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This year alone, U.S. flags in Montana have been ordered at half-staff in honor of Memorial Day, Peace Officers Memorial Day, former U.S. Rep. John Dingell of Michigan and the victims of the Virginia Beach shooting.

That may not be much trouble for those flying small flags outside their homes or businesses. But it is a lot of work for those who care for the 50-by-30-foot banner at Helena’s Old Glory Landmark, an up to 78-pound wind sail that is raised and lowered by a mechanized winch system specially designed to wrap a 5/32-inch cable, located at Centennial Park on N. Last Chance Gulch.

For four years, Herschel Mays and his son Adam spent many early mornings and late nights faithfully raising and lowering the flag in accordance with every government proclamation. On Memorial Day weekend they relinquished the role to Josh Clement and his son Teagen, who said they are honored to take on the responsibility.

In honor of Flag Day, we want to recognize these dedicated volunteers and the many other Helena individuals and businesses who have made the Old Glory Landmark the Helena icon it is.

Patriotism is alive and well in Helena, and everyone can see that thanks to the Old Glory Landmark's sponsors and caretakers.

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Montana’s rural communities stand to benefit most from a state job creation grant program that started in 2005, but that can’t happen unless rural employers apply.

According to a recent analysis by the Montana Free Press, rural counties have received only 16% of the $26 million in Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund grants awarded over the program’s history.

The Montana Department of Commerce, which administers the program, is not favoring cities. Unfortunately, the department just isn’t receiving many applications from rural areas.

Even though the number of jobs in Montana grew 20% from 2000 to 2015, small towns throughout the state are continuing to experience shrinking populations, economies and services. The Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund can help combat that if more rural employers would use it.

For information on how to apply, visit https://marketmt.com/BSTF.

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For many children, the final school bell of the year signals the beginning of a fun-filled summer. For others, it means the end of steady meals for the next three months.

That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture funds the Summer Food Service Program, which is now up and running in Helena and East Helena.

At most sites, free meals are available Monday through Friday to anyone 18 and younger. No proof of age or other paperwork is required.

We know the program can’t meet every nutritional need, but it will certainly help some children get through the summer months.

This is the opinion of the Independent Record editorial board. 

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