I’m quoting Joe Nickell! Yeah!

golinsHere’s a story about Missoula’s “one percent for art” program.

Earlier, as you know, I was thinking about all the different things that make Portland, Ore., a cool city, and public art is one of ’em.

We have beautiful public art here, too. “Crossings,” the red X’s, is an interesting piece, and I’m looking forward to seeing “Go with the Flow,” by Mike Golins. That’s the sculpture that will be part of the new downtown Parking Garage.

Golins is pictured here, and photo editor Kurt Wilson was behind the lens.

The story is about whether those “one percent” dollars should be reserved for local artists.

Golins happens to be a Missoula metalworker, but Public Art Committee chairwoman Joan Jonkel believes limiting the art calls to only local or Missoula area artists dilutes the prominence of the award.

Jonkel also notes artists from around here win even when the competition is national – on the merits of their work. From the story: “I don’t think Missoula artists need fear competing with anyone. They hold their own beautifully. They don’t need special treatment.”

Guess who else I’m going to quote now? Joe Nickell! Yeah! Oh. You knew that from the headline.

So every once in a while, one of my colleagues will say something so smart and quotable, I’ll wish that person was a source instead of a coworker.

Joe Nickell, who covered arts and entertainment for the Missoulian up until recently, chatted with me on Facebook about the “one percent for art” program in Missoula. Since he’s not a coworker anymore, and he said some insightful things, I’m going to share his words with you here:

“We are a provincial town where individual, local identity is central not only to our sense of self, but also to our appeal to the outside world. Yes, Missoula needs to be exposed to outside art; but in terms of building and reinforcing our identity, locally made art placed in highly visible locations is a powerful tool in bespeaking that character both to us who live here and to visitors from elsewhere.”

Nickell now works at Partners Creative, and if you find yourself missing his byline, you’ll want to read his book about Drummond artist Bill Ohrmann when it comes out.

I’m sure we’ll have the story. And I’ll plug it here, too. Miss your work, Joe! And your outfits.


In case you’ve never seen Joe, here’s a shot of him on one of his last days here. Michael Gallacher took that one.

— Keila Szpaller

Missoula police chief does 180

One day, Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir tells councilors if they want him to enforce the fireworks law, they need to give him overtime money.

But last year, because of vacancies, the department didn’t spend $500,000. A look at the budget also shows the council has approved more overtime for police at least the last two years.

So it looked like something else was going on that didn’t have anything to do with money, and Thursday, the chief shared some other reasons police deal with the fireworks the way they do.

Muir also admitted he got “defensive” at a question Council president Marilyn Marler asked him.

“So why weren’t there any citations written at all?”

It was the question most folks probably wanted answered. I did.

And in case you wondered, Marler asked in a matter-of-fact tone, not an accusatory one.

When we talked Thursday, Muir had some good arguments for taking an educational approach instead of a punitive one, but I wish he had made them Wednesday to councilors during the discussion about fireworks.

It sounds like Councilman Jon Wilkins wants to keep the fireworks conversation going, so we’re all bound to hear more.

But not before the weekend. Yeah!

Oh, one more thing: I follow Councilor Adam Hertz on Facebook, and it sounds like he wants to move ahead with setting aside certain times when fireworks are allowed.

Here’s Hertz on FB: “I’d like to see them be legalized for the 4th until midnight or so.”

Yesterday, Muir told me he doesn’t see a problem with designated times. He had cautioned councilors against setting aside places ’cause you can imagine what might happen when you pack a bunch of people and explosives in the same area.

Party! Just kidding. TGIF.

— Keila Szpaller

Does granny need a diet?


I got a nice note from Geoff Peddicord with an interesting picture, above. It makes me think granny is getting too big, and her suite is ballooning into a “behemoth,” in Peddicord’s word.

“Granny suite” and “in-law unit” are other names for “accessory dwelling units,” or ADUs, of course. These can be basement apartments inside a home or little cottages in the yard, but they’re supposed to be a sidecar of sorts, and not the main hog.

I’m betting that home probably isn’t an ADU, technically speaking. But whatever you call it, it’s changing Peddicord’s neighborhood in a significant way, so it’s no wonder he and other folks have concerns about relaxing rules to allow more ADUs.

“For a neighborhood to remain sustainable and for a community to remain sustainable and viable, it needs appealing neighborhoods,” Peddicord said. “And are we maintaining a neighborhood that’s appealing so that people will want to live in it? Or are we not?”

As you know, the Missoula City Council is talking about ADUs. Councilman Dave Strohmaier said he has a proposal that’s a good compromise, so I hope to talk with him soon about that idea.

First, here’s part of the note from Peddicord:

“I thought the photo used for what most folks would ‘hope’ a granny suite looks like was great.

“Unfortunately, the reality of what these ‘granny suites’ look like is much different. See, I live in central Missoula, not the University area, so what usually happens is the ‘granny suite’ is not some cute little cottage looking extravagance that has been carefully designed by a talented architect and used by the couple that owns the master property as a temporary housing unit.

“In my neighborhood, when a home sells, there is a very strong chance that the backyard or garage will be ripped out or torn down and a monstrosity will be built. Usually this behemoth consists of several different levels, each of which is a separate dwelling unit. I think it would be interesting to continue this story by traveling through the different neighborhoods in Missoula and investigating what ‘granny suites’ look like in central Missoula, the Northside, Westside etc.

“I’ve attached a photo to show you my point. This was once a very cute cedar sided home on S. 12th St. West and Catlin. It had a matching two car garage and a very nice backyard. Well, the house sold, the main home has turned into a rental and the newly constructed ‘granny suite’ will be a three level home (basement included) and each level will be a separate dwelling unit.

“I’m actually not apposed at all to ‘granny suites’ that actually maintain a realistic size and architectural character (like the photo in the article) for the type and size of the master lot. They are great additions to small neighborhoods. Unfortunately, what most people see is opportunity to capitalize on a situation and create a massively cramped rental unit that more times than not becomes dilapidated, unfinished, poorly constructed or simply sits empty.

“Thanks for listening…I just wanted to point out what a ‘granny suite’ looks like in a neighborhood outside of the University. Have a great day.

“Geoff Peddicord”

I talked with Peddicord on the phone, and I told him I want to take him up on the offer for a tour. I went around the neighborhood with Councilman Jon Wilkins for this story, and I think it’d be good to head out with some other folks, too.

Interested? Drop a line here or at keila.szpaller@missoulian.com or 523-5262.

— Keila Szpaller

Granny suite talk galore! Fireworks!

Except some of the conversation wasn’t about granny suites at all. Councilor Ed Childers pointed that out during last night’s meeting of the Missoula City Council, where “accessory dwelling units,” or ADUs, were the hot item.

The meeting room was packed, and most folks wanted nothing to do with granny suites. The cool thing about last night was hearing from some new folks on the subject.

Here’s Rudy Borg, whom I quoted in the story:

“I’m getting old. My life is short. I don’t want to spend time down here defending my property. I wish you would consider putting this to bed and not letting it rise again.”

If you care to watch the meeting yourself, you can do so from your computer.  City clerk Marty Rehbein said the direct link to webcasts is www.ci.missoula.mt.us\webcasts.

At the meeting, folks talked about drunken people trashing yards, and one woman even talked about watching people “fornicate” outside her window. I wish I had a picture to post.

Just kidding. That’s nasty.

The point is folks are worried about what’ll happen to the neighborhoods they love, and in some cases, have lived in for decades, if more people pack into them.

Someone called me today and said a clause I used in the story was misleading, and he was right. I had said the audience included “many people” opposing ADUs, and really, it should have said “most” people opposing ADUs.

So for the record, most of the folks who spoke want these in-law units … well I’ll quote a woman from the lower Rattlesnake on the matter: “I am not in favor of tabling this. I want it buried at least six feet deep.”

Chic Fitts, though, figured since so many people want to talk about the matter, the conversation shouldn’t die early.

I hear things got a little heated with Councilors Jon Wilkins and Bob Jaffe after I left, and the talk is bound to get hot again this year sooner or later.

In other business, fireworks are on tap Wednesday at the 10:30 a.m. Public Safety and Health Committee meeting. So is the most recent coal dust sampling.

On the first topic, fireworks, I wrote a story last week about what happens with calls to the fireworks hotline. Some calls result in warnings, but most aren’t really accounted for.

I’ve been playing around with the “Many Eyes” website, and I plugged in the numbers for a visual representation of what happened to those calls on July 3 and 4 of this year and last year.

The lavender color is the total; dark blue is warnings; and green is unknown. I couldn’t embed the interactive one, but if you click on the graph, you can see more details.

Outcomes of calls to the Fireworks Hotline Many Eyes

I subsequently got a voicemail from someone about responses in Billings. According to the message, last year, Billings issued 108 citations at $260 a pop. Ouch.

I hope to talk with the man today and find out more. I think he helped get a fireworks ordinance in place in another city, but I couldn’t quite tell from his message.

What else? Oh, the lease with City Life went back to committee ’cause Ross Best pointed out the item wasn’t properly noticed last time it was headed to committee.

That’ll be before the Conservation Committee, which meets at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

All for now.

— Keila Szpaller

Portland is the city of roses … and trees!

treesYou’ve probably heard some folks say Missoula isn’t Portland, Ore., and we shouldn’t strive to do things like the city of roses.

I just got back from Oregon, and I love Portland. As far as I’m concerned, that city can be a model for lots of cool things cities do, like having blocks just for food trucks.

So many things make its neighborhoods feel comfortable, and I was trying to put my finger on the concrete features that all add up to that sense of beauty and openness and vibrancy.

One obvious thing? Trees. They’re all over the city, in so many neighborhoods, shading all kinds of Portland people – and Portland dogs, too, of course.

Just for fun, I took a look at their urban forestry website, and I found an interesting report. It’s listed on the website as the “Canopy Monitoring Report 2012.”

“Canopy cover is identified as an important measure of urban forest health by the City of Portland,” reads the report.

The report is based on aerial photos, with the next shoot set for 2015. Here’s part of the conclusion:

Over a ten year period, from 2000 to 2010, canopy cover increased citywide and in all zoning classes.
Citywide canopy cover increased by 2.6%, commercial by 3.4%, industrial by 1.5%, open space by
1.5%, and residential by 3.3%.  All changes were statistically signii cant (McNemar’s test, p < 0.05) and
represent an addition of 2,384 acres of canopy.

“Over a ten year period, from 2000 to 2010, canopy cover increased citywide and in all zoning classes.

“Citywide canopy cover increased by 2.6%, commercial by 3.4%, industrial by 1.5%, open space by  1.5%, and residential by 3.3%.  All changes were statistically significant (McNemar’s test, p < 0.05) and represent an addition of 2,384 acres of canopy.

The urban forest was a focus for the Missoula City Council in this year’s budget, so it’ll be interesting to check in on that program sometime and see how it develops.

Ah, Portland. The trees in the photo are along the river trail here, if you couldn’t tell.

I haven’t caught up on all my email yet, but here’s another couple of interesting things that appeared.

Councilor Dave Strohmaier passed on this letter with his remarks calling for a study of impacts related to coal train traffic. Here’s part of the letter:

“I believe that communities throughout Montana should know the impacts of coal train traffic if and when the export terminals are operating at full capacity. To do otherwise is shortsighted and a disservice to those we represent.

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m about as outspoken an advocate of freight and passenger rail in Montana as you’ll find. But as an elected official, I want to make sure that those responsible for mining and shipping coal through Montana bear the burden of mitigating any adverse impacts they cause in my community … “

Strohmaier goes on to explain why he sees the matter as a social justice issue, but read his letter for yourself.


One more thing: If you missed the story about a body armor business headed to Missoula, here’s the link. It’s an interesting one, and Dragon Skin’s the name.

Photo editor Kurt Wilson took that picture. (Rahr!)

All for now. Enjoy the rivers.

— Keila Szpaller

How are you staying cool? Or … mishmash.


I’m drinking a lot of bubbly water. As perhaps did Aunt Annie, who was told yesterday to move her fanny in one of Sunday’s Missoula Marathon races. But more on that in a second.

Yesterday, my sweetie and friend stepped into a thigh deep fountain in another friend’s yard. Their verdict: Refreshing!

I’m want to take a dip in The Lake at Splash Montana, too. Really, really soon.

We’re really busy here, but there are a few things I wanted to share. I’m thinking I’m going to title a lot of posts “mishmash” this summer ’cause there’s so much going on, and it’s all mashing together.

1. We’re competing for “likes” this week on our Facebook page. If you like us today, you’ll help the Humane Society of Western Montana! And the Zootown Arts Community Center! AND you might get a prize from Pattee Creek Market. Here’s the link.

2. Last night, a friend mentioned that a movie based on “The Great Gatsby” is coming out this winter. Today, I saw this American Scholar piece on Tumblr about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s financial management. A professor and author went through his tax returns to get a picture of the way he kept track of his money.

3. Were you part of the Missoula Marathon? It was a treat to cover. Reporter Jenna Cederberg talked with folks who ran the races, and here’s her story about them.

Here’s her Storify of favorite moments. I think my favorite favorite is Mickey Sullivan, here, ’cause he’s got a cold ice cream in hand.


Here’s my story about crowds cheering along the way. One runner, Mo Hendrickson, had just lost her 100th pound, and her partner, mom and sister all were rooting her on. One hundred pounds!

Their pictures are in this Storify.

I got to meet Jo Ruby, too. She’s a YMCA running coach, and a couple folks here at the Missoulian go to her running class and say it’s great.

On the course, Ruby was clanging cow bells, and she was literally demonstrating cowbell-ringing techniques to other cheerers. Like, the bell sounds like this if you hold it down, like this if you hold it out, like this if you hold it by the bell.

And, maybe most important, here’s how to ring it without annoying the other cheerers.

That’s it for now. More mashy-mashy later.

OK, I forgot to post our photo gallery of marathon pictures. It’s here. Be inspired.

— Keila Szpaller