A huckleberry plot twist to Book Club Challenge participants who are helping to push the Missoula Public Library over its fundraising finish line. The library is just $150,000 away from its $6.25 million capital campaign goal, and just months away from celebrating the opening of a new building with expanded services right next door to the current downtown location. Launched by Friends of the Library President Barbara Theroux and the ingeniously named “The Book Club That Doesn’t Read*” (*they do), the Book Club Challenge encourages bibliophiles to pool their resources to buy a $500 plaque for the new library’s donor wall.
Five jars of chokecherry jam waiting atop a mediator’s table for the elected officials serving on the Montana Public Service Commission who are accusing one other of spying, personal attacks and professional failures. Most recently, Commissioner Randy Pinocci told a right-wing website that a PSC staffer felt intimidated by Commissioner Roger Koopman, and pressured by Commissioner Tony O’Donnell to break laws against campaigning from state offices. A public records request by the Billings Gazette revealed that the same staffer, PSC Communications Director Drew Zinecker, as well as Pinocci and Commission Chair Brad Johnson, have been collecting Koopman’s emails without his knowledge, although Johnson claims he never approved the action and suspects someone used his signature stamp without his consent.
The commission’s work overseeing the state’s public utilities is too important to allow such dysfunction and infighting to continue. If commissioners can’t figure out a way to do their work effectively — if not peacefully — then perhaps voters will. Three of the five seats are up for election this November.
Healing huckleberries to Salish Kootenai College for becoming the first tribal college in the United States to offer a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing. Along with its longstanding nursing associate’s degree program, SKC is helping to prepare graduates for good-paying jobs while also meeting growing demand, especially acute in rural communities, for skilled health-care professionals.
Certified huckleberries for the University of Montana’s Indigenous Knowledge and Environmental Sustainability program that educates students about Native landscapes, traditional food systems and other important aspects of environmental stewardship in the West. The new certificate requires 12 credits of classes, including a course on Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples, and a field internship so students can expand their classroom learning with hands-on experience.
Huckleberries thoroughly washed with lead-free water to the news that all Montana schools will begin testing all drinking water systems for lead starting this month. Lead testing is especially important in elementary schools because younger children are more susceptible to the harmful effects of repeated lead exposure. New rules adopted by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services require schools to complete water testing by December 2021, and the test results will be posted online as they are shared with the state.
This editorial represents the views of the Missoulian Editorial Board: Publisher Jim Strauss, Editor Gwen Florio and Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen.
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