A bipartisan helping of huckleberries and a big red apple to the passage of House Bill 143, the proposal to boost the base pay for Montana’s public school teachers through incentives for their school districts. With the state’s starting rate for new teachers lagging at 27th place in the nation, Governor Gianforte made raising teacher pay a priority for his administration. The bill, sponsored by Conrad Republican Rep. Llew Jones and passed by the Montana House this week, earned the support of not only the Governor’s Office and the Office of Public Instruction — but also 97 legislators who voted for it, with only three opposing.
A backlog of chokecherries to the sizable backlog of court cases, yet another side effect of the coronavirus pandemic. In Missoula, courts are pulling larger jury pools and taking other health precautions — such as screening potential jurors at least twice for any COVID-19 symptoms or recent exposures — as they try to ensure court proceedings can continue in a safe, socially distanced manner.
A park teeming with bushels of huckleberries for Montana’s state parks, which recorded a record number of visitors last year. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ most recent report shows a whopping 30% increase from 2019 to 2020, in spite of temporary closures and restrictions caused by COVID-19. In all, some 3.4 million people took time during the first months of the pandemic to get some fresh air and outdoor exercise at one of Montana’s 55 state parks.
A pipeline clogged with chokecherries to U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, who should be supporting President Biden’s revocation of federal permits for the Keystone pipeline. Instead, Tester joined with U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale in pushing Biden to reconsider his position. In a letter to President Biden, Tester describes the pipeline as “a powerful economic driver for Montana,” perhaps forgetting that Montana’s irreplaceable environment is an even more powerful economic driver — one responsible for more than $7 billion a year in economic activity, and still growing.
A box of bubble-wrapped huckleberries to Molly Galusha for the safe return of a rare terra cotta piece crafted by renowned artist Archie Bray to the foundation that carries his name in Helena. The pot, which stands more than 4 feet tall and is more than 100 years old, is biding its time in the Radius Gallery in Missoula until it can be moved to its new home at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts where, it can only be hoped, the wild story of how the pot was stolen by a relative, stored in a fallout shelter and eventually returned, will be shared with interested visitors for years to come.
This editorial represents the views of the Missoulian Editorial Board: Publisher Jim Strauss, Executive Editor Jim Van Nostrand and Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen.