Deal will ease westside parking crunch

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The frustrating parking situation in Kalispell’s westside neighborhood is poised to improve greatly in the coming years.

Inter Lake education reporter Hilary Matheson reported last week that Kalispell Public Schools will sign buy-sell agreements and an option-to-purchase agreement for neighboring lots on Fifth Avenue West for parking expansion around Flathead High School.

A parking shortage at the school has been a long-standing issue and a point of contention in the neighborhood where residents, staff and students are often left jockeying for a limited number of spaces. These deals should go a long way in improving the current situation.

It’s also important to note that these land acquisitions are just the beginning of the district’s plans to add more parking around Flathead High in the coming years. Following approval in 2016 of a $30 million bond, the district smartly earmarked about $1 million for parking expansion — funding that will serve both the school and neighborhood well for years to come.

Flathead County citizens take pride in the law enforcement agencies that serve our communities and rural areas, and last week a well-deserving Kalispell police officer, Cory Clarke, was named Montana Officer of the Year by the Montana Association of Chiefs of Police. What an honor it is for all of us in the Flathead to honor one of our for his accomplishments.

Clarke started with the Kalispell Police Department in 2012 as a patrolman and crime-scene artist, then veered into work as a school resource officer at Flathead High for five years before moving on to be a college resource officer at Flathead Valley Community College, no doubt making a positive difference in the lives of many of our students. He also is involved in traditional police work, serving as a member of the Major Crime Unit and as a field training officer.

Kalispell Police Chief Doug Overman’s words at the awards ceremony are worth repeating: “Officer Clarke has a realistic view of people and the world. His kindness and sympathy do not stem from naivete ... Officer Clarke has a warrior’s spirit and a servant’s heart.”

Congratulations Officer Clarke, for a job well done.

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