Handful of huckleberries

A watercolor painting of huckleberries for the five honorees recognized this past week by the nonprofit Missoula Cultural Council for their achievements in the arts, which help make Missoula the artistic center of Montana. This year, the council’s Cultural Achievement Award was presented to John Driscoll, executive director of the Missoula Symphony Association; the Arts Educator Award was given to Lewis and Clark Elementary School music teacher Dorothy Morrison; the Individual Artist Award went to watercolor painter Kendahl Jan Jubb; the Cultural Vision Award was given to the nonprofit Clay Studio of Missoula; and the Business Support for the Arts Award was presented to Flanagan Motors.

Chokecherries to Montana’s score on a national ranking of federal dependency. The recent study by WalletHub put Montana in sixth place, meaning it is more dependent on federal tax returns, federal funding and federal jobs than any of our immediate neighbors. Montana’s neighbors all boast lower dependency rankings, from South Dakota (No. 7) to North Dakota (15), Wyoming (16) and Idaho (17). Mississippi is the most dependent of all the states, followed by New Mexico, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Huckleberries to Missoula's Child Development Center for working to raise not only awareness, but also acceptance and inclusion of individuals with autism. Today, April 1, marks the beginning of National Autism Awareness Month as well as First Friday, when the Bicycle Hangar and MSO Hub will display artwork created by children with autism, thanks in large part to Bitterroot Arts for Autism. And later this month, on April 26, the Child Development Center will host a charity pint night from 6 to 8 p.m. at Flathead Lake Brewing Co.

Chokecherries to NorthWestern Energy for failing to protect its ratepayers from being forced to buy electricity on the open market after the Colstrip coal plant experienced a massive six-month outage in 2013. This week, the Montana Public Service Commission determined Montana’s largest power utility should have taken more “prudent” measures to recover its costs, and voted 3-2 to order NorthWestern to refund its customers a total $8.24 million.

Huckleberries to the Montana Vehicle Division for making it easier for eligible residents to register to vote. Now, potential voters can register when they apply for a license – they will even use the same form. The change comes after Project Vote and other advocacy groups began pushing for better enforcement of national Motor Voter laws. These groups have also raised concerns with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. Huckleberries to them as well for making sure Montana’s agencies are in compliance with the National Voter Registration Act.

Missoulian editorial board: Publisher Mark Heintzelman, Editor Matt Bunk, Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen.