Great stuff to read – and see!

1. The fight for a roundabout continues for the intersection at West Broadway and Russell Street. Here’s why.

This story, called “The Beginning of the End for Level of Service?” is interesting, so I wanted to link it here in case you missed it in the article posted above. It’s on

The photo came from the Missoula Advocates for Sustainable Transportation, or MAST, with credit to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. MAST’s John Wolverton said this in an email:

“This one … is a great example of a double-lane roundabout that fits into a compact urban space. For Russell Street, it would possibly need one added right turn slip-lane connecting the left leg to the lower leg.”

2. As I’m sure you saw, the city of Missoula has laws that protect people who are LGBT. Councilwoman Caitlin Copple wants to get married in Montana, and she wants gay couples from outside the state to be free to choose the Big Sky State for a destination wedding. It could mean big bucks for Montana, and here’s more on that in a story Copple passed on.

3. Here is detailed comment on the proposed expansion of the coal export terminal in Longview, Wash., from the Northern Plains Resource Council. I’d called a couple different groups for comment on a brief update, and the Resource Council passed on this document, so FYI.

Happy reading.

— Keila Szpaller


Russell Street, badgering walkers

1. Plans for Russell Street are on the front burner. I hope the meeting Wednesday night – 6 p.m., Burns Street Commons – is productive.

2. Also Wednesday, the Public Safety and Health Committee talks about “pedestrian interference” and “aggressive solicitation.” Here’s a link to related documents. Have you seen the sign one man posts downtown offering to wrestle a mother-in-law for $5? Or something like that? It’s kinda funny, but strolling downtown hasn’t been a picnic lately.

3. I wrote a story today about the Municipal Equality Index of the Human Rights Campaign. (Missoula gets a perfect score.) I wasn’t able to reach our quality of life officer at the Missoula Police Department in time for the story, but the report says that “cities that have LGBT liaisons in their police department significantly outperformed the national average.” Cool factoid.

There you have it.

— Keila Szpaller

Thursday digest!


1. Michael Bennett questions Mayor John Engen’s desire to purchase Mountain Water in this column about a “watery dream” becoming a nightmare.

2. The meeting about changing Fifth and Sixth Streets was odd. The idea has been cooking for months, since before July, and still no one knows if the city or state has jurisdiction? And a cost estimate wasn’t available on a day the committee almost voted? And neither were crash statistics? The neighbors who worked on the pilot project probably didn’t know how much patience they’d need to advocate a relatively cheap idea get a trial run. Will it fly? Maybe,  maybe not, according to Councilman Bob Jaffe’s estimate.

3. What else? Oh, right. A couple council members asked Parks and Rec to list all the herbicides it uses in its turf management manual so people can see the details.

There’s more, but all for now.

— Keila Szpaller

Photo: KS/Instagram. Fruit at the Missoula Food Bank.

Election outcomes! Plus, I spy Hotel Fox people.

Check out this Election Day photo gallery from Michael Gallacher. That’s incoming Councilwoman Annelise Hedahl in Ward 5 and Mayor John Engen.

They were celebrating at The Depot last night, and Gallacher captured the moment. Gallacher, you rock.

Guess who else I saw at The Depot?

The crew working on the Hotel Fox, including Dieter Huckestein, the former president of Hilton Hotels Corp. I don’t think he lives in Montana, and I don’t think he shows up in Missoula if the deal is falling apart.

Also at the party? Other city officials, constituents, and council people.

Councilman Bob Jaffe was there, and he joked about strong-arming someone to take over his listserv. It’s hard to imagine local government without it, so I hope someone bites.

Ed Wetherbee of the Sawmill District was there, too. So were members of the Missoula Economic Partnership, including president James Grunke and Melanie Brock, director of strategic initiatives.

Members of the mayor’s administration showed face, too: Bruce Bender, chief administrative officer; Jim Nugent, city attorney; Ginny Merriam, communications director.

Who was missing? Well, I really wanted to see Council president Marilyn Marler’s dog, Miles, and he wasn’t there. Other engagements, perhaps.

I think that concludes the gossip column.

Final unofficial election results are IN, from the Missoula County Elections Office.

Time stamp: 3:39 a.m.

Late night for your election crew. Or early morning. Thanks, workers.

We have results from nine western Montana counties here. You’ll like the layout.

Last night, pizza. Today, coffee.

— Keila Szpaller

Monday digest


First, remember Tuesday is ELECTION DAY. Go to the Elections Center at the fairgrounds if you still need to register to vote.

1. Here’s my story about the lawyer who is helping the city of Missoula work on the purchase of Mountain Water from the Carlyle Group. He was involved in a political and legal boondoggle in Spokane.

2. Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park was chosen as one of the most scenic drives in the U.S. by Country magazine. It’s featured in the November 2013 issue.

3. BWAM, the Bike-Walk Alliance for Missoula, wants lanes on Russell Street to be 10 feet wide. The group is calling on Gov. Steve Bullock to ensure Missoula people have a say in the design of the road. Click on the link above for more info and details about a Nov. 20 meeting.

4. State parks in the Big Sky had their best summer on record, according to Montana State Parks. Visits were up 5 percent overall, and in the Missoula region, they were up even more. From a news release:

Missoula: West Central Region

Salmon Lake State Park had the highest visitation for the 2013 summer season in this region with 53,220 visits and the largest increase in visitation in this region, up 19% over 2012. Beavertail Hill State Park was up 17% for the summer season with 17,807 visits. Travelers’ Rest State Park was up 9% with 17,214 visits. Fort Owen State Park was down 30% with 2,258 visits.


Montana State Parks’ largest source of funding is through the $6 dollar annual, optional vehicle registration fee. Montana State Parks receives no hunting and fishing licensing dollars and no general fund dollars. For more information about Montana State Parks visit:

That’s all for now.

— Keila Szpaller

Photo: KS/Instagram. Building in an alley on the way to the bus stop in downtown Missoula.

Vote! Tell a friend to vote, too!

In this story, the Missoula County Elections Office urges voters to turn in their ballots.

Just 10,000 ballots were in as of Thursday.

Monday outside the Elections Center at the fairgrounds, MontPIRG will hold an event at 9 a.m. to talk about how people can register and vote on Election day. From a news release:

Over 6,500 ballots for the 2013 Missoula municipal election have been returned to the Missoula County Elections Office as undeliverable. Nearly half of those ballots came back just this week, leaving little time for county elections officials to track down those voters and provide them with instructions for how to vote.

The picture? Photo editor Kurt Wilson found Councilman Jason Wiener dressed in a bunny costume as part of a get-out-the-vote effort.

All for now.

— Keila Szpaller


povIt’s Thanksgiving month.

Can we just post random gratitudes here between now and the actual day?

Yes. Today, I’m grateful the Missoulian bought iPads for reporters. (On a personal note, I’m also thankful for my dog, Allen, but that’s more for Facebook.)

Send me an idea. I know folks at the Poverello Center are thankful they broke ground this week on their new facility on West Broadway.

They’ll be thankful for some help with turkey donations, as you can see here. Director Eran Fowler Pehan said this Thanksgiving probably won’t be the last in the old Ryman Street Pov, but if all goes well, it’ll be the last Christmas there.

— Keila Szpaller