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Huckleberry huckleberries

A carefully curated collection of huckleberries to the Payne family for donating $5 million to help build a permanent home for the Montana Museum of Art and Culture. The museum has been collecting irreplaceable works of art for more than 125 years and boasts more than 11,000 objects, yet the bulk of these items are in storage and the rest are rotated among several different locations on the University of Montana campus. The new Montana Heritage Pavilion will allow the museum to keep more of its collection on display in a single location.

A second serving of therapeutic huckleberries to Sam and Julie Baldridge for their $1 million donation towards a major expansion of UM’s clinical psychology center. Along with another donator’s challenge gift, their donation brings the building renovation project more than halfway towards its $5 million goal. Once complete, the existing 35-year-old building will sport a second story and more space for mental health care education and services.

And a third outpouring of huckleberries for Dennis and Gretchen Eck, who pledged $1.25 million to support UM’s S.E.A. Change Initiative over the next three years, including $500,000 to renovate Jeannette Rankin Hall to serve as the home for the initiative. Launched this spring, S.E.A. Change, which stands for “Safe, Empowered, Accelerated,” is geared toward preparing women for successful futures by providing opportunities for mentorship, research, entrepreneurship and more.

Chokecherries on the rebound to the latest UM enrollment news, which comes courtesy of The Chronicle of Higher Education and reports that Montana’s flagship university saw a steeper decline in undergraduates than any other flagship state university in the nation. Looking just at the period between 2011 and 2017, UM lost more than 30% of its undergraduates; the next-closest was an 18% drop at the University of Alaska, followed by 17% at the University of Idaho. But while UM enrollment has continued to slide, it’s important to note that the rate of decrease has slowed in recent years, and in fact, UM actually made gains in retention and freshmen enrollment this academic year.

Huckleberry whipped cream atop a pumpkin pie for Erik Gibson-Snyder, a longtime volunteer at the Poverello Center who donated 1,500 pumpkins for the fourth annual “Pumpkins for the Pov” fundraiser. Last year, the event sold 1,200 pumpkins and raised $23,000 to support the Poverello Center’s food programs. This year, the need is even greater after the Pov was hit by a couple of floods that caused extensive damage and necessitated expensive plumbing repairs, so the goal has been boosted to $30,000. The locally grown gourds are available to buy for $10 each at a number of locations listed on the Poverello website (www.thepoverellocenter.org/pumpkins-for-the-pov), and the next pop-up pumpkin patch sale will take place the Good Food State on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A waste bin of chokecherries to the end of a major recycling service in Ravalli County. The board of Ravalli County Recycling, one of the largest recycling nonprofits in Montana, voted to shut down all operations by the end of the year. The nearly 10-year-old organization has been struggling to overcome challenging markets for recyclable materials and a rented location that was recently put up for sale.

An exact accounting of huckleberries to the Missoula County Board of Commissioners for approving a resolution that will make the Justice Court a court of record starting on the first of the year. The county has been saving up the money needed to transition to an electronic recording system, and the next few months will be spent training court staff on the new system and notifying attorneys of the upcoming change. Then, should any question later arise about one of the roughly 14,000 cases that take place in Missoula County Justice Court each year, there will be a clear record to which to refer.

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