Sunday, April 14, 2024

A more perfect union

| February 1, 2023 9:00 AM

It is definitely winter. As I write this in Columbia Falls it is sunny but only 5º F at 2 p.m.

Last night it was well below zero and it is predicted to be even colder tonight. We have snow on the ground but snowfall for the winter is a little below normal. Maybe snowfall will increase in February. Personally, I prefer snow to bitter cold, but I guess we will survive whatever Mother Nature serves us.

As we near February I have been remiss in thanking so many folks for their best wishes and Christmas cards over the holidays. To me, Christmas and the New Year always promise a new start. Hopefully we can all be better.

Certainly if we watch the national news we can see the need for all people to improve. I am not amused by either of our political parties, even less impressed by continued racial and religious conflict, but still hopeful that we as a community, a state and a nation can work together to create “a more perfect union.” It is important for us and it may well be vital for the rest of the world. We all need to work on it!

A small part of that is the upcoming Winter Interlocal Meeting. This meeting was originally set up for private citizens and management agencies to discuss common concerns to help agencies with new ideas and for citizens to be better informed about agency plans. Instead, it has become a forum for agencies to make excuses for their inability to really do their jobs.

It will be interesting to hear the Forest Service’s excuse for not updating the River Management Plan, why Trail Creek Road could be improved but the proposed improvement of the North Fork Road will either be postponed (again) or significantly reduced.

Glacier Park will no doubt kick the Inside Road issue down the road again and both the Forest Service and the Park will only provide band aids to the ever growing demand for improved outdoor recreation opportunities.

Admittedly, these issues are complicated and even bigger than we think. Even so, the agencies are charged with solving them, not just applying band aids.

Perhaps the feds could learn something from the State of Montana. The State operates by law within a balanced budget. The feds just crank up the printing press and print more. As the result of years of borrowing, the feds now pay hundreds of millions per year on their loans. By contrast, the State of Montana has a surplus. Also, Montana has term limits and the congress is filled with career politicians whose biggest skill is bribing voters with federal dollars that only add to the deficit.

Sorry to hear this week of the passing of Fern Hart who was in her nineties. She and husband Ray have been North Forkers for over thirty years, although poor health has confined Fern to Missoula in recent years.

She was a terrific person.

In addition to the North Fork she also served two or three terms as County Commissioner in Missoula County. She will be missed.