Montana Public Radio

Edward O'Brien


Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.

Ways to Connect

Tony Incashola, director of the Selis-Qispe Culture Committee, blessing the construction site of Missoula's new David J. Thatcher VA Clinic, July 10, 2020.
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

Critics have complained that Western Montana’s veterans have had to make do with an undersized clinic, but that’s about to change. Friday in Missoula was the groundbreaking for a vastly updated outpatient veteran’s clinic in Missoula.

A man wearing a COVID-19 mask.

Missoula County health officials Thursday mandated mask use in almost all indoor public settings. The rule, designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, takes effect immediately.

The new mask requirement doesn’t mean Missoulians have to put on a face covering the moment they leave the house, but they should keep one handy.

Drought conditions in Montana as of June 30, 2020.
Adam Hartman - NOAA/NWS/NCEP/CPC

Montana’s southern tier is experiencing drought conditions that are expected to intensify this summer. That’s according to the latest Montana Drought Forecast report, presented this week to the Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee.

Northwest and west central Montana started out dry in early spring but have recently benefited from lots of rain and cooler-than-normal temperatures.

Montana will receive a federal grant to establish COVID-19 crisis counseling services. The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Wednesday that it has approved crisis counseling assistance for Montanans struggling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Dave Howe, owner of SHARP K9s holds a jar of human knee tissue used to train search & rescue dogs.
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

The Missoula County Search and Rescue team helps people who are usually in big trouble. It’s also in charge of recovering the remains of those for whom it’s too late.

For the past two years, Dave Howe, a founding member of Search and Rescue’s K9 Team, has built a network of people willing to donate pieces of their own bodies to help train his dogs to find human remains. Howe’s team is now asking for larger body part donations to hone those canine skills.

A National Forest Service fire danger sign.
Courtesy: Bitterroot National Forest

Missoula’s recent warm and dry conditions have prompted officials to push local fire danger from low to moderate. According to the Missoula County Fire Protection Association that means outdoor debris burning season closes June 7.

Flavored vape products on display at an Oct. 30, 2019 state district court hearing in Hamilton over Montana's temporary vape ban.
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

A state legislative committee this week voted to formally object to a Montana health department proposal permanently banning the sale of almost all flavored e-cigarette products.

St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.
Courtesy St. Patrick Hospital

On Monday, Montana reported a total of 919 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 56 new cases since Sunday. That’s the biggest one-day spike since the pandemic started in March.

This spike has prompted some hospitals to tighten visitor guidelines.

National Weather Service Missoula

A wet, chilly weather system is moving into Montana this weekend, and for the foreseeable future, it could make the season feel a lot more like autumn than summer.

Smoke from the Lump Gulch Fire burning south of Helena, MT, June 13, 2020.

Fire officials say they now know how a wildfire started last weekend roughly 13 miles south of Helena.