BREAKING: A Unique Perspective From A Private Business Man Who Sought Public Office

by Travis Mateer

Ok, this is impressive. Without further comment, here is a “press release” from Michael Burks, the owner of Fuel Fitness and former candidate for House District 97. If you want to know why the Fuel Fitness locations in Butte and Helena suddenly closed, here it is.

Get ready for the most amazing press release of all time. Thank you.


My name is Michael Burks and I am the Founder, Owner and CEO of all 7, well 5, Fuel Fitness & Nutrition Locations located in Montana and Idaho. I have read enough of your comments to realize that I have made the right decision to close both down and run like Forrest from both of your communities, so thank you in advance for that.

I hear your “demands” as to why I legally closed 2 of my businesses without consulting one of you beforehand. I cannot wait until the last member is paid their refund so I can close this chapter and never look back….

Here is the explanation that I have absolutely no obligation to share with you, but will to shut you all up once and for all

A member of Fuel’s staff in Butte oversaw all insurance billing for all 7 Fuel Fitness Locations, Fuel Fitness has 3 sources of income from these insurance avenues and some months they are very hefty. Well, this particular employee kept the larger of the 3 policies in Butte’s back pocket without anyone’s knowledge, which caused the following:

Unearned bonuses and raises have been generated and accepted by the employee in question as well as duping me into believing that the Butte location was doing much better financially than it really was. In fact, after backing out said revenue as well as the fact that I own (and for all of those that have contacted me, I do appreciate the incredible support, but cannot sell as I have just found out that I have a very large sum of money to make up that I was not aware of just one week ago) both the Butte and Helena buildings, only charged both locations a little more than half of the current market rate of monthly lease ($12,500 charged, $24,000 potential) …The actual potential revenue would have been close to $2M over the past 5 years. For those members in Helena that are wondering what this has to do with your club, the Helena Fuel Fitness was losing close to twice as much as the Butte club and was only allowed to be open as I was under the impression that Butte was making just enough to allow me to absorb the never-ending losses coming from 3336 N Helena. The employee in question, who just experienced a full expense paid, 5-star resort vacation (other than alcohol) to Hawaii, paid personally by me, along with 9 other Fuel Fitness employees and their +1 for a total of 20 fully comped for a total travel expense of $150,000.00 I was not able to attend as luck would have it, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was exposed to Covid the day before we were all to leave. The employee in question, along with a member of Fuel’s Helena staff, abused my credit card like a couple of pissed off teenagers, booking every excursion that they could fit in, while the rest of my team, spent about half that amount. Ironically, these two employees came from the worst two performing Fuel Fitness locations, never coming close to breaking even now that we have found out that sales were fraudulently inflated

On Friday, September 30, these indiscretions were brought to my attention, where I demanded both to be shut down immediately to stop the massive carnal bleeding. Other than losing millions over the past 5 years from these horrifically ran operations, I also lost out on 5 years of lease from both buildings at market rate, as I would have shut these down years ago (which had been discussed multiple times, even before my first regional general manager left to start his own gym in Arizona) This amount comes to a total of $1.38 million dollars of potential lost revenue from leasing the two buildings. As soon as we clean out the memory of what was once the most premier fitness centers in both Butte and Helena Montana, these building will be available for lease. Please contact Airika Lakkala, from Berkshire Hathaway as she has the listing for both. 406-498-6465

This is not the first time I have been kicked in the gut after investing close to $500,000 into the Butte Community… Years ago, I, a “never” time resident of Butte Montana, created and operated a junior hockey team, known as the Butte Cobras. As a multi-year owner of the Missoula Maulers, I already knew what I was getting into as the rink, if you dare actually use that term, was thrown into the scariest building I have ever played a hockey game in. There was no way I would every put a team on the ice of a dismal excuse of a rink, such as the Butte Community Ice Center, so I wrote a check in the amount of $250,000 to put some very expensive lipstick on a very ugly pig. To this day, I have yet to be thanked or even a hint of gratitude anywhere in that rink for the investment into the Butte hockey community. Furthermore, after reading a USA Hockey article during my ownership of the franchise, a local Butte Amateur Hockey Association volunteer took 100% credit for the “incredible resurrection” of hockey in Butte America. No mention of me, my investment, or the boys that worked their butts off every night for the fans on the ice as well as the love they gave back to the community that I still hear stories about today. Some may remember that the team won the Chamber of Commerce excellent in community service as I had the team support Mariah’s Challenge, The Doctor Peter Sorini Foundation, as he was the first doctor ever to donate his time to the Butte Cobras, and the raising of funds for the Peck children, who we adopted after a very unfortunate incident. In addition, the boys were consistently making their presents throughout Butte along with Coby, the team’s mascot. Once I finished the last season of play, where my boys took the multi-year championship Idaho Steelheads to a thrilling 3 game series to give Butte its first playoff run in decades, I dumped the team and all its assets in the lap of BAHA and washed my hands of junior hockey for the rest of my days on this planet

One may think that is a very harsh reaction to an article found in a magazine, but this is the not first time I have seen my name nowhere on a rink as the Glacier Ice Rink tossed my name plate that was on the east wall for years for my donation of $100’s of thousands of dollars when it was desperately needed most. Back when the Glacier Ice Rink was a slab of ice on dirt and nobody in Missoula even knew there was a rink, I just happened to come in at the perfect time as , board members were in the process of financing their own homes to save the rink. After a complete remodel to what you to see today and a check written in the total of $800,000, the Missoula Maulers were brought in to entertain 1500 fans some random Friday and Saturday nights many moons ago After 9 years of bringing top tier hockey as well as a game day presentation that took 40+ people to present, the lease was inexplicably changed and among other phantom increases and other trumped up game day charges, I was being told that I was to pay $200 per game night to use my own bleachers… the bleachers that my founding partner found in South Carolina and shipped into Missoula on my own semi-truck. These bleachers can now be found proudly sitting on the visiting sideline of the Loyola High School’s football stadium where they have been extremely appreciated by both sides as for years the fans had to endure each other on the same set of bleachers on the home team’s side of the field. In addition to this shocking change, the Maulers who had been given the #2 spot on the schedule behind GHL for the first 9 years of her existence, found themselves left with ice time after the following user groups (it has been a while since I have thought twice about anything hockey) GHL, WHAM, Boys High School, Girls High School, U16 boys and girls, U14 boys and girls and Pee Wee, Squirts, Mites, Termites, Figure Skating, and Curling. After the smoke was cleared the Maulers were give a total of 7 weekends in which a Friday, Saturday and Sunday schedule was available. At that time, the Western States Hockey League dictated that 10 weekends be submitted as all 28 teams fought all out wars to try to get the schedule of their dreams for the upcoming season. These 7 weekends did not include games in November, December, or January so any Teddy Bear toss or holiday collections were impossible to hold, which would have not worked for me as delivering the teddy bears to kids all over the Missoula community was one of the highlights of mine, every season we were blessed to hand them out. I was forced to shut down the team and consequently my place as a top donor of the history of the rink was vanished like a fart in the wind. I was not the only person that had their recognition stripped from history as every historic donor prior to the current board were wronged by this egregious action and were also tossed in the dumpster like Superbowl Sunday’s left over dip.

As far as the media is concerned, I have tried to keep my distance ever since the blood bath caused by the irresponsible reporting of Bill Speltz and the Missoulian, accusing me of the most heinous crimes when I had no choice in the matter and was told to get my “crap” out of the rink That “crap” consisted of my bleachers, the sound system, the game day special effect lighting as well as the entire locker-room as well as the contents in it. Basically, I left the walls and a raw floor as that was their demand and I would never want to deviate from a direct order of my landlord, especially when they threaten with legal action. The ironic part about this is that when I donated the construction, I was very clear as to what was donated and what was allowed to use as I knew one day, I would be booted out like an evil stepchild, because, well, let’s face it, that is what rinks do… Just ask many of junior hockey owners that have faced the same appreciation Unfortunately, the powers running the rink at that time had no clue as to what I owned and what I donated. They found out quickly and then with the help of Speltz used me as a catalyst to sell as many cupcakes as possible to make up for the $350,000 in bleachers that I had generously allowed every user group to use and abuse without consequence

Let’s get back to the mistrust factor of the media, I didn’t even allow one interview during my recent HD97 campaign run, in which I lost by a mere 37 votes to Lyn Hellegaard, who was endorsed by the Jesse Ramos’ ran, extreme right- wing group, Americans for Prosperity… Unimaginable… a political candidate that ran from an opportunity to come through your living room to let you know what he or she.. or, whatever pronoun is being used in 2022, will do for you if you just cast that vote in their direction. ICK! No thank you!

Now that I have answered your demanded questions, I ask you leave me alone so that I can focus on converting 4 out of the remaining Fuel Fitness & Nutrition’s into FUEL, a functional fitness center that will rival any in this country.

Sincerely Michael Burks Owner CEO FUEL


Wowzers. Did I mention this former political candidate was tied to the LifeGuard Group? Yeah.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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4 Responses to BREAKING: A Unique Perspective From A Private Business Man Who Sought Public Office

  1. saraolinmalo says:

    Damn, Butte rink isn’t creepy anymore? What’s the point… My sons are 16 & 20 played hockey at GIR since they were 5 and loved going to Butte, America nothing but hockey love. Used to watch midnight games in the 90’s out at the fairgrounds. Could pull your rig right up behind the old bleachers, no wall. But that was before we got priced out and moved up the Root. Burks worked and got lucky in trucking and set about pushing his wills on everyone else. Conflating a ‘speaking engagement’ by Palin with supporting young women through thrifty endeavors also missed the mark. He is a christo nationalist. Clearly doesn’t have his finger on the pulse of what communities would like to see just sets about telling them what’s good for them and then has to line out precisely how humble he is. the hubris…

  2. webdoodle says:

    He also get evicted from Southgate Mall at one point. In fact, they boarded up the whole hockey shop, and wouldn’t let him replace it with a christian book store:

    At the time it seemed pretty malicious of the Lambros mafia, now it looks like it might part of a pattern. Ironically, the mall has had so many vacancies over the last few years, some money would be better than no money wouldn’t it?

    Honestly not sure how any of this sits with me, but it does reek of political power plays by egocentric people on many sides.

  3. Pingback: A Christian Piñata By The Name Of Michael Burks And His Connection To The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office | Zoom Chron Blog

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