Friday, April 7, 2000 Missoulian Editorial YAY: Missoulians welcome and will enjoy 474 acres on Mount Sentinel, newly added to the public domain this week.
Taxpayers and voters helped secure the land by approving, in 1975, a $5 million open-space bond. The Cox family gave the city time to secure funding for the land, and the Five Valleys Land Trust helped broker the deal.
Mount Sentinel stands on Missoula's edge, capturing the ever-changing light, making homes for Montana critters and supporting the trekking of urban explorers who crave space close to home. Now, it will continue in that role for as long as Missoulians need her.
NAY: Some of America's cultural treasures are in sorry, sorry shape, and they need attention.
Lawrence Small, the new secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, pointed out in a National Press Club talk this week that paint is peeling, plaster is falling down and invaluable collections are in danger.
Also, Congress is learning about the shabby condition and backlog of repair and maintenance projects in the country's national parks. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt even told a congressional hearing Wednesday that historic Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park should be torn down, a comment that Montana Republicans quickly jumped on. Babbitt's office later said the remark was taken out of context.
Montanans aren't the only citizens and visitors who love the 84-year-old Glacier hotel, once dubbed "The Jewel of the Rockies," and who want it preserved.
The maintenance backlog facing the National Park Service is estimated at $6 billion to $13 billion, according to Babbitt's office. Congress pays less per square foot at the Smithsonian than it does for upkeep of the Capitol or the buildings of the Supreme Court, according to wire reports. Smithsonian exhibits and buildings are visited by 30 million people a year, 90 percent of them Americans.
Americans are proud of their country and history, and will want to protect these cultural treasurers.
YAY: Sorry, Hi-Line. We have to agree with Sen. Chuck Swysgood on the big hamburger flap.
Hi-Line Promotions had asked for a $1,000 economic development grant to make a 3-ton hamburger to promote Montana beef. The big burger which was to be grilled on a special grill built in Saco last year was aimed at getting Montana into the Guinness Book of Records.
But Swysgood, a Republican from Dillon and chairman of the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, observed that not all ideas for economic development will make the cut next month, when the Legislature meets in special session to talk about economic development.
"There's just a lot of stuff I'm having a hard time seeing what kind of economic development is going to come from this," he said.
Swysgood's comments have apparently offended some in Saco, but the big-burger project will be withdrawn, spokespeople for the company said.
Swysgood is right of course: Lawmakers do have a responsibility to make sure these projects make sense, and that the most promising are given the nod.