An update from Senator Fielder

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Sen. Jennifer Fielder

Tragedy and Public Service: When tragedy struck the Legard family of Plains this past weekend, many hearts were broken, including my own. In the face of losing his dear wife and two grandchildren, Pat managed to speak only of goodness. He told me, “Despite all that has happened, I am blessed.”

Through the tears, Pat and his sons asked me to convey how grateful they were for the incredible sensitivity and high level of competence exemplified by Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel, his wife Shelley, and the Search & Rescue crews from Sanders and Flathead Counties. Good people, every one of them. We are fortunate to have such caring, capable people working and volunteering in local public service.

The Legard family asked that those wishing to make a memorial contribution consider donating to Sanders County Search and Rescue or any 4H program.

When tragedy hits our small communities, it hits us hard. Let’s not wait for heartbreak to strike before we tell the good folks around us how much we appreciate them. Whether you work in public or private service, volunteer, or just interact with folks, I sure appreciate all of you who treat fellow citizens with respect and kindness. We have endured so many losses this past year. Let this be a reminder not to take each other for granted.

Water Rights Debate Continues: There will be a Water Rights Town Hall Meeting from 7pm to 9pm Monday June 24th at the Rex Theater in Thompson Falls. I will be on hand to hear information presented by Concerned Citizens of Western Montana and will answer questions about the status of related water rights legislation.

If approved as written, the CSKT Federal Reserved Water Rights Compact could have far reaching effects on much of the private property throughout western Montana. Irrigators in the Jocko, Camas, and Mission Irrigation Districts recently elected several new board members who are opposed to the Compact. The unseating of incumbents reflects irrigators’ growing dissatisfaction with the compact and the elected officials who supported it.

It is difficult to say where this issue is headed. The legislature refused to ratify the proposed compact in 2013 due primarily to strong public objections. The Governor and CSKT tribal representatives are adamant the agreement be approved as is. The may try to force the legislature into a special session to do it. I will attempt to utilize my time on the Legislative Water Policy Interim Committee (WPIC) to look for acceptable solutions.

A Good Place: “As I lay down in my bed knowing there was a wild elk standing within fifty feet of where I was laying, it made all of the hard work, sacrifice and long days and nights away from home all worth it. While on our recent trip to our grandson’s graduation, looking at all of the ghettos in the big towns we drove across, I told Bev, “You know Bev, we have a pretty darn good life back there.”

When I received this message from a constituent the other day, I could totally relate. It reminded me how blessed WE are to live here in NW Montana. Despite the very difficult losses we endure as families and communities, our occasional political differences, and all that seems wrong in the world -- let’s do our best to be respectful of one another and be grateful for our blessings.

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