Random Shots

A few thoughts on impromptu shooting ranges, the Verizon cell tower at Flathead High and affordable housing

By Dave Skinner

Sometimes I find myself with several topics on hand, none worth a full column but still worth a few words.

In mid-April, I rode shotgun the back way from Niarada to Kalispell, over the hill via Browns Meadow Road, past Haskill Peak and down Mount Creek to Kila. While a great excuse to enjoy a bluebird day, things got “sporty” as the snow was still sticking in places.

Highlighting the adventure was a redtail hawk having a heck of a time flying away with its fat squirrel supper, plus there is this really neat vista near Kila of the waters of Smith Lake in front of the snowy peaks of the North Fork – a 60-mile view nobody should miss, that always surprises and pleases me.

But I was surprised and displeased, too. I begrudge gates as much as anyone, but I was ticked off by several badly smashed gates and fences. I also noticed that every single sign in that part of Flathead County had been shot at least once, with many plum shredded. Just shameful.

Then, as we crested the hill and started downslope toward civilization, I saw more and more spots of Day-Glo orange, busted clay targets on both sides of the road, shredded trees, and bullet-riddled trash (and trees) literally everywhere there was a spot wide enough to park.

I mean, I love to shoot, but seriously? Off the top of my head, I know of at least five established rifle and pistol clubs in the county: South of Bigfork, west of Whitefish, back of the county dump, at Marion, and north of Columbia Falls. A year’s membership to each probably costs less than five trips out into the sticks, and the shooting is better.

Still, it’s a free country, at least for now. If you insist on using impromptu shooting spots in your woods wanderings, please:

1. Make certain you have a safe backstop, and

2. Bring your own darn targets (not those dang clay birds!) and haul your trash back to town, for God’s sake.

Flathead High School is considering leasing siting rights for a concealed Verizon tower on top of the school. Long story short, opponents are supposedly “concerned about emissions,” offering as proof a documentary, “Generation Zapped.” I watched part of it on YouTube, and it seems pretty melodramatic – rather more credible than a chemtrail documentary, but not credible enough.

Even if radio-waves are a health risk, right up there with thalidomide, lead and asbestos – what’s the health risk of having an emergency and getting that familiar message “All circuits are busy now, please try your call again later.” Or of flipping out when you can’t get your WiFi?

Just for fun, I looked up some of the opponents. Well, all have a phone number with a cell prefix – even if not all are Verizon users. Who will hang up first?

Another community topic everyone seems to give lip-service to is “affordable housing,” the lack thereof, the need for, et cetera, ad nauseam. So, when news hit of a proposal to put in a large “manufactured homes” park in Evergreen, my first thought was, about darn time, and yep, it seems like Evergreen is the only place something like that would be possible.

I should disclose that the Seaman brothers who proposed West Evergreen Estates are Flathead schoolmates of mine, with the Seaman family having been in the manufactured housing game as long as I can remember. I’ve lived in a trailer at times as it was all I could “afford.”

Young families starting out are those most in need of “affordable” housing, and probably not coincidentally, most in need of access to elementary education. So, to locate a trailer park within “kid-walking” distance of Evergreen School seemed like a no-brainer.

Even more interesting, right across Evergreen Drive sits Village Greens, a golf subdivision which, yep, you guessed right, allows manufactured homes. So, I guess some manufactured homes are more equal than others? The Planning Board, much to my surprise, seems to think so. Orwell must be grinning in his grave.

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