Articles written by don larson


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  • Everyone should have a say in sewer debate

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Sep 12, 2019

    SEELEY LAKE - The sewer debate is about justice and fairness. Here are a couple of parameters. We all perform the same daily bodily functions, whether we’re registered to vote, own property or not. Fairness suggests we ALL have a say in this sewer debate, because even though a majority of the citizens don’t vote or own property they will pay for this new proposed sewer. Business people, the principal landowners, will certainly pass the increased sewer costs through to their customers and take a tax deduction for the expense. So, as it stands no...

  • Sewer proposal unpopular, unworkable and unaffordable

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Aug 22, 2019

    SEELEY LAKE - The Seeley Lake Sewer Board continues to abuse the citizens it was elected to represent. At its meeting last week it quickly disregarded a petition signed by 182 residents opposing mandatory hook-ups and voted 3-1 to mandate them. It caved to Pyramid when its spokesman pointed out Pyramid pays 20 percent of the administrative fee, around $9,000 a year, but does not and will not enjoy 20 percent of the “benefit” of the sewer system. The manager and one Board member immediately voiced their intentions to re-visit the assessment met...

  • County misrepresents dangers of nitrates in Seeley Lake

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Aug 8, 2019

    County Health employee Jim Erven misrepresented and exaggerated (yet again) the dangers of nitrates in a recent letter to the Sewer Board. He says high nitrate levels in the groundwater can cause blue baby syndrome and fish kills, neither of which have occurred in Seeley Lake. And he overlooks the fact most of the residents in the Sewer District drink out of the lake...not the groundwater he claims is polluted. He stated one test well had gone over the state standard occasionally for groundwater pollution but neglects to tell you all three...

  • Sewer cost rising, board missing cost savings

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Jul 25, 2019

    SEELEY LAKE - The Sewer Board circus continues. Last week it approved a resolution for public review which would require EVERY property in the sewer district to hook up. Remember, if you have two lots under your home you will pay two debt service obligations. So, whatever the monthly charge comes out to be....double it if you have two lots under your home. Current cost estimates are already nearly THREE TIMES the statewide average for sewer service and will undoubtedly go higher as the construction estimates come in. Also the Board signed a...

  • Health Department stripping private property rights

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Jun 27, 2019

    SEELEY LAKE - The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled property owners can go directly to Federal Court if they believe local government regulations....such as the onerous health department septic regulations here in Seeley Lake..... have deprived landowners of the right to use their property. The Missoula County Health Department has regularly for years deprived us of the right to use our properties up here with its constantly-changing regulations without public hearing or input. Just two years ago it created a Special Management Area up here which...

  • Sewer Board meeting location change

    Don Larson, Pathfinder|Jun 20, 2019

    SEELEY LAKE - Citizens for Sensible Wastewater Solutions mailed letters to sub-district one residents urging them to attend the Thursday evening Sewer District Board meeting. The location of the 5:15 p.m. meeting has been changed from the Seeley Lake Elementary to the Community Hall. Please note the change and plan to attend....

  • Sewer decision is still in residents' hands

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Jun 13, 2019

    SEELEY LAKE - Eighty thousand dollars per lot – that is roughly what Sewer District residents will pay for the proposed sewer. If your home happens to sit on two lots you will may be obligated for $160,000 of the roughly $40 million, 40-year bond debt obligation. That works out to more than $100 per month per lot (after subsidies) for sewer service in one of the lowest income communities in the county. Subdistrict (Phase) 1 residents who will get a revised user agreement in the mail must just say NO. DO NOT SIGN THE AGREEMENT. If you do, you o...

  • Don't miss the meeting - engage and understand

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Jun 6, 2019

    SEELEY LAKE - The Seeley Lake Sewer Board has drawn up a draft “user agreement” for we sewer district residents. That’s the agreement between the board and we “customers” which must be in place before we receive sewer service. It is complicated, technical and full of legal jargon. We must understand it completely before we sign up. The board has called a meeting for 5:15 p.m., Thursday, June 6 at the Seeley Lake Elementary School. Sewer District residents should consider this important meeting a “must attend” event. We can ask questions and...

  • Residents have a right to know cost

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|May 16, 2019

    SEELEY LAKE - After a winter of wrangling and struggling, the Seeley Lake Sewer Board seems no closer to an equitable funding formula for its sewer proposal than ever. The costs, in fact, seem to be going up and Missoula County officials have reneged on a pledge of more than a half-million dollars in engineering services for the construction of Phase l. That alone has resulted in an estimated cost increase of nearly three quarters of a million dollars. Sewer district residents have a constitutional right to know what the project will cost them...

  • The community can and should do better

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Oct 4, 2018

    SEELEY LAKE - The fine reporting effort by Andi Bourne on the Seeley Lake Community Park reveals how badly we have failed as a community in maintaining this valuable asset. Back in the eighties we played a LOT of baseball at the community park. There were four different leagues using the park: a pee wee, a women’s fastpitch, a men’s fastpitch and a co-rec slowpitch. The park was teeming with players and spectators virtually every night of the week and on the weekends for most of the summer. Visiting teams came from Deer Lodge, Clinton, Avo...

  • Enough taxes!

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Aug 30, 2018

    Your Missoula County property taxes just went up another 4.85 percent. The Commissioners quietly raised them last week with little debate or fanfare. That’s on the heels of a $138 million school bond issue two years ago and just before a new proposal to buy more “open space” for urban dwellers. Now, at the local level, commissioners and the Seeley Lake Sewer District Board have proposed a nearly $100-a-month raise for property owners unlucky enough to live in that district. Time for you local taxpayers to get off your duffs and be heard. The r...

  • Council Sewer Endorsement - Reckless and Irresponsible

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Jul 26, 2018

    SEELEY LAKE - The misguided effort by Community Council member Lee Boman to secure an endorsement of the Seeley Lake Sewer proposal is reckless and irresponsible....for several reasons....here are few:: • Mr. Boman is a relative newcomer to the valley and does not even live in the Sewer District....so he will not have to face the roughly $40,000 per household to “sewer” Seeley Lake . Further, it is apparent he does not understand the wastewater issues we face in the Seeley-Swan Watershed • The Community Council...as new members Bruce Friede...

  • Floodwaters Raise Sewer Questions

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|May 17, 2018

    Floodwaters in three of the four sub-districts of the Seeley Lake Sewer District should give present and future Board members pause. Those areas should probably never be built on because they are wetlands and the homes already in those areas should get special sewage treatment attention. Sewering those areas will encourage growth and at present the Seeley Lake Water District is at capacity. It will not be able to supply the new development with water unless it makes considerable, expensive new capital investment. If new owners want water they...

  • A Need for Clean, Transparent Government

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Dec 7, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - To retain our clean, transparent water in the Seeley -Swan watershed we must FIRST have clean, transparent government...We have not enjoyed that in the divisive sewer proposal discussion. Here are some examples of shady, secretive government: The Missoula County Commissioners have repeatedly said they have “no control” over the goings-on of the Seeley Lake Sewer Board but they have approved nearly $800,000 in County taxpayer dollars for this project....before it ever gets off the ground. And they never asked us if we wanted to...

  • Whether or Not to Protest – Food for Thought

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Nov 30, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - For you sewer residents still deciding whether or not to protest the proposal, here’s some more food for thought. The Board has no current engineering estimates for sub-districts 2, 3 and 4. They will undoubtedly run into the millions of dollars to build the collections systems. The Board is counting on getting the financing for these sub-district projects from the State legislature. But that is a very “iffy” assumption. Here are a couple reasons why: • The State government uses mostly coal tax trust fund dollars for infrast...

  • Questions and Answers about Sewer Protest Letter

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Nov 23, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - The Sewer Board letter of Nov. 16 stating its intention to incur debt for a sewer project was incorrectly labeled a “ballot” in my last weeks/letter to the editor. Ballots may not be forwarded to “snow birds” but this letter is not considered a ballot and may be forwarded. I apologize for any confusion this may have created. Now...as to the letter: It, too, is confusing and obscure. We all basically received a form letter which says we can protest. If you received three letters, it means you have three properties in the sewer d...

  • Deck Stacked in Favor of the Sewer

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Nov 16, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - The Sewer Board has nicely stacked the deck for passage of its atrocious, expensive sewer proposal. Here’s how. By ignoring last December’s vote and opting for a “protest” procedure, the Board has effectively disenfranchised every business and residential renter in the district and made property ownership a condition of participation...that would be about 20 percent of the residents in the district. Further, by scheduling the protest period in November/December it has disenfranchised every “snowbird” who goes south for the win...

  • Projected Sewer Rates Raise Questions

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Nov 9, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - At this time it looks like sewer rates in the downtown Seeley area will be around $80 a month...that will be just about the highest monthly sewer rate in the state. Landlords will have no recourse but to pass that cost on to their renters. That’s on top of one of the highest water rates in the state. There are easily 100 rental properties in sub-district one, if you count business and residential alike. My questions to sewer supporters, how does that help affordable housing? How will your (service) employee be able to afford to l...

  • Support Outside District Lines?

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Oct 12, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - The Pathfinder has published 41 letters to the editor about the proposed sewer in the past four months...June through September. Twenty-one have been for the project and 20 have been against it. All the 20 against the project were by residents who live and vote in the Sewer District. Of the 21 in support, only seven live and vote in the District. Curious...

  • Question Costs - Interlocal Agreement and Total Sewer Costs

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Oct 5, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - The Seeley Lake Sewer Board has been assessing district residents $47,000 for the past 13 years for “study” of the sewer situation. That’s a total of more than $600,000 of taxpayer money. Now add the cost of the services the Missoula County Commissioners have donated through an interlocal agreement signed in 2011. They’re easily a couple hundred thousand dollars and include a hundred thousand dollar “loan.” These services include the Public Works Directors time...between 10 and 30 hours a week as well as that of an administrat...

  • Response to Ken Silvestro's Letter

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Sep 21, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - First, a solid majority voted in a certified, legal election against the sewer initiative last December. That speaks volumes about peoples’ no-growth wishes for Seeley Lake and for their inability to shoulder the heavy financial burden the proposal represents. Majority rule is an age-old democratic principal, even in remote Seeley Lake. Second, business is at a standstill in Seeley Lake by Missoula County Health Department fiat. In gestapo-like fashion it has changed the septic regulations regularly over the years without a p...

  • Mis-management of Fires Similar to Sewer

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Aug 31, 2017

    The government mis-management of the Florence Lake and Rice Ridge Fires and the Seeley Lake Sewer proposal are eerily similar... In the case of the fires, we have state and federal mis-management of the lands, allowing fuel build-ups to incendiary levels and the loss of millions of dollars in timber. Then we have incredible mis-management of the fires themselves which cost a firefighter his life and at last count no less than $21.5 million taxpayer dollars to fight. Then we have the hundreds of thousands in lost revenues to the local tourist...

  • Paint a Clear Financial Picture Before Residents Have to Pay

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Aug 3, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - Polson is developing a $17.6 million sewer upgrade after the EPA came in and levied a $40,000 fine on the district for exceeding its wastewater discharge limits. Sewer bills will jump from $20 per month to $60, and that’s for 2,000 residents. The State of Montana loaned Polson $14.6 million. Lincoln is upgrading its two lift stations at a cost of $300,000 per station and that sewer station serves about 400 users. That’s after 15 years of use. Their sewer rate increase will depend on how much money it can get from the state. Lin...

  • Seeley Lake Sewer Board Revelations and Facts to Consider

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Jun 15, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - A review of the Sewer Board meeting minutes is revealing. District residents should take the time to Google and read them. Just Google “Seeley Lake Sewer District” and look in the left hand column. Among the revelations are board members, Missoula County Public Works Director Greg Robertson, Citizens Alliance Bank President Gary Miller and retired chemistry professor Walt Hill from Placid Lake all agree “selling” the sewer project to the district residents is their mission and getting the facts right is of paramount importa...

  • Seeley Lake Sewer Board Trying to Circumvent the Law

    Don Larson, Seeley Lake, Mont.|Jun 1, 2017

    SEELEY LAKE - The Seeley Lake Sewer Board continues its end-run effort to cancel last fall’s election results. After a solid majority voted “NO” on the $12 million bond issue last December, it is trying to circumvent the law by first shutting the public out of the meeting to discuss the $40 thousand sales effort by a PR firm and second allowing board members to advocate for the failed proposal. If any Sewer District dollars are spent on this new sales effort it should be a public meeting to discuss the strategy and if board members are permi...

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