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Editor's note: Each week, the Missoulian provides readers with a sampling of news gleaned from weekly newspapers around western Montana.

THOMPSON FALLS - Call it the prank that backfired after the intended victim reacted with fingers instead of feet.

The Sanders County Ledger reported this week that an adult and some children placed a burning bag of manure on the steps of a Thompson Falls home, rang the doorbell and retreated to watch the ensuing hilarity.

For the trick to work, of course, the person who answers the door must be alarmed at the sight of a burning bag on the steps, rush out and kick it off, thereby covering themselves in, uh, excrement.

Except this person simply stepped back inside the house and dialed the cops.

Thompson Falls Chief of Police Chuck Hammett told the Ledger that Officer Chris Nichols responded, and spied the pranksters running away after his police car appeared.

Nichols chased them down, and wrote citations - not for the age-old prank, which Hammett said there really isn't a citation for - but for fleeing from a police officer.

Hammett said it did not appear the homeowner had been targeted for the trick, and called the prank a random act.


Deer Lodge cuts ribbon on remodeled Safeway

DEER LODGE - This town and Safeway go back a long way. A century, in fact.

Records indicate the first Safeway store opened on Main Street in 1910, in the building where the Helping Hands Thrift Shop is now located, the Silver State Post reports.

It's unclear when it moved into its current home near the north entrance to town, but the store became a corporate franchise in 1928, manager Greg Logan told the Silver State's Mark Eisenbeil.

Fifty years later it was remodeled, the last time that was to happen until 2010.

"So yeah, we were due," Logan said.

Last Saturday, Mayor Mary Ann Fraley was on hand to cut the ribbon on Safeway's grand-reopening. Logan said work began the first week in January.

"We've expanded our deli, moved quite a few aisles and throughout the store we have brand new fixtures and cases," Logan said. "Basically we've been completely remodeled both inside and out and have been upgraded into the 21st century."


Sobering lack of snow cancels Crazy Days tradition

LIBBY - There'll be no Crazy Days at Turner Mountain Ski Area this year.

A lack of snow forced the ski area to close early, canceling the annual celebration for the first time in over a decade, reports Canda Harbaugh of the Western News.

"We're about a month ahead of schedule snowpack-wise of where we should be," said Bruce Zwang, president of Turner's board of directors.

Crazy Days is a tradition going back more than four decades. It's usually held in early to mid-March.

Turner Mountain got snow in December, allowing the ski area to open Jan. 2, which was a week later than board members had hoped. There was little snowfall after that.

"We were getting 1-3 inches a week if we were lucky," Zwang told the News. "We didn't have any large snowfalls after the first week of January, which is very unusual for us."

Turner Mountain was featured last year in Skiing magazine as an excellent resort to rent for the day. This season it was rented out four days, compared to the usual one or two. Some of those renters had never been to Turner before, and Zwang said he's excited that they were already making plans to return next year.

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Only one cowgirl competing in high school rodeos

PLAINS - There are plenty of horses in Sanders County and plenty of riders, too. But there's only one cowgirl competing in high school rodeos.

It hasn't been easy for 15-year-old Jessica Read of Plains, writes Matt Unrau in the Valley Press. She's been, as Read puts it, "horse-passionate forever," but took up rodeoing only last year. She didn't know the finer points of goat tying or breakaway roping, and had no particular coach to teach her.

Instead, she got several. Bruce Icenoggle bought Read her first rope and showed her how to use it. Chip and Ed Vonheeder taught Jessica how to team rope, though she still doesn't have a partner. Mike Knight invited her to the once-a-week practices his St. Ignatius rodeo team holds.

At least Read had a seasoned horse to carry her. But in January, that changed when her mount came down with herpes. Now she alternates between a couple of 4-year-olds that are just as raw as she is.

"It was really hard to teach my horse how to rope and to teach me how to rope at the same time," Read said. "Normally when people are learning, they get on a horse that knows where they are going."

But the girl who's won a slew of purple ribbons at the fair and wowed the judges with a bridleless, bareback demonstration is making hay. Read placed fourth in goat tying at a fall rodeo, and three weeks ago took third out of 26 contestants in the same event.

Read is pointing to the district and state rodeos later in the spring, and perhaps a college rodeo scholarship in a few years.

"I think it's cool how you can get a huge animal ... and come together and be united, not horse and rider, but be one," she told Unrau. "Anything that has a horse with it, I'll go for it."

Weeklies Reader is compiled by reporters Vince Devlin and Kim Briggeman.


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