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Big Sky Connection



Eric Tegethoff

November 8, 2016

HELENA, Mont. - For the traditional voter, Election Day is the chance to go to the polls and vote on a day historically set aside for political decision-making.


While many Americans including Montanans have already voted, Rachel Huff-Doria, executive director of the young voter mobilization group Forward Montana Foundation, said a large number of Montanans will participate in the "celebration" of casting their ballot on Election Day. Because the Treasure State's population is small, she said every vote really does count.


"In Montana, many statewide elections and local elections get decided by just handfuls of votes," she said.


Huff-Doria has some pointers to keep in mind for voters today. She said people with absentee ballots who have not already turned them in can go to their local elections office and drop them off. Montanans who aren't registered can do same-day voter registration at the elections office as well. Polls are open until 8 P.M.


During the early-voting period, young voter turnout nationwide has lagged. According to a poll by AIF, about half as many people age 18 to 34 have cast their vote so far compared with the 2012 presidential election. Huff-Doria said millennials are the largest and most diverse generation in the country's history and so they can change the election if they vote today.


"We're a major voting bloc this year, and this isn't just nationwide, but even in Montana, a quarter of all registered voters are millennials," she explained. "So we have a really big voice this year and it's important that we all get out and vote and use our voice."


Huff-Doria said her organization will be holding Election Day watch parties in Missoula, Bozeman and Billings. Voters can visit if they have questions about whether they're registered or where to go to vote.

In honor of Veterans Day, November 11, 2016 we have two Veterans who share their experiences with all.

By Diane Larson

In November we celebrate Veterans Day. A day set aside each year to remember, honor and celebrate the men and women living and passed who served or are serving in the armed forces. Their stories are an integral part of the larger American story.

President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Patriotism means to stand by the country.” Louise “Capp” Martin, a resident of The Springs at Butte enlisted to the WACs in 1942. Her reason for enlisting was that she felt it was her patriotic duty. She once said that her proudest military accomplishment was the ability to serve and honor her country. She served from 1942 to 1945 in Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. Louise speaks very fondly of the people she served with, particularly the other women.

Louise was a Corporal in the army and said that even though they didn’t get deployed, their work in the States was just as important. During her stay in the service Louise received a medal for good conduct.

When asked what her job or assignment was while she was in the WACs, with a big smile she said, “to raise hell.” But seriously, she would do what-ever was needed. She cooked for the other women and taught an exercise class. A fun point was when Louise was chosen to be a model for the WAC “date” uniform. (See photo) Louise tells her stories of the time she served with great joy. She has fond memories of going to New Orleans on their evenings off. It was on one of these trips that Louise had her first drink.

Another resident at The Springs at Butte is Leo Mullen. Leo spent 20 years in the Navy. He served as a medic in both WWII and the Korean War. Leo was only 39 years old when he was able to retire.

Leo was in the Navy before the war started, first of May 1941. Leo’s first assignment was a naval hospital in Brooklyn. From Brooklyn he stayed a short time in Philadelphia, then he went to Lakehurst. He was at Lakehurst when the war started, then went to Camp Lejeune in California. From there he went overseas to New Zealand. Then to Guadalcanal where they relieved the first marine division. He also spent time in Quam.

Leo has a scar on his knee where he took some shrapnel. He had gone outside with some friends after dinner. They were standing underneath a tree. Unbeknownst to them there was a Japanese soldier in the trees above them. That soldier dropped a grenade right by them. Leo was leaning against the tree and the grenade landed on the other side of the tree, and he took it to the knee. The shrapnel has since been removed, but the scar and memory remain.

The medics would go out with the patrols so Leo saw a lot of war. But even with that said, Leo says that the thing that really affected him was the disease, especially being a medic and being exposed to so much. Malaria and dysentery, and he caught both, are just two of the illnesses.

Leo is very grateful for the Veterans. His wife was stricken with Alzheimer’s. The disease took all their savings and they ran out of money. The pension he received from the Veterans saved him.

Both Louise and Leo spoke fondly of their time in the service and have wonderful memories of that time in their lives.

In an address before a joint session of the congress on April 16, 1945, President Truman said these words about our service men and women. “Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices. Because of these sacrifices the dawn of justice and freedom throughout the world slowly casts its gleam across the horizon.” and the Shop.Dine.Play want to say thank you to the Springs at Butte for letting us visit with two amazing Veterans and for allowing us to tell their story. To Leo and Louise and all the Veterans thank you for your service.

If you ever find yourself in Butte, Montana on a second or fourth Wednesday of the month, chances are you might just be able to experience a Brown Bag Lunch at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives. The Brown Bag Lunch is a free event. Speakers are invited to share their expertise on topics that can range from the Easter Uprising of 1916 to Montana sapphires. On October 12th attended one of these events and Marian Jensen, a Montana author who writes mysteries told the crowd about how she came to be an author and talked about her series, Mining City Mysteries

By Diane Larson

Just seconds after she began speaking, Marian Jensen, author of The Mining City Mysteries, owned the entire room at the Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives. Right away she had the crowd laughing at Butte anecdotes.

One of her anecdotes was about putting the plot of a story together. Marian told the crowd she read in John Gardner’s book The Art if Fiction, “There are only two plots, a stranger comes to town, and a man/woman goes on a journey.” She said, when she read that she thought, really, only two. She said she started thinking of all the many possible exceptions to the rule. Then she started thinking about her own books, and she told the crowd, “and in every single one of them a stranger comes to town,” she said.

Marian was the October 12th speaker at the Brown Bag Lunch. The brown bag lunches are a free event provided by the BSB Archives twice a month on Wednesday at noon.  On this Wednesday Marian was speaking about her books, The Mining City Mystery series.

There are three books in the series. The first one is Deadly Reckoning, was first published in 2013. The second is Grave Madness published in 2015, and most recent is Mortal Wounds published this year in 2016.

The series follows a sister and brother amateur sleuth team, Mesa and Chance Dawson. In the first book, Deadly Reckoning, Mesa is coming home to temporarily help the family business, a newspaper called The Mining City Missenger.

The narrative for Deadly Reckoning begins over the Labor Day weekend as Mesa Dawson is flying into Bert Mooney airport, across town another plane is attempting to land in Uptown Butte, but crashes. Chance Dawson, Mesa’s brother sees the plane go down and heads straight over to check it out. As he arrives the pilot and another passenger are no-where to be found. But, in the plane is a high-profile ex-con, dead.

In the second book Grave Madness, Mesa and Chance are attempting to solve a 30-year old death so that they can crack the case of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade murder. In this book Marian explores the stigma attached to mental illness and so much more. 

Independence Day is the backdrop for the third and most recent installment in the Mining City Mysteries, Mortal Wounds. This mystery opens with a young woman possibly jumping off the Finlen Hotel in Uptown. Is it a suicide? Is it a murder? And what does it all have to do with a little black book and “Elsie’s Babies?” If you are from Butte you possibly have heard of Gerties babies, need I say more. 

Marian explained that there are certain conventions that one needs to follow when writing mysteries. Your main characters need to be in a position where they can stumble across a dead body from time to time. “That’s why I went in the direction of journalism, at least there would be some familiarity with crime,” said Marian. 

Each book is an exploration of the fascinating ethnic groups in Butte, its people and rich history. My own life experiences seem to find their way to the page as well. “Butte is just filled with quirky people, and I mean that in a good way,” said Marian. She went on to say, “People have wonderful backgrounds and they know their history and they want to talk about it.”

Upon the advice of well-known mystery writer Sue Grafton, Marian journals with each novel. Start to write about interesting detail in a journal and suddenly you have written a scene. As you write you can begin to hear the character’s voice, then you move that from the journal to the manuscript. Sometimes the journal can be longer than the book. She puts everything into the journal. It can be snippets of dialogue she overheard, or something about the weather.

Talking about the writing process and the development of the story Marian said, “When you are writing fiction, you have to be open to where the story will take you, and all you can do is sort of follow the threads.” 

Marian explained how she self publishes through Amazon. Self-publishing she explains provides an avenue for those persons who have something to say, may not end up on the best seller list but it still has heart. “I write for myself, and I think that makes the best story, I see myself as a story teller,” said Marian.  

Marian is a big proponent of using your imagination and creativity. As she ended her talk she said “I think the world would be a better place if we all used our right brain more. Creativity is the balance for the stress in our lives.”