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Red Lodge rallies behind 'community staple'

Landon Phelps
Posted at 5:24 PM, Feb 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 22:44:54-05

RED LODGE - The Red Lodge community is rallying behind one of their own residents, who is known for helping others around town with whatever they need.

Landon Phelps, 20, can be seen doing many different chores, including shoveling snow and offering free sober rides to people during the weekends.

"I'm kind of a jack of all trades," Phelps said Tuesday. "I kind of just try and help where I can."

Phelps also will consistently ask businesses if they need anything from Billings. That's where his parents live and so when he travels there, he likes to try and save people in his community the trip.

One of those businesses that constantly benefits from Phelps' kindness is the One Legged Magpie. Owner Kat Porco said there's something to be said about the energy Phelps brings wherever he goes.

"He's just always looking out for everyone," Porco said. "He's just always there to give people that joy."

Porco said his sober rides help her bar business, and he also constantly asks if they need anything else when he's heading to the store.

"It makes things so much easier for us," Porco said. "When we know we can lean into him when we need something, that's great. Other businesses feel the same. He's a little bit of a community staple."

Phelps said the free sober rides are a way to both keep the community safe and also a unique way for him to meet people.

"Often times the people who need rides are from out of town," Phelps said. "It's a good way to meet people, but also, we just want to see people get home safe because DUIs are $10,000 and you lose your license."

Phelps' true business, and main way to make money, is his snow-removal business. He calls himself a snowbird, so every winter he finds cheap housing in Red Lodge so that he can be close to his clients when the snow falls.

"It just helps to be here and not all the way in Billings," Phelps said. "You want to be close to where the snow should fall, although this year there hasn't been much."

The lack of snowfall has hurt Phelps' wallet. For a few months, he was living in a shed that didn't have water or electricity. The only heat source was the wood stove, and he slept on an air mattress. Still, Phelps remained positive.

"Just the acceptance of fate," Phelps said. "I said, 'Something will pan out eventually.'"

Fortunately for Phelps, it has. He's now living at the much more comfortable Red Lodge Inn, after coming to terms on a deal for the month of February.

But the lack of snow has still been damaging to both Phelps and other businesses in town.

"A lot of them are struggling and I kind of see that here in town," Phelps said. "They aren't open for as long as they usually are."

Recently, the community chose to rally behind Phelps. A GoFundMe was created by a community member to help find him housing, and it exploded in popularity, quickly raising more than $2,000.

That support was overwhelming for Phelps, but not a surprise for Porco, who knows just how important he is to their community.

"I was like, 'That makes sense,'" Porco said when she saw how many people donated. "It's time this community takes care of Landon because Landon always takes care of us."

A heartwarming outpouring of support for Phelps, who said it's nice to feel like he belongs.

"It makes me feel like I have a spot up here," Phelps said. "I feel like Red Lodge loves me more than I love it, and that's good."