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In just eight years, Well Approach Fitness Professionals of Red Lodge has expanded five times and the latest expansion is a big one.

Owners Steve and Debbie Mikels have gone from a home gym of 600 square feet to 9,000 square feet when their latest expansion at the old Chevrolet dealership by the fire station on the north end of town debuts on Oct. 6.

“I didn’t want any cookie-cutter gym,” he said.

Well Approach uses bright colors and art and caters to, well, everyone.

“Our client base currently goes from 13 to an 87-year-old lady artist,” said Mikels, who tests other wanna-be trainers through the National Federation of Personal Trainers.

He’s also taken up saddle making.

St. Vincent Healthcare’s Red Lodge clinic is leasing the Well Approach gym space for its physical rehabilitation program.

The Mikels moved from Tennessee to the Dream Dance Ranch near Roscoe, where Debbie, who is a registered nurse, certified personal trainer and ultra-distance runner, offers cabin rentals and horseback trail rides.

“We’re living our dream life together and it’s a constant dance,” he said.

When asked what the latest remodeling project costs, Mikels laughed and said, “I’m still writing checks and I’m feeling like I’m bleeding.”

Tasteful additions

Simply Wine at 316 S. 24th St. W., has added a kitchen and now offers deli sandwiches and a bistro where you can sit down, sip wine and pretend you’re in Italy or Spain.

“Western Mediterranean is our specialty,” said Paul Findley, the chef at The Bistro at Simply Wine. “We offer salads, soups, sandwiches, pizzas and panini and we will have desserts, but nothing crazy.”

The wine shop and The Bistro at Simply Wine are owned by Sue Rydquist. In 2005, she traded in a

mortgage-lending career to become a sommelier running her own wine store.

Wealth from the past

The antique business in Billings is thriving, judging from Yesteryear’s Antique Mall’s latest expansion.

Yesteryear’s owner Colleen Rooke just added 5,000 square feet to her business at 102 N. 29th St., for a total of 15,000 square feet.

“In the middle of the building was a coffee shop. I always thought that should be part of our business and we also took over a billiard space upstairs,” she said.

After adding a dozen new antique dealers, Rooke now has 65 dealers and more than 100 consignors.

Liquor licenses added

The populations of three Montana communities have grown enough to be granted additional liquor licenses.

The Montana Department of Revenue said U.S. Census Bureau population estimates allow one more floating all-alcoholic beverage license for Billings. The city currently has 103 full-liquor licenses.

Broadwater and Liberty counties get new full-liquor licenses as well. The department will accept lottery applications for these licenses until 5 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2012.

Drilling rig near Roscoe

Energy Corporation of America out of Charleston, W.V., is drilling a geological test well in Carbon County on or near the Mackay family ranch.

“Its purpose is to determine the characteristics of the rock,” said Tom Richmond, Montana Board of Oil and Gas administrator. “This is that old field discovered at the turn of the last century. It’s heavy oil, so it’s low-value.”

Over the last two years, the board has issued 12 drilling permits for Carbon County and ECA has four of them, one is for re-entering an existing well.

Scams du jour

With wildfires disrupting so many lives across the West this summer, homeowners unlucky enough to get burned out need to be careful about hiring contractors to rebuild.

The Better Business Bureau warns owners to be suspicious of anyone trying to get hired by going door-to-door, using high-pressure sales tactics, asking for upfront or cash-only payments or claiming to have leftover materials they’ll sell at a discount.

Another red flag is if a contractor asks you to take out the building permit, which could mean they aren’t licensed or insured.

Out and about

Billings Animal Rescue Kare will hold an open house at its new animal shelter on Sept. 16 from 2 to 5 p.m. B.A.R.K., a nonprofit shelter, recently moved to 4017 First Ave. S.

By the numbers

60 percent: Most of the jobs lost in America from 2008 to early 2010 were in the middle third of the pay scale. One out of six jobs paying a median hourly wage of $13.84 to $21.13 disappeared. When the job picture started improving, these occupations gained back only 20 percent of those jobs, according to a report from the National Employment Law Project. The largest job gains have been in the lower-wage jobs that pay $7.69 to $13.83 per hour. This category represented 19 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, but 58 percent of job growth since then.

Laugh lines

What kind of horses go out after dark? Nightmares.

Why did the pirate go to the Caribbean? To catch a little arr and arr.


Business editor for the Billings Gazette.