Jentz integral in shaping Kalispell’s growth

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Today is Kalispell Planning Director Tom Jentz’s last day on the job, and while we wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement, we’re sure going to miss him.

On many occasions the Inter Lake has drawn on Jentz’s vast institutional memory of planning matters in Flathead County and Kalispell. He has been a part of the fabric of planning here since 1983, first with the Flathead Regional Development Office and then the Tri-City Planning Office. He’s headed the Kalispell’s Planning Department since 2005, guiding the city through big growth spurts that have included exponential commercial growth in North Kalispell, substantial residential growth that stretched the city limits to Silverbrook Estates to the north, the Glacier Rail Park and core redevelopment plan that will see the removal of the railroad tracks and addition of a trail system through the downtown corridor.

Jentz has always been generous with his time and knowledge in providing us insight on all kinds of planning-related issues, from plans for subdivisions to commercial development projects. And we’ve rather enjoyed his enthusiastic presentations that have livened up many a Planning Board and City Council meeting. He leaves some big shoes to fill.

Kalispell Middle School students exchanged textbooks for hand tools during a recent history lesson about fur trading in Montana. Using 10 donated deer and elk hides, teacher Kris Schreiner led the hands-on demonstration of the traditional tanning and curing process.

An Indian Education For All state grant was used to buy tanning supplies, which students used to stretch the hide, and remove fat and membrane. For many of the students, it was the first time they had tanned a hide, whether or not they were hunters.

Schreiner’s lesson was a hit, with one of the students commenting that he likes getting hands-on, “instead of sitting in a classroom.”

We love this idea too, and we applaud Schreiner for bringing history to life in a lesson that will stay with these students for years to come.

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