“Fair” Thoughts

The 84th edition of the Montana State Fair concluded Saturday in Great Falls (MT). The fair started on July 24 and ended August 1.

I did not attend the State Fair, but here are my “Fair” thoughts…

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Great Falls City Commission: Bloviating

Tuesday night the Great Falls City Commission started their commission meeting at 7:00 p.m. When they finally adjourned it was 12:15 a.m. and there were just a few diehards remaining in the audience.

It was not always pretty and professional during those five-plus hours.

As I have mentioned several times, Great Falls City Commission meetings can become very comical and circus-like. I watched most of the proceedings on television from the comfort of home. With an over-flow crowd attending the event, I believe they could outdraw some of the acts at the State Fair if they decided to take their commission meetings on the road.

With temperatures hovering around 90 degrees in Great Falls, I imagine some of the attendees smelled pretty ripe by the end of the evening.

Here are some of my observations and my opinions about the epic event.

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Great Falls: Owning a Home

On Friday in my weekly “Caught My Eye” column, I wrote about the Great Falls City Commission not approving one of the largest development projects (88 single family homes which is being called the Thaniel Addition) in Great Falls in 30 years. It failed on a 2-2 vote. The two votes against it were from Mayor Mike Winters and Commissioner Fred Burow.

The Great Falls Tribune reported that one of the concerns about the project was some residents were worried about the impact the self-help build homes would have on the property value of their homes.

I closed my commentary with, “Come on people, this is Great Falls, Montana – think about it.”

On Sunday the Tribune editorial board let their feelings about the project be known with an editorial titled, “Great Falls needs housing; commission should vote again” in which they called the project “well-thought-out.” They added that they were “disappointed in the votes by Winters and Burow, and in the not-in-my-backyard approach by some opponents.”

Amen to that.

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Great Falls: Smoke em if you got em!

The “smoking shelter” calamity in Great Falls (MT) has been interesting to follow.

In case you were wondering about it, a law called “The Montana Clean Indoor Air Act” banned smoking in enclosed public places in 2009, so some bars/casinos built “smoking shelters” that, as the Great Falls Tribune reported in December 2013, “are intended to circumnavigate the law to create spaces where gamblers can smoke while they play.”

A local district judge ruled the shelters were OK, but the Montana Supreme Court overturned that ruling. Apparently the shelters were not open enough. Businesses have spent thousands of dollars on the shelters. Some shelters were pretty nice, which means they are not just a picnic table with an umbrella blowing in the wind and a five-gallon bucket for the butts.

The Great Falls Tribune had two sides submit their arguments about the shelters. You can read the pro-shelter column HERE and the con-shelter column HERE. Both sides make good arguments, but overall it’s kind of a silly mess they are in.

According to local television station KRTV, today (Wednesday, June 3) the Cascade City-County Health Department is holding a public hearing “to consider a proposed regulation governing smoking rooms.” The meeting is scheduled for 11:30 in the Great Falls City Commission Chambers.

I’ve lived in Montana about 25 years and checked out the casinos a few times. I found the casinos in Montana to be pretty boring compared to other casinos I’ve seen in other states and overseas. I’ve always felt if you’re going to allow gambling in a state, you might as well go big or go home. By the way, going big does not mean a mom and pop casino on almost every corner, like you’ll see if you drive down 10th Avenue South in Great Falls.

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Great Falls: School Trustee Election

Happy Earth Day – take care of it!

I vote in every election. I don’t remember the last time I did not vote – it was probably when I was in the military and my ballot did not make it to me in time. I believe that the voting process for military members and their dependents has improved some since then.

I received my “Official School Election Ballot” in the mail yesterday. I must admit, I am always a little excited when my ballot arrives. That’s my chance to have my say, and my vote counts the same as every other voter.

It’s been reported that only one name will appear on the ballot for School Trustee. The reports are correct – in the 2015 School Trustee Election the only name that appears on the ballot is Bob Moretti.

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Last Thursday, Cascade County (MT) Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Dunn was killed in the line of duty during a high-speed chase.

Adam Sanchez Jr. is accused of killing Deputy Dunn. He is in custody, and his bond is set at $2 million dollars according to an article in today’s (Monday) Great Falls Tribune.

After reading about Sanchez’s long criminal history from several different sources, I was left wondering why Sanchez was even free to roam our streets. After reading some on-line comments, it appears I am not the only one wondering.

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A Tale of Two DUIs

It’s always enjoyable to watch the local governments in action – this is where the rubber meets the road! I am writing about the city of Great Falls and Cascade County governments in Montana. Great Falls is in Cascade County.

I served a term on the Neighborhood Council several years ago in Great Falls, and it was an enjoyable experience. Right after high school, and before I decided to join the military, I worked as a laborer and heavy equipment operator for a city in the Midwest. So I have seen the operation of the local government from several angles.

Almost every Friday I write about someone or some group that is Making Montana Proud. These people embarrass Montana in some way. I have also written extensively about drunk driving over the years.

Here’s an update on two people who made my Making Montana Proud list!

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Politics 2012: Baggage, Polls, Blood, & Rebranding

Congratulations!  You’ve almost made it over the hump to slide into the three-day weekend – so hold on and you’ll start feeling better as quitting time approaches!

Thanks to all the visitors to The Western Word yesterday, and thanks to all you who took part in the poll!  There’s more information on that below.

Today I talk about a new poll, the baggage ad, Pro-Life/Pro-Choice, Cobell, Great Falls Airport, rebranding, blood for sale, and a lot more so read on!

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After Midnight…

My long-departed father told me one time when I was a rebellious teenager that “Nothing good happens after midnight – so don’t be out all hours of the night.”

I don’t think he was the original purveyor of that line, but it stuck with me.  I’ve also passed it on to my kids and maybe they will pass it on to theirs, or at least tell their friends and they can chuckle at me – just like I did at my father.

Maybe my dad got that feeling after my older sister, when she was just a teenager, was on her way home from a date with her boyfriend and they were hit by a drunk driver.  It happened after midnight.  She lived, but her life was forever changed.  To this day, I hate it when my phone rings after midnight when I know someone in my family is “out there on the streets.”

My mom and dad are both deceased, but they are probably smiling at that last sentence knowing I remember them saying, “I hope you have children of your own some day.”

Last Saturday night (or early Sunday morning) around 2:00 a.m. (after midnight) a drunk driver plowed through a local bar in Great Falls (Montana) killing one and injuring four others. My prayers go out to the families and friends of those involved. Continue reading

Montana Politics 2010: Local Races

Here we are about a month out from Election Day 2010. The absentee ballots are in the mail and the airwaves are full of campaign advertisements.

So, it’s time for The Western Word to make some endorsements for the 2010 Election. Today, I take a look at some local races. Here’s the agenda:

Monday: State Legislative Races (Click HERE to read).

Wednesday: Statewide and Public Service Commission.

In making these endorsements, I have trolled the net looking for information. I’ve visited campaign websites. I’ve checked Project Vote Smart for information. I’ve called and visited with people about candidates. I’ve also talked with some of the candidates. Some of them came to my door. Some found it was not a pleasant experience.

In some of these contests, I won’t get to cast a vote in because I live outside the voting area, but the candidate impressed me enough to give them a nod. With my readership increasing by leaps and bounds (September was an all-time high for visits to this website) I felt it was very important to let my faithful followers know which candidates I endorse.

For those candidates not listed as being endorsed, it means you probably did not impress me enough to deserve an endorsement or I just don’t care about you.

So without further delay, here are my recommendations for the 2010 Election Season (local races): Continue reading