HELENA, Mont. - Governor Greg Gianforte continued his 56 County Tour in Beaverhead, Deer Lodge, and Silver Bow counties on Wednesday.

First, Gov. Gianforte presented the Montana Governor’s Veteran Commendation to Jay Wood of Deer Lodge.

The award recognizes an outstanding Montana veterans who selflessly served our country and has since made a positive impact in their community.

Woods is a local business owner who has turned half of his engine repair shop into a veteran food pantry and resource center.

Gov. Gianforte said. “After serving in the military, Jay opened a veterans food pantry out of his business in Deer Lodge, touching many lives in his community. On behalf of all Montanans, I’m incredibly grateful to Jay and all our outstanding veterans as they continue their service here in our communities.”

The governor then continued his 56 County Tour in Deer Lodge County, touring three newly-expanded Anaconda businesses.

He spoke with businesses and employees about the growth in Anaconda and how that growth has impacted the local job market.

Anaconda and Deer Lodge County CEO Bill Everett said, "This is by far the busiest year for Anaconda and even the traffic flow. It is one of the first times you may have to sit at the stop sign for a few moments before you can proceed forward. It is a change for our community but the financial health of our community is changing dramatically and I think the benefit will far outweigh any negatives that might be added.”

The governor saw firsthand some of the places in town that have seen financial impacts such as The Forge Hotel, Montana Zipline Adventures, and Old Works Golf Course.

After, the governor hosted a roundtable in Butte with local leaders to discuss public safety and the rise of drug usage in Montana.

“Over the past two years, there has been an increase in drug use in our area. We have also seen an increase in thefts and other property offenses associated with drug use,” Sheriff Lester said.

The governor explained that we to need hold despicable criminals accountable but also focus on investing in community-based treatment and prevention programs to help Montanas struggling with addiction.

Since taking office, the governor has prioritized increasing access to community-based treatment services for non-violent offenders to build safer, stronger communities, creating the HEART Fund and Angel Initiative.

The tour wrapped up with the governor traveling to Beaverhead County to host a town hall meeting at Fetty’s in Wisdom.

Locals in the area and the governor discussed topics that included the local economy, the crisis at the U.S. southern border, and historic inflation.

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