“I guess Dylan wanted to make extra sure he wanted to be with me because it took him eight years of dating before he finally popped the question.” Emily Collins married high school sweetheart Dylan Johnston last August. They both left their hometown to attend college and then moved back to be closer to family and that “small town feel” they loved growing up.

Dylan and Emily Johnston are both Cut Bank “kids.” They grew up here, went to school here and were even in the same grade. Their grandparents lived across the alley from one another and were good friends. Emily was friends with Dylan’s stepbrother, Andy Shortman. They knew a lot about each other and even did things together as early as middle school and throughout high school.

It was later in high school and after high school that this pair realized they were good together. And even better than that, they just might be in love with each other.

Was it love at first sight for this newly married couple?

“It wasn’t love at first sight, beings how we have known each other from the time we were in pre-school together at Mrs. Smith’s, but entering high school we started to grow closer,” said Dylan.

“We were close friends in high school and hung out quite a bit before we were actually a couple. I was his ‘secret’ fan in high school for football our sophomore year,” said Emily. 

“We both realized that we sort of clicked together and our relationship just took off from there. I guess Dylan wanted to make extra sure he wanted to be with me because it took him eight years of dating before he finally popped the question,” grinned Emily. 

They are both 2011 Cut Bank High School graduates. The two were married just last summer, Aug. 4, at the Cut Bank Golf and Country Club.

Dylan works as an electrical apprentice for Littrell Electric and is the head coach of the Cut Bank Wolves football team. Emily works at Al’s Diesel as the office administrator-payroll clerk and is one of the assistant coaches of the Cut Bank Wolves girls’ basketball team.

So why stay in Cut Bank, when the world is before them and they could go live and work anywhere they wanted?

“I wanted to come back to Cut Bank (after college) because all of my family is here,” Emily said. “I always struggled being so far away from home while I was in college in Billings. Both Dylan and my immediate family all live here, so I think that is a huge part of us both wanting to come back and stay here.”

“I think as most small town Montana kids would say, you cannot replace the relationships and tight-knit community that growing up in a place like Cut Bank provides you. After going to college in the biggest city in Montana, I really missed the small town feel and felt there was no better place to go than back home,” Dylan shared. 

“Even if you don’t, per se, ‘know somebody,’ chances are you know their parents or went to school with one of their siblings or something along those lines, which makes connecting that much easier,” he added.

Countless Cut Bank residents say it is the people of this community that make them want to live here and make them want to stay here. The Johnstons wholeheartedly agree.

“The people here are definitely one of the best things about this little town,” Emily stated. “It was always so nice to come home from college and run into people and catch up.”

“I love that organizations such as the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts can still exist because people in the community are more than willing to buy popcorn and cookies like they are going out of stock,” Dylan said. “That when tournament time rolls around, whether it be for basketball, wrestling, softball or whatever the community supports, the teams and student athletes fill the gymnasium proudly wearing whatever purple colored shirt they have. Even though members of the audience might not know a single kid competing, they are going to support them because they support Cut Bank and want to see our community succeed.”

He continued, “Community events happen all the time and the Chamber does a great job of bringing people together for things that people can interact at. I feel our school district is a great attractant for young people because of the staff and people that are in place to make it such a great place, not to mention how great our facilities are for such a small community. None of this would be possible if it weren’t for people that genuinely care about Cut Bank and want to see the community as a whole succeed.” 

“I feel like this community is doing a good job of having fun, social events around town that will continue to draw couples in. We were fortunate enough to grow up here and see what Cut Bank is able to offer, so it wasn’t a hard choice to make Cut Bank our home,” Emily said. 

And home it is for the Johnstons. A place they can live, love, work and play.

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