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Hucks and chokes

Extra! Extra! Huckleberries to the intrepid participants in the Missoulian’s first-ever “Newpaper Game: You be the editor.” More than a dozen people ventured out to Imagine Nation on a cold Tuesday night to learn about how editors choose their top stories, and to try their hand at selecting a daily edition’s worth of (fictional) front-page headlines.

Overgrown chokecherry shrubs to Idaho for slowly encroaching on between 13 and 40 acres of Montana land. Fortunately, Montana Rep. Denley Loge, R-St. Regis, Mineral County Commission Chair Roman Zylawy and others are leading the charge to get the border issue straightened out with Idaho at last and ensure the correct amount of taxes and federal payments go to the right government entity in the future.

A glass of pure huckleberry juice to Holly Fry for buying up a bunch of SipChips, a quarter-sized device that can be used to quickly test for drugs in drinks, and making them available at Disco BloodBath this past Saturday. Fry is part of a “venue safety task force” of about two dozen people working to reduce risk and promote safety at Missoula’s entertainment venues.

Vaporized chokecherries to the two cases of vaping-related illness confirmed in Montana this week, bringing the statewide total so far to five cases — and one death. The recent cases concerned a teen from Cascade County and person in their 30s from Lake County, both of whom reported having vaped THC or nicotine and THC.

Meanwhile, the Curry Health Center at the University of Montana hosted a multi-day drive to collect e-cigs and vaping pens from those willing to give them up. Students who turned in their vaping device got a $5 gift card and were entered into a raffle, and even though the official drive is now over, the health center still provides free Quit Kits to any students interested in kicking their tobacco habit, including e-cigarettes. Non-addictive huckleberry gum to these folks for their proactive approach and for encouraging students to make healthier choices.

Digital huckleberries to Tech Skills for Tomorrow, a new initiative at UM to train students for careers in the burgeoning high-tech sector. Along with Missoula College, the initiative seeks to partners with tech companies and others to address an expected worker shortage and prepare graduates to meet the changing needs of an ever-evolving industry.

Chokecherries plowed into a great big pile to the 250% increase in Montana’s snowplow costs this season compared to last year. The state already has spent more than $2 million clearing the roads of snow and ice, compared to about $575,000 over the same period in 2018. The steep increase is due to the record-breaking and unseasonably early snowfall in some parts of Montana, including a September blizzard that dropped more than 50 inches of snow in Browning and other Blackfeet Reservation communities.

Reconstructed huckleberries to the completion of the historic Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park, a two-year project to restore the century-old building that was gutted by wildfire two years ago. The chalet is expected to welcome visitors again starting next summer.

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