Trinity Apartment Homes and Navigation Center Mullan site breaks ground

Missoula County Commissioners Dave Strohmaier and Juanita Vero joined community partners Thursday afternoon to break ground on the Trinity Apartment Homes and Navigation Center Mullan site.

The Trinity Project is a collaboration between Homeword, the Missoula Housing Authority and BlueLine Development. This 202-home project was envisioned in 2019, in response to widespread community need for homes all people can afford. The homes will be located on two sites in Missoula, one on Mullan Road and the other on Cooley Street.

“Wow, that I get to stand here today, and earth has actually been moved and we get to have folks move in, in a couple of years just means so much,” Commissioner Vero said.  “Because we all know that this community is stronger when folks don’t have to spend more than 30% of their income on finding and staying in safe, healthy homes.”

Commissioners Dave Strohmaier and Juanita Vero

Missoula County contributed the land for the Mullan site, which is located at the corner of Broadway and Mullan Road near the Missoula County Detention Facility. It will provide low-threshold homes that people can afford, which means people will be accepted as they are and be provided a safe, supportive environment. The Mullan site will have a total of 130 homes, 30 of which will be supportive housing targeted for Missoula’s long-term unhoused neighbors. The remaining 100 homes will be for individuals and families living below 70% of the area median income, which is below $41,000 a year for a family of two.

The Mullan Road project will also include an on-site navigation center that provides intensive supportive services. Navigation centers are a best practice in serving people living unsheltered or in encampments. These centers are a proven way to get people off the street and on a pathway to a safe, healthy home and stability. It’s a critical component of Missoula’s Homelessness Crisis Response System.

Seventy-two homes will be located on the Cooley Street block that was previously Skyview Trailer Park. Homeword has already secured that land. The Cooley site is zoned appropriately for the apartments that will be built for families and Missoula’s workforce.

No local tax dollars are used to fund the construction of the project. This project will be a tax-exempt bond-financed deal, using 4% low-income housing tax credits. The City of Missoula operates as a pass-through entity for the tax credits and bonds, so developers can borrow less money during construction. Savings are passed on to individuals and families as lower rents. The city’s Office of Housing and Community Development also allocated $806,000 from the federal HOME investment partnerships program to fund the project.

Additional information about the project is available on the websites listed below.

homeword.org/trinity

engagemissoula.com/trinity-housing

missoula.co/updates

Missoula County Offices Reopened to Public June 1 with Guidelines in Place

cropped-missoula_county_courthouse1.jpg

All Missoula County offices reopened to the public on Tuesday, June 1, with the following guidelines in place:  

  • Masks are no longer required of employees, public or clients within county buildings. It is strongly recommended for individuals who have not had the opportunity to or cannot be vaccinated continue wearing masks in public buildings, and the county will continue to have signage encouraging the wearing of masks inside all county facilities. 
  • No individual inquiries as to vaccination status are permitted. Please note that some departments may continue requiring masks in certain areas, such as the detention facility or in clinical settings within the health department and Partnership Health Center. 
  • Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who knows they were exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 is asked not to enter county buildingsPeople experiencing symptoms can call 406-258-INFO (4636) or their primary care provider to be screened for possible COVID-19 testing. 
  • To minimize foot traffic in county buildings, visitors are asked to limit bringing family and friends with them, unless they are needed for the intent of the visit. Social distancing will be practiced in county buildings, staff and visitors must be cautious of their surroundings and make every effort to remain at least 6 feet apart. Hand sanitizer will be provided at building entrances and visitors will be encouraged to use it.
  • Virtual services may still be offered in certain departments. It is recommended for visitors to contact the department for operation details. A county directory is available online at www.missoulacounty.us/directory or by calling 406-721-5700.

Reopening information for public-facing Missoula County departments is listed below.

Clerk and Treasurer’s Office, Missoula County Courthouse First Floor, 200 W. Broadway

  • Open, in-person, to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 
  • Capacity: 10 people in the lobby, five at the windows in Treasurer’s Office 
  • Appointments are still not allowed, and people are still encouraged to go online to the Clerk and Treasurer’s site for services like motor vehicle registration, renewals and transfers, property tax payments or changes and requests for birth certificates and other records. If you show up in person, you will still get an email or text when they are about 15 minutes away from serving you.  

Clerk of Court’s Office, Courthouse Second Floor

  • Open, in-person, to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
  • Capacity
    • Customer Service Area: three
    • Public Search Area: one
  • Appointments are preferred, but walkups are accepted. Appointments are required for marriage licenses (use the online marriage application here). The wait time for visitors without an appointment may be longer based upon recommended occupancy levels and as they serve visitors with an appointment. To schedule an appointment, call 406-258-4780 or email clerkofcourt@missoulacounty.us. The office recommends no more than one person to attend an appointment but will make accommodations as needed. Visitors with an appointment should enter the line on the right outside the office, while those without an appointment should enter the line on the left.  
  • Self-representing litigants (those without an attorney to represent them) are encouraged to submit paperwork by email (clerkofcourt@missoulacounty.us), fax (406-258-4899), mail (Clerk of Court, 200 W. Broadway, Missoula, MT 59802) or drop box (black drop box is located outside the Clerk of Court office door. Blue drop box is located next to the sidewalk on the west side of the courthouse off Woody). The regular fee for email/fax filings will be waived. You can also schedule an appointment. 

Commissioners’ Office, 199 W. Pine St.

  • Open, in-person, to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 
  • Capacity 
    • Commissioners’ lobby: three 
    • Sophie Moiese Room: 30 in audience, five up front 
    • Admin 206 Conference Room: four 
    • Admin B14 Conference Room: 10 
  • New doors have been installed on the first floor of the administration building that require keycard entry for security purposes. These will be locked unless the receptionist buzzes you in. 
  • Most commissioner meetings starting mid-June will be hybrid (both on Microsoft Teams and in person) and will take place in the Sophie Moiese room of the courthouse, as opposed to the Admin 206 conference room. 

Community and Planning Services, 127 E. Main St.

  • Open, in-person, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 
    • Land use information desk anticipated to open the week of June 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
  • Construction will be taking place for the next four to six weeks, so many staff will continue to work remotely.  

County Attorney’s Office, Courthouse Fourth Floor

  • Open, in-person, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 

Crime Victim Advocate Program, 317 Woody St.

  • Open, in-person, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday 
  • Appointments are preferred, but not required 
  • Services are still offered remotely as well as in-person. Advocates are able to meet with clients and provide accompaniment to court; however, they are also able to provide many services over the phone. 
  • Paperwork for people to file an Order of Protection is available for self-serve on the Crime Victim Advocate front porch at 317 Woody St.  
  • For general information, visit www.missoulacounty/cva

District Court, Courthouse Second and Third Floors

  • District Court, which is a function of the state, will begin conducting in-person hearings throughout June. Those with questions should contact their attorney or the courts for additional information.

Elections Center, 140 N. Russell St.

  • Open, in-person, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 
  • Construction is taking place in the parking lot for the next little while. To allow for safe access, staff will provide all voter and candidate services in the Election Center warehouse on the east side of the complex, which will be open to pedestrian access only. Street parking will be available, as will a handful of spots in the adjacent Western Montana Mental Health Center parking lot. 

Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, 3400 Captain Rawn Way

  • Open, in-person, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday 
  • Capacity: 10 visitors in the main museum building 
  • Respectfully ask that people follow the arrows through the galleries. 

Justice Court, Courthouse, First Floor

  • Open, in-person, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
  • Courtroom requires masks for all who have not been fully vaccinated by order of the Judges.
  • Still operating by Zoom hearings for initial appearances and law and motion, but people can be in person if they wish.
  • Bench trials for civil and criminal and temporary orders of protection (TOPs) are fully in-person.
  • Jury trials will be held if necessary.
  • Weddings can be held in the courtrooms with no capacity limit, but masks are required if needed by order of the Judges. Outdoor weddings are also an option to not have masks.

Missoula County Fairgrounds, 1101 South Ave. W. 

  • Open, in-person, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
  • Construction is taking place, and bathrooms will not be available for the week of June 1, and walls will be in process of being painted. Starting June 7, construction will settle and services will be more accessible.  

Public Works, 6089 Training Drive

  • Open, in-person, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Training Drive office.
  • Seeley Lake Refuse District Office (located at 1708 Woodworth in Seeley Lake) will open Thursday, July 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for building permits. 
  • Capacity: two customers in the Public Works lobby 
  • Changes to the schedule and restrictions may occur. 
  • Email mcpw@missoulacounty.us or call (406) 258-4753 with any inquiries. 

Sheriff’s Office, Courthouse Second Floor 

  • Open, in-person, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 
  • New concealed carry weapons permit applications and fingerprinting will be offered by appointment from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Appointments can be made by calling (406) 258-4810.
  • For Civil Process, please call (406) 258-4802 

The Detention Facility at 2340 Mullan Rd. is also reopening to the public. 

  • Reception will request that all visitors wear masks while in the facility. 
  • Four inmates will be allowed in each visitation room at one time. 
  • Visitors will be limited to three per inmate. 
  • An inmate’s eligibility for on-site visiting is dependent on their current housing assignment.  
  • It is the inmate’s responsibility to convey their availability to visitors for video visits. Video visitation can be scheduled online at icsolutions.com.   
  • There will be two kiosks available to visitors for on-site video visitation.
  • Visitors may deposit cash or make a debit/credit card deposit on the kiosk in the lobby. If they wish to avoid the fee while depositing cash, or if they have a cashier’s check/money order that they would like to deposit, there are envelopes and a safe next to the kiosk in the lobby that they may utilize. Funds will not be added to the inmate account until the end of the next business day. Visitors may still mail funds directly to the facility or make an electronic deposit with their debit/credit card online by visiting www.jailfunds.comMoney orders and cashier’s checks have a limit of $200.00. The inmate’s name, sender’s name and address as well as all appropriate fields must be completed. If all relevant information is not included, the money order or cashier’s check will be returned to sender. Funds can be mailed with the inmate’s name to 2340 Mullan Road – Missoula, MT  59808. Please address the envelope with sender’s return name and address. 
  • Inmates will receive mail Monday through Friday. Mail that is delivered on Saturday will be received on Monday evening. 

 Superintendent of Schools, 438 W. Spruce St. 

  • Open, in-person, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, often closed for lunch if both staff are offsite.  

Weed District and Extension Office, 2825 Santa Fe Court 

  • Open, in-person, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday 
  • Capacity 
    • Lobby by front desk: two
    • Small meeting room: four
    • Large meeting room: 13 
  • The Plant Clinic, 4-H Youth Development and Family Consumer Sciences are in the office full-time. Field season has started for the Weed District, so staff may not be in the office when you drop by. Make sure to call ahead or schedule an appointment with those at the Weed District office at (406) 258-4200. 

2021 State of the Community: Missoula Renewed

April 12, 2021, City Club Missoula Video

Commissioner David Strohmaier

As some of you have heard me say before, and are probably sick of hearing me say it, whether you live in the city of Missoula or live outside the city limits, we are all residents of Missoula County—all 2,600 square miles of it. And as we think about the future, let’s never forget that the cultural landscape of our county extends back in time to the receding waters of glacial lake Missoula.

Put a pin in that.

This past year has challenged our community in really profound ways that none of us saw coming. Many of us grew up hearing stories from parents or grandparents of living through the Great Depression or World War II, of rationing and collective sacrifice. And while we’ve experienced moments of national trauma since then, many of those experiences have been from the comfort of armchairs, lacking the visceral, shared experience of the pandemic we’re still in. We’ve all lived it and breathed it.

Over the past year, we’ve borne witness to injustice and inequity in our society—even right here in Missoula County. We’ve been separated from loved ones in assisted living facilities, in some cases unable to hold their hands until the light has nearly departed from their eyes. None of us—and I repeat NONE OF US—have gone unscathed.

COVID-19 in Missoula County has brought out the best of folks; it’s also, regrettably, brought out some of the absolute worst, and there is no way to sugar coat that. As difficult as it is, we’ve got to hold both of these realities simultaneously. We absolutely must root out the callousness, indifference, bigotry and hate—personal and systemic—in our community. But let’s also recognize and celebrate the selflessness, beauty and generosity of so many. All in recognition that life is a fragile gift and that we have a choice to embrace life, and do so in a spirit of abundance rather than scarcity.

I believe the state of our community is strong, but it is oh so fragile.

Through it all, I remain optimistic, and am forever grateful to everyone in our community who’s stepped up during this past year to care for one another. It’s been an absolute joy (and, I might add, a hell of a lot of fun) working with Commissioners Slotnick and Vero, whose energy and optimism and creativity is a daily inspiration to me. To date, Missoula County has spent upwards of $20 million addressing the pandemic and associated impacts. Thanks to our Finance Department, and many others, we’ve navigated the federal requirements of the CARES Act and FEMA to cover these costs and avoid retrenchment or local taxpayers covering the financial burden.

My thanks go out to the entire Missoula County team in responding to the pandemic: the Office of Emergency Management, City-County Health Department, Partnership Health Center and first responders who have conducted contact tracing, testing and, now, vaccinations. The same could be said for all our community partners, from hospitals to non-profits to businesses to faith communities. And lest we fail to learn from this experience, we’ve worked with the University of Montana and Historical Museum at Fort Missoula and others to launch the Missoula County COVID-19 Documentation Project so that future generations understand our response to the pandemic.

Our 11 independently elected county officials, and their departments, have really pushed the envelope of creativity during this past year, from our Missoula County Attorney Office’s pretrial diversion program to our Missoula County Treasurer’s Office iSAM and Map Missoula electronic tools. Our IT staff supported remote work for upwards of a thousand users. And the list goes on. We even pulled off a major federal election during these unprecedented circumstances.

Faced with the reality that traditional shelters couldn’t operate at full capacity, we’re proud to have partnered with the United Way and Hope Rescue Mission to stand up the Temporary Safe Outdoor Space, a success story that many thought was impossible. Housing remains an acute challenge for our community, which is why we’ve hired a housing coordinator and initiated the process to develop a housing plan for the county.

Our planning and grants staff have been doing double duty, pivoting from their pre-COVID work plan to spin up an emergency rental assistance program, relief fund, and small business job retention fund.

And then there’s the Sx͏ʷtpqyen Neighborhoods Master Plan and BUILD grant implementation, updating our zoning code, launching a Food Policy Advisory Board, planning for the future of our parks and open space, and figuring out how to coexist with fire on the landscape. Climate change has not abated, and neither has our commitment to mitigate and adapt to this global crisis through our 100% clean electricity goal, the Climate Ready Missoula Plan, and solarizing county facilities.

Because we didn’t just hit the pause button during the pandemic, we’re now ready to hit the accelerator as we round this bend. I can’t wait to see you at our rejuvenated fairgrounds this summer, the groundbreaking of the Rocky Mountain Exploration Center (where rumor has it, Jerry Marks will begin his second 50-year tour of duty with Missoula County!), and the opening of our flagship public library.

Finally, we believe that at least part of the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel might very well be . . . you guessed it . . . a passenger train! Last year, Missoula County spearheaded an effort to establish the first passenger rail authority in state history, which came to fruition in November when 12 counties, from Sanders to Wibaux, executed a joint resolution to establish the Authority. The bigger story, I believe, extends beyond rail: namely, it’s still possible to bridge the urban-rural, east-west, red-blue, and ideological divides that have split this state and nation apart.

Back to that thing I put a pin in earlier. Justice, equity, diversity and inclusion must be at the center of everything we do in this county, yet it’s an aspiration we have yet to fully realize. We’ve created a new Community Justice Department, and I’m excited to say that earlier this year we hired our first diversity coordinator, Jamar Galbreath. With the help of our county auditor, we’re reevaluating how even bone-dry procurement policies can be enlivened to address equity.

Before I wrap up, I’d like to share a short video (below), focusing on our strong collaboration with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and remembering that this place has a rich and deep heritage that carries into the future.

In the spirit of gratitude and thanks, I want to recognize the many years of service that Ellen Leahy has provided to the City-County Health Department, and welcome D’Shane Barnett as he assumes the health director role shortly.

The challenge before us, is what have learned? What will we remember? And how can we become more resilient and caring as a community?

Missoula County recognizes the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, remembering that this place has a rich and deep heritage that carries into the future.

Commissioner Dave Strohmaier presented at the April 11, 2021, State of the Community: Missoula Renewed, with City of Missoula Mayor John Engen and University of Montana President Seth Bodnar. Each year, City Club Missoula hosts the State of the Community, an up-close look at three major institutions that shape our community: the city, the county and the University of Montana. The full video is available on the City Club of Missoula’s website.

Missoula County Recognizes Place Names, Mullan Area and the Higgins Avenue Bridge

Horses graze in a field in the Sx͏ʷtpqyen area.

Missoula County and the City of Missoula acknowledge Missoula County is the homeland and aboriginal territories of the Salish and Kalispel people.

In recent years, we’ve made efforts to recognize and bring awareness to the history ingrained deep within Missoula County, memorializing past traditions, leaders and events that laid the foundational components of life as we know it today. This authentic honoring of an established friendship reconciling the impact of settler colonialism and elevating contemporary collaboration between Missoula County and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT), is intended to inspire a lifelong relationship of respectful partnership.  

Missoula is expanding and developing, which presents an opportunity to recognize place names and honor the deep cultural landscape of this place. Two central projects are under construction: the Mullan Area and the bridge on Higgins Avenue. Led by Commissioner Dave Strohmaier, Missoula County met with the CSKT leadership and asked if they would be willing to provide appropriate place names for the locations being repaired and developed.  

After much research and thoughtful review, the Séliš-Ql̓ispé Culture Committee submitted Sx͏ʷtpqyen (pronounced S-wh-tip-KAYN) as a place name for the Mullan Area development. Missoula County has been working with the City of Missoula on a joint master plan and form-based code to promote consistent and orderly development in this area. The result of this effort is the Sx͏ʷtpqyen Neighborhoods Master Plan and Traditional Neighborhood Development Form Based Code. A $13 million federal BUILD grant, secured in 2019, incentivized development of this cherished area, located on the western edge of the city limits, between Mullan Road and West Broadway, west of Reserve Street and east of the Missoula International Airport, which will help fund expansion and improve connectivity throughout Missoula.

Sx͏ʷtpqyen means a Place Where Something is Cut Off and Comes to a Point. “The area is located amid a rich cultural landscape for the Séliš and Ql̓ispé people,” the Culture Committee shared in their renaming proposal. “Before its recent transformation, most of the Missoula Valley was open prairie, rich in Speƛ̓m (bitterroots), and other food and medicinal plants, and maintained with the careful, regular application of fire by tribal people. The Missoula Valley as a whole was the most important and abundant bitterroot digging grounds in all the Séliš and Ql̓ispé people’s territories. This sacred plant is honored each year in the bitterroot ceremony, when tribal people gather to welcome the return of the ‘visitor’ — to pray for its well-being and abundance, and to express their gratitude for speƛ̓m and all the other plants that they will harvest through the coming months.” 

“Looking south of the planning area one can see a line of trees in the distance along the north side of Nmesulétk͏ʷ (the “middle” Clark Fork River). Prior to development, this riparian forest stood in sharp contrast to the surrounding grasslands. It was wedge-shaped, wider in the west and gradually tapering to a point in the east, somewhere in the vicinity of present-day Reserve Street.”

Four miles across the Missoula Valley, traffic is moving a bit slower through downtown as the bridge crossing the Clark Fork River on Higgins Avenue is under complete reconstruction. Missoula County and the City of Missoula recognized this reconstruction project as a meaningful time to name the bridge.

The Cultural Committee shared Beartracks Bridge as the appropriate name to honor the agonizing journey the Salish experienced as they crossed the river on their journey to the Jocko Valley after being exiled from their home in the Bitterroot Valley. The name honors “both the Vanderburg family and the Salish people as a whole,” as stated in the committee’s proposal.

“Beartracks is a name steeped in Salish history and culture,” the proposal states. “It is also of direct relevance to the site of the bridge itself, which figured prominently in one of the saddest episodes in our history – what is often called the Salish ‘Trail of Tears.’ In October 1891, the U.S. government forced some 300 Salish people to leave our Bitterroot Valley homeland and move north to the Flathead Reservation. To this day, that time is remembered with a deep sense of grief by our elders.”

During this arduous journey, Chief Charlo delegated sub-chief Louis Vanderburg, married to Mary Beartrack, to lead a group of the Salish tribe across the Clark Fork River, near or at the location of where Higgins Avenue now crosses. The name Beartracks Bridge was suggested as a tribute to the Vanderburg-Beartracks family legacy.

The Vanderburg-Beartracks family have continued to be prominent leaders, and their influence is respected by many. As shared by the Cultural Committee, “Louis’s son, Čicnmtú (Passing Someone on the Trail — Victor Vanderburg), was a prominent leader among the Salish who served on numerous delegations to Washington- D.C. under head chief Martin Charlo. In later life, Victor was married to prominent Salish cultural leader Čɫx͏ʷm̓x͏ʷm̓šn̓á (Sophie Moiese) for whom the Missoula County Commissioners named the public hearing room in the Missoula County Courthouse in 2018.”

Missoula County would like to thank the CSKT Tribal Council and the Séliš-Ql̓ispé Culture Committee for their in-depth research and thoughtful selection of place names for these treasured landmarks in the Missoula Valley. The county recognizes Missoula is the homeland of the Confederated, Salish and Kootenai Tribes and will continue to acknowledge it as such.

To learn about ways Missoula County and CSKT are shaping tomorrow together, visit the links below:

Agencies to Host Listening Session on Temporary Safe Outdoor Space

The local agencies and organizations that have partnered to stand up Missoula’s Temporary Safe Outdoor Space will hold a listening session this week to share how the project is going and to answer questions and address any concerns from community members.

The virtual forum will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, via Microsoft Teams. Members of the public and news media can join the session using the following information:

Microsoft Teams meeting
Click here to join the meeting on your computer or mobile app
Or call in (audio only) +1 406-272-4824
Phone Conference ID: 940 454 833#

The listening session will feature Susan Hay Patrick, CEO of United Way of Missoula County; Eric Legvold, director of impact at United Way; Jim Hicks, executive director of Hope Rescue Mission; and April Seat, the Mission’s director of outreach. County officials, including the three commissioners, will also attend the forum and answer questions as needed.

The TSOS is a safe, healthy, secure area on private land, staffed 24/7, that is currently supporting 24 unsheltered people during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is being offered during the public health emergency because no local providers of food, shelter or services are able to operate at full capacity. It is a project of United Way and Hope Rescue Mission with logistical support through Missoula County.

Since the space opened in mid-December on private land just south of Missoula, staff have already helped TSOS residents connect to regular case management services; acquire identification documents, such as photo IDs and birth certificates, that are often needed to secure housing and employment; and obtain employment, housing or housing vouchers. Officials will provide more details on TSOS operations during the listening session.

The costs to set up the temporary space are being reimbursed through federal CARES Act money, so no local taxpayer dollars are involved. United Way and Hope Rescue Mission continue to seek additional funding to sustain the site through the end of the county’s emergency declaration adopted last March in response to the pandemic. An FAQ about the project can be found online at missoula.co/tsos.