Huckleberries to U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald for touring Montana VA facilities in Missoula, Billings and Helena this week. McDonald came at the urging of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who accompanied the VA Secretary on his tour through the state, and also heard directly from veterans about their concerns with the VA.
Chokecherries to the Missoula County Fairgrounds for canceling this year's Missoula Stampede Rodeo Pageant. The previous pageant superintendent was unable to continue in that role, and the fair was unable to find a replacement in time. The unfortunate result is that fair-goers will have one less thing to look forward to at this year's Western Montana Fair.
Huckleberries to the second annual Montana Fishing Film Festival, which sold out last year and is ready to do so again. The festival includes gear giveaways and Bitter Root Brewery craft beer for sale, and kicks off Saturday at 6 p.m. with 11 fishing films on the reels at the Roxy Theater.
Chokecherries to the lowlifes who verbally harass pedestrians, particularly those traversing the Higgins Avenue Bridge. A couple of courageous women recently spoke to the Missoulian about their experiences with the harassment, and it's clear from their stories that it's a real problem. Perhaps its time for Missoula to consider establishing an effective street harassment reporting system as part of a larger public education campaign.
Huckleberries to the Montana House members who voted down Senate Bill 143, which would have allowed firearms on state university and college campuses. The final vote was 51-49, so Montana just barely dodged this bullet. Look up who to thank and who to boo at laws.leg.mt.gov.
Chokecherries to Montana House members who voted against House Bill 3, the "supplemental funding" bill that is usually passed by the Legislature but which encountered unexpected opposition this session. HB3 sought to provide $31 million to cover cost overruns in certain areas of state government, such as public schools and the prison system. This week the state Superintendent of Public Instruction notified school districts that the bill's death means they may be facing a total $9.4 million in cuts, including $521,000 in Missoula alone. On Wednesday, a Senate panel voted to restore $24 million of that lost funding.
Huckleberries to Montana Highway Patrol troopers T.J. Templeton and Wade Palmer, who were presented with awards this week for their lifesaving efforts responding to a multi-vehicle accident near Frenchtown. Templeton received the Meritorious Service Award, and Palmer received the Award of Valor, the highest honor MHP can bestow.