Missoula's backyard winter playground, Montana Snowbowl, made scores of local skiers and boarders happy with an early open Nov. 27, but repeated lift malfunctions and long lift ticket lines have rekindled the usual frustrations with our local mountain. Missoulian sports writer Nick Lockridge griped about it in a letter posted to the Montana Snow Sports blog last week, and a member of our staff reported waiting up to an hour to pick up a season pass.
Saturday brought further pains to eager powder hounds when the Griz chair shut down for the second time in as many days, this time for over an hour. The delay was enough to drive Missoula's Rep. Betsy Hands, who experienced the delays firsthand, to request legislation addressing the issue. The Montana skier safety and protection bill, as Hands has dubbed it, would offer skiers refunds for a ski lift rendered inoperable for one hour or more.
We're fairly certain anyone caught at the base on Saturday will agree: justice at last.
Two weeks back, the Indy offered up a preview of the Missoula Shooting Sports Association's 2011 legislative agenda and some of the more radical proposals MSSA President Gary Marbut hopes to see pass through the session. Now the champions of the MSSA's agenda are coming out of the woodwork. A quick glance through the current list of legislative drafts has helped put some names to the issues highlighted in the MSSA's agenda.
No surprise that Sen. Joe Balyeat is already lining up with the gun lobby for 2011. The Republican from Bozeman tackled a number of hunting bills in 2009—including a successful provision for nonresident college student combination game licenses and a not-so-successful revision to the state's wolf policy. He's standing tall with the MSSA once more this year, requesting a bill straight off the association's agenda to monitor and control diseases among wolves.
Sen. Greg Hinkle, R-Thompson Falls, has also made an impressive push on the pro-gun rights front so far, requesting no fewer than 10 pieces of legislation specifically addressing MSSA concerns. Hinkle, a familiar name at the Indy, is championing the gun lobby cause on everything from an expansion of concealed weapon rights to the establishment of a state Home Guard under the direct command of the governor. At this point, Hinkle's definitely heading the charge sounded by Marbut this fall.
Pogie over at Intelligent Discontent appears to be starting a legislative run-down of his own in advance of the session. We'll continue to keep an eye on gun lobby developments and champions as the legislature prepares to convene Jan. 3.
Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): In the coming weeks, life will beguile you with secrets and riddles but probably not reveal as much as you’d like. I think this is an opportunity, not a problem. In my opinion, your task isn't to press for shiny clarity, but rather to revel in the luxuriant mysteries. Let them confer their blessings on you through the magic of teasing and tantalizing. And what is the nature of those blessings? To enlighten your irrational mind, stimulate your imagination, teach you patience, and nurture your connection with eternity.
You know you've made it big when The New York Times crossword puzzle uses you in a clue. That's exactly what happened in the Saturday, Nov. 27 puzzle, written by Xan Vongsathorn, when it called for a three-letter word in "40 Across." The hint read: "Moose Drool or Trout Slayer."
The answer, of course, is "ale." Both Moose Drool Brown Ale and Trout Slayer (a filtered wheat ale) are brewed by Big Sky.
Considering those beers aren't distributed east of Michigan, how many East Coasters do you think figured this one out? A better question: How the heck did it make it into the puzzle? Just guessing, but Vongsathorn happens to be a college student in California. Big Sky beers are much easier to find there.
Less than a week after local landmark Muralt’s Café shut its doors, putting at least 15 waitresses, busboys and cooks out of work, a local labor union leader has alleged that café owner Walt Muralt threatened to withhold severance packages from outgoing employees if they speak ill of the establishment.
“Walt demanded they withhold anything negative,” says Mark Anderlik from UNITE HERE Local 427, which represents outgoing Muralt’s Café employees, many of whom also worked for All Events Catering, an affiliated company owned by Muralt.
In this week's installment: How trees affect crime rates, a study on ... wait for it ... hold on ... be patient ... waiting, and an attempt to build the world's tallest flagpole.
Curses, Foiled Again
When Walter Allen Jr. bought two Bentleys from a Houston car dealership for $458,000, he paid by signing over a $500,000 check issued by the Federal Reserve Bank. Managers at the dealership became suspicious because the Federal Reserve Bank usually uses wire transfers, not checks. They asked Allen to return later to pick up his cars, then alerted police, who confirmed the check was a fake and were waiting for Allen when he returned.
A man who was robbed at gunpoint outside a Subway store in Homestead, Pa., flagged down police and told them he recognized the suspect as having applied for a job at the Subway right before the robbery. “We checked with Subway, and they did have an application,” Homestead Police Chief J.A. DeSimone said. Using information from the form, police arrested Kris Johnson, 18.
You thought it was over, but the mourning of Finnegan’s Family Restaurant isn’t done yet.
Missoula’s 24-hour family restaurant closed on Tuesday, Nov. 30, but you can still raise one more cup of coffee at a Finnegan’s funeral this Saturday and reminisce your heart out about the place at which plenty of Missoula folk either worked, wrote their thesis, ate pie and cheese fries, met their high school drama friends or ended up hung over on a Sunday morning. Or all of the above.
If by chance you can’t make this daylight funeral, well, you’re in luck. There will also be a midnight candle memorial service later in the night.
The memorial service hits the Finnegans parking lot at 700 E. Broadway Saturday, Dec. 4, from 11 AM to 1 PM. The candle light service starts at midnight.
Not only is it Friday, but First Friday, and when you're hopscotching around downtown tonight consider popping into Missoula's newest taproom, Flathead Lake Brewing Company of Missoula, the subject of this week's Happiest Hour.
Just a few months after accepting a position as elite freestyle aerials assistant coach for the U.S. Ski Team, Missoula native and Olympic medalist Eric "Bergy" Bergoust has rocketed to the top. Head aerials coach Dmitriy Kavunov landed a gig with the Russian Ski Federation this fall and, according to an e-mail from Freestyle Program Director Todd Schirman, Bergy has stepped up to fill his shoes. KPAX led with the news yesterday. Bergy's new job as head coach will have him working with mogul skiers this spring out of the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York. His schedule will pretty much remain the same, though, keeping him away from home for all but one week a month in the summer.
The top story on political news aggregator Daily Kos earlier today took something of a pot-shot at Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus over their lack of involvement on the issue of immigration reform. Specifically, Kos writer/publisher Markos Moulitsas Zúniga critiqued Tester and Baucus' lack of action on the Democrat-backed DREAM Act that seeks to offer citizenship to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children if they enroll in college or join the armed forces. In his eyes, apparently, Montana's delegation has caved to localized "wingnut hysteria" when it comes to the battle over DREAM or comprehensive immigration reform, the Republican alternative that would crack down on illegal immigration instead of making offers of citizenship.
Kos' argument stemmed from a recent Montana poll that focused primarily on Tester's potential weakness in the 2012 election. Should Tester back the DREAM Act in Congress, the poll indicated, conservatives would overwhelmingly vote against him. But, as the article points out, "they're not going to vote for him anyway. Moderates are the real battleground, and he comes out slightly ahead, at worse."
Earlier in November, Politico included Tester near the top of its Republican hit list for 2012. The Kos poll clearly shows that if Tester wants to get off that list, conservatives would prefer he back comprehensive immigration reform over DREAM.
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