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Rail traffic is dropping off in the Missoula rail yard, shown here, and in rail raids across Montana and in other parts of the country as economic activity slows. Montana Rail Link have cut back on capital expenditures and reduced their work force in the face of a nationwide freight recession. (Missoulian)
LATE-NIGHT talk show host Jimmy Kimmel got hooked on fly-fishing a decade ago after rocker Huey Lewis invited him to fling flies into the Bitterroot River near Lewis's Hamilton-area home. Kimmel "instantly" fell in love with the sport.
In fact, his wife, Molly McNearney, says Kimmel has developed an obsession. “Every time we’ve ever gone past any body of water, he’s like a dog with his nose out the window,” she says. “He looks at the water to see how it’s moving, and he’ll say, ‘I wonder if there’s any fish in there.’ He’s always looking at water that way. No matter where we are, he would rather be in a river. He always wishes that he was fishing. He’ll be there mentally sometimes, where we’ll be talking and his arm will just go up, and he’ll be doing the casting motion and he won’t even realize that he’s doing it.”
Kimmel's love for the sport is so strong that it recently brought him back to Montana in the dead of winter to fish the frigid waters of the Gallatin River.
“I live a highly electronic life, with e-mails and scripts to edit and questions to answer and videos to watch, so it’s nice to get out on the river,” he told the Robb Robert. “Fly-fishing is meditative. You’re focused on this little fly or indicator, and everything else just washes by you, and the day goes by in a snap. I love rivers. I don’t know why. I grew up in Brooklyn and Las Vegas, so there’s no reason for me to. But I love the idea of them and being on them and floating and wading in them. When I’m fishing, I’m able to think about nothing but fishing, which is very rare for me. I always have a million things in my head.”
IN A recent story that noted how critics had raised questions about whether University of Montana administrators had showed favoritism by hiring so many Mormons to high-profile positions, the Missoulian made the eye-opening assertion that the Mormon church planned to buy Utah State University.
The Missoulian's story began by quoting critics who claimed that, since Perry Brown, a Mormon Church leader, was hired as UM's provost in 2010, several other top UM slots had gone to Mormons or fellow Utah State University graduates.
In providing background, the original version of the story noted that Mormons are 2 percent of the nation's population and up to 5 percent in Montana. The paper added: "In Utah, 60 percent of the population is Mormon, and the LDS church announced in 2013 it planned to buy Utah State University."
It is unclear where the Missoulian got its information, but it may have come from this internet April Fool's Day joke.
The Missoulian has since scrubbed the line about the LDS church buying USU from its story, but the correction probably won't satisfy many. The updated version of its story simply says there was an error in the original version: "Utah State University is a public institution."
In a comment at the end of the story, Kevin McRae, chief human resource officer for the Montana University System, said he'd asked Missoulian editors to explain the source for their report that the LDS church was buying USU, and evidence to back the Missoulian's "proposition that faculty or staff or professional or administrative employees in the Montana University System might be employed on the basis of religion."
Likewise, UM President Royce Engstrom accused the Missoulian of "irresponsible journalism" in a letter to the editor. He added that he was asking his attorney to see if there was any legal action UM could take against the paper, but added "I doubt that there is..."
THERE are millionaires among us. Many of them, it seems.
More specifically, Montana has 20,899 households with over $1 million in investable assets, according to New York marketing research firm Phoenix Research International.
That number is 2,005 households higher than the previous year -- putting Montana at 33rd in the national rankings, and six spots higher than it was in 2014.
That was the largest leap of any state. It also puts almost 5 percent of Montana's households in the "millionaire" category.
So what accounts for Montana's growth in wealth? Representatives of the firm cite the state's favorable tax climate for entrepreneurs. They also point to our growing workforce, low unemployment rates and rising wages.
A daily digest of Montana news
Feb. 12, 2016