Letters to the editor for August 16, 2018

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One last shout-out for all the friends of Lawrence Park

Upon reading the article and seeing the photos about Lawrence Park getting a new nature trail, we were delighted and grateful to see that this project is happening.

The idea of a nature trail, with interpretive signs, was in the original plans drawn up by the Friends of Lawrence Park. Now, through the sale of land by Knife River Construction Co. to the city, the implementation of the trail is on track.

We thank the people and organizations involved in this effort. City Parks and Recreation Superintendent Fred Bicha, Knife River Construction Co., Montana Conservation Corps, a $5,000 grant from Applied Materials, Fresh Life Church, bridges built by Alex Durado, and future work by Eagle Scout candidate Sean McCurry in working with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Dave Landstrom on an interpretive sign system.

It is a joy to drive through Lawrence Park and see the kids on the climbing boulders, people picnicking in the pavilion, and kids on the playgrounds, and now this great addition. —David and Janet Downey, Kalispell

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter was received prior to the recent death of Dr. David Downey. Downey was one of the founders of the Friends of Lawrence Park.)

Canadian visitor lost ID on trip to Kalispell; can you help?

While visiting Kalispell (Aug.6-8) I misplaced three cards important to me: a paper card copy of my birth certificate, my Alberta Health card, and a health insurance card.

I think they fell from my wallet while shopping. I am hoping someone found them and are unsure how to return them, as they have no address attached. If you find them, please contact the editor at 406-758-4447 so they can be returned. Thanks. —Beryl Hornberger, Lethbridge, Alberta

Thank you to 17-01 supporters

As I was driving through Creston the other day, I got stuck behind a farmer driving a large tractor ... and I began to cry a little. Not from aggravation, but from gratitude! It gave me a moment to really appreciate the beauty around me that I had been taking for granted.

The sun-tanned farmer sitting high on his perch was set against a field of blindingly neon-yellow flowers, which were lying at the foothills of mountains that cut jaggedly into a cloudless turquoise sky. I was so thankful to be behind FARM equipment and NOT a convoy of big rigs loaded with plastic water bottles transporting our aquifer out of state. I want to take a moment to thank each and every voter who helped this small ag town.

What a glorious surprise it was to wake up the morning after the June 5 election to find a 70-30 percent victory for the “little guys”! Another word of thanks to all those caring citizens in towns located outside Flathead County and unable to vote, but who supported the cause ... Rollins, Woods Bay, Polson, etc. To everyone who realized the “property wrong” that was about to take place, thank you! Thank you!

For ignoring the Chamber, City Council, commissoners and others in decison-making positions in this county, thank you! And on that note, I hope you realize that ONLY Jay Scott was on board with initiative 17-01 in the Republican primary for county commissioner. Randy Brohdel “said” the words “property rights” a lot, BUT he may have been solely interested in CORPORATE property rights.

Democrat Tom Clark was supportive of the initiative and has much to offer as a commissioner, so please consider this in November. We must reconsider the current “growth at any cost” policy that the current commissioners embrace. In the meantime, take a deep breath and enjoy our beautiful valley. —Jean Rachubka, Creston

‘Bad Actor’ law being misused?

I find it disheartening that our own governor who represents the citizens of Montana has saddled alongside those that continue to block all efforts for resource extraction in Montana. Gov. Bullock’s agreement with Earthjustice’s claim that Hecla Mining is in violation of Montana’s Bad Actor statute has proven his poor leadership; instead of fighting for us, hehas chosen to be submissive by aiding the extremists, not allowing small local governments any recourse for resource extraction in Montana.

I have recently learned that Hecla Mining has operated throughout the world for 127 years, indicative of their dedication to environmental responsibilities and we are proud to partner with them. As a citizen of Lincoln County, I feel very relieved that a company with Hecla’s long-term experience has chosen to invest heavily into our community and is committed to working towards development of the Montanore and Rock Creek mines.

Most of us in Lincoln County are environmentalists and conservationists, wanting clean air, clean water and abundant wildlife. Most “acts,” though well intended, are now manipulated and used as a source of litigation tools. Montanore has stricter water regulations upon them than what is regulated for human consumption. Grizzly bear habitat is severely weakened by the very people who use the grizzly bear as its litigation tool.

The erosion of truth leads to continued lawlessness and now our own governor is a contributing factor to that erosion.

As a citizen it would be easy for me to remain silent and complacent but as Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

I find Gov. Bullock’s leadership very alarming and offensive to the citizens of Lincoln County and the state of Montana. —Robin A. Benson, Libby

State is the bad actor, not Hecla

As someone who has been a strong advocate for the mines in Northwest Montana to start, the latest move by our own state government to obstruct their development has me hopping mad!

Doesn’t our state want to see an area that frequently has the highest unemployment rate in the state have some economic opportunity? Does our governor really believe that Hecla, a company that has been around for over 100 years, is a bad company?

I for one believe that current laws and regulations have more than adequately responded to the days of speculative mining practices that have left taxpayers holding the bag. We now have bonding requirements that are frequently reviewed, and environmental analysis that looks not only to potential impacts in the short term, but also long after the mining has stopped.

The Montanore and Rock Creek projects have been under environmental analysis for decades! Just when they are about to be constructed by one of the most responsible mining company in the world, we have our state government working with the groups that file frivolous lawsuits in hopes of preventing our region the good paying jobs we have long been awaiting. How ridiculous! —Charlotte Woods, Libby

Defenders of Hecla may have conflicts

For two decades out-of-state mining companies and supporters of the Rock Creek and Montanore Mines, pressured permitting agencies to ignore environmental assessments and bend laws. They demonize those who value the pristine Cabinet Wilderness over a few taxpayer-subsidized mining jobs. Through Democratic and Republican administrations, tenacious mine opponents have prevailed. Both projects remain on the drawing board of their current owner, Idaho-based Hecla Mining Company.

Mine proponents attack DEQ’s decision to label Hecla CEO Phil Baker a “bad actor” for his role in dumping on Montana taxpayers $30 million in cleanup costs from his previous company, bankrupt Pegasus Gold Co. They fume about Initiative 186, a common-sense plan to limit taxpayer exposure to cleanup costs from new mines.

Sen. Chas Vincent and Rep. Steve Gunderson bash “out-of-state obstructionists” while they praise Hecla’s commitment to “prudent and responsible mining.” Lincoln County Clerk of Courts Robin Benson tells us that Hecla has “operated around the world for 127 years, indicative of their dedication to environmental responsibility.”

Since 2000, this “prudent and responsible” company amassed more than 40 violations of workplace safety, health, environmental and labor laws, and paid more than $265 million in fines. Hecla’s environmental stewardship at Idaho’s Bunker Hill Smelter caused dangerously high blood lead levels in 26 percent of 2-year-olds who lived near the site. Their Greens Creek mine has been cited repeatedly for Clean Water Act violations. In April, Hecla paid NLRB fines for unfair labor practices.

Vincent is a paid Hecla lobbyist. Gunderson works for Montanore. Conflicts of interest, folks?

Mine supporters feed us slogans and lies and create straw men upon whom they can pile their anger and frustration at a changing world. Let’s throw some facts into the mix. —Crystal N. Cheval, Spokane

Tester earned the trust of vets

I am writing to express my opinion regarding the attacks on Sen. Jon Tester and his work to help veterans in Montana. I am a Veteran of a Foreign War and I use the local Kalispell vets clinic for checkups, prescriptions and other minor issues. Through the local vets clinic I have been referred for other medical procedures at local hospitals and clinics. This has saved me the long trip to Helena for service at the VA Hospital at Fort Harrison.

I am very appreciative of the service I have received from the doctors and staff at our clinic in Kalispell. The waiting room is most always full and they do a great job processing all of the vets through the system. Jon Tester has been a staunch advocate for Veterans Services in Montana. He was instrumental in getting the VA to service veterans locally if they live too far from Helena. Donald Trump, during the Viet Nam War, received five deferments for heel spurs after playing sports in business school. He has no credibility nor understanding of veteran issues at hand when he criticizes Sen. Tester’s efforts.

I trust Jon Tester’s judgment on who should head the VA. Our sons and daughters, if sent to war, can be killed or maimed and then if they survive they must return to our country and rebuild their lives. Our VA is critical to this process and it is imperative that we have the best medical care for our veterans and that the VA is led by someone who is the best choice for this role.

I trust Jon Tester to help determine this choice. —Douglas Rhodes, Whitefish

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