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In its own words, the mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is to “support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.”

And we are glad to see that FEMA officials are now acknowledging that “all hazards” includes the largest active wildfire in the country: A 270,000-acre fire burning in a mixture of private, state and federal land in eastern Montana. A fire that has destroyed at least 16 homes and several ranches so far. A fire that nearly 600 men and women from around the country are putting their lives on the line to battle every day.

After initially rejecting the state’s request on Sunday, FEMA officials announced Thursday that a grant that will allow Montana to recover 75 percent of its costs to fight the Lodgepole Complex fires will be awarded after all.

And all it took to get them to change their mind was an official appeal from the state and personal appeals from all three members of Montana’s congressional delegation.

We are proud of our state’s elected officials for defending the people of Montana and demanding that the federal government do the same.


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As several Helena-area residents learned this week, a summons to appear for jury duty is not just a suggestion.

After a number of people who were mailed a summons failed to report for duty, a district judge ordered local officers to drop everything they were doing to make sure the potential jurors were in court later the same day. If anyone refused to appear, the officers were ordered to “detain and deliver such person to the Lewis and (Clark) County Courthouse, Second Floor.”

Granted, some of the people who were mailed a notice are dead, and some have moved away. But at least six of them received the notice and still weren’t planning to appear until the police showed up at their front door.

We understand the challenges of jury duty as much as anyone, but it’s not something you can just decide not to do.

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the accused the right to a jury trial. And jury duty is the price we all must pay to provide that.