trace the history of the wine cooler and it leads to the wine spritzers of Eastern Europe and Tintos de Verano of Spain. Since the 1980s wine coolers have been mass produced, bottled, and sold in six-packs; they come in dozens of shades of pink and many different, often sickly sweet flavors.

Thankfully, the wine cooler is not the only wine cocktail around. The history of wine in cocktails is as old as civilization itself: Once early man discovered that fruit juices fermented into a boozy beverage, it was only a matter of time before the concept of distilling to further enhance a beverage's ethanol content was realized. Prior to the successful advent of alcohol distillation in the 13th century, it's likely that humans got drunk from wine and wine mixed with other liquids, honey, spices, and herbs.

Wine became an indispensable cocktail ingredient.

By definition, at the base, a cocktail consists of a distilled spirit, sugar, and a bitter. Although this definition is no longer commonly accepted as an absolute standard, it's an easy way to see how wine can fit into a cocktail, either as the distilled spirit (brandy), a sweetener (sparkling wine), or the bitter (vermouth). On top of its base ingredients, a cocktail can contain any number of liquids, fruits, infusions, dilutions, and flavorings. Wine, or a beverage made from wine, adds complexity to the sharp taste of high proof spirits and should be an indispensable ingredient behind the home bar.

Regular young or aged wine sometimes finds its way into cocktails. For example, the classic French aperitif known as Kir is a combination of crème de cassis (a blackcurrant liqueur) and white wine. But most wines used in cocktails today are sparkling, fortified, aromatized, or distilled spirits made from wine. It's a mistake to think a cocktail that contains wine is lower in alcohol content than one that does not. This is sometimes the case, as in a spritzer or sangria, but not the case in a Sidecar or French 75.

As with most alcoholic beverages, the history of the wine spritzer is murky. It may have originated in Hungary in the mid-1800s, but most certainly appeared somewhere in Eastern Europe during that century. According to ‘The Sage Encyclopedia of Alcohol: Social, Cultural, and Historical Perspectives,’ spritzers are German in origin. Because the drink of the ease of its preparation and consumption, spritzers spread quickly throughout the wine drinking world. As previously mentioned, they led to the advent of the wine cooler, a tainted version of the classic drink. Numerous variations exist with the most notable being; Tinto de verano (Spanish): Red wine mixed with bubbly water, served chilled. Sometimes Sprite or another soft drink is used in place of carbonated water. The literal translation means "red wine of summer."

Then you have your sangrias, a Spanish beverage that combines wine with cut-up fresh fruit. Traditionally brandy, a distilled wine, is also added. Sangria is considered an aromatized wine. There are white wine versions, sparkling versions, and red wine versions and, while the drink is usually served cold, it is also sometimes served warm.

Perennially in vogue, Spain's most famous cocktail is best known as a sweet, wine-based, punch-like beverage seasoned with fresh fruit. No one knows exactly who first thought to drop slices of fruit into wine, but it was certainly a crafty Spaniard. According to dozens of sources, the drink was formally introduced to the U.S. at the 1964 New York World's Fair. In 2014, the European Parliament passed a law that defines true sangria as a wine-based beverage that comes from Spain or Portugal.

There are, of course, a thousand other ways to make wine-based cocktails, and I’d like to invite you to experiment and debate whether there is any method to the madness. No matter what you mix it with, at the end of the day you’re still drinking wine. And that’s a good way to end every day.


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