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Huckleberries

Homegrown huckleberries to Missoula’s recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day as an official holiday. Missoula’s City Council swapped Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples’ Day nearly four years ago, and several other Montana communities, from Bozeman to Helena to Harlem, have done the same. A legislator from Missoula, Rep. Shane Morigeau, sponsored a bill in the most recent legislative session to observe Indigenous People’s Day throughout the state. Unfortunately, that bill died in a Senate committee; we hope it will be revived and passed in the next session so Montanans can be united in a shared celebration of Native American history, culture and contributions.

Watered-down chokecherries to the weak “concern” expressed by Montana’s congressional delegates over the eruption of violence in Syria following President Trump’s announcement that U.S. troops would withdraw from Kurdish communities ahead of an invasion from Turkey. Trump later announced sanctions against some Turkish officials, and one Republican representative from Wyoming pledged to introduce a bill imposing further sanctions. But instead of condemning the troop withdrawal or offering strong support for the Kurds, Montana’s U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines, and U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, could only say they are “concerned” about the situation in Syria and will be “monitoring” it closely — none of which helps our allies overseas who are losing their lives and homes, or restores America’s reputation as a steadfast defender of our allies.

Transparent huckleberries to the leaders of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church for acting quickly to remove a longtime pastor after he admitted to “inappropriate contact” with a Missoula woman. The woman came forward to church leaders on Oct. 2 and Rev. Rich Perry was confronted the same day, then relocated to a California retirement community for church leaders accused of misconduct, in accordance with church policy. Within a week of the initial allegation, parishioners, parents and students at St. Joseph School were notified of Perry’s removal in a refreshingly candid letter that should be emulated by the leaders of any other churches facing similar circumstances.

Decimated chokecherries to the news that six grizzlies died from a variety of causes in a single week last week. One bear was euthanized for killing cattle, two were hit by a train and three were killed on a highway. The death of two more cubs this week brings the unofficial number of grizzly mortalities in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem to 44 so far this year. Last year, the region suffered a loss of more than 50 grizzlies — a significant reduction for a population that includes only about 1,000 grizzly bears.

A round of huckleberries to Patricia Donlin for her generous $1 million gift to A Carousel for Missoula. Donlin's donation was made in memory of her younger brother, Alex McDonald, who was one of the original carvers of the Carousel ponies and who passed away in 2018. The unexpected and very welcome gift will help keep the beloved Carousel turning for many years to come. 

A netful of chokecherries to the recently discovery of two female walleye in Upper Thompson Lake. The non-native fish were netted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists during their regular gill net survey. The predatory species poses a grave threat to native fish and their illegal introduction has destroyed perch and trout populations in Canyon Ferry, Holter and Hauser reservoirs, which are all managed as walleye fisheries now.

A massive gathering of huckleberries to Nick and Robin Checota for their plans to develop a prominent downtown location into a commercial center that would include a hotel, restaurants, parking structure and civic events center. The Checotas, who have extensive experience with entertainment venues from the Top Hat to the Wilma Theater, are working to acquire the development rights to the city-owned property from Hotel Fox Partners, which has been working to secure financing for the $100 million project since first gaining City Council approval in 2017. The planned event center would have a capacity of 6,000, helping to fill a need in Missoula for more large indoor spaces capable of hosting conferences and other gatherings.

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