Annual Gallatin County Spelling Bee to be held Feb. 22

This Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Museum of the Rockies, 50 students from area schools will gather to compete at the annual Gallatin County Spelling Bee. Officiated by local officials, the bee features the top spellers in grades 4-8 from more than 40 public and private schools in the county. The contest begins at 9 a.m. in the Hager Auditorium and the public is welcome to attend.

One of the oldest academic competitions in the area, the Gallatin County Spelling Bee is the semifinals for students hoping to compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Three contestants at the county will advance to the Treasure State Spelling Bee in March, and one winner of the state bee will compete at the national bee for $50,000 and other prizes.

The 2020 Gallatin County Spelling Bee is sponsored by Bozeman Bowl, Bozeman Amateur Hockey Association, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Bozeman Hot Springs, Dairy Queen, Edible Arrangements, MacKenzie River Pizza, and U-Swirl.

For more information, contact Gallatin County Superintendent of Schools Matthew Henry at (406) 582-3090 or by email at

Cardiac Arrest Rescue

(Gallatin County, Mont) On February 16, 2020, at 11:00 a.m., Gallatin County Dispatch received a call regarding a cardiac arrest. The caller was cross-country skiing on the groomed trails to the east of Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital when he came across a woman performing CPR on a man.

Members of the Bozeman Fire Department and Bozeman Police Department responded to the call and were able to walk to the subject’s location. The location was not accessible with an ambulance, so Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to the call. Multiple SAR members were at the SAR building and were able to respond immediately. SAR members used snowmobiles and a tracked four-wheeler pulling the ORION wagon to access the patient.

Despite the prompt deployment and response of SAR, medical, and law enforcement resources, the 66-year-old Belgrade man succumbed to a heart attack. Our condolences go out to the man’s family.


The deceased man is Steve Schwab, a retired teacher at Bozeman High School.

Open Burning Season Approaching

GCEM Media Release

Release:  200213-01
Contact:  Patrick Lonergan, (406) 548-0111

Open Burning Season Approaching

Bozeman, MT – Open burning in Gallatin County begins March 1st with the launch of a new online burn permit system.   Burn Permits will be available for activation beginning March 1st for those conducting non-recreational fires in accordance with the open burning regulations.  Gallatin County is also launching a new online burn permit system this year for purchase and management of permits.  Gallatin County transitioned vendors to a system that is more user friendly, verifies locations easier and provides agencies with the ability to communicate information better with those conducting open burning.  The new platform is intended to provide a quicker and cleaner experience for our community.

As Patrick Lonergan, Chief of Emergency Management and Fire explains, “The old burn permit system had become dated in its technology and no longer provided a positive experience for our community.  The new platform is modern technology that behaves like users expect and are used to from other platforms.  The only drawback is that previous burn permit holders will not be able to simply renew a permit this year and will have to answer a few additional questions to establish an account in the new system.”

Permits purchased through the Gallatin County Burn Permit System are valid for all local jurisdictions within Gallatin County.  Permits cost $15.00 and are valid for the 2020 open burning season which runs from March 1st to November 30th.  Permits can be utilized by the permit holder at multiple locations, but must be activated each day an open burn is conducted.

The Gallatin County Burn Permit System is located at

Additional information on open burning in Gallatin County is available at:


Three Arrested on Homicide Charges

(Gallatin County, Mont.) On Wednesday, February 12, 2020, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office arrested James Sasser Jr., Patricia Batts, and a juvenile male (uncle of the victim) for the offense of Deliberate Homicide. The charges are in reference to the death of 12-year-old James Alex Hurley outside of West Yellowstone, Montana, on or about February 3, 2020. The defendants’ initial appearances in Justice Court will be on February 13th at 10:30 am. The investigation is ongoing and Sheriff Gootkin can only comment on the information covered in the Affidavit of Probable Cause, which is public information.

Sheriff Gootkin will be available to talk to reporters at noon on Thursday, February 13, at the Gallatin County Detention Center.

Photo of James Hurley courtesy of Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.

Buck Ridge Snowmobiler Rescue

(Gallatin County, Mont.) On February 9, 2020, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in Big Sky received a call from a snowmobiler who reported that he had possibly broken his leg up Buck Ridge. GPS coordinates from the 911 call placed him in McAtee Basin, which helped Search and Rescue members locate him quickly. Life Flight flew to his location and with the help of numerous other snowmobilers, the patient was loaded into the helicopter and flown to medical care. Because the snowmobiler had a charged cell phone and cell service, the rescue went quickly and efficiently.

Photo courtesy of Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office

CIT Academy in Bozeman Training Responders to Help Individuals in Crisis

Thirty-eight people from organizations across southwest Montana are taking part this week in Crisis Intervention Team Academy in Bozeman.

The purpose of the CIT Academy is to assist emergency responders, detention staff, dispatchers, and anyone who encounters people in crisis to engage, assess and assist those individuals experiencing crisis with mental and/or co-occurring substance disorders.

CIT is a 40-hour evidence based training that encompasses tools and skills participants need to better manage individuals presenting with mental health and/or co-occurring substance disorders. This training exposes the participants to materials and experiences from trained mental health and medical professionals to better prepare them to effectively and safely work with this unique population.

CIT Academy instruction includes:

      • Suicide assessment and intervention
      • Substance abuse and dual diagnosis
      • Introduction to mental illness
      • Psychotropic medications
      • Legal issues
      • Elderly and children’s issues
      • Developmental disabilities
      • Intervention strategies
      • Scenario training
      • Site visit to the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs

One of the largest benefits of the training is building a strong network of emergency responders, mental health providers and others to better help people in crisis get connected to the resources they need within the community.

Taking part in this week’s academy are staff from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Park County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman Police Department, Montana State University Police Department, Manhattan Police Department, Bozeman Probation and Parole, Community Health Partners and others.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin told participants Monday that he mandates this training for his deputies and detention officers.

“We are in the business of people,” Gootkin said. “We see people when they are rock bottom, when they are worst of the worst. (CIT) may help you save someone’s life.”

Bozeman Police Chief Steve Crawford said this training is a valuable tool in the toolbox of law enforcement, and emphasized the relationship building opportunities the training provides.

“We get to learn from each other,” Crawford said.

The academy began Monday and is taking place all week at Montana State University and facilitated by more than 10 CIT coordinators.

MEDIA: to arrange a time to attend the academy, contact Whitney Bermes, Gallatin County Communications Coordinator, at 406-595-8963. 

Academy location: Corporate Room on second floor of Bobcat Stadium, 1 Bobcat Circle in Bozeman.



Stuck Snowmobiler Rescued

(Gallatin County, Mont.) On February 8, 2020 at about 8:30 PM, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue was called out for a report of a stuck snowmobiler. The 21-year-old local man was snowmobiling by himself near Fairy Lake and got stuck in a tree well. Search and Rescue members responded to the scene on snowmobiles and helped the man extricate his machine. The man stated that it was a big mistake for him to go out by himself. Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind snowmobilers to always take a buddy when heading out to play in the backcountry.

West Yellowstone Snowmobile Injury

(Gallatin County, Mont.) Rescuers with Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue in West Yellowstone assisted a snowmobiler who was injured in an incident near West Yellowstone.

At around 3:25 p.m. on Wednesday February 5, 2020, a 30-year-old Minnesota man crashed his snowmobile and sustained a broken ankle while snowmobiling on the Big Sky trail system about 16 miles northwest of West Yellowstone. Rescuers were able to get to the man quickly because he was with friends and was able to call 911, providing an accurate location for the rescue personnel. Another group of snowmobilers in the area provided emergency heat blankets to the patient.

Emergency responders placed the man on a backboard and loaded him into a specialized snow ambulance, then transported him off the trail system to an awaiting ambulance from the Hebgen Basin Fire Department. He was transported by ambulance to Bozeman Health Hospital.

Photo courtesy of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.