Fire At The Brewery

The brewery located on the west side of town has been destroyed by fire; apparently the fire started between 5:30 and 6:00 pm this evening, and I drove by at about 10:00 pm and it looked like it was still burning. Lots of firefighters on the scene, of course, but the gusty conditions sure aren’t helping.

Hope everything settles down soon and that everyone is safe.


UPDATE: three new pictures of the fire, courtesy of reader Alan.

Category: around town | Tags:

Larry Kralj, EcoNut!

As if to prove some earlier points about incivility, here are a few examples of what Larry Kralj posted over at Electric City Weblog today:

- But when civil liberties are being trampled, when the Constitution is ignored, and when democracy itself is under attack, I say to HELL with civility.
- And yet we are denied our basic rights.
- Why should donna and donna (sic) alone decide what the future of Great Falls is to look like?
- …the city council, with donna as its head, has made a mockery of democracy.

See, this ties right in with the earlier discussion about incivility. In this case, the “incivility” is that Larry has conflated our local City Commission meetings with every political crime imaginable; that is, every perceived political crime that he imagines. I’m assuming that he believes that America, under President Bush, has abandoned democracy, and that the Constitution has been shredded, and we have no civil liberties at all. In his mind, Dona Stebbins is equal to George Bush is equal to Hitler. If I’m wrong, Larry, please tell me so.

To someone with Larry’s worldview, then, it’s not hard to understand that he believes Mayor Stebbins’ attempts to conduct an orderly City Commission meeting smacks of fascism and stormtroopers.

Well…actually, it IS hard to understand, because I just can’t imagine someone being so conspiratorial in their understanding (or lack thereof) of reality.

UPDATE, Sunday morning: By the way, “Redneck Hippie” (aka Larry Kralj) has worn out his welcome at a few other places in the Montana blogosphere, over at the Billings Blog and at Dave Budge’s place.

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“People Can Be So Nasty”

The Trib posted an editorial highlighting the good, bad, and ugly of online forums, including the local blogosphere…a brief excerpt:

Candidates and local office holders try to do the right thing, often in situations where right and wrong are not clearly identifiable — and where their constituents give them conflicting opinions. For that they do not deserve the abuse heaped on them in places like the anonymous “blogosphere.” Mayor Dona Stebbins, who narrowly won re-election Tuesday, used to be a frequent visitor to online forums and public policy blogs. Now, she says, she’s all but stopped visiting them. “People can be so nasty,” she said in a post-election interview.
And that’s too bad. Online discussions have a lot of potential impact, locally and nationally. But when they degenerate to the level of anonymous personal attacks and distortion, they lose their potency — life’s too short to waste time reading snide invective issued by angry people.

Yep. And I’ve heard from folks who were puzzled or angry by Dona’s comments, which I believe were aimed at several specific instances in blog comments and at the Tribune Forums. She was NOT referring to blogs in general or the owners of them. Rather, I’m pretty sure that she was talking about some of the commenters – some on the blogs, but primarily at the Trib Forums.

The most glaring example of incivility and nastiness, for example, is “Redneck Hippie” at the Trib Forums. I have no doubt that he is sincere in his anti-coal screeds or criticism of local government, but he crosses the line when he attacks the candidates rather than their positions. Some examples:

Example: I knew a girl, Donna was her name, Poor little girl, born without a brain

Example: Only someone as dumb as donna would consider this a mandate.

Example: Primadonna and edna hensley COULDN’T EVEN MAKE IT THROUGH COLLEGE! They really ARE that dumb! (“primadonna” is his pet name for Mayor Stebbins)

I called him out on the no-college-diploma issue several times; the lack of a college degree does not make someone “dumb” – in the same way that having a degree doesn’t make someone “smart.” Redneck Hippie’s continued tirade against non-college graduates reveals far more about his intellect and judgment than it does about his targets, I suspect.

And here’s another example of Hippie’s ranting: “Primadonna did NOT get the most votes. Ed and Susan SPLIT the vote! And if you think it wasn’t about the plant, you’re as slow as donna! It was ALL about the plant.”

See, he just can’t get over the fact that the one person that he wanted to see lose actually didn’t lose. He is stunned beyond belief that the great unwashed masses didn’t see the election solely through his eyes and conclude that the coal plant is (a) the only issue that matters, and (b) a carcinogenic, polluting, ugly symbol of evil. He just can’t believe that so many people can be so stupid, apparently.

Well, here is my response: Hey, Redneck Hippie, look VERY CLOSELY at the election results — surely being a teacher you can tell when one number is larger than another, right? Don’t all teachers – even ones that don’t teach math – have to know some basics of arithmetic? You know, such as knowing that 79 is larger than 23, for instance.

OK, now when you look VERY CLOSELY at the results, even someone as rabid as you can tell that Dona Stebbins DID get the most votes of any candidate! You can whine and yell and get red in the face all you want, but unless you directly spoke to EVERY SINGLE VOTER about who they voted for and why, don’t you dare claim to know that “Ed and Susan SPLIT the vote!” Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t — doesn’t matter. All that matters in an election is WHO GOT THE MOST VOTES.

Face reality, Hippie: Dona Stebbins got more votes than anyone else, and is therefore going to remain the Mayor of Great Falls. Rationalize all you want, but you can’t change that reality.

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“Criminal Minds” in Great Falls

Apparently the TV show “Criminal Minds” set this week’s episode (“Identity“) right here in Great Falls. There’s a Trib piece about one of the crew members, Andrew Ellingson, who is from Great Falls. But some of my co-workers who watched the episode were very disappointed: they said that Great Falls was portrayed as a very small town with a decidedly “militia” bent, which of course only serves to further the stereotype of all Montanans. And they said that the “Great Falls” on the show bore virtually no resemblance to the real Great Falls, in appearance, size, or character.

Which makes me wonder: if the producers wanted to set the episode in a small Montana town, why didn’t they instead choose, say, Dillon, or Lincoln, or Toston, or any place OTHER than the 3rd largest town in the state? If you saw the episode, what did you think?

UPDATE: a Great Falls native (who moved away and then back to Montana) has some thoughts about the episode.

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Voter Turnout

Unlike most people who decry the low voter turnout – particularly in this “off-year” municipal election, with a turnout of 28% – I have no problem with people who don’t vote. First of all, it’s a basic issue of freedom: if you don’t want to vote, you don’t have to. Second of all, if somebody is fine with the status quo and has no real hard feelings (pro or con) about any of the major issues or candidates, then why should they vote? If they are cool with the way things are, then their decision to not vote reflects the line from a Rush song: “…if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” And third, the lower the turnout, the more power MY vote has. And yours, too.

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“As Cool As I Am”

I’ve added a new feature to the sidebar on your left: some of my recommendations. What’s cool about these is that they are all Montana or Great Falls-themed. The first one, a book called “As Cool As I Am” by local Pete Fromm, is an interesting “coming of age” tale of a teenage girl named Lucy Diamond. She attends Great Falls High School, enjoys eating with her mother at Tracy’s Diner downtown, and tries to deal with the usual adolescent issues. Here’s what I wrote last year when I first read it:

It’s not normally a book that I would read, but the setting in Great Falls was just too tempting for me – I don’t recall ever reading a book set in the community that I live in. My opinion of the book: very good. As noted by many reviewers, the character of Lucy Diamond is pretty powerful: she is one feisty young lady, and her fire carries her through some tough times as she discovers things about her parents, her friends, and what growing up means. The setting in Great Falls, and being able to identify very specific details about our town, made it a very unique read. Not an ordinary book, and one I won’t forget.

Shameless plug and full disclosure: if you click on one of the links over there and purchase one of my recommendations, I’ll earn a few pennies on the transaction.

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