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More musings

| March 8, 2005 11:00 PM

Flathead County is in a similar position as Lincoln County in respect to the detention facilities. They need more space.

The Flathead jail was built to accommodate 63 inmates. They've had as many as 105 in one weekend.

The solution, at present, is a two-story wing for minimum security inmates - about 48 of them. Price tag is just over $6 million.

If Kalispell wasn't so far, and transportation costs so high, we could team up on a facility. Perhaps it would be appropriate to construct a regional four-county holding facility for prisoners serving three months to two years.

It still doesn't solve the over-crowding problems at most local jails. Law-breaking may be one of the fastest growing activities in the state.

Both Senate resolutions o Senate Joint Resolutions 27 and 26 - are moving forward.

Presently they are in the House Human Services committee.

SJR 26, carried by Sen. Aubyn Curtiss (R-Fortine) passed a third reading in the Senate by a 49-1 vote. SJR 27 by Dan Harrington (D-Butte) passed third reading by a vote of 48-2.

Curtiss' resoltuion reminds the Montana congressional delegation of her 2003 resolution seeking the funding and construction of an asbestos research and treatment center in Libby. It also seeks ispecial consideration be extendedi for Libby asbestos victims in pending federal legislation involving compensation for asbestos victims nationwide.

Harrington's has been edited, once again, to simply oppose federal bailout legislation unless Libby victims are included in the victims compensation portion of the bill.

If passing both of these measure makes anyone uncomfortable - especially our congressional delegation, then by all means pass them both.

It does seem silly that the two resolutions weren't combined. It's that game-playing that we all love so well from elected officials.

Last week I referred to the University of Montana as the 900-pound gorilla in the asbestos research arena. It wasn't intended a statement of derision about the U of M, just a fact. The university has more dollars and more political pull than Libby or Lincoln County could ever hope for.

While we don't want the university at Missoula controlling asbestos-related research we do want them as partners. After all, they are an incredible resource who has been contributing significantly to the issue for several years.

Perhaps we should head the ground rules laid out by Sen. Max Baucus during his meeting here two weeks ago: no politics and everything is on the table.

Libby is not in a position to turn away anyone's help but then the university o being in a small population state - is in a similar position. We need a wide array of research looking into this problem bringing with it money from all over. We - Libby, the state and even the university - can only benefit from that type of exposure.

Another thing to remember is if we really knew what we were doing, we wouldn't have gotten ourselves in this position in the first place.

Finally, on our revamped website www.thewesternnews.com there is a readers' poll. The question this week is basically should county tax dollars be used for the construction of a covered grandstand at J. Neils Memorial County Park? Readers are asked to answer yes or no. As of my writing this during the late hours of Monday night, 120 people had voted with 50.8 percent saying no and 49.2 percent saying yes.

This is far from scientific since anybody can istuff the ballot box.i But it is interesting. At this point with this particular question, I'm not surprised at the voting. There will be a different but related question later this week.

If you have a poll question you'd like to ask, write it down and e-mail me at rmorris@hagadone.com - Roger Morris