Letter from the Editor – Autumn 2016


As I write this autumn letter, Central Montana is enjoying a cool spell – a respite of sorts from the dog days of summer. I love to think of autumn as the most civilized season, when the violent storms subside and the mercury relaxes to a cozy warm during the day and a welcomed chill at night. The days wane, the nights close in and the brilliance of autumn pours over the landscape in orange, red, yellow, gold and all the hues in-between. Subtle notes of caramel, apple, pumpkin and wood smoke permeate the air. Stewards of the earth celebrate the bounty of the harvest while birds begin their migration to warmer climates and animals gather food in preparation of winter. Football kicks off and seasonal treats make their debut —and there is nothing that screams fall more than breaking the seal on a fresh bag of Brach’s candy corn. Yum!

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Northeast Smelter, Great Falls, MT

Smelter Avenue Financial Hub

Text by Clair Baiz • Photography by Daphne Wade


Montana Federal Credit Union, 1540 Smelter Ave. NE

“The north office? It’s a close-knit group,” says Becky Timmons, vice president of marketing for Montana Federal Credit Union. The building got a facelift this spring, but it remains their most intimate location.

Along with loan officers, tellers, drive- thru lanes and an ATM, there’s a popular “no fee” coin machine, affectionately dubbed ‘the piggy bank drop’. “It’s fun to watch kids drop in their dimes, quarters and pennies.”

A big draw for their Smelter Avenue location is Kari Grassman, a loan officer who’s been there “since day one,” Timmons says. “Kari generates a lot of loyalty.”

On the Friday before Thanksgiving, doors open early to offer personal loans at very low interest rates, which go up through the day. “We’re busy. There’s lots of traffic on that side of town,” says Timmons.

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His Look

Stylish Syd

Text by Claire Baiz • Photography by Phil Procopio

“My advice? Get a suit.”

Syd Shoffner learned how to dress to impress from his brother-in-law Mark Wilson, a former L.A. cop. When Syd was younger, Wilson took him to a California mall to buy a snazzy outfit. “When you grow up, kid,” Wilson told him, “you’re going to want to look nice.”

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(C)ALL in the Family

Cascade County Dispatchers


Text by Claire Baiz • Photography by Jim Wells

Leslie Jimenez talks with injured and sick people, firefighters, cops, drunks, EMTs, bystanders, perpetrators, and the suicidal. When she’s done, her sister Chelsea Stiner takes over.

Amy and Rachel Heser can relate—they’re the other set of dispatching sisters for Great Falls Cascade County 911.

Between calls to and from Great Falls police, Cascade County Sheriff’s office, Great Falls Fire Rescue, ambulance crews, and Cascade County’s rural fire departments, these four young women have heard it all.

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Lt. Col. in the Cockpit at UGF

Text by Claire Baiz • Photography by Jim Wells

With school colors on his necktie, President Aretz is on the quad, ready for the hands-on challenge of running a bustling Catholic University.

With school colors on his necktie, President Aretz is on the quad, ready for the hands-on challenge of running a bustling Catholic University.

Tony Aretz has always aimed high. After spending much of his military career as a professor at the US Air Force Academy, this retired Lieutenant Colonel set his sights on Catholic higher education on the Rocky Mountain Front. As the new president of the University of Great Falls, he’s working hard—and living the dream.

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Poppin’ the Top on Some Great Craft Brews

Text by Mark Baune • Photography by Jim Wells

The hop-obsessed craft beer industry keeps getting better and better. New breweries are popping up across the state and established breweries continue to flood the shelves and taps with new beers from traditional styles to intrepid uses of creative ingredients and techniques. 2016 is already chock-full of new brews garnering loyal followers. The genius to craft brewing is continually finding new ways to showcase hop flavors from both classic and modern varieties. Finding the perfect balance in spirit barrel-aged brews as well as the addition of fruit to any beer continues to be a popular trend amongst breweries as well.

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