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Huckleberries to the University of Montana for releasing the names and resumes of the four finalists for the president’s post in a timely manner, and for scheduling multiple public forums to coincide with the candidates’ upcoming visits. On Wednesday, UM and the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education announced that the four contenders will be visiting campus individually and in person later this month, and that the interview process will include public meetings and community receptions for each. The finalists are: Mirta Martin, Andy Feinstein, Seth Bodnar and Charles Ambrose, and their resumes and public forum schedules can be found online at

Chokecherry pie to the news that 1 in 4 Montana residents is obese and that the obesity rate in the state has grown over the last couple of years. The new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America,” pointed out that Montana’s obesity rate held relatively steady at 23 percent for three years before growing to 23.6 percent in 2015 and then jumping to 25.5 percent in 2016. On the bright side, due to the fact that most other states are fattening up even faster, Montanans enjoy the seventh-lowest obesity rate in the nation.

Hootin’ and hollerin’ huckleberries to the Helmville community for pulling together, in a big way, to build a new grandstand and hold its traditional rodeo despite last weekend’s heavy smoke. The old grandstand, built 90 years ago, was replaced this year thanks to the dedication, hard work and donations of numerous individuals, businesses and organizations. Then, when many of the rodeo workers had to leave to fight fires or move cattle out of the path of oncoming wildfires, volunteers stepped up to ensure the rodeo would go on as planned. Their efforts were rewarded by the greater Helmville community, which turned out in force to celebrate the results of all their hard work.

Chokecherry bear claws to the people who followed two bear cubs near Harlowton in an attempt to get good photos – and ended up separating the still-nursing cubs from their mother and landing them in a wildlife center. The family of bears was apparently first discovered by eager picture-takers along Highway 191 last weekend. When the bears tried to run away from their human admirers, the cubs went east while their mother went west to avoid the crowds of people. The Wheatland County Sheriff’s Office posted a plea on Facebook asking people to leave the bears alone so they could reconnect, but people continued to interfere. Fish, Wildlife and Parks eventually had to tranquilize the cubs and take them to a wildlife center in Helena just to ensure their survival.

Hundreds of huckleberries to the Montana centenarians who are being honored this year at the Governor’s Conference on Aging, sponsored by the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, and to Missoula’s Helen Self in particular. Self, who celebrated her 108th birthday last month, is part of an elite group of 10 other western Montanans, and an additional four eastern Montanans, who will be 100 years old or older this year, and whose lengthy lives have earned a moment of special recognition.

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