Here at the Belgrade News, our hearts are broken.
When our corporate overlords bought the Belgrade News a few years ago, moved us from Belgrade to Bozeman and shoehorned us into a corner of the Daily Chronicle building, we huddled in what became known as “The Island,” where the décor includes an inflatable palm tree and a string of palm tree Christmas lights.
We joke that we are the red-haired stepchildren who are always roundly ignored and forgotten. So we are Island inhabitants.
The Island has its own edge. Its own attitude. But. There are just four of us; one of us is leaving. Sigh.
Belgrade native Megan Anderson, 27, is jumping ship. Fleeing the island. Apparently being loved by all of us wasn’t enough to make her turn down a job that provides more money and opportunities for advancement. Who would have guessed?
The first rule one learns as a journalist is that everyone has a story. Everybody. Has. A. Story.
For more almost three years, our co-worker Megan has been the No. 2 person in the paper’s advertising department. That’s her office Clark Kent identity. The rest of the time, she’s a Superhero.
And a P.S. about her Clark Kent identity: In the 2022 annual Montana Newspaper Association competition, Megan took five first-place awards for her Belgrade News advertising work.
A poster in her office cubicle features a bunch of dirt-biking women on “Team Pink.” She’s one of the women in the poster.
It’s a by-invitation race, and she got invited. In August 2017, she was one of four women on the team who took third place in the off-road classic, “Best in the Desert.” It’s America’s longest off-road race, and the team did 600 hundred miles in one day. Two people (not team members) died.
“It took us 15 hours and 48 minutes, from Vegas to Reno and through Death Valley. We were the only team of all girls, and we smoked all the guys,” Megan said. “We were off by a couple hours (to win). I raced a KTM 450.
“People died that year. it was hard work. We started at 5 a.m. We swapped off-on the bike. Had a total of 17 pit stops.”
The deadly part was the 800 horsepower “trophy trucks,” already slated to start later than the rest of the racers. They would eventually catch up to the other racers, who were engulfed in their dust cloud.
“One guy on a quad and a guy on a morotcycle died,” Megan said.
She raced with another Montanan, Tatum Juhnke from Livingston.
“I trained for 10 straight months. Lifting weights. Spin class. And I even met Travis Pastrana.” (Pastrana is a professional motorsport competitor and stunt rider with 6 million Facebook followers.)
“I still ride; I just don’t race much anymore. I’m just taking a break from racing while I think about growing up,” Megan joked.
“I still race, in Helena. I just don’t do off-road anymore,” she added.
She ended up at the Belgrade News because she was working on a veterinary tech degree at the Hardaway Vet Clinic and her boss there knew the paper’s Ad Director George Hoffman. The rest is newspaper history.
“I started here and I liked it, and I liked that I could bring (corgi) Carl to work,” she remembered.
Another side to Megan? She’s got a side hustle of doing make-up and special effects on local movie productions. Her latest, “The Hunted,” is still in post-production and hasn’t yet been released.
“They used a local crew; Ari Novak was director,” she said. “I did all the make-up, and parts of it were filmed in (Livingston’s) the Murray Bar.”
She has threatened to give Carl a Halloween zombie makeover, but we have yet to see that visual delight.
And then there’s the ballet. “I had just got my ballet pointe shoes for a Montana Ballet production of The Nutcracker. We did The Nutcracker for a couple years. Alladin. The Little Mermaid. Peter Pan. And then in middle school one day I saw a pamphlet for BMX racing.”
In the movies, that would be the moment the sun breaks through the clouds.
“I told my dad, ‘If I can’t race dirt bikes, let me do BMX.’ He didn’t want me doing dirt bikes, so I said ‘let me race other dangerous stuff.’ I did BMX for 10 years and was the Montana state champ for 10 years. I got a trophy as tall as I am.”
She’s a not-so-secret gearhead, who is finding a new home at Montana Paint, a dry powder business that’s been pretty busy lately with jobs in Big Sky.
“I don’t know specifically what I’ll be doing. Technically, I’m at Montana Paint in Gallatin Gateway and then at Atomic Paint when it opens. Custom welding and sandblasting. I’ve done this before. I’m gonna do a little bit of everything,” she said.
Years ago she worked at Bozeman’s Blitz Motorsports in parts and sales. “Dirt bikes, ATVs. Got a lot of my love of dirt biking there. And I ride a Yamaha and a Beta as well. What we sold at Blitz.”
“All my life I’m Ricky Bobby and I just want to go fast,” she joked. (An inside joke for fans of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, a sports comedy film).
All that dirt bike racing? She’s got the broken feet and broken ankles as a proof of her devotion to the sport.
And so. From ballet to BMX and dirt biking to movie zombie make-up.
Here’s our one final salute, dear Megan, as you limp out of the door and break our hearts.
You can leave the corgi.