Safely returned huckleberries to the county and tribal law enforcement officers who helped return two missing teenagers to their families last weekend. One girl’s mother singled out Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Police Officer William Mesteth, who located her 15-year-old daughter, for being particularly helpful. Meanwhile, Lake County Sheriff’s officers found a 14-year-old girl safe and sound about a day after she was reported missing and possibly in danger. If only all missing person reports had such happy endings.
Sadly, many of them don’t — and heaps of chokecherries to anyone who diverts precious public resources from real missing person cases just so they can participate in some dumb “24 hour challenge” on social media. Earlier this week, five Mission Valley students ran away in a stunt their parents and law enforcement linked to a “game” in which people can score points based on how many times news of their disappearance is shared. Thankfully, the runaways were all located later that same night. But they caused unnecessary worry in a community that has seen too many people disappear without a trace.
In case these youngsters weren’t aware, Native Americans, and particularly girls and women, go missing at rates vastly disproportionate to their population. CSKT member Jermain Charlo, 23, has been missing for 10 months now. She disappeared in mid-June after she was seen in Missoula, and her family is still desperately searching for her. This is no game.
Sold-out huckleberries to Darko Butorac, who oversaw his final concert as conductor and artistic director for the Missoula Symphony Orchestra last Sunday, followed by a sold-out celebration. After 12 years in Missoula, Butorac is leaving for North Carolina, where he will be music director for the Asheville Symphony Orchestra. After bidding him a fond adieu, the Missoula Symphony announced it has selected five final candidates from about 140 applicants seeking to become the organization’s new music director, each boasting an impressive resume and range of talent. Their interviews in Missoula will begin this fall and continue through April 2020.
Gold-plated chokecherries to Ryan Zinke, who four months ago oversaw energy extraction companies as head of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and now is working for one of those same companies. Under pressure from President Trump to resign his post as Interior secretary, Zinke left his cabinet position last December. This week, he told the Associated Press that his new $114,000-a-year position with mining exploration and development company U.S. Gold Corp., based in Nevada, is not related to lobbying — even though the company’s CEO said Zinke was hired as a consultant and board member in part because of his “excellent relationship” with the Interior Department. Hmm.
An encore of huckleberries to Missoula County Public Schools’ music program, which recently received a special award from the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation. Out of more than 13,000 school districts in the nation, the foundation recognized just 623 districts in 41 states for providing outstanding music education, noting that it takes the combined efforts of teachers, parents, students and members of the larger community to instill a deeper understanding of, and lasting appreciation for, all different kinds of music.