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Volume XXV, Number 31

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Comment on our front page stories on the new Bitterroot Star blog!

Hamilton moves to zone medical marijuana dispensaries

By Michael Howell

At a Committee of the Whole meeting last Thursday, February 25, the Hamilton City Council agreed to place an emergency zoning ordinance on the agenda for its next council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 2, that would limit the location of medical marijuana dispensaries established within the city limits to business and manufacturing zones. The emergency zoning ordinance would go into effect immediately upon passage without need of a second reading. More...

Medical marijuana dispensaries, like this one located on First Street in Hamilton, are opening up around the state following the passage of the Medical Marijuana Act in 2004. As the number of dispensaries located in city storefronts multiplies, town governments all over the state are now rushing to establish some sort of municipal regulations governing the new businesses. Hamilton is no exception. While some other cities have adopted temporary moratoriums, Hamilton is considering some emergency zoning provisions to restrict the location of the new businesses. The only two dispensaries currently permitted to operate in the city are located in established business zones and are thus in compliance with the restrictions being considered. Michael Howell photo.

Sara Stevenson, of Missoula Cannabis Caregivers, which has opened a dispensary on First Street in Hamilton, stands by a showcase in her establishment that contains some of the products available including tinctures, oils, candy and other foods containing medical marijuana for those patients who do not want to smoke it. Buds for smoking are also available, of course. Stevenson said that her establishment requires that patients register her business as their official caregiver with the state before she will dispense the medicine to them. Simple possession of a patient card from the state is not enough. She said that the law is not clear about the issue, but she wants to be on the safe side. Michael Howell photo.

Montana Water Trust joins Clark Fork Coalition

By Michael Howell

Just three days after Rankin Holmes of the Montana Water Trust (MWT) spoke to Bitterroot Valley residents at the invitation of the Bitter Root Water Forum, the Clark Fork Coalition announced in a press release that it is acquiring MWT and adding streamflow restoration to its program to better protect and restore the Clark Fork watershed. The Coalition is bringing on board all three Water Trust staff members, including Holmes, as part of an expansion that will enable the group to broker voluntary water transfers aimed at increasing the amount of water flowing in western Montana’s streams. More...

Prickly Pear Creek before (7/26/07) and after (7/29/08) the Montana Water Trust restored stream flows to the chronically dewatered creek near Helena. This stretch of the stream, just down from a major irrigation diversion, has run dry every year except for four in the last 50 years, according to Rankin Holmes, of the Montana Water Trust (recently acquired by the Clark Fork Coalition). Locally, the late season flows in Tin Cup Creek have also been augmented by water leased by the Trust. Photos by Rankin Holmes.

Taxpayers score big with Stevi school building bond

Bond issued at zero percent interest

It’s not often that schools, especially during tournament time, are bragging about a score of zero. But Stevensville School District is doing just that when it comes to issuing bonds for school improvements. The big score came when the president of Rocky Mountain Bank in Stevensville stepped up and told Stevensville School Superintendent Kent Kultgen that his bank was interested in issuing the $8.9 million building bond recently approved by school district voters at zero percent interest. This could mean a savings to Stevensville School District taxpayers of an estimated $1.8 million over the 16-year life of the bond payments. More...

Town of Stevi may adopt road through school property

By Michael Howell

When PCI Engineer Andy Medford, working for the Town of Stevensville, went to the Stevensville School Board seeking another 30 foot right-of-way along ALC Way, a road that runs across school property, for the Town of Stevensville’s water line, the school countered with a proposal that the Town consider adopting the entire roadway and incorporate it into the Town’s road system. The Town, which is under pressure to get its water system revisions done by July 1 to accommodate a county road reconstruction project on Middle Burnt Fork Road, agreed to give the school that option. The final decision will be up to the School Board. More...

Attorney fees awarded in Board of Realtors suit

By Michael Howell

Last July, a group of real estate agents, all members of the Bitterroot Valley Board of Realtors (BVBR), sued the organization over a dispute about membership and unpaid fees and asked to inspect the BVBR’s financial records. The BVBR refused to allow inspection of the records and filed for a protective order and an order quashing the subpoenas in the case. That motion was denied in its entirety by a Court Order filed on September 15, 2009 and the agents who sued did eventually get to inspect the books. They then asked to be awarded their attorney fees of $5,173.48 which were incurred in opposing the motion for a protective order. Last month, on February 17, District Court Judge Jeffrey Langton ruled that the plaintiffs were entitled to attorney fees incurred in contesting the BVBR’s motion in the case and set a hearing for March 3 on the reasonableness of those fees. More...

Pre-Valentine’s theft

Did you happen to see someone on Valentine’s Day wearing a satiny red dress, sporting a new pair of clogs and, perhaps, carrying a cupid flower vase with a big red heart? You may have seen a thief or the thief’s sweetheart. Those are the items that someone lifted from Skandi Hus and the Windsor Antique Boutique in Stevensville without paying. More...

Detective terminated for misconduct

The Hamilton City Council, following a closed session on a personnel issue at its last meeting on February 16, terminated the employment of Hamilton Police Detective Nick Painter, stating only that it was at the recommendation of Mayor Jerry Steele and that it was unfortunate. Painter was terminated as of February 11, and will be reimbursed for sick leave and vacation time accrued. More...


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