The Osborne on Main Street | Open House, September 3, 2020

Posted on September 2, 2020 by Amy Sand

Stop by for light appetizers and beverages on Thursday, 9/3 from 4:00 to 6:00PM at The Osborne on Main Street! The 4th floor, luxury office suites are now complete and available for lease. The 3rd floor is also complete and ready for buildout/leasing. Tours of the full building available.

Fourth Floor | Private Office Suites
Suite 414 - MLS ID 341185, Suite 416 - MLS ID 341184, Suite 415 - MLS ID 341183,
Suite 414 - MLS ID 341182, Suite 413 - MLS ID 341181, Suite 411 - MLS ID 341179,
Suite 410 - MLS ID 341178, Suite 409 - MLS ID 341177, Suite 408 - MLS ID 341176,
Suite 407 - MLS ID 341173, Suite 406 - MLS ID 341172, Suite 405 - MLS ID 341171,
Suite 404 - MLS ID 341169
Fourth Floor
Executive, private office suites on Main Street in Downtown Bozeman! The fourth floor of the Locati-designed, The Osborne building, boasts 17 private office suites. Ranging from 178 to 214 square feet, all have incredible Main Street and mountain views.
Each suite is furnished with custom office furniture (sit/stand desk and executive chair) from Montana Angle Worx. Enjoy complimentary conference room access, high-speed WiFi, printing center, shared kitchen, and dedicated men’s and women’s restrooms with showers and lockers. 24/7 access with tons of retail and restaurant amenities in the basement, first and second floors of this brand new building!

Third Floor | Commercial Office Space Available
MLS ID 341235
Third Floor
The 3rd floor boasts an outdoor patio and tons of natural light with expansive 360° views of Downtown Bozeman and the nearby mountain ranges. A tenant can lease the entire floor or as little as 2,000SF. The total square footage is 6,154.

The Market on Main | 1st Floor Retail Space
First Floor Plan
First Floor
The Market on Main, a dynamic downtown community space that includes 6 curated, retail opportunities alongside The Bodega and working coffee bar turned cocktail bar. In the AM, the coffee bar will be serving juices, pastries, grab-and-go breakfast with lunch options during the day. As PM approaches, the bar will serve a selection of beer, wine and spirits. The Bodega will boast easy-grab options all day with packaged wine and liquor offerings.
Contact Charlotte Durham for all of the details!
Categories: New Developments

Significant Sales: Big Sky | August

Posted on August 28, 2020 by Amy Sand

SOLD | Listed at $2,095,000
SELLERS' REPRESENTED BY LAURA T. SACCHI. Owned and designed by an internationally renowned architect, this magnificent home captures the beauty of the surrounding landscapes, seamlessly blending style and warmth to create intimate spaces for family and guests. Cooper Creek and Jack Creek Spur flow through this property, which includes a 3 acre horse pasture with a loafing shed, three ponds and hot tub integrated into the landscaping. Situated on 8.4 acres in the highly desirable Jeffers area, this property borders the 2,000 acre Channels Ranch, which is in a conservation easement. While very private with wildlife visible almost constantly, this home is conveniently located 5 miles from Ennis, which has all amenities, including shopping, dining, cinema, golf course, hospital, spas and more. Bozeman and the airport are just under an hour; Yellowstone Park is just over an hour away. World-class skiing and golf at Moonlight Basin and Big Sky Resort are only 23 miles up the private Jack Creek Road.

SOLD | Listed at $1,100,000
SELLERS' REPRESENTED BY TALLIE LANCEY AND JULIE BLAKELEY. This home is all about balance: work/life balance... recreate/recover balance... outdoor/indoor balance. There are creative, whimsical touches mixed with dramatic, sexy spaces. Significant stone walls and fireplaces are softened with sleek fixtures and mood lighting. Compared to the surrounding homes, this is a larger-than-average lot and a larger-than-average house, but everything is proportionate. Three levels of fun, sophistication, and space to roam. There are 5 bedrooms (three en-suite) and two living rooms, an all-important gear room, "Big Sky lifestyle" garage, Peloton loft, copious closet spaces, large flat fully fenced-in yard, skylights and sliding-glass doors, covered decks for impromptu neighborhood get-togethers and a front door painted the color of a ripe avocado that tells everyone who passes, "Welcome to our super stylish home."

SOLD | Listed at $1,375,000
BUYERS' REPRESENTED BY WILL BRUNNER. At the end of a quiet cul-de-sac and impeccably maintained, this home checks every box for Montana living done right. Its location in the heart of Big Sky is a short walk from concerts, dining, shopping, and endless outdoor recreation, and the large fenced-in yard features spectacular mountain views. On the main level, the three-car garage and large mudroom with built-in shelving provide plenty of storage space for your gear, and the open-concept living areas are perfect for entertaining.

293 Bushnell Significant Sale Laura T. SacchiPhoto by Saul Creative |

SOLD | Listed at $2,195,000
BUYERS' REPRESENTED BY LAURA T. SACCHI. This one-of-a-kind custom home built by J & K Contractors is an idyllic Montana setting on 20 acres. 15 minutes from Bozeman and 45 minutes from Big Sky Ski Resort. Incredibly functional floor plan, with main level living, capturing the mountain views in every direction. Carefully crafted, with mountain modern finishes throughout. First floor includes amenities such as open great room with stacked rock wood burning fireplace, dual fridges, main level master, additional en suite, media room, sauna and a chef's dream kitchen. Main level office with views of the towering Spanish Peaks to the south. Guest quarters above the garage.
Categories: Significant Sales

Significant Sales: Bozeman | August

Posted on August 27, 2020 by Amy Sand
SOLD | Listed at $10,950,000
BUYER'S REPRESENTED BY CHARLOTTE DURHAM. A spectacular tribute to the Montana lifestyle. Designed by Jerry Locati as his family residence, this rare offering is truly a private sanctuary only 10 minutes to the amenities of downtown Bozeman. This luxury home speaks of quality and elevated architectural design from the moment you drive through the private gate. The stunning main home offers 3 bedrooms, 4 baths, yoga studio, wine cellar with dining area, theater, an oversized three-car garage and more. The guest home, attached via covered patio, has 3 en-suite bedrooms, loft area, kitchen and living room with fireplace. Elegant interior spaces extend effortlessly to the outdoor landscape. The home is situated on 21+/- magnificently landscaped acres which include expansive ponds teeming with rainbow trout, waterfalls, spa, lake house, multiple outdoor fireplaces and a chipping green. An entertainment barn and 5-car garage both with high-end finishes allow for endless possibilities. Listed by Mike Schlauch and Nicole Locati. Photo by Saul Creative |

SOLD | Listed at $1,495,000
SELLERS' REPRESENTED BY CHARLOTTE DURHAM. This exquisite Craftsman has it all, a very rare opportunity in Downtown Bozeman! In addition to the stunning main home, there are 3 attached, income-producing units! Updated over the last year, almost everything is new throughout the entire property, inside and out (while keeping the original charm). Adorned with intricate oak trim and thoughtful detail throughout, the main home boasts 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms. The two basement apartments have 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom each while the apartment over the garage also has 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom. All of the units have separate, exterior access with off-street parking options. Endless, luxury upgrades have been made over the last year, reach out for a full list. Walking distance to everything Downtown Bozeman has to offer with amazing investment income!
Categories: Significant Sales

Property Roundup: Amazing Barns to Rival No Others

Posted on August 20, 2020 by Amy Sand

Amazing Barns to Rival Any Out West

The views aren't bad either!

There are few places as beautiful and rugged, and as well suited to riding horses as Southwest Montana. Fresh mountain air, a diversity of trails, and wide open spaces draw the most avid horse people to the Gallatin and Madison Valley. In addition to the spectacular scenery and wide variety of horseback trails, the area also boasts many amenities including top-rated veterinary services, fun-filled activities like riding in Yellowstone National Park, rodeo and so much more!

52 W Horse Creek Road, Cameron, MT

4204 Sq. Ft., 3 Bed, 3 Bath, 4.56 Acres

Exquisite and impeccably maintained custom Van Bryan home in Sun West Ranch.

As the only shared ranch community in the Madison Valley, experience the pride and lifestyle of authentic ranch ownership without the day-to-day operations. Peaceful and private, you can build your custom home on one of the limited number of premier home sites plotted for optimal views and seclusion. The benefits of owning a homestead extend to a membership in the Sun West Ranch property owners’ association and rights to use approximately 1,600 acres of common area wilderness. Plus a full-time ranch management team is available to maintain and care for your home and your horses when you are not there, as well as prepare your property for your arrival. At Sun West Ranch, there is opportunity to embrace the true essence of an independent and carefree way of ranch life in Montana.

Sun West Ranch is gated with 4 miles of private fishing access, trails, equestrian center, 1,600 ac of common space and full time, on-site concierge/property management staff.


17960 Yankee Creek Road, Gallatin Gateway, MT

3000 Sq. Ft., 3 Bed, 2 Bath, 10+ Acres

This retreat is a fisherman and horse lover's dream and minutes from the famous Gallatin River, known for world-class fishing. A truly private setting with herds of elk that pass through regularly. This peaceful paradise boasts 360°, panoramic views and no covenants!

A 4-stall barn with 3 horse runs is situated right next to the main home. The original home and barn were built in 1984 and completely remodeled (inside and out), with an addition added to the main home in 2019.


5 Things to Consider When Getting Ready to Sell

Posted on August 11, 2020 by Amy Sand

Getting your house ready to sell:

1.) Invest in a professional deep house clean before you list it

New home buyers will see everything that you don’t. Invest in getting the house professionally cleaned before your first showing.  It also makes it easier to keep clean for showings there after, and the buyers know they are getting a home that was well taken care of. Also, consider having your windows professionally cleaned to give your home a lighter feel and show off all of your amazing views.

2.) Clear clutter and family pictures

Staging your home helps you highlight your home’s strengths, hide its weaknesses and helps it appeal to buyers. It’s important to remove clutter and depersonalize your home.  Start selling things from around your house that you no longer need.

Removing the clutter gives your home the feeling of having more space. Depersonalizing your home will give home buyers the opportunity to imagine living in your home.

Family pictures on the wall aren’t necessarily bad, but when your walls are loaded with pictures it can turn a buyer off.  Take down clutter from the fridge, kids walls, and as many family pictures as you can. Allow the buyer to see themselves in your house.

3.) Highlight accents in the house

During the pandemic priorities have changed. Have a great backyard or a home office? Make sure you de-clutter and stage the backyard. If you have outdoor seating and tables think about setting the table before you take photos or show. Also, many of us are working from home and your home office should be de-cluttered and staged for photos as well.

4.) Turn the heat up a few more degrees (especially in the winter)

Do not keep your house cold during a showing (unless it is in the summer). You want them to come inside and feel comfortable.

If you are selling a house during a colder time of year, turn your heat up a few extra degrees. This will make them feel warm and right at home.

5.) Pack up unnecessary items into moving boxes

Last but not least.  Pack up things you don’t need and stage your home. Give your home a clean, minimalist appearance.

If you have a dusty bookshelf of old books, pack them up and put the book shelf into storage.
 De-clutter as much as you can before you sell it, and when it sells you will be well on your way to being packed to move.

Bonus Tips:

Make sure your home has good landscaping- plant some flowers, paint the door, reseal the driveway

Get all of those little or even big problems fixed in the house.

Replace heavy bedspreads and tablecloths with lighter fabrics to continue the softer feel.


Big Sky School District 72 Reopening

Posted on August 11, 2020 by amys

What Does School Reopening Look Like?

The Big Sky School District has worked tirelessly with their Board of Directors and a task force consisting of teachers, administrators and working parents with school aged children to determine the best course of action for reopening the district schools for learning this year.

Results of the Parent Re-Opening Survey:

At this moment, the plan is to work on a learning model that is 50% in person and 50% distance/virtual on a rotating basis to help facilitate social distancing. The specifics of that are still being ironed out and this is always subject to change depending on the level of community infection. There is an option for virtual/distance learning to any student that feels more comfortable off campus with some restrictions.

The school will be implementing additional safety practices, updates to their facilities and a plan for testing.

Here are all the details.


Significant Sales: Big Sky | July

Posted on July 31, 2020 by Amy Sand
SOLD | Listed at $3,650,000
SELLERS' REPRESENTED BY LAURA T. SACCHI. This 1,364 acre ranch has almost a mile of the Stillwater River running through it.This is truly a fisherman's paradise. Just a few miles down the mostly paved road from the quaint town of Absarokee, which offers grocery shopping and more. Easily accessible to Billings Airport (65 miles) and Red Lodge Ski Resort (48 miles). The 1,299 ac. of grassland on the north side of the river has fabulous views of the Beartooth Mountains, a stock watering system and some flood irrigation. The whole ranch has multiple wells and great water rights. The property boasts an expertly rebuilt log guest cabin, 4BR/2.5BA ranch style home, a large restored barn and riding arena/corrals, loafing sheds, shop. Herds of Whitetail Deer, wild turkey and Hungarian Partridge can frequently be seen roaming the property. 

42 Low Dog Road Significant Sale Tallie Lancey and Julie Blakeley

SOLD | Listed at $2,500,000

SELLER REPRESENTED BY TALLIE LANCEY AND JULIE BLAKELEY AND BUYERS REPRESENTED BY TIM CYR AND CATHY GORMAN. Souvenirs Lodge is a beloved and storied ski-in and ski-out classic log home near Big Sky Resort. Live your best Montana life with fresh air, wildlife encounters, and sunny quiet mornings in the mountains. Handscribed log home remains true to its archetype with stretched rawhide accents and a massive stone fireplace. Situated on a cul-de-sac within a mellow walking distance to Mountain Village where tremendous capital improvements are underway. Ski or mountain bike to the high-speed Thunderwolf lift and return home via Ramcharger. With 5 bedrooms (3 ensuite), an executive office, two living areas, this home comfortably accommodates 12 people. Enjoy its spacious great room with vaulted ceilings, chinked log frame, and high-end kitchen appliances. The upstairs family room has a wet bar and pool table. The master suite has its own fireplace and jetted tub. 2 large decks offer additional living space with a hot tub. The house is offered fully furnished, turn-key, with future reservations.  

1470 Beaver Creek Significant Sale Laura Sacchi and Carrie Radtke
SOLD | Listed at $2,500,000
SELLERS' REPRESENTED BY LAURA T. SACCHI, BUYERS' REPRESENTED BY CARRIE RADTKE. Mountain oasis seeking new owner! Compelling views of Lone Mountain and the Spanish Peaks on 20 private acres. The main level of this 4BR/6BA custom home features a spacious master suite, dining area, two living areas, kitchen, laundry and 3-car heated garage. Walk out onto the wrap around deck (with fireplace!) to hear the water feature or watch wildlife and fowl enjoy your private pond. Lower level: 3 additional spacious bedrooms, pool table, fireplace and walk out to the pond. Located only 9 miles from the restaurants, shopping, movie theater, medical center and other amenities offered in Big Sky's Town Center. The Community Library, schools and Warren Miller Performing Arts Center are only 3.5 miles. Under an hour to Bozeman Airport and Yellowstone National Park. World class fly-fishing, hunting, rafting and mountain biking are among the many nearby outdoor pursuits...not to mention the biggest and most amazing skiing in America at Big Sky Resort! Offered fully TURNKEY furnished.

Cowboy Heaven Luxury Suite 3D Significant Sale Justa Adams


SOLD | Listed at $2,250,000
BUYERS' REPRESENTED BY JUSTA ADAMS. This beautifully furnished penthouse-style suite is the perfect ski-in, ski-out property Big Sky’s amazing Moonlight Basin golf and ski area. These spacious Luxury Suites are the perfect retreat after a long day on the slopes with plenty of space for family and friends. Complete with interior and exterior stone and log accents, picture windows accenting the views, large deck with hot tub installed, stainless steel kitchen appliances and an attached garage. Beautiful stone wood burning fireplaces with propane starts in the living room and on the deck. Listed by Jeff Helms.
Categories: Significant Sales

Significant Sales: Bozeman | July

Posted on July 31, 2020 by Amy Sand
SOLD | Listed at $899,000
SELLER'S REPRESENTED BY CHARLOTTE DURHAM. Tranquility on the water! A rare opportunity to own a newly remodeled oasis sitting on 2.25 acres with a creek flowing on three sides of the property! Located in the sought-after, Middle Creek Meadows community with 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and 5,300 SF. A magnificent addition of 937 SF was recently added, including an expansive master suite and office. Oak hardwood flooring throughout the open concept living and dining area, opening up to a sanctuary of mature landscaping on the tranquil creek. Coveted privacy, yet minutes to Downtown Bozeman!

545 Arrow Trail Significant Sale Nathan Knopf

SOLD | Listed at $899,000
SELLER'S REPRESENTED BY NATHAN KNOPF AND AMY BRAUNER. Tranquility on the water! A rare opportunity to own a newly remodeled oasis sitting on 2.25 acres with a creek flowing on three sides of the property! Located in the sought-after, Middle Creek Meadows community with 4 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and 5,300 SF. A magnificent addition of 937 SF was recently added, including an expansive master suite and office. Oak hardwood flooring throughout the open concept living and dining area, opening up to a sanctuary of mature landscaping on the tranquil creek. Coveted privacy, yet minutes to Downtown Bozeman!
Categories: Significant Sales

Have you been dreaming of owning a home with river frontage where you can walk out your back door and wet a line?

Absarokee is a scenic, small community serving as a gateway to fishing, hiking, camping and outdoor exploration along the Stillwater and Yellowstone rivers and the nearby Absarokee-Beartooth Wilderness.  Secluded but accessible to the Billings Airport (65 miles) and Red Lodge Ski Resort (48 miles).

Stillwater River Ranch

This 1,365 acre ranch is a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, 3,196 sq.ft. ranch style home with large bonus room over the 3-car garage, an expertly rebuilt square log guest cabin, a large restored barn and riding arena/corrals. The ranch also has perimeter fencing, a stock watering system and water rights.

If you are interested in buying or selling riverfront property contact Laura T. Sacchi today for a property valuation.

Tags: Riverfront
Categories: Significant Sales

What is Virtual Home Staging?

When you’re trying to sell your home, especially in a hot housing market like Big Sky and Bozeman, effective home staging can make all the difference in how quickly your home sells — and for how much. Unfortunately, staging a home can be time-consuming, expensive and stressful. Homeowners are usually too attached and biased about their home to avoid making choices that distract potential sellers, and not everyone can afford to hire a professional interior decorator to make those choices for them.

That said, technology has a way of presenting new solutions that we wouldn’t even have considered before. Such is the case with the advent of an innovative process called virtual home staging. Now being touted as an affordable alternative to traditional staging methods, virtual home staging allows potential buyers to visualize their new home with their own furnishings and decorating style through an Augmented Reality-based app. By taking the staging experience online, sellers have a more powerful tool for helping buyers see the potential in their home, while reducing dependence on in-person viewings as the sole opportunity to make a good impression.

How Virtual Home Staging Works

Since virtual staging occurs online via an app, photographs become the primary tool in helping buyers visualize the home. The main requirement for sellers is to provide high-quality photos of the vacant rooms in the home. This is easy enough if the house is already vacant, but even temporarily moving furnishings out of the room for a photo is cheaper than professional staging – virtual staging also makes it much easier to sell vacant homes without the extra cost of physical staging.

By using the app, home sellers can utilize Augmented Reality (AR) to superimpose a variety of staging designs (consisting of furnishings and décor) over the photo so prospective buyers can see what the rooms will look like. Swapping out pieces and designs is as easy as a click or tap, allowing buyers to view a variety of staging options for the same space.

Benefits of Virtual Home Staging for the Seller

  • May reduce or eliminate the need to stage the home physically
  • Can use virtual staging as a supplemental tool to entice buyers to visit
  • Allows the buyers to see their own style and furnishings in the space, making it easier to convince them to make an offer

Benefits of Virtual Home Staging for the Agent

  • Enables the agent to store and show clients multiple properties from the palm of their hand
    Empowers agents to customize the staging experience to the client’s wants and needs using AR technology
  • Increases interest in advance of on-site viewings
  • Increases sales

Benefits of Virtual Home Staging for the Buyer

  • Using an app allows a buyer to view multiple homes at once, fully staged, before ever making an on-site visit to properties
  • Enhances the buyer’s ability to see what the home would look like decorated in their style and sensibilities
  • Even after making an offer or closing the deal, buyers can use the app to assist in making decorating decisions for their new home.

Sotheby’s International Realty® is proud to offer an AR-based app called Curate to assist buyers, sellers and agents with the process of visualizing prospective properties. To learn more about how virtual home staging can help enhance the buying and selling experience of your Big Sky or Bozeman home, call Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty today Big Sky - 406.995.2211 or Bozeman - 406.586.6688.


Q2 Big Sky Market Watch

Posted on July 20, 2020 by Amy Sand
Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty Friends & Family,
As a result of the unprecedented social changes we’re experiencing, Big Sky notably, has seen unprecedented numbers of folks moving here. Buyers are out in record numbers seeking homes in our markets, while listings under contract and showings are surging over last year. If we thought it was a Seller's market before the pandemic it is now more than ever. The moment to list your home, condo or land for sale is now. The brokers at Big Sky Sotheby's International Realty continue to work for buyers and sellers as a result of continued interest in properties here in Big Sky, Montana. 
Under Contract
Our agents continue to communicate and present opportunities to our buyers and continue to be in contact with our sellers regarding appropriate protocol for property tours and showings. Our priority is keeping our families and clients safe and healthy, and we are taking recommended measures to accomplish this.
Click the link below to see what happened last quarter. Big Sky Sotheby's International Realty provides the latest real estate statistics for Big Sky and its surrounding areas.
It appears that this will not be a short-lived challenge for our country or the world, and social distancing may be an increasingly valuable benefit of property ownership in Montana. For those looking for a retreat away from high-density areas, we’re happy to assist you in finding a special place where you and your family can remain healthy and happy.
Be a good neighbor. Stay safe and stay healthy. 

Our Collection - Summer 2020

Posted on July 13, 2020 by Amy Sand
Our collection of real estate listings
Explore real estate in Our Collection - winter edition.  Explore real estate in Big Sky, Bozeman and the surrounding area's. Browse market statistics and our most recent significant sales.  Find out what is happening in Southwest Montana!
Categories: The Collection | Real Estate

Managing COVID-19 in Gallatin County; A Look Behind the Scenes

Posted on June 15, 2020 by Kali Gillette

When Governor Bullock announced the shelter in place directive on March 26, 2020 in order to flatten the curve of COVID-19, Gallatin County was already ahead of the game. Gallatin County Health Department, led by Health Officer Matt Kelley, had been watching the pandemic unfold beginning in December and had formed an incident command system within the Health Department to address the coming spread of the virus in our community.

Mid-March the first case arrived. Kelley took a look at what agencies were likely to be involved if the situation escalated. Realizing the Health Department didn’t have the capacity to sustain the operation themselves, he brought in other public safety agencies and formed a Gallatin County Incident Command System Structure.

Patrick Lonergan, Chief of Emergency Management and Fire became the Incident Commander for Gallatin County’s COVID-19 response and together, they sketched out what functions they would need to manage the situation. First, they looked at what positions the Health Department currently had, and where they would need more help. “If it turned into a situation where the hospital became overwhelmed or needed to move patients around, we would need a lot of additional players,” Lonergan explained.

There were a variety of duties to manage. A comprehensive group of local agency partners including, but not limited to, the City of Bozeman, Gallatin County and Gallatin City-County Health Department formed a joint communication infrastructure to educate and inform the public. Public safety agencies such as law enforcement, the fire department and coroner’s office all played a role in planning. Once the team was in place, they began a daily planning cycle, starting with a 7:30 a.m. call to create a 24-hour incident action plan.

Logistics such as sourcing and hands-on delivery of equipment and supplies needed to be coordinated. Operationally, the Health Department needed help managing quarantine, isolation and contact tracing. Simultaneously, larger entities such as Bozeman Health, the City of Bozeman and Montana State University all had internal structures in place. Gallatin County Incident Command assumed responsibility for the coordination of the incident to be sure everyone was on the same page and moving in the same direction.

Planning moved along at this pace for the next 60 days. Gallatin County residents took the directive seriously and did their part by diligently staying home and actively social distancing. And then, the curve started to flatten. The social action worked.

While the shelter in place directive was successful, it wasn’t sustainable forever. “People have to go to work at some point,” Lonergan said. He goes on to explain, “I think everybody recognizes that the virus didn’t disappear when we shut down our communities, but it was a lot harder for it to move around. As people start moving around more and the tourist season starts, there will be more transmission of COVID-19. We don’t know what that’s going to look like, but it’s obviously a concern.”

The group is now preparing for the summer season. “Bozeman and Big Sky have good infrastructure,” Lonergan said, “but West Yellowstone needs support, they don’t have a lot of medical infrastructure.” Plans are in the works to enhance their capacity to be able to adequately test people. “If someone comes through who is not feeling well or is symptomatic, we want to make it easy for them to get tested so if they do have COVID-19, they will know and can act appropriately,” says Lonergan. “Another concern is exposure to the workforce. We want it to be easy for workers to get tested and not spread it through the workforce.”

The system is set up to adjust with the demand. For example, the county has also secured hotel rooms in West Yellowstone in the event travelers or workers need them. While we’re not out of the woods with COVID-19, Gallatin County is in a relatively good spot, given the coordinated efforts behind the scenes. Asked what advice he would impart to residents and visitors, Lonergan replied, “It’s important to take it seriously. Keep social distancing and taking health precautions such as washing your hands frequently and not touching your face. And if you think you’re sick, get tested, and stay home.”

Categories: Southwest Montana

"It's never anything we had imagined was coming our way," said Whitney Littman, a Big Sky School Board Member.
These words have probably crossed the mind of almost every educator in the country in recent months. In Big Sky, however, the school district was ready. Other resort towns, such as Ketchum, Idaho, were already seeing COVID-19 numbers skyrocketing. School district administrators, educators, and board members were aware enough to realize the potential for the virus to come this way was high.

"In terms of preparedness," Littman says, "our district was already a one-to-one technology district. We had the capacity, which is one of the things that made it so smooth for us. We have an incredible team at the district who are so thoughtful and forward-thinking, we were able to be proactive."
A smooth transition it was. On Friday, March 12, 2020, the school district decided to send as many devices home with students as possible. That day, the technology team arranged for 225 kids to have computers. Within 72 hours of the Governor's closure, every child had a device in their hand. (Kindergarten through 2nd-grade students received study packets.) "My fourth-grade student had almost his entire school kit in his backpack Friday afternoon," Littman explains. "On Wednesday, we picked up my seventh grader's laptop and cord. Everything was sanitized and ready." As such, online distance learning was fully up and running just two days after the board decided to move to online learning.

The school already utilized Google Classroom as a platform, so the students were familiar with how to access it. Google provided free licensing for their Google Meet technology, and by Tuesday, teachers had already sent out emails about how classes were going to take place the next day. Within 48 hours of the Governor's school closures, administrators and teachers created online learning platforms, and school was back in session.
"It was very natural, I think, for most of the students," Littman said. "Kids are so savvy these days. It's hard to imagine, but they woke up the next morning and went to class."

The school had 90% attendance that first day. Through mid-May, the average attendance was 94%. "This illustrates the community's passion for education and regard for the district and teacher's efforts to keep quality of education high," says Littman. "We did not compromise quality, despite the circumstances."
During the transition, 3 Rivers Communications worked with families who needed internet access. "They were incredible in helping to facilitate that," Littman says, "it was a very thoughtful approach to be sure we were as inclusive as possible."

All said and done, the district had 400 devices in use between educators and students.

It didn't stop there. The school board also supported a program to make prepared lunch boxes that were ready to go the same day. These lunches weren't just for school children, the district communicated to the greater Big Sky community that they were willing to feed anybody in need.

Littman says, “I saw incredible compassion and dedication and commitment from the teachers, not just in how prepared they were to use technology. There were new manifestations from students that came out of this. There was new stress on children, younger children in particular. They missed their friends and their contact with teachers, which is all understandable. School was different.”

When the Governor allowed schools to be back in session on May 7, the school district sent a request to families asking for feedback. They wanted to know how people felt about returning to the classroom. Overwhelmingly, the feeling was that everything was working and preserving students' safety, teachers, administrators, families, and the community; they would finish the year online. For Littman, this was a signal that families were comfortable with the quality of education that was taking place; that they were operating under the same standards that they would in a non-COVID environment.

"I saw a compassionate learning environment, where the kids were supportive of each other, and teachers understood the variety of family dynamics. While teachers may have had their own children as learners in their homes, they were also teaching their students. Some parents were working from home while their children were learning. Some families had a parent working, a student and a baby all in the same home, all day! It was a new environment; everyone was learning together: parents, students, teachers and administrators. It was a neat process to be a part of, and I'm proud of the district," Littman said.
What school will look like in the fall is yet to be seen. "Our commitment as educators is to reach the peak of excellence. We will strive to be excellent in whatever format education looks like in the fall," Littman says.

Speaking of the future, during quarantine, the community passed a $23.5 million school bond. These funds will help accommodate the enrollment growth, provide funding for a STEAM facility, remodel some areas inside of the middle and high schools, and adjust the athletic facilities to become Class B, which includes a new gymnasium and a turf field with a new track. Money will also be used to rework the parking lot and offer better school safety.

“These measures will form an incredible addition to the current school facility for the next decade and are a wonderful community asset.” Littman says. "For a community that swells with tourists during peak times of the year, the full-time residents are incredibly passionate and heartfelt about what Big Sky means, and the opportunity we all have to live here. I believe everyone upholds that commitment. Who we are and who we want to be is really strong."


Big Sky Relief: Pulling Together to Aid the Community

Posted on June 10, 2020 by Kali Gillette

On Saturday, March 14, 2020, it was evident that things were getting real regarding COVID-19 reaching Big Sky. The resort had not yet announced it was closing, but other resorts around the Rocky Mountains were.

Kevin Germain, Big Sky Resort Area District Board Chairperson, and Danny Bierschwale, Big Sky Resort Area District, saw the writing on the wall. That day, they had multiple calls with the attorney representing the tax board. The local resort tax has been in existence since the 1990s and helps local non-profits and government entities in Big Sky. Since its inception, the tax is collected throughout the year, and the funds distributed in June. The two men wanted to know if they could do things differently this year and distribute a portion earlier to respond swiftly to the pandemic. As it turned out, they had quite a bit of flexibility and could tap into the money they had already collected. The wheels were in motion.

On Sunday, March 15, 2020, Big Sky Resort announced they would be closing the following day. Germain reached out to the Yellowstone Club, Moonlight, and Spanish Peaks Community Foundations and started discussing how they could offer aid to the community.

By Friday, March 20, the Resort Tax Board approved putting $1,000,000 toward the relief effort. They agreed to allocate $500,000 to the Big Sky Medical Center and $500,000 to other social needs in the community. By that afternoon, the Yellowstone Club Community Foundation contributed half a million dollars, and Moonlight and Spanish Peaks Community Foundations each committed a quarter of a million. One week from the time talks started, the relief fund grew to $2 million, and a robust collaboration was in place.

At this point, community leaders were well aware of what happened in Sun Valley and other ski areas. They anticipated a significant surge in COVID-19 cases in Big Sky due to the number of travelers visiting the area. After a week of talks with Big Sky Medical Center and an understanding of their needs, the group allocated $1 million to finish four hospital rooms, purchase ventilators, an analyzer for testing, and a lot of PPE. The needs totaled just over $1 million, the majority of it covered through the relief fund.

Typically, resort tax funding goes to numerous entities. This year, 28 organizations applied for resort tax dollars, ranging from the fire department and Sheriff's department to the food bank. Resort tax dollars can only go to non-profits and government entities, but the money from the foundations has fewer restrictions. As such, they have been able to give out close to $200,000 in grants to help local families to help them through this period.

But the relief efforts didn't stop there. The business community had to shut down 3-5 weeks early, and two of those weeks were significant for revenues. They were going to need help. The Relief Fund organizers sent an email to the 28 entities that had received money asking if they had any remaining resort tax funds and could give them back to support the effort. These non-profit and government entities stepped up and gave back another $400,000 of funds not yet spent.
The Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, an incredibly active organization, quickly joined the conversation about how to help the business community. They had $210,000 of unspent resort tax funds they offered to return to the relief effort. However, Big Sky Relief told them to keep the money and re-purpose it. The Chamber created the Big Sky Save Small Business Relief Fund, a micro-grant program for the businesses. To date, the fund has given grants to 57 small businesses totaling $192,500 of the $210,000. The remainder of the money will go toward re- opening bundles for businesses, including masks, gowns, hand sanitizer, signage, and plexiglass. They also facilitated a volunteer-staffed hotline to help walk the business owners through applying for aid through the federal stimulus package.

The group recently funded a study testing wastewater for Covid-19 to keep tabs on the presence of the virus and ease mitigation efforts.
"Everybody's trying to come together during this time of need and work very collaboratively to help our community out," Germain said. "Big Sky doesn't have a city government or mayor; people jump in and get things done. It's all bootstrapped and utilizes a lot of volunteer boards to make things happen. Everybody's just jumping in and doing what needs to be done."

What's next? Germain explains, "Our economy is 100% tourism-driven, yet we need to protect our residents' health and safety. The county line goes right through the area, so we are in conversations with both Madison and Gallatin County Health Departments about how to put together robust testing, tracing, and monitoring programs to open again." He says, "At this point, we need more testing and more contact tracers."
For updates on current relief efforts, or for ways you can help, go to

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