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  • Iowa couple's 150% tip goes viral

    By By Heather Long
    Published On: Sep 29 2014 11:37:49 AM MDT
    Updated On: Sep 29 2014 12:35:06 PM MDT
    150 percent tip

    Courtesy Makenzie Schultz

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -

    Makenzie and Steven Schultz of Cedar Rapids, Iowa hired a babysitter Saturday night and headed to a new restaurant in town to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

    What happened next caught the attention of the world.

    Their dining experience "sucked," Makenzie later wrote in a Facebook post that has gone viral with over a million "likes" and 150,000 shares. It "took 20 minutes to get water, 40 minutes for an appetizer and over an hour for an entree."

    Makenzie told CNNMoney that one couple actually walked out of the restaurant and another ran up to the hostess booth to warn a friend not to eat there.

    The scene was akin to something out of a bad reality TV show where the diners are duped.

    But the Schultzes looked around and realized something: There was only one waiter serving 12 tables, and he was doubling as the bartender too.

    "It was easy for us to say, 'Oh my goodness it's taking so long. I can't believe it,'" Makenzie said. "But I just flipped that and said look, he's working so hard. He's doing all that he can. He just has all these tables."

    In the end, they left a $100 tip for the server on a bill of $66.65. Makenzie wrote on the bill, "We've both been in your shoes. Paying it forward."

    Makenzie and Steven met when they were both waiters at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in the Mall of America in Minnesota.

    They know that sometimes the kitchen messes up or someone calls in sick and it's not the waiter's fault, but guests still blame the server, often leaving horrible tips.

    "Steven and I agreed it would feel good to make this guy's night when he would probably be getting minimal to no tips due to slow service," she wrote in the Facebook post that displayed the bill (but omitted the name of the restaurant).

    The tip worked out to 150 percent, a heck of a lot bigger than the usual 15 percent to 20 percent most Americans leave. CNNMoney confirmed the huge tip with the restaurant, which said they planned to add more waiters and that someone had called in sick Saturday and they couldn't find a replacement.

    "I'm just sharing this as a friendly reminder to think of the entire situation before you judge," the Facebook post concluded. "And always always always remember where you came from."

    The Schultz family was astonished by how much attention the post received. They have heard from hundreds of people through Facebook, most complimenting them or sharing similarly inspiring stories.

    As of Monday morning, they had not heard anything more from the server or the restaurant. They left without saying anything to the waiter because he was busy and they wanted it to be a surprise.

    "I hope people just show more compassion for everybody," Makenzie said. "If you can give little or give big, I think everybody's world would be a little kinder, gentler and nicer."

  • Appearance of genetically modified wheat in Montana raises questions

    By Matt Gray, Meteorologist/Reporter, mgray@keci.com
    Published On: Sep 29 2014 06:30:57 PM MDT
    Updated On: Sep 29 2014 06:49:00 PM MDT
    MISSOULA, Mont. -

    Agriculture is one of Montana's biggest industries. An event on an experimental farm, involving a crop on the cutting edge of farming and biology, is causing a stir amongst that group.

    GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms, have been a source of controversy in recent years as many Americans are beginning to question just what is in their food.

    Many crops in this day and age are GMOs -- selectively bred to resist disease, pests and drought. Wheat is not one of those products. Genetically modified wheat has only ever been grown on experimental farms in controlled trials.

    It's on one of these farms in Montana that a GMO wheat crop has sprung up after 11 years of dormancy.

    The Southern Agricultural Research Center, or SARC, is located in Huntley, 13 miles northeast of Billings. It's owned by Montana State University and is one of seven agriculture research sites across Montana.

    From 2000 to 2003, food corporation Monsanto conducted a field test of wheat that was genetically modifed to resist the common pesticide Roundup. Once the trial was complete, the crops were removed and the site was monitored for any new growth until 2006. These tests were completely legal and under the supervision of the USDA.

    In 2014, workers at SARC noticed a couple of acres of wheat popping up out of the old experimental field. When they tried to kill the wheat with Roundup and failed, they discovered that the GMO wheat had returned after 11 years.

    SARC and Monsanto continue to cooperate with the USDA as it investigates just how those plants got there.

    It's an eerily similar incident to one that happened in Oregon in 2013. The Oregon case occurred in a field that had tested GMO wheat in the early 2000s as well. However, the field was now owned by a commercial outfit. A 16-month investigation failed to find an answer as to where the GMOs came from.

    The Associated Press reported that Japan and South Korea temporarily canceled their American wheat imports after learning of the Oregon incident.

    It's the issue of foreign buyers that has the potential to hit the wheat industry hard. Many foreign countries will not accept GMOs from the United States.

    University of Montana agriculture and public policy graduate student Ellie Costello says a contamination of GMOs in the standard wheat crop could cost the United States in the neighborhood of $90 million to $240 million in a year. This, says Costello, becomes a possibility if the USDA approves GMO wheat and it becomes commonplace alongside standard and organic wheat.

    Matt Flikkema is a wheat farmer in Manhattan, and the current president of the Montana Grain Growers Association. Like many across the agriculture community, he's puzzled as to how the wheat resurfaced 11 years after the Monsanto testing. However, he isn't too concerned about the possibility of contaminating non-GMO wheat in the future.

    "It will self-pollinate. It doesn't need to be pollinated from a neighboring plant. So the pollen, even in a fairly fierce wind storm, won't travel very far," said Flikkema.

    He says the only way to effectively contaminate wheat fields would be to physically move the seeds into a field. He also says that the Grain Growers Association remains supportive of crop research such as the GMO work done by Monsanto in the early 2000s.

    Bugs that farmers can't use pesticides on and crop diseases are the main reason GMOs exist in the first place.

    Pests like the Wheat Stem Saw Fly and Orange Blossom Wheat Midge are already in Montana and destroying wheat crop left and right. Even now, says Flikkema, Montana State researchers have developed a GMO that is resistant to the Orange Blossom Wheat Midge.

    Costello says it's hard to know where to draw the line when it comes to increasing crop yields and giving customers peace of mind; GMOs aren't popular. She does say that the incidents at SARC and in Oregon should be something that everyone watches closely.

    "If you're not even able to control what's happening within a research space," Costello says, "think about the possibilities of what would happen on agricultural land where it would be impossible for a farmer to monitor as closely."

    Opponents of GMOs, such as the Organic Seed Alliance, continue to urge the USDA to update its regulation policies.

    Meanwhile, Monsanto and Montana State continue to cooperate with the USDA investigation in Huntley, as they hope to find just how the wheat resurfaced.

  • Beaverhead Co. High School classes canceled after threatening phone call

    By KECI Staff
    Published On: Sep 29 2014 09:31:02 AM MDT
    Updated On: Sep 29 2014 02:39:59 PM MDT


    DILLON, Mont. -

    Classes are canceled at Beaverhead County High School in Dillon Monday after school officials received a threatening phone call.

    Superintendent/Principal Fred Chouinard said the school received an anonymous call shortly after 8 a.m. Monday, from a person threatening to kill somebody. Chouniard said the caller did not name a specific person.

    High school students were taken to a designated evacuation area where parents can pick them up. Chouinard said parents received an automated call alerting them to the incident.

    Local law enforcement authorities and bomb sniffing dogs have been called in to clear the school.

    Chouinard said there is an increased law enforcement present at other schools as well. Other schools are in "code yellow," the outside doors of the schools are locked and students will remain inside until the school day is dismissed.

    NBC Montana will update this story as more information is available.

  • Beaverhead Co. High students evacuate school after anonymous threat

    By Jacqueline Gedeon, KTVM Butte Reporter, jgedeon@ktvm.com
    Published On: Sep 29 2014 05:47:19 PM MDT
    Updated On: Sep 29 2014 09:09:13 PM MDT
    DILLON, Mont. -

    A quick response from school officials and police Monday morning got Beaverhead County High schoolers off campus after an anonymous threat.

    A call came in around 8 a.m. An unknown person threatened to kill everyone in the building.

    In less than 10 minutes, students and staff were evacuated from Beaverhead County High School on Pacific Street in Dillon and taken to an undisclosed evacuation site off campus. That's where students waited for buses or a ride from a parent.

    Local law enforcement officers finished clearing the school, but the investigation continues. School officials are taking extra steps to make sure the school is safe.

    On any other day, Beaverhead County High School students would be packing the auditorium, but Monday it was a very different scene. Police dogs went from classroom to classroom, searching for any signs of explosives.

    "We did a cursory search of the building, were unable to find anything that was suspicious, we made arrangements to have the dogs come in and make sure the building is 100 percent safe," said Dillon Police Chief Paul Craft.

    Craft called in the detection dogs after the school received a threatening phone call. Students were evacuated within minutes and were told to leave all their belongings behind.

    "Mr. Chouinard comes over the intercom and says we need to go, all students need to go to the auditorium." said student Lauren Holtan. "He said that we got a phone call this morning, a threatening phone call, so we need to evacuate."

    "Some person was going to come and do away with the person who answered the phone and everyone else," said Superintendent and Principal Fred Chouinard.

    Chouinard said it took less than 10 minutes to round up all the students in the auditorium, call in law enforcement and move everyone to the evacuation site.

    Once all 382 students and faculty were evacuated from the high school, the doors were locked to everyone except authority figures. Only five teachers were allowed in at a time to gather their things. Students with car keys had to ask police to get them by describing where their backpacks were and what they looked like.

    "Anything that went in or out of the building, they had to search and so you just had to let them search your bag, then you could take your stuff," said Holtan.

    "We want to make sure those kids are safe, so we will always err on the side of caution," said Craft.

    Craft said he was impressed by the way the staff, students and administration all handled the situation, and the students agree.

    "The school did a really good job of getting everybody out and it's really safe," said Holtan.

    "And I think, kid-wise, we took it pretty seriously, like nobody was joking around," said student Desirae Klose.

    Chouinard said he will update parents on the investigation and whether school will be on for Tuesday. He'll make a decision around 7 p.m. Monday about whether classes will resume.

    Meanwhile, police said they are treating the situation like a full criminal investigation, tracing the phone call, and analyzing the recorded conversation between the suspect and the school secretary.

  • Trucker abandons load of thawing chicken near Missoula

    By Andrea Olson, KECI Reporter, aolson@keci.com
    Published On: Sep 24 2014 04:39:30 PM MDT
    Updated On: Sep 24 2014 11:13:23 PM MDT
    MISSOULA, Mont. -

    A trailer filled with raw chicken was left to rot near Missoula. The load is still sitting in the Town Pump parking lot at the Wye.

    Officials say getting rid of it will be difficult.

    The trailer is owned by a company based in Nampa, Idaho, called Dixie River Freight Inc.

    The Missoula County Sheriff's Office tells NBC Montana there are 35,000 pounds of chicken inside, worth $80,000. They discovered the truck Tuesday.

    The sheriff's office tells NBC Montana an employee of Dixie River allegedly stole the truck and trailer and then left the trailer at the Town Pump Flying J.  The truck has been missing for about a month and was reported stolen recently.

    The trailer wasn't included in a stolen vehicle database, leaving deputies to make the discovery this week.

    "During that time, the person that stole the truck -- which was an employee of the tractor-trailer company -- was calling the company saying, 'You can have this truck back, but you’re going to have to give me some money,’ and essentially holding it for ransom," said Missoula County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Paige Pavalone.

    The truck and the driver are gone but the trailer still sits there with the stench of rotting, raw chicken fouling the air.

    "That's just wrong, especially loaded and shut the reefer off, that's just wrong...there's stuff draining out of the back of the trailer," said Cathi Harp, a truck driver.

    It leaves folks wondering how the trailer will be removed.

    NBC Montana talked with the Missoula County Health Department. They've inspected the trailer, but they say the doors of the trailer have been sealed the whole time.

    They can't exactly move the trailer when juice is dripping everywhere.

    "People don't want rotting chicken juice all over their cars if it's transported down the highway or down the roadway. There are things that are in raw chicken that can make you sick, and we don't want someone to incidentally get it on their hands and then ingest it," said Shannon Therriault, an environmental health supervisor with the Missoula County Health Department.

    There are two options -- take a leak-proof container and transfer the contents to it on-site or seal the trailer and see if it can be transported to a landfill, opened up there and dumped.

    "It's leaking now, but you can imagine that when you move it, any liquid that's in there could slosh around, so it could get worse and we don't want that to happen," said Therriault.

    Therriault's been working with the freight company's insurance provider. They've all agreed that none of the chicken can be saved, but they are seeing if the trailer can.

    "We can talk to them about how it would need to be cleaned and sanitized in order for it to be able to move food again," said Therriault.

    For now, it's a matter of staying away from the trailer.

    Harp says she's concerned for her dogs. "I don't want them eating raw chicken," she said.

    The health department says people need to stay away from the area, which is blocked off with cones. Department officials want to remove the trailer as soon as possible, and hope it can be done on Thursday.

    The sheriff's office says the driver is still on the loose.

    Law enforcement's part in this job was to find out about the vehicle and whether it was stolen. It's up to Dixie River Freight to decide whether they would like any charges filed against the suspect.

  • Mark Heyka's First Alert Video Forecast

    A pesky storm system is still sitting over Montana bringing clouds and the threat of rain.

  • Brooke's First Alert Video Forecast

    Clouds, cool temperatures, and occasional showers for the start of the workweek.

  • Local songwriter writes song about infamous chicken truck

    The story about the 37,000 pounds of rotten chicken is receiving lots of attention nationwide. Missoula's own local singer and songwriter Bob Wire may have summed it up best. "Montana Chicken Truck" is written and performed by Bob Wire of Missoula.

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