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On a cold Helena morning, sometimes there’s nothing better than reading the paper with a Tall House Special brewed by the cup at the historic General Mercantile downtown.

We love everything about the Merc’s rustic, western look and feel. We have a particular appreciation for all of the unique gag gifts available there, such as the bacon-flavored mints, gum and Pop Rocks that made an appearance in the Independent Record’s annual Secret Santa gift exchange last year.

Our children love it too. For the young and the young at heart, there’s something special about feeding the Japanese koi in the Merc’s fish pond or climbing up the ladder to the playhouse loft with a pack of candy Bottle Caps, Razzles or gummy bugs in hand.

And even though Ray Domer is no longer at the helm of the store he opened nearly 46 years ago, it appears his legacy will continue for many more generations to enjoy.

An important member of the Merc team for the last 13 years, Lindsay Barnes and her husband Aaron Lamphear took ownership of the business in November as Domer battles Lewy Body Dementia. And they plan to keep the store's drinks, atmosphere, feel and friendliness in place.

We want to take this opportunity to thank Domer for what he has created in Helena – and the new owners for continuing the great work he started.

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Without even looking outside, it’s easy to tell when snow is falling in Helena just by listening to our police scanner.

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A rollover on Interstate 15. A crash on Highway 12. Cars sliding off the road throughout the Helena Valley.

These were among about a dozen Helena-area crashes that erupted over the scanner during Tuesday’s snowstorm alone. While none of them resulted in life-threatening injuries, any one of them easily could have.

We certainly recognize that some accidents are unavoidable, but we want to remind everyone to take it easy on the roads when conditions get difficult.

This winter has already been much snowier than the last one in the Helena area. And we still have a lot of winter to go.

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