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Huckleberries

A shelf full of books on huckleberries to the annual Montana Book Festival, which continues through this weekend and, in recognition of the fact that “Western writing” encompasses more than just one perspective, offering a broader array of writers and topics than ever before. The full lineup of festival events is online at www.montanabookfestival.org.

Chokecherry cough syrup to the Missoula County residents who aren’t up to date on their pertussis vaccination, decreasing the local population’s herd immunity to the illness and allowing the number of confirmed cases of whooping cough to reach a record number this year. So far, Missoula County has counted 169 cases, according to the health department, which far exceeds the previous high of 23 cases in 2012.

A blanket of huckleberries to the Poverello Center as it prepares to reopen a dorm area that had to be closed off and cleaned up following a plumbing failure that also shut down the kitchen — twice. As Poverello staff scrambled to find other arrangements for the 56-or-so men who had been sleeping there, members of the community and several local businesses pitched in with donations and offers to help scrub the dorm. 

A merry-go-round of mixed berries and cherries to the Western Montana Fair, which encountered some rainy weather last month and saw a slight decrease in attendance compared to last year, but also marked an eight-year high in sponsorships. Total attendance at this year’s fair was less than 78,000, a 4% decrease from last year. Sponsorships, meanwhile, topped $84,600 — and more than 1,300 individual exhibitors participated in this year’s fair, a sizable increase from last year as well.

A pile of chokecherry pits to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that allows the return of political robocalls in Montana. The annoying pre-recorded messages are, apparently, protected free speech. Montana’s “unlawful automated telephone solicitation” law had allowed for a number of exceptions and imposed a feeble fine of “not more than $2,500” for violations. Now, even that small hurdle has been removed, leaving the gate wide open to any caller who wants to spam Montana voters with political messages ahead of the 2020 elections.

Booming huckleberries to Consumer Direct Care Network, a growing national business with about 325 employees at its headquarters and another 75 caregivers in Missoula alone, and hundreds more at other locations. The in-home health care company learned recently that it has been selected by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to administer $500 million in spending, a major contract that will allow Consumer Direct to hire another 150 employees in Missoula.

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