Articles written by Jean Pocha


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  • Community water rights lead the conversation at Swan Community Council

    Jean Pocha, Reporter|Mar 28, 2024

    The monthly Swan Valley Community Council Meeting on March 19 had reports from the Swan Valley Volunteer Fire Department and the Forest Service. In addition, special guest speaker Jim Nave from Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation discussed water rights in the Swan Valley. “The Swan Valley is one of the only basins in Montana that still has surface water rights available,” Nave said. “Other basins are closed for new surface water rights.” The Swan Basin encompasses the Swan River drainage to its confluence with Flathead...

  • Seeley Community Council Meeting highlights, proposed garbage dump schedule changes

    Jean Pocha, Reporter|Mar 21, 2024

    Proposed schedule changes at the garbage dump, Special Management Area updates and a forestry report on treatments at local campgrounds rounded out the Seeley Lake Community Council meeting on March 11. Garbage dump schedule change A proposed schedule change for the Seeley Lake Refuse Collection Site, or the garbage dump, led the Seeley Lake Community Council meeting. A 2020-2023 study of the number of site visits per day showed that Sunday had the highest number of site visits at 37%, Wednesday 33% and Saturday at 30%. The proposed new...

  • Intern to assist Protect the Clearwater this summer

    Jean Pocha, Reporter|Mar 14, 2024

    Riley Comstock, a double major Environmental Science and Sustainability and Journalism sophomore at University of Montana, accepted an internship with Protect the Clearwater (PTC). Protect the Clearwater a nonprofit founded in 2023 challenges Montana DEQ's actions as violations of the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), the Montana Public Participation Act and the Montana Constitution. The internship is funded through the Baucus Institute Climate Scholars program. The internship will be...

  • First ski day hosted by Blackfoot Challenge

    Jean Pocha, Reporter|Mar 14, 2024

    The Blackfoot Challenge hosted the first ever Winter Ski Day on the Blackfoot Community Conservation Area (BCCA) Feb. 24. "I spend a lot of time skiing on the BCCA in the winter and wish that other people were enjoying it too," Elaine Caton, Blackfoot Challenge Education Coordinator. Thirty adult and children winter aficionados attended the ski day on the Blackfoot Challenge property north of Ovando. Maps were distributed and small groups found their way by cross country skis or snowshoes on a... Full story

  • Protect the Clearwater finds common ground statewide

    Jean Pocha, Reporter|Mar 7, 2024

    Protect the Clearwater, a nonprofit based in Greenough, joined other citizen groups in the Jocko Valley, Libby, Paradise Valley, Ennis and Gallatin Gateway to oppose the effects of new open cut mining laws established in 2021. The changes brought about by a 2021 mining law, House Bill 599, removed red tape and streamlined the gravel mine permitting process for applicants. Gayla Nicholson, spokesperson for Protect the Clearwater (PTC), gave an update on the nonprofit's work to stop gravel mining...

  • Antler hunt to continue with changes

    Jean Pocha, Reporter|Feb 29, 2024

    Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is developing a new online registration system for participants to determine their place in line for vehicles on opening day of antler hunting season on the Blackfoot Clearwater Wildlife Management Area. Online registration will open a few weeks before May 15, the opening day. FWP is still deciding if a first come, first serve system or a random drawing will be the best way to distribute numbers for waiting in line on opening day. There will be phone-in options for those not using a computer. “This is year one f...

  • Lions Club training swimming instructors

    Jean Pocha, Reporter|Feb 22, 2024

    Swimming lessons are coming soon to Seeley Lake after strong community interest and instructor training. "We were finally able to hire a Red Cross instructor to come to Seeley Lake to train our instructors," Westin said. "It cost a little more but it's worth it to make the training process easier on our instructors, rather than them having to drive back and forth to Missoula or Kalispell at inconvenient times." Parents representing 96 kids responded in favor of swimming lessons in Seeley Lake...

  • Cooking up educational goals at Ovando School

    Jean Pocha, Reporter|Feb 15, 2024

    Ovando School recently was awarded $1,500 via the Bright Future Grant from Missoula Electric Cooperative. The grant is being used for Consumer Science and Home Economic classes for grades four through eight. Funds will mainly be used for supplies. "We're excited to have this grant from Missoula Electric for Consumer Science classes," Patti Bartlett, fourth through eighth grade teacher, said. "Sometimes being away from the books is a great way to learn." This fall students practiced sewing...

  • Antler hunting opening day congestion leads to safety concerns, Vehicle staging no longer allowed

    Jean Pocha, Reporter|Feb 8, 2024

    Roadside safety issues are at the core of upcoming changes to opening day for antler hunting. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) will be hosting meetings to discuss possible solutions to the annual opening day congestion at the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area game range. New this year, antler hunters planning to enter the WMA in a vehicle will not be allowed to stage along Highway 83 and will instead register for a spot in line ahead of opening day. According to Montana law, a...

  • Grant proposals to bridge Missoula County, Construction anticipated in 2027

    Jean Pocha, Reporter|Feb 1, 2024

    Missoula County is applying for federal grants and seeks public comment in order to replace five weakened and aging bridges in the Blackfoot and Swan Valleys. Construction could begin by 2027 on Boy Scout Bridge, Riverview Drive Bridge, Sunset Hill Bridge, Glacier Creek Bridge and Cold Creek Bridge. Funding for the project is expected to come through two federal grants, Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) and the Bridge Investment Program (BIP), as previously mentioned in the Pathfinder. The total cost...

  • Historical museum preserves and promotes

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Jan 18, 2024

    Through volunteer efforts, the Upper Swan Valley Historical Society (USVHS) has been delving into local history through word and deed for 36 years. Twenty-five years ago on March 10, 1988, the first meeting of the USVHS was held at Evelyn Jette's residence. Meetings moved to the Swan Valley Library and Librarian Fern Kauffman began recording and archiving local historical information. In the early days the work began with copying historical photos that people brought into the library. Gradually...

  • Grants offer rural development opportunities

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Jan 18, 2024

    January marks the beginning of the second year of the Missoula County Rural Grant Program, Commissioner Juanita Vero said. Both Micro Grants for up to $500 and Impact Grants for projects $501 to $4,000 are designed to support community projects outside of city limits. Missoula County has opened the second round of Impact Grants and is continuing to accept Micro Grant applications to support community-driven projects that enhance the quality of life in rural areas of Missoula County. Following a...

  • Local wins national champion goat showman

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Jan 11, 2024

    Alaina Barger won Senior Goat Showmanship at the Arizona National Livestock Show held in Phoenix, Arizona on Dec. 29-31. Competing against 78 exhibitors from 16 states, Barger was pleased to take home the championship prize. "Anyone can buy a fancy animal to compete with," Barger said. "But the attitude and motivation to compete in showmanship is available to anyone. Even a small-town girl like me can compete and win in Showmanship at the National level." The Arizona National attracted 1556 exhi...

  • El Niño pattern keeping winter at bay

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Jan 4, 2024

    Seeley Lake and the rest of western Montana has continued to see drier and warmer than average conditions, as mountain snow levels continue to stay below 65% of normal, according to the National Water and Climate Center. "We're in a classic El Niño pattern this winter," said Meteorologist Luke Robinson of the Missoula National Weather office. "There are some indications that it might change in mid-January, bringing some snow and cooler temperatures." The El Niño weather pattern is caused by warm...

  • Cowboy Claus rides again

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Nov 30, 2023

    Cowboy Claus made his annual visit to the Ovando Christmas Fest for the 23rd time. He rode into town on Bill and Dena Hooker's faithful steed Nic, who has been carrying Cowboy Claus to the Christmas Fest for 15 years. This years' celebration on Nov. 25 included craft vendors filling the Ovando gym and Rob Henrekin's wagon with his team of black percherons ferrying visitors back and forth from downtown Ovando to the gym. Children's activities happened at the church and Christmas trees were...

  • Ovando Harvest Dinner shows community support

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Nov 23, 2023

    The Ovando School students and teacher's aide Angela Williams performing sign language while the crowd did the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the Annual Harvest Dinner. The Harvest Dinner is put on annually by the So and So Club of Ovando. This year's dinner was highlighted by a high bid of $1700 for 2 dozen eggs donated by Norma Hughes Auctioneer Kevin Ertl and spotter Ben Slaght celebrate when the bid got to $1000. Rachel Bignell holds the eggs up high. All proceeds go to a fund for...

  • Valor Ride brings up veterans' issues

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Nov 16, 2023

    "The Valor Ride was a heck of a trip that I'll never forget," Curtis Friede of Kurt's Polaris said. "I learned that many veterans deal with complications from war every day. Not everyone's world is a fun, happy or safe place." Friede and other veterans completed the 5,337 mile Valor Side-By-Side Ride 2023 on schedule Oct. 10, taking 22 days to ride from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to El Paso on the Texas-Mexican border. The 22-day trip was designed to increase awareness of veterans and their needs. The...

  • Deer Lodge School District unification passes

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Nov 16, 2023

    The Deer Lodge School District unification passed 876-520 on Nov. 7. Rural areas in Avon, Elliston, Gold Creek, Precinct 2 (from Garrison to the Deer Lodge Fairgrounds), Helmville and Ovando voted against the proposition 156-290. “I hope it’s a good change and beneficial to all involved,” Kelley Knight, Powell County Deputy Clerk and Recorder said. “The cards will play themselves out eventually.” About 35% of registered voters participated in the election. According to Rick Duncan, Superintendent of both Powell County High School and Deer Lodg...

  • Citizen science projects highlighted in Condon

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Nov 9, 2023

    Rebecca Ramsey, Swan Valley Connections(SVC) executive director, welcomed 28 participants to their quarterly potluck and speaker series held at the Swan Valley Community Hall. "It's beautiful to see everyone together," Ramsey said. "At SVC we love to bring people together to connect them to each other and to the landscape to inspire conservation." The featured speaker on Nov. 1 was Emiline Kraus, a science and parks intern with Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center (CCRLC) in Glacier...

  • Local man has victory over the Appalachian Trail

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Nov 2, 2023

    Kyle Peltier from Seeley Lake prepared for the Appalachian Trail (AT) as his second leg of hiking the triple crown last winter, but he didn't know how different it would be from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) he hiked in 2021. Nearing his 23rd birthday, Peltier has hiked 4,853 miles in the past few years. "The AT is basically some hiking with glorified rock climbing while carrying a 30 pound backpack," Peltier said. "The AT is basically an obstacle course." According to Peltier, the terrain...

  • Bear Buffer Zone regulations finalized

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Oct 26, 2023

    New Bear Buffer Zone regulations will go into action after Missoula City Council finalized the decision to expand the zone, including new regulations around garbage storage in the Potomac Valley. Potomac will be requiring bear resistant garbage cans by Sept. 1, 2024. The ordinance revising the Missoula municipal code will be instituted over a three phase multi-year plan. The proposed rules are an outcome of the work of the Bear Smart Working Group, which is a public-private partnership of bear experts, agency representatives, and concerned...

  • Creatives share work at Alpine Artisans tour

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Oct 26, 2023

    The beauty of glass drew Sheri Burden’s curiosity to explore the art and craft of stained glass 40 years ago. Buying a book and supplies for her new passion gave her the start she needed. “My inspiration comes from what I see around me,” Burden said. “I see something like the beautiful fall leaves we’ve had this season and made stained glass leaves that have been very popular.” Burden is a stained glass artisan from the Swan Valley. She was one of several artists who participated in the Tour of the Arts on Oct. 14 and 15. The Alpine Arti...

  • Connecting over food in Seeley Lake

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Oct 19, 2023

    There is a common thread of community care and support for Veterans, Seniors and the community between the Seeley Lake Senior Center, Food Pantry, Veterans and Families and others. After meeting Barb Knopp, President of Seeley Lake Veterans and Families, when she visited the Deer Lodge Southwest Montana Food Pantry to pick up 80 bags of meat for Seeley veterans, the Deer Lodge Pantry wanted to do a food distribution in Seeley Lake. "A 600 pound food donation on Sept. 23 by the Deer Lodge...

  • Helmville woman wrote the law for charter schools

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Oct 12, 2023

    As an educational therapist specializing in special education, Trish Schreiber found that students excel when they have individualized learning plans. "Every student I worked with in private practice needed something different than what was being offered," Schreiber told the Pathfinder. "Whether it was a traditional school or private school it really didn't matter. My work also involved helping families find the right placement for their students." Trish Schreiber, a resident of Helmville and...

  • Local man promotes veterans awareness nationwide

    Jean Pocha, of the Pathfinder|Oct 5, 2023

    Curt Friede of Kurt's Polaris Seeley Lake is on the adventure of a lifetime, primarily to raise funds and awareness for active duty and veteran suicide prevention. Starting in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, Friede and his team drove their side-by-sides nearly 500 miles a day through Alaska, Yukon Territory and British Columbia on the way to Seeley Lake, arriving Sept. 24. From Seeley they will continue mostly by gravel road on their way to El Paso, Texas. "The cause for the ride is to promote awareness...

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