Letters to the editor for Sept. 20, 2018

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Water bottling plant should not be allowed to be open for business

The news that the Montana Artesian Water Co. is bottling and selling water locally should send waves of anger through the citizens of this county.

After a resounding 70 percent victory in the June 5 election, this bottling operation was prohibited from operating in the Egan Slough Zone. Based on the vote of the people it is incumbent on the county commissioners to enforce this mandate and put a stop to this.

But what have these elected officials done? They have thumbed their noses at the people who pay their salaries. The commissioners have sat on taking any action thus allowing the water bottling company to keep going after this vote and to start bottling. Even though the planning department visited Weaver’s operation in July and found that no bottling had occurred they surely must have been overruled by the commissioners, who further allowed a health department license to take effect.

There is no valid ground to grandfather in an existing operation at the time of the vote because there was no operation going then! The commissioners have apparently prevailed on the county attorney’s office to take no action to enforce our legally valid initiative vote. Instead the commissioners have hired a Missoula law firm to “advise” them. And this is at taxpayer expense! This is not rocket science that takes weeks and weeks of legal thought. If the county attorneys can not represent the people of this county, and not the commissioners and their questionable biases, then they need to be replaced along with the commissioners.

It has been crystal clear from the beginning of this controversy that the commissioners were totally supportive of Weaver’s operational plans despite their statements that they wanted to hear nothing about it. Facts suggest otherwise. If MAWC is now, through its PR voice, questioning the validity of the vote and whether an initiative can be enforced, wouldn’t you think that the election department would have considered this issue before approving the initiative for the ballot. The county attorney’s office approved the ballot resolution, but now they sit by and do nothing. The commissioners had almost a year to have this issue legally addressed even prior to the vote on June 5. The county itself delayed the vote for almost a year.

This arrogance of power should be challenged and I encourage all 17,000 plus voters who voted to stop this operation to speak out and take action to protect the will of the people. —David Eychner, Kalispell

Wildlife managers are not protecting grizzly bears

Don’t fall for the “divide and conquer” strategy being used to remove Endangered Species Act protections from grizzly bears one sub-ecosystem at a time in the lower 48 States. These bears were listed as threatened because they had been reduced to only 2 percent of their former numbers and driven off all but 2 percent of their range.

State and federal agencies want to declare grizzly bears “recovered” in the Yellowstone and Glacier sub-ecosystems even though the bears are still confined to about 2 percent of their former numbers and range. Yellowstone remains genetically isolated. Computer models have failed 20,000 times to get a bear from Glacier to Yellowstone in a single season, meaning bears need to set up home ranges in between to maintain genetic diversity.

Rather than working to unite these two sub-ecosystems, agencies are instead working to designate each a “distinct population segment.” Research, however, shows that 5,000 bears are necessary to maintain genetic viability, requiring that these sub-ecosystems be reunited.

Managing for 800 bears in the Glacier area and even fewer in the Yellowstone area, while killing off “excess” bears via sport trophy hunting, will not reconnect these areas. It will not recover bears to significantly more than the 2 percent of their former habitat, let alone reconnect with the Bitterroot, Cabinet-Yaak, Selkirk, and North Cascades sub-ecosystems.

Enough “divide and conquer.” It is time to show some compassion, adjust how we live and work in bear habitat, and to recover and reconnect the lower 48 ecosystem before removing ESA protections. —Keith Hammer, Kalispell

Frank Miele is no gunslinger

You can tell by the way he writes that Editor Frank Miele, soon retiring, is no gunslinger. No, he doesn’t just start blasting away or shoot from the hip at unknown targets.

Next to my mom, he’s probably one of the most well-read people I’ve known though I don’t think he carries a paperback or two in a purse on a daily basis like she did. He has used his depth of knowledge to pen thought-provoking editorials for us to read for the last 34 years.

I have respected his journalism for a long time because he checks the powder, lays out the shells in perfect order and hits the mark with precision.

As Frank heads into the sunset we will miss his journalistic marksmanship. Godspeed to him and his family as they enter into their next chapter. —Dee Brown, Hungry Horse

Can’t Frank keep going for 20 more years?

I too would like to weigh in on Frank Miele. I’ve been a subscriber to the Daily Inter Lake for over 25 years. I have always marveled at what a unique individual Frank is. In addition to being an excellent writer, Frank is incredibly well-read, has one of the best senses of humor I’ve ever run across, makes sure that his supporters as well as his arch detractors are heard from in the paper, and does not run from controversy. He has faced down some personal demons (and has written about them), and how many people know that Frank raised two fine children as a single father?

Frank, you’ve earned your time off, but I’m not afraid to selfishly say I wish you’d continue on for another 20 years. I wish you the best and thank you for all you’ve given this valley. You’re a great spokesman, a fine friend, and one hell of a man. All the best to you and your family. —Cliff Bennett, Kalispell

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The answer to the question posed in the headline is politely, but emphatically, “No.”)

Thanks, Inter Lake, for the stories about our great community!

Thank you to the Daily Inter Lake for your many human-interest stories about the amazing members of our community!

With so much disheartening news in the world, and our own daily large and small struggles, it is important to remember that here in the Flathead we have creative, loving, hard-working people all around us. Many have passions and accomplishments about which we had no idea.

People want to move here not only because of our spectacular landscape, but also because of our wonderful friends and neighbors. Thank you for helping us to celebrate the real beauty of the Flathead: our community! ­—Mandy Stebbins, Kalispell

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