Huckleberry huckleberries

Glowing huckleberries in solidarity with the Lights for Liberty vigils taking place in seven Montana communities tonight. Participants are gathering to demand an end to the routine separation of families at the southern U.S. border and protest the treatment of children held in detention facilities. Several groups — including the Montana Human Rights Network, Montanans for Immigrant Justice Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, Soft Landing Missoula and Missoula Rises — helped coordinate the candlelight vigils to coincide with national events being held in recognition of the lasting trauma caused to children when they are separated from their parents — many of whom are fleeing to the U.S. to escape traumatic experiences in their home countries. The vigil in Missoula will begin at 7:30 tonight outside St. Paul Lutheran Church, at 202 Brooks St.

A small package of chokecherries to the dearth of drivers for Missoula Aging Service’s Meals on Wheels program, which delivers some 100,000 meals each year to about 800 homebound seniors and others who need a little extra help putting together a nutritious meal. The nonprofit usually counts on up to 100 regular volunteers to make deliveries along 16 routes covering Missoula County, but this summer has only about 70 — and extra helpings of huckleberries go to these dedicated drivers. To find out how to join them as a Meals on Wheels delivery driver, or sponsor a route or contribute financial support, visit missoulaagingservices.org or call 728-7682.

A handful of huckleberries first to Bob Beckley, then handed over to Susan Jenkins, who is taking over for Beckley as the U.S. Forest Service’s official expert in traditional forestry skills. After 45 years with the Forest Service, Beckley is considered a leading authority on traditional forestry tools and methods, but Jenkins is well prepared to replace him, having honed her own knowledge in non-mechanized techniques over the past couple of decades following stints as a seasonal firefighter, kayaking wilderness ranger and more recently as a recreation specialist in the McCall Ranger District on the Payette National Forest in Idaho.

Three more chokecherries to the discovery of three more diseased deer in Libby. Over the past two months, two deer wandering inside Libby city limits were confirmed with chronic wasting disease, a brain infection that is contagious among cervids like deer, elk and moose. This month, lab tests confirmed the presence of the disease in three additional white-tailed deer in the Libby area. So far, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has taken nearly 30 samples in an effort to pin down the prevalence of the disease and is urging those who suspect an animal is showing symptoms of CWD to call (406) 291-6539 or Lincoln County Dispatch and leave a message including the caller’s name, number, the location of the animal and the time it was seen.

A foundation of huckleberries to the latest round of Community Development Block Grant awards from the Montana Department of Commerce, which total nearly $6.5 million and includes $450,000 for the YWCA to help build a new housing facility and shelter for families in Missoula. The program is designed to help address community needs, and the new 36,000-square-foot facility, which will offer emergency shelter for families escaping domestic violence, and rooms for up to 31 homeless families, promises to do just that. The grant, along with others, will help put a sizable dent in the facility’s $10.9 million cost.

And a trophy overflowing with huckleberries to the University of Montana women’s soccer team, which hosted 20 athletes from Peru at a soccer clinic earlier this week. The visit, made possible by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at UM and the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, brought an opportunity to discuss persistent imbalances in pay between male and female soccer players in the Americas — an imbalance that’s finally getting widespread attention in the wake of the U.S. women’s national soccer team winning the World Cup and filing a lawsuit demanding pay equity with the men’s soccer team.

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