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Missoulian editorial

Missoulian editorial: Return of in-person fun at fair

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Fair Preview 4

A new circular plaza next to the Commercial Building will be the site of nightly music and dancing at the fair.

Deep-fried huckleberries to the return of the carnival, bingo games, food, live music and more at the 2021 Western Montana Fair, which opened Wednesday and continues through Sunday night. Many fair fixtures had to be canceled last year due to the pandemic, while others, such as the rodeo and livestock sales, went virtual. Now the traditional fair offerings are back, along with some new and improved features including a new historic plaza and dance area, re-done restrooms and revamped vendor booths. Get parking tips and more information from the Western Montana Fair website at missoulafairgrounds.com.

A sobering chokecherry summary in response to the Montana Highway Patrol’s latest annual report, which showed increases in both fatal vehicle crashes and in confiscation of dangerous drugs last year. From 2016 to 2019, the Highway Patrol did not seize any fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can cause fatal overdoses even in small amounts. In 2020, the division seized 4,556 tabs of fentanyl. The jump was primarily due to the “drastic increase in fentanyl usage recently,” explained Highway Patrol spokesman Jay Nelson. Most car fatalities, on the other hand, were due to the usual causes: intoxicated drivers, excessive speed and unused seat belts.

Huckleberries to seal the new deal between the city of Missoula and the Western Montana Mental Health Center and allow a 21-unit apartment building to transfer to public ownership. The Bridge Apartments were listed for sale a few months ago and the city put in an offer, but the mental health center opted to negotiate with another buyer instead. Now those negotiations have ended, allowing the city to step in with its proposal to use tax increment financing to pay the $2.2 million price and ensure the apartments will remain available for its low-income residents well into the future.

A delayed delivery of chokecherries to the sluggish rollout of the promised “return to work” bonuses. As many businesses continue to struggle to hire enough workers to meet their labor needs, the $1,200 bonus was aimed at encouraging those receiving unemployment benefits to return to the workforce. As further “incentive,” Gov. Greg Gianforte announced that Montana would stop accepting additional unemployment payments from the federal government. About 10,000 people dropped from the unemployment rolls when those benefits stopped at the end of June. At last count, the “return to work” bonus had been paid to only 166 out of nearly 4,000 applicants.

Secured housed huckleberries to the anonymous donor who gave $50,000 to a local nonprofit to help local families find affordable housing. The donation to Trust Montana Inc. will help low-income and moderate-income families through the Home Buyer Choice Program, which can provide up to $90,000 in assistance for households with incomes 80% or below the median income for the area. That’s $60,150 for a family of four. It’s particularly apropos that the donor used the proceeds from their own home sale to make this generous donation.

This editorial represents the views of the Missoulian Editorial Board: Publisher Jim Strauss, Executive Editor Jim Van Nostrand and Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen. 

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