MTPR

Mineral County

Thunderstorms toppled power lines in the Linda Vista area of Missoula, MT.
Courtesy Danny Dauterive

Western Montana may get another dose of nasty weather this evening.

National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Noble says conditions very similar to those that created powerful and destructive storms yesterday could soon start moving into western Montana.

Fireworks Bans Spread Across Western Montana

Jul 2, 2015
Fireworks.
(PD)

Fireworks bans are spreading across western Montana in the face of hot, dry weather, and high fire danger.

The City of Whitefish has canceled its 4th of July public fireworks display, citing a fire weather watch for Saturday, issued by the National Weather Service. The Weather Service says to expect high temperatures, low humidifies and gusty winds from the Flathead Valley, through Missoula to south of Dillon. Communities included in the fire weather watch include Eureka, Libby, Polson, Seeley Lake, Hamilton and Butte.

Weyerhaeuser closed its lumber and plywood mills in Columbia Falls last week.
Eric Whitney

Officials in some of Montana's most rural and timber dependent counties are relieved Congress has approved Secure Rural Schools funding to help balance their local budgets.

Bell & Jeff (CC-BY-2.0)

Montana's timber counties recently lost lots of federal revenue. Local officials say public services are going to suffer as a result.

"It's very scary. We're pretty bare bones out here the way it is," said Mineral County Commissioner Duane Simons.

"What do we do? We've got a four-man road crew. Do you lay four guys off? Do you lay three guys off? We've got some real difficult choices ahead of us here."

He's talking about the loss of federal "Secure Rural Schools" funds. The program expired this fall and wasn't reauthorized by Congress.

Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

Officials in 33 Montana counties are keenly aware of what's not in the trillion dollar federal spending bill to keep government open: an extension of the Secure Rural Schools, or SRS program, that Montana counties have relied on since 2000.

SRS funding is stripped out of the spending bill the House has been considering this week.

The SRS program was helps pay down school bonds and also funds road maintenance projects.

Mineral County Commissioner Laurie Johnston has a blunt assessment of the situation.

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