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Handful of huckleberries

A chorus of huckleberries to this week’s 10th International Choral Festival, which brought nearly 400 international guests to Missoula for four days of world-class music. Since its beginning in 1987, the festival has invited more than 140 choirs representing some 50 countries to our community, enhancing Missoula’s reputation as a hub for arts and culture. This year’s festival launched with a free public preview in Caras Park on Wednesday, and continues through Saturday with a finale at the Adams Center.

Chokecherries to Mineral County’s ongoing financial woes. County commissioners are struggling to correct a budget shortfall of at least $400,000, which is about 25 percent of the county’s total budget. Just a few weeks ago, commissioners’ failure to negotiate a contract with sheriff’s office employees who had been working without a contract for nearly a year led to 16 deputies, dispatchers and detention officers going on strike. Last week, Mineral County Commissioners Roman Zylawy, Laurie Johnston and Duane Simons voted unanimously to cut five full-time and one half-time position in five different county departments. The loss leaves the Mineral County Attorney’s Office, for instance, with one attorney and one paralegal to handle a caseload that has tripled over the past five years, according to the Mineral County attorney.

Huckleberries to this Saturday’s grand opening of the new Bitterroot Trail that stretches along Highway 93 between Missoula and Hamilton. The official opening will take place at noon at Traveler’s Rest State Park in Lolo, and includes special events such a performance by choirs with the International Choral Festival. The new trail is the result of the efforts of local bicycle advocates who worked with various government agencies to build the trail in time for Adventure Cycling’s 40th anniversary Bikecentennial celebrations.

Chokecherries to the treacherous conditions facing recreationists on the Bitterroot River. Low water has narrowed some passages, and log jams and other debris make for dicey navigation on some deceptively calm stretches of water. One particularly bad spot about a mile downstream from Anglers Roost near Hamilton where the water splits into two streams has an especially dangerous blockage that has prompted numerous calls to the Ravalli County sheriff’s office.

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Huckleberries to the Student Wellness Leadership Council, a collaboration launched five years ago between local health and wellness organizations and Missoula County Public Schools aimed at improving school attitudes toward fitness and nutrition. The council does its work without funding, instead coordinating the various efforts of Let’s Move Missoula, the Missoula City-County Health Department, American Heart Association, Eat Smart Missoula, University of Montana, United Way of Missoula County and many others to help improve the health and behavior of Missoula’s students.

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Missoulian editorial board: Publisher Mark Heintzelman, Editor Kathy Best and Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen.

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