A judicious amount of congratulatory huckleberries to Jason Marks, who in September will become Missoula County's newest district court judge. Marks served four years as chief deputy county attorney, and before that as a deputy county attorney and a public defender in the Missoula and state offices.
A toast with a huckleberry wine (We checked. It exists.), the hue of her deep-blue judicial robes, to Judge Karen Townsend, the first woman appointed to the Missoula County District Court bench. Townsend, who retires Aug. 30, presided over several significant cases, including the city's long-running and ultimately successful attempt to acquire Mountain Water.
Wash-your-mouth-out-with-'em chokecherries to the people sending nasty and threatening messages to anyone connected with Curt Brockway, the man accused of choke-slamming a 13-year-old boy. As the Mineral County Attorney Ellen Donohue said, in an impressive display of tact, the senders "lacked a basic understanding of the judicial process in the United States." Please, let's respect the process.
Thrifty huckleberries to the City of Missoula's proposal to transfer $2.8 million from the city's urban renewal program, particularly prosperous this year, into its rainy-day fund. Reporter Matt Neuman's story about the transfer contained this delightful phrase about the urban renewal program (also known as tax increment financing, or TIF): more than enough money available all around. Even Councilor Jesse Ramos, a sworn foe of TIF, pronounced himself "thrilled."
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Warm and supportive huckleberry muffins to the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education for adapting for Montana's college students a program developed by City University of New York. Montana Project 10 aims to increase graduation and retention rates by offering support services to students, and will be piloted this year at the University of Montana, Montana State University and Helena College.
Dug-in chokecherries to the standoff between opponents and supporters of a red-flag law for Montana. Red flag laws allow law enforcement to obtain an order of protection to remove firearms from the possession of people who are deemed by a court to be an extreme risk to themselves or others. Despite Montana's tragically high suicide rate, and the national concern over mass shootings, the two sides in Montana seem unable to find a way forward.
A mixed bag of frustrated chokecherries for the ongoing and inexcusable issue of missing and murdered indigenous people — and hopeful huckleberries for the persistent efforts to call attention to the problem, and the attempts to solve it. Last weekend saw Mount Sentinel's iconic M edged in red, the color adopted by the cause. And proceeds from all the T-shirts sold at the Western Montana Fair by the Missoula Urban Indian Health Center will go to families affected by the issue.
Tear-streaked chokecherries at the approach of the last week of summer vacation before school starts. Kids, get out there and enjoy it, and parents, we hope you can join them. It's a magical time, and always seems to go too fast.