By Beacon Staff

We’re high on Flathead Electric and low on Mother Nature for deciding to skip autumn in our weekly index of what’s up, down and in between …

MAX BAUCUS – The Senate Finance Committee chairman’s health care bill received a positive rating from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, with an estimate that it will reduce the deficit over 10 years while covering more Americans.

DARYL ANDERSON – The Lincoln County Sheriff comes out on top after a group collecting signatures to recall him failed to turn in the petition by last week’s deadline.

FLATHEAD ELECTRIC – The co-op is one of two Montana utilities competing for federal funds to demonstrate how “Smart Grid” technology can save electricity and money.

WALT SCHWEITZER – An investigation into the governor’s brother clears him of any allegations that he was using his office as deputy state auditor for political fundraising.

NOBEL COMMITTEE – Awarding the Peace prize to Barack Obama so early in his term seemed to puzzle even the president himself. It also lends fuel to critics who say the prize highlights how little Obama has accomplished. Supporters maintain the award illuminates how Obama has improved U.S. relations with the world already – but admit it does seem a bit premature.

GREG BARKUS – The Kalispell Republican state senator is charged with three felonies for crashing his boat near Bigfork Aug. 27, injuring himself and four others, after drinking. He is disputing the results of his blood alcohol test, which found his level at twice the legal limit nearly two hours after the crash.

AMERICAN POLICE FORCE – The California company is dropping its bid to take over the Hardin jail after the discovery of its founder’s criminal past, among other red flags.

SWINE FLU – Causing its second Montana death and widespread absences at schools throughout the state, it looks like a long, tough season with this virus.

TEMPERATURES – A frigid weekend broke a previous record for cold set in 1987. What happened to autumn?

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