Ups and Downs:

2014-04-13T00:00:00Z Ups and Downs: The Billings Gazette
April 13, 2014 12:00 am


Veteran care. The entire Montana congressional delegation was on hand to celebrate the opening of a long-awaited Billings VA clinic expansion that triples the size of the VA facility at 1776 Majestic Lane. The $6.3 million expansion provides space to offer services that Billings area veterans previously had to travel to Helena to receive, including outpatient surgery, dental and eye care, audiology and psychiatric care.


Library accolades. Billings Public Library received the Montana Library Association’s Library of the Year Award during the group’s annual conference in Billings where library professionals from throughout the state admired our beautiful new library.


Foundation honor. The Billings Public Library Foundation received the MLA Special Friend to Libraries Award for its leadership role in raising $5 million in private donations to defray taxpayers’ cost of building a new library.


Literary freedom. Billings Public Schools also was honored by the state library association with the Pat Williams Intellectual Freedom Award, named for the longtime teacher and congressman. The district was cited for its handling of parents’ complaints about a young-adult novel, Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” The school board ultimately decided to keep the novel on the English literature reading list, but also formalized a longstanding school policy allowing parents to opt their students out of reading a book they find objectionable. The most remarkable aspect of the school board book meeting was the forum it provided for dozens of high school students to show their support for a book that is part of English and Indian Education For All curricula.


Cancer care. St. Vincent Healthcare Frontier Cancer Center will purchase a CyberKnife Radiosurgery System thanks to a $4.2 million donation from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth will contribute an additional $1 million. A sister hospital, St. James in Butte, received $3.6 million from the Helmsley Trust for cancer radiation treatment equipment.


Rural health. The Helmsley Trust also donated $4.6 million to improve emergency response to heart attacks in rural Montana. The American Heart Association Western States Affiliate is committed to raising an additional $2 million in cash and in-kind services for Mission: Lifeline. Objectives include placing mobile electrocardiogram equipment in every Montanan ambulance and training emergency medical personnel.

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