Telescope available for check out from Missoula Public Library

If you can’t reach the stars, you can at least feel like you can, thanks to the Orion StarBlaster telescope that is available for check out from the Missoula Public Library.

“A lot of people get intimidated by telescopes,” said Nick Wethington, who coordinates the spectrUM museum next door to the library and is president of the Western Montana Astronomical Association. “They think about the computers attached to them, and how much they cost. But with this program, you can get a telescope for free and get used to it. You don’t need something that costs thousands of dollars to look at the sky.”

The telescope comes with operating instructions, as well as various guides to help viewers navigate the skies — and avoid summer break boredom.

Check out all the details in Rob Chaney’s story!

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Work hard, play hard

The Silver Summit all-abilities playground is taking shape after three years of hard work and anticipation!

Volunteers work Thursday to install playground equipment at Silver Summit all-abilities playground.

Parent of a son with a motor disability and the driving force behind the project, Jenny Montgomery, said she can’t wait to get out and play at the new site slated to open in mid- to late-August — and neither can I!

Her excitement about a playground where all children (and adults) can play regardless of their physical capabilities was contagious as she gave me a tour Thursday.

Features include a merry-go-round, rain wheel, tunnel, climbing structure, sand box, play cabin, overlook area, and much, much more. The playground’s also spacious so that kids who get overwhelmed can take a break in the shade on the fringe and then come back to play more instead of having to go home.

Montgomery said she also hopes Silver Summit help build community and support networks.

While the play structures and features began to take shape Thursday, more volunteers to help install the playground are needed to fill 3-hour time blocks on Friday and Saturday between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Volunteers should be at least 14 years of age, and will need water, snacks, gloves and closed-toed shoes.
If you’re interested, call or email Meg Rogosienski at 552-6271 or

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New statewide student board includes one more Missoulian

So, today the state Superintendent of Public Instruction released the names of the 31 new members of her Student Advisory Board. The board “consists of 39 high school students from 34 Montana schools,” according to the press release.

Thirty-nine students! That is one big board!

Congratulations to Baylee Everett, a junior at Hellgate High School, who will join current board member Rafael Vega from Big Sky High School as the only students from Missoula.

Poor Bozeman appears to have only one student advisory board member.

For more info about the board, click here. And for the full list of student board members, read on:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Give Local today

Today is Give Local Missoula Day!

Ninety local non-profits are included in the 24-hour fundraising blitz that encourages people to give to the organizations that make Missoula the town we love.

The goal is $100,000, and “lounges” are set up around town with snacks and beverages and conversation with non-profit reps.

Details here.

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St. Pat’s back in the baby business

Women will have another choice about where to give birth as soon as next year.

Providence St. Patrick Hospital announced Monday that they will begin offering comprehensive women’s and children’s services, including inpatient obstetrical and newborn care, with a Level II neonatal intensive care unit; an expanded inpatient and outpatient pediatric program; and outpatient obstetrical/gynecological and perinatology care.

Comments are already flying about motivations for the new services.

Supposedly, St. Pat’s was on a short list of contenders to partner with CommunityMedicalCenter, which recently announced a merger with Billings Clinic and RegionalCare Hospital Partners. Community’s announcement was a disapointment to St. Pat’s, but the hospital released a statement that they are as committed as ever to providing quality care to western Montana residents.

According to CommunityMedicalCenter leadership, Missoulians said they wanted to maintain choice for health care services when the hospital was mulling the best partnership option.

Providence Western Montana’s chief executive Jeff Fee said in a written statement that the move to offer more women’s and children’s services positions St. Pat’s to provide patients with a broad range of services from one, coordinated health care system.

Welp, I’d say we got choice — and heightened competition. Here’s hoping it leads to innovative, affordable care.


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Exercise and buckles

Water aerobics sounded like a great idea for a way to de-stress and get our heart rates up, so I grabbed a towel and my suit on my way out the door for work Thursday.

At 4:30 p.m., with a 6 p.m. meeting looming, water aerobics sounded like they would get in the way of eating dinner, but I had already missed class Tuesday.

To go or not to go?

In the end, my shoes swayed me.

On Monday I bought a pair of sturdy, sensible Danskos that should be comfy through the end of my pregnancy and the heat of August.

Thursday afternoon, I bent over to rebuckle them after earlier kicking them off under my desk.

Let’s just say that if I want to reach the buckles in August I should go to water aerobics way more often.

And in the spirit of healthy lifestyles — the Missoula Family YMCA is holding its Healthy Kids Day from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday with lots of booths and fun activities (including pony rides and pancakes) for free!

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Anaconda, like Missoula, grappling with future of schools

As practically anyone in the Missoula County Public Schools district knows by now, we’re in the middle of this big facilities planning process that’s meant to result in a plan for the future of our schools.

It’ll most likely result in a mill levy request, too.

Changing enrollment, aging buildings, new technology uses, different safety and security concerns – all are part of the process, and the district is looking for every opportunity to get the wider community engaged.

Meanwhile, our fellow Montanans in Anaconda are weighing whether to close and consolidate some schools – an idea that saw an impassioned backlash at yesterday’s school board meeting.

Then, of course, we have Lolo set to start voting this week on whether to build a new K-4 facility.

Maybe our different communities can learn something from watching one another deal with some common challenges.

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