Best of the West: Craft beer and spirits booming, flooding continues, innovative rural hospital thriving in Idaho

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The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting April 17, 2017, that you don't want to miss.

Montana Craft Brewing ClassStudents at the Montana State University Craft Brewing and Fermentation program.Craft beer is booming in Montana, with enthusiasts raising a glass to a recently approved bill allowing breweries to increase production from 10,000 to 60,000 barrels per year. To support an influx of new breweries, Montana State University in Billings now offers a craft brewing and fermentation program.

Travel to craft breweries and distilleries continues to rise, and the top cities in which to imbibe are in western states: Seattle, Portland and Denver. Learn more in the Top 20 Craft Spirits Tourism Destinations report by Travelocity and The American Distilling Institute.

Want more? The upcoming WGA Annual Meeting in Whitefish, Mont., will include a session on the growing impact of microbreweries and craft distillers in the West. (Register)

Innovative Health Care: A rural hospital in Idaho serving an area with more bears than people is not only surviving declining populations and budget cuts, but thriving. In a roundtable discussion at WGA’s Winter Meeting, panelists addressed the challenges faced by rural providers.

High Water: Flooding continues to threaten the West, prompting Gov. Butch Otter of Idaho to warn residents about a “disaster waiting to happen” along the Boise River. In Wyoming, officials are predicting the biggest runoff in decades, and in California repairs will begin soon at the Oroville Dam.

A/V Update: A new J.D. Power study showing consumers are wary about fully autonomous vehicles has not slowed companies pursuing the technology. Apple secured a permit to begin testing self-driving cars in California, while Oregon contemplates opening streets to driverless cars and Texas may be next.  

ATTEND WGA'S ANNUAL MEETING: Influential pollster Frank Luntz will be a keynote speaker at the 2017 WGA Annual Meeting, hosted by Gov. Steve Bullock June 26-28 in Whitefish, Montana. (See Agenda, Register)

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