Author Archive

Letter from the Editor — Summer 2017

I am one of those people who wants to do everything myself.  I have an idea and a one track way of getting that locomotive to the next station.  I’m not a know-it-all by any means.  It’s just easier to do things myself rather than try to explain what I’m looking for and invariably be disappointed when that train derails.  This may make me sound like a textbook control freak but, honestly, I like things done correctly… in an orderly fashion, on time and on budget!  I come by it honestly.  My Mother is the same way and my sister doesn’t fall too far from the perfectionist tree either.  In fact, growing up, I recall her obsession with ironing her sheets before making her bed.  Striving for this high level of perfectionism served me well for years but lately I’ve been second guessing myself.  Maybe it’s because I have too much on my plate and I’m realizing I can’t do it all or maybe I’ve discovered there is something more menacing lurking in my personal tactics.  I realize now that this “do it myself behavior” is nothing but a result of fear… fear of failure.  Fear of what I might come face to face with if I stopped doing and listened for just a moment.


In the last year, I’ve had two back surgeries with the possibility of a third one lingering on the horizon.  I wasn’t at all surprised when my doctor told me I have degenerative bone and disk disease – actually it’s a genetic gift from my Mother’s side of the family, something I’ve feared for years.  Simple things like grabbing a gallon of milk from the refrigerator can throw my back out of commission for days.  It’s hard to function as a control freak when you are laid up in bed.  Then, as if out of nowhere, a voice in my head spoke loudly and clearly, “Ask for help!”  For the first time in years, my eyes and ears opened to the people surrounding me and clarity rushed in like a raging river in spring.  I realized I was trying so hard to control and hold on to so many things that I didn’t have the energy to enjoy the parts of my life that I love.  And you know what else?  People come to life and really go after it when I take a step back and give them space and encouragement. It’s a tough pill to swallow but, letting go of things I’m not meant to hold on to has allowed me to enjoy the things I was truly meant to do.  


Photo by Cindy Cieluch

I no longer run the locomotive.  In fact, I now realize there are many tracks leading to the station and others are quite capable of getting their

 train in on time.  It’s hard to describe the confidence that comes with letting go and finding joy in being a small piece of a big puzzle… and really, that’s all I need!


This issue of SignatureMT  showcases a handful of confident people forging paths of passion, while some look back admiringly at the paths they have forged, all of course, surrounded by people of encouragement, strength and integrity.  Enjoy this summer season and may you too find the confidence to explore the things you are most passionate about. 

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Neighborhoods – Belt, MT

Text by Holly Matkin • Photography by Daphne Wade

The Belt Theater Company, 64 Castner Street    –    The Belt Theater’s New Era

If you love the arts and old frontier towns, trek over to the Belt Knights of Pythias building to witness the rebirth of the Belt Theater as it approaches its 101st birthday.

The Board of the Belt Theater Company has been working tirelessly to restore the structure. “This is a twenty year dream that’s finally coming together for a group of volunteers,” explains Gary Gray, President of the Board. “The exterior now looks exactly like it did in 1916, but the interior is one hundred percent new.”  

Belt resident and project fundraiser Del Darko looks forward to having a venue for musical and theater performances, and the building’s old silent movie theater space is an obvious draw. “I like that we’re saving a historical building and bringing arts to rural Montana,” he says. “Plus, I’m a bit of a nostalgia junkie.”


Belt Mercantile and Art Gallery, 78 Castner Street    –    Eclectic Treasures by Local Artists

Escape into a world of beadwork, bronze and brushstrokes while meandering through Belt Mercantile and Art Gallery. Owner and curator Anne Erickson offers a plethora of western art themed pieces, including quilts, lamps constructed from saddles, and a variety of jewelry.  

After years as a physical therapist, Anne established a singular goal for her retirement. “I just wanted to have fun!” she laughs, “And I wanted to contribute to the local community, to support local artists and to get to know people without having spent the past twenty years in town.” When a spontaneous trip landed her in Belt, she immediately knew it was home. “These are truly the nicest people I have ever met,” she says. “It’s serendipity.” 

The Belt Mercantile and Art Gallery is open this now through Christmas.

Harvest Moon Brewing Company, 57 Castner Street    –    The Life of Brewing

Ever wonder what it takes to make the refreshing Harvest Moon craft beer you swill on these lazy summer days? Stan Guedesse and the crew at Harvest Moon Brewing Company invite thirsty beer-lovers to come and witness the brewing and packaging processes by taking in one of their daily brewery tours –and to sample one of their ten taps, of course.

“We have great brewing water from the Madison Aquifer,” Stan explains. “We make a good, consistent product, which is pretty hard for a lot of small breweries.” 

And while we love catchy names like “Pig’s Ass Porter” and locally-themed label artwork, it is the quality and taste of Harvest Moon’s brews that keep customers thirsting for more.

We’ll drink to that.

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Country Style with Classic Flair

Her Look

Text by Holly Matkin • Photography by Loni Judisch


Black floral dress paired with strappy bralette. Accessorized with silver choker necklace and Ariat boots and denim jacket

Kasey Kreit has never been one to follow the latest trends – she just wears what she likes. “In high school,” the Great Falls photographer recalls, “I never fit in with the styles, and I was made fun of a lot.” As it turns out, Kasey’s fashion sense was simply ahead of the times. “My family and fiancé think it’s funny that the things I put together end up being big trends about a year later,” she laughs.

Kasey’s look certainly exudes a down-home, western feel that she describes as “trendy country” – classic gray and cool toned high-neck or high-waist dresses she likes to pair with denim jackets or her go-to Ariat fringed boots. “I get so many comments on those boots. And I may be pretty obsessed with super-high heels,” she admits. 

Most endearingly, Kasey’s flair for fashion simply reflects the way she chooses to live. “Always be yourself,” she says, “and wear what makes you feel confident.”

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Dennis and Jeri Lynn Siller are a husband-and-wife team who put their souls into soles at their Great Falls boot and shoe repair shop.

 Serving Generations @ Siller’s Boot and Shoe Repair

Text by Holly Matkin •  Photography by Daphne Wade

Serving Generations Siller’s Boot and Shoe Repair

When Dennis and Jeri Lynn Siller began serving the Great Falls area in 1970, their boot and shoe repair shop had already been operating since 1924. Dennis’s father, 

Casper, purchased the business in 1958, and for over the past four decades, Dennis and Jeri Lynn have repaired and built countless pairs of footwear for their customers – some of whom have been faithful clients for three or four generations.  

Recalling his most memorable repair was easy for Dennis. “A pair of clown shoes about thirty-five years ago,” he replies without pause.

Today, the Sillers have no shortage of work in their repair shop. “We’re actually looking to find and train our replacements,” Dennis says.   “We need people with good hand-eye coordination – crafty people with natural talent who also work well with our customers. It’s not a job that everyone can do.”  If you would like to continue the Sillers’ tradition of service, Dennis encourages you to stop by the shop. Bringing your clown shoes is optional.

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University of Providence Professor with a World of Knowledge

Text by Holly Matkin •  Photography by Jim Wells

Born and raised in Austria, Dr. Sylvia Lindinger-Sternart has traveled the globe as a student, speaker, researcher and humanitarian.

Many people are fortunate to have one successful career in their lifetime.  Dr. Sylvia Lindinger-Sternart, program coordinator and core faculty for the Master of Science in Counseling at the University of Providence, is currently in the midst of successful career number two.

Originally educated and employed as a mechanical engineer, Dr. Lindinger-Sternart later found herself drawn to the study of mental health. “I truly loved both fields,” she says. “But I thought maybe I could help people to develop themselves and to be healthy.” 

Dr. Lindinger-Sternart went on to obtain four additional degrees in both Austria and the United States, culminating with her Ph.D. of Counselor Education and Supervision. Despite her countless accomplishments, she remains ever humble and open-minded – traits undoubtedly bolstered by the time she has spent gaining insight from cultures around the world.

Dr. Lindinger-Sternart is currently teaching three courses at University of Providence, and is quick to identify her favorite thing about living in Great Falls.  “It’s the students, of course,” she says. “I’m motivated by making a positive impact. I want to help students to become the best clinicians so they can help others. And I love the landscape: the wide, endless land.”

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BEER 101: Storage

Text by Mark Baune • Photography by Jim Wells

BEER ROOM, the name evokes many images. It can be an old refrigerator in the garage or on the porch. How about the floor of your closet? Or better yet, how about the whole closet in a spare bedroom? If you are lucky, like me, and have an understanding bride, you might get the whole spare bedroom. Having a Beer Room comes with responsibility, especially when it comes to storing beer that requires extended aging. Sunlight is the nemesis of beer, so keeping light and heat off your reserve is critical. When ultra violet rays strike your delicate stash of brews, they interact with the acidic hop compounds called humulones. This creates a nasty chemical reaction which produces a noxious chemical similar to the stuff a skunk sprays when it’s frightened… hence the term “skunky”. This is often a sign of a “light struck” beer. Temperature fluctuations from extreme cold to extreme hot will wreak havoc on your beer. The best to store are the dark bottles. Clear and green bottles allow in significantly more UV light than the brown but, they can still be stored, just keep them in a closed up box. The higher alcohol and darker beers will store or lay down better than the lighter brews. I just opened some 2005 Big Foot Barley Wine that clocks in at 9.9% and it is wonderful! And, always store beer upright. Yeast is critical to beer, but the sediment it leaves behind has a way of ruining the flavor. Keeping them upright allows the yeast sediment to settle at the bottom of the beer. Decades ago, when I began storing beer, I just stacked it in a corner on the floor. The light was hitting it at various times of the day and the temperature was up and down like a yoyo. I smartened up a bit and moved it into boxes and stored them on the floor of a closet. This worked much better as the temperature was fairly even and no natural light got to it. The only problem… I ran out of room. I patiently waited until the kids were out of the house and sweet talked my bride into half of a spare bedroom. I worked my way up to three quarters and eventually, I got the whole room. I’ve since placed a room darkening shade on the window complete with a nice beer themed inner shade for a touch of character. The in-room air conditioner runs 24/7 365 days a year and maintains a 55 to 65F range. It has one low watt single bulb and a door draft dodger on the outside. I recently discovered the COOLBOT. This device allows most air conditioners to go lower than the set temperatures but only works on a select few. A new AC unit is on the wish list. My next step is to move the beer room/brewery into a shed in the back yard as my bride would like the bedroom back. All I lack is time and money, no problem right? I guess it is time to go, oh look, I just found a 2007 Alaskan Smoked Porter, Dear God, I love this room! – CHEERS, Beer Man

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