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The Montana Ballot Packet: What to Do

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The Montana Ballot Packet: What to Do


Voters have waited with baited breaths for their ballot to arrive in their mailboxes.  A caller this morning inspired me to this post about the ballots just mailed out…all three of them.  

Credit: Travis Lee, TSM

Credit: Travis Lee, TSM

A coworker agreed with this topic choice, then added, “My father-in-law called me last night, asking questions about the ballots.”  I suppose it’s understandable.  We expect something pretty clearcut and it’s not quite.  For those new to voting, or anyone confused by what they received, let’s see if I can help.

The state of Montana does not document party affiliation for a resident when they register to vote.  The voter cards mailed earlier do not list party.  In the primary election, such as now in May, a voter is free to decide which party races they will vote in.  So a Montanan can cast a ballot for either Democrat, Republican or Green.  Others in the state have four ballots in their packet.

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The most important sheet of paper in the ballot packet is the Voting Instructions.  Follow these steps and your choices will be respected and counted.

While the steps are pretty straightforward, number 1 states “Choose ONE Ballot to Vote.”

Credit: Travis Lee, TSM

Credit: Travis Lee, TSM

Translated: No, please don’t mark all three or four and send them in.  Waste of your vote.  The Elections office will not count them.  A voter is free to choose the one party‘s races they care about and will participate in by voting.

Another caller this morning urged listeners to fill out their ballot and turn it in as soon as possible.  Why?  The only reason a voter should sent it in ASAP is if they will mail it.  The Postal Service will need days for delivery.  Like the Instructions clearly says at the top “a postmark is not accepted.”  The best practice is to deliver in person.  That being said, you have until June 4th to carefully think about your choices and fill out the ballot, then turn it in to the Elections Office or drop it in an official ballot box.  As of the date of this article, you have time.

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“Who Should I Vote For?”

This is a risky question to ask.  A radio guest suggested that if you absolutely don’t know who to vote for in a particular race, ask someone who follows all this political stuff and who can tell you who to vote for.  I’m a little bothered by this advice because at first blush it seems like ceding control of your vote to another person.  But then who do you ask?  I will therefore add that you should ask someone who is knowledgeable and whom you trust, and they should give you concrete information or point you where to look for yourself.  Answers like “Vote for him, he’s a (political view)” or “I met her, nice lady” is not nearly enough to make an informed choice.

Perhaps a better question is “Who do you recommend for this specific race, and why?”

Still, do your homework.  An incumbent candidate has a voting record; look it up.  How did they vote on key issues when it mattered most?  What they say in news articles and on media should again be taken with salt.  Politicians say all manner of things.  Their social media may give some insight. Their votes and their actions are their true voice.  And again, you have time.

The key message I have is that you should be in control of your vote.  Don’t give your power to someone else with an unfilled ballot or have someone other than the Postal Service deliver it for you.  That piece of paper, that ballot, is truly your power in these elections.

Plant Some Of These In Your Montana Garden to Keep Mosquitoes Away

As we previously told you, mosquitoes are the most dangerous creatures on earth. If you want to keep them away from you’re yard, these plants can help!

Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart

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Safety Town 2024 Great Falls, Montana

Safety Town 2024 Great Falls, Montana

Gallery Credit: Tammie Toren

 





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Montana

New data raises more questions about health of Clark Fork fishery • Daily Montanan

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New data raises more questions about health of Clark Fork fishery • Daily Montanan


While anglers flock to streams across the Clark Fork Basin for another fishing season, hardworking staff at Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks have been grappling with a sobering question: Is it safe to eat fish anywhere in the Clark Fork River?  

Problems with fish in the Clark Fork aren’t necessarily breaking news. Previous testing by FWP found high levels of three types of dangerous contaminants: dioxins, furans, and PCBs in rainbow trout and northern pike in some stretches of the river. This discovery led to a formal advisory that the public avoid eating fish in certain river sections – from the Bitterroot confluence to where it joins the Flathead – due to human health concerns.  

But the Clark Fork is a big watershed, and questions remained about whether fish in the headwaters or downstream should also be off-limits. These unknowns prompted Montana Trout Unlimited  to partner with FWP and other stakeholders, the Clark Fork Coalition, the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program, the Missoula County Health Department and the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes to pool resources to investigate the scope and potential sources of pollution.  

In 2022, MTU secured a federal EPA grant to fund water quality and fish-tissue sampling at dozens of locations, from the Clark Fork headwaters to the Idaho border. FWP staff spent the 2023 season deploying samplers in the river and harvesting fish to test for the presence of dioxins, furans and PCBs. Now the initial results are in, and the picture may be bleaker than before.  

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The devices deployed last year identified elevated levels of PCBs, dioxins, and furans at the headwaters, again near Bearmouth, and downstream of Missoula.  Although we await a definitive analysis, initial results suggest that levels may approach or exceed safe limits for human consumption. It is now clear that this contamination is widespread, but more work is needed to pinpoint its specific sources, and to develop effective remediation strategies to protect human and ecological health.  

So what does this new data mean? We don’t have the complete answer yet.

Experts with FWP and Montana DEQ need to complete their quality-control analysis before making decisions about whether an expanded advisory is warranted. However, two things are for certain:  

First, Clark Fork anglers should proceed with caution. Even in very small amounts, these highly toxic contaminants are known to cause cancer, damage the immune system, and cause developmental and reproductive problems. While more needs to be done to fully understand the 2023 data, an abundance of caution would dictate avoiding fish consumption throughout the river. 

Second, the public needs more information. These contaminants are highly toxic and extremely difficult to detect. Testing is expensive, time consuming, and often leads to questions that warrant further investigation. In some areas, we currently have the resources to dig into the problem. At Smurfit-Stone – a known source of all three types of contaminants – the EPA is investigating the site and must do everything possible to quantify and mitigate Smurfit’s contribution to the problem. In other areas, we may need to collect more data to identify and remove new sources of contamination.

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We’ve come too far to accept a perpetually contaminated Clark Fork fishery, and FWP’s discoveries demand a strong response. This is true not just at Smurfit but in the upper river, where hundreds of millions have already been invested in restoring a heavily damaged waterway. Through the ongoing and collective efforts of FWP, DEQ, and a broad set of community stakeholders, we are well positioned to identify and address threats to human and ecological health and work towards a cleaner and healthier Clark Fork. 

David Brooks is the Executive Director, Montana Trout Unlimited and Andrew Gorder is the legal and policy director for the Clark Fork Coalition. 

 



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Corvette lovers meet in Missoula

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Corvette lovers meet in Missoula


MISSOULA — Whether it’s new or old, few cars are as iconic as the Corvette, which is why members of the Hellgate Corvette Club show up to the fairgrounds every year to spell out the name with their cars.

For the 53rd year the Big Sky Corvette Meet has returned to Missoula and enthusiasts from across the state and country came to town to show off their cars.

Corvette lovers meet in Missoula

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Murray Elliot, one of the event organizers, says there is a unique experience when driving any Corvette, new or old, that all owners can relate to.

“We all become one with the car and that is the fun, Elliott said.

“So we tour around, like I said this is the 53rd year so everybody knows everybody and it’s just fun to tour around.”

One of the Drivers who loves to tour his car around is Gary Kinzner who has been working on his 1957 Corvette for 50 years.

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Kinzner purchased the car for $350 and fixed it new over the years, according to him nothing beats repairing an old classic.

“I look at the new cars here and they’re beautiful but most of the work is done by other people this one I can basically fix anything on it myself and that’s the fun part of owning a car,” Kinzner said.

“When I was a kid in high school when Corvettes were new those were the epitome of a cool car to have.”

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USDA invests in Montana clean energy projects for businesses, agriculture producers

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USDA invests in Montana clean energy projects for businesses, agriculture producers


The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced investments in six Montana clean energy projects to support rural Montana businesses and agricultural producers.

The projects were funded by the Inflation Reduction Act and are part of the Rural Energy America Program.

REAP helps rural businesses expand use of sustainable energy.

The following projects were funded:

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  • Heberle Ford in Forsyth will use a $10,125 grant to make energy efficiency upgrades to the business. This project is expected to save this rural car dealership $1,743 in annual energy costs.
  • Soundcolor Studios Inc. in Livingston will use a $17,200 grant to install a roof-mounted 6-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system with a 30-kilowatt hours battery. This film, music, and art studio operation is expecting to save $1,155 per year in annual energy costs and replace 100 percent of its annual energy consumption.
  • West Paw Properties LLC in Bozeman will use a $37,237 grant to make energy efficiency improvements. The business, which manufactures dog toys and other products, expects to save $2,559 in annual energy costs.
  • Highmark Properties LLC in Choteau is receiving $85,854 in grant to install a 74.205-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at the Twin Peaks Assisted Living Facility. It’s expected this project will save $5,607 in annual energy costs and replace 82,427 kilowatts in energy use.
  • Terri Kollman, a rural agricultural producer outside Joliet will use a $20,000 grant to buy and install a 9.84-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system. The project should save this producer $2,030 in energy costs and replace 14,877 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.
  • Bart R. Bilden of Lavina will use a $49,797 grant to purchase and install a 29.1-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system. It’s expected this project will save $6,343 in annual energy costs and produce enough energy to replace 100 percent of the energy used per year to support their farm and ranch operations.

The USDA sent out the following:

USDA Rural Development Montana State Director Kathleen Williams today announced the agency is investing in six clean energy projects to support rural Montana businesses and agricultural producers. These projects are funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, the nation’s largest-ever investment in combating the climate crisis.

The investments are made through the Rural Energy America Program (REAP), which helps agricultural producers and rural small business owners expand their use of wind, solar, geothermal and small hydropower energy and make energy efficiency improvements. These innovations help them increase their income, grow their businesses, address climate change and lower energy costs for American families.

“The evidence of climate change continues to amplify in Montana, affecting our producers, economy, and health and safety. This program helps rural producers and businesses save energy and transition to reliable, renewable energy sources, while also saving operating costs that can then be invested elsewhere – a win-win,” said Williams. “Rural small businesses and agricultural producers are the backbone of Montana’s economy, and USDA is working every day to help them grow and thrive.”

Details about the awardees are as follows:

  • Heberle Ford in Forsyth will use a $10,125 grant to make energy efficiency upgrades to the business. This project is expected to save this rural car dealership $1,743 in annual energy costs.
  • Soundcolor Studios Inc. in Livingston will use a $17,200 grant to install a roof-mounted 6-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system with a 30-kilowatt hours battery. This film, music, and art studio operation is expecting to save $1,155 per year in annual energy costs and replace 100 percent of its annual energy consumption.
  • West Paw Properties LLC in Bozeman will use a $37,237 grant to make energy efficiency improvements. The business, which manufactures dog toys and other products, expects to save $2,559 in annual energy costs.
  • Highmark Properties LLC in Choteau is receiving $85,854 in grant to install a 74.205-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at the Twin Peaks Assisted Living Facility. It’s expected this project will save $5,607 in annual energy costs and replace 82,427 kilowatts in energy use.
  • Terri Kollman, a rural agricultural producer outside Joliet will use a $20,000 grant to buy and install a 9.84-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system. The project should save this producer $2,030 in energy costs and replace 14,877 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.
  • Bart R. Bilden of Lavina will use a $49,797 grant to purchase and install a 29.1-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system. It’s expected this project will save $6,343 in annual energy costs and produce enough energy to replace 100 percent of the energy used per year to support their farm and ranch operations.



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