Thursday’s report from Glacier to Missoula


Here’s Tristan Scott’s story about running up peaks in Glacier National Park.

I love Glacier, but these climbers and runners conquer Glacier. Goodness. One of those guys, Brad Lamson, took that picture.

Back in Missoula, if you’ve been wondering what the latest is on the Old Sawmill District, Councilor Bob Jaffe has in his report that the developers are working on financing a $20 million project there.

Yesterday, Ed Wetherbee told me the idea would build out just a sliver of the district. Once one piece goes in, though, the rest will probably move a little faster, right?

I’ll have more on that topic sometime over the Labor Day weekend, and Jessica Mayrer from the Missoula Independent has this Sawmill update on the city’s acquisition of Silver Park and the road construction.

Guess what? Tomorrow is Friday. Then, a long, long weekend. Hallelujah.

— Keila Szpaller

Shakespeare visited Missoula


Did you see Montana Shakespeare in the Parks this year? I wish I could go to the Daly Mansion tonight ’cause that’s the best venue.

Here’s a shot from Hamlet last night on the University of Montana Oval. Ash kept falling, but the temperature was perfect.

Now, a jaded moment: For some reason, some of the quotes kept making me think of this political season and all the spin on the airwaves. Here’s Hamlet:

“To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.”

OK, enough of that. Go to the Daly Mansion this evening if you can. It’s Hamlet tonight, and the troupe does a great portrayal of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

— Keila Szpaller

It was a cool Council meeting!

That’s my assessment of last night’s Missoula City Council meeting. It was about sidewalks.


It wasn’t cool as in chilly or cool ’cause the wind was blowing like crazy a few minutes before it started.

It was a good meeting ’cause the Council presented the public some ideas that weren’t cooked all the way yet, and folks showed up and weighed in.

That’s good. Sometimes, it seems like folks don’t show up unless they’re really mad about something. Other times, it seems like a matter that’s up for a public hearing is already careening a certain direction.

Actually, on a related note, you may remember that Council folks are talking about their rules and the way they conduct business, and they may change the way they move items from committee to public hearing to adoption. The idea is to make sure the city’s format fits the letter and intent of state law.

Exciting, no? Actually, it’s interesting, and I’ll have more on that one another time.

— Keila Szpaller

Talk about sidewalks

smokeybearThere’s a point to this bear picture.

First, though, here’s a story about the couple sidewalk payment options the Missoula City Council is taking public comment on this evening.

Also, here’s a comment on one question that’s been a sticking point in the debate: Can or should retroactive help be in place?

We the property owners who have a sidewalk have paid full price and even getting nasty letters stating that if the repair is not done in 30 days, you will seek a contractor and charge me for all of the costs. Right across the street from me the sidewalk was worse and the sidewalk has not been repaired up to this day.

Now you want to help the future property owners and not the property owners who have already paid full price for a sidewalk we don’t own. I want to see compensation for past expenses. You should find a way to have the bicyle people help to as they use the sidewalks all the time. I have watched for many years areas that needed sidewalks and these areas were ignored or simply let slide.

– Charles Frey

There you have it. The last time I listened to councilors talk about this issue, it didn’t sound like they were going to move ahead with a retroactive piece, but that was a while ago, so perhaps things have changed.

Or perhaps things will change tonight. I wonder how many folks will come out to comment.

See you there, and in the meantime, keep Smokey Bear happy and be safe with matches.

– Keila Szpaller

Cute dogs and council meetings

dogsFirst things first: Are you in the market for a feel-good story? Always, I hope.

Reporter Gwen Florio wrote about older dogs being turned into the Humane Society of Western Montana.

Yesterday, though, Annie found a home. She’s the black and white pooch on the right. Hooray, Annie!

Now, grab your coffee for more serious matters: The Missoula City Council is updating its rules, and one of those rules sets the number of meetings a month at generally four.

So should the council meet only every other week? Drop its “abbreviated” third-Monday-of-the-month gathering? Do something entirely different?

The discussion on rules continues next Wednesday. Councilman Bob Jaffe suggested it was time for a rule update, and here’s his comments on his listserv about the number of council meetings:

With subdivision activity so much lower now, it could be argued that we can get away with fewer council meetings. Most of our work is actually done in committee and for the most part we just ratify those decisions at the Monday meetings. So we would probably continue to have committees every week but just postpone the ratification if we drop a council meeting. On the other hand it is nice to be consistent and meet the first four Mondays of the month. But then meeting the first and third Mondays would also be consistent enough. Whatever we come up with I’m sure folks will get used to it, or maybe we’ll just leave it be.

Yesterday, Chairwoman Cynthia Wolken said the council could drop that shorter third Monday meeting, or it could make that third meeting a full meeting.

The options are endless, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this topic leads.

— Keila Szpaller

Bullock was in Missoula, fall is on its way!

bullockAnd I’m alright with fall because I’ve had a full summer. You? Ready to dig out your turtlenecks?

Last week, I was in Glacier National Park, and mostly unplugged, so I wasn’t here. I’m not sorry I wasn’t here, but I’m sorry I didn’t let you know.

But onward! Yesterday, Attorney General and governor-hopeful Steve Bullock stumped in Missoula, and guess what I got to ask him?

It didn’t have anything to do with education, the focus of the meeting. I asked Bullock, a Democrat, if he had asked Mayor John Engen to be his running mate.

You’d heard that rumor, right?

Well, Mayor Engen denied that up one side and down the other when I asked him, and perhaps at the time, he hadn’t had those conversations with Bullock, vying against Republican Rick Hill for the governor’s post.

At first, Bullock just said he’d talked with “many, many,” people, and when I followed up and asked if the many included Engen, he said yes, but he chose Gen. John Walsh out of the many.

Happy to clear that up if you also wondered. Or maybe you knew all along!

For the record, every time I’ve asked him, Mayor Engen continues to say he still wants to be mayor of Missoula.

Have a wildly productive Wednesday.

— Keila Szpaller