New heights of huckleberries to celebrate Montana’s record-setting turnout for this year’s primary elections. At last count, statewide voter turnout approached 55%, with 381,163 ballots returned from 696,174 registered voters, setting a new record for the number of votes cast in a Montana primary and lending evidence to the argument that all-mail-ballot elections do in fact increase voter participation.
In Missoula County, elections officials mailed 71,322 ballots to registered voters, and 46,240 of them were returned by Election Day. Huckleberries to county elections officials across the state who expertly handled an unprecedented number of ballots this year, even as key elections issues were debated in the courts and the coronavirus pandemic necessitated special health measures.
Quarantined chokecherries to the recent uptick in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Montana, including a new case in Missoula County believed to be a result of “community spread.” That’s when the virus is passed from one person in the community to another, as opposed to occurring through travel or direct contact with another person who has tested positive. The Missoula City-County Health Department announced the new case Monday, along with assurances that the department is monitoring the infected individual and that person’s one known contact as they remain in isolation.
This case should serve as a reminder to everyone in Missoula that basic health precautions — wearing face masks in public, washing hands frequently and social distancing — is as important now as ever before, especially as restrictions are loosened and more places open their doors to more visitors.
And with that in mind, chokecherry mufflers to those who not only visit businesses without a mask, endangering employees and other customers, but are obnoxiously rude about it besides. Home ReSource is not the only place to witness this selfish behavior, but it has responded in a way that’s both lighthearted and educational, with staff writing on a white board some of the insults they’ve heard from customers who don’t like the local nonprofit’s policy requiring face coverings. The board includes a reminder from staff to “Be kind. Or be original.”
Bacon-wrapped huckleberries to the Missoula County Public Schools Agricultural Center for its donation of three tons of pork — valued at about $20,000 — to the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center. Ag Center staff, including high school students learning the ropes of meat processing, prepared a variety of cuts from 30 pigs originally donated by a farmer in South Dakota, the Big Sky DECA club, and the Missoula, Corvallis and state chapters of Future Farmers of America. The pork donation ensures that the food bank, which has seen an increase in need for emergency food assistance each year and an even larger spike in visits since the beginning of the pandemic, will be able to continue to help Missoula families put food on the table and inside hungry bellies.
A lifetime supply of huckleberries to Vickie Zeier, whom Missoulian news staff know from firsthand experience to be exceptionally helpful and accessible to the public, as well as endlessly patient when correcting the spelling of her name. After 35 years of employment with Missoula County, the last six as chief administrative officer, Zeier is retiring with a legacy worth honoring and emulating, one in which serving the people of Missoula County always came first.
This editorial represents the views of the Missoulian Editorial Board: Publisher Jim Strauss, Editor Gwen Florio and Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen.
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