Traveling the state to shine the spotlight on Montanans who help our communities along.

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Hook Up with the Tow Rope Tour!

Why The Tow Rope Tour?

Tow ropes are a tool used to provide a connection and a tug to get out of a sticky situation.

As for the Tour, the tow rope represents something much deeper:  The pride and resourcefulness you feel to extend the tow rope and the hope and relief it brings to those who connect on the other end.

Part of what makes Montanans unique is we would never leave someone on the side of the road. You never know when the next car will be along. We stop. We help. We reach out to our neighbors.

Now, that’s something to celebrate.

What will the Tour Include?

Northern Broadcasting will travel the state to broadcast Voices of Montana and Northern Ag Network programming LIVE and LOCAL from communities across Montana!

Each tour stop will include radio interviews and social media content from businesses, farms and tourist attractions across the state. 

And don’t forget prize giveaways and the (soon to be famous) “Tow Rope Hero Award.”

What's a Tow Rope Hero?

While YOUR Tow Rope Hero might certainly be someone who has towed you out of a ditch, a tow rope hero is anyone who has had the courage and patience to stop and think of others. 

  • An entrepreneur who created a business to fill a need in your town
  • A teacher who encouraged you when you wanted to give up
  • A neighbor who helps plow you out

Whoever your Tow Rope Hero is, let’s honor them!

Tow Rope Dates/Information

Tour #2:

May 19th: Shelby

May 20th: Havre

May 21st: Malta

Tour #1:

April 13th: Lewistown @ Town and Country Foods

April 14th: Great Falls @ Tracy’s Diner

April 15th: Helena @ Mountain Health Co-op Headquarters

Nominate Your Tow Rope Hero!

We can't wait to see you and hear your story.

Here are the nominees:

Don Miller – Gilford, MT

Don serves in the water and sewer board, and is up early every morning checking the system. Don has helped put together several community clean up days, and even if its not a community wide event, you can find Don plowing snow for others during the winter, mowing vacant lots during the summer, and inspiring his neighbors to chip in. Don has stepped back to care for his wife, but he has set forth a precedent that his neighbors plan to carry on. Kudos to you Don, it has been a pleasure to be your neighbor!

Kyle Shobe – Lewistown Livestock Auction – Lewistown, MT

Having just purchased Lewistown Livestock Auction in 2020, Kyle Shobe has continued the legacy of hard work LLA that started in 1951. As an experienced auctioneer, he is no stranger to the workings of a livestock sale, but his talents don’t stop there. Kyle also doubles as a rodeo announcer, and has announced rodeo’s throughout MT and WY. He clearly has a passion for agriculture and the people in the community. Thanks for being so invested in the ag industry and the community!

Montana RanchHERS Beef Co – Lewistown, MT

Mariah Shammel, Abby Majerus, and Jessi Olson joined together over their love for cows and food. Couple this with their passion for helping people better understand where food comes from and voila! Montana RancHERS Beef Co. was calved. In offering their own beef, everyone, regardless of where you live or what you do, will know exactly where your beef is from and best of all, feel good about what you’re eating! Together these ladies have created a great opportunity for education, as well as access to locally sourced beef. 

Karen Kuhlmann – Central Montana Medical Center Foundation – Lewistown, MT

Karen serves as the Chairman of the Central Montana Medical Center Foundation Advisory Board. With the goal of funding the purchase of a 3D mammography machine for the hospital, Karen and her team are bringing the Oak Ridge Boys to Lewistown in June 2021. Her leadership displays drive and tenacity in the campaign to help better the Lewistown community. She inspires and leads a “culture of giving” to support the hospital, the community.

Brett Nienhuis – Big Fish Boat Works – Lewistown, MT

With over 30 years of Steelhead and Salmon fishing experience and 10 years of guiding, a person has the chance to use and row nearly every brand of boat on the market and find the qualities in drift boats that work and those that don’t. 9 years ago, Brett decided to make some changes and improvements on current boat designs for the convenience of the people using the drift boats for either their profession or leisure. His passion for fishing, and his new-ish business is truly infectious!

Dave Grantier – Winnett, MT

Dave is always willing to drop anything to help a neighbor or person traveling through Winnett. He owns and operates B&D Service and has served the community as Fire Warden, with 40 years on the Volunteer Fire Department.

USDA Farm Service Agency 

The past couple of years have been challenging for farmers and ranchers, but the staff and technicians at USDA Farm Service Agency offices have played an extremely important role in helping their neighbors through these difficult times. Joye Saylor (Garfield County), Stephanie Meyer (Valley County), and Sonja Wiseman (Carter/Fallon County) all came out of retirement to help assist producers implement new programs. Nancy Fulton (Cascade County) and David Pitts (State Office) also returned to help assist with USDA Farm Loan programs. From dealing directly with natural disasters to loss of export markets, the local team at USDA Farm Service Agency are true “Tow Rope Heroes”!

Elsie Helm – Jordan, MT

Elsie is a nurse working Garfield County Health Center nursing home. She was instrumental in getting the necessary PPE, acquiring the first vaccines and training the staff. The Health Center has yet to see a Covid19 outbreak among the residents. 

Megan McDonald – Jordan, MT

Megan works as an RN at the Garfield County Health Department. She was not actively working until the Covid19 outbreak and stepped up to help the county health nurse with covid testing and vaccinations, contact tracing and training. As a busy mom of 3, its clear to see that her efforts to help the community did not come without some challenges or sacrifice.

Jamie Marshall – Great Falls, MT

Jamie is an active community volunteer who is dedicated to preventing child abuse. She chairs “No More Violence Week” (April 5-9) and serves on Prevent Child Abuse & Neglect Task Force. Jamie was also presented with the Great Falls 2020 Youth Empowerment Award. 

Lucas Cyr – Co-Owner of Double Barrel Coffee House Cafe – Great Falls, MT

Lucas created a network of partners that has helped distribute over 15,000 sack lunches for school kids from March to August 2020. But his commitment to community does not stop there. He helped organize the first Drive-In Churches in Great Falls, with over 800 in attendance on the first week. 

Montana Radio Company – Helena, MT

Kevin Terry and his team ran a campaign called a ‘Helping Grand’, giving away $1,000 each day in December leading up to Christmas. However, the program continued to run into February with the help of donations from local businesses. Over $70,000 in gift certificates and cash was given to people in Helena to help them through the pandemic. In turn, it also put people in the stores spending money and using gift cards. Winners discovered new businesses in their area and had an opportunity to support their old favorites.

Cathy Burwell – Helena, MT

This past year presented a unique challenge to all businesses, not just those that belonged to the chamber. Cathy and her team at the Helena Chamber knew it was time to return to the roots of what a business Chamber was all about and unify the business community in order to survive. Cathy has been with the Helena Chamber for 22 years.

Dave Snuggs – Co-Founder, My Neighbor in Need & My Student in Need – Great Falls, MT

My Neighbor in Need and My Student in Need provide a safe place to seek help for a specific request, with community donors and volunteers responding. It started out as a 1-man operation in 2012, and grew to a successful non-profit that has fulfilled more than 14,000 individual requests. My Student in Need is now operating in over 160 schools in Montana.

Tracy’s Diner – Great Falls, MT

Tracy’s Family Diner had closed prior to the pandemic, after being in business for 50 years. New owners John Barnes and Neal DuBois revived the iconic restaurant months before the pandemic began. They responded to the community’s need by donating and delivering free meals to healthcare workers during the initial wave of the pandemic.

Kathy Van Tighem – Great Falls, MT

Kathy was nominated for her work as the Director at Camp Francis. A camp bereavement camp for children ages 6-12. Here they learn how to cope with the loss of a loved one. While the pandemic cancelled past year activities she found the positive in using technology to broaden the volunteer base and gain greater visibility to the need of grief counseling. She thanks the volunteers and notes those individuals as being the real heros for kids coping with loss of a primary caregiver. 

Judith Gap Oil – Judith Gap, MT

By using their wreckers to help people out of bad situations, they are a quite literal interpretation of a Tow Rope Hero. They help to keep the highways open when bad weather causes accidents, and they help the community in so many other ways too! These extremely kind and caring members of the community are always lending a caring hand, and deserving of the recognition. 

Whitney Brady & Kim Miller – Support Our Hometown Heroes – Lewistown, MT

Helping to show the community’s appreciation for hospital and school employees through different acts of service, such as support signs, delivering food and coffee to school and hospital employees, and community members in need.

Brett Wiensch – Owner, 1889 Coffee – Helena, MT

Helena business owner and Gulf War Veteran, Brett was nominated for his effort in operating his local coffee business, 1889 Coffee, through the pandemic. He was able to re-hire his employees back one by one from month to month. Even though it might have caused some financial strain on the business, he knew in his heart it was the right thing to do for the company culture and comradery of his team. 

Terry Hurley & Beth Brenam – Great Falls, MT

Terry & Beth (Father/Daughter Team) created a Facebook page, Great Falls Take Down & Take Out when Covid19 started. It served as a community resource for  restaurants to post specials as well as a place to help people support local dining facilities during the worst year ever. They have truly made a difference to all of the small restaurant owners/businesses in our community. We owe them so much!

Bella Nyman – Helena, MT

Bella is the perfect combination of calm and quiet. She has an eager enthusiasm with a good dose of curiosity and self-advocacy. Bella was treated at Shodair Children’s Hospital residential services where she learned how to engage healthy coping skills, self awareness and courage to communicate what she needs in the moment. She doesn’t claim to have mastered those skills, but rather is committed to being resilient young adult willing to share her experiences with the hope to help another. Bella is 18 yars old, a recent high school graduate, an inspiring dog trainer, and is the 2019-2020 Champion Child for Shodair Children’s Hospital.

Town & Country Foods – Lewistown, MT 

Bridget Demaline and her team supports numerous community causes, including the 3D mammography machine, with employees donating their tips for a month to contribute $500.

Dale Pfau, Exec. Director, Fergus County Council on Aging – Lewistown, MT

Seniors were most notably affected by the pandemic virus. Dale and his staff of volunteers worked relentlessly to keep in touch with the area’s 2,500 seniors, serving 60-80 drive up meals a day, serving 3,000-4,000 sack lunches a month, distributing 25 lb commodity boxes from the Food Bank Network, shuttling seniors to appointments, as well as other services. 

Pasta Montana – Randy Gilbertson (COO) & Tanya Koslosky (HR) – Great Falls, MT

The team at Pasta Montana was nominated as a Tow Rope Hero due to their generous donations to local schools, Great Falls Rescue Mission and other local organizations. Pasta Montana is a Great Falls company making the finest pasta by sourcing high quality, high protein wheat from Montana’s ‘Golden Triangle’.

Andy Ferrin, Ferrin’s Furniture & President of Downtown Great Falls Association – Great Falls, MT

Andy donates hundreds of volunteer hours as DGFA President, BID board member, and Great Falls Ski and Board Club. HIs Family Started Alive @ 5, which is now Music on the Mo, a community market and family music festival. 

Valley Sand and Gravel – Brad Smith & Camry Coltier – Helena, MT

Donating services to numerous local organizations, Valley Sand & Gravel was instrumental in helping MT Radio Company extend their Helping Grand holiday promotion that extended will into February. 

Bill Steele – Lewistown, MT

As a natural volunteer, Bill started working with the Lewistown Boys and Girls Club a few years ago by donating a television. From there he just kept showing up to volunteer or sell tickets or whatever he could do to help out. He helps to put on the 30 Days of Beef program, and is always looking for opportunities to help someone out, even if he hasn’t been asked for anything.

LuAnn Knutson – Winnett, MT 

It would be easier to describe what LuAnn hasn’t been apart of in the Winnett community. She worked for the Postal Service of 30+ years before retiring for post master position in Winnett. She is very active in the Lion’s organization, decorating the town for Christmas, cleaning highways and the cemeteries in the area, helped install a fence at the pool park, put up Welcome to Winnett signs, and plant flowers at the postal park to name a few things. She has been involved with the Nativity Scene on the main drag in Winnett, and this year she brought in the biggest pine tree to be decorated and enjoyed by the community. She has done numerous things to help renovate and improve community centers and to help organize anything that will bring neighbors together. She was instrumental in helping to fund and build the new multi-million dollar community center. Needless to say, she is vital to the Winnett community, and with her sense of humor, humble personality and giving heart, she is definitely a Tow Rope Hero!

Janine Hieb, Wheels of Thunder – Great Falls, MT

 Janine is an active member of the community how has an amazing way of connecting with kids! She has done an amazing job of improving the roller rink – Wheels of Thunder. She provides some great activities and camps that provided a lower cost opportunity for families and kids to be active and come together.

Helena Food Share – Helena, MT

Bruce Day, Patty White and their team have had to overcome a lot of changes in the past year. This last year has created challenges that have made them change how they serve people, how they use volunteers, and how they work day to day. They have seen and INCREDIBLE increase in need – more than 30% – of what was already a high need. They have worked really hard to make sure that families, the elderly, and kiddos don’t go hungry.  The Helena community is incredibly grateful for all of their hard work!

Amanda Hamm – Clyde Park, MT

Last year during the Covid shutdown, Amanda was extremely disappointed that the craft fairs were being shut down. She had seen 1st hand how many of her friends and community members who relied on the supplemental income form these events were struggling. So she decided to open Ranch Hustle, a boutique in Wilsall, that showcased local crafters products. It was so successful that the community asked her to stay open beyond the Christmas season! In addition the grocery store next door and the hardware store down the road had both closed their doors permanently due to the shutdowns. Once again, seeing the need, Hamm Supply was born. With almost no experience in the industry Amanda was able to provide grocery items, veterinary products, and keep her Ranch Hustle items in one location. The support from the community has bee so astounding and very appreciated!

Tom Livers – Helena, MT

After finishing up as the Budget Director for the Bullock Administration, Tom joined the Shodair Children’s Hospital as the new Government Affairs Director. After his predecessor, Ellen, passed away, Tom joined the staff to help continue her legacy. 

The Tow Rope Tour is brought to you by:

Mountain Health CO-OP was founded by Montanans for Montanans. We offer affordable health insurance for individuals, businesses, and Medicare Supplements. There is strength in being locally owned. Our ideas on what it means to be an all-for-one and one-for-all CO-OP stretch further than any corporate tagline ever could.  Members like you govern our business, so we go above and beyond to create benefits you’ll want to use.  Come as you are, whoever you are.  We’re Mountain Health CO-OP, we belong to you, and you belong here.