By JUSTIN WOODBURN
Look out Missoula County, there’s a new gang in town.
Residents in four communities in Western Missoula County voted overwhelmingly to band together to create the West Valley Community Council Tuesday night.
That means Frenchtown, Huson, the Six Mile, and the Nine Mile areas will have a local center for public input and discourse and speak with a single voice on issues before the county commissioners.
With all five precincts reporting Tuesday night, the West Valley Community Council passed by a margin of 70 percent, 1,357 for and 587 against.
“I’m really pleased that the voters in the outlying areas of the county decided to let their voices be heard,” said Frenchtown resident Ray Winn. “The urban areas of Missoula have had too much influence on the rural people.”
The new council will have five members, one from each precinct on the new council. Interested individuals need to sign up at the courthouse. The county commissioners will choose the first council from the pool of applicants. This temporary council will serve until a permanent council is elected in the May school board election.
Winn said there wasn’t a great deal of campaigning for the initiative because he saw it as a “Can’t lose” proposition because it didn’t tax people or change a law. He suspects that the people who voted “No” were tired of big government and regulation and didn’t even read the ballot.
Stan Lucier, also a Frenchtown resident, suspects that opponents live in the hills of the upper Nine Mile.
“My wife calls ‘em Montuckiens,” Lucier said. “They don’t want to be messed with or bothered and they vote ‘No’ on everything.”
Whatever the case, supporters of the measure will be looking to voice their concerns on issues like road conditions. Lucier feels that it’s important to start by establishing Frenchtown as a city. Reviewing the sewer and water planning for the area and zoning in general will determine the valley’s appearance years from now. Another concern is the expensive requirements being imposed on people who build houses in the area.
“The first year is going be about communicating what they’re (the council) there for and how they can help,” Lucier said.