Opening lines of communication

J.P. Plutt
Wednesday, April 15, 2020


This week, I am introducing a new feature on this page to keep our readers informed on the actions, rationale, impacts and repercussions resulting from decisions made on the local level in the battle to protect public health against COVID-19. The feature is called the Local Leader Opinion Series, and will give our decision makers the opportunity to address the community in their own words about the decisions they’ve made to help the area through the pandemic. Just talk to the folks is what I ask.

The first installment above has been penned by University of Montana Western Chancellor Beth Weatherby. Western was the first of our local institutions to be directly impacted by the coronavirus situation. The university hosted the Montana Board of Regents and shortly after the meetings on March 4-6, two attendees, including Montana Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian, tested positive for COVID-19.

The repercussions were immediate. Numerous members of the campus community entered into a 14-day self-quarantine to limit the potential spread of the virus. Soon, all campus events were canceled, classes were moved on-line, dorms were closed, Youth ChalleNGe was vacated and the vibrant campus became sadly quiet. The most recent devastating decision was to hold a virtual graduation for all the students who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to attain their goal of a college diploma.

Thank you Chancellor Weatherby for stepping up and talking to the folks.

For you folks going online to check out breaking news at, as the headline streams across the top of the page, click on the headline. When you do that, it opens to the related story.