Founder/owner Jason Clark opened his retail paintball store, Angry Monkey Paintball, in May 2008 and recently moved to 1407 Central Ave., where he shares a building with Central Hobbies.
Clark's business is growing and he is also helping to promote a Montana team that is scoring quite well in national competition. The team calls itself 406's Finest, after Montana's area code.
“They are a divisional team like in college football, so in paintball they would be considered at the level of Rocky Mountain College,” he said.
Last year, the 406's moved up a level, he said, and this year the players are at the doorstep of national competition.
“That's kind of the big leagues for paintball,” Clark said.
To be good at paintball, you have to be fast, a good shot and athletic enough to navigate obstacles and shoot through small spaces.
But like so many sports in Montana, paintball is an outside game, so competitors from warmer states definitely have an advantage over the subzero folks up north.
Meanwhile, the Billings area is getting another indoor paintball facility.
Huff's Indoor Paintball, which operated in a field in Broadview until last year, is opening what is being billed as Montana's “only commercial indoor field.” The field is located in Unit E in back of the former Blind Rhino Music store at 1415 First Ave. N.
“Looking outside right now,
you can see all the snow and below freezing temperatures. Montana needs someplace for us to play in the winter and a facility where
newcomers can have a lot of fun,” said owner Greg Huff.
To learn more, go to: www.huffspaintball.com.
A cold weather tip
To keep your house from freezing and pipes from breaking, remember to change the battery in your programmable thermostats so they don't fail while you are away.
And if you are leaving town for an extended period, say for warmer climates, it's a good idea to shut off your water as well.
Those tips come from Andy Pirami and his father, William Pirami, who run Billings Carpet Cleaning & Water Damage Restoration. They have been busy cleaning up homes where the pipes froze.
They are building a third water-removal unit and, last year, they obtained a U.S. trademark on their invention called Flash Dry Systems.
“It's a rapid drying system and we're able to dry things out in about a quarter of the time of traditional systems,” Andy Pirami said.
In full bloom
Plantasia, a flower shop/garden center, at 605 W. Main St., in Laurel now has twice the space.
Owner Jane Fischer, who started Plantasia 13 years ago, said the expansion is based on her optimism.
“I'm going to get the tax benefits of investing in my business and my building this year,” she said. “It makes my operation so much nicer and it was more affordable to add on than look for another store.”
Valentine's Day is as crazy as usual, she said, which is really good for business.
A couple of guys in New Hampshire claim to have started the first artisan cereal company. Customers can design a custom cereal or granola from more than 60 ingredients and they'll ship it to you, including gift wrapping. The website is: www.me&goji.com
Official bets on snowfall are becoming more popular. For five years, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange has been selling snow contracts or bets by businesses to hedge their financial losses from blizzards or heavy snowfalls. But thanks to a tough winter, the futures contracts are selling five times faster than last year.
Scams du jour
Last week's scams du jour about a Roberts couple receiving calls to collect a debt that they didn't owe brought “me, too” responses from other readers.
Kris Miller of Billings said that in 2009, her late mother was harassed by these “robo” calls, sometimes every half hour, claiming that her son living in Houston owed money to Citibank and demanding that she hand over his telephone number. But her brother had never taken out a Citibank loan.
By following an attorney's advice on handling this situation, Miller eventually got her 89-year-old mom off the hook.
“An attorney in Houston told my brother to record the time, get the name of the caller and tell him that if the calls don't 'cease and desist,' you will take further action,” Miller said.
The next step is to send a certified letter to the company and keep the receipt. If after three days anyone calls you, you can pursue legal action because they have been duly notified.
Miller paid $25 to send one certified letter to Jamaica to get NCO Debt Collection off her mom's back. However, some of these companies have numerous sister companies and if you get one to stop, another may start.
“They buy information from people whose names have been turned over to collection agencies and they can continue to try to pry more money out of people, even though the debt has been paid back,” Miller said.
And some companies lean on older people because they are more likely to give in.
“There aren't many places that elderly people can turn to for help,” she said.
Meanwhile, watch out for callers claiming to be your grandson and claiming to be in trouble in Canada. This scam, demanding that you wire money immediately, is active again in Billings.
Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
The Force is with duct tape. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.