Handful of huckleberries

Historic huckleberries to local trustees who voted to name a new elementary school under construction in Missoula after Jeannette Rankin, and extra special huckleberries to Mary Jaeger and Ella Seaver, the two local fifth-graders who spearheaded the campaign to name the new school after the first woman elected to Congress. Their campaign received resounding support from Cold Springs Elementary students and parents who voted for the name over other options. Interestingly, the new school will be the second in Montana named for Jeannette Rankin, as Kalispell trustees also voted recently to name a new school after the Missoula-born suffragist.

A fistful of chokecherries to U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, who still hasn’t cleared the air concerning his assault of a reporter the night before he was elected to represent Montana in Congress. It’s been nearly five months, and his spokesmen continue to imply that Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs somehow initiated the attack – despite witness accounts and other evidence that proves Jacobs did nothing of the sort. While Gianforte initially “misled” investigators in telling them that Jacobs grabbed his wrist, he later admitted that his assault was entirely unprovoked and apologized. As part of that apology in court, Gianforte also said he would meet with the reporter for an interview, a commitment he has yet to fulfill. This week, Jacob’s attorney issued a letter telling Gianforte and his staff to cease and desist from making any further false statements about Jacobs.

Huckleberry handwarmers to all those hunters who helped make the 2017 big game season one of Montana’s most successful. Region 2 of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which includes Missoula, saw its highest numbers in four years by the closing day of the season last Sunday. Despite uncooperative weather, hunters checked 300 elk and more than 600 whitetails through stations in Bonner, Darby and Anaconda, an increase of 14 percent and 3 percent over last year’s numbers, respectively. On the other hand, only 77 mule deer were brought in, a steep decrease of 35 percent that was most likely the result of special permit requirements aimed at increasing mule deer populations.

Huckleberries to the new Missoula Native Youth Council, open to children of all ages but aimed primarily at boosting the agency of high-school students. The group, formed this fall, will help fill the gap in opportunities for Native teens with ambitious plans to fundraise for fun social activities, including events that offer safe and sober alternatives for local youth. At the moment they are also working to organize a spring youth conference in concert with Native teens from across the region. Western Montanans should applaud and support this council as they make their voices heard.

Huckleberry donation slips to all those who participated in Giving Tuesday by making a donation to their favorite charity. The annual tradition established just five years ago, and which follows the more consumer-minded Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, encourages donors to join an international movement to kick off the holiday season of giving, and Montanans always make a good showing. But don’t fret if you missed it; truly, any day’s a good day to pledge your financial support to one of Montana’s many worthy charitable organizations.

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