Gallatin County Receives Grant to Help Improve Elections Security

Gallatin County Election Department
Press Release

The Gallatin County Election Department has received a $127,974 federal grant to help secure and improve election administration in our area.

The money comes from the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which was passed in 2002 to address systemic problems in America’s elections.

HAVA created the Election Assistance Commission, improved access for voters with disabilities, created state-managed voter registration databases, established identification and provisional voting requirements, and improved standards for voting systems.

This year, Congress has appropriated $425 million in new HAVA funds to continue working toward the goal of enhancing technology and making election security improvements.

Montana was allocated $3,127,978, and the Montana Secretary of State’s Office will provide a 20% state match. Of those funds, over $1.9 million in subgrants were given to Montana’s 56 counties.

With the money Gallatin County is receiving, the Election Department in conjunction with the Gallatin County IT Security Officer have identified some immediate needs for these funds in order to make security improvements for the 2020 election cycle.

Over the next five years, the Election Department will use these funds to enhance election technology, improve services to voters, and maintain the efficacy of elections in Gallatin County.

“We are very pleased with the award of the HAVA subgrant to Gallatin County. It is a significant boost to our ability to enhance election security and technology for the citizens of the County,” said Gallatin County Election Administrator Eric Semerad. “Some of the money will be used to address election security in this very significant presidential election year. The remainder will be used to purchase new election technology and provide for additional security in the future.”

In 2018, the Gallatin County Election Department was awarded a $22,939.87 HAVA grant that was used to help purchase a third high-speed ballot tabulator.

Media contact:
Eric Semerad, Gallatin County Election Administrator


Candlelight Memorial in West Yellowstone for James Alex Hurley

A candlelight memorial will be held at Pioneer Park in the Town of West Yellowstone on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at 5 p.m. in remembrance of 12-year-old James Alex Hurley. The general public is welcome and invited to attend.

The event will be in the paved parking lot for Pioneer Park located by the intersection of Firehole Avenue (U.S. Highway 20) and Dunraven Street. By landmarks, this is across from the Super Save Conoco.

The parking lot will be closed to vehicle traffic and parking beginning Saturday night in anticipation of the event.

Parking for the general public will be available along the sides of Dunraven Street, Canyon Street, and Gibbon Avenue.

The event is expected to take approximately 60 minutes. Blue glow sticks and ribbons for child abuse awareness will be available.

The speakers for the event are members of the West Yellowstone community who have been asked to speak. The focus of the event will be on the dignity of the child, community healing, and grief resolution. There will be no public comment during the event.

Whitney Bermes, Communications Coordinator for Gallatin County, will be acting as the Public Information Officer (PIO) for the event and will be available to the media to answer any questions.

Media planning to attend the event are requested to RSVP Whitney Bermes at There will be a designated area assigned for the media to view and record the event. The media is requested to be here 30 minutes prior to the event.

This is an outdoor event. The weather forecast is for snow showers increasing in the evening, a high of 32 degrees, and southwest winds 10 to 20 mph. Dress for winter.

Following the event, a gathering will take place at the Povah Center located at 10 South Geyser Street for hot chocolate and coffee. Counselors will be available to anyone who wishes to make use of their services or just simply want to talk.

Questions regarding the event can be directed to PIO Whitney Bermes at 406-595-8963.

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

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.



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

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

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


Candidate Filing for 2020 Primary Election Begins

Candidate filing for the 2020 primary election begins today, Jan. 9!

Candidates for Gallatin County Commissioner (District 1), Clerk of District Court/Public Administrator, Conservation District Supervisor (Areas 4 & 5), and Political Party Central Committeeman and Committeewoman can file with the Gallatin County Election Department until March 9.

Federal, statewide, and state district candidates must file with the Montana Secretary of State’s Office. Please visit the Secretary of State’s website at this link for more information

Candidate resources for ALL upcoming elections can be found on the Gallatin County Election Department website at this link.

Media contact:
Eric Semerad, Gallatin County Clerk & Recorder


Gallatin County Treatment Court honoring participants at annual Christmas celebration

Gallatin County Treatment Court will be holding its annual Christmas celebration on Friday, Dec. 20.

The celebration is to honor the participants’ commitment to changing their lives.

Treatment Court starts at 9 a.m. in Gallatin County District Court Judge John Brown’s courtroom at the Law and Justice Center, located at 615 S. 16th Ave. in Bozeman.

“Treatment Court Christmas is a very special event. It is an opportunity to celebrate the ongoing success of our participants, some of whom have not celebrated Christmas in years,” said Judge Brown.

“Prior to Treatment Court, their lives revolved around drugs, alcohol, and jail. But this year, with the support of the Treatment Court team, our participants are clean and sober. They are employed, and they have stable residences. And they are free to experience the joy of the holidays with their friends and family,” he said.

At the Christmas celebration, the 18 current participants will receive gifts and treats provided by Belgrade Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 12112,  Friends of Treatment Court (a group that gives financial support to the program), as well as other citizens of Gallatin County.

Gallatin County Treatment Court was the first adult treatment court in the state and is now one of 31 drug courts across Montana.

Started in 1999, Treatment Court is an 18-month voluntary program that is an alternative sentencing for adult offenders whose crimes were motivated by substance abuse.

Participants receive treatment for chemical dependency and mental health issues. Among a number of things, participants are required to attend addictions counseling, mental health therapy and support groups, as well as submit to frequent drug and alcohol testing, report weekly to a case manager and perform community service.

The five core values of Treatment Court are honesty, integrity, responsibility, sobriety and service.

Brown also voiced his appreciation to the Gallatin County Commission.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Gallatin County commissioners for their continued support of the Treatment Court,” he said. “Their emotional and financial support is greatly appreciated.”

The program is managed by a team that includes:

Judge John Brown, Gallatin County District Court
Steve Ette, Director of Court Services
Eric Kitzmiller, Chief Deputy with Gallatin County Attorney’s Office
Kirsten Mull-Core, Attorney
Dr. Jim Murphey, Psychologist
Vicki Deboer, Clinical Supervisor with Alcohol and Drug Services of Gallatin County
Jared Poole, Probation and Parole Officer for Montana Department of Corrections
Kelley Parker-Wathne, Treatment Court Coordinator

Media Contact:
Steve Ette, Director of Court Services