Relieved huckleberries to celebrate the miraculous recovery of a 5-month-old baby boy who was found under a pile of sticks and debris near Lolo Hot Springs, and an extra helping of grateful huckleberries to all those involved in the intensive foot search that led to the baby’s rescue. Missoula County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Ross Jessop and U.S. Forest Service officer Nick Scholz in particular deserve an unlimited lifetime supply of huckleberries for their dogged search efforts that ultimately led them to find the infant alive and well out in a remote part of the woods where he was abandoned more than nine hours earlier. The man who allegedly buried the baby, Francis Charlton Crowley of Oregon, has been arrested and faces felony charges of assault on a minor and criminal endangerment.
Chokecherry tears to the sudden increase in highway fatalities this month, effectively ending what had been an especially safe year for Montana drivers. In fact, earlier this year, the state managed to go more than a month without a single fatal car crash for the first time in more than 10 years. Montana is still on track for a lower number of highway deaths than usual, with fatal crashes down by about 8 percent, but this welcome trend took a hit over the week of the Fourth of July, which remains the deadliest holiday for fatal crashes, according to the Montana Highway Patrol. Six people died on July 4 and 5, bringing the total number of deaths so far this month to 14, and the total so far this year to 78. To help keep this number as low as possible, always wear a seat belt, mind the speed limit, and never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Extra special huckleberries to every state legislator who voted not to convene an ill-advised special legislative session this month. Ballots aren’t due until Sunday, but 83 legislators have already made their preference clear, with the majority — a total of 52, including 19 Republicans — voting in opposition to a special session. The session, which would have started Monday, was aimed at passing legislation to deal with two ballot initiatives before voters get a chance to have their say this November.
A mess of chokecherries to the bungled signature-gathering efforts that led to the removal of Green Party candidates from this November’s ballot. Earlier this week, a district court judge in Helena ruled that the Montana Green Party did not submit the required number of valid signatures and disqualified the party from the ballot after finding that some petitions were incorrectly signed, turned in by someone other than the signature-collector, and other problems. Although Secretary of State Corey Stapleton is appealing the ruling to the state Supreme Court, if it is upheld, Montana voters will have fewer candidates to choose from this November, and fewer choices often results in lower turnout. If the Green Party hopes to be regarded as a legitimate choice in future elections, it needs to do a better job of ensuring its signature-gathering process — and its candidates — withstand close scrutiny.
Cage-free huckleberries to the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole, which underwent major reforms approved by the 2017 Legislature and is now granting release to 67 percent of inmates on their first appearance, a sharp increase from the 47 percent granted release last year.
Chokecherry curtains to whomever recently stole the cash donation box from the Missoula Outdoor Cinema. The donations allow the North Missoula Community Development Corp. to screen popular films throughout the summer months and help support the organization’s other neighborhood programs.