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The Missoula City Council on Monday night awarded a more than $2 million contract for a long-awaited road construction project on Miller Creek.

"I'm very pleased that the Miller Creek improvements will now happen," said Councilman Ed Childers. "... It will be better when it's done."

The council unanimously awarded the contract to L.S. Jensen. The project involves rebuilding the road from Briggs Street to the Wye and adding a roundabout at the intersection. The money for the city and county project is coming from transportation mitigation funds, developer contributions and sewer money and traffic impact fees, according to a city memo.

City communications director Ginny Merriam said construction is slated to begin in short order, as is a neighborhood meeting to share details with residents. She expects the meeting to take place and the work to begin later this month.

In other business, the Girl Scouts kicked off the meeting, leading the group in saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, Mayor John Engen proclaimed this week as Girl Scout Week.

"Throughout its long and distinguished history, Girl Scouting has helped build millions of girls and women of courage, confidence and character," Engen read from the proclamation.

During public comment, citizen Patrick Cross urged the council to "drive a stake into the heart" of a proposal to make refusing a breath or blood test for drunken driving a misdemeanor crime. The council will hold a public hearing Monday, March 22, at 140 W. Pine St. on the matter. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

During council comments, Councilwoman Renee Mitchell remarked on the quiet around University of Montana President George Dennison's $75,000 pay raise. Mitchell said she expected to hear congratulations or outrage from members of the public in Council Chambers.

Councilwoman Pam Walzer noted an upcoming meeting about trash services. The Public Service Commission is holding a meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Target Range School library about recent changes in Allied Waste's service and rates.

And Councilwoman Stacy Rye noted March is Women's History Month, and the University of Montana Department of Women's and Gender Studies screens a documentary called "Mardi Gras: Made in China." It runs 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 10, in Room 302 of the Liberal Arts building.

Rye said the movie tells the story of young women making Mardi Gras beads in China. It follows the beads to New Orleans, where women flash people in exchange for the beads, and the reaction of the workers in China when they learn how the beads are used.

"The women who make the beads in China are fairly shocked," Rye said.

Reporter Keila Szpaller can be reached at 523-5262, or on


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