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56 Counties: Sweet Grass County

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courtesy Amber Martinsen-Blake and Dan Tronrud
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Amber Martinsen-Blake (left), Dan Tronrud

The name of Big Timber, Montana, comes from the original source of most of its income, which was a large saw mill. Big Timber came about when it was decided that the original county seat of Sweet Grass County, a town called Dornix, was needed to be relocated on higher ground. The sawmill is long gone in Big Timber, and today the town relies mostly on agriculture to support its population, although one branch of the Stillwater Mine, which is one of the most lucrative businesses in Montana, is also located in Big Timber.

Amber Martinsen-Blake has her Master’s in Social Work and is the Executive Director of Catalyst for Change. Amber is a third generation Montanan who was born and raised in Helena and whose ancestors homesteaded in the Wolf Point area. She is currently finishing her licensure to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who will provide therapy. She lives in Big Timber with her husband Amory and is pregnant with their first child, due in August.

Dan Tronrud is a lifetime resident of Sweet Grass County. He and his wife reside on the family ranch that his great grandfather homesteaded over a hundred years ago. Currently the sixth generation is growing up and enjoying the ranch life in Melville. Dan attained his Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Montana State University in 1979, and soon returned to the family ranch. While running the ranch, he worked part time for the Sheriff’s Office and was elected Sheriff in 1999. Tronrud served as Sheriff for 20 years and retired in 2019. He was appointed to the Montana Mental Health Trust Board by the Attorney General and served for nine years until he retired from the Office of Sheriff. After retiring, he was hired by the County as a Community Health Worker specializing in mental health and addictive disorders.

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