Huckleberry inscriptions to the bill signed by President Trump this week that officially names three VA clinics in Montana after three renowned World War II fighters. The clinic in Missoula will bear the name of David Thatcher, a Montana native who lived in Missoula with his family for many years after taking part in the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo in 1942, among other exploits. He died at age 94 in 2016, the same year Montana lost two other honored warriors: Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, whose name will grace the VA facility in Billings, and Benjamin Steele, who will have a specialty clinic in Billings named after him. The bill was introduced with the full support of Montana’s congressional delegation, as well as the support of the Department of Montana Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion of Montana and the Disabled Veterans of America, Montana.
Last-minute chokecherries to Missoula County Justice of the Peace Marie Andersen for dismissing a domestic abuse case after being notified just before trial that the defendant intended to plead guilty. Micah Lozier stood accused of beating a woman at her home, leading to four misdemeanor charges, including two counts of partner assault. After failing to reach a plea agreement, prosecutors and Lozier’s public defender initially confirmed the case would proceed to a bench trial. However, they did manage to reach a belated agreement on the day before the trial was set to begin; a mere half-hour before the court closed for the day, Lozier’s public defender filed to vacate the trial and hold a guilty plea hearing instead. Andersen not only denied this request, she dismissed the case entirely. While we can certainly sympathize with the frustration of a major eleventh-hour change in an important court proceeding, a complete dismissal goes too far. Andersen was clearly inconvenienced, but that’s not reason enough to spurn the greater interests of justice and public safety. Fortunately, prosecutors are appealing this hasty decision.
High-flying huckleberries to Northstar Jet General Manager Kynan Spethman, who helped bring the largest airplane fly-in ever held in Montana to Missoula this week. More than 500 private planes started arriving Thursday, with the official fly-in on Friday kicking off a weekend packed with parties, workshops, competitions and more, all free and open to the public. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, based in Maryland, is organizing the slate of events as part of four regional fly-ins in 2018, and Northstar/Neptune Aviation is hosting them on its campus at the Missoula International Airport.
Blighted chokecherries to the unsafe and unhealthy eyesore the Skyview trailer park has become since most of its former residents vacated the site. Occupants of the 34 trailers on Cooley Street were served with eviction notices this past winter, and given a generous six months in which to find a new home. But as the trailer park emptied, the problems grew, and now neighbors are complaining of “hazardous waste” piling up and “illegal activities” taking place at all hours. The owner of the trailer park, who recently paid to have a fence put up around the area, intends to redevelop the property into affordable housing for seniors. In the meantime, the Missoula City-County Health Department has sent an official Notice of Violation to James Loran revoking the trailer court license and explaining that the "accumulation of trash and debris on (his) property is not just unsightly, it is potentially harmful to health.”
Huckleberry previews to the premiere of “Yellowstone,” a new TV series that was filmed in part in Montana. On Thursday, nearly a week before its official June 20 release, Missoulians were treated to the first two episodes of the 10-episode season at a special screening at the Wilma Theatre. The drama stars Kevin Costner as a rancher living near Yellowstone National Park, although the real-life setting was a ranch near Darby. The Montana Film Office estimates the first year of filming made an economic impact of $1.4 million in the Bitterroot Valley alone. The capitol building in Helena and the Crow Reservation provided additional locations.