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Montana Bar Fairies seek to stem drunk driving by rewarding those who get a sober ride

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Montana Bar Fairies seek to stem drunk driving by rewarding those who get a sober ride



The mother-daughter team of Carli Dewbre and Beth McBride spend their weekends prowling the streets of Flathead Valley long before the sun comes up. 

Last weekend was no different. Shortly before 6 a.m. on Feb. 4 snow fell on Whitefish’s quieted streets, which the day before were home to the revelry, excitement and chaos of Winter Carnival. The bars and restaurants lining Central Avenue, which served last call just hours prior, sat silent.

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Though the formerly packed streets were largely empty, a few cars remained. That is why Dewbre and McBride were there, working as the Montana Bar Fairies, a local grassroots organization raising awareness about drunk driving in the Flathead Valley and incentivizing drivers to find a safe ride home — one $5 coffee card at a time. 

“It’s a way to honor the memories of the people we have lost, but ultimately our goal is to reduce fatalities due to drunk drivers in our area, and hopefully, eventually, in the state of Montana,” Dewbre said. 

In March 2023, Bobby Dewbre, Carli Dewbre’s brother and the son of Beth McBride, was celebrating his 21st birthday at the Blue Moon near the intersection of U.S. 2 and Montana 40. While crossing the street to get to his sober ride home, Bobby was struck and killed by a drunk driver.

The motorist, John Lee Wilson, was convicted in Flathead County Justice Court on counts of operating a vehicle without liability insurance in effect, careless driving involving death or serious bodily injury and aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs last year. He was sentenced to 18 months in the county jail in November. 

The state of Montana is above the national average for alcohol impaired driving deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Around 66% of all fatalities on the road in Montana were the result of impaired driving in 2020, marking one of the highest drunk driving fatality rates in the nation. 

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Montana also boasts some of the most relaxed drunk driving laws in the country. In a way, Carli Dewbre and McBride said, the Montana Bar Fairies exists to reward positive choices while also encouraging and educating the community about the harms of drunk driving. 

“The current consequences [for drunk driving] are not a deterrent for people,” McBride said.

The Montana Bar Fairies launched on New Year’s Day. Dreamt up by Carli Dewbre, the organization places $5 coffee cards on cars left overnight at popular bars across the valley. Each card includes a picture of a drunk driving victim, including Bobby Dewbre, a note and a $5 coffee card to various locations across the area. 

“I thought of the idea when I was in peak grief,” Dewbre said. “I was driving past the Scoreboard early in the morning and saw cars that were left behind. I wished there was some way I could thank them for not driving home.” 

    Beth McBride, with the Montana Bar Fairies, places a coffee card, thanking people for not drinking and driving, onto a car in Whitefish that was possibly left overnight. McBride’s son, Bobby Dewbre, was struck and killed by a drunk driver last year. (Kate Heston/Daily Inter Lake)
 
 

There are currently two victims on the cards, but McBride and Dewbre encourage anyone who wants to get involved to reach out. Alongside Bobby, the other coffee card showcases a photo of Brooke Hanson, a 15-year-old Columbia Falls resident who was struck and killed by a drunk driver on her way to go fishing with friends in May 2021. 

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They can’t know for sure what cars were left behind because a drunk individual opted against getting behind the wheel. However, the cards do more than reward behavior — they help open up a conversation that, according to McBride and Dewbre, needs to be had. 

Sheriff Brian Heino told the Inter Lake last summer that he has observed an increase in drunk driving arrests over his more than 20-year career. Flathead County has one of the highest DUI fatality rates in the state, according to statistics compiled by the Montana Department of Transportation.

From 2011 to 2020, the county saw the highest percentage of impaired drivers involved in crashes in the state. Around 12.5% of all crashes involve impaired drivers in Flathead County. Gallatin County boasts the second highest rate; 9.7% of all crashes there involved an impaired motorist.

For fatal and serious injury crashes, 9.2% involved drunk drivers in Flathead County, followed by 6.2% in Yellowstone County.

The Montana Bar Fairies, through social media and the group’s website, track various statistics in Flathead County to make them easily available for residents. As the organization grows, Dewbre said, they hope to morph into an educational and informational service as much as an outreach one. 

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“It’s also really, really important to us that this is not about judgment,” McBride said. “The point of this is to change the culture, it’s changing the conversation.” 

Hopefully, McBride said, it incentivizes people to think twice before drunk driving in the future.

Between Jan. 29 and Feb. 4, there were 14 impaired driving arrests in Flathead County, the Montana Bar Fairies posted on their social media accounts. Three of those were aggravated, meaning that the drivers sported a blood alcohol content above 0.16. Five of the arrests were made on Feb. 4, a Sunday, alone. 

There are 80 estimated trips taken by a drunk driver for every one DUI, Dennis Maughan, the Pacific Northwest regional executive director of Moms Against Drunk Driving, a national advocacy group, told the Inter Lake in July. Nationwide, there has been a double-digit increase in DUI arrests since 2019, he said. 

For Dewbre and McBride, acknowledging and talking about those statistics is essential to mitigating the problem. 

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Losing someone you love at the hands of somebody else is another sort of grief, McBride said, and launching the Montana Bar Fairies was a way to turn that grief into action. 

McBride anticipates working with local lawmakers during the 2025 legislative session to strengthen laws regarding impaired driving in the state in Bobby’s memory. This is only the beginning, both Dewbre and McBride said. 

“This will make people think twice. This will help save lives,” McBride said. 

To learn more or get involved, visit the Montana Bar Fairies at https://www.montanabarfairies.org/. 

Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at kheston@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.

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Montana

Full Court Press: Montana high school basketball highlights (Feb. 21)

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Full Court Press: Montana high school basketball highlights (Feb. 21)


Editor’s note: Results are updated as we receive them. We rely heavily on coaches, athletic directors and district managers to input results into our 406 Sports “portal” as our source for Full Court Press. If you don’t see your school’s game(s) here, we encourage you to reach out to your AD and coach. If they don’t have their school’s unique login and password, we can provide one for them. 

BOYS

Class C

Northern C 

• Heart Butte 71, Fort Benton 56: Peyton Racine rose to the occasional with 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Shayde St. Goddard had a monster night with 20 points, 16 rebounds and six blocked shots as the Warriors (12-8) opened divisional action by rolling past the Longhorns (9-14). Aden Wagner pitched in with 17 points for Heart Butte, which led 19-9 after one quarter and then pulled away with a 26-15 fourth quarter after Fort Benton tightened it up. Eli Arganbright and Brett Evans scored 12 points each, Kelton Vielleux added 10 and Truman Giese nine for the Longhorns. Kellan Diekhans pulled down 16 boards.

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• Box Elder 64, Roy-Winifred 52: The unbeaten Bears (21-0) got a third-quarter scare, but Tracen Jilot poured in 38 points — including six 3-pointers — and Box Elder outscored the Longhorns 24-11 in the fourth quarter for a first-round win. Alex Four Colors chipped in with 10 points and ripped down 21 rebounds for the Bears, who trailed 41-40 entering the final eight minutes after Fort Benton went on a 18-8 third-quarter run. Wyatt Wickens had a double-double with 24 points and 10 boards, Gunner Knox added 10 points and Kellen Heggem eight for the Outlaws.

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20-Point Club 

38: Tracen Jilot, Box Elder

24: Wyatt Wickens, Roy-Winifred

21: Peyton Racine, Heart Butte

20: Shayne St. Goddard, Heart Butte

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Missoula Homeless Shelters Receive Grants From Montana

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Missoula Homeless Shelters Receive Grants From Montana


Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) – The Montana Department of Commerce has issued grants totaling nearly $5 million for nonprofit organizations to support homeless shelters with new construction, capital improvements, and shelter space acquisition for Montanans who are experiencing homelessness.

KGVO News spoke with Cheryl Cohen, Montana Housing Division Administrator with the Montana Department of Commerce about the grant awards.

Missoula and other Montana Communities Received Grants to Help Shelters

“In Montana House Bill 5 that was passed in the last legislative session and signed by Governor Gianforte included nearly $5 million for emergency shelter facility grants to support nonprofits and providing emergency shelter or warming centers to our unhoused neighbors,” began Cohen. “This was really a unique opportunity with a one time source of funds, and our team worked really quickly to get good all the logistics in place for the bureaucracy so we could open up for applications.”

Cohen said these competitive grants were sought by several community organizations throughout the state.

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There were 11 Applications and 3 of the grants went to Missoula

“We received 11 applications from seven communities that totaled just shy of $6 million and requests,” she said. “The announcement that came out this morning revealed the awardees for those funds and we were able to give out nearly all of that $5 million save for a tiny amount we had to use for legal administrative rules. We wanted to get these monies out into communities where they can be best used.”

Cohen was asked specifically about the awardees in Missoula.

The Poverello Center and Johnson Street Shelters Received Funding

“The Missoula area received three separate awards,” she said. Montana Mountain Home received almost $370,000 for rehabilitation and expansion of their mountain home site hillside property,” she said. The Poverello Center’s award was to include funds for both the Broadway Street (Poverello Center) and the Johnson Street Shelter to provide accessibility and safety improvements for both of those sites. In addition, the YWCA Missoula received about $91,000 for the rehabilitation of their Missoula family housing centers.”

Other communities receiving funding include Billings, Butte, Bozeman, Kalispell and Hamilton.

The funding is through the Commerce Department’s Emergency Shelter Facility Grant Program.

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Inside Look at the New TSOS Shelters

The Temporary Safe Outdoor Space new hard-sided shelter facility officially opened on Thursday, January 5. The TSOS is just off West Broadway near the new Trinity affordable housing complex.

Gallery Credit: Nick Chrestenson





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How To Accept The New Bozeman. Positive Vibes Are A Must

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How To Accept The New Bozeman. Positive Vibes Are A Must


Understanding the “new Montana” can be super difficult for some. Whether change in general is difficult or you just really miss the way things used to be, it can really put stress and anger on a person. I get it. Trust me.

I’ve moved enough times in life that I have always had to adjust to change, and like most of you, it can be exhausting.

When it comes to Bozeman, or even Montana as a whole, change is something that is not necessarily welcoming. Whether it is the drastic increase in population, the increase in crime, the more buildings and less land, none of it is easy.

So how do we get back on track to making Bozeman feel like a welcoming place that the people that actually live here and have lived here feel happy and not pushed out of their own town? One of the most difficult questions.

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We can start by accepting some of the change. More businesses means there will be more local jobs for our community members. Maybe we will get more indoor options for fun for kids, families, young adults, and pets?

Accept that growth could include more indoor activities such as indoor basketball courts, an indoor dog park, bingo, a gaming area with laser tag, axe throwing, darts and pool with a teen night and then adult night. This would not be a bad addition to Bozeman.

If we are going to see Bozeman continue to grow, let’s do it in a positive way. Keep people busy and kids active. Keep the grass growing and the water clean. Bozeman can go back to the loving community it once was, and part of that is making sure that we blast the positive and not the negative.

We are well aware of the current negative issues, but when is the last time we heard positive news? Let’s remember that we need positivity to thrive. There is greatness in Bozeman, it just gets put on the back burner.

Taste Of Montana: 6 Of The Most Iconic Restaurants In Montana

If you are looking for a “Taste Of Montana” there are hundreds of places to check out around The Treasure State. No matter your palate, or your budget, multiple restaurants will absolutely wow you and your taste buds here in Big Sky Country.

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Gallery Credit: Derek Wolf

5 Stores Montanans Miss The Most From The Gallatin Valley Mall

For those of a certain age, hanging out at the Mall was a huge part of our youth. Shopping, going to the movies, hitting up the music stores, going to the arcade, and grabbing a bite at the food court were some things we did regularly. While there are still a handful of Malls across Montana, some of our favorite stores are no longer part of them.

Gallery Credit: Derek Wolf





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