A badge adorned with huckleberries to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, which received a plaque from the Montana Highway Patrol this week in recognition of the department’s outstanding teamwork in responding to a fatal crash last December. Two people died in the incident in nearby Mineral County involving five semi-trucks, but it could have been even worse if not for the swift response from Missoula County officers, who crossed county lines to help out local and state law enforcement. Their dedication and hard work is evident every day, but too often goes unsung — so it was good to see these officers receive some much-deserved official recognition.
A second wave of chokecherries to the second flooding at the Poverello Center homeless shelter last week. The first plumbing problem in early May forced the shelter to throw out all its food, shut down its kitchen and block off the men’s dorm. After extensive cleaning and repairs made possible by throngs of volunteers, generous donations and additional funding support from the United Way of Missoula, Missoula County, Missoula Federal Credit Union and First Interstate Bank, not to mention dozens of others, the Pov was able to reopen and begin paying off some $150,000 worth of damages. This second leak, caused by a clogged pipe that again leaked sewage into the kitchen and men’s dorm, forced another deep clean before the kitchen reopened earlier this week, and the building design is being examined to determine how to best to avoid more floods in the future. The Pov needs to find a permanent fix to this worrisome problem, and the sooner the better. In the meantime, it's accepting donations to help defray the latest round of unexpected costs, and doubtless generous members of the Missoula community will continue to step up to help ensure our homeless neighbors have access to food and shelter. With the homeless shelter at capacity with 150 clients each night, that community support is much needed.
Freshly harvested huckleberries to the new co-directors of the PEAS Farm in the Rattlesnake Valley. Caroline Stephens and Dave Victor are filling the boots left by PEAS founder and former director Josh Slotnick, who is now serving as a Missoula County commissioner. Stephens and Victor are both graduates of the University of Montana’s Environmental Studies program, and will share their knowledge with 15 UM students and 10 high school students working on the 10-acre farm this summer.
A long string of chokecherries to the long delayed legal proceedings in a case involving a former Florence doctor charged with two counts of negligent homicide, along with more than 400 felonies for over-prescribing prescription drugs. Chris Christensen was first charged in August 2015. He was found guilty in a jury trial in November 2017. He was sentenced in February 2018, to 20 years in prison with 10 suspended. But then the case was appealed to the Montana Supreme Court, and Christensen has repeatedly missed filing deadlines and repeatedly been granted extensions. In the meantime, family members like Sharon Griffin, whose son died of an overdose of drugs prescribed by Christensen, are still waiting to see justice served.
Huckleberry sparklers to all those patriotic Missoulians who celebrated Independence Day safely and without terrorizing pets, wildlife and neighbors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder by shooting off fireworks. Fireworks are prohibited on all county parks, state and national forest lands, and Missoula allows only small novelty fireworks like party poppers and sparklers within city limits. Nevertheless, every year a small but noisy number of individuals insist on firing the largest window-rattling fireworks they can get their hands on — so soggy chokecherries to them.