The Independent Record invites the community to vote in the Best of Helena contest each year. Here are this year's winners in the people of the year category.
Best Customer Service
1st Place: Steve’s Café
1225 E. Custer Ave. / 630 N. Montana Ave.
(Steve’s Café also took first place in Best Breakfast).
2nd Place: Helena Orthodontics
3rd Place: Montana Internet
1st Place: Andrew Gilbert, MD
St. Peter’s Health
Andrew Gilbert came to Helena from St. Mary's Hospital in Cottonwood, Idaho, where he had been practicing Family Medicine for five years. Dr. Gilbert earned his Medical Degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine in 2003 and completed his residency at the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho in 2006. He attended Carroll College where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology. Dr. Gilbert's interests in medicine include the full spectrum of family medicine including pediatrics, adult medicine, and sports medicine. In addition, he performs colonoscopies and upper endoscopies.
2nd Place: Richard Sargent, MD
3rd Place: Jay Larson, MD
1st Place: Tom Strizich, MD
Partners in Pediatrics
A Helena native, Dr. Tom Strizich graduated from Capital High School and completed his undergraduate studies at Gonzaga University in Spokane. After receiving his medical degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine, Dr. Strizich completed his internship and Pediatric residency at the University of Utah. Tom, and his wife Colette, have two sons. As a former Capital High assistant tennis coach, he still likes to hit the courts. Having deep roots in Helena, Dr. Strizich also knows the best places to enjoy Montana's outdoors.
2nd Place: Erin Keefe, MD
3rd Place: Michelle Danielson, MD
1st Place: Lynne Bryant, WHNP
Mountain View Family Health
Bryant is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner on staff at Mountain View Family Health. As a specialist, she delivers comprehensive care to females only, from the adolescent years throughout their lifespan with an emphasis on reproductive and gynecologic health needs. She provides preventative well woman exams, family planning, as well as acute and chronic illness/disease management. She also performs colposcopy and endometrial biopsy procedures.
2nd Place: Christine Duncan
3rd Place: Jamie Santi
1st Place: William Harper, MD
Medical Park Surgical Clinic
Dr. William Harper is board certified with the American Board of Surgery. Harper earned a bachelor's degree from University of Notre Dame in biochemistry. He earned his medical degree from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. His General Surgery residency was completed at St. Joseph Hospital in Milwaukee. He completed a Vascular Surgery fellowship at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati as well as a year as the Chief Surgical Resident at Jewish Hospital. He then completed a surgical fellowship at St. Louis University. Harper has been in private practice in Helena since 1988.
2nd Place: John Galt, MD, FACS
3rd Place: Kerry Hale, MD
1st Place: William (Bill) Simons, OD
Montana Eye Care
550 N. Montana Ave.
Dr. Bill Simons graduated from Carroll College with a bachelor’s degree in biology and continued his education at Southern California College of Optometry, receiving his doctorate degree in Optometry in 1982. Simons is past president of the Montana Optometric Association and the Great Western Council of Optometry. He has been named Optometrist of the Year three times and continues to be active promoting the profession he loves. Simons is Board Certified by the American Board of Optometry.
2nd Place: William Hasquet, OD (Montana Eye Care)
3rd Place: Marcus Kelley, OD (Montana Eye Care)
1st Place: Vincent (VJ) Maddio
Town Center Chiropractic
827 N. Last Chance Gulch
Dr. Maddio is a Helena native. He attended Montana State University and studied five years of associated sciences with an emphasis in exercise/physiology and sports medicine. He graduated with his degree in chiropractic from Northwestern College of Health Sciences in Bloomington, Minnesota. Maddio began his own practice in Helena in 1992. Maddio is certified in Active Release Technique (ART) and is a Certified Impairment Evaluator in the State of Montana. He currently serves on the Board of Chiropractors for the State of Montana, and is past president of the Montana Chiropractic Association.
2nd Place: Gary Blom (Capital Chiropractic)
3rd Place: Benjamin Clack (Big Sky Chiropractic)
Best Physical Therapist
1st Place: Matthew Fischer, MSPT
Fischer Physical Therapy
25 Neill Ave. Suite 2019
Matthew Fischer received his master of science in physical therapy in 2000 from the University of Montana. He has practiced in Helena since that time in outpatient orthopedic settings exclusively. In 2004, Matthew established Fischer Physical Therapy with an emphasis on quality care and superior results. Matthew’s approach is biased toward specialized hands-on techniques, while progressing each client toward independent management with gentle exercise. In 2005, Matthew became one of 50 therapists in the U.S. to complete advanced training in Primal Reflex Release Technique. Matthew emphasizes a whole body approach to healing that integrates many types of therapeutic interventions. Chronic pain related to the spine and muscles/joints are his greatest interest.
2nd Place: John Harrington, MPT
3rd Place: Anna Larson, DPT
Best Police Officer
1st Place: Sheriff Leo Dutton
Leo Dutton was sworn in as sheriff of Lewis & Clark County in September 2008. Dutton has extensive training in the National Incident Management System and attended the F.B.I. Command College. Dutton is a member of the Critical Incident Debriefing Team. In addition, he also completed the National Institute of Corrections course on Planning of New Intuitions. He completed the Sheriff's Institute in Aurora, Colorado sponsored by the National Sheriff’s Association. Dutton serves on several Governor’s appointed boards, including Private Security, State Interoperable Governing Board, the State 911 Advisory Council and the Montana Board of Crime Control. He is the Chairman of a regional mobile data consortium, a board member of the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and chair of the State Tactical commanders’ advisory board.
2nd Place: Lieutenant Brett Petty
3rd Place: Officer John Kaleczyc
1st Place: Captain Vince Williams
City of Helena
Vince Williams joined the Helena Fire Department in October 2000 and has been serving the community ever since. Williams was also honored as Firefighter of the Year in 2004. The Helena Fire Department is a living organization consisting of members who are committed to each other and the community they protect.
2nd Place: Fred Stout (Helena Fire Department)
3rd Place: Aaron Ward (Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department)
1st Place: Keith Stav, DVM (Bridger Veterinary Hospital)
3104 Green Meadow Dr.
Dr. Keith Stav and his wife Sharleen, both Helena natives, bought Bridger Vet over 20 years ago and have been serving the animals of the Helena community ever since. Dr. Stav grew up around a variety of animals in Helena and worked for Bridger Vet in high school. He completed his undergraduate degree in biology at Montana State University. He received his doctor of veterinary medicine at Colorado State University. Today Bridger employs 13 people, including five veterinary technicians.
2nd Place: Shani Henry, DVM
3rd Place: Brenda Culver, DVM
1st Place: Paul Nielsen, DDS
2619 Colonial Dr. #B
Brighten up your smile with a professional teeth whitening service from Helena's Nielsen Dental P.C. Keep your oral health up to par with a dental treatment, such as fillings, check-ups, and crowns and veneers. This dental clinic is appointment-only so make sure you plan ahead. One online reviewer wrote, “Paul Nielsen and staff are first class professionals. They are responsive, considerate and helpful during regular appointments and throughout the rare dental emergencies. My wife and I have been patients for over 15 years and will continue to enjoy their friendly services.”
2nd Place: Christopher Mast, DDS
3rd Place: Nathan Ahlers, DDS
1st Place: Jeffrey Foster, DMD
900 N. Last Chance Gulch #101
A Helena native, Dr. Jeffrey Foster graduated with honors and a bachelor of science in biomedicine from Montana State University in 2000. He went on to earn his doctorate of dental medicine from Oregon Health and Sciences University in 2005. He also received an advance certificate in orthodontics from Nova Southeastern University. After practicing in Portland for a period of time, Foster finally returned to his hometown. His goal is to find the best combination of cutting-edge technology and perfected techniques to continue delivering high quality orthodontic care to all of his patients.
2nd Place: Timothy C. Ballweber, DDS (Timothy Ballweber Orthodontics)
3rd Place: Kyle Jackson, DMD (Jackson Orthodontics)
1st Place: Jeffry Goldes, MD
50 S. Last Chance Gulch St.
Jeffry A. Goldes is board certified in general dermatology, anatomic pathology, and dermatopathology Sub Specialty Fellowship. Jeff is an Army kid born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He graduated from Boston University School of Medicine. He received training in Anatomic Pathology, Dermatology and Dermatopathology, both at University of Washington, in Seattle, and University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.He is a member of numerous specialty societies including the American Academy of Dermatology, and Montana Academy of Dermatology, Montana Medical Association and American Society of Dermatopathology. Goldes has been a member of the Test Committee for Dermatopathology for the American Board of Pathology. He has published numerous research articles and contributed to many textbook chapters about dermatology and dermatopathology topics.
2nd Place: Latha Vellanki, MD (Helena Dermatology)
3rd Place: Stephen Behlmer, MD (Associated Dermatology)
1st Place: RaeAnn Hoveland, LE
#A 2619 Colonial Dr.
As a licensed skin care professional, RaeAnn Hoveland has gone through significant hours of training to become an expert in skin and skin care. Hoveland performs a full line of aesthetic services including micro-needling, dermal fillers, medical spa treatments, neurotoxins and kybella. With your skin being the largest organ of the human body, Hoveland believes it deserves to be well taken care of. Call Opulence today for a free consultation.
2nd Place: Ivy Crawford Robertson (Radiance)
3rd Place: Amanda Berkram (Crafted Aesthetics)
1st Place: Mary Ahmann-Hibbard
55 W. 14th St. #101
Mary Ahmann-Hibbard has had her real estate license since 2009 but has been involved in the business since she was five when she stared shuffling papers for her dad. She specializes in working with first time home buyers and is committed to see each transaction all the way through. Ahmann-Hibbard is the current President for the Helena Association of Realtors and sits on the board of the Holter Museum. Her favorite part of what she does is working with different people in different situation every day.
2nd Place: Julie Lamb-Heller (Century 21)
3rd Place: Maureen Oelkers (Big Sky Brokers)
1st Place: Mike Hyyppa
56 N. Last Chance Gulch
Under the direction of Chef Mike Hyyppa, Lucca’s has been serving up a unique fine dining experience for the Helena community since 2006. From their veal piccata, gnocchi with butternut squash and tirimasu, Hyyppa’s flavorful dishes harken back to Italian traditions with a contemporary flare.
2nd Place: Eric Potuzak (Benny’s Bistro)
3rd Place: Davide Giuliani (Bella Roma)
Best Local Band
1st Place: Ten Years Gone
Ten Years Gone is a classic rock, alternative, and pop dance band. Members include Mark Walker (keyboards/vocals), Robert Doughty (lead guitar/vocals), Jeremy Slead (drums/vocals), Dennis Ferriter (bass), and Ben Fandry (lead vocals). The band has been playing in Helena and the surrounding area since 2007.
2nd Place: The Clintons
3rd Place: Insufficient Funds
1st Place: Emily Free Wilson
Emily Free Wilson is a ceramic artist and entrepreneur in Helena. She currently runs her pottery business, Free Ceramics and the Studio Art Center, with her husband Matt Wilson. In 2014, Emily and Matt purchased an old funeral home and have converted it into an art center that is home to Free Ceramics and hosts community events, art classes and private studios. Emily recently retired from 10 years as the gallery director at the Archie Bray Foundation.
2nd Place: Robert Morgan
3rd Place: Dale Livesay
1st Place: Kevin Hudson
True to its name, Helena Photography has been a local portrait studio staple for many years. Owner and mastermind behind the lens, Kevin Hudson, has been preserving life’s special moments for more than 30 years. From the time he first picked up a camera at 11 years old, Hudson has had the photography bug. His passion led him to join the Army and travel the world as a photojournalist. He later set out to become a small business owner and photographer. Hudson is passionate about capturing the lives of local community members -- be it babies, kids, high school seniors, families, business associates or government officials. After several years of having a storefront along historic Last Chance Gulch, Hudson now operates under a more home-based operation. Helena Photography currently operates weekdays by appointment only. Call 443-1966 to contact the studio.
2nd Place: Jacqui Smith (Floating Leaf Studios)
3rd Place: Samantha Yearry (Yearry Photography)
1st Place: Mari Williams
Accounting and Tax Specialists
3390 Colton Dr. Suite B
Mari Williams prides herself on being part of a locally operated firm that provides the kind of customer service not found at big accounting firms. Williams has years of valuable experience to help take the hassle out of your tax returns. Contact her today for your personal or small business tax needs.
2nd Place Mike Lopach (JCCS)
3rd Place: Katie Clark
1st Place: John Doubek
Doubek, Pyfer & Fox PC
307 N. Jackson St.
John Doubek attended Carroll College and received his law degree from the University of Montana. Out of law school, Doubek handled some 80 trials and contested cases on behalf of the Montana Consumer Counsel. In 1978, he joined the firm of Small & Hatch, which has since become Doubek, Pyfer & Fox. He primarily represents people who have suffered severe injuries as a result of car crashes, defective products, medical negligence, work injuries, slip-and-falls, wrongful death, traumatic brain injury and other accidents.
2nd Place: Greg Duncan (Duncan Law Office)
3rd Place: Mike Lamb (Lamb and Carey Law)
Best Car Salesperson
1st Place: Kourtney Koch
3365 E. US Highway 12
Even after 22 years as a car salesman at Helena Motors, Kourtney Koch still loves what he does. For him, it’s simple. When you enjoy the dealership you work for and love the products they sell, why leave? According to Koch, the real reward in his work though comes through interacting with his customers each day and helping take care of them as they move through the process of purchasing a vehicle. Visit Kourtney Koch at Helena Motors today at 3365 Highway 12 East or call 442-6310.
2nd Place: Jim Knight (Helena Motors)
3rd Place: Tom Rolfe (Helena Motors)