Huckleberry huckleberries

Hundreds of affordably housed huckleberries to Missoula County’s donation of 4 acres of land by the Missoula County Detention Facility to a coalition of nonprofits that is planning to build 130 new units of affordable housing, including 30 units for the chronically homeless, on the property, and an additional 70-plus apartments on the site of the former Skyview mobile home park in the Westside neighborhood. In partnership with the city and county, the coalition — Missoula Housing Authority, Homeword and Blueline Development — plans to keep local taxpayers off the hook by using Low Income Housing Tax Credits to fund the project.

A lone chokecherry to the sad news that Big Brothers Big Sisters will close its doors in Missoula today after nearly 50 years, during which time an estimated 15,000 at-risk children were paired with adult mentors. Facing a $120,000 shortfall in state, federal and private funding, the nonprofit’s board reluctantly announced its permanent closure, which will leave 103 current Littles in Missoula without Bigs.

Frozen huckleberries to the tuition freeze approved by the Montana Board of Regents last week, made possible by Montana legislators’ approval of Gov. Steve Bullock’s budget proposal to “backfill” resident undergraduate tuition using $24 million in state appropriations. The freeze ensures tuition remains a bargain for Montana students seeking an education within the Montana University System — a flat $7,300 compared to the national average of $9,300 — and promises to help buoy enrollment at struggling campuses as well.

Unemployed chokecherries to the impending closure of the Anaconda Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, one of nine centers in the nation scheduled to shut its doors after the U.S. Department of Labor conducted a recent review. The closure will leave Anaconda without one of its major employers and a major provider of skilled workers, and will leave Montana with only one remaining job center — Darby’s Trapper Creek Civilian Conservation Center, which continues operations under a new "contract operator or partnership."

A helmet full of huckleberries to a recent study that names Montana the least deadly state in the nation for motorcyclists — despite having one of the highest numbers of registered motorcycles. According to the study from Quote Wizard, using 2017 numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration, Montana counted more than 306,000 registered motorcycles, and an enviable motorcycle fatality rate of just .75.

One more helping of heroic huckleberries to Bureau of Land Management Ranger Kelly Cole, who was named 2018 Ranger of the Year for helping to recover a missing baby partially buried in the Lolo National Forest last year. Thanks to his efforts and others, the 5-month-old baby boy was found alive and unharmed after a six-hour search. Cole, who serves as the BLM’s only law enforcement officer in the Missoula area, was awarded the honor during National Police Week at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

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