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: Kolar Tire & Auto
3213 Euclid Ave / 3398 Centennial Dr.
(Kolar Tire & Auto also took first place in Best Auto Service/Repair and Best Tire Shop)
2nd Place: Associated Dermatology
3rd Place: Costco
1st Place: Jessica Bailey (St. Peter’s Health)
Family physician, Dr. Jessica Bailey, earned her medical degree at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. She completed her internship and residency at Montana Family Medicine Residency in Billings. Bailey's bachelor's degree is in biology with highest distinction from the University of North Carolina with minors in women's studies and chemistry. She has served as a women’s clinic and homeless shelter volunteer and HIV counselor.
2nd Place: Kiley Kirksey (St. Peter’s Health)
3rd Place: Katy Wessel (St. Peter’s Health)
1st Place: Michelle Danielson (Partners in Pediatrics)
2525 E. Broadway, Suite 201
Dr. Michelle Danielson was born and raised in Sidney, Montana, and graduated from Carroll College. She earned her medical degree at the University of Nevada School of Medicine and completed her residency in pediatrics at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, where she has also served as chief resident. Danielson has served the Helena community for over 12 years. She also provides care for abused children as a member of the Lewis and Clark County Child Advocacy Center's multidisciplinary team. Additionally, she has provided care at health clinics as part of medical missions to Grenada, Honduras, and Mexico and enjoys volunteering in underserved areas.
2nd Place: Tom Strizich (Partners in Pediatrics)
3rd Place: Venus Villalva (Partners in Pediatrics)
1st Place: Chelsea Andrews (Helena OB/GYN)
45 Medical Park Dr.
Chelsea Andrews, nurse at Helena OB/GYN, has long had a passion for nursing. She graduated with her nursing degree from Helena College in 2014. After graduating, she worked in geriatrics throughout the various nursing homes around Helena. In 2008, she landed her current role at Helena OB/GYN. Ever since nursing school, Andrews said she has wanted to work in women’s health care and has since developed a real passion for it. She enjoys coming to work every day and being part of a team.
2nd Place: Elizabeth McCarthy (Mountain View/Opulence)
3rd Place: Nancy Baylor (Mountain View/Opulence)
1st Place: John Michelotti (Helena Orthopaedic Clinic)
2442 Winnie Ave.
Dr. John Michelotti earned his medical degree from the University of Washington in Seattle and completed his orthopaedic surgery residency at their affiliated hospitals. Afterward, he was selected for advanced fellowship training in sports medicine at the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colorado, where he worked with the Denver Broncos, the Colorado Rockies, and the United States ski team.
Michelotti brings his love of sports to his practice of sports medicine. He thrives on the care of athletes of all ages. He is the team physician for Carroll College, the Helena Brewers and the local high schools. He is also a team physician for the United States ski team. Michelotti is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Sports Medicine.
2nd Place: John Galt (St. Peter’s Health)
3rd Place: John McMahon (Helena OB/GYN)
1st Place: Bill Hasquet (Montana Eyecare)
550 N. Montana Ave.
Dr. Bill Hasquet joined Montana Eyecare in August 1997 in partnership with Dr. Bill Simons. Hasquet received his Doctorate Degree in optometry in 1997 from Southern California College of Optometry. He has been a strong leader in Montana as President of the Montana Optometric Association and member of the American Optometric Association. He was named Montana's Young Optometrist of the Year and continues to be active in his profession. Hasquet has dedicated himself to delivering the very best optometric care to each and every patient he serves.
2nd Place: Matthew Nottingham (Helena Vision Center)
3rd Place: Rob Simons (Montana Eyecare)
1st Place: Brandon Blank
800 Lola St.
Dr. Brandon Blank graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa in 2014. He has advanced training in extremity adjusting, soft tissue (trigger point) work, Blair upper cervical, toggle, Thompson drop, Gonstead, activator and flexion distraction. Excelling in chiropractic is one of his top passions in life. He is currently working on a research project to document the effectiveness of the Blair Upper Cervical protocol for headache and migraine cases. Blank commonly says “I don’t feel like I work, I just show up to the office and enjoy every minute.”
2nd Place: Benjamin Clack (Big Sky Chiropractic)
3rd Place: Lance Doppler (Advanced Spinal Fitness)
Best Physical Therapist
1st Place: Kyle Cicero (Ascension Physical Therapy)
3345 Colton Dr., Suite A
Kyle Cicero graduated from Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences in 2011 with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy. He has been practicing in the Helena area since that time. Cicero specializes in low back pain and spine care, post-operative care, shoulder pain, knee pain, and any other of your physical therapy needs. Cicero was recently certified as a level-1 trainer for TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) and can help you with any golfing issues. He works closely with, Chad Carlson, head golf pro at Green Meadow Country Club. Cicero is also a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, coach, and co-owner of Seven Devils CrossFit.
2nd Place: John Harrington (Harrington Physical Therapy)
3rd Place: Matthew Fischer (Fischer Physical Therapy
Best Law Enforcement Officer
1st Place: Sheriff Leo Dutton (Lewis and Clark County)
Leo Dutton was first sworn in as sheriff of Lewis & Clark County in September 2008 and took on the additional role of coroner in January 2019. 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: Deputy Chief William Harrington (East Helena Police Department)
3rd Place: Domingo Zapata (Helena Police Department )
1st Place: Captain Vince Williams (Helena Fire Department)
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: Steve Finstad (Helena Fire Department)
3rd Place: Lou Antonick (Fire Prevention Bureau / City of Helena)
1st Place: Ashley Stevens (Teez Salon & Unique Boutique)
Ashley Stevens, hairstylist at Teez Salon & Unique Boutique, is ready and willing to help you revamp your hairstyle for a new and improved you. One online reviewer commented that “Ashley did some foils on my hair and it turned out beautiful! Not only am I happy with the finished product, but she was very sweet to me while I was there. She listened to what I wanted and worked around my schedule to get me in.” Visit Stevens at Teez for all of your hair cut, color, and style needs.
2nd Place: Kalli Huso Redden (Sixth Ave Salon)
3rd Place: Ashley Gross (Bassu Salon)
1st Place: Keith Stav, DVM (Bridger Veterinary Hospital)
3104 Green Meadow Dr.
Dr. Keith Stav and his wife Sharleen, both Helena natives, bought Bridger Veterinary Hospital 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 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.
2nd Place: Mandy McGowan (Animal Center Veterinary Hospital)
3rd Place: Brenda Culver (Montana Veterinary Specialists)
1st Place: Nathan Ahlers (Ahlers Family Dentistry)
227 W. Lyndale Ave.
Dr. Nathan Ahlers and Ahlers Family Dentistry has had the privilege of serving the Helena area for over 16 years. Over the years, the clinic has been grateful for the support of their caring and professional staff as well as the support of the Helena community.
2nd Place: Martin Coonen (Coonen Dental)
3rd Place: Joel Maes (South Hills Dental Clinic)
1st Place: Joe White (Electrical Solutions)
1310 Oro Fino Gulch
Joe White, owner and master electrician of Electrical Solutions, has been delivering solutions to all of Helena’s electrical needs since 2007. From remodels, new construction, residential, commercial, trouble shooting, and alternative energy, White has the experience and expertise to help.
2nd Place: Craig Martin (Gold Rush Electric)
3rd Place: Getty Parker (Ascension Electric)
1st Place: Timothy C. Ballweber (Ballweber & Otsby Orthodontics)
A Montana native, Dr. Timothy Ballweber has been creating beautiful smiles for over 30 years. Ballweber received his initial education at Western Montana College obtaining a bachelor’s degree in education, before heading to California to earn his dental degree from Loma Linda University. After later receiving a degree in pediatric dentistry from UCLA, Dr. Ballweber returned to Loma Linda and earned his master’s degree in orthodontics two years later. In practice since 1981, Ballweber is in the exclusive practice of orthodontics Dr. Ballweber is a member of the American Dental Association, American Academy of Dentists, American Association of Orthodontists, Montana State Dental Society, the Montana State Orthodontic Society and the Capital City Study Club.
2nd Place: Jeffrey Foster (Helena Orthodontics)
3rd Place: Kyle Jackson (Jackson Orthodontics)
1st Place: Jeffry Goldes (Associated Dermatology)
50 S. Last Chance Gulch
Jeffry A. Goldes is board certified in general dermatology, anatomic pathology, and dermatopathology Sub Specialty Fellowship. Jeff is from an Army family and was 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: Kara Addison (Associated Dermatology)
3rd Place: Megan Gittings (Associated Dermatology)
1st Place: Amy Johnson (Opulence Aesthetics)
#A 2619 Colonial Dr.
Amy Johnson has been working as an esthetician for six years in Montana and Colorado. Helping people achieve their skin care goals and needs is her primary focus and true passion. She attended the Concentric Healing Institute in Boulder, Colorado where she received her certification for esthetics. She also attended the Rocky Mountain Laser College in Colorado and specializes in many advanced laser treatments and techniques and has in-depth experience in advanced chemical peel treatments, microneedling, dermaplaning, SilkPeel microdermabrasion and various facial services.
2nd Place: RaeAnne Hoveland (Opulence Aesthetics)
3rd Place: Amanda Berkram (Crafted Aesthetics)
1st Place: Kerry Cicero (Century 21 Heritage Realty)
1221 Echelon Place Suite C
Throughout all of Kerry Cicero’s career endeavors he has always sought to give back to his local community. After his football career was cut short due to multiple ankle surgeries, he began coaching football at Helena High School. He went on to become a teacher at Warren Elementary School, where he still teaches today. When Cicero decided to get his real estate license, he did so with the intention of using the role as an opportunity to give back to Warren School. Now, Cicero gives 10 percent of every commission check he receives back to Warren Elementary. If you live in the Helena area and are looking at selling or buying a home, Cicero is ready and willing to guide you through the process.
2nd Place: Seth O’Connell (Keller Williams Realty)
3rd Place: Deb Whitcomb (Clearwater Montana Properties)
1st Place: Dean Mack (Brewhouse Pub & Grill)
939 Getchell St.
Dean Mack has been a server at the Brewhouse Pub & Grill for the past eight years. According to Kitty Brown, Brewhouse owner and general manager, Mack is “Very professional, personable, and responsible.” Brown credits his success as a server to the multitude of people he knows on a personal level in town. Next time you visit the Brewhouse for drinks and apps, be sure to ask for Mack to wait on your table. (The Brewhouse Pub & Grill also took first place in Bar or Restaurant with Best Beer Selection, Best Appetizer, and Best Bar Food)
2nd Place: Samantha Stephenson (Wassweiler Dinner House)
3rd Place: Christie Marks (Wassweiler)
Best Insurance Agent
1st Place: Mike Miller (State Farm Insurance)
900 N. Last Chance Gulch Suite 103
Mike Miller at State Farm Insurance prides himself on providing the best combination of price, product and service for your insurance needs. By keeping your best interests first, Mike and his team can custom fit an insurance plan that is right for you and your financial future. State Farm offers auto, home, life and health insurance. In addition, State Farm offers financial services such as State Farm mutual funds and bank products. Mike holds a finance degree from Carroll College.
2nd Place: Jon Miller (State Farm Insurance)
3rd Place: Mike Allen (Stockman Insurance Agency)
1st Place: Andrew Brosten (Wassweiler Dinner House)
4528 US Highway 12
Raised in Helena, Andrew Brosten began his career studying at le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Scottsdale, Arizona. After graduating culinary school he went on work in various kitchens and even became a catering sous chef under the mentorship of Foot TV star Beau MacMillan, who participated in and defeated Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America. In 2013, Brosten moved back to Helena and has been the executive chef at some of Helena’s best dining establishments, including formerly chef/partner at Aster Restaurant. He has worked alongside renowned chefs Michel Richard, Ming Tsai, Geoffrey Zakarian, Marcus Samuelsson, and Stephanie Izard. He has also cooked for celebrities such as the late Muhammed Ali and former President George W. Bush. He now serves as head chef at Wassweiler Dinner House in Helena. (Wassweiler Dinner House also took first place in Best New Restaurant.)
2nd Place: Mike Williams (Montana Club)
3rd Place: Eric Potuzak (Benny’s Bistro)
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: Insufficient Funds Band
3rd Place: The Clintons
1st Place: Jay Crider
Local artist, Jay Crider, has lived in Helena his whole life. He admits to beginning his artist journey in 1st grade and knew then that being an artist was what he wanted to do with his life. In an interview with Queen City Framing & Art Supply, Crider admitted to really being influenced by Saturday morning cartoons. He also noted that there are elements of dark humor in a lot of his work. Crider’s work has been displayed at local galleries like the Upper Missouri Artists Gallery and Free Ceramics.
2nd Place: Emily Free Wilson (Free Ceramics)
3rd Place: Jami Daehn (Tattoo Sindicate)
1st Place: Samantha Yearry (Yearry Photography)
2049 N. Last Chance Gulch
For owner Samantha Yearry, photography first started as a hobby. But over the years it has transformed into a flourishing business and earned Yearry the reputation of “Helena’s Most Caring Photographer.” Yearry Photography specializes in maternity, newborns, and infants.
2nd Place: Jacqui Smith (Floating Leaf Studios)
3rd Place: Jason O’Neil (Jason O’Neil Photo)
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: Anna Stitt (Anderson Zurmuehlen)
3rd Place: Van Barron (Van H. Barron Accounting)
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: Rick Pyfer (Doubek, Pyfer & Fox PC)
3rd Place: Sara Berg (BKBH)
1st Place: Robert Starz
The Sapphire Bar
101 N. Last Chance Gulch
Robert Starz is one of Helena’s renowned bartenders at The Sapphire Bar located along the Walking Mall in Downtown Helena. Sapphire Bar has 11 taps on hand of some of Montana’s finest brews, as well as a wide selection of spirits and wine. Next time you find yourself downtown, be sure to swing by and have Starz mix you a drink. One online reviewer commented, “Great bartender…Rob is amazing!” When Starz isn’t busy pouring drinks at the Sapphire he has his hands full showing properties as a realtor for Century 21 Heritage Realty.
2nd Place: Kyle Whitney (Grub Stake)
3rd Place: Jonny Sequoia (Jester’s Bar)
1st Place: Ken Iwen (Iwen Automotive)
10 Market St. Montana City
Ken Iwen, owner of Iwen Automotive, has been providing quality car care in Montana City since 2010 after working for the local Dodge dealer for 21 years. Iwen Automotive is a family-owned business delivering honest and professional automotive repair and auto maintenance services to the people of Montana City and surrounding areas. The ASE certified technicians employ today’s latest automotive technology and are equipped to handle all major and minor repairs on foreign and domestic vehicles. Iwen Automotive is also a certified NAPA AutoCare Center, which means it is able to provide the benefits of an established national entity while maintaining the personal touch of a family-owned business.
2nd Place: Eric Kerchner (Independence Automotive)
3rd Place: Todd Catron (Lithia Chevrolet Buick GMC of Helena)
Best Mortgage Loan Officer
1st Place: Don Kessler (Opportunity Bank of Montana)
1400 Prospect Ave.
Don Kessler joined Opportunity Bank as a residential loan officer in 2013. Kessler has over 18 years of mortgage lending experience and specializes in purchase and refinance transactions. If you are a first time buyer or if you are purchasing or constructing your dream home or investment property, he can help with your financing. Kessler offers VA, FHA, USDA Rural Development, Conventional and Jumbo as well as the local assistance programs offered through Neighborworks and Montana Board of Housing.
2nd Place: Crystal Eckerson (Opportunity Bank of Montana)
3rd Place: Corey Hill (Mann Mortgage)
Best Car Salesperson
1st Place: Kyle Osborne
Lithia Chevrolet Buick GMC of Helena
1501 Cedar St.
Kyle Osborne, salesman for Lithia Chevrolet Buick GMC of Helena, has been a part of the Helena community for several years. When it comes to interacting with customers, Osborne takes the time to really care for them and works to create a low-pressure environment while they are shopping. Visit Osborne at Chevrolet Buick GMC of Helena at 1501 Cedar St. or call 406-558-2984.
2nd Place: Sam King (Lithia Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat of Helena
3rd Place: Kourtney Koch (Helena Motors)
Best Auto Loan Officer
1st Place: Linda Garret
Rocky Mountain Credit Union
3400 N. Montana Ave./1820 11th Ave.
Linda Garret has been helping the members of Rocky Mountain Credit Union with their lending needs for 15 years. In that time she has grown the credit union’s loan portfolio and created wonderful partnerships in the process. Members enjoy working with her because she remembers every detail they share with her. Even when they are not in her office for a new loan, they will stop by to say hi and catch up.
2nd Place: Jeff Walker
3rd Place: Roxanne Allen (Valley Bank of Helena)
1st Place: Michael McCarthy (Stonefly Construction)
Michael McCarthy, owner of Stonefly Construction, specializes in all aspects of construction. From new construction, residential remodeling, and commercial construction, McCarthy and his team can help show you the right way to build. McCarthy is focused on providing his clients with the best products and services for their needs and at the most affordable prices possible. Call Stonefly Construction today for “Affordable Excellence.”
2nd Place: Dick Anderson (Dick Anderson Construction)
3rd Place: Bob Andersen (Andersen Artisan)
1st Place: Todd Clark (Clark’s Plumbing & Heating)
1305 N. Lamborn St.
For expert plumbing advice and quality repairs, contact Todd Clark with Clark’s Plumbing & Heating. From commercial and residential services, gas systems, radiant heating, ventilation systems, water heaters, and more, Clark provides quality and timely work. One online reviewer commented, “Clark's was recommended to me from another plumber and I was very happy with the quality of work. I have used their services more than once and am about to contact them again for additional new work. They are very friendly and don't leave a mess behind. You can't go wrong!”
2nd Place: Luke Campbell (Shedhorn Plumbing)
3rd Place: Chris Tillo (Tillo Plumbing)