Tester visits Missoula to talk about job creation


by Allyson Weller

MISSOULA – People from across Western Montana packed the Missoula Public Library on Monday to take part in a forum that focused on creating jobs in Western Montana.

Missoula Mayor John Engen spoke about the rough winter residents faced, with the closures of Smurfit-Stone and the iconic department store Macy's. But he added that a change in seasons brought new construction and more jobs to the area.

"For the City of Missoula proper, we've put millions of dollars on the ground developing and constructing infrastructure projects that otherwise would not have gotten built. They would be on a list for a long period of time waiting for funds to make something happen," Engen explained.

Montana Senator Jon Tester was among those attending the meeting and he stressed the importance of the federal stimulus dollars that created jobs and helped keep people working.

"We were on the edge of financial meltdown September 2008, we were on the cusp of bad bad things happening, we're not out of the woods yet we still have a ways to go but I think the Recovery Act was a step in the right direction," Tester commented.

The forum got heated when a Libby resident got up to speak about the state of Libby. The man was upset that Libby is being advertised as "safe".

"Libby quite possibly is the most beautiful place in the lower 48, for those folks to be put through what W.R. Grace has put them through, absolutely inexcusable, we're going to do everything we can to help meet their needs and we're working hard on it everyday," responded Tester.

The Democrat told us that he is working with the Environmental Protection Agency to make ensure that when a decision is made by the federal government that Libby is "clean", that it actually is.

Tester says public forums, like the one held Monday, are a great way to hear from local residents and get ideas to bring back to Washington, DC.