On-The-Ground Yellowstone Reporting…But Who Owns The Ground?

by Travis Mateer

If you have seen the fourth season of Yellowstone, you’ll know there’s a side-story that sends Jimmy down to a mythical Texas ranch, the Four Sixes, like it’s some kind of gritty cowboy version of Shangri-La.

After doing my latest round of on-the-ground reporting on the show’s Missoula presence, I stumbled across a big piece of the puzzle that puts Yellowstone–and one of its creators, Taylor Sheridan–in the position of being a mini-Ted Turner.

From the link (emphasis mine):

The legendary Four Sixes Ranch, part of the late Anne Marion’s estate, has been sold, several sources confirmed Jan 22.

Sam Middleton, owner, broker and appraiser for Chas. S Middleton and Son Farm-Ranch Sales, and Neils Agather, Burnett Foundation executive, confirmed the sale occurred on Friday, Jan. 21, but said that was all they could say at this time.

Sources did confirm that the sale was made to a group led by screenwriter/producer Taylor Sheridan, who grew up in Texas and graduated from R.L. Paschal High School in Fort Worth. Sheridan is a co-creator and producer on the popular Paramount Network television series “Yellowstone” and a spin-off series, “1883”. Much of “1883” was filmed in Fort Worth. The success of “Yellowstone” has caused interest in a second, related series from Sheridan based on the 6666 Ranch.

The Legendary Four Sixes Ranch, along with the Dixon Creek Ranch Div. & the Frisco Creek Ranch Div. sold for the first time in its history. The historic ranch was established in 1870 and now spans 266,255-plus acres in West Texas.  

That is a BIG chunk of property, and puts my thinking of what the little people on the ground in Missoula are experiencing in a new light.

One example I reference in the video you’ll find at the bottom of this post is the barista who definitely appreciated the business, but wouldn’t have minded a heads up that she would be making over 90 smoothies. This kind young woman was by herself, so she showed up AGAIN yesterday, even though she had the day off, so her co-worker wouldn’t have to get swamped like she did.

Both days supplies at this particular local business were wiped out, which isn’t a terrible problem to have if you’re that business. Kudos to the business owner who showed up and worked alongside their staff during a mad rush of activity.

Another piece of the financial perspective is who gets compensated for what, and how much. For example, a personal residence of an individual who works at one of Denny Washington’s companies is supposedly getting compensated $2,000 a day for the use of his domestic space. I sent him a message on Facebook to confirm this, but haven’t heard back.

Another location that warrants compensation is the space where the law firm Boone Karlberg resides. I was told by the production location assistant that the lawyers didn’t want to take money at first, but when told they could donated it to a non-profit, they agreed. I wonder which one in Missoula they’ll pick?

Another aspect of what the show Yellowstone can do, which is definitely difficult to quantify, is confer a sort of un-earned credibility by the mere inclusion of a cameo. Is that what Lowell Hochhalter is trying to do?

Yep, according to this Facebook post by Kevin Schumacher, the head of the LifeGuard Group AND the chaplain for the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, Lowell Hochhalter, is going to have a cameo appearance with the character Beth Dutton, the ruthless progeny of Costner’s patriarch character. That makes total sense.

To peruse the MANY posts I’ve written about the LifeGuard Group, click here. And here is the video:

Thanks for reading and watching!

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Liz Cheney, Gwen Jones…And The Inevitable Mike Nugent?

by Travis Mateer

I know the conventional wisdom would be to see Liz Cheney and Gwen Jones as peas in different political pods, but I’m not so sure that’s true. What IS true is Liz Cheney got her marching orders yesterday from a pissed off electorate that sees the January 6th committee hearing for the charade that it is.

Since Gwen Jones has no hope of winning a city-wide election, and since I’m too tired to give much thought right now about who is sharpening their knives for the mayoral banquet, here is a list Greg Strandberg came up with:

My first question, looking at this list, is do any of these people even WANT the job? Beyond that, I’m hearing some chatter putting Nugent’s name on the short list, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

The bigger question is this: where’s the venue for the funeral, and how many people will be there?

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Another Attempted Kidnapping In Missoula Makes The Issue Of Non-Prosecution Significantly More Worrisome While Buzzards Circle

by Travis Mateer

Since I’m friends with a cop on Facebook who wanted to be a City Council member, I got the treat of seeing former Missoula Police Chief, Mark Muir, opine on the SECOND attempted kidnapping in less than a month. Here is his perspective:

No, Mark Muir, please don’t hold your breath waiting for KGVO, or NBC Montana, or the Missoulian to put this case into the context it deserves. Interestingly KPAX did report on the previous incident that put Robert Price in jail:

Prior to Friday, on August 10th, Missoula Police Department arrested Price on charges of Assault with a Weapon, Animal Cruelty, and additional charges.

Price was released on his own recognizance. Subsequently, Price went to the Western Montana Fair where the attempted kidnapping took place.

Missoula Police Department understands this case is unsettling and affects our entire community. The case is still under investigation by Missoula Police Department.

For additional insights, here is another screenshot from a Facebook thread that might be helpful:

If the OR release (own recognizance) came from Streano, that would answer the question I asked last November in a post presciently titled What Kind Of Judgements Will The Westridge Defenders Be Bringing To Municipal Court?

Before getting to how this attempted kidnapping is an opportunity for the LifeGuard Group, I’ve got to give a shout out to Mark Muir’s consulting gig. It’s cool to know services like these are available from a former Missoula police Chief:

Mark, if you want to learn how to exploit tragedy for donations, you should get together with Lowell Hochhalter because I think he could teach you a thing or two about cashing in.

STREET SMART DEFENDER? That sounds awesome! Let’s take a look:

Street Smart Defender provides a unique, transformational training experience using cutting edge training methods to quickly and effectively awaken your innate ability to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Actually it’s really very simple.  Street Smart Defender is based on the belief that everyone has the right to feel safe.  Nobody should have to live their life in fear.  We believe that you learn most of what you need to know to protect yourself before the age of 2 years old.  Street Smart Defender facilitates an awakening of this skill that is already in you.  The first level of the class (SSD: Escape!) takes 3 hours to complete. 

                                                                                                   One time.  That’s it.  Really.  

When you have completed this training experience, you will be able to defend yourself and escape most types of attacks….We believe this because we know it to be true.  We have facilitated hundreds of classes and worked with literally thousands of people.  It works.  

I kept the screwed up formatting because I think it’s symbolic of, perhaps, larger screwed up dynamics at play. Also, how hilarious are these claims?

While it’s tempting to just keep laughing at the buzzards that immediately circle an incident like this, there’s significant danger if those buzzards develop speaking skills to convince survivors that their sharp talons are actually helping hands.

Additional danger comes from a simplicity I see emerging, which manifested recently in an unlikely looking guy open-carrying at the Good Food Store. Put more bluntly, keeping the means of using lethal force close at hand is going to seem more and more necessary to more and more people. Just ask Zach Nicodemous, the man who used his firearm to keep Rhonda Hiner from stealing his baby.

Well, guess who I saw walking down 3rd street yesterday?

Good times in Zoom Town! Thanks for reading!

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Mayor Engen’s Enablers Sought Narrative Control Until His Bitter End…Why?

by Travis Mateer

With today’s news of Missoula Mayor, John Engen, having passed away from pancreatic cancer, the title of today’s post might seem insensitive. I’ll risk that accusation in order to ask WHY the Missoula Current, just 17 days ago, had this headline with one of Engen’s main enablers looking on:

From the link:

City officials on Friday said Missoula Mayor John Engen continues to monitor the workings of Missoula city government while continuing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer.

Communications director Ginny Merriam said that while the regiment has been difficult at times, Engen continues to look forward.

Maybe it’s just me, but if I was facing the inevitable reality of a lethal cancer diagnosis, my looking forward would be bucket-list oriented, not pretending like there was a chance in hell I was going to make it my full term.

It’s possible that concealing reality has just become second nature to people like Ginny Merriam, people who knew for years that John’s drinking was a problem. When did intervention happen? When it got so bad that it couldn’t be concealed anymore.

I’m going to take some time to process this before saying more about Engen’s enablers. I will mention that I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Eran Pehan is suddenly being quoted in the Missoulian about homeless camp sweeps by masked revolutionaries.

January 3rd is the day John Engen first assumed office in 2006. January 3rd is also the day, in 2020, that Sean Stevenson was assaulted at the Poverello Center AND the day I put in my notice to leave Missoula Aging Services and the Non-Profit sector.

Since that day I’ve felt the three of us–Sean, John, and myself–have an interesting connection, and now this is how I see it: three alcoholics who didn’t see something important to us make it 20 years.

For Sean, he didn’t get to see his daughter turn 20 because his time utilizing homeless services in Missoula killed him.

For John, he didn’t see 20 years in office because his role as a puppet for power killed him.

And for me, I won’t see 20 years of marriage because finding meaning in the sea of trauma I swam in for a decade, without the emotional skills to handle all the pressures, made me a shitty partner.

I’m not sure what period of time is appropriate to mourn John Engen’s passing, but once summer is done and the kids are back in school, I think it’s fair game to look at the vacant leadership and ask hard questions about the reality of a 12% tax increase, and a $19 million dollar general obligation bond for fairground bullshit, and a $4.4 million dollar payout to Sheriff Deputies, and a $5 million dollar mill levy for homeless services, and increases in energy, cost of living, etc, etc, etc.

Summer is almost over. Life is finite. And it’s also a gift, so do something meaningful in the limited time you have.

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Does Rogers International Staff, Who Get Paid $30 An Hour, Think They Are Guerrilla Revolutionaries From Mexico?

by Travis Mateer


I am SO happy to see a Missoulian reporter stumble onto a story about guerrilla warriors fighting for revolution in Missoula. Or was that NOT the story? Because below is what guerrilla warriors fighting a revolution look like:

And HERE is the image that Missoulian reporter, Griffen Smith, didn’t expect to see when residents of the Authorized Camp Site invited him to check out enforcement of the new rules:

If you read the Missoulian article you will discover that the introduction of these NEW uniforms is something our city officials, who OK’d the contract, are looking into:

According to Rogers International’s contract with the city of Missoula, the security guards must wear “casual branded attire with (the) company name clearly visible” when working. The contractors must also conceal-carry any firearms.

City of Missoula officials said they were unaware of the reason behind the change in dress code Wednesday. They are investigating the situation. 

The contract, which the city authorized in November 2021, also stipulates that at least one security guard is needed at the campsite at all times. Each security guard is paid a base salary of $30 an hour, according to the contract. The contract total is $670,000.

While our local officials look into the NEW LOOK of our dashing revolutionaries, I have some suggestions for additional context they might want to take into consideration, like the HBO rendition of The Watchmen:

And a local official (Missoula City Council) who isn’t having this shit:

And an independent journalist who ALSO likes to wear splashy outfits!

But on a more serious note, the fictional narrative of the Watchmen might be a good place to start for those who assume anger is a primary emotion, because often times it functions as a mask for other things, like fear.

Here’s the clip, and though it might be difficult to follow for those who don’t know the storyline, I think the takeaway line is valid by itself: wounds need air to heal.

Thanks for reading and watching!

UPDATE: a reader sent me a message about the ACTUAL hourly rate our revolutionaries are getting paid, and it doesn’t look like $30 bucks to me. According to a job posting at Indeed, it’s $16.

Thanks for the info!

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