Opinion / Guest Column


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  • High Water Chronicles 2024, Vol. 1 - safety afloat

    Chuck Stranahan|May 16, 2024

    Safety any time you're on the water begins with preparation. For the wading angler this means gearing up for safety (and comfort) before going out. Comfort, you say? If you're miserable it follows that you might put yourself in danger. Getting chilled in a sudden downpour might not lead to hypothermia, but why take the chance? Slick-soled sandals or running shoes instead of purpose-built wading footwear? I've done it and survived the falls, but I've outgrown that silliness and don't recommend...

  • New color printer, copier coming soon

    Carrie Benton, Seeley Lake Librarian|May 9, 2024

    The Blackfoot Communications Board of Trustees is awarding the Seeley Lake Branch Library $1,000 toward the purchase of a new color copier/printer. The machine will also have faxing capabilities. Thank you to everyone who shared with me about this desired resource for our community. Please note there will likely be an increase in printing fees (currently 10 cents a page) to account for the higher cost of colored ink. The public will be kept informed as to when it is ready for use and any...

  • Boy Scout (and river safety) motto - be prepared

    Chuck Stranahan|May 9, 2024

    Safety begins with preparation. When you wade fish in streams, be they big rivers or small creeks, you stalk your fish. That usually means getting into the water, staying at angles where you are concealed, and positioning yourself away from swift currents and slippery rocks as you prepare to make your first cast. Preparation begins with respecting the swift currents and staying out of them. That's not where the trout are anyway. They're along the edges of those currents. At any time of year,...

  • What happens when my ship comes in

    Alan Muskett MD|May 2, 2024

    Back when Ulysses Grant was President, my fiancé and I attended a - required by the church - weekend seminar called "Engagement Encounter." The idea was to improve the chances of marital success by having the couples engage in serious discussions about core issues - money, communication, in-laws, respect and so forth. We were posed questions that we answered in notebooks, then shared the answers with each other. Messages such as "please don't get fat," and "if you turn into a drunk my divorce...

  • People and places from our past, the Seeley-Swan role in Western Montana logging

    Tom Browder, Seeley Lake Historical Society|May 2, 2024

    We are learning a lot about how the timber industry has been such a key part of the Seeley-Swan Valley for over 100 years. Our forests provided logs for lumber, and our loggers and truckers have worked tirelessly to make these logs available for mills. Let’s take a look back and see what the timber industry was like during the boom years following the Second World War, and how our area was involved. Dr. Horace H. Koessler, owner of the Gordon Ranch, started a sawmill on the ranch in 1946, using local timber. The following year, along with s...

  • You never know - on the very next cast

    Chuck Stranahan|May 2, 2024

    Sometimes you just need to go fishing. You just need that time alone, time away from what doesn't give you peace. You might catch a trout or two but that doesn't really matter. The trout aren't what you're after. You need for your peace to return and know, when you fish, that you're connecting with something greater than yourself that will restore your peace. At other times it's about being with those rare people with whom you share a special bond - it's about strengthening the bond and...

  • Innovation in action: The Mobile Support Team

    Dr. James Quirk, Chief Medical Officer at Partnership Health Center|Apr 25, 2024

    The need for compassionate and effective approaches to mental health crisis intervention has never been more pressing. In Missoula, an innovative response to this need, The Mobile Support Team (MST), has emerged as a benchmark for mental health crisis interventions in our region. When someone in Missoula calls 911 with a concern about a behavioral health issue, the Missoula Mobile Support Team (MST) springs into action. Comprised of a licensed mental health clinician, an emergency medical technician (EMT) and a case facilitator, the MST...

  • It's not just a philosophy - catch, revive and release

    Chuck Stranahan|Apr 25, 2024

    What I see on too many YouTube videos makes me wince. Some of the trout, I'm sure, don't survive. Most of them probably make it, despite the rough handling they're subjected to. Wild trout are hearty creatures, but still, they're deserving of our respect. They deserve - and require, if they're to remain viable when subjected to natural stresses and unnatural fishing pressure - informed and responsible handling that will give them an optimal chance of survival. I've written comments in response...

  • Rock me like a hurricane

    Alan Muskett MD|Apr 18, 2024

    Greetings from Beaufort (Be-you-fert) South Carolina, where we are precariously tied to the very outside dock of a marina, which is perfectly aligned to allow us to fully experience the 1984 hit by the Scorpions entitled "Rock Me Like a Hurricane." It is not technically a hurricane, but when the toaster oven and the coffee maker become deadly projectiles, it seems that way. We have been cruising up the coast, from Key West now to Beaufort, soaking up the history and geography as well as soaking...

  • Cardiometabolic health - early prevention and diagnosis options

    Camilla Peterson MD|Apr 18, 2024

    Cardiac health and management of cardiac disease has been and remains a key focus in our healthcare with more than 50% of all healthcare monies directed toward diagnosis and treatment of cardiac disease. With more and more investment directed toward innovation for disease management, mainstream science is also seeing the emergence of high-end toolkits directed toward early diagnosis and front-end prevention. We now have the ability to utilize innovative imaging, wearable and laboratory testing technology to screen for early markers of...

  • March (Brown) madness in April and other spring flies

    Chuck Stranahan|Apr 18, 2024

    You see the same thing every year: on the Bitterroot, some anglers get so fixated on the skwala hatch that they forget everything else. Never mind, especially in a year like this one, that the hatch might sputter from day to day. The angler armed with the hot new skwala fly, or a proven old one, for that matter, might find himself out of luck. These big brown-olive stoneflies bring the big fish up when they're present. And when they're not, the fish might still come up for them. It's no wonder...

  • Taking care of the trout - Preserving our fisheries, part one

    Chuck Stranahan|Apr 11, 2024

    It's ultimately up to us to take care of our fisheries. Montana's Fish, Wildlife & Parks has a complex job to do, but when it comes to taking care of western Montana's fishery resources, the most critical jobs are in our hands - literally. I'm talking about how we handle trout. Last week I promised I'd write more about the best ways to do that. Catch and release fishing is an effective management tool for preserving and conserving wild trout fisheries. For some, it borders on a religious...

  • Seeley Lake Library April news

    Carrie Benton, Librarian|Apr 4, 2024

    Spring is in full swing. We’ve got plenty of books on gardening and venturing outdoors. New titles in both fiction and nonfiction are arriving this month. Now is the perfect time — with road construction season also in full swing — to check out a new book to have on hand as you wait at the stoplight around Salmon Lake. A local patron has donated various materials on brain injuries and brain health. Due to their own injury and subsequent experience of people not understanding, the patron did t...

  • Riding the storm out

    Alan Muskett MD|Apr 4, 2024

    Elton John knew it was time to go into rehab when he called the front desk of his Atlanta hotel and asked that the wind be turned down. I can empathize with him, however addled he was. Our boat, currently in Titusville, Florida, is raucously rolling in a 25-knot breeze. Titusville is across the river from Cape Canaveral and the Space Center, where, this afternoon, we clutched our expensive ticket for three hours, in the viewing bleachers, awaiting the launch of a big rocket. With less than four...

  • People from our past - Wesley Edward (W.E.) Binko

    Tom Browder, Seeley Lake Historical Society|Apr 4, 2024

    Usually we expect notable people from our past to leave some kind of footprint: a road named after them, a mountain peak, a lake, or a lookout. In the case of Wesley Edward Binko, however, frequently referred to as W.E. Binko, there is nothing to be found. How odd for someone who was a real pioneer of the dude ranching business in our valley. Wesley Binko was born in Helena in 1893 to a long-established Helena family. From Helena Senior High School he went on to Northwestern University in the Chicago area. A track star in college, he held the...

  • Working together in scary times

    Tom Beers, Seeley Lake Community Foundation|Apr 4, 2024

    Just recently, we learned the startling news that Pyramid Mountain Lumber in Seeley Lake would soon close down and result in hardship for some 100 workers and small businesses in our community. Like many in Seeley and across western Montana, we’re shocked and saddened by the news. We at the Seeley Lake Community Foundation know that our mission is to help our neighbors, family and friends — our community — especially when we face hardship. Our nonprofit mission is to engage philanthropy, provide leadership and enhance the quality of life and e...

  • Dave Kesler running for House District 76

    Dave Kesler|Apr 4, 2024

    My name is Dave Kesler, and I am running for the new House District 76, which spans from Georgetown Lake, through Deer Lodge, Drummond, Philipsburg, Rock Creek, almost to Clinton, up towards Seeley Lake, Ovando, Helmville, Avon and Elliston. I live in Philipsburg with my 11-year-old daughter, Kelly, and am fortunate enough to be surrounded by family. I'm a builder, a mechanic, a rancher, an avid hunter and an active citizen. I am a third generation Montanan, working the same land my grandparents worked in Philipsburg and the Deer Lodge Valley s...

  • What we can do

    Chuck Stranahan|Apr 4, 2024

    The conversation over coffee with friends, naturally for us, was mostly about fishing. We talked about fly rods and my recent conversations with Kerry Burkheimer. In what had to be a weak moment Kerry said I could trade flies in partial payment for two of his rods. Time marches on and I hope to get some flies in his hands before he changes his mind. His rods are superb. You could make a real good argument that Burkheimers are the best graphite fly rods made. They are made from scratch with...

  • Seeley Lake, A history of grit and resilience

    Tom Browder, Seeley Lake Historical Society|Mar 28, 2024

    When our community faces difficult times like these, it can help to look back at our history and see how tough and resilient we have been. Looking at the photos and exhibits in the Historical Museum at the Barn shows what the people who built Seeley Lake went through, and how we became what we are today. In the early 20th century, when the first major timber sale took place in Seeley, loggers worked under conditions hard to imagine today. We have photos of winter camps, since trees were cut during the winter and logs skidded to the frozen...

  • The Ides of March - or, what's an ide, anyway?

    Chuck Stranahan|Mar 28, 2024

    For a few days recently it has seemed like spring. Maybe it is. On the Ancient Roman Calendar the Ides of March occur on March 15. Winter is supposed to separate from spring precisely on March 15, according to the ancient Romans. They never made it to Montana. On the Modern Montanan Calendar the days of winter and spring bounce around on both sides of March 15. We take the spring weather when we can get it. "Beware the Ides of March," one Shakespearian character said, and when that line was...

  • Gratefulness for the bathroom

    Alan Muskett MD|Mar 21, 2024

    In our younger years we can be awakened by a frightened child, or the on-call phone dagger from the ER or ICU. As we "mature" (get old, fall apart, what-happened-to-me), that renting of our dream cloud is more likely an insistent ringtone from the bladder. So there you are, cozy, maybe the room and the floor aren't so cozy. After a period of deliberation, sometimes lengthy, an impulsive toddle to the bathroom ensues. Now imagine this occurring on a boat. The little boat bathroom can't be used...

  • Why do we eat?

    Camilla Petersen Family Practice Physician|Mar 21, 2024

    Why do we eat? What is the purpose of ingestion of each morsel that touches our mouth? Do we live to eat or eat to live? And ultimately, does food matter? The human body is a complex ecosystem made up of trillions of cells that need energy to function. However, energy itself is not enough. Similar to any economy of scale, our bodies need high-quality energy so it can be converted with utmost efficiency into differentiated products which in turn power a multitude of demanding and discerning organs. This high-paced, high-efficiency production...

  • It might as well be spring – almost

    Chuck Stranahan|Mar 14, 2024

    Remember that old Rodgers and Hammerstein tune? It Might As Well Be Spring, from the musical Oklahoma? It feels like spring should be here but hasn't arrived yet. It might as well be, and should be, but isn't yet spring. I remember Februarys in years past when Jan and I would take long walks on the banks of the river. Winter eased up to the point where it felt good to get out. Taking a fly rod on those walks would come next. The past few days have been sunny enough. But instead of rising trout,...

  • Comprehensive healthcare, Medicaid coverage, and the fight to end homelessness

    Lara Salazar CEO Partnership Health Center|Mar 14, 2024

    In the vibrant tapestry of a community’s well-being, a fundamental thread stands out — access to comprehensive healthcare. Comprehensive healthcare recognizes and addresses the interconnectedness of physical, mental, and social well-being, and it provides an essential foundation for individuals and families to live healthy lives. Healthy individuals are the building blocks of a healthy community, and when our community is healthy, everyone benefits. A comprehensive healthcare approach focuses on driving positive health outcomes, even when tha...

  • Humble pie in paradise

    Alan Muskett|Mar 7, 2024

    Since our last Pathfinder report, we have traveled the 240 miles from Fort Pierce, Florida to Key West. Along the way, I would estimate we have heard some version of Jimmy Buffet 500 times. Apparently, tourists expect a mind-numbing repetition of "tropical" music, none written in the last 40 years. Don't worry, be happy. I have substituted "cheeseburger" in the Buffet song for "humble pie," as I have made about every goober mistake you can make on a boat. I thought I was quite the docking artist...

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