Edward O'Brien


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

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A lab at Socoti Montana, a Missoula hemp processing business.
Erika Peterman / Socoti Montana

An Oregon company has acquired a Missoula-based biotech firm to help meet ballooning consumer demand for CBD and other hemp products.

Since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is legal to grow again. Its various byproducts are big business, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

A flood warning is in effect for parts of west Missoula.
National Weather Service Missoula

A flood watch predicted late last week for a portion of Missoula was upgraded to a warning Monday.

Health officials have now confirmed 92 whooping cough cases in the Missoula area.

Health officials have now confirmed 92 whooping cough cases in the Missoula area.

"This is definitely the biggest outbreak that I have seen in my decade plus of working in public health," says Cindy Farr, Missoula City-County Health Department Infectious Disease Office supervisor.

Dan and Gina Lee Gossett with Oliver perched on top.
Courtesy Dax Photography,

Mother’s Day will be a quiet, but exceptionally poignant celebration this year for one Bitterroot Valley family.

“We are going to go to our little French bakery in town and get chocolate croissants and coffee and kind of just be together,” says Gina Lee Gossett.

Montana Behavioral Health Alliance Executive Director Mary Windecker testifies at a state health department listening session in Helena August 1, 2018.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

Montana’s remaining addiction and mental health care providers had a lot riding on the 2019 Legislature. And they walked away from the session cautiously optimistic that they’ll soon be able to rebound from recent tough times. Almost two years ago the state health department was forced to cut almost $50 million to help balance the state budget.

Some of the hundreds attending the fundraiser at St. Mary's Parish Hall in Stevensville Saturday
Edward O'Brien

Jamie Calhoon is taking it one day at a time. Ask her how she’s doing and she’ll give you a straight answer:

“If you would have asked me two and a half weeks ago, I would have said, ‘not very good.' she said Saturday. "It was an eye-opener to sit and listen to Casey. It hit me in the face that, ‘Oh my God, we could have lost him’, and it scared the crap out of me.”

Calhoon is talking about her son-in-law, Casey Blanchard.

Blanchard, his mom, Julie, and best friend Shelley Hayes were shot last month in Missoula at point-blank range with an AR-15.

Pertussis progression.
Centers For Disease Control (PD)

Missoula County health officials are investigating an outbreak of whooping cough that has sickened at least six Missoulians. Local health officials have identified hundreds more who may have been exposed to the contagious respiratory disease.

Flooding in Missoula along the north end of Tower Street, May 7, 2018.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

The Clark Fork River above Missoula tipped just above flood stage this week. The National Weather Service says it reached 7.6 feet Monday. Minor flood stage is 7.5 feet.

L to R: Ravalli County Drug Detective Scott Burlingham, Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino and Missoula City Police Detective Guy Baker during a Missoula meeting about meth with Sen. Steve Daines, April 18, 2019.
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

Last week Montana’s Republican Sen. Steve Daines hosted a roundtable in Missoula to talk with police and prosecutors about the devastating toll methamphetamine is taking on western Montana. The event also offered a revealing look at the business end of the meth trade.

Montana student achievement scores for 2018.
Montana Office of Public Instruction

After several years of improvement, Montana’s Native American graduation rate dropped slightly last year, according to Montana’s new statewide school report card which was released Monday.