Floyd Quiram, MLA President
This is May 2020 and normally this issue of the Montana Logger would be dedicated to another successful MLA Annual Membership meeting that was to be held in Butte. We would be sharing photos of cheerful attendees, great speakers, a few award winners… some honors, some not so much. But as you’ve all heard a million times over the past few months, “nothing right now is normal.”
I don’t know about everyone else, but my life has not really been impacted dramatically by the pandemic. Yes, like most people, we’ve had to reschedule and cancel meetings and trips and going to the grocery store seems like a trip into a futuristic world that is like something out of a bad movie. But, living in rural Montana affords us the opportunity to be outside and active. We can be “socially distant” and still visit with our family, friends and neighbors, just in a different way.
Sandy and I have noticed so many positive things that seem to be happening around us, we feel very blessed to live and work in an industry and a state where folks are supportive of one another. Folks seem a little kinder and more respectful, and even though they may be wearing a mask, I believe there is a smile on their face when they pass me in the store.
Our grandkids are being “home schooled” and we see the struggle for their parents to juggle working from home and educating their children. We also see the positive benefits of families brought together cooking more meals at home, playing board games, family bike rides, hiking, fishing and just spending time as a family unit. That can’t be all bad!
Our industry as a whole seems to have gained new respect as somehow a struggle to find toilet paper has brought attention to where many basic products, that folks take for granted, actually come from!
On a much more serious note, I’m deeply saddened by the recent loss, last week, of long time MLA board member, Jerry Okonski. “Jerry O” as most of us know him lived and worked in the Libby area as well as the Flathead Valley. Sandy and I have known Jerry and his wife MaryAnn for, let’s just say, a LONG TIME. We used to refer to Jerry and Jack Jay as the “mad scientist” they were quite the pair and always had something brewing. Jerry loved working in the woods and sharing his knowledge of forestry with those around him. Jerry leaves behind his wife MaryAnn, three lovely daughters and their families. Keep your thoughts and prayers with this family. Services are pending.
Finally, please take heed to the article by Nick Smith on page 4. Primary elections in Montana are June 2. The general election this year is as big as they get for Montana, but we first need to get the right people on the ballot. Remind your crews and family members too, this is our opportunity to have our voices heard.
We wish you all health, safety and happiness as we carry on and get back to the woods!