News Buffet: Former Lt. Gov. Dies, Beer Prices Rising, Geronimo’s $100,000 Rifle

By Beacon Staff

Good morning and happy birthday to the late Charles Schulz, creator of Peanuts.

I hope you enjoyed the long holiday break; there’s lots of news on the Beacon today. Former Lt. Gov. Karl Ohs died Sunday of brain cancer in Helena. Tony Berget, the mayor of Libby is recovering after a Nov. 17 accident which resulted in the loss of his right eye. Our guest columnist for this week, Rep. Mike Jopek, D-Whitefish, weighs in on the imminent 2009 property tax reappraisal and different ideas to improve the state’s tax structure. Beer prices among the valley’s local breweries are set to rise as the cost of hops is skyrocketing. The sky looks like it really wants to yield some serious snow any day now, and I spent some time with a Whitefish ski tuning scientist for tips on getting skis and snowboards tuned for the upcoming season. If, for some reason, you didn’t spend the weekend inert on the couch in a turkey-induced stupor watching football, you can catch up on the weekend’s athletic winners and losers in the Sports Buffet. And Editor Kellyn Brown’s column on Kalispell’s dire need for a nickname is garnering some really creative suggestions, and making for some lively, albeit hostile, dialog on the Web.

In state news, Lee’s Mike Dennison, Montana’s top reporter on health care issues takes a look at the Canadian public health care system just north of the border, looking at its pros and cons. After two recent alleged incidents of anti-gay violence, several groups in Missoula are holding a rally tonight to promote awareness and tolerance in the Garden City. And Chuck Johnson, also of Lee, reports that Montanans are donating more money to Democratic presidential candidates than Republicans.

And finally, a recent auction of famous Western firearms raked in some big bucks. Apache warrior Geronimo’s rifle went for $100,000 and Wyatt Earp’s shotgun went for $65,500. Hang in there on a frigid Monday and don’t let the Christmas carols drive you nuts just yet.

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