Here are some highlights and lowlights of recent events on the Hi-Line:
Laurel — Hundreds of people around town volunteered for various tasks during Havre Festival Days weekend. This year's events were the best ever. The Havre Area Chamber of Commerce under the direction of Executive Director Debbie Vandeberg coordinated the activities, but the many events were all run by volunteers. Hats off to those who helped make this day a success.
Laurel — And if you are in the mood for another celebration of small-town life, take a trip to Chinook this weekend for the annual Sugarbeet Festival. There are all kinds of activities and a parade that should be a treat for the entire family. The Chinook Chamber of Commerce is coordinating a host of volunteers.
Dart — One of the most important decisions the Hill and Blaine county commissions made this year was the selection, by a split vote, of a state senator to replace Rowlie Hutton. Congrats to Craig Tilleman on his appointment. If you agree with the Tilleman appointment, it would be nice to tell your commissioner your thoughts. If you oppose it, it would be nice to hold it against them in the next election. But you can't do either. The election was by secret ballot. Nobody knows for sure who voted for whom. The public has a right to know how their elected officials voted. We hope this is the last secret ballot the commissioners in either county will hold.
Dart — By the way, when Republican leaders from Blaine and Hill counties gathered to nominate three finalists for the senate seat, they too made their decision behind closed doors. Legal? Yes. Right? No. Both the Republican nominators and the Democratic-controlled commissions ought to conduct their business in public.
Laurel — The Greater Havre Area Ministerial Association, the Northern Montana Health Care Foundation and volunteers from throughout the community have been working for two years now to raise finds for a chapel to be built at Northern Montana Care Center. It will give Care Center residents and their families a place for worship and reflection. The effort will reach a crescendo this weekend with a 2 p.m. dedication for the next facility. Congratulations to all who gave time, money, support and prayers for this effort.
Dart — The Montana Supreme Court has taken what appears to be a step backward in providing information to the public about court cases. While there are legitimate privacy concerns about full disclosure of court records — no one wants Social Security numbers released, for example — freedom of information experts fear that the new rules will give district court clerks wide discretion in withholding some court records.
Laurel — Lynn Hamilton has been a stellar member of the Montana Board of Regents for the last 12 years. The Havre resident resigned last week. She has been a strong supporter of the entire university system, but it has been great knowing that somebody on the state board has an awareness of what is going on at Montana State University-Northern, an institution that affects the people of the Hi-Line — young and old — more than any other institution. Gov. Brian Schweitzer should see to it that Hamilton's successor is as bright as she is and as committed to the university system. And it would be great if he would pick somebody from the Hi-Line. We are often the forgotten part of the state, and we need a voice in the higher echelons of the university system.
Dart — What is taking so long in deciding what's going on in the Ashlie Nystrom case? The wife of the ex-Havre Police Chief was involved in some kind of fracas at PJ's Restaurant & Casino in the early morning hours of May 20. Blaine County Attorney Don Ranstrom was asked to decide whether or not to file charges to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest. This being Havre, everyone had opinions on whether there was to be a cover-up. Ranstrom is a well-respected lawyer, and his appointment was well received. But it's been four months since the incident, and still no decision from Ranstrom. The public needs to know what took place that evening.
Laurel — John Bruington has been named manager of the H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum at Holiday Village Mall. He is just the person to take the position, He has a background in history and will help better present the tremendous artifacts that the museum holds. The museum is vital to preserving Hill County's rich history. It is sometimes given short shrift by local people, but it has tremendous potential. Bruington can help the museum meet its potential.