Anaconda takes on Deer Lodge, needs help to keep season alive

4N6A9803Although they don’t control their own destiny, they do have some say in who is or isn’t moving on into the Class B state playoffs.

Anaconda travels to Deer Lodge tonight to wrap up the regular season, and just like last year playoff implications are on the line.

The Copperheads beat Deer Lodge 38-14 last year at Mitchell Stadium, propelling them as the No. 2 seed out of the 6B.

Here’s where the story slightly changes this time around. Last season after losing to Anaconda, the No. 3-seeded Wardens earned the wildcard for the West and North divisions. This year, the wildcard is already secured by Shelby out of the 1B.

Anaconda can make the playoffs, but they need some help. Anaconda needs to beat Deer Lodge and have Ronan fall to Mission — the latter seems to be a tall order. If the Copperheads win and Ronan wins, both would have 3-2 district records and Ronan would advance due to their 43-7 win over Anaconda earlier this season.

4N6A9700Deer Lodge controls their own destiny. Beat Anaconda and they are in and Ronan is out. Any other scenario doesn’t matter. No three-team tiebreaker gives the 6B enough bonus points to eclipse Shelby even though they lost to Cut Bank 21-0 Thursday.

But now let’s revisit an earlier week in Class B. On Monday, Oct. 3, word spread quickly about a “mutually agreed upon” game cancellation between Manhattan and Huntley Project. It was later revealed officials from Huntley were upset about the cancellation while Manhattan admitted injuries would make this matchup too one-sided and wanted the forfeit.

Personally, I knew this wasn’t right. I knew this could affect possible playoff implications down the road. How? Try to keep up.

In Class B, a team gets 45 points for a win and 25 points for a loss. Then, at the end of the regular season, a team will receive three points for every opponents win (except if the team lost to that opponent). Add the number and divide by the number of games played on the teams schedule and you have your tiebreaking number.

To save the reader the time I spent working the numbers of wins/losses and their opponents’ wins/losses, Shelby was significantly in front of any possibly third-place team in the 6B or 7B.

Back to Manhattan. For arguments sake say Anaconda misses out by three opponents points. Manhattan forfeited and gave away their chance at three points against Huntley. Were they going to win? Possibly not. But hypothetically, they could have. And it could’ve affected the playoffs. That’s why, when Manhattan cancelled the game because they had too many varsity level players on the cusp of not playing after being banged up from a division win over Whitehall, their decision to forfeit was a cop out. And honestly, the decision was bigger than them.

Yes, safety of the kids comes first. But that’s why you have a JV squad. I can’t imagine having a coach look me in the eye and basically say, “You know what guys, we just don’t have what it takes to play against that team. Let’s take the week off, heal up and see how we look afterwards.”

In my opinion, the MHSA should’ve intervened and made the game happen. I can understand if you don’t have enough to field a team and be forced to forfeit, but this wasn’t the case. They were banged up on three or four skill positions and didn’t want another game against what seems to be a pretty solid squad to get in the way of winning a 7B district title. But Huntley suffered for it as well. They lost another game to improve and possibly play some younger kids to get them exposure to the varsity level. That raises morale around the whole program. Believe it or not, they were losers too.

In the end, it sets a bad precedence. Play the games that are on your schedule. Hell, Anaconda has had to deal with those circumstances for years against Dillon. And not once can I remember coaches Peterson or Orrino looking their players in the eyes and doing their very best to get the players to believe they could overcome adversity — it’s the essence of sports. Blockbuster Hollywood movies are based upon large odds being overcome.

Those large odds need to be in Mission’s favor tonight for Anaconda to go to the playoffs. That however is out of their control. What is in their control is ending the season of the same school that ended theirs in the Western B Divisional tournament in Kalispell last year.

If that’s not motivation enough, nothing will be.



Eric Hempstead boxing benefit Saturday, April 23 at Locker Room Bar

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On Saturday, friends of Eric Hempstead are holding a spaghetti feed fund raiser to help offset the costs of his impending trip to Las Vegas to begin chasing his dream of fighting professionally on the biggest of stages.

Hempstead was invited to be a sparring partner at a heavyweight boxing camp for Gunnar Kolbienn Kristinsson, an undefeated Icelandic champion, at world famous Johnny Toccos Gym in May. While there, Hempstead will train with Luis Monda and hope to get his foot in the door to some bigger events and hopefully get a shot on a headliner card in the future.

This is a huge opportunity for Eric. Kristinsson is coming to America with a lot of fanfare, many feel he’s a possible heavyweight contender. These invitations are not extended to just random boxers, especially those who walk in off the street as Eric did. Walking in to Johnny Toccos for an unscheduled workout, Eric raised enough eyes into earn this opportunity.

Moving to Vegas, Hempstead needs some help chasing his dream. Saturday will get him that much closer as his departure date grows closer every day.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. at Anaconda’s Locker Room Bar. The spaghetti feed is $8 per plate with every cent of the proceeds going directly to Eric. Spaghetti and trimmings were donated by Scott Hatcher at Locker Room, Jack “Gazooni” Moreni and yours truly.

During dinner, several auction items will be available for bidding including boxing memorabilia donated by Chris Eamon, metal sign artwork by Ryan Pesanti, several randomly donated items and one-of-a-kind signed items — gloves, trunks and shoes — from Hempstead himself.

If you can’t make the event, Hempstead has a gofundme page set up. Click here to donate.

Farewell to Gordon Voit; gone but never forgotten

First, I can’t believe I’m writing about a TV guy. Then again, Gordon isn’t just ANY television reporter.

Gordon Voit embodies all that is good and real in sports, journalism and life itself. It just so happens he has managed to wrap all of those qualities into one refreshing package.

A soft-spoken University of Illinois grad finds himself in Butte/Bozeman at KXLF, the local CBS affiliate in Southwestern Montana, within a few months of work earns the respect of the entire market. Yep, sounds about as believable as an old timer and his fishing story.

In a business that is definitely cutthroat, one that sometimes results in jabs and insults from other news entities, Gordo never lost who he was. Even the story of how he was hired for his first post-graduate job here is one of legend.

One would imagine a Big 10-level journalist shouldn’t have a problem landing a sports reporting job in any choice of markets, but as he told me that wasn’t the case. After a trip and interview in Binghamton, NY, he was left with an uneasy feeling. He had known about an opening at KXLF-KBZK but wasn’t granted an interview. Speaking with his father, he was unsure about the upstate New York gig and wondered about continuing his search.

“He told me to get on a plane and go to Montana,” Voit told me yesterday following his final game covered in Anaconda, a girls’ softball game played in what should be better described as ice fishing weather.  

“Wait, what? You didn’t have a job interview and you flew here without knowing anyone?” I asked. Unreal, right?

That’s all you need to know about the dedication and drive of Gordo. Once he landed in Bozeman he tracked down sports director Ted Dawson to discuss an impending position. He’d do anything to get his foot in the door.

“I didn’t have a flashy reel,” he said, basically describing his television resume.

But what Gordon does have is class. You put him in an interview, one-on-one, discussing his thoughts and what he could do to improve the stations coverage, and he’ll knock your socks off.

“I gave him 10 instances how I would improve the product,” he said.

And the rest is history.

Gordon is leaving Butte after a remarkable three years where he has bridged the gap between Big Sky Conference and small-town athletics. He’s earned the trust of every beat, shying away from the controversial topics and instead putting all his energy into highlighting the athletic achievements of those who normally don’t get noticed.

Being in the business of sports media, it’s a rarity to find a reporter that hasn’t had a negative opinion or take at one time or another — and the only reason I can say it never happens is because Gordon is the outlier. Always upbeat, never a frown to be found, you’d think Stuart Smalley got a haircut, went to a terrible sports university and decided “Yep, I’m going to be a television sports anchor.”

As a newspaper reporter in Butte and Anaconda, my job was to provide the top coverage I could on area athletics. But really that wasn’t as important at scooping those damn TV guys. And with some of them, it was easy. Most were lazy and vain, caring only about the hot-take and single cut highlight during a 3-minute segment aired after some lying ass weatherman misdiagnosed the upcoming week’s temperatures.

Looking back, KXLF has given the area gold. Aslan Hodges, Shane Ewing and Bobby Oler were all very accomplished in their coverage, doubling up as personable people away from the spotlight. But Gordon is different. He didn’t just learn the beats, he entrenched himself into the community.

Gordon brought the often forgotten athletes in towns like Anaconda, Whitehall and Deer Lodge into the same light as those in Butte and Bozeman. It was his passion finding about those with rare talents who were always overlooked, and with every passing interview and story, he earned more and more trust from those extended communities.

I can’t tell you how many times people have told me about having Gordon as a dinner guest at their homes. Before leaving he was considered a part of their extended family. A column from Bill Foley of gives you an idea of how another print journalist like myself found Gordon to be a one-of-a-kind human.

While rubbing elbows with Gordon, it renewed my faith in the business. I knew if there was a local athlete doing special things, I could drop him a text and within a few days there was Gordon, highlighting their talents in a broader and far more professional scope. That he trusted my judgment to follow up without hesitation was the icing on the cake of our relationship.

Many wouldn’t know of Gordon’s faith in God because he’s the last to push his beliefs on anyone. Somehow he understands even the mere mention of the subject could possibly make some uncomfortable. Maybe that’s why I like him so much.

I often joked with him, “Damn it man, swear or do something, will ya?” It was always met with a laugh and a changed subject about something positive or uplifting. One of my favorite movies is “Bad Words” – a story about a man seeking revenge on his father by making a farce of and entering a youth spelling bee by taking advantage of a loophole in the rules. In a conversation about the crass language and behavior of the character played by Jason Bateman and a clean-cut, seventh-grade spelling bee competitor, Guy Trilby (Bateman) discusses his cussing with the youngster, Chaitanya Chopra.

CC: Have you figured out your favorite word?

GT: No, I sure haven’t.

CC: Is it the “F” word?

GT: It’s up there.

CC: Because you say it a lot.

GT: Everyone should.

CC: I shouldn’t.

GT: Why not? You should just say what you feel, that’s what they are there for.

CC: I feel the opposite of bad-wordy right now.

GT: Will you just say something bad you f*@!ing Quaker?

CC: (pause), um… motherf*!@er?

GT: Great, perfect. That’s a good one. And did your soul burst into flames? No.

This is the perfect analogy of our personalities. I’m the outspoken former Navy man who has little to no filter and often speaks with questionable language in social settings and Gordon is the effin Quaker. But that’s what makes him so refreshing.

When I’m calling Copperhead football, basketball and softball games on the radio, my wife, Melissa, is usually on the field or court taking pictures to accompany game recaps I provide on And as every reporter who crosses our paths during games will tell you, she’s much nicer than I am. The two have met and talked a few times, nothing meaningful or in depth, just passing the time in friendly conversation. Yet Gordon made it a point to remember her name and refer to her as such when we spoke.

I can’t express how much these actions mean to people, especially when they aren’t forced interactions. Do you know how many media members have come and gone while Gordon has been with KXLF? Melissa has maybe spoken with Gordon two or three times and he still committed her to memory. He doesn’t just know the athletes in Southwest Montana, he knows their family story as well, and that is why Gordon is irreplaceable.

When he broke the news about his new adventure in his home state of Illinois covering his collegiate alma mater, he was admittedly in tears. He felt like he was letting people here down. For two years I would always tease him, “So when are you heading to Bristol?” – chiding him about moving on to ESPN headquaters in Connecticut (and yes, he is that talented. Don’t kid yourself). A shy, embarrassed smile would always be his expression followed by a statement saying how much he loved it here, calling Butte his home.

Even if he ever doubted his talents, we all knew he would one day hit the road. It’s what TV guys and gals do. Usually it’s to bigger markets with the hopes of one day landing their own makeup artist, but Gordon honestly was completely comfortable with the life he built here.

Who honestly knew this was Gordon’s first crack at being a sports reporter? Who thought he was a mere 20-something dude seeking his first industry job fresh out of college? Nobody, that’s who.

I guess the best compliment you can give him is the guy just gets it. He’s honest, caring and compassionate. He doesn’t just report the news, he does so by treating every subject as he would if they were his own children.

In his farewell tweet, he thanked everyone for their patience, grace and friendship. The final sentence in the note will always stay with me … “My goal is the same as it’s been since grad school: Glorify the God that has shown me an absurd amount of grace by celebrating those who are overlooked, undervalued and amazing creations of His.”

Not only did he take the time to reach out to everyone before he left just for greener pastures, he did so by letting them know they will not be forgotten.

TV talent comes and goes, it’s the nature of the business in a small market. But rarely do we get to see a sneak peak of who will one day be on the biggest of stages working for a national media market. Sure he’s not flashy and doesn’t say outlandish things in a business that almost requires such hot “takeitude,” but he makes up for it in spades. In a time when negative comments and shock-jocks are more rewarded than actual journalists (see asshats Steven A. Smith and Skip Bayless), it’s the Gordos of the media circus who keep the essence of insightful and thought-provoking stories alive and well.

Tonight, Gordon will be saying so long to what will most likely just be a blip on his career map in the business. He is holding a gathering at Muddy Creek Brewery in Butte from 5:30 to 8 p.m. with an after-party at The Post. If you can’t be there to wish him well, send him a note on Twitter or Facebook – the response he will give you is worth your time.

I will say it’s been a pleasure meeting his acquaintance and I look forward to sending him an invitation to my children’s graduation in 14 years.

And you know what, that sonofabitching, clean-cut, dry-humored Quaker will be there with a million dollar smile acting as if he never left.

That’s not weird at all. It’s just Gordo.

Anaconda’s Ed McCarthy was the coolest guy you knew

IMG_1989Word was spread today from his family that Anaconda’s own Ed McCarthy has passed.

In a different time when mailmen could actually come to your front door and hold a conversation or even sit down on the other side of the plank and have a few during their break,he was the guy who made your day better.

Even when he retired from the rigors of his job at the Anaconda Post Office, he regaled anyone who would listen with stories of his time on this earth.

And nobody turned a deaf ear.

He was the kindest human around, and probably the funniest as well. And he needed that humor to cope with the shenanigans associated with the political scenery his wife Bea endured as a democratic Montana State Legislator and Board of Regents member.

In 1965, they began a world-renown St. Patrick’s Day party at their home that grew larger by the year. it started in their living room then spilled out to the streets and alley on Anaconda’s west end. Their final party in 2005 brought tears but also allowed the family to enjoy some special time with one another–even if it was only so Ed wouldn’t have to save a year to replace the contents of his private stash.

The McCarthy’s made the ugliness of political races go away once their doors opened.  Every political party, incumbent or ones seeking office — they all made sure the McCarthy party was on the campaign trail. You see rubbing elbows with the enemy was far easier to do while looking at the history in pictures the couple had gathered in the basement and throughout the home. Plus, a negative review from those at the party may as well have been a death sentence to your chances for election.

I was too young to regularly partake until the 1998 party, when I began working for Roach and Smith Distributors (now Summit Beverage). The beer we would deliver leading up to the event was magical. Tapped kegs in the garage, back patio and basement and making sure Ed’s beer fridges in his sanctuary were full took hours. Even when the party stopped, if Ed’s garage door was open and you didn’t stop he considered it an insult.

When the days beer distributors had to stop direct delivery to non-businesses came, I remember meeting Ed at Town Pump to deliver the cases upon cases of on-sale Rainer to his garage that he purchased. One, because he was such a nice man and two, the payoff in suds and conversation was well worth the time.

Whenever you’d cross paths with Ed during his afternoon touch, he’d greet you like a long-lost family member – even when you had just talked his ear off the day before.

When I was covering Ed’s grandson Triston as a four-year starting quarterback for the Copperheads or a rocket-firing lefty for the A’s, the conversation always stayed on point and positive — even when some of those years produced anything but.

In fact during any one of our discussions, I don’t recall him ever saying a bad word about anyone or anything. How is that possible?

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His appearances in the St. Patrick’s Day parades here in Anaconda lit up the eyes of children throughout the route. He’d distribute bags and bags of assorted candies then put his younger Hibernians to bed at the AOH afterwards.

Simply put, I don’t know if there’s been another ambassador for Anaconda who has brought more kind words to the community. Everyone loved Ed.

His church, Hibernians and Anacondans will all be at a loss, but you can guarantee the sadness will be saturated in joy once the stories start flowing. He was a true gem of a man, and every day of his life was one to be cherished.

Slainte buddy. I’m going to tip some of that frosty Rainier goodness back tonight in memory of a guy who cannot and will not be replaced.

Trying to read about Goosetown last weekend? Don’t pick up you local newspaper

When some 140 softball teams come to Anaconda for one of the best slow pitch softball tournaments in the US, I’ve found you can do a multitude of things. Some complain because of the increased traffic and congested stores and restaurants, some plan vacations on the same weekend and leave, but most participate either by playing or watching some of the action.

Unless you’re the local sports reporter.

Instead of hanging out in Anaconda for the women’s home run derby Friday night, men’s derby Saturday night where there was a chance, albeit small, someone could’ve won $10,000 (gladly sponsored by Montana Orthopedics and KANA 580 AM) or Sunday night when local teams were still in the running for trophies, our paper’s sports editor was in Butte covering a bull riding contest.

That’s the equivalent of Missoulian sports reporters going to Drummond to cover a mixed masters croquet tournament the night of NDSU-Montana opens the college football season this August.

The Anaconda Leader is a local paper that currently has no sales outlets, to my knowledge, in Butte. And you’re covering Butte events when something of this equivalent is in your backyard? By the math, no less than 1,500 players were in Anaconda over the weekend. Now multiply that by at least three with families, friends and fans who come just to be a part of such a festival. Yearly, gas stations and C-stores, grocery stores and restaurants in Anaconda depend on the influx of money to support their businesses, and our newspaper doesn’t report on that impact?

And honestly, if we had that event say at the Saddle Club, knock yourself out. I’m not against rodeo at all, those guys and gals are badasses. But when the biggest gathering of people for a softball spectacle — a tournament that proves it can and literally is played by all ages — from Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and even Arizona, James Wisniewski, Leader Sports Editor, made the administrative decision to travel 24 miles to report on an event that has little to no impact — economically or otherwise — to Butte.

I personally have nothing against Wisniewski although I disagree with most of his beat reporting. He refuses to cover local youth athletics unless it has to do with skiing or boxing, or if there is absolutely nothing to write about. He spurns local athletics for outdoors stories on Lewis and Clark Caverns, Garnett Ghost Town and Wraith Hill.

I took pride in covering all levels of athletics while at the Leader from 2007 to December of 2012. I made it my duty to make the back section of the paper as visually appealing as the front page because our community loves its sports. But when you open up the paper to see headlines such as Wednesday’s “Outlaws crush A’s” describing Gallatin Valley’s win over our American Legion baseball team, that’s the last impression you get.

Headline writing is the most important part of a newspaper. It either grabs the readers’ eye or turns them off in a snap. And nobody wants to read about a local baseball team getting it’s teeth kicked in, even if that’s the way it happened. “Outlaws rob A’s” would’ve been enough to engage the reader without punching the team in the gut before even reading about the game.

Even during down weeks, I made sure the adult recreation had their names dropped as well. Every week bowling scores of all ages were recapped along with special recognition in terms of feature stories for honor scores and special achievements. Golf leagues and major tournaments important to the economic health of our local clubhouses were always reported in depth.

Why? Well simply put, you report on an array of athletics because people pay to see their name in the paper. They clip the articles, they scrapbook the moments and they enjoy them for years to come. And if you’re not covering the most economically relevant event of the year in Anaconda, do you really expect those businesses to advertise in the future? It’s a horrible business model.

As for Goosetown, Wisniewski didn’t even have to attend. He could have written a pertinent story by using the press release sent out to every local media outlet by tournament director Bill Hill on Monday filled with the top four teams in each division plus MVP and all tournament team selections for almost all of the teams listed. Every year I always think it’s intriguing to see where all the tournament-winning teams travel from just to play.

Since I left three reporters have held my job title. And with every one I offered never-ending help and information. With Sean Eamon, who first replaced me, that wasn’t necessary because he already knew the coaches and players from his time at the Montana Standard. Eamon was replaced by Kyle Houghtaling, who used me at first but soon built his own beat — one that was full of solid reporting. Wisniewski never took my offer seriously.

I get it, I’m a former employee that may or may not have been held in the best of light after leaving for a similar position with another company. But my offer to help was genuine because all I care about is Anaconda youths getting recognition for their sporting accomplishments.

I try to do as much local sports reporting I can with, but my job and family responsibilities only allow so much.  I know there are many things that fall through the cracks, but I do what I can.

And that’s why picking up the paper on Wednesdays and Fridays has become all the more frustrating. I used to put my heart and soul into those pages, and to see it now is disheartening.

It could still be great, but listening to what readers want is a must. I still believe an online presence is needed there, but that’s another story. But I’ll tell you what, printing stories about Butte bull riders isn’t doing right by our community or by the papers bottom line.

I’ve held my tongue for long enough, it had to be said. Covering a Butte Bull riding event and a rodeo in Drummond just doesn’t make sense, and I can’t believe our local businesses haven’t put a foot down. We live in Deer Lodge County — it has to be the main focus. Sadly, that no longer the case.

Standard stoops to an all new low, even by Lee Enterprises standards

Even the Montana Standard has stooped to an all new low this time.

The same news entity that had the gall to fire, or as they called it “eliminating the position” of sports editor Bruce Sayler, is now hard at work perfecting their new style of reporting: plagiarism.

Working off a tip from a reader of both the Standard and, editor Bill Foley saw some glaring similarities in the story he published on Butte High tabbing former Anaconda girls’ basketball coach Maury Cook on Monday night (April 27) and the one that showed up Tuesday morning at

For anyone living under a rock, the Web site is a local news outlet supplanting sports and community content via Butte Broadcasting (KOPR-KGLM-KBOW) published daily, if not hourly sometimes, by Foley. Seeing a need for the lack of sports coverage in the area and wanting to expand the brand of his radio stations, owner Ron Davis launched the site that has been a hit with locals since August 2012. News, columns by a bevy of qualified journalists and an array of fantastic photography (namely by Jason Silvernale and myself, Foley’s pictures suck) to put a stamp on solid reporting of Butte High, Butte Central, Southwestern A Conference schools and Frontier Conference news and tidbits including big contributions for Montana Tech and Montana Western has been the calling card of the site since its inception.

Confused, maybe even a touch hurt, Foley contacted me to take a look at both stories posted to get my thoughts. As it was attributed by Foley, I was the one who let him know Butte High had decided to offer the job to Cook Monday evening. I did so because I know the speed and diligence of Foles, and I know he would want to make that information known to the public as soon as possible and do good by our former head coach and educator.

Once I tweeted out the initial news, Foley began fact-checking Cook’s past history (with me via phone calls and text messages), even called the interim coach within 10 minutes of me telling him about the hire. Within 20 minutes from the moment I gave Foley the information, he conducted the interview and posted the following story on

Maury Buttesports

Then, at approximately 6 a.m. the next morning, this story was posted on the Montana Standard website:

Maury StandardI don’t even have to allege plagiarism, it’s right there for everyone to see even if the definition of the word and the ramifications of which isn’t fully known.

In the aftermath, I even posted a comment to the Standard’s Facebook thread announcing the story. A snippet captured by Dave Dunmire shows a few of the comments, but unfortunately the threat was removed after the administrator found the facts a bit appalling.


Ironically, if I was charged with a criminal offense and the Standard reported on that fact, calls to take down the post would have been met with the “public’s right to know” defense. However call out a newspaper for plagiarism and links and comments to such abuse seem to fade away in thin air.

Foley was once an award-winning journalist at the Montana Standard, and from my recollection the last sports columnist-journalist to earn such accolades from the Montana Newspaper Association while employed there.  He left the Standard without a job in hand following the firing of his boss and mentor as a big “eff you” to the Lee Enterprises-owned entity – one that has single-handedly ruined what used to be one of the best newspapers in Montana.

Foley fostered no ill-will to the workers of the Standard even though, like me and other former employees of Lee Enterprises, we all despised how they treated one of the true gems of our community in Sayler. But time and time again, these little jabs keep popping up over time.

Doing some more digging, Foley has found some other glaring instances where those working at the Standard have chosen to steal almost word-for-word other content on local news stories instead of actually doing any reporting of their own.

There’s a difference using someone like Foley for information and taking his work. Citing his information is a good practice because he’s knowledgeable about the history and cognizant of the direction of Butte-area athletics. But cutting and pasting his work without so much as changing the flow of the story is the very definition of plagiarism.

You see, when Lee Enterprises starting cutting their competent and loyal staff so their CEOs and CFOs could reign in huge bonuses restructuring the failing company for bankruptcy, they also starting replacing that staff with nothing more than cheap, unqualified employees. The reach of a small town newspaper contributor is beyond just seeing their name in print and recognizing them at a local watering hole. The really good ones stir the pot in order to give the news no matter their allegiance to those involved and put their name on every original submission, good or bad. Foley was exactly that.

Often times after my days at the Standard were over and I was writing for the Anaconda Leader, a biweekly newspaper in Anaconda, I would get into the conversation with locals about how ignorant Foley can be. “We will never buy that paper again,” or “I’m cancelling my subscription,” were the common phrases told to me. Yet, those people were the first to turn to the sports page on Tuesday morning to see what else that meatball would choose to print.

I always told Foley and the other good guys at the Standard, “The Standard gets it first, the Leader gets it right” when the common fight between daily and biweekly newsies would commence. But in all honesty, when Sayler, Foley and Pat Ryan were there, it was very rare that any information was incorrect or misunderstood.

Sadly, those days are now gone. I’d like to play this off as just a misunderstanding of the way content is gathered, but there’s just no way that could be the case in this business. Journalism 101 tells you to always cite sources and attribute content to its rightful owner even when they are better at their jobs than you.

And what’s even more comical, the Standard had the stones to print the following statement at the end of the submission.

“Copyright 2015 Montana Standard. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.”

Take your own lead on this one fellas: Stop publishing stuff that isn’t yours as a way to play off some sort of competence in your jobs.

Lastly, the best part of me giving Foley the statistical information for Cooks reign in Anaconda via text came in a huge win for me. As a sidebar, if I ever die I give nobody the right to publish the conversations had via text between Foley and I, it will set society back 50 years (and that’s coming off the heels of alleged murderer Ray Lewis publishing a two-minute call to end violence in Baltimore). But I digress.

The conversation went like this:

Foley: What is his (Maury’s) cell?

Me: 8675309

Foley: You are a (expletive). I wrote it down. (expletive).

Me: Tell me tell me, who do I turn to? (redacted phone number). Did you know Tommy Tutone is one of his assistants?

Yes, I got him on the Jenny, Jenny bit, which has become a lot easier to do now with the array of cell phone prefixes available. Still, it was classic. And he’s an idiot.

But he’s not a thief, and that should mean a whole lot to Butte people searching for truth in their news stories.

House Bill 114 will crush the dreams of Montana public schools

First, I hate politics. I’m a former sports reporter/editor turned radio play-by-play hack, thus I prefer the certainty of a contest played out mano-a-mano instead of having politicians only voting for ones party be the end result of a conflict.  House Bill 114, introduced by Mike Miller (R) of Helmville, is exactly what I despise about politics.

HB114 was drafted for one sole purpose: to stick it to Anaconda. In short, the Bullock administration and his Montana Department of Revenue feel School District 10 is spending TIFID money captured from the Dave Gates Generation Station (NorthWestern Energy) in Mill Creek illegally.

If it’s illegal, then by all means put a stop to it. However, it appears it may not be illegal after all – even when terms like “Double Taxation” get thrown around as a scare tactic to Deer Lodge County residents. If what SD10 was doing with their cut of TIFID funds was illegal, why is the DOR so adamant on changing the laws set forth in HB114? I’ll tell you why, because they hate the way Anaconda has planned to spend their money. Period.

The DOR vehemently disagrees with Anaconda using TIFID money to renovate Mitchell Stadium – the current home of the Copperheads’ football and track and field teams. So much so they took SD10 to court in October of 2012 only to have Judge Ed McLean rule the DOR “lacked legal standing” to bring the case forward as it had not been harmed by the alleged misuse of funds.

When then DOR deputy director Alan Puera said under oath in 2012 “The TIFID is intended to build infrastructure for an industrial district, not to build football stadiums for the school district off budget,” and when the now Montana Budget Director Dan Villa told me in July of 2012, “My tax money will never go to building a football stadium,” I had a feeling what was in store for Anaconda. Since they couldn’t legally prove impropriety, they would resort to the next best situation – change the law.

Now, SD10 must hurdle Montana giants NorthWestern Energy’s “double taxation” claims and the DOR with HB114 if they want to use money the Office of Public Instruction already deemed “legal and entitled use” of TIFID funds.

And according to an April 3, 2014 document published on the DOR Web site, 45 other TIFs – categorized by either Industrial or Urban Renewal – list some sort of revenue received by local schools within their respective districts. They aren’t just taking this fight to Anaconda, this bill will have significant repercussions to public schools statewide.

Mitchell Stadium, along with many other buildings in Anaconda, is in desperate need of repairs. And no matter what people think, it IS a school building. The proposed construction was to be about $5 million, a drop in the bucket in my opinion to return the grandeur and glory to a staple of our community that has deteriorated over time. However, some opinions state the lack of use of the facility doesn’t equate to that sum of money. Tell that to Butte High fans about Naranche Stadium.

Yes, Naranche was revitalized with TIFID funds just in time to play host to the Bulldogs – the 2012 Class AA State Championship football team. Being in that facility on Friday night, Nov. 16, for the state championship did it for me. What an atmosphere!

Tell Butte High or its fans a football stadium isn’t worth the money. Some places cannot be measured by solely using a price tag. (Here’s a story I did about Naranche Stadium in 2012)

When asking Rep. Miller why he was introducing HB114 via Twitter, his response was, “Follow the law!” and “My understanding is that there are a couple districts that do not do it the way the rest of the districts do.”

And what I found most alarming was Rep. Miller doesn’t even specifically know why he’s introducing HB114. I would think if you want change – a change that alters the way the law reads and is adhered to – you must feel pretty strongly against the way it’s been done in the past.

So why is Rep. Miller even introducing HB114? I’ll tell you why, someone told him to. This year he’s sponsoring Bills for two separate hunting measures, a revised tax law related to pollution control and a revision to the TIFID laws for Montana schools. Some wide range, I’d say.

If as a representative you want to remove the stigma of dirty politics, you may want to at least be schooled on the reasons you are asking for TIFID reform for Montana school districts.

HB114 would likely be a death sentence for Anaconda schools, and it looks as though a representative with an ulterior agenda with some friends in high, or low as it were, places may be playing the executioner.

Why Dave McLean’s misdeeds are his, and his alone

First of all, sorry for the language that follows in this blog. I wish I was more eloquent when it comes to matters of the heart. Deep breaths and hit send …

Dave McLean embezzled money from his Anaconda law firm.

Well, that’s what the headline should have read after it was released he was being suspected of misappropriating client funds at his law firm. Instead, the salacious, the wicked, the dumpster fire known as the Montana Standard – a rag I wouldn’t line my dog kennel with for not to sully the reputation of very shit being placed upon it run by organization, Lee Enterprises, famous for restaffing legends and redistributing those funds to line the pockets of corporate fat cats – thought differently. (STORY HERE)

In a way to bring more attention to the story, they lumped Dave’s daughter-in-law, the Lt. Gov. of Montana Angela McLean, into the story. You see, when you can’t sell a newspaper with misspelled and half-assed reported stories, it’s much easier to go for the throat of another.

I used to be in the newspaper business as a highly-opinionated scribe, once even employed by the Butte-based publication, but I still cannot see the use of this headline. It’s over the top even for sensationalist reporting.

The Montana Standard, and other dailies throughout Montana, not only threw the bus on top of the Lt. Gov, they may as well have listed her as an accomplice with the unquestionably-vague headline. Dave McLean took money from his own clients, something that even he knows is reprehensible. And all Angela McLean has done is have the man as a father-in-law.

Here is the headline from the Montana Standard:

mclean screenshot

And from the Great Falls Tribune:

GF Tribune mcLean

What’s worse, the Tribune ran a photo of the Lt. Gov. in the article. Really tasteful. Maybe instead of trashing an innocent politician they could use their time better studying correct grammatical prose. It’s “Lt. Gov.” not “Lt. gov” you mindless twits.

As a former reporter, it’s imperative to make the professional connection between Dave McLean the lawyer and Angela McLean the Lt. Gov. in the story. But you don’t do it in a headline when it has absolutely nothing to do with the story at hand.

Let’s get down to the facts of the case. Dave was turned in for the misappropriation by his partner, his son, Mike McLean, once he became aware of the matter in late July. Let that sink in. He had to forget about all of his familial love and loyalty to do what was required via his oath as a lawyer.That takes guts, more than I could probably muster.

Mike worked hard his whole life to return to Anaconda in order to raise his family and build a practice with his father. They accomplished that. And according to the letter written to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel by Mike, everything has been researched to have been above board from January of 2003 to the 2010 calendar year — reportedly when Dave’s impropriety began.

In fact, from 2010 until earlier this year when she was appointed to the office of Lt. Gov. by Gov. Steve Bullock, Angela McLean was a nationally certified American Government teacher at Anaconda High School and member and chair of the Montana Board of Regents.  Would her picture have been published and name been connected with Dave’s crime if she was still telling William Howard Taft knock-knock jokes to high school juniors and seniors? Hell no it wouldn’t have.

I’ve been in my fair share of trouble through the years. So, should the Montana Standard publish a picture of my mother for every headlock I’ve generously applied to those who needed it? Let’s just say her headlocks hurt worse, so do your damnedest.

Mike had to turn his father in for something that just doesn’t make sense. I can’t get my head around it. Neither can he. And making a few extra bucks selling a newspaper with a misleading and hurtful headline like this isn’t helping matters either.

Those who were duped by Dave will see justice – monetarily and criminally. Reportedly there are means to pay judgments from the State Bar of Montana, so clients will be able to retrieve any money that has been misappropriated. Unfortunately that’s not even scratching the surface of everyone this is affecting.

Mike and Angela are fantastic people. They raised a wonderful family in Anaconda and will continue to do so in Helena. Mike has been a good friend and a mentor to me and my family. Angela has been a champion for Anaconda students and is continuing that legacy for all Montanans since her appointment to Lt. Gov. In fact, the only questionable thing I can say about Mike is he probably needs a little help training his dogs how to not jump a fence.

Now on to Dave.

This just kills me. Dave has been in my life since I was a little asshole. He coached my baseball All Star team. I wish I still had the vivid-green coat with yellow trim he paid for every member of the team to have – each one had our names on the front.

He looked the other way in group settings when we were disrespectful little assholes in high school, only to corner us one by one and read us the riot act individually. He tells the story of us thinking we were sneaky while throwing parties at the family cabin on Georgetown Lake, and how he always knew when we were there because of our signatures of times and dates in the guestbook. Wow were we dumb.

He coaxed me into being a member of American Legion, one of the better decisions I’ve made in my adult life. He was a guiding light to Legionnaires battling for better medical coverage and treatment, and disability and retirement compensation throughout the country. He worked for a year straight without much sleep battling to get the Southwestern Montana Veterans Home built in Anaconda from 2009 to March of 2010, when it was awarded to Butte. To date, for whatever reason, ground has still not been broke on the facility. In my opinion, vets would already be enjoying it if the home was awarded to the rightful place here in Anaconda.

Professionally, Dave’s legacy may be tarnished. But after my many indiscretions, my speed bumps in life, my horrible decisions, Dave never judged me. He knew me for me and treated me like a confidant and friend.

His reputation will not be tarnished in my eyes. He will not go down with this bump in the road hanging over his head. Nor will his son and daughter-in-law.

Dave made a grave mistake. Don’t you do the same by putting his bad judgment off on the people who were lucky enough to love him for the man he is deep down inside – the Navy fighter pilot, veteran, Legionnaire, husband, father, grandfather, friend.

Oh, and horrible bowler.

I can understand many may feel cheated or dishonored by Dave, and honestly I can respect if you feel that way. However we will agree to disagree.

This is the memory of the man I will continue to cherish. For better or worse, I’ll never let my loyalty to the guy fade away. And I’d go down in flames fighting to protect his honor if need be.

Dave McLean America Legion


ODE TO TONY: How his influence changed my life


I hate doing this now, but it may be looking like it’s time. Jesse, Tony’s oldest, and best looking son next to Beth (sorry, I have to make jokes just to get through this), told me a year ago not to write anything that resembled a goodbye. I’ve held back from every inclination to publish a blog sharing some of my favorite memories of Tony because of exactly that reason.

But I can’t hold back any longer.

Tony died Sunday, July 20, 2014, comfortable and at peace with his fate. Why was that easy for him to obtain? Well, because he lived life to the fullest and made sure to pass on his infinite amount of knowledge and compassion to anyone willing to listen. I’m lucky to have been one of the chosen ones in this regard.

Tony is so much more than just a proud Anacondan with a poor sense of choosing professional sports teams, he’s, well, I guess, he’s just Tony. Always with a smile, his IMG_0699patented crippling handshake made you aware he meant business. I always likened it to being Tony’s light switch – with every salutation and handshake came his undivided attention, almost like the whole world was blocked out when he was locked in and hanging on your every word.

You can’t tell me that’s the primary reason why Tony has been able to fight this disease for so long. Cancer could shut down every vital organ in his body, but there was no way it was going to touch his mind, his heart or his soul. I’ve never met a man so mentally tough, so passionate yet so approachable. And what I love most about those qualities is he’s passed it on to every one of his children.

I say mental toughness and all I can think about is Lisa. The way she banged her hands on the floor during a basketball game when the team needed a defensive stop. Or most notably when she robbed current Montana State women’s basketball player, Kellie Durham, of the ball during the 2009 girls’ State A semifinal against Miles City in the Civic Center. Down after the third quarter, Anaconda needed a big run to return to the state title game after winning in the year before over Glendive. Lisa stripped the ball from Durham, the Cowgirls’ freshman then, at half court then hit a spot up trey in transition when nothing seemed to go her way all game. That play reversed a game heading the way of the Cowgirls and spring-boarded the Copperheads past their Eastern A archrivals.

As history would tell you, Anaconda won that game and went on to win their second–straight state championship.

Even with all that success, Tony never let it get to Lisa’s head. He famously, or infamously if you will, challenged the Copperhead volleyball team during their Blue-Silver scrimmage the next fall. Then head coach Joe Mehrens always had Tony give the girls a talk about the game he’d been officiating forever. He challenged them on the spot, telling them to forget about basketball. He told them they haven’t done a thing in volleyball.

The two-time state championship-winning collection of senior girls were not impressed, nor were some of the parents. But Tony wasn’t your typical parent. He had kids who played sports—that he loved. But unlike your run of the mill parent, he never lived through his kids on the playing field. Of all the things I adore about the man, that’s probably atop the list.

When I was a wet-behind-the-ears radio broadcaster, let’s just say I was a little more IMG_3156opinionated than I should have been. Our boys’ basketball team featuring the likes of Zach Parks, Zane Kenny, Rochi Estes, Tyler Hurley, Sam Corey and Steve Antonich were in the State A tournament in Butte in 2006. They lost a heartbreaking opener to Glendive with some guy named Derek Selvig – a future Montana Griz standout – running the point. On Friday in loser out play, Anaconda was roughed up by a physical Miles City squad featuring former Grizzly football O-lineman Terran Hillesland, a 6-foot-6, 300-pounder, at center.

I let my emotions get the best of me that game and called out the officiating, which is a big no-no in the state of Montana. Through my eyes, a homer with a grudge at that time, I saw a three-man crew giving every single call to the other guys—which I know now just wasn’t the case.

A few weeks later, I saw Tony in the stands during the Wayne Estes basketball tournament in Anaconda. He was there to see his daughter, Beth, play with some college buddies from Miles Community College for Laslovich Construction. And I’ll never forget the ass chewing I got.

He came straight up to me, shook my hand, probably a little harder than usual, and told me how wrong I was. He listened to that game on the radio and couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He lit me up for a good five minutes without taking a breath. He told me I was going to write an apology to each and every official I called out and also to the Montana Officials Association for even hinting at any impropriety. He had friends on that crew and felt offended I would do such a thing.

I felt ashamed. At that point I never knew how influential my position on the radio was or could be. And with every written letter, Tony’s words gave me a whole new perspective on the game. Sure, I’m the biggest Anaconda fan there ever was, but now I’m an even better one because of Tony.

The lesson he taught me was simple; don’t blame others for your own faults. Look in the mirror, own up to your mistakes and move on. Tony called me out for being a blubbering idiot that day, and I’m so thankful he did. I don’t want to imagine how my life would be dragging around that kind of baggage and hatred, just because of a game. Because of his direction, I think I enjoy my job even more. I now focus more on the attributes and dedication of the kids on the playing field, court, course or wrestling mat rather than on how many state championships they’ve won as if it’s their only redeeming badge of honor.

I pattern my youth basketball coaching after Tony as well. I’ve never blamed an official for a bad call or a loss, not because it wasn’t warranted at one point or another, but because that’s the last thing an impressionable child needs to hear. The last thing my players need is to start blaming losses or calls gone wrong on an individual who has no personal interest in the game. Instead, they need to look themselves in the mirror, pick themselves off the ground and move on. And if nothing else, use that as motivation in order to get better.

If I’ve never said it before I’ll do it now. Thank you for setting me straight Tony.

I look at his kids and I feel such joy of the people they’ve become. I’ve got to know Kathy a little better over the years and realized just how tough she is as well. Anaconda just wouldn’t have been the same without them.

As for Tony, he treated me like a son, a friend, a man. I don’t know if I’ve respected or wanted to impress anyone else as much as him. I like to think I’ve made him proud at one point or another, whether it was in my conversations about his children or in the past year trying my best to help out in their time of need while he was fighting for his life.

In the end, it was all done in honor of a man who would’ve stopped at nothing to brighten another’s day.

Year after year, conversation after conversation, Tony was always teaching, laughing and loving. It’s just a shame something like this could happen to such an influential individual.

A tip of the cap to Tony. May his Green Bay Packers continue to break his heart from now until eternity, his San Francisco Giants win every World Series the Mariners aren’t in, and may he look down on Melissa, my children and myself and see that I’m trying my best to be the man, father, husband and friend he wanted me to be.

Until we meet again …

Montana USBC debacle 2.0; clarifying some issues

After reading the blog I posted Monday about my experience and thoughts on the 2014 Montana USBC Open bowling tournament being held in Anaconda, several officials and bowlers weighed in on some misinformation I published. I tried to clear those issues up below.

1. I was given some wrong information about the tournament possibly being split between Star Lanes in Butte and Cedar Park Lanes in Anaconda. It was clarified to me that it was our local association which voted to keep the entire tournament in Anaconda. According to my source, this was done for fear of losing the team event from a fully-functioning center such as Cedar Park and out of respect to their community of bowlers who would be tasked with volunteering during the tournament.

One member I spoke with said they felt an obligation to keep the entire tournament here because they weren’t sure if the state association would see distention and remove the tournament wholly from Anaconda if they voted to split the doubles/singles and team events. Whether that would have happened or not can be up for judgement, I will not speculate one way or the other.

2. The tournament shot. It was clarified to me that five bowlers (I will not mention their names) two left- and three right-handers, tested the shot out at Copper Bowl once it was drawn up. And I’ll fervently attest to the validity of these bowlers’ abilities (all of which I’ve beaten either head-to-head or in a tournament setting many times – sorry, I had to add that!). According to Mark Hodges, he confirmed the shot put out at Copper Bowl was extremely playable when bowled on according to all of the bowlers testing the conditions.

However, what happened from the day they tested the oil pattern and from what has been in play since is a mystery. According to a tournament official, two bowlers rolled a 300 and 278 last Sunday morning at Copper Bowl. Sincerely, good for them! But I will confirm and stake my reputation and ability on the following statement – they didn’t bowl on the same pattern I did 24 hours before. Maybe they didn’t strip all day Saturday. Maybe there was more oil out there from a days full of play. Or just maybe, like myself and a bar full of others witnessed after our 9 a.m. shift Saturday, some lanes were double and triple oiled when the oiler stopped running down the deck once it hit the arrows on Lane 6. No matter the case, some bowlers from the 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. shift bowled on completely different conditions – and I’m not just talking about typical carry down and less head old from non-oil, non-stripped shots. (And that’s what this board-certified competition shot was supposed to be protecting).

Kudos to Mike Evjen, the Montana USBC President, for taking upon himself to take the blame. It appears now, unlike before, the “shit” doesn’t roll downhill. With his response to my post, he clarified certain issues I spoke of intelligently and respectfully.

I would like to add this as food for thought. Because the state has since allowed a tournament director to reap the benefits in terms of payment who doesn’t set foot in the center other than when he/she bowls, where will we be during state tournaments to come? I will tell you right now, Ranie Kelly deserves far more than she’s being compensated. There’s no amount of money, other than the full administration fee the tournament charges, to give her. Nobody in their right mind will take it upon themselves to appoint a member of their local association to run a state tournament ever again if it doesn’t reimburse a tournament manager and/or volunteers accordingly. It’s too much work. So with that being the case, is the Montana USBC going to pay a member of the state board mileage and per diem to run these tournaments from Billings, Missoula, Great Falls, Libby or Miles City? What if they decline? Is Tom Brendgord going to travel to these tournaments and run them the way they should be? If that’s the case, if he can’t be at three at the same time with the Open, Women’s and Youth all going on at the same time, does he put the buddy system to work?

All I want to know is how the hell do I sign up for that gig? Or did Roz Gallup just hand it off to her Billings buddy for fear of losing some leverage on the state board?

And actually, that’s probably irresponsible for me to say. I don’t know if they are friends, acquaintances, bed buddies, etc.; but look at it from my point of view. Why does this USBC revolve around Billings? Is that just a false appearance or is it truly the case?

Blame who you want or call me an asshole for giving my opinion, but this tournament system and state board is a mess. For decades, the Montana ABC, WIBC and YABA all chose the best man/woman in their association to run their appointed tournaments. And when guys like Harry Shafer, Bill Meagor and Rich Potvin were in charge of it; they always worked beautifully. Sure, they were compensated nicely, but why wouldn’t they be? Why pay a Tournament Director who sits 250 miles away and basically does clerical duties and damage control instead of keeping all of that money in the local association? And actually, in terms of their compensation, they didn’t make a lot of money. It was a year-long process getting the entry forms ready, certifying averages, collecting money, getting the payouts correct, being their from the first ball to the last every weekend, verifying scores and issuing tough decisions consistent with the rule book. Now, the Tournament Director does far less with the help of a Tournament Manager, yet the state board employee is the one making the bigger payday while the local association takes it in the shorts.

In terms of Potvin, I remember he took it upon himself to buy equipment (balls, shoes, etc.) for youth volunteers, monetarily compensated others and, if I remember correctly, all but paid for the tournament-ending dinner we had after the final games were bowled. The way things are run now, Kelly will be lucky to pay for her food takeout and gas money during the two-month odyssey.  And I know for a fact Meagor did much of the same, if not more.

Evjen said the board wanted to go to more of a “standard condition” for championship tournaments. How can a state like Montana do that, especially in Anaconda where both houses have completely different environments and equipment (lanes)? I understand you want to hold these tournaments accountable for not giving an unfair advantage to the local bowler, but you don’t have to reinvent the wheel either. And especially when the handicap is now 95 percent of 235!

We’re basically bowling at 100 percent of our averages, so why not throw down a walled-up house shot to see the scores go through the roof? If your theory of fair play for one and all is truly the case, why not see bowlers leave with a smile on their face and not out of disgust for the game? I guarantee those of you who run leagues put out easy shots for over half of the bowlers who paid good money to come to Anaconda and compete in the state tournament. Ask them if they want a “challenge” when the go to a state tournament or a shot they feel comfortable on bowling with their buddies on week nights.

Or is our state board like other politicians, choosing to do what they feel is best for the tournament instead of asking their constituents? ASK THE BOWLERS WHAT THEY WANT! Despite what you think or what your years of experience tells you, a happy bowler is the only goal you have to achieve. Have the associations put out a shot that’s fair for all levels of abilities and make sure they stay with that same pattern from start to finish. You think local guys like Bill Edwards don’t know how to keep all levels of bowlers happy? He keeps a business afloat when he gets as much open play in a month or more as Missoula gets during a slow Friday night, and he’s competing with another center with six more lanes and 30,000 less people versus Missoula and Deer Lodge counties.

Here’s my advice, in summary. Get rid of this silly tournament director bullshit and give it back to the local associations which keep USBC alive and well. Stop over-thinking the “shot” in houses the board, collectively, has no intimate knowledge of. Keep your associations in check by communicating with their board of directors (which it appears you, Mr. Evjen, are doing a fine job with in your position).

Oh, and stop referring to bowling as a sport because the dudes and gals on ESPN tell you to. Anything you can do better while drinking/competing cannot be considered a sport (unless you’re a fan of San Francisco 49ers defensive linemen).