Friday, June 14, 2024

Deja vu: Back in January of 1993 …

| January 19, 2023 12:00 AM

This job sometimes gives me a whopping sense of déjà vu: I feel like I’ve been here before.

Well, I have. Thirty years ago I sat in this same seat (albeit in a different building), and, it turns out, history does repeat itself --- or at least offers variations on the same themes. I know this because I recently thumbed through January 1993 issues of the Lake County Leader.

Among my finds:

• An arrest was made in the case of between 250 and 300 gallons of missing frozen huckleberries – valued at about $5,000 – that were stolen from Doug Allard’s fruit stand in St. Ignatius in the course of several break-ins during October and November.

• Drifting snow stranded four school buses as Polson and Ronan bus drivers struggled to deliver their passengers safely home before a predicted storm struck. Although temperatures took a sudden dip and sharp winds sent snow sailing across county roads, the storm that paralyzed the Flathead Valley seemed to diminish as it headed south.

• District Judge C.B. McNeil swore in three Lake County officials for new terms: public administrator Diane Davies, Clerk of Court Katherine “Kitty” Petersen and County Commissioner Dave Stipe.

• A special postal cancellation of Elvis stamps at the Arlee Post Office was one of three in the United States (the other two were held in The King’s hometown of Memphis).

• The Supreme Court dismissed charges against an angler who admitted to dumping more than 50 Thompson River perch into Lake Mary Ronan the previous spring, citing jurisdictional discrepancies. Also at Lake Mary Ronan, state health department scientists investigated a smelly, 100-foot-long blob of bright purplish-blue material recently deposited on lake ice. Lab analysis indicated the mass contained chemicals often used to help hold sewage in an airplane or RV tank before it is dumped.

• “Flathead Lake “Nessie” sightings were off to an early start when Lisa Hanson and her 15-year-old daughter spotted something strange near Blue Bay. The pair spied a dark object about 20 feet long with a definite curvature and, perhaps, a textured surface, about 60 feet off shore. The Jan. 12 sighting was the first reported since Elily Stark and Angie Mangels saw something odd afloat in Skidoo Bay the previous June.

• Tribal and county officials met to discuss a phased-in form of retrocession, allowing the Tribes to gradually pull out of PL 280, the shared law enforcement agreement on the Flathead Reservation. The main focus of the effort was to start bringing all misdemeanor cases involving tribal members under the jurisdiction of the Tribal Court since at that time, state courts had jurisdiction over all felonies on the reservation, as well as misdemeanor cases involving non-tribal law enforcement agencies.

• Redistricting was also in the news, with litigation threatened by the American Civil Liberties Union if a state commission didn’t redraw some legislative districts to reflect Indian majorities.

• Public school funding was on the chopping block, and Lake County Superintendent of Schools Joyce Decker Wegner spent two days testifying before the Montana Legislature. “My objection is, if they want to make cuts, tell us how much and then let us decide where,” she said. “Local groups and local entities know what cuts can be made. That’s what trustees are for.”

• After witnessing the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, who promised to “give the Capitol back to the people to whom it belongs,” I opined that spending $28 million on parades, balls and exclusive dinners in a celebration financed by corporate P.R. funds, wasn’t exactly a fresh start. “Something new would have been to budget $3 million for the inauguration (I’m imagining this could finance a fine party) and urge corporate cronies to ship the rest to folks who could put it to better use.”

News, I now realize, is somewhat circular, punctuated with stolen huckleberries, Nessie sightings, Elvis stamps and strange, smelly purplish blobs. No wonder I’m plagued with déjà vu.