Gallatin County Now Offering Paid Parental Leave to Employees

In an effort to recruit, retain and support dedicated and talented public servants, Gallatin County is now offering paid parental leave as a benefit to its employees.

Gallatin County Commissioners voted 3-0 on Tuesday, Feb. 4 to adopt a new paid parental leave policy, which goes into effect for any birth or adoption occurring on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

This new policy provides for six weeks of paid parental leave for employees who have themselves or with their spouse or domestic partner, experienced the birth or adoption of a child.

The leave is available to full- and part-time employees who have worked for Gallatin County for at least six months. Gallatin County currently has 515 full- and part-time employees.

“This policy reinforces our commitment to the well-being of County employees and their families,” said Gallatin County Commissioner Scott MacFarlane. “It is a modern economic reality that very few families can afford to have a stay-at-home parent, nor can they endure interruption to their income for an extended length of time. This policy benefits the health and development of children, boosts the productivity and morale of employees, saves the employer significant costs in turn-over, and contributes to closing the gender wage gap. It is clear that neither the employer nor the employee benefits when new parents are faced with the distressing choice between caring for their child and maintaining their paycheck.”

MacFarlane added that “we see this as an opportunity to set a new employment standard in our community, which will motivate further employers to adopt similar policies for their employees.”

The policy was crafted and recommended to Commissioners by the county’s Recruit and Retain Committee, a group of employees working on ways Gallatin County can improve both recruitment of new employees and retention of excellent employees.

The group has focused on improving Gallatin County’s personnel policies to make them more employee and family friendly. The committee has already made recommendations, which were adopted by the Commission, and plans on bringing additional recommendations for policy changes to the Commission for consideration in the near future.

Torie Haraldson, Water Quality Tech Specialist for the Gallatin Local Water Quality District, works on the Recruit and Retain Committee that crafted this new policy. She said the group’s goal was to craft a flexible policy that provides new moms and dads at Gallatin County with additional time for family bonding that can be used on a schedule that strikes a better work-life balance.

“One of the best ways to be an employer of choice is through policies that let employees know they are respected and appreciated as workers AND people,” Haraldson said. “New parents are more likely to be newer employees, often lower on the pay scale, and without a significant amount of sick leave on the books. I know from experience that it’s really hard to come back to work 12 weeks after giving birth with no sick or vacation leave left and a new baby in childcare, and feel like you’re doing your best as a parent or an employee.”

Gallatin County is one of the first major employers in the area to offer paid parental leave to employees. However, Gallatin County is not the first county in Montana to enact such a policy. Missoula County adopted a similar policy in 2016.

See Gallatin County’s full policy here.

Media contact:
Whitney Bermes, Gallatin County Communications Coordinator

Crosscountry Skier Injured near West Yellowstone

(Gallatin County, Mont.)  On Thursday January 30, 2020 at 3:30 pm, the West Yellowstone Police dispatch center received a 911 call from an injured crosscountry skier. The skier, a 53-year-old woman from Washington, had fallen while skiing on the Rendezvous Ski Trail about two mile south of the town of West Yellowstone. She had sustained a back injury and was unable to ski back to town.

Rescuers from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue in West Yellowstone, Hebgen Basin Fire Department, and the Forest Service responded and met the injured skier at the scene of the accident. The skier was loaded onto a specialized snow ambulance and transported to the edge of town, where she was transferred to an ambulance and transported to the Big Sky Medical Center.

Sheriff Brian Gootkin would like to thank all of the rescue organizations which came together to execute a successful backcountry rescue.

Warrant Payment Scam

(Gallatin County, Mont) The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office has become aware of a phone scam that is circulating the area. The scammer states they are a Deputy or Detective with the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and informs the person that they have a warrant for their arrest. They then instruct the person to purchase pre-paid cash cards in order to avoid arrest.
These scams are intricate as they appear to be calling from the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and it is the correct Sheriff’s Office phone number, of 582-2100. If you receive one of these calls, hang up. Do not agree to their request of payment. The Sheriff’s Office would never request any kind of payment via the phone. If you have any concerns about the call, call the Sheriff’s Office directly at 582-2100, ext 2.

West Yellowstone Snowmobile Crash

(Gallatin County, Mont.) On Wednesday, 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 3:45 p.m. on January 29, a 67-year-old North Carolina man crashed his snowmobile into a tree and sustained a hip injury while snowmobiling on the Little Snowy Trail, about two miles west of West Yellowstone. Rescuers were able to respond very quickly to this incident and to the exact location because this snowmobiler was with friends and was able to call 911, providing an accurate location for the rescue personnel.

Search and Rescue responders met him at the scene of the incident on snowmobiles with a specialized snow ambulance. The man was placed on a backboard and loaded into the snow ambulance, then transported off the trail system to an awaiting ambulance from the Hebgen Basin Fire Department.  The patient was then transported by ambulance to the Big Sky Medical Center.

Photo courtesy of the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.

Presidents Polar Plunge

(Gallatin County, Mont) On Saturday, February 15, 2020 at 1:00 pm, the Presidents Polar Plunge will take place at the Glen Lake Rotary Park (formerly the East Gallatin Recreation Area). Sheriff’s deputies, other law enforcement officers, and the Search and Rescue Dive Team will be there to support our local Special Olympics Athletes, many of whom will be participating in the plunge. Come out and get Freezin’ for Reason for the athletes of Special Olympics Montana.

This event is open to anyone who wishes to take the plunge and support our local Special Olympics Athletes. Too chicken to plunge? NO PROBLEM…you can still be a part of the fun. Simply register as a chicken and raise pledges and receive incentives just like a regular plunger. To register or for more information go to Registration  starts at 11:30 am at Glen Lake and continues until 12:30pm.

For questions or for information on volunteering or sponsoring this event, please contact Mandy Patriarche at (406) 589-6005 or  We hope to see everyone there!

Photo courtesy of Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, 2019 Polar Plunge.


Gallatin County DUI Task Force Names New Coordinator

The Gallatin County DUI Task Force has named a new coordinator.

Leah Mobley takes the helm of the citizen group whose mission is to reduce incidence driving under the influence in Gallatin County.

Leah studied political science and public policy at Central Washington University and recently moved to Bozeman.

Originally from a small town in southwest Washington, Leah was involved in community service in several areas, one of which was working on youth substance prevention. Leah said that working with youth helped show her the impact that prevention education can have through community programming.

“I have had several friends and family members devastated by the effects of drinking and driving, and am looking forward to helping reduce, educate, and prevent accidents caused by driving under the influence,” Leah said.

Leah has a number of goals she hopes to accomplish as DUI Task Force coordinator, which include:

    • Creating a campus presence at Montana State University and local high schools to help engage young adults in becoming peer advocates so they can help prevent DUIs among young people.
    • Releasing a data report on the last five years of DUI statistics from Gallatin County to help educate the public and policy makers on how to move forward with prevention measures.
    • Advocating for bipartisan policy measures on the local and state level that will ensure a reduction of drug and alcohol related crashes in Montana.

“I am very excited for this opportunity and look forward to serving Gallatin County in this capacity,” Leah said.

The Gallatin County DUI Task Force is funded through driver’s license reinstatement fees collected in Gallatin County from people charged with DUI and other traffic offenses.

The mission of the Gallatin County DUI Task Force is to reduce the incidence of driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. The vision for the Gallatin County DUI Task Force is to be the “Face of DUI prevention” by providing education, funding, networking opportunities, enforcement, and public advocacy in Gallatin County.

Members include representatives from law enforcement, treatment and prevention specialists, prosecuting attorneys, and private citizens.

The group engages in a wide variety of public education efforts, collaborates with local criminal justice professionals for effective DUI enforcement and adjudication, award funds to agencies to pay for overtime for DUI patrols, among other activities.

The Task Force coordinator is a part-time position that works under the supervision of Gallatin County Court Services.

For more information on the Task Force, click here.

Media contact:
Leah Mobley, Gallatin County DUI Task Force Coordinator

Big Sky Broken Leg

(Gallatin County, Mont) At 12:35 on January 28, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office received a report of an injured person yelling for help in the North Fork area of Big Sky. The 32-year-old Big Sky man had fallen while backcountry skiing and possibly broken his leg.

A GCSO deputy and Gallatin County Search & Rescue at Big Sky responded and located the injured skier and his two dogs. The man had planned for a quick trip and did not have survival equipment. Rescuers were able to bring them all safely back to the trailhead to a waiting Big Sky Fire Department ambulance.

Gallatin County Justice Court’s Open Court Closing For Two Days

Gallatin County Justice Court’s open court hearings will be CLOSED for two days in the coming weeks as the court’s software system is upgraded.

Justice Court judges hold open court at the Law and Justice Center (615 S. 16th Ave. in Bozeman) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings for people who were issued misdemeanor citations by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Motor Carriers, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, among others.

However, due to the transition to our new system, open court will be CLOSED on both Friday, Jan. 31 and Monday, Feb. 3.

In addition, Justice Court will be completely offline on Jan. 30 and 31 and will be entering all information by hand.

We ask that you please have patience with our staff during this transition! And please plan accordingly and attend one of our other open court dates.

If you have any questions, please contact Gallatin County Justice Court at 406-582-2191.

Gallatin County Justice of the Peace Rick West
Gallatin County Justice of the Peace Bryan Adams


Gallatin County Planning Department Holding Photo Contest

Calling all residents! Gallatin County is looking for your photos!

Gallatin County is currently in the process of updating its Growth Policy. As part of the update, we are giving the document a fresh new look with photos of the county submitted by you, the residents. We are looking for photos that fit into these themes:

Open Space – A major component of these photos should be a feature of our landscape, like a mountain peak, a river, farm/ranchland, wildlife, or a sunset.

Heritage – Photos in this category should include people, places, or objects that reflect our heritage.  For example, photos might include an old building, a well-worn pair of boots, a tractor at work, a branding, or people gathering for a community event.

Opportunity – Photos in this category should include subject matter that reflects opportunities for our community – think about things you want to see more of in the future in the County. For example, photos might include music, school, or social events, parks, trails, buildings, or neighborhoods.

Here’s how to submit your photos: Visit the website, then:

      1. Click on the link “Upload your photos.”
      2. At this point, you will need to register. This is an easy and necessary step. We want to be able to contact you if one of your photos is chosen. So please register with a valid email address.
      3. When submitting a photo, please enter your category: Open Space, Heritage, or Opportunity.
      4. Feel free to say anything else about the photo where it says “Enter a short description.”

There is no limit on the number of photos you submit, so have fun and show us Gallatin County from your eyes!

Media contact:
Garrett McAllister
Associate Planner
Gallatin County Department of Planning & Community Development


NorthWestern Energy Scam

(Gallatin County, Mont) The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous calls about a scam involving callers stating they are from NorthWestern Energy. The caller states that they are calling about a delinquent account and if the account is not brought up to date immediately, they will shut off the power. The caller will ask for the person’s credit card information. When the person gives them their credit card information, they will tell the person that the credit card comes back as declined. Once this occurs they instruct the person to go and purchase a prepaid Visa card.

These scammers are aggressive, convincing, and persistent. This is a scam. Do not give them any information. Hang up the phone and do not respond in any way.