Ripening huckleberries to the Montana legislators who are working on creating a sexual harassment policy for the Legislature despite a lack of support from certain fellow legislators who have claimed that such a policy is unnecessary because they haven’t heard of any complaints. A clear complaint procedure is just one crucial element of the new policy draft, which includes mandatory training, a process for investigating complaints and guidelines for releasing information about substantiated complaints – and prohibits retaliation for making a complaint. The 12 members of the Legislative Council, chaired by Stevensville Republican Sen. Fred Thomas, will meet again later this month to decide whether the policy is ready to advance.
Asbestos-dusted chokecherries to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for making the mind-boggling move toward condoning the use of new asbestos materials. Dozens of countries have prohibited asbestos due to its well-known health hazards, which any resident of Libby could readily recite. In fact, the EPA declared its first-ever public health emergency, covering Libby and Troy, just over nine years ago after a significant portion of the population was seriously sickened with asbestosis and mesothelioma linked to exposure to asbestos from the local vermiculite mine. Hundreds died, and hundreds more struggle with persistent health complications to this day. Yet now the EPA, thanks to recently resigned Director Scott Pruitt, is poised to ignore this tragic history lesson. Its proposed new rule calls for evaluating the risks only of new uses of asbestos and completely neglects those uses that have already been proven hazardous.
Prize-winning huckleberry pies to the organizers of the Western Montana Fair, which is offering free admission for the second year in a row and which is also dedicating space for the MADE Fair Marketplace for the first time this year. The hand- and home-made goods, along with interactive booths and featured artists, will be housed in the Commercial Building for the duration of the fair, which opened Tuesday evening and will run through this Sunday.
Lengthy lines of chokecherries to the “excessive wait times” at the Missoula County Treasurer’s Office, which Missoula County Clerk and Treasurer Tyler Gernant attributes to new software from the Montana Department of Justice. Apparently the new software used to register motor vehicles requires time-consuming extra steps for staff in the Missoula office and, to make matters worse, “routinely crashes in the middle of transactions, requiring the software to be restarted and the transaction to start anew,” Gernant complained in a letter to Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, who oversees the Justice Department. “In some instances, this happens multiple times during a single transaction,” Gernant wrote. A DOJ spokesman told the Missoulian that four other counties have also complained and had their problems resolved already; Missoula County, last in line, was expected to receive help starting this week.
High-tech huckleberries to Missoula’s growing tech businesses, several of which were recognized this week by the Montana High Tech Business Alliance. The alliance named the companies on three separate lists that highlight high-growth outfits, top employers and top startups in the state, and Missoula made a solid showing thanks to companies LumenAd, Satic USA, TOMIS, DermaXon, GeoFli, Inimmune, Blackfoot, Edulog and WGM Group. Even two companies based out of state, ATG and AT&T, helped put Missoula on the list with offices here employing more than 100 people.
Further cementing Missoula’s reputation as a happening tech hub, this week another tech company announced that it is expanding its downtown Missoula location and is on track to add another 40 high-paying jobs. ClassPass, based in New York, now has a total of more than 70 positions in Missoula and was recently reimbursed nearly $160,000 through a Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund grant for 22 of those new jobs. To qualify for reimbursement, the jobs must pay at least $18.50 an hour and the company must bring in revenue from outside the state.