Frenchtown fire board appointments

The Missoula Board of County Commissioners is in the process of appointing a new member to the Frenchtown fire board to replace longtime trustee Tom Mahulm, who resigned over philosophical differences with a majority of  the board members.  Turmoil is the only way to describe what’s happening out at the Frenchtown Fire District, where longtime fire chief Scott Waldron was recently terminated. Anyhow, there were eight applicants to apply for the board vacancy.

The commissioners plan to sort through the applications at a public meeting (TBA later) before making a decision. If it boils down to two or three people, then the commissioners will call references, they agreed Thursday. If you’d like to attend this meeting, check the commissioner’s schedule in coming weeks. It can be found here.

— Chelsi Moy

Thrussell II

One persistent question about the Russell-Third project is whether federal money can be used for a new road that isn’t bigger. Many people in the neighborhood want a new road, but not a huge one. Public Works director Steve King says the new road must have more lanes to fit future traffic. If it doesn’t, he says the feds won’t fund the project. King writes this in a scheduled editorial about the project: “A two-lane or three-lane Russell Street simply does not have the adequate capacity for future traffic operations, and the Federal agencies will not fund this project if it does not anticipate community growth.”

A Federal Highway Administration official responded to the matter Friday in an e-mail and again Tuesday in a telephone interview. “I don’t want to put him (King) in a difficult spot, but I don’t think this is correct,” said agency spokesman Doug Hecox on the statement that the feds would withhold funds. Hecox said he only spoke on behalf of the FHA and not on behalf of the Federal Transit Administration. “Is the Federal Highway Administration preventing this project or opposed to this project if it doesn’t include plans for community growth? As I told you (Friday) — No,” Hecox said.

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Bummer news for Missoula County…

…but great news for Chief Civil Attorney Mike Sehestedt, who recently announced his retirement from the Missoula County Attorney’s Office to take a job with the Montana Association of Counties (MACO). Sehestedt has worked at the County Attorney’s Office for more than 32 years. His institutional knowledge is extensive. His new job is a gig based in Helena, heading up a new legal division within MACO. He’ll still be doing some of the same kinds of stuff. His last day is Oct. 17.

Stay tuned. There’s more to follow on this story here and in the regular newspaper…

— Chelsi Moy

Sewer in the ‘Snake

Last week at Missoula City Council’s regular meeting, longtime city critic Will Snodgrass played a recording intending to show the Public Works director isn’t straight with people. The recording was difficult to understand, so this week, Snodgrass returned with a transcript. (It’s re-keyed here from a hard copy.) He also pummeled the council for hurrying to defend city staff instead of holding them accountable. The topic at hand? Sewer, of course.

— Keila Szpaller

Smell the roses III

Not the carrion. Speeds in the Rattlesnake are on the Public Works Committee agenda this week, and one caller says a dead buck on the side of Greenough Drive is evidence the speed limit in the Rattlesnake should drop from 35 mph to 25 mph. Now, speed limits vary.

Both Ward 1 reps have referrals out on the topic, but in an e-mail, Councilman Jason Wiener said I mischaracterized his position in a story when I said he wants to drop all the speeds in the area to 25 mph. Not so, he wrote. Wednesday’s discussion is tentatively set for 2:05 p.m. in Council Chambers. Here’s his referral and another from Councilman Strohmaier.

— Keila Szpaller

Thrussell

Here’s a tidbit on the Russell and Third Streets project — Thrussell for this blog. Says Lin Smith: The Rose Park Neighborhood is a fan of the citizens’ alternative, called 3 Plus for Russell. At a meeting this week, Smith said the 20 neighbors who attended voted unanimously in support. Here’s the resolution.

Next up: Sept. 24 meeting on the “preferred alternative” in the draft EIS. And skim it at your own risk. One astute reader says one section of the document counts 11 houses getting razed. But in the section on — wait for it — NOISE — it looks like 13 more may get the axe. I’d bet there’s clarification at the upcoming meeting.

— Keila Szpaller

Family dinners

By proclamation of the Missoula Board of County Commissioners, next Monday, Sept. 22, is “Family day: A day to eat dinner with your children.” According to the resolution, studies show that kids who eat dinner with their families are less likely to use drugs and alcohol.

Interesting concept, eh? Growing up, my mom was a huge advocate of sitting down together at the table to enjoy a meal. But with three kids involved in multiple sports, drama, choir and church, and with my father on the School Board, it may have happened on Sundays if we were lucky.

So, do families still eat dinner together? Or has this traditional pastime decayed to the point that proclamations are now necessary to remind folks of this once-common practice?

— Chelsi Moy