Courthouse Banner

Missoula County Blog


Road Issues and Issue Tracking Map

March 30, 2017

The Missoula County Public Works department is currently aware of 11 road issues and is actively working to address these situations. As Public Works and the Missoula County Office of Emergency Management manage reports, all calls and known issues are being tracked using an online mapping tool. The public is encouraged to use this tool to check road conditions and report otherwise unknown issues to the Public Works department.

  1. Butler Creek Road:  1.2 miles north of LaValle Creek Road.
  2. Six Mile Road: 0.25 mile north of Frenchtown Frontage Road.
  3. Big Flat Road.
  4. Deep Creek Road.
  5. Deep Creek Bridge.
  6. Condon Loop Road.
  7. Remount Road.
  8. Nine Mile Road.
  9. West Nine Mile Bridge.
  10. Southside Road.
  11. Bible Lane.


Most of these issues are the result of spring flooding and the melting of adjacent snowpack. Several areas are currently experiencing standing water on roadways and alternate routes are available. No roads are currently closed entirely, although they are being monitored daily as conditions may change. While we are seeing some slope failures and erosion, roads are currently stable.

Road Flooding Incident Map

More information regarding each of these reports can be found on the online map. Please note, this is a dynamic tool that County staff use to facilitate and manage known issues. Information is updated as we receive it.

The map identifies reported issues. When clicking on a location, the map will display the County staff member who investigated the issue, his/her contact information, cause of damage, when the damage was first reported, the location, any photos of the damage, a description, if this incident is a threat to public safety, an estimated timeline of pending repairs, current action being taken, and an initial cost estimate of the damage.

Missoula County agencies, including Public Works, the Office of Emergency Management, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office and the Commissioners’ Office will be updating the public if conditions change. Should emergent situations arise, we will use all possible communications channels to update those affected, including Smart 911 alerts, social media postings and notifications on our website. We are encouraging the public to create a free Smart 911 account to ensure residents are receiving emergency notifications.


Rising Temperatures Offer Important Reminder to Prepare of Potential Flooding

March 15, 2017

Potential impacts from melting snow and rainfall include pooling of water in areas where storm drains or ditches are clogged with snow and ice, pooling of water in low-lying areas and potential ice jams on small creeks and rivers. Such events may cause flooding that could put people and property in harm’s way.

“Although flood insurance is an important form of financial protection for any homeowner, business owner, or renter, it is often misunderstood,” said Michelle Phillips, a flood plain specialist with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. “Most people do not know that flood damage is not covered by standard homeowners or renters insurance. Moreover, they may not realize that there is a 30-day waiting period for most flood insurance policies to take effect. Homeowners, business owners, and renters often recognize the need for flood insurance when flooding happens; at that point, it is too late for them to receive assistance from flood insurance unless they already have a policy in place."

In Missoula, the Clark Fork River’s earliest recorded peak was on April 13, 1934.  Missoula County’s Flood Plain Administrator, Todd Klietz, reminds local residents that the last significant flood event was in 2011. At that time, there were no predictions the event would be as significant as it was, and few residents were well-prepared.

Residences flooded within Missoula County from 2011.

Residents may not realize that flood insurance can assist with damage caused by surface waters from any source, as long as the damage affects at least two properties, or at least two acres of land. 

“This could include flood damage caused by a rain event, a blocked culvert, a water main break, rapid snow melt, or riverine flooding that affects a private property and a neighboring county road,” Phillips said.

Additionally, flood insurance may also be used to help cover the cost of some preventive measures taken before a flood hits. For example, when a building insured by the National Flood Insurance Program is in imminent danger of being flooded, the policy holder can be reimbursed up to $1,000 for the removal of insured belongings to a safe location and up to $1,000 for preventive measures (e.g., purchasing sand bags or pumps). Anyone considering such actions should first contact Todd Klietz on permitting requirements for sand bagging and other emergency actions.

Finally, many homeowners, business owners and renters think they are ineligible to purchase federal flood insurance when they actually are eligible to do so. Federal flood insurance is available to anyone who lives in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, not just to those in high-risk flood areas. Private flood insurance plans may also be available to those who do not wish to purchase federal flood insurance or who are ineligible to do so.

Due to warming temperatures and the 30-day waiting period associated with most flood insurance policies, homeowners, business owners, and renters worried about spring flooding should consider purchasing flood insurance as soon as possible.

For more information about flood insurance go to or visit the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance website at  


Buena Vista Community Recieves Grant to Update Sewer System

January 23, 2017

The Montana Department of Commerce has announced a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of $373,770 to Missoula County to support the development of a replacement sewer system at Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, located one mile west of the Missoula International Airport. This U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) award will be combined with Montana Department of Natural Resources and additional Missoula County funds to support the $469,885 project budget.  The new sewer system will replace an outdated wastewater system that was initially installed in the 1950s.

“The County applied for a State CDBG grant twice and the applications were rejected – not because the project was not worthy or the proposals were not good, but because there were other more pressing and urgent needs in other parts of the state,” Sindie Kennedy, Missoula County Grant Administrator said. “After the 2016 application was rejected, the State offered a ‘second opportunity’ to Missoula County to re-apply. The second opportunity resulted in an award. This successful application was due to the cooperation and assistance from two County government agencies—the Grants and Public Works Departments—as well as the nonprofit NeighborWorks Montana and, of course, the residents themselves.”

Originating as an RV park, Buena Vista gradually became permanent housing with 36 units of fulltime residents. In November 2013, with the assistance of NeighborWorks Montana, the residents organized themselves into the Buena Vista Community, Inc., purchased the property on which their homes sit and became a Resident-Owned Community (ROC).  Since, Buena Vista community members have enjoyed the pride of ownership and have worked tirelessly to improve their community.

“Through resident ownership the residents at Buena Vista gained stability in the ownership of their land and have made many improvements to their property using their own resources.” Kaia Peterson of NeighborWorks said. “The sewer will be a major and much needed improvement that would not have been possible without the support of the County and CDBG. We are thrilled that this funding is being awarded, water quality is being protected, and the community will continue to be affordable to low-income people.”

The antiquated wastewater system at Buena Vista Mobile Home Park flows to an unlined lagoon system at the bottom of a draw that once served as a tributary to La Valle Creek. The mobile homes within the park are each connected to an 8-inch main that sends the sewage into the lagoons. The lagoon system is likely leaking and discharging wastewater to groundwater. It is suspected that leakage of untreated, or inadequately treated, sewage is occurring directly into the natural drainage with eventual discharge to the Clark Fork River. Updating and improving the sewer system will mitigate the natural resource and public health and safety problems associated with the continued operation of the lagoon system. As proposed, a lift station would send the flows to an existing sewer line along nearby Training Drive. The line would then carry effluent to the main sewer line on Airport Road.
“This is a common situation where the cost of improvements is beyond the means of the affected community, but the dedicated support from Buena Vista residents to address the problem was instrumental to the pursuit of funding.” Amy Rose with Missoula County Public Works said.
Seeing a modern sanitation project come to fruition has been a high priority for the community members and Missoula County.
“Since we have taken ownership of this community, we have made many improvements,” said Terry Hauter, Buena Vista Board President. “The pride in ownership is evident. Updating our wastewater system will increase that pride because we will know our water is safer and we are not contaminating our community.” 

Fairgrounds Revamps Rental Pricing

January 20, 2017

As part of the ongoing efforts to revitalize the Missoula County Fairgrounds, staff have developed a new pricing structure to better accommodate renters of the facility. The Board of Missoula County Commissioners approved the rates during their administrative public meeting on Jan. 18, 2017. Rates are effective immediately.
“The previous rate structure was very complex and required calculating the cost of every aspect of the rental, including utilities, vendor fees, and services from our staff,” Tom Aldrich said. “These new rates should be much more attractive for current and future renters as we now have everything built into a fixed rate, making planning and budgeting much easier. We are also doing away with the vendor fees we used to take from renters. We know very well that food and beverage sales make many events possible, so we are helping to maximize the potential of every event held at the Fairgrounds.” 
 Western Montana Fairgrounds Lawn
Fairgrounds staff reviewed past years’ attendance of each space and divided the overall costs/revenues by the usage to determine a fixed rate for each structure. Rates and facilities rental information are now clearly available on the Fairgrounds’ website, including building features and usage suggestions. 
Rental revenues and the number of events hosted at the Fairgrounds continue to increase. From 2015 to 2016, the Fairgrounds experienced a 21 percent increase in rental revenues, bringing in $78,778. Additionally, more than 100 events were held across 231 rental days in 2016. This was a 23 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.
The Fairgrounds hosted an estimated total of 94,472 people in 2016, during all events. The 2016 Western Montana Fair saw 67,287 attendees, the highest in a number of years. 
Fairgrounds staff expect to see even more events at the Fairgrounds as a result of the new, and more simplified, pricing structure.

Congratulations, Jennie Dixon

Each January, Missoula County's Chief Planning Officer presents an award for outstanding public service to one of our non-management CAPS staff. Previous recipients were Jamie Erbacher and Mitch Doherty who set the bar very high. This year's recipient is Jennie Dixon, a Planner IV who has now raised the bar once again with her commitment and approach to public service.

Jennie Dixon being presented the Outstanding Public Service Award

On a daily basis Jennie demonstrates her value as a professional to other staff, elected officials, the County in general, and on a daily if not hourly basis, to the public. She is deeply committed to public service, is a tireless worker who also brings warmth to County interactions with members of the public. Jennie is an excellent and caring listener who takes whatever time is needed to help the public, elected officials and staff understand the technical and practical aspects of the County's daily business. Her commitment to her profession and the County and those she serves sets an example that all Community and Planning Office staff strive to replicate.

Please join us in congratulating Jennie on receiving the Outstanding Public Service Award for her work in 2016.

Edgar S. Paxson Paintings Reinstalled in Missoula County Courthouse


January 4, 2017


After taking a four-year leave of absence during the Missoula County Courthouse renovation project, the historic Edgar S. Paxson paintings have been framed and reinstalled in the Courthouse. The iconic paintings were removed in 2012 as one of the final preparations for the renovation project. During the time of construction, the Paxson paintings were on temporary display at the Missoula Art Museum and later moved to secure storage. Jackson Contractor Group and the Missoula Art Museum went above and beyond in their efforts to make this initiative a success our community can be proud of. A time-lapse video of the installation is above.

In addition to being reinstalled, the murals gained dark custom frames from Burnich Frame and Molding and now have appropriate lighting, thanks to Dennis Wright with Maxus Consulting Engineers PC. After renovating and repainting the historic courtroom, local painter Amanda Bielby was able to repaint decorative numerals under each painting that correspond with interpretative literature for visitors.

“At first I was headed with a Victorian design to go with architecture in the building, but after a meeting it was obvious that the design should be a tribute to the Native American influence of the paintings,” Bielby said. “I just felt lucky to be able to get my eyes so close to the paintings and take a moment to study how they may have come together.  I wondered if maybe Paxson had some of the feelings of honor and achievement  that I do being able to be a part of the history in this building,” Bielby said.

The Courthouse contains eight murals by E.S. Paxson, which were finished in 1914.  Edgar Samuel Paxson is probably best known for his painting of "Custer's Last Stand," finished in 1899. In 1906, he moved his studio to Missoula from Butte and in 1912 began a group of murals depicting early Montana history.

“I was able to work on the murals’ conservation reviews, documentation and research efforts during the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial,” Missoula Art Musuem’s Registrar, Jennifer Reifsneider said. “Reframing the Paxson murals – literally and figuratively – always makes me feel part of a unique community and proud of how we collaborate and engage with our visual and cultural histories.”

As an added and wonderful surprise, the underpaintings were uncovered during the renovation process. According to the Missoula Art Museum, the underpaintings, now hung in the north stairwell between the second and third floors of the Courthouse, depict wagon trains, an infrequent subject but in line with Paxson’s depictions of Indian trails and people in the landscape. While the draftsmanship is strong, the coloration is only blocked in, using the characteristic light, pastel colors that Paxson used as underpaint.

Paxson’s large-scale paintings depict in a grandiose manner some of the historic events that occurred in the area: Father Ravalli arriving at Fort Owen, the signing of the Hellgate Treaty, the Salish people leaving the Bitterroot Valley for the Flathead Reservation, three paintings featuring the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The paintings capture the spirit of the time, a nostalgic yearning for the bygone days of the heroic west, rendered with Paxson’s typical painstaking attention to detail of costume and accoutrement.

This is not the first time that the Missoula County Commission has invested in the murals. In 1980, Commissioners Wilfred V. Thibodeau, Barbara Evans and Joseph Boyer signed a re-dedication proclamation resolving that the week of April 21 – 25 would be observed as E.S. Paxson week, and April 25, Paxson’s birthday, would be recognized as Paxson Painting Appreciation and Dedication Day. A copy of the resolution is attached with this email.

More information about each of the eight depictions and Paxson’s biographical account from the Missoula Art Museum is included.

We encourage members of the media and the public to visit the Courthouse to view the installation.