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Home » Rockies » Montana » Western Montana » Missoula » 2008 in Missoula: The Dam Comes Down, Sentinel Burns, A President in our Midst
2008 brought big news to the Garden City. The dam came down, the lumber mill closed, the housing market slipped, slided and slumped (depending on who's analyzing), the wolf came off the endangered species list, Mount Sentinel burned, downtown got a new master plan, the city started charting Missoula's growth and finally, we became part of the national political scene, even seeing the next president of the United States in person. Here's a list of what we saw as the biggest stories on New West Missoula this year. Look back, read up and offer your predictions for 2009.

2008 in Missoula: The Dam Comes Down, Sentinel Burns, A President in our Midst

2008 brought big news to the Garden City. The dam came down, the lumber mill closed, the housing market slipped, slided and slumped (depending on who’s analyzing), the wolf came off the endangered species list, Mount Sentinel burned, downtown got a new master plan, the city started charting Missoula’s growth and finally, we became part of the national political scene, even seeing the next president of the United States in person.

Here’s a list of what we saw as the biggest stories on New West Missoula this year. Look back, read up and offer your predictions for 2009.

Politics:

Hillary Clinton Sits Down with Missoulians


By Dillon Tabish


Presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton told voters in Missoula this morning that the genius of America needs to be unleashed and the war in Iraq needs to end.

“It’s great to be in Big Sky country,” she told the roughly 1,800…

‘Excited’ An Understatement for 8,000 Obama Ralliers in Missoula


By Dillon Tabish


The excitement was to be expected. For a state normally considered flyover country and one that holds only 17 delegates, Saturday morning’s rally with Sen. Barack Obama was the beginning of a historic weekend for the Big Sky state.

Montana’s Schweitzer Talks Energy, Brings Energy to DNC


By Robert Struckman


In a speech that started slow, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer got the packed house at the Democratic National Convention in Denver on its feet and screaming during the prime-time speeches Tuesday night.

“We need all of you to stand…

Environment:

Milltown Dam Removal Marks Milestone, Water Rerouted


By Peter Metcalf


This is how they breach a dam, not with a surge but a trickle. Hundreds of people piled into viewing areas on both sides of the Clark Fork River in March, while scores more gathered along the river’s banks to witness the historic breach of the Milltown Dam.


Wolf Protections Restored in Northern Rockies, Hunting Halted


By Peter Metcalf


A federal judge in Missoula ordered today that gray wolves in the Northern Rockies be returned to the endangered species list, effectively halting planned fall wolf hunts in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy…

Fire Scorches 300-Plus Acres on Missoula’s Mt. Sentinel


By Peter Metcalf


For a Thursday morning update click here.

UPDATE – 10:45 p.m.: The fire is now estimate at 300-350 acres, according to Cindy Super. Officials have not yet estimated the containment percentage.

Thirty people –…

Business and the Economy:

More Montanans Seek Bankruptcy Protection


By Robert Struckman


Mortgage resets, the rising cost of food and fuel and the slowdown in the housing market have pushed personal bankruptcy filings to nearly double the numbers from two years ago, according to numbers from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Butte.
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Missoula Median Home Prices Drop


By Robert Struckman


Missoula home prices are following the national downturn, according to figures from the Missoula Organization of Realtors.

In both April and May, the median sales price of Missoula homes dropped. Also, the volume of sales has continued…

Montana Loses Jobs as Construction and Support Services Decline


By Robert Struckman


Montana’s unemployment rate has inched upward to a still-healthy 4.8 percent, according to the most recent figures from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, as every sector but healthcare and hospitality services contracted.

Rumors Swirl Around Frenchtown Mill


By Robert Struckman


Falling demand for cardboard boxes has prompted fresh rumors to swirl around Frenchtown’s Smurfit-Stone paperboard facility about a pending closure. Company officials say the plant will stay open.

“I hope it doesn’t happen,” said…

Downturn Has Builders in Bankruptcy, or Just Getting Out


By Robert Struckman


Small construction companies are seeking bankruptcy protection in Montana like never before, say Montana bankruptcy lawyers.

“They’re just getting out. Selling everything and going,” said James Screnar of Screnar Law Firm in Bozeman…

Moonlight Struggles for Cash in Wake of Lehman Bankruptcy


By Robert Struckman


Work has halted at the Moonlight Basin resort near Big Sky, Montana, after its construction funding vanished — a casualty of the bankruptcy of the Wall Street investment firm Lehman Brothers.

“Lehman Brothers has been Moonlight Basin’s…

Montana’s Lehman Brothers Connection: Richard Fuld


By Robert Struckman


It’s a long way from Wall Street to Whitefish, but for better or worse the connections these days are closer than you might think. This week’s case in point: Richard Fuld, chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers, the huge financial firm that went bankrupt…

Montana’s Cash Cowboy


By Robert Struckman


If you didn’t know any better, you might think William Patrick (Bill) Foley II was just another retiring baby boomer looking for golf courses, open spaces and the chance to recapture an idealized childhood of summertimes on the family ranch. A frank man…

Growth & Development:

Holley Lays Out Plum Creek’s Plans


By Peter Metcalf


The perceived rate of sale of Plum Creek Timber Company timberlands in Montana to private recreational buyers and for residential subdivision has elicited widespread public concern, lands that for generations have provided well-paying jobs, public recreation…

Ag Land Value Becoming a Factor for County, Developers


By Matthew Frank


As the finite fertile soils in the Missoula Valley increasingly sprout houses, the value of the remaining agriculture land is beginning to affect Missoula’s subdivision permitting process.

Chad Harder writes in this week’s edition…

At An Old Millsite, Big Plans Get Put on Ice


By Robert Struckman


A prominent brownfield clean-and-build project in downtown Missoula has been put on hold until the economy picks up.

The weed-infested former Champion Mill site just west of Ogren Field, the home of Missoula’s minor league baseball…

Montana AG’s Opinion Highlights Urban-Rural Divide on Zoning


By Greg Lemon


Montana’s Attorney General issued an opinion this week that gives voters living in incorporated communities a vote on any countywide referendum, initiative or ordinance — specifically zoning ordinances.

Mike McGrath made the…


Downtown Master Plan Nears Completion


By Jonathan Weber


The master plan that’s in the works for downtown Missoula will take many years to implement, but if you want to do your part today to push it along, the consultants have a suggestion for you: shop local, and, especially, shop downtown.

Missoula City Council: There’s UFDA to Consider


By Robert Struckman


Here’s Missoula Office of Planning and Grants director Roger Millar’s short take on the city’s zoning book: It’s a 36-year-old update of an 80-year-old original, and most changes made to it over the decades have been preventive measures taken after some…

Missoula County Grills Forest Service, Plum Creek on Road Easement Amendments


By Matthew Frank


Two items of note came out of Monday’s sometimes-heated conversation among Missoula County Commissioners and officials from Plum Creek Timber Co. and the U.S. Forest Service regarding the contentious cost-share road easement amendment proposal: Montana…

Plum Creek to Retain Zoning Veto Power in Parts of Missoula County


By Matthew Frank


Plum Creek Timber Co., in identifying which of its lands to divest as part of the Montana Legacy Project, retained majority ownership of the private land — and the zoning veto power that confers — in some of Missoula County’s most ecologically and economically…

People

The Legacy of a Grizzly


By Graham Coppes


Even in a region as rugged as Western Montana, where towering peaks are commonplace, the summits of Glacier Park are mind boggling. I first learned of this country as an impressionable child, seated around a fireplace, while my father regaled open-eyed…


Conversations with Missoula Artists: Meet Molly Murphy


By Alexia Beckerling


Missoula is home to a plethora of artists who express themselves in a variety of media. Alexia Beckerling is venturing into the studios and performance venues of a handful of local artists and bringing back multimedia glimpses into their creative worlds….


Video: The Gutsiest Job in the West


By Anne Medley


Not many want Larry Connell’s job. But after 29 years of removing road kill from Montana’s highways for the Montana Department of Transportation, he still has a sense of humor. NewWest.Net’s Anne Medley spent a day with Connell as he…

The Favorite Poem Project: Amber Greymorning


By Anne Medley


The 2008 Montana Festival of the Book takes place Oct. 23-25 in Missoula, featuring some of the finest writers of the West.

This year’s Festival includes a new event called “The Favorite Poem Project,” a community-based reading originally…


The Legend of Billy Poole


By Robert Struckman


Phyllis Erck’s small office in downtown Missoula has a poster-sized photo of the smiling face of her son Billy Poole.

Last January 22nd, at 28, Billy skied a line down Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City, as a Warren Miller…


Rafael Chacón’s Biography of Montana Architect A.J. Gibson


By Brian D’Ambrosio


The Original Man: The Life and Work of Montana Architect A.J. Gibson
by Hipólito Rafael Chacón
The University of Montana Press, 164 pages, $35

A.J. Gibson is one of Montana’s most beloved and famed…

Home: I Can See It From Here


By Bob Wire


I never thought I would be so glad to see Billings. After being screwed out of a motel room in Wyoming the previous night, we vowed that our last night on the road would be an orgy of comfort and self-indulgence. And if I could get the kids to take a…

Food and Culture

Missoula in the Year of the Chicken


By Sutton Stokes


How time flies when you’re eating fresh eggs. As of yesterday, it’s already been one year since the Missoula city council voted to allow chickens inside city limits.

Public opinion at the time largely favored this move…


Hooters in Missoula: More Than A Mouthful, Still Not Quite Enough


By Patia Stephens


I couldn’t decide what to wear to the grand opening of Hooters in Missoula. A push-up bra and high heels? Or tie-dye and Birkenstocks? I ended up wearing a push-up bra and my black sparkly Birkenstocks. Because that’s just the kind of girl I am.

Reflections from the Microbrew Trail


By Bill Schneider


For the past year, I’ve been on the Microbrew Trail, visiting every brewery in Montana, except one, and posting articles on all 24 of them. You can read the entire series here.

Along the beer trail, I’m made a few observations about…

About Courtney Lowery

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