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Letters for Sunday, June 22, 2008

Letters for Sunday, June 22, 2008

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Front should stay pristine

A big high-five to the governor and the state Land Board for their courageous decision to defer oil and gas leases on the Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area (Missoulian, June 11).

Montanans need to come up with a plan to permanently conserve state lands in an area of the state that is a sportsmen's paradise. The Rocky Mountain Front remains an iconic piece of Montana, and keeping it the way it is means we place a higher value on the land than the short-term gains found by leasing those critical wildlife habitats. Now let's get to work and find a solution that benefits wildlife, schools and all Montanans.

Land Tawney, Missoula

Peace Path was built with lots of help

The children in Jane McAllister's fourthgrade and Kathy Dungan's first- and secondgrade classes, and music teacher Dorothy Morrison, had a dream to build a path on the playground where friends could meander, mosey, stroll, ponder and wonder.

The excitement built as ideas flew. The children wanted to involve all of the students, teachers and parents of Lewis and Clark Elementary School.

We wondered: What if we painted rocks with our visions of peace? What if we created a design like a labyrinth? What if we made the path permanent by laying them in concrete?

What if we called it the Peace Path? Our "what ifs … and is it possible?" became "We can! And anything is possible!" because of some very amazing community members.

DeNeve/Kahl Concrete, owned by Mike DeNeve and David Kahl, donated countless hours to help plan and build our path. Pouring the path alone was a two-day job. But even more heartwarming than the hours and hours these men and their employees spent in construction was the gentle, patient and calm attitude they displayed during the construction. Time and again they smiled and greeted more than 500 teachers and students as we set our rocks in the concrete, occasionally stepping in their carefully groomed concrete.

DeNeve and Kahl reached out to other members of the building industry and found wonderful people willing to donate their time, energy and resources. L.S. Jensen donated more than 700 rocks and the concrete. Alan and Kevin Sommers spent days excavating the path and Brent Anderson of Knife River donated the gravel to fill the path.

Thank you for helping make our dream come true. Our Peace Path is a beautiful place for our students and neighbors to stroll because of your generosity of time, resources and spirit.

Kathy Dungan, Jane McAllister, Dorothy Morrison, Missoula

Food bank is grateful for help

All too often in our busy lives and world we tend to forget to say thank you.

The Seeley-Swan Community Food Bank and the families it serves would like to say thank you to the Missoulian, the Missoula County commissioners, the Missoula County Office of Planning and Grants, and generous members of our community.

Thank you to Timothy Alex Akimoff, reporter for the Missoulian, for the frontpage article on June 8. Your article made people aware of the financial plight of the food bank, which resulted in several muchneeded

donations. Thank you for going out of your way to locate the right person to contact to obtain emergency funds and for getting me in touch with her.

Thank you to Cindy Wulfekuhle, principal grants administrator for the Office of Planning and Grants. Cindy immediately responded to my request for an emergency grant, walked me through the grant application process, arranged an emergency meeting of the county commissioners, successfully presented our application and ensured that a check was in the mail the same day. Because of Wulfekuhle's extra effort, within 24 hours of my initial conversation with her, the food bank received a check for $5,000 from the county.

Thank you to Jean Curtiss and the county commissioners for their prompt and positive action to help.

Thank you to all the individuals who responded with generous contributions to the food bank.

The wonderful cooperation and rapid response of all parties involved shows what can be done when a newspaper, government officials, government employees and private citizens care for a community and work together to help.

Cathy Mandler, secretary, Seeley-Swan Community Food Bank

Seeley Lake

Baucus' provision will preserve Swan

As a resident of the Swan Valley, I want to publicly thank Sen. Max Baucus, D.- Mont., for placing the provision in the farm bill to provide funding to purchase Plum Creek Timber Co. lands that might otherwise be sold for non-timber production purposes.

Historically, these lands have provided not only timber jobs and products but have also served as vital wildlife habitat and have provided us with hunting, fishing and other recreational opportunities. It has been difficult to watch Plum Creek lands being sold off section by section and subsequently become unavailable for public use. The funding provided by Baucus' provision gives us the mechanism by which these forests can be protected for appropriate conservation, wildlife habitat, public access and a sustainable timber economy.

I look forward to working with Baucus, Gov. Schweitzer, other federal, state and local agencies, appropriate land trust organizations, and the members of the Swan Valley to fulfill this vision. A brighter day is, indeed, on the horizon.

Steve Ellis, Bigfork

Detainees aren't same as POWs

Pat Buchanan recently tried to equate the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to German prisoners of war. The differences need to be remembered, as both Buchanan and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., seem to have difficulty distinguishing them.

1. World War II was a war between nations. This is a war against a noun. "Terror" hasn't even been adequately defined or equally applied. We haven't exactly rushed to stop the terror of genocide in Darfur.

2. The POWs of WWII were easy to determine. They wore these distinctive uniforms and hung around together in large groups. They admitted freely they were who they said they were. The Guantanamo Bay detainees may or may not be militants. Most probably are. Some are surely not. The idea that they get no chance to prove that they may be innocent while serving life sentences for being in the wrong place at the wrong time is absurd.

3. When you fight against a nation and the nation surrenders, the war is usually over. When

you fight against an undefined noun, there's no one to surrender. No matter how many you kill, there's always more. And since nouns transcend borders, just because you get peace in one place doesn't mean you will have it another.

We must learn to quit fighting nouns. We have yet to win the war on drugs, poverty, illiteracy, pollution or weeds.

These problems, like extremism, need solutions n not fruitless attacks.

Ron Bissell, Stevensville

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