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Huckleberries

Virtual huckleberries to those who offered compassionate comments on the Missoulian’s Facebook post about a 17-year-old boy from Sanders County who was confirmed dead Tuesday morning after he was pulled from the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula. This sad outcome was preceded by anxious reports about the teen fleeing law enforcement in a reportedly stolen vehicle, then jumping into the river, where rescue teams searched for him for more than an hour.

Although the post did get a few hurtful and unhelpful comments, it also saw a number of thoughtful statements like this one from Tonia Rueda: “All my prayers to the family of the young man and to the rescue team who fought hard to keep him alive. Let's not forget that he was 16. At 16 I can't think of one single thing I did that was rational and we have no idea what kind of mindset he was in or what his background was. The Missoula County Search and Rescue team will live with this reminder as well so keeping them in your prayers is important.” As Michael Sanders commented, “It's actually nice to see a line of comments that show empathy during a tragedy in this day in age. Good work Missoula online community.”

A trophy cup brimming with huckleberries to last weekend’s World Refugee Day Community Celebration and Soccer Tournament at Fort Missoula, an annual event hosted by Soft Landing Missoula that brought more than 80 players this year to compete in a series of soccer games, capped by a performance from the Congolese Choir and a free dinner featuring dishes from refugee families. Working with the International Rescue Committee, Soft Landing Missoula has helped resettle more than 45 refugee families in Missoula.

Securely stored chokecherries to the recent deaths of three more grizzly bears — a 21-year-old sow and her two male yearling cubs — struck by trains near Glacier National Park. So far this year at least 14 grizzlies have died from a variety of causes in the Northern Continental Divide area, which only has about 1,000 grizzly bears to begin with.

Safely seat-belted huckleberries to Montana’s improved youth death rate in the 2019 Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The rate dropped sharply from 40 deaths per 100,000 children in 2016 to 27 deaths per 100,000 children in 2017 thanks largely to a lower number of vehicle deaths involving children and teens. And that improvement is largely due to lower rates of drunken driving and higher rates of seat belt use among Montana youth, according to the latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Frozen chokecherries to the loss of more than 37,000 cattle in Montana over the winter of 2018, according to the latest estimate from the Livestock Indemnity Program. The federal program paid out more than $11 million to cover the losses, an amount that exceeds the previous four years combined. Cattle deaths from this past winter, which brought even colder temperatures in February and March, have yet to be compiled.

Sun-ripened huckleberries to Missoula County Public Schools’ partnership with NorthWestern Energy to install solar panels on the rooftops of all four high schools in Missoula. NorthWestern is covering the initial costs of the $1 million project, which is designed both to meet the district’s energy conservation goals and provide learning opportunities to students at Big Sky, Hellgate, Sentinel and Willard high schools.

Hard-working huckleberries to all those who raised their collective voices in recent weeks to protect the Trapper Creek Job Corps in Ravalli County and other Job Corps Conservation Centers at risk of closure or privatization under a new plan forwarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last week, the members of the Ravalli County Commission sent a letter to the U.S. secretaries of agriculture and labor in defense of their local center, which was one of 16 slated for privatization. All three of Montana’s congressional delegates expressed strong opposition to closing Montana’s only other Job Corps center in Anaconda, as well as support for maintaining the overall Job Corps program in its current form, and just this week, the Trump administration announced that it would reverse course and keep all the centers open and operating as they have for decades.

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