We were saddened to learn of the recent death at age 86 of Howard Gipe, the longest-serving county commissioner in the history of Flathead County.
Gipe served three terms, from 1987 to 2004, and was noted for his dedication, moderation and common sense throughout a period when some (not all) of the other commissioners were in the news for excess, absence and bad decisions. We got to know Gipe quite well, because unlike some local politicians, he was extremely accessible to the press and the public, and never shied away from a hard question.
Gipe was born into a farm family, and took the lessens he learned about frugality, perseverance and hard work into his life of service. Over the years, he served in the Air Force, the Highway Patrol and then in government with a high degree of success.
As voters take to the polls next month to elect a county commissioner, they would do well to measure the candidates against the record of achievement that Gipe left behind.
Seize the ‘Opportunity’
We are hopeful that the Opportunity Zones recently designated by Gov. Steve Bullock will indeed result in opportunities for new development in Northwest Montana.
The program is a part of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress last year, and offers tax incentives to investors in lower-income areas that show potential for growth.
Interestingly, that resulted in a large swath of Kalispell being approved, including much of the West Side and East Side of the city south of U.S. 2, but not including the core downtown area.
Bullock designated 25 tracts statewide. Beside Kalispell, those in Northwest Montana include the southwest corner of the Flathead Indian Reservation (Hot Springs and Dixon); Libby; and much of the Blackfeet Reservation, extending north to the Canadian border.
Kalispell Chamber of Commerce President Joe Unterreiner said the Opportunity Zone program gives the city a new economic development tool to attract investment capital and help create good-paying jobs.
This is one more piece of the puzzle that is coming together as Kalispell plans for redevelopment over the next decade.