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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Valley News at a Glance

RSVP presents annual awards By Michael Howell

Friday outdoor market in Victor by Gretchen Langton

Retired Victor veterinarian releases book

Snowpack well below average

Stevi students win science awards

Volunteers needed for Guard Station restoration project

Curves food drive benefits Haven House



RSVP presents annual awards By Michael Howell

About 100 volunteers attended the Retired Senior Volunteer Program's (RSVP) annual award banquet in Stevensville on Tuesday, April 24. RSVP is a program implemented across the country that helps match seniors with time on their hands to meaningful volunteer activities in their community. First established in the early 1970s, the Western Montana program, serving Lake, Mineral, and Ravalli Counties, was established in 2003. It has offices in Hamilton and Polson.

RSVP volunteers are placed in service with non-profit, public agency and medical facilities in the region. Some of the positions filled by these volunteers include positions at schools, libraries, museums, thrift shops, nursing homes, city government, sheriff's office, public health, disaster preparedness committees, Hospice, after school programs, transportation to doctors, 4-H and scouts. Many of the volunteers work on short term projects, but others simply commit a regular time slot each week to help with ongoing activities. They do a variety of jobs including clerical, computers, sharing a hobby, driving, telephoning, manning sign-in tables, working with students on reading skills, assisting at flu clinics, cataloging at libraries or museums, or helping at a thrift shop or food bank. In 2006, a total of 276 volunteers worked at 99 different sites, logging 27,475 hours of service.

This year's awards banquet, held at St. Mary's Family Center in Stevensville, had a Mexican theme. Participants enjoyed homemade, authentic Mexican food prepared by a group of RSVP volunteers under the guidance of Wa Correia. Dancers from Steppin' Out Dance Club entertained. Eighty-three volunteers received the 2006 President's Volunteer Servide Award. Forty-eight Bronze Awards were given to those who contributed from 100 to 249 hours of service. Twenty-six Silver Awards were given out for those who contributed from 250 to 499 hours of community service. There were nine Gold Award winners who served over 500 hours as RSVP volunteers.

RSVP is currently providing the File of Life to seniors. It has important medical information stored in a pouch that attaches to the refrigerator with a magnet. The idea is that it would be available with important information if an ambulance had to respond to the home. Sometimes people are unable to remember or otherwise can't tell EMTs what they need to know. It is also suggested that the packet can be carried in a purse or suitcase when traveling and should be carried by the person during an evacuation.

The packets are free to seniors (as long as they last) and are available to others for $2 per packet. Anyone, any age, with medical conditions that would be important for an EMT to know about, could benefit from having this information readily available.

The packets for seniors are being sponsored by NorthWestern Energy and Montana State Fund "Assisting Community Endeavors" grant. They are available at the RSVP office. Call 363-1102 for information.

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Friday outdoor market in Victor

by Gretchen Langton

"May is garden month. Molly Hackett will be speaking at 10 a.m. every Friday in May," Barbara Kitchens says. We are talking inside the Bitterroot Beanery kiosk, between customers, about the new outdoor market in Victor, which takes place in the parking lot of the Victor Mercantile complex, now called Totem Peak Plaza, every Friday for the next five months from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This is an opportunity for Victor to help make its Friday lemons into lemonade. Victor School shortened it school week this year and, as a result, many Victor residents have changed their work schedules because their children no longer have school on Fridays. This is what Ray Daguerre, owner of the plaza, and Barbara Kitchens found when they conducted a two-month poll of their customers in order to determine when the best time to hold a market would be. Overwhelmingly, customers said Fridays were best. A Friday market in Victor not only benefits Victor residents, it will be a great in-between market on an off day; in other words, this event is located between Hamilton and Missoula’s markets on Fridays instead of Saturdays in order to allow customers to still go to their regular markets.

Victor’s market is different from any in western Montana. The first twenty–five customers receive fresh flowers from the Flower Barn during the month of May. A different vendor will be featured at the market each week in order to introduce customers to their particular wares. The first featured vendor was Lifeline’s Farm Store, an on-site facility. Starting in June at 11 a.m., Victor’s two daycares, Little Foot and Penny’s Playpen, will facilitate children’s crafts such as the making of flower crowns and weaving. Another unique feature, during the months of June and July at 10 a.m., will be "Chef in the Market." Chefs from Spice of Life, Napolitani’s, and The Grubstake (to name three) share tricks of the trade, prepare local delectables, and take questions.

Also, in June, a 1,000-square-foot antique mall opens inside the Victor Merc building featuring locally, hand-crafted items such as tapestries and log furniture as well as a multitude of antique tools, furniture and curiosities. The hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This gives market goers yet another interesting place to peruse on Fridays.

The stage in between Lifeline’s store and the Merc, an optimal spot for music and presentations, hosts various local musical groups. "This stage can be used by the community on other occasions too, beyond the market dates, for community events," says Kitchens. Her excitement for such activity is palpable. She believes that Victor can foster the same burgeoning revitalization in which other communities have engaged. Kitchens knows that a strong market can be the impetus. And good music never hurts. "Sky Moose is playing in June," she offers as an example of the contemporary nature and quality of the performers. Music begins every Friday at 11 a.m. and run until 1 p.m.

The weather was somewhat inhospitable on the first day of the market last Friday, so there were some vendor no-shows, but so far fifteen vendors have already signed up to take part in Victor’s Friday Market; there is space for thirty. The price to participate is very reasonable, says Kitchens, and "non-profits can set up a booth for free." There is no need to pre-register, although this would be helpful for planning purposes. Also, vendors do not have to commit to a specific schedule of attendance. The registration booth for vendors will be at the south end of the Bitterroot Beanery kiosk. Look for organizers who will be sporting green aprons.

If you have questions about rates, etc., call Barbara Kitchens at 461-9793. See you at the market!

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Retired Victor veterinarian releases book

In a sequence of colorful and amusing stories relating to his new neighbors, their animals, and the characters in the awesome mountain setting of western Montana's picturesque Bitterroot Valley, author Don Buelke of Victor has written a book titled "Critter Way" that literally and metaphorically takes the reader along on the life journey of a young veterinarian thrust by his new practice into a remote and unfamiliar environment.

The book, published by Stoneydale Press of Stevensville, represents an expanded dimension of themes published by Stoneydale over the past 30 years, including books on outdoor recreation, regional histories, biographies and warm reminisces of life experiences in Montana and the Pacific Northwest. It is the first published work by Buelke, who recently retired from a long career as a veterinarian in the Bitterroot Valley.

While the story of "Critter Way" is set in a fictional community of Pine Cone, Montana, it represents a continuum of tales reminiscent of those written by an English veterinarian a generation ago that evolved into the PBS television series "All Creatures Great and Small." In "Critter Way," Buelke tells the story of a young veterinarian with a few years' prior practice experience who has just completed a two-year stint in the Air Force and packed his family into their station wagon to move across the country to the Bitterroot Valley of Montana. It was the spring of 1970 and the young veterinarian was about to embark on an unknown future where he'd face austere conditions, cold weather, and a unique culture in a community locked in a time decades behind.

"This isn't another 'heart-string' story about a veterinarian heroically saving patients, or a 'how-to' book on veterinary care. It's a book focused on rendering refreshing tales about engaging people involved in enticing situations," said publisher Dale Burk of Stoneydale Press. "The author skillfully embroiders them onto a breathtaking tapestry of a time-locked Montana wilderness valley with their vernacular, customs, and down-to-earth personalities in a manner that will compel readers to relive the situations just as though they were there. It's an entertaining, lighthearted, and refreshing alternative to the self-help books, political diatribes, and social critiques filling bookstore shelves today. Anyone with an interest in animals, even young readers, will adore these delightful tales from the not too distant past."

"Critter Way" starts with the veterinarian's first emergency call, an unusual request to repair the broken leg of a canary whose owner was an aggressive, but softhearted lawyer. It wasn't long before the "line-shack" that served as his family's first abode compelled them to undertake a house hunting adventure with a savvy old realtor who enlightened them about some of the cultural characteristics and simple values of the fascinating people in Pine Cone. When his little girls wanted a pony, he found himself dealing with an irascible old horse wrangler who gave him clues not only about horses, but about life in the Valley as well. Other anecdotes range from assisting a hardy stockman delivering a calf in a winter storm, to a spectacular trek with new friends into the vast wilderness outside this enchanted hamlet.

The characters he encounters and the situations in which they become involved provide chapter after chapter of colorful reading, interspersed with heartwarming sagas of special animals and unique people. In every case, the characters and situations imbue an element of charm to the book. From the preface through the last sentence, this book compels readers to seriously await the author's next release.

"Critter Way" was issued in 6x9-inch softcover format. It contains 160 pages, a number of illustrations by Sean Mallow of Stevensville, and a colorful cover design by Neal Wiegert of Missoula. The book, which retails for $14.95, is available at many regional book stores, gift shops and other outlets, or direct from Stoneydale Press, 523 Main St., Stevensville MT 59870; hone 777-2729, or at

Three special signing events in the Bitterroot Valley have been scheduled to celebrate the release of the new book ''Critter Way" by retired Victor veterinarian Don Buelke, including a premiere signing Mother's Day afternoon in Victor. The initial signing event for Buelke's new book will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 13, along U.S. Highway 93 in Victor in a "big tent event" set up near the veterinary clinic where Buelke practiced veterinary medicine for nearly 40 years. Buelke is scheduled to be available throughout the afternoon to sign books and visit with friends and associates about his book. The other Bitteroot Valley signings marking the release of Buelke's book are: May 22, Chapter One Bookstore, Hamilton, 7 p.m.; June 1, Valley Drug and Variety, Stevensville, signing as part of First Friday events, 6 to 8:30 p.m.

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Snowpack well below average

Statewide mountain snowpack decreased during April to about 68 percent of average as recorded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on May 1. This is only 70 percent of the snowpack that was recorded on this date last year.

“These conditions are due mostly to the variable April weather,” said Roy Kaiser, NRCS water supply specialist. “There were both record high temperatures and storms that yielded significant snow water increases.”

Mountain precipitation was below average at 83 percent during April and 96 percent of average for the water year. Mountain precipitation varied widely across the state. Precipitation levels swung from 74 percent of average in the Yellowstone River Basin to 78 percent of average in the Columbia River Basin to 86 percent of average in the Missouri River Basin.

The unseasonably warm temperatures during April and the beginning of May contributed to above average snowmelt occurring across the state. This rapid snowmelt has resulted in decreased mountain snowpack. Snowpack decreased by one to three percent west of the Continental Divide and decreased by five to seven percent east of the Divide. Mountain snowpack was 74 percent of average and 75 percent of last year in the Columbia River Basin; 63 percent of average and 64 percent of last year in the Missouri River Basin; and 63 percent of average and 90 percent of last year in the Yellowstone River Basin.

Snowpack in the Bitterroot River drainage was 57 percent of average on May 1.

Statewide, streamflows are forecast to average between 62 and 74 percent. Streamflows west of the Divide are forecast to average between 72 and 87 percent, while streamflows are forecast to average between 54 and 69 percent of average east of the Divide.

“Below average May 1 snowpack and higher than average snowmelt may mean that streams could reach their lowest flows in mid summer,” said Kaiser. “Streams and rivers without storage could be affected earlier than those with lake and reservoir storage.”

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Stevi students win science awards

Three Stevensville High School students were the recipients of the first through third place cash awards in the Division I - Energy category at the 2007 State Science Fair held recently in Missoula. Whitney Stevens received first place for work on "Camelina: Montana's Potential Crop For Biodiesel Production." Jacob Kendall's project on "Fire Power" took the second place award, and Courtney Liston was awarded third place for her "Produce Power" project.

Each year the Montana Energy Education Council sponsors the energy category of competition at the Montana State Science Fair by providing cash awards for those outstanding science fair projects that demonstrate an energy or energy conservation concept. The cash prizes are underwritten by the council's corporate sponsor NorthWestern Energy Corporation. According to Norm Jacobson, MEEC"s science fair coordinator, "we usually think of a science project as learning just science; however, participation in the science fair also provides the students with opportunities to improve their leadership, public speaking, and communication skills."

Students interested in entering a project in next year's competition may request a free copy of the booklet "Your Guide To Science Fair Projects: From idea to Exhibit" by contacting the Montana Energy Education Council at or (406)587-1145. NorthWestern Energy's web site ( also provides science fair ideas for students and educators.

The Montana Energy Education Council, a non-profit educational organization, has been involved in the fair for the past twenty-two years. The Council also provides energy workshops and curriculum materials for teachers and produces the Montana Energy Calendar each year.

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Volunteers needed for Guard Station restoration project

The Bitterroot National Forest is looking for a few good volunteers who would like to assist in the restoration of the historic East Fork Guard Station. The project will run in three four-day sessions, June 4-7, June 11-14, and June 18-21. Volunteers must be 18 years of age, and be able to commit to the Monday training session and at least one other workday. They will work under the supervision of Forest Service historic preservation specialists in constructing a post-and-pole fence, renovating the pumphouse, and re-roofing the cabin, along with various window repairs and painting.

The East Fork Guard Station was built around 1915. No longer needed for administrative use by the Forest Service, it is one of the more popular cabins available through the Bitterroot NF’s cabin rental program in large part because it is accessible by vehicle year round. Over 400 people visited the cabin last year. Like many facilities in the Forest Service rental program, the East Fork Guard Station is located in a picturesque setting near a year round stream, and is equipped with a few bunkbeds and a wood cook stove.

Volunteers have the option of tent or self-contained RV camping at the Guard Station. For further information, contact the Forest’s Heritage Program manager, Mary Williams, at 363-7183.

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Curves food drive benefits Haven House

Curves, the world’s largest fitness franchisor, announced that the 2007 Curves Food Drive brought in 2023 pounds in Ravalli County which will benefit Hamilton's Haven House Food Bank. Around the world, Curves members donated nearly 11 million pounds of food to their local food banks.

This was Curves International’s ninth food drive and Ravalli County's ninth time to participate. Every year in March, women have the opportunity to donate a bag of groceries in lieu of paying the Curves membership fee. Hundreds of thousands of women take advantage of this opportunity to help themselves become healthier while contributing to the needs of their community’s less fortunate residents.

“Curves and our members are delighted to help our community,” said Diane Johnson, Ravalli County Curves franchise owner. “The food drive is an excellent program that fits perfectly with the Curves philosophy—promoting the health of the whole woman. The opportunity for our members to give back to the Ravalli County community promotes the spirit of giving. According to the Haven House Director, this was one of the largest donations they have ever received. Our members are unselfish and amazing!”

In the past decade, Curves franchises have collected and distributed more than 50 million pounds of food to local food banks throughout the world.

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Births at Marcus Daly Hospital, Hamilton

Girl, 7 lbs., 4 oz., 19 inches, to Steve and Christi Snavely, Hamilton
Boy, 9 lbs., 21 inches, to Scott Blair and Leanne Lash, Hamilton

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Virginia J. Converse

Virginia J. Converse, 90, died at the home of her daughter in Stevensville on Tuesday, April 24, 2007.

She was born on October 23, 1916 in Portland, OR, to German and English immigrant parents, Wilhelm J. and Winifred Evelyn (Carr) Jensen. Jinny grew up in Seattle where she was an accomplished swimmer on Lake Washington. She worked as a dental hygienist and radio broadcaster in the late 30s.

A blind date in the middle of WWII introduced her to her future husband, Ralph Converse of North Dakota. It was love at first sight. They were married in 1943, settled in the Washington, DC area and had three children. In later years she worked as a library aide and used her great speaking voice to record books for the blind.

Many friends enjoyed delightful meals and conversations in her home. Her sunny disposition brightened the lives of her family and caregivers here in Stevensville over the past six years. Three wonderful caregivers, Jill, Louise and Susan, brightened her days and shared wisdom and spiritual comfort.

She is survived by three children: sons Paul (Weinshet) Converse and Larry (Sarah) Converse of Maryland; daughter Lynn (Ron) Kiess of Stevensville, and four grandchildren, Jared and Matthew Kiess of Stevensville, and Caro and Mizmur Converse of Baltimore; brother-in-law Duane Converse of Illinois and numerous nieces and nephews.

A graveside service will be held later this summer.

The Whitesitt Funeral Home in Stevensville is in charge of cremation arrangements.

Ida Longpre

Our dear mother Ida Longpre quietly passed away in her sleep at home in Missoula early Monday, April 30, 2007. Her spirit soars with the angels to meet her heavenly Father, parents, her husband of over 50 years, relatives and friends too numerous to contemplate.

Ida was born Marie Clotilde Ida Plourde, on December 5, 1903 at Frenchtown to Donet and Marie Louise (Girard) Plourde.

She attended grade school at Frenchtown and was a graduate of Missoula's esteemed Sacred Heart Academy. During her school years she survived many a wild horse and buggy ride expertly maneuvered by oldest sister Dona.

When she was 18 years old she married Christian (Jack) Nielsen. That marriage ended in divorce four years later. With two young children to support she was happy to wait tables at Foxie's Café in downtown Missoula, while her parents cared for children Art and Noella. While working there Ida claimed to be never associated with shenanigans that transpired during the Prohibition era. But, when she married Fred Longpre on April 9, 1928, she had saved enough money to buy a herd of good milk cows for the ranch in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley. Fred also contributed his share by raising a bumper crop of wheat near Charlo.

Together they established one of the most successful ranches in the Northwest. Eventually Fred was consistently awarded the highest prices for his much sought after white-faced Herefords. He even maintained a big garden while Ida busied herself with the Rhode Island Red hens that ruled the yard. She also cooked, canned and entertained regularly. The ranch kitchen was a welcome haven for a motley crew of children, hired hands, neighbors, friends and relatives. When Ida was 36 years old she gave birth to her third child, Ida May. Three children were raised on that ranch. The Longpres also helped raise several grandchildren as well.

In the late 1950s they sold most of the acreage to Doug and Dottie Jenson, but retained the feedlot and the newly remodeled second house. They thoroughly enjoyed over twenty years of retirement, and their youngest grandchildren, until Fred died in December of 1981. They managed to sell the rest of the ranch just before he died.

After Fred died, Ida moved into the Riverside Clark Fork Manor in Missoula. For almost 15 years she enjoyed a good social life and even some extensive traveling experiences, until she became quite frail and very hard of hearing. In October 2000 she moved in with her daughter Ida May and husband Ben Asbury. While with her daughter she enjoyed live theater, boating on Flathead Lake and several short trips out of town. She was able to easily walk by herself well past her 99th birthday. Ida lived at the house on Simons Drive for well over six years. She was a charming lady, as beautiful on the inside as she had been in life as a youngish, glamorous woman. She will certainly be missed for her humor and congenial disposition.

Ida was preceded in death by her parents, two sisters, Dona (Dan) Corr and Georgette (Frank) Gazelman, two husbands, a son-in-law Byron Lamoreaux, a granddaughter-in-law Chrissi Lamoreux and great granddaughter Chantel Marie Asbury.

She is survived by all three children: Dr. Arthur (Ramona) Longpre‚ in California, his children Auna Kristie Longpre and her daughter Poppy Carlig, Art's son Lash Kortland (Cathy) Longpre‚ and their daughter Lacey; daughter Noella Longpre Lamoreaux in California, her daughter Dana A. Troglia and significant other, John B. Scott of Missoula, Dana's son Matthew (Betsy) Bartelt Welter, their children Maurine Welter Nelson, and their sons, Michael and Jayson, Dana's son Jason (Eileen) Butorac, their children Amanda, Jacob, Matthew and Sara, Dana's son John (Grace) Butorac, their children Joshua and Katlyn, Dana's son Stacy W. Lamoreux, his children Angela Lamoreux Westfall and her children, Brannon and Ryann Michael Lamoreux, Noella's son Todd R. Lamoreux, his son Bryon Lamoreux and Jeromy Lyons Lamoreux and his son Tyler Lyons, Noella's daughter Robyn L. Lamoreux, daughter Ida May (Ben) Asbury of Missoula, Ida's daughter Catherine Marie Asbury (Dave) Traver and their daughter Janel Rose Traver, all of Missoula, Ida's son Fred (Peg) Asbury (Fred is currently serving in the US Air Force in the Gulf, and will not be attending the funeral), their son Justin Charles Asbury, special nieces and nephews Jim (Peg) Corr and family of Dillon, Donna Mae Byler and family, Bill Corr and Family, and Eilene Willett and family. Also surviving is sister Marie Lou Corr of Missoula.

A Christian Wake Service and Rosary was held at the Whitesitt Funeral Home in Stevensville on Sunday, May 6. Mass of Christian Burial was on Monday, May 7 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Stevensville with Father Michael Smith officiating. Burial was at St. Mary's Cemetery.

Memorials are asked to Hospice or a charity of choice.

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