A deluge of huckleberries to the Bitterroot Valley for its outpouring of community support for residents who were ordered to evacuate their homes ahead of the Roaring Lion fire near Hamilton, and especially to the firefighting crews working so hard to contain the blaze. Hundreds of people have been evacuated, hundreds more have been put on notice that they may have to evacuate, more than a dozen structures have burned and most tragically, one man has died of cardiac arrest. Yet firefighters have continued working through their exhaustion to save even more homes, and countless offers of food, water, shelter and animal care have poured into the valley for the past five days. The Missoulian is pitching in with an effort to organize fundraising; to contribute to the Roaring Lion Fire Relief Fund, go to roaringlionfirerelief.com; 100 percent of your donation will be split between the American Red Cross of Montana and Montana 2-1-1.
Chokecherries delivered through a firehose to the person who walked away from a still-smoldering campfire just a few miles south of the Roaring Lion fire. It boggles the mind to think that the very obvious presence of a nearby fire – one that has burned more than 7,500 acres to date – would not be enough to stop someone from starting a campfire, let alone ensure that campfire was out cold before leaving the site. That person’s thoughtlessness meant that already exhausted firefighters had to divert their energy and resources to extinguish the new fire so carelessly kindled in the Lost Horse Drainage.
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Historic huckleberries to Missoula’s city councilors for making efficient use of their time in arriving at a compromise decision for the Missoula Mercantile. The City Council approved a partial demolition permit that will allow the developer, Bozeman-based HomeBase Montana, to deconstruct most of the building and build a five-story custom Marriott hotel in its place. However, the permit requires HomeBase to preserve a corner of the building that was once a pharmacy. While neither preservation advocates nor the developer get their way completely, the decision is reasonable and fair, and paves the way to a brighter future for a key property in downtown Missoula.
We’re sending The Carlyle Group the receipt for a pint of chokecherries for having the gall to ask the city of Missoula to reimburse it for costs that clearly fall outside the definition of “reasonable and necessary.” The company submitted nearly $7 million in costs it says are associated with its court battle to retain ownership of Mountain Water Company – including items like Metamucil and wings at Hooters, and services such as a limousine ride.
A barrel of huckleberry juice to the Montana Supreme Court for affirming this week, in a 5-2 decision, that the city of Missoula has the right to take over the local water company. The Missoula County District Court had previously ruled that the city could flex its power of eminent domain to force the sale of Mountain Water. Now that the higher court has upheld the ruling, Missoula is just a few filings away from officially purchasing the company for $88.6 million, a figure determined through a previous court ruling.