Huckleberry huckleberries

A finish line of huckleberries for the biggest local race of the year, the award-winning Missoula Marathon. Featuring a full marathon, half marathon, 5K and a marathon just for kids, the three-day event kicks off today with a free Beer Run. The throngs of supporters who turn out to cheer on the racers have even more reason to applaud this year, as race organizers will let the top six winners choose one of three local nonprofits to receive a $1,500 donation in each of their names: The Missoula Food Bank, Opportunity Resources Inc., and Let’s Move! Missoula. Earlier this month race director Tony Banovich told the Missoulian that the Missoula Marathon’s growing success has allowed it to expand its giving to various groups from about $35,000 to an expected $50,000 this year.

Incorrectly calculated chokecherries to Montana students’ “appalling” math proficiency rate. That’s the word Montana Kids Count director Thale Dillon used to describe the too-high percentage of eighth-graders who are not proficient in math. In 2009, the number of students who fell below proficiency level was 56%. By 2017, the number had jumped to 63%. Although the 2019 Kids Count Data Book, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation last week, noted that Montana’s average was slightly better than the national average of 67%, it still ranked Montana at 20th place for education overall.

A boxcar loaded with huckleberries to Montana Rail Link, which recently learned it landed a $3.5 million federal grant to improve the safety of 655 miles of track that starts near Billings and crosses through western Montana into Sandpoint, Idaho. The money from the Federal Railroad Administration will help MRL design a safety system that will warn operators of potential problems and automatically stop trains prior to a crash.

Sickly chokecherries to the second confirmed case of chronic wasting disease in deer found wandering through the city of Libby. The first, a doe, died in late May, and the second, a buck, was reported in mid-June. They were the first cases located west of the Continental Divide, according to the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and triggered the creation of an Initial Response Area to follow up with testing.

Huckleberry parachutes to the safe return of Miss Montana and her crew, who flew a total 16,000 miles on a round-trip journey to Normandy, France, to participate in D-Day commemorative events earlier this month. Congratulations are due to all who helped get the plane ship-shape and airborne in time for the 75th anniversary flights, but especially the Museum of Mountain Flying’s Eric Komberec and Bryan Douglass, who spearheaded the project that would give the old DC-3/C-47 plane a new chapter in the history books.

Unprepared chokecherries to two candidates from Missoula who apparently didn’t read the rules closely enough before launching their campaigns. Kimberly Dudik was found in violation of campaign practice laws for using University of Montana staff emails to promote her run for the statewide attorney general seat. And Missoula City Council Ward 4 candidate Alan Ault was temporarily kicked out of the municipal election for failing to file required documents; he managed to get the information turned in and his name was restored to the ballot.

A smooth incline of huckleberries to the completion of a two-year, $3.2 million project to upgrade more than 300 sidewalk ramps in Missoula and bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The construction, while posing a temporary inconvenience, actually finished ahead of schedule last week and will make key intersections throughout town much more convenient for those who use wheelchairs.

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