Handful of huckleberries
Saaster

Prize-winning huckleberries to the new and improved Western Montana Fair! In addition to the traditional fair fare, fairgoers this year will be treated to new events, a new stage and spiffed-up facilities. Several of the most popular exhibits have been moved around to allow for more entries and bigger crowds. Best of all, admission to the fair, which kicked off Tuesday and will wrap up Sunday, is free for everyone, every day. Instead of a gate fee, fair organizers are suggesting a donation of $6 per person to help build a new Livestock Center, and collecting half the proceeds from signature Western Montana Fair cocktails to help pay for future fairgrounds redevelopment.

Monumental chokecherries to the Missoula City Cemetery for seeking to horn in on the local grave marker market and for failing to clearly communicate their intentions to city councilors. On Monday, the City Council weighed whether to allow the cemetery to sell monument services and stop private companies from placing new monuments at the cemetery. Councilors opted to send the proposal back to committee after hearing a confusing presentation in which cemetery staff argued that these changes did not mean the cemetery was “opening a monument business,” nor would it mean competing with private businesses that already provide monument services.

Towers of huckleberries to the unprecedented building surge in Missoula this year. In the first six months of 2017, the city’s Development Services office issued 789 building permits for projects worth $130.8 million in total. In comparison, by the same time last year, which was a record-setting year for new construction, the city’s Development Services office had issued 742 residential and commercial building permits worth $108.3 million total. If the current trend continues, Missoula may set yet another record for construction projects this year.

Artificial chokecherries to the “buffoon,” as one Facebook commenter called him, who repeatedly claimed to be a U.S. Coast Guard officer while trying to pull over boaters on Flathead Lake. Fortunately, one group of boaters was able snap a photo of the phony on his personal watercraft and share it on social media, and this week the Lake County Sheriff’s Office said it was able to identify the man. Officers are now working to complete their investigation, which may result in charges of impersonating a law enforcement officer.

Gift-wrapped huckleberries to the generous $5 million endowment to create two new academic chairs in the University of Montana’s Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences. The anonymous gift will fully fund the new Maryfrances Shreeve Chair in Teaching Excellence in the Department of Teaching and Learning, as well as the new William C. Shreeve Chair in Educational Administration in the Department of Educational Leadership. Both departments have seen growing enrollment, and the new posts promise to keep the college on solid footing well into the future.

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