Hucks and chokes

High-flying, low-cost huckleberries to the $14 million in collective savings enjoyed by those flying out of Missoula’s airport. A $400,000 investment from the Missoula Economic Partnership and other local partners enabled the airport to access an additional $600,000 in federal funding to offer a revenue guarantee to American Airlines. According to Grant Kier, executive director of the MEP, airline passengers out of Missoula saw the lowest average airfare of any airport in Montana last year.

Chinks plugged with chokecherries to the unsettling news that 11 dams in Montana are not only in poor condition, their failure would likely kill at least one person. The Associated Press conducted a two-year investigation of dam conditions across the nation, and reported that at least 1,680 aging dams pose a threat to people downstream in 44 states and Puerto Rico. In Montana, the list includes the Blixit Creek dam in Missoula County, the Fred Burr Reservoir Dam in Ravalli County, the Kootenai Development Impoundment Dam in Lincoln County, the Lower Willow Creek Dam in Granite County and the Powell Dam in Powell County.

An inventive huckleberry-dispensing device to the new Innovation Factory at the University of Montana. The IF opened earlier this month in a space offering a variety of creative tools and materials, and also kicked off 30 Days of Innovation to invite the community to explore the new space. Through Dec. 13, IF is hosting presentations, workshops, forums and even field trips exploring everything from robots to mapping to sous-vide cooking.

A sieve of chokecherries to the recent plumbing problems at the Missoula County Detention Center. Jail personnel confirmed last week that a plumber was being called in to address a backed-up floor drain and standing water in two rooms, but no inmates were directly affected or needed to be relocated.

Shelves lined with huckleberries to the plans taking shape for the new five-story Missoula Public Library, with a special shelf dedicated to Nick and Robin Checota for their recent $50,000 donation. The Checotas’ gift, made through their Logjam Foundation, will go toward the library’s art space for children, which will be supplied with books of course, but also offer a host of other media and even a climbing structure. The library foundation is still working to close its steadily shrinking fundraising gap, with only $450,000 more to go. To help out with a donation of your own, visit www.missoulapubliclibrary.org/grow.

Responsibly screened chokecherries to the spike in gonorrhea and syphilis cases in Montana. The Missoula City-County Health Department shared that cases of gonorrhea have increased by 27% statewide over last year, and are expected to reach 1,400 cases in 2019. Meanwhile, cases of syphilis have holding steady for the past two years at about 50 cases a year — still a big jump from the previous yearly average of about 12. Both sexually transmitted diseases are preventable and easily treated with antibiotics.

Honorable huckleberries to those who volunteer their time to care for a veteran, to those who donated clothes, meals and money to veterans’ organizations, and to all those who attended one of the many Veterans Day events from Stevensville through Missoula to Kalispell in tribute to our nation’s veterans.

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