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Huckleberries

Hopeful huckleberries to Montana Highway Patrol trooper Wade Palmer, whose condition slightly improved earlier this week as he regained consciousness. Palmer was put in a medically induced coma in a Salt Lake City hospital last month after he was shot three times by a suspect charged with shooting three others about an hour earlier. One of the victims, Shelley Hays, was killed, while Julie Blanchard and her son Casey were shot but survived. Casey Blanchard was taken to the same hospital as Palmer and was most recently reported to be in stable condition as well. We extend our sincerest wishes that all three survivors make a complete recovery.

A downtown plot of huckleberries to Terry Payne for his generous donation of high-value land in Missoula’s urban core. Payne, of PayneWest Insurance, is known for his generous donations to the University of Montana’s Payne Family Native American Center and to the Missoula College’s Payne Family Library. His family had already agreed to swap the block of land at 400 E. Main St. for the 300 block, which includes the Missoula Public Library, in order to allow the library to remain open at its existing location while a new library is built. This week, he gave the property to the city outright, with “no strings attached,” leaving it up to the community to decide how best to use the parcel after the new library is completed in 2020.

Excessive chokecherries to the University of Montana for failing to address the growing imbalance of non-tenurable instructors, including adjuncts, in some departments. According to the university’s own policy, the number of non-tenurable faculty should never exceed 25 percent of total faculty within any one department — yet more than half of Missoula College’s instructors are in non-tenurable positions, and several other departments are also out of compliance to varying degrees. Perhaps worst of all, university officials have yet to share any plans to resolve the disparity.

Unevenly divided chokecherries to the news that overall incomes are sliding for Missoula renters. At the Missoula Organization of Realtors’ presentation of its annual Missoula Housing Report last week, Jim McGrath of the Missoula Housing Authority reported that renter incomes decreased 4.5 percent, to just $28,000 — even as homeowner incomes increased by more than 17 percent, to $76,000. He also noted that nearly half the people within city limits are renters, and of these, nearly half spend more than 30 percent of their wages on housing.

Well-trimmed huckleberry bushes to the volunteers who recently helped prune the 130-year-old apple trees at the Moon Randolph Homestead, and to former Homestead caretaker and current Western Cider co-owner Matthew LaRubbio, whose idea of reviving the bedraggled old trees took root six years ago and bore fruit with last Saturday’s Prune the Moon event. The now-annual event brings volunteers together with professional arborists to learn how to care for the trees and help restore them to their full apple-producing ability.

Swelling huckleberries to the growing efforts to recognize Jeannette Rankin, a historic figure from Missoula who became the nation’s first female member of Congress. Now two fellow Republicans, and current congressional delegates for Montana, Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte, have introduced legislation to name a post office in Missoula after her. Meanwhile, a Missoula legislator, Democrat Rep. Kim Dudik, has introduced legislation to name a section of Interstate 90 the Jeannette Rankin Memorial Highway. Dudik’s bill has been approved by the Montana House and awaits a hearing before the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee on April 9.

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