Editorial: Stevensville ammo business deserves better treatment

Ravalli Republic

by Editorial

Here in the Bitterroot Valley, we are not privy to either military intelligence reports or the latest nuances of U.S. foreign policy.

But we do know how folks ought to treat one another: with respect and honesty.

So we are more than a little rankled by the treatment one Stevensville business has received from the U.S. State Department over the past 16 months.

It's just plain discourteous. It's not the way we do business here in the valley, and not the way our federal government should do business with its citizens.

On Nov. 2, 2009, HS Munitions of Stevensville applied for an export license to fill an $821,500 order from the nation of Georgia's Ministry of Defense. That application went to Washington, D.C., to the State Department.

And there it sits, 16 months later.

Despite their inquiries, and now those of Montana Sen. Jon Tester, the State Department has not communicated with HS Munitions even once to update company officials on the application's status.

Now, as we said, we are not qualified to judge anything about the nation of Georgia, its military needs, or the advisability of businesses in this country supplying ammunition to the Georgian Defense Ministry.

Those are legitimately and necessarily questions to be answered by the State Department.

But this we do know: It's high time for those questions to be answered.

After 16 months, HS Munitions deserves immediate action on its request for an export license. Yes or no. Then the company can move head, either by filling the order for the nation of Georgia or by seeking and accepting other contracts.

Without a decision, it is very difficult for the company – a small business that employs 38 people – to move forward.

And that's wrong. And discourteous. And completely unnecessary, given the time that has passed.