The Week in Review, Aug 30-Sept 5, 2008

Everyone, it's been another busy week. Here's what I've been doing:

Saturday, August 30, I worked with the MSU Bobcat Football Stat Crew. I've been on the stat crew for 19 years, and I input all the plays into a program from which we print reports, feed stats to TV while they broadcast the game, and generate the data that's the NCAA record of the game. MSU beat Adams State in the home opener, 59-3. For more, see my post from Saturday, August 30.

After the game, I resumed my work of getting more details on a proposed land swap in Madison County of elk hunting habitat proposed by a landowner and the US Forest Service. I've been in contact with the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest rangers and staff, with our US Senators offices, with Montana Dept of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, the DNRC, and sporting groups. The first notices went out about a month ago, and public meetings will be held about the proposal; I've gotten more info on the parcel proposed in the Tobacco Root Mountains for the trade, and I've heard from hunters intent on keeping parcels with public access for hunting.

Sunday I attended the Bridger Canyon Property Owners Association annual picnic, where much of the conversation was about

proposed oil and gas leases on state land sections within or adjacent to Bridger Canyon Zoning District. I'm bird-dogging more information all the time about how tracts are nominated, why people weren't notified, how value is assessed, etc. For more, read my post from Tuesday, Sept 2.

On Monday, Labor Day, I wrote an article for the Bozeman Business and Professional Women newsletter and reviewed the packet for the Bozeman Planning Board meeting (I've served on the Planning Board for eight years, four as chair; also on the Zoning Commission, and on the Board of Adjustment, which hears applications for variances, deviations, and relaxations from Bozeman code). I also researched a project in the northern part of my district proposed near Bridger Creek Golf Course.

Tuesday began with work on the campaign, then included meetings with volunteers, phone conferences with state agency staff at the Capitol, and review of the proposed land use map for Wednesday's Planning Board meeting. I also wrote a letter of support for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks to the Montana Arts Council. I've been a long-time supporter of Shakespeare in the Parks; it's a respected and most appreciated cultural effort for Montanans statewide every summer, and there's nothing else like it that travels town-to-town offering free performances!

Wednesday started with a morning meeting with supporters. Afterward, I contacted Judge Bruce Loble at the Montana Water Court about language proposed in the revised Subdivision Review chapter of the Bozeman growth policy, the 2020 Plan. Montana law is very specific about abandonment of water rights

or water user facilities, and Judge Loble and the fine staff at the Water Court will help me formulate language for the growth policy that's compliant with state law. I'm known in certain circles as the "Water Wonk", and worked hard in the 2007 session on water law. I co-wrote and co-sponsored a bill with Republican representative Walt McNutt of Sidney to protect water quality and water quantity in closed basins like Gallatin Valley, and even in the contentious 2007 session, we got our bill passed. Later Wednesday, I corresponded with a group that wants to include language in the growth policy about mobile home parks, manufactured homes, and affordable housing; we met Friday. At 7 pm, I chaired the Planning Board meeting. We reviewed the chapters and land use map and made an appointment to the committee that's working with Prospera to write an economic development plan for Bozeman.

On Thursday, the day began with a meeting with supporters and volunteers, then a meeting with Montana Women Vote, an organization that focuses on registering voters and dispersing information to voters in the block least likely to vote: single working women. Thursday was Bob's birthday (my loved one) and so I took Bob to a birthday dinner!

Friday began with the proceedings of the Gallatin Valley Treatment Court, a program offered to people convicted of drug crimes. Over 18 months, Judge Salvagni, the Treatment Court team, and many supportive people teach participants how to lead sober, responsible lives. Friday was a special day; a participant graduated from the program, and a former member, now clean and sober for more than 1,500 days, returned to Treatment Court to tell members that he knows how difficult the program is, and how they feel, but that he's living proof of the success of the program. Treatment Court is a strict regimen, and at first, it feels punitive to participants, but it succeeds in giving members the tools by which to overcome their addictions, learn responsible behaviors, and become happy, healthy, and productive citizens. The program is a lot of work on the part of every member, but it truly enables them to change their lives and not be relegated to the Corrections system. The program and the work and dedication of its staff and members gives participants the discipline, guidance, and encouragement to truly change for the better. I couldn't be prouder to support Treatment Court, both as a Friend of Treatment Court and as a legislator; last session, the legislature budgeted money for courts all around Montana. It's leaps and bounds better to help people regain their footing through Treatment Court than to sentence and incarcerate, although I know that's needed, too; but the members of this program are those who've done dramatic work improving themselves, their lives, regaining the trust of family and employers, and recharting their courses.

Friday afternoon, another Planning Board member and I met with residents of mobile home parks to discuss how to include supportive language for mobile and manufactured homes in the Bozeman 2020 Growth Policy. Friday night, I met with campaign supporters and organizers.

More soon. I'm working hard all the time, and I love the work. If I can help you, email me:


Anonymous said…
Any community that fails to include manufactured housing in its growth plans is going to be making a huge mistake. The housing market seems to have hit bottom yet the buyers market is still strong. As the surplus of homes is put into service and demand starts to recover we will see manufactured housing become a significant alternative for a big segment of the working population.

We are at a strange juncture in any economic cycle. The most sought after job candidate across the country is perhaps registered nurses... yet nurses that have been on the job for a few years cant afford a mortgage today. The same is true of our police and fire responders, teachers and many other traditional jobs that at this time wont permit participation in the American dream.

Manufactured housing will be the answer. I'm betting along with Warren Buffett and investing in manufactured housing as the solution of the near and extended future. Manufactured housing has matured greatly over the past several years into a very reliable and economical alternative to conventional building. Factory built housing makes a lot of sense. If you were going to buy a new car would you purchase all the parts and get some guys to build it in your driveway? The same scale of economy and benefit of assembly line production can be found in today's modern factory build homes.

There is a great video on line with Architect Sarah Susanka describing manufactured or prefab housing and why manufactured housing is built in a controlled environment by craftspeople may be of higher quality than a home built on site. at
I completely agree, and the people from the Alliance for Building Communities will address the Planning Board at our next meeting with language for the growth policy that supports and encourages manufactured housing. My relatives in the Kalispell area bought a manufactured home in Alberta, Canada, and it's beautiful, and much beefier in construction than mobile homes of the past. It was also far more affordable than buying a home in Kalispell, even a smaller, older home. They're on a fixed income, older, with medical bills to pay, and the manufactured home was the ideal solution. Nicely finished, they put it on a slab and built a separate garage, not large, but all together, the house, site prep, and garage cost far less than a stick-built. Bozeman may also have to change its R-MH (Residential-Manufactured Home) zoning to better accommodate pre-built homes, but I think that these, some of the most affordable housing, do have a strong place in our growth. Thanks for your comment. --JP Pomnichowski

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