Tranel mug

Weight limits removed from 2 county bridges

The Gallatin County Bridge Department has completed the reconstruction of the bridge over Hyalite Creek on South 19th. The reduced weight limit has been removed.

The department also completed reconstruction of the bridge on Cottonwood Canyon Road and removed its reduced weight limit.

Snow heightens avalanche dangers

BILLINGS (AP) — Authorities in western and southern Montana say backcountry travelers face heightened avalanche dangers following recent snowfalls.

Avalanche dangers were listed as high on Monday for portions of the Mission, Swan, Rattlesnake and Bitterroot mountains in western Montana.

High avalanche dangers also were forecast for the Lionhead Range in southern Montana.

Since Friday, authorities say three skiers have been killed in avalanches in Colorado and a snowmobiler was killed in an avalanche in the Salt River Range in Wyoming. The deaths were the first reported avalanche fatalities in the U.S. for the 2020-2021 season.

MacKenzie Scott donates to tribal colleges

GREAT FALLS (AP) — MacKenzie Scott has donated at least $1 million to three tribal colleges in Montana, university officials said.

Scott, formerly married to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, announced this week that she had donated $4.2 billion in the last four months to 384 organizations across the U.S.

Richard Littlebear, president of Chief Dull Knife College, told the Great Falls Tribune that Scott donated $1 million.

Sandra Boham, president of Salish Kootenai College, said she would not disclose the specific amount of Scott’s donation but that the funds will help the school provide affordable housing and professional development training for students.

“I don’t know if MacKenzie Scott realizes how incredible this is for our college,” Boham said. “If I could, I would grab her and hug her. Institutions like ours, we don’t usually get the kind of donations she’s making.”

The president of Blackfeet Community College, Karla Bird, did not respond to a request for comment by the newspaper.

Tribal colleges receive most of their revenue from federal funding that allocates up to $8,000 for each American

Indian beneficiary student, according to the Montana Budget and Policy Center report.

Webinars focus on estate planning

BOZEMAN — Montana State University Extension will offer its Tuesday Tips webinar series on estate and legacy planning beginning Jan. 5.

The series will run from 10 to 10:45 a.m. each Tuesday in January and February, followed by a 15-minute Q&A session until 11 a.m. The series is hosted by MSU Extension educators Marsha Goetting and Emily Standley.

Topics will include what individuals can and cannot do with a will; what to include in a letter of last instruction; how to avoid probate with a transfer-on-death deed; comparing life estates, joint tenancies and trusts as possible estate and legacy planning tools; exploring the benefits of financial and heath care powers of attorney; and how to acquire information about probate and duties of a personal representative. The topics were voted on by Tuesday Tips participants in 2020.

Goetting is an MSU Extension family economics specialist and professor at MSU. During the past seven years, she has presented more than 500 educational sessions that have delivered financial and estate planning information to at least 15,000 Montanans. Goetting has received state, regional and national awards for her programs. She also is known for authoring 46 MontGuide fact sheets in estate planning.

Standley is an MSU Extension agent for Ferguson and Petroleum counties and focuses on agriculture and natural resources. She also has a passion for helping families plan for their futures and understands healthy, sustainable families equate to healthy, sustainable communities.

Registration is recommended for the webinars and can be done at For more information contact Goetting at or Standley at

Tranel named deputy superintendent at Yellowstone

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS — Superintendent Cam Sholly has announced the selection of Mike Tranel as the new deputy superintendent of Yellowstone National Park. He will arrive in the park in early February 2021.

Tranel, a 35-year veteran of the National Park Service, is currently the superintendent of the Powder River Group and oversees Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Little Bighorn Battlefield and Devils Tower national monuments and Fort Laramie National Historic Site. He has served in that position since 2018.

As deputy superintendent, Tranel will essentially serve as the chief operating officer of the park. Yellowstone is one of the largest operations in the NPS with 750 employees and a total budget exceeding $65 million.

“We’re very pleased to welcome Mike and his family to Yellowstone,” said Sholly. “Mike has managed a wide range of complex operations and programs spanning Alaska to Washington, DC. He has also worked very successfully across boundaries with many partners, something essential to Yellowstone’s success.”

Tranel’s previous assignments include: superintendent of Klondike Goldrush, Alaska; acting associate regional director for operations, Alaska; special assistant to the Alaska regional director; special assistant to the director of the NPS; and chief of planning at Denali National Park, Alaska.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” said Tranel. “Yellowstone has been a special place to me for a long time, having grown up in the region and enjoyed many adventures in the mountains in and around the park over the years. One adventure included working two summers during graduate school at Bridge Bay Marina, a great base for exploring the backcountry. During that second summer, I decided to embark on a long-term career with the NPS, so Yellowstone for me is where it all started. I look forward to working with the talented team at the park, partners and local communities. There is a lot we can accomplish together in addressing the challenges of the present and planning for the future.”

Tranel has a master’s degree in Geography from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in American Studies/Earth Science from the University of Notre Dame. He graduated from Billings Central High School in Billings, Montana and grew up one of 10 siblings near Big Horn, Wyoming and Ashland and Broadview, Montana. His first visit to a national park was a second-grade class trip to Little Bighorn.

He and his wife, Mary Tidlow, have two daughters. Tidlow also works for the service as an architect in the NPS Park Facilities Management Division.