Algonquin, public schools, UM’s tiny share of land trust $$

foiaI’m not just saying this: The Missoulian has had some great stories lately.

Also, if you need a warm fuzzy, read this sweet letter to the editor about dads in Missoula.

The advice at left is from our new white board. It’s from one of my colleagues, and an excellent tip.

Newsy stories not to miss?

Someone spilled the beans on the amount of money The Carlyle Group wants for Mountain Water Co. Read all about it in this story by reporter Martin Kidston.

It’s $200 million!. Algonquin CEO Ian Robertson shared the “confidential information” on an investor call, according to the story. Why? Maybe because his investors are wondering if the three companies Algonquin is trying to buy, including Mountain, are really worth $327 million.

They’re roughly the same size as each other, and one just got appraised at $45.5 million. Huh. Hmm. Is someone bluffing on value? Are the parties using vastly different methods of calculating worth?

And who leaked the confidential number to Robertson?

One more? Missoula County Public Schools are making an unprecedented ask for money this fall, some $158 million in all. The ducks appear to be flapping about instead of lined up in a row.

A location for Cold Springs is up in the air, flap flap, per this story from reporter Dillon Kato.

Missoula County Public Schools will not have a location selected for a new Cold Springs Elementary School before voters are asked whether to pass an $88 million elementary bond that includes replacing the school.

And the schools aren’t scoring many points by recommending an architectural firm out of Great Falls for the bid. Seven out of the nine firms that applied are based in Missoula.

Here’s Kent Means, a partner at MMW Architects, in the story, also by Kato:

I was surprised that they chose an out-of-town firm with no local architecture representative.

The administrators recommended the firm in Great Falls, and the trustees will take up the decision tonight. Should be an interesting conversation.

Lastly? Decisions made more than 100 years ago mean the University of Montana is getting the shaft when it comes to income from land held in trust for education.

Example? UM didn’t even get a 10th of the income from renewables compared to MSU, some $264,000 in income for Missoula compared to $3 million for Bozeman.

That’s my story here. UM President Royce Engstrom is looking into whether change is possible. But it doesn’t seem likely.

– Keila Szpaller


Harlan Wells, Jack Rowan finalists in Ward 2

Harlan Wells and Jack Rowan are the finalists in Ward 2.

They have different visions, so that’s good for voters in the general election. Here’s Wells, pictured above, on his win in reporter Martin Kidston’s story:

A lot of people had a lot of hope that the fiscal conservative message would appeal to the voters, and it did.

Councilman Adam Hertz isn’t seeking re-election.

Wells received 752 votes, the most. Rowan got 347, candidate Anita Green, took in 211, and candidate Aylinn Inmon won 169.

Green has already has pledged to back Rowan. Inmon is asking more questions before giving either finalist support.

If they both back Rowan, it looks like it might be a good race. But the primary turnout wasn’t inspiring, according to numbers in my colleague’s story:

Roughly 4,810 ballots were issued in the Ward 2 primary and 1,487 were returned.

All for now.

– Keila Szpaller

Jack Rowan only Ward 2 candidate to show for forum


The Missoula Downtown Association held a candidate forum Tuesday for city council hopefuls, and only one out of four candidates in Ward 2 showed up.

Jack Rowan answered questions at the forum, and you can read all about it in this story by Martin Kidston.

Reasons not to to ditch? There’s a primary next week. Ellen Buchanan was asking questions there. She’s the head of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, and they do lots of big projects in the city.

Free buses were on the agenda, and they’re “free” because various organizations contribute. If you’re running for the Missoula City Council, don’t you want to tell people you think the city support for Mountain Line is awesome … or a waste?

Other candidates who showed up were Ward 1’s Bill Murray and Heidi West; Ward 3’s Gwen Jones; and Ward 4’s John DiBari.

All for now.

– Keila Szpaller