Gallatin County Commission to consider ballot issue changing county elections to nonpartisan

At their June 18 public meeting, Gallatin County Commissioners will consider asking voters if they want to change county elections from partisan to nonpartisan for Gallatin County offices.

In this year’s Legislature, Montana lawmakers passed House Bill 129, which allows Montana counties to ask voters if they would like to change the types of elections held for county officials from partisan to nonpartisan.

Commissioners will decide Tuesday if they would like to add this question for Gallatin County voters on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Gallatin County has 12 elected positions that this would impact: three County Commissioners, two Justices of the Peace, Sheriff, County Attorney, Treasurer, Clerk and Recorder, Superintendent of Schools, Auditor and Clerk of District Court.

To get this question onto this fall’s ballot, Commissioners must pass an ordinance, which they will consider Tuesday. Read a draft of the ordinance here.

If passed, the ordinance will have a second reading at the Commissioners’ Tuesday, July 9 public meeting. If passed at that meeting, the question will then be placed on November’s ballot.

Citizens are encouraged to submit public comment on this topic by:

  • Attending Tuesday’s public meeting, which starts at 9 a.m. in the third floor Community Room at the Gallatin County Courthouse, 311 W. Main St. in downtown Bozeman.
  • Submitting written public comment by email at or dropping it off at the Commission Office, located in room 306 at the Gallatin County Courthouse.

Commission meetings are audio streamed live online, televised on cable channel 190, and are recorded.

For any questions, please contact the Gallatin County Commission Office at 582-3000.

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Update: Belgrade High School Incident

On June 4, 2019, Officers from the Belgrade Police Department, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol and Manhattan Police Department responded to the Belgrade High School for an incident which was precipitated by a threatening video posted to social media.  Detectives are still actively investigating the matter, however incidents such as these are complex in nature and are very time consuming. Four juvenile students have been charged with Felony Intimidation.  One adult male was arrested and charged with Tampering with Physical Evidence, also a felony.  As this matter is still under investigation, we cannot offer further comment at this time.  Belgrade Police Detectives are still working to identify and contact the victims mentioned and/or tagged in the video and will be in contact with them in the coming days.  Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Belgrade Police Department Detective Division at 406-388-4262. Tips can also be emailed to:

Media Contact:

Dustin Lensing, Detective Sergeant

Office: 406-388-4262

Cell: 406-209-0668

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Video Threat Investigated at Belgrade Schools

Schools in Belgrade were put under a shelter-in-place order while law enforcement investigated a video that threatened violence toward students. At 12:59 p.m., the Belgrade School District contacted Belgrade Police after it was reported that several students had produced a threatening video.

Officers quickly responded and apprehended several students they believe were involved with making the video.

Belgrade High School, Belgrade Middle School, and Saddle Peak and Heck Quaw elementary schools were all put under a shelter in place. That means the buildings were secure, students and staff were kept inside and no outside activities were allowed; butinside the schools, classes proceeded as normal.

Belgrade Police were assisted by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol and the Bozeman Police Department.

Belgrade Police Chief EJ Clark said the school did the right thing in promptly reporting the incident to police. “We had a great response from everybody,” Clark said.

Clark said students and staff reacted well thanks to training that has been done between students, faculty and law enforcement. “We had a great response from everybody.”

“Our No. 1 mission was to keep kids safe and dispel rumors as best we could,” Belgrade Schools Superintendent Godfrey Saunders said.

Saunders said the school district appreciates the law enforcement response, as well as patience in getting information out. “We wanted to make sure we got the correct story out there at the right time.”

Students need to think about their actions and threats they make will be taken seriously by everyone, and the school and law enforcement will act accordingly, Clark and Saunders said.

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River Rescue Video link

The link for the river safety advisory is available here;




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Water Rescue on the Gallatin

(Gallatin County, Mont.)

Monday at 8:50 pm, Sheriff’s Search and Rescue responded to a water rescue on the Gallatin River between Axtell Anceny Rd and Norris Rd.  A local Magenta Road resident heard what he thought was screaming coming from the river behind his home.  He investigated and found a person stuck under a cut bank on the opposite side of the river.  The 54-year-old woman was part of a group that crashed two rafts and a kayak about an hour earlier.  As more information about boats floating in the river came in, the rescue expanded into a simultaneous search for further victims.  Life Flight helicopter and local landowners assisted search and rescue personnel in the effort.

The woman was stuck next to the water below an actively eroding cut bank. A Search and Rescue boat crew made the rescue and transported her across the river where she was carried to a waiting AMR ambulance and Gateway Fire Fighters.  She was so hypothermic that she could not give responders much specific information about what had happened and how many people were involved.  The other two men and a dog in her group were  located safely on shore further up the river by Search and Rescue personnel about 10:00.  The group was reunited before she was transported to Bozeman Health Hospital by the AMR ambulance.

Sheriff Gootkin would like to remind residents and visitors that the spring run-off makes local rivers and streams extremely hazardous.  The stretch of the Gallatin from the mouth of Gallatin Canyon to Manhattan is full of debris and hazards and not recommended for recreational boating, especially during spring run off.  People that know the river say that this stretch of river is never worth the risk for boating.  In addition if you lose your boat please contact the Sheriff’s Office (582-2100) as soon as you can.  The boat will be reported by someone and cause Deputies and SAR volunteers to investigate and make sure no one is trapped or in need of rescue.

A river safety video from Sheriff’s Search and Rescue is posted here;

Photo courtesy of the Sheriff’s Office

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Violent Offender Task Force Warrant Operation Media Event

In May 2019, members of local law enforcement, along with the US Marshals’ Montana Violent Offender Task Force, conducted Operation Spring Sweep.

This was a coordinated multi-agency operation to apprehend violent fugitives with the goal of reducing violent crime in Bozeman, Belgrade, and Livingston, as well as Gallatin and Park Counties.

Agencies that participated included:

  • Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
  • Belgrade Police Department
  • Billings Police Department
  • Bozeman Police Department
  • Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office
  • Livingston Police Department
  • Missouri River Drug Task Force (MRDTF)
  • Montana Department of Corrections (DOC)
  • Park County Sheriff’s Office
  • Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office
  • United States Marshals Service (USMS)
  • Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office

During the operation, sixty-three (63) cases were worked with fifty-two (52) being resolved either by arrest or other dispositions. Thirty-one (31) physical arrests of subjects either wanted on outstanding warrants or on new charges were made.

This operation has directly contributed to improved public safety through the joint efforts of the above-listed agencies.

On May 31, 2019 at 11:00 am, a joint media conference will be held at the Gallatin County Detention Center Community Room where representatives from agencies including Bozeman Police, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and the US Marshals Service will be available to provide further information on the results and impact of this operation.

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UPDATE: Missing 81 year old Man in Belgrade – Located

Update: May 30, 2019


On May 29, 2019 at 10:36 p.m. the Belgrade Police Department received a report of a missing 81 year old male with Dementia and other medical issues. At that time a search was initiated for the missing male. The male was located in the local area at 12:09 a.m. on May 30, 2019 in good condition. The male was checked for any medical issues and reunited with family members.


Thank you to all those who responded to the phone advisory of this incident through the Community Notification System and Social Media notifications. The assistance from the public by checking their property and keeping a close eye around their neighborhood is a valuable tool for responders in these situations. Several tips from citizens greatly assisted emergency responders in their efforts to locate this  man and provide a positive outcome for all involved.

The Belgrade Police Department received needed assistance from the Gallatin County Sheriffs Office, Gallatin County Search and Rescue, Bozeman/Yellowstone International Airport Public Safety, Ham Radio, Central Valley Fire Department, Gallatin County 911 and the Gallatin County Emergency Management.

This team effort resulted in a positive ending.

We would like to take this time to remind citizens about the Community Notification System.  On the Gallatin County Emergency Management                                         web site: you can sign up to receive emergency messages from the Management team about on going urgent situations or assistance needed by emergency responders, as in this incident. A full explanation of the system is on the web site. Just follow the instructions on the site to be included in future notifications.

Thank you,

Belgrade Police Department

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Missing Elderly Subject

This message is being issued by the Belgrade Police Department. The Belgrade Police Department is searching for a missing 81 year old male with dementia and other medical issues who walked away from his house on Cruiser Lane in Belgrade. The subject is named Walter and is wearing a plaid shirt, jeans and cowboy boots. Belgrade Police requests that you look around your property and if you have any information to please contact the Police at 388-4262.

This message was posted automatically from the Community Notification System.

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Community Crisis Response Program Starts Up

(Gallatin County, Mont) Gallatin County law enforcement and mental health services are coming together to provide better services to individuals with mental health emergencies. Community Crisis Response is a collaborative program between Western Montana Mental Health Center, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Bozeman Police Department, and Belgrade Police Department that provides care for people experiencing a mental health emergency when and where they need it.

When a mental-health call comes into 911, a Community Based Therapist will respond with law enforcement and assess the individual in their home or workplace, providing crisis counseling and developing a safety plan or admitting them to Hope House. After the emergency, the therapist, a Community Support Specialist, and a Transition Coordinator will work together to help individuals get the services and support they need to reduce future crises. The goals of the program are to provide better care for people with mental health emergencies, reduce the number of emergencies, and free law enforcement to attend to other public safety calls sooner.

Western Montana Mental Health Center – Gallatin is managing the program. The Community Therapist was hired in January and the Community Support Specialist in May. The Sheriff’s Office is providing office space and a vehicle for the therapist. Michael Foust, Regional Director for Western, said, “This partnership is important for our community because it galvanizes a culture of caring for our neighbors that provides everyone with the care they need, when they need it, where they need it.”

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Community Crisis Response Media Event

Sheriff Brian Gootkin, Bozeman Police Chief Steve Crawford, Belgrade Police Chief EJ Clark, and Michael Foust of Western Montana Mental Health Center will hold a press conference on the community’s new collaborative program to address mental health crises more effectively. It will be held at 11:00 on May 28, in Room 208 of the County Courthouse, 311 W. Main.


Contact: Deborah McAtee 406-600-3476

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