Wednesday spookiness

Really spooky? This photo by Tom Bauer and story by me. 

Also, another scary conversation takes place Wednesday. Here’s a reminder from Missoula City Councilman Adam Hertz about an afternoon committee meeting:

We’ll revisit the proposed cell phone ban during Public Safety and Health Committee at 2 p.m. Some will seek totalitarian compliance with the snow shoveling ordinance during Public Works at 3:05 p.m.

Check out this page, linked to Hertz’s Facebook post, for more information.

Also, from Forward Montana, Trick or Vote takes place Wednesday as well. Meet 5:30 p.m. at the Stensrud Building:

It’s the most spook-tacular event of the season!

Join us for our annual Trick or Vote Halloween canvass. We will be knocking doors all across Missoula to make sure every little ghoul and goblin casts their ballot in 2012.

Check out their Facebook page for details.

Shakin’ in yer boots, ain’tcha?

— Keila Szpaller


I really don’t like writing headlines

So I’ll get right to the post. I think this lame headline is bad for “search engine optimization,” or something like that.

Beans, I say.

Tonight, I can’t watch the presidential debate because the Missoula City Council is talking about the cellphone ban for drivers. Maybe that’ll mean it’s a short public hearing. Hmm.

Anyway, I got this note from Councilman Dave Strohmaier, who is proposing the ordinance:

On Monday night, I’ll be offering up three amendments to my proposed cell phone ordinance:

1. An amended “exception” paragraph (4) that makes clear that you can activate your hands-free device without being subject to the ordinance;

2. A new “exception” paragraph (7) that uses language from U.S. Department of Transportation regulations to address concerns raised at the last committee meeting regarding navigational systems, etc.; and

3. A modified penalty section that earmarks fine monies for not only education/signage related to this ordinance but also distracted driving more generally.

See Strohmaier’s proposed amendments here.

I really like his use of semicolons in that list. Don’t you?

SEO? Phoo. Semicolons!

I have more, but I’m going to take off now. Maybe I can just add to this post later. Actually, that’s a good idea. I’ll give it a whirl and see what happens.

*Ending No. 1.

– Keila Szpaller

On hold post! Getting fired!

I’m on hold right now, and I’ve been on hold for … seven minutes. So I’m going to post a few stories while I’m waiting, waiting.

OK, someone just answered, but that’s a long time. Goodness.

First, I saw this broken water spout Saturday by the Riverbowl. Bummer. These are NEW, so I hope it gets fixed FAST.


Reporter Kim Briggeman wrote a couple stories about one candidate running for the Board of Missoula County Commissioners being fired three times and demoted once. Mark Brady, trying to unseat Commissioner Jean Curtiss, said politics are to blame for the firings. Here’s the second story.

I had this story about Judge Kathleen Jenks, head of Municipal Court, dismissing Judge Marie Andersen, assistant judge.

This is interesting for a couple reasons. One, the comment one city official made to me when I reached her for comment: “Can you just keep a lid on this for a few days?”

Two, next year is a city election year, and the Municipal Court judge is on the ballot. Judge Donald Louden had that job locked down for years, but there was plenty of interest in the job when he left last year. The Missoula City Council appointed Judge Jenks out of eight people interviewed.

So it could shape up to be a real race. Those are fun.

What else?

Oh, yes. More on bridge lighting. I got links to a couple lighting projects in the San Francisco Bay Area: and

I also got this note about lighting our bridges:

I love the idea because it would add to the lively life of downtown.

If you have contact with someone considering this project, my thought is to investigate if the lights could be solar powered. There seem to be many smart technology companies and UM connections around here that could figure out a different way to attract grants or other $$$. Missoula could approach this project in a unique green manner and be a leader in the nation of established structures beautification.


Kathy Bartlett

Adios for the time being.

– Keila Szpaller

Survey says!

litbridgeThis photo, courtesy of Scott Wagner, is of the 10th Street Bridge in Great Falls.

Beautiful, right?

Well, some folks want to light the bridges in Missoula, too, but it’s not a slam dunk.

“We have a lot of different points of view in Missoula about the river and how it should be treated,” said Geoff Badenoch, among the people working on the project.

You’ll be able to share your opinions on this topic in the future, but we’ve got a couple other matters on the front burner right now.

There’s TWO surveys you can fill out. The deadlines don’t sound hard and fast, but if you complete them before the end of the month, that sounds like it’ll work.

First, a while ago, Councilwoman Caitlin Copple asked me to post this survey about the technology infrastructure business folks need. Copple, with the Missoula City Council’s economic development subcommittee, wants to hear about the tech needs of business owners and entrepreneurs in the area or people interested in doing business here.

Also, Councilman Jason Wiener posted another survey on Facebook, and I wanted to link to it here, too. It’s about backyard cottages, basement apartments, the accessory dwelling units, or ADUs. There’s a whole website about it, as you’ll see.

Didn’t know you’d get homework here, did you? Happy almost TGIF.

— Keila Szpaller

Scary houses! Scary cellphones!

Here’s my story from the weekend about the Missoula City Council again taking up the ban on using cellphones behind the wheel.

Councilman Dave Strohmaier is the person who pitched this ordinance the first time around, and as you can imagine, he sounds a wee bit frustrated that Missoula is now lagging behind other Montana cities.

“We have been eclipsed by all the other major cities in Montana sans Kalispell, and it seems like, OK, it’s time to get with the program here. Let’s take another run at this,” Strohmaier said in the story.

Missoula has banned texting and driving, a scary practice. And speaking of scary, Halloween is around the corner, and I want your tips for spooky houses in Missoula.

Please send us a picture of your top pick with the following information: Your name, whether the house is yours, the address of the house, the neighborhood if known and best scary feature. Put “Scary House” in the subject line, and email the information to by Wednesday, Oct. 24.

We’ll let you know the top picks and where to find them the weekend before Halloween.

Here’s a scary troupe of folks who will greet you on 36th Street, but the frights will stay a secret for now.


Snowmobiles wreck in Montana

You were desperate to know the number of snowmobiles involved in wrecks in one year in Montana, right?

I’m collecting some data on cellphone-related crashes, and I came across the number of “unusual vehicle types” in accidents.

So you’re getting some frightening Friday figures. Here’s data from a Montana Department of Transportation report published in 2011 of the number of wrecks these groups had in 2009:

School bus: 69

Bus: 77

Ambulance: 18 (Oh dear!)

Farm machinery: 43

Fire truck: 15

Snowmobile: 10

There you go. Happy Friday. Let’s hope the farm equipment wasn’t hauling any food ’cause it’d be a sad waste if it spilt.

— Keila Szpaller

Salary surveys and bad apples

You don’t want to be the mayor of Cascade.

At least if you need money you don’t.

That person gets paid $0.

I was on the prowl for another item yesterday and ran across this salaries survey by the Montana League of Cities and Towns. I thought you might want to look at it.

That’s one. Here’s more.

I got coffee the other day at City Brew, and you can tell in the drive-through that campaign season is in full swing. A woman in front of me got out of her car and put up some Rick Hill stickers, and I took this picture while I was waiting.


Someone sent me this story a while back about EB-5 projects getting in legal trouble.

I was working on a story about the Old Sawmill District at the time, and it is using EB-5 financing. Owner Ed Wetherbee, though, said all is well there. Here’s his note answering my question:

“The one building at OSD involved in EB5  is doing fine as are others in the pipeline, and the program is fine. Lots of lawyers (are) making sure. A few bad apples always (cause) a problem in any large program. There are many very successful projects also.”

One more. Here’s my story from the weekend about a legislative candidate in Montana who is accused of sexual assault. Here’s the sidebar.

C’est tout. At least for now.

– Keila Szpaller