How does someone representing 4.7% of the county end up proposing something for the entire county (with 14.3% of the voting power)? To examine that, we’ll look at the County Board of Health. But, if you’re more interested in what Mr. Seifert had to say about giving businesses A/B/C/D ratings, watch the video or read about the meeting!
Is the Lincoln County Board of Health a fair representation of Lincoln County? Are some sections of the county better represented than others? Under-representation has been a common complaint, and with Board Member Jim Seifert of Troy proposing county wide grading of businesses, it’s worth looking at.
Mr. Seifert is the Board Member appointed to represent Troy. In 2010 (alas, no 2020 census data yet) the area he represents had a population of 938. That’s 4.7% of the 19,980 people living in Lincoln County.
If representation on the County Board of Health were distributed evenly, by population, we would expect Mr. Seifert to have 4.7% of the vote. However, as one of a seven member board, he has 14.3% of the vote.
Looking at the Health Board as a whole (using the information available on the county website) we see:
% of County Population
Members on Board of Health
% of Vote on Board of Health
1 ( Jim Seifert)
1 (Debra Armstrong)
4 (Jan Ivers, Laura Crismore, Sara Mertes, George Jamison)
Josh Letcher (West Kootenai)
Locations for members were taken from the phone book when not stated on the county’s website
The Board of Health doesn’t represent the population of Lincoln County evenly. Far more of the vote is associated with “urban” areas than rural.
The Board of Health, with three members designated to represent the urban areas, is designed to unequal in representation. That’s 42.9 % of the votes on the Board of Health going to represent 23.1% of the population!
The remaining board members are one county commissioner and three appointed as county representatives. Could the board be more equal, with respect to the rural areas? Definitely.
But what about regions? Is North county represented fairly? Is it possible for the board to represent the county fairly? Could the board be designed so that it did? Next week!
Once, when I was a small child, growing up in eastern South Dakota, my father took my siblings and me to see reindeer in the parking lot of a Lewis Drug. One of the better customer-drawing gimmicks I had seen, at that point. While there, my father overheard a tall, dark-bearded fellow conversing with his two children in a strange tongue.
Now, my father is very fond of languages, and enjoys learning more whenever the opportunity presents itself. I’ve early memories of him carrying one of his foreign-language Bibles to Church on Sunday, reading along with the sermon, albeit in a different tongue. The Estonian Bible was his most frequent church companion, I think.
Anyway, the language this tall, dark-bearded father was speaking was as foreign to my own father as it was to me. So my father waited for a break in the conversation, and then went over, and asked that fine-bearded fellow what language he was speaking – might it be Hungarian? It wasn’t a language he was familiar with, but it had its similarities to Finnish and Estonian.
As it turned out, Dad had guessed the language correctly – helped, no doubt, by his fondness for Finno-Ugric tongues – borne out of his Finnish heritage. While Dad shared his love of languages with me, and I’ve extensively pursued Latin and Greek, I’ve yet to spend much time on the tongues of my northern forbears.
We ended up becoming close friends with that family of Hungarians, and were both guests and hosts many times over the next few years, sharing many meals. Friendships we’d never have had without Dad being inquisitive about language, and eager to have new, chance acquaintances over for coffee. And, of course, the help of a couple of reindeer.
Here’s a traditional Hungarian recipe from the mother of that family. Something to eat on New Year’s Eve to bring fortune to you and yours throughout the next year.
Lentil Stew: 3 cups Lentils (for prosperity – see how the lentils look like little coins?) 2 Tbsp Yellow Mustard Paprika powder 1 medium Red Onion, quartered. 1 small lemon, halved. 5 bay leaves Garlic (either a generous sprinkling of powder or about 2 chopped cloves) Salt and Black Pepper to taste. A little smoked meat (if memory serves, smoked turkey was used the first time I had this, though lean pork is most traditional, especially cold smoked shortrib – Pork is supposed to bring good luck)
Cook this assemblage in water until lentils are done – I like it to have the consistency of a porridge. Remove the onion, bay leaves, and lemon before serving with the following sauce.
Paprika Sauce: Place 1-2 Tbsp flour in 2-3 Tbsp of hot oil, whisking until homogeneous. Add red paprika powder generously, letting it bloom in the hot oil. Mix with 1/2 cup sour cream and some milk, until desired consistency is reached. The sauce should be smooth and a bright orange in color.
I suspect that this was how the mother of our Hungarian friends substituted for Hungarian Paprika Paste, being unable to get it in the American Midwest. She later brought us some Univer Red Gold paste as a gift, after a visit back to Hungary. What a treasure that was!
Just last night, my wife asked me to identify a spider that was perched on the wall of our shower. A small thing, its body was only about 3 millimeters long, or about 1/10 an inch. It was an immature spider, and I didn’t manage to get a good look at the layout of its eyes, so I was unable to identify it as well as I’d like. (Many identification resources tend to be more helpful for identifying adult bugs than immature bugs).
While I myself couldn’t identify it to genus level, I shared the observation to iNaturalist, in hopes that somebody with more expertise in spiders would be able to get a closer identification. Regardless of what it is, the chances of its bite and venom being of medical importance are just about nill. The only spider of real medical importance we have here in Montana is the Western Black Widow.
Insects and their kin have been living alongside humans for a very long time – it’s thought that some of our current house-dwelling insects started out as cave dwellers, also living alongside our human forbears. Some early cave art even features cave crickets, as in the Cave of the Three Brothers in southwestern France.
An ongoing project on iNaturalist, “Never Home Alone”, attempts to learn more about our long-term arthropod houseguests. Thus far, this project has led to the discovery of a number of new species – organisms whose behavior “in the wild” is entirely unknown. They’ve only ever been observed and collected from human dwellings.
The scientific paper that this project arose from found that upwards of 100 species of insects could be found in just about every home they surveyed. Defying the stereotype, folks with larger homes in better parts of town had more species of insects, not fewer! Regardless of homeowner’s income, the vast majority of the insect houseguests discovered were non-pest species, and some hadn’t been observed in the region before.
If an entomologist finds that your home is full of bugs, you shouldn’t feel too bad – chances are good that your neighbors’ homes have similar numbers of insects. They’re mostly harmless, and some are even beneficial…. Case in point, at closing time, the spider from the shower had been identified as a harmless variety of cellar spider, Pholcophora americana, who had likely been feeding on moth flies from our drains.
At present, the cellar spider has been relocated to the holly to join our Christmas Spiders.
The term “population pyramid” goes back to a time when plotting populations by age really did produce a triangle, with a large base of young people and each older age cohort narrowing, until there were very few at the top. As diseases became more controlled, and birth control entered the picture, the population pyramids changed shape, The pyramid below is for the US in 2010.
Now, if we look at covid death rates by age cohort, Florida’s governor released survival rates back in September:
The numbers for the age cohorts are below – no need to extrapolate from the bars in the pyramid. We’ll just take the complement of the survival rates, assume the vaccine is 100% effective, and calculate the potential lives saved in each cohort.
Lives Saved by Vaccination
The Death Rate is 100% minus the survival rate for each age group. Lives Saved by Vaccination is the population of the age group multiplied by the death rate.
If everyone over the age of 70 were vaccinated (and the vaccine worked perfectly) 1,502,967 Lives would be saved. If everyone under the age of 20 were vaccinated, 250.
No editorializing here – just simple addition and multiplication with data from the census. I know where I would put the first vaccinations if I had a limited supply.
The County Board of Health met Wednesday, December 16th for an informative meeting. It wasn’t just an informative meeting though- it contained a proposal (one which the board anticipates discussing at the next meeting). The proposal (by Jim Seifert of Troy), while at the end of the meeting, was sufficiently surprising that we included it in part 1 last week.
The meeting began with Jan Ivers (board chair) discussing viruses and predicting another pandemic. Then, County Commissioner Mark Peck presented on the legal foundations of the Board of Health and gave a brief “how it all works” explanation. After, Kathi Hooper (Director of the County Health Department) explained the board’s budget.
Presentation about Testing: Lyn Thompson, a laboratory scientist, spoke via zoom about testing for the virus. She spoke with great enthusiasm about her topic, three tests: Molecular Diagnostic, Antigen test and Antibody test. According to Thompson, the four important characteristics of a lab test are: accuracy, timeliness, sensitivity, specificity.
A couple big things about the molecular part of it [testing], what it does not do: It does not tell you if the patient is infectious. It does not tell you if the patient is contagious. “
Thompson clarified that the test itself simply detects or does not detect the virus. Antigen testing looks for a protein, rather than DNA, and is less specific and less sensitive but a quicker test. Antibody tests, meanwhile, are more useful for determining if someone has had a virus than if they are currently infectious.
A lot of these tests are only supposed to be done on symptomatic patients. Specifically the antigen test is really dependent on the person has to be symptomatic with covid-like symptoms in the first five days.”
Thompson continued to explain that delaying an antigen test could result in a negative result, even in someone who had Covid-19, if they delayed long enough. Furthermore, an asymptomatic patient with Covid-19 could still have a negative result with an antigen test.
Presentation on Collaborative Medical Care: Sara (presumably Dr. Sara Mertes of Cabinet Peaks Medical Center, new member of the health board) spoke about the procedures used to both care for patients and avoid potential exposures. When a patient tests positive, the information is given to the Health Department, which does follow-up and contact tracing with the patient.
Cabinet Peaks Medical Center is able to send patients home with a monitor, which checks for drops in oxygen levels or tachycardia (rapid heart rate). Unfortunately, these monitors require WiFi or cell service, so are of limited utility.
Presentation onContact Tracing: Jenn McCully, Lincoln County Public Health Manager, discussed what happens when the Health Department is notified of a covid case. Contact tracing assumes that someone is contagious either two days before symptoms, or two days before the positive test (whichever is sooner). Isolation is supposed to be at least 10 days, and to include being isolated from other household members. It will also include occasional calls and check-ins from the department.
Presentation on Vaccinations: Dr. Kelli Jarrett, of the Northwest Community Health Center, gave an overview about how vaccines work. Then, she went into more detail about the Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine is an mRNA vaccine, which makes it somewhat different from the vaccines we are used to.
The reason that mRNA technology is actually really nice, especially in this circumstance is that it can be scaled up much faster than our current vaccine technology.”
Dr. Kelli Jarrett
Dr. Jarrett provided a detailed overview of the safety data for the Pfizer vaccine, and observed that the number of adverse reactions seen in the trials is comparable to commonly used vaccines (adverse reaction can include pain, fever or muscle aches; it needn’t be severe). The efficacy rate of the vaccine seems to be quite high.
The presentations wrapped up with contact information: Anyone with questions for specific presenters should contact Kathi Hooper, the director of the County Health Department.
Finally, the meeting closed with a comment from Jim, the Board of Health member representing Troy. Seifert proposed giving businesses an A/B/C/D rating, primarily based on mask wearing (both of employees and customers). His proposal seems to entail members of the county health department inspecting and rating businesses.
The Board of Health next meets on January 13th. According to Board Chair Jan Ivers, Seifert’s proposal will probably be on the agenda.
“There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.” Otto von Bismarck, 1907
Three fourths of my neighbors voted for Trump, and I figure even more believe that Biden won through some form of chicanery. As I look at media comments, I see fears of what will happen – from tax increases to gun grabs to civil war. There is comfort in Bismarck’s observation “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.” I recall that, a century ago, my country elected a president – Warren G. Harding – who was even slower than Joe Biden. And Harding replaced Woodrow Wilson. I can make a strong case that Woodrow Wilson was more racist than any American President, including Jefferson Davis.
You might argue corruption, and cite the investigations finally underway on Hunter and James Biden. Remember, “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.” The history textbooks tell of Harding’s Secretary of the Interior and the Teapot Dome scandal. Remember, Woodrow Wilson had a stroke in October 1919, paralyzing him, and that caused the greatest crisis about presidential disability, presidential incapability, in our country’s history. According to whitehouse.gov, “Wilson returned to campaign for Senate approval of the peace treaty and the League of Nations Covenant. His health failed in September 1919; a stroke left him partly paralyzed. His constant attendant, Mrs. Wilson took over many routine duties and details of government. But she did not initiate programs or make major decisions, and she did not try to control the executive branch. She selected matters for her husband’s attention and let everything else go to the heads of departments or remain in abeyance. Her “stewardship,” she called this.” That was 16 months with a non-functional president. Joe may indeed be going into dementia – but we have Wilson’s example, with fewer problems for the nation after his stroke than before it.
I have been unable to find any record of where Otto Von Bismarck really said “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.” – but it is an optimistic way to look at any election.
Did a member of the Board of Health actually propose a “grading system” for local businesses, based on compliance? Where does the County Board of Health come from? What powers does it have?
First, some background: The Lincoln County Board of Health has seven members. It is chaired by Jan Ivers of Libby. Of the seven members, three are “Lincoln County Representatives”, another three represent Libby, Eureka and Troy, and the final member is a County Commissioner (at this time, Josh Letcher).
Wednesday’s meeting was for the purpose of informing the public, rather than deciding/voting on policy. It began at 6 pm, and could be attended via zoom. A full recording of the meeting is available here– it’s about an hour and 15 minutes. I’ll give the short version here, and do my best for accurate quotes (with the right names associated, but as I’m faceblind, mistakes do sometimes slip through).
The meeting had 7 presenters, and began with an explanation by Board Chair Jan Ivers, about viruses and pandemics. Talking about pandemics, Ivers predicted another pandemic and listed some reasons.
There will probably, as soon as we get this one under management, there will probably be another pandemic in the future. And there are a couple reasons for this: Population growth. We have a lot more people, a lot more crowding. We’ve gone from agriculture/rural into higher density populations. There’s some deforestation due to needing more agricultural land. Modern travel. I mean we can go almost anywhere to home in 24 hours which means that organisms don’t have that far, or that long to go. Increased Trade due to imported foods, exotic pets. And Change in the weather patterns that makes a difference in when these viruses go into humans. Here we don’t have this problem as much, but lack of access to public health is a big issue as far as [coughing] virus”
The first presentation was by County Commissioner (District 1) Mark Peck on the topic of Organizational Structure. Peck remarked that “There’s a lot of confusion over who has what authorities”. Peck explained:
“Essentially, Montana Code Annotated 50-2-106 covers how health boards are formed. There’s a few different kinds of health boards… We chose a number of years ago to go with the city county health board model because it allows the three cities as well as the county to have joint representation and have representation for themselves on the board.
So essentially what that means is that at minimum you have to have a county commissioner. The city of Libby has one position that they can pick at large. The city of Troy has one they can pick at large. And The city of Eureka has one they can pick at large. And then we decided within the bylaws of the board, and this was a concurrence from the commissioners and the three city councils and mayors that the commissioners would have an additional three positions. So you’ve got four positions that are selected from the county commissioners and then one from each of the cities and that’s where the seven positions come from.”
With three Board Members coming out of the cities, it makes sense to consider what percentage of the county population the cities are.
Percentage of County
The numbers are from the 2010 Census (the 2020 data isn’t out yet) the County population was 19,980
Basically, the three incorporated communities, with 23% of the county’s population are guaranteed 43% of the board membership.
Peck continued, discussing the County Health Board and the appointed Health Officer:
Know a lot of people think well the county commissioners, we can just do away with this board. Well, actually we can’t. We have to have concurrence of the three cities to do that. Very similar to, well, the cities can’t blow it up on their own either and that’s a check and balance to make sure we’ve got consistency.
So anyway the authority of the cities and commissioners in Title 50 is strictly to appoint the Health Board. The Health Board has its own set of authorities and regulations that the cities and county don’t have, because per law that’s been delegated down to the Health Board. And those responsibilities you’ll find them in Montana Code Annotated 50-2-116 and one of the first authorities and requirements of the health board is to appoint a health officer.
The health board has appointed Dr. Black as the county health officer. The county health officer, those authorities fall under 50-2-118 so it’s a different, although they’re very similar authorities, the health officer has unique authorities that the health board does not…
Peck went on to answer several questions he had been asked by his constituents. Can the health board be reorganized or disbanded?
…Yes, in theory the health board can be reorganized but it’s not a matter of just the county commissioners doing it. We would have to have all three cities as well as the county commissioners agree to disband the board….
Why isn’t the sheriff enforcing the mandates?
We still are in a state and a country of laws, and the sheriff can only enforce laws that he’s been given authority through Montana Code Annotated… the Sheriff does not have authority under title 50 to go arrest somebody or to enforce the Governor’s mandate. They can assist if there’s some type of an issue. But that’s why you’re seeing law enforcement agencies not running around enforcing this…”
Is the health officer completely autonomous?
No, he isn’t. The health board could replace the health officer…”
After Mark Peck finished, Kathi Hooper, Directer of the County Health Department began the second presentation of the evening. The topic was finances.
The finances of the Board of Health are really pretty simple. They have a small budget that’s approved annually by the commissioners. In the previous fiscal year which is July of 2019 through June of 2020 the Board of Health expenditures $15,790. And of that total 95% was professional services, including approximately $9,400 for legal services and $6,300 for local health officer. So far this fiscal year which started July 1st the Board of Health expenditures totaled $3,198.”
If a business spent 57% of it’s budget on legal services, well, that might suggest some problems.
Skipping ahead a bit in my summary, towards the end of the meeting Health Board Member Jim Seifert (Representative of the City of Troy) spoke for the five or so minutes of the video below. Seifert outlined a proposal that did indeed involve giving businesses grades.
I want to bring up a proposal. What I want to do is I want to do exactly what the health department already does. The health department right now regulates restaurants and food establishments. I want to regulate public spaces for the same thing for our response to covid. And what that is, is we have three things that we can do that are positive. We can do masking, social distancing and hand washing. Well, it’s hard to monitoring hand washing because you can’t be there all the time, but the masks and the social distancings[sic] we can. And what I want to do is go to public places, excluding churches and excluding schools because they’re mandating their own, and set up a A/B/C/D rating for these establishments.”
Seifert stated that he would give an A+ rating to a business that makes everyone that comes in put on a mask, a business where all the employees wear masks (but they don’t greet people at the door and inform them to put on a mask) a B, with the grade lowering for incorrectly mask wearing. C rating would be for businesses in which only some employees where masks, and D rating for those businesses that do not where them.
Who would enforce Seifert’s proposal? He was quick to say not the government, and not the police. Rather, Seifert states that he expects the citizens of Lincoln County to do the enforcement. He imagines businesses being rated on social media, and in the newspaper, signs placed on their doors, and these signs helping citizens to decide where to shop.
Now, Seifert is the board member that represents the city of Troy. The 2010 population of Troy was 938, or 4.7% of the county’s population. He certainly has ideas for the whole county though!
Seifert went on to talk about vaccines, stating that the idea that vaccines would be mandated (people would be forced to get them), is a propaganda conspiracy-theory.
“We don’t do that in the United States that I know of. And what I call that, is I call that gas-lighting.”
The meeting closed with the reminder that the next Board of Health meeting is the 13th of January (the second Wednesday of the month), and the thought that Seifert’s proposal will probably be on the agenda. Written Comments or questions to the board should be addressed to Kathi Hooper. While written comments are accepted at any time, they must be received a week in advance of the meeting to be addressed at that meeting. For a comment to be addressed at the next meeting, it should be sent in no later than January 6th.
Meeting Summary to continue in next week’s Mountain Ear. If you can’t wait- feel free to watch the whole thing (and write the rest of the summary- get in touch, we’ll post it!)
If you look up Merriam-Webster online, you find “The word doctor comes from the Latin word for “teacher,” itself from docēre, meaning “to teach.” Using that definition, it isn’t much of a logic stretch to figure that Jill Biden’s Ed.D. earned the title “Doctor” – her dissertation is on student retention, she has been a teacher. Admitted, the Ed.D. isn’t granted the same respect as the PhD.
The Ph.D. is the highest academic degree in our US system. At Oxford, a Doctor of Divinity outranks a Ph.D. Academic degree ranks are displayed subtly – at a University graduation, the newly- minted Ph.D’s are usually hooded as individuals, while law (Juris Doctorate) and medicine (MD and DO) are hooded in a college ceremony. Still, I don’t go to a MD/PhD holder because of the Ph.D. The Juris Doctorate replaced the bachelor of laws in my lifetime, so is the new kid on the block. The Russians have a degree beyond the Ph.D. A lot of foreign graduates with a Master’s transfer into the US as equivalent to a Bachelors. Rating degrees is a tricky business. I have a couple of MD friends who avoid the conflict by continuing to introduce me as “professor” to avoid the confusion. It might be a solution for Dr. Biden. Just think of the problems for someone with a doctorate in nursing.
Some folks have hammered the quality of Dr. Biden’s dissertation. I’ve scanned it. I have no problem saying I’ve seen better documents, dissertations that better expanded the scope of human knowledge. I have only served on graduate committees for agriculture, engineering and various sciences. On the other hand, I once worked with a history Ph.D. holder whose dissertation had come exclusively from an Illinois high school graduate’s hobby (obsession?) of collecting poetry written by Abraham Lincoln. In mine, I wound up rejecting my own hypothesis. I kind of figure the quality of the dissertation is the committee’s responsibility.
If you want your own disrespected doctorate, probably the most irrelevant degrees come from General Delivery University You can click on the website, spend a couple minutes looking at the curriculum, and print your diploma, signed by General Delivery himself. At least I think it’s himself – I don’t know the preferred pronoun for General Delivery.
Even “Mister” can be an earned title – the Navy’s Warrant Officers are referred to as Mister, recognizing their status. (Ensign, Lieutenant JG and Lieutenant are also addressed as Mister. Dad earned that common title. To the rest of us, it’s an unearned courtesy.
In England, physicians graduate with the MB degree – Bachelor of Medicine. The BCH is an additional bachelor’s degree in surgery. The Brit MD requires a thesis. Given our proximity to the 49th parallel, it’s worth mentioning these differences. From the pair of Brit physicians I’ve met, the BM holder is called doctor, while the MD is called mister. Keeping the players straight is a bit of a challenge.
I’ve spent quite a few years in the academy, at several colleges and universities, while holding at first a BS, later a Master’s, and eventually a Ph.D. I’m the same person, regardless of the educational title. If you sign your name with your educational title behind it, call me doctor. If you sign your name without educational references, call me Mike.
For years my father wanted a 410 pistol – just like his father’s. It wasn’t to be – the National Firearms Act of 1934 outlawed smoothbore barrels less than 18” long. As I researched to figure out what my grandfather’s pistol must have been, I kept closing in on the game getter -one 22 barrel, one 410 barrel, like in the old poster below.
As you will notice – it technically wasn’t a 410. And the pistol I got for Dad is for the same 44 Ball cartridge you see in the ad. You see, before 1900, folks in the US pretty much used 44 shot cartridges, and the Europeans used the 410. As the 410 moved in, someone made the discovery that if you chambered the gun for 410, you could also use a 44 shotshell or 44 ball. It’s an important detail to the story, for after about 20 years of searching, I found a single shot pistol, with a rifled 12 inch barrel, marked 44 Ball. The 410 cartridges he wanted would fit, and with a rifled barrel it was legal. Dad was blind, but not a problem – I bought the pistol he had wanted for so long, and didn’t even haggle.
It does kick a bit – particularly when it’s stoked with 5 pieces of triple ought buck – but in general it’s a pleasant little gun, though Boito doesn’t have the greatest reputation as a quality gun. I’ve inherited it back, and, with its age, decided I should find out where, or if, parts would be available if I ever needed them. Gun laws are strange things – Canada is concerned about handguns, but not about short-barreled shotguns. North of the 49th parallel, my pistol is illegal as can be. South of the 49th parallel, the Boito hiker (pictured below) is good for a $5,000 fine and five years in prison. But it looks to me like I have found where I can replace broken springs.
The North Valley Food Bank, located in Whitefish, serves Trego via a mobile pantry. The distributions are “drive through” style and occur at the Trego Civic Center; There are no eligibility requirements, and no need to provide supporting documentation.
The Mobile Food Pantry typically serves Trego on the first and third Fridays of the Month . The next distribution, however, will be on a Thursday (December 31st), as the Food Bank is closed for New Year’s. If you miss the distribution window, the Mobile Food Pantry visits Olney after Trego, and it should be possible to meet it at the Olney Store after it leaves Trego. The Food Bank itself is open from 12-6PM in Whitefish on Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you need to find the Food Distribution before the 31st, the Food Bank is distributing food on Tuesday (12/22) and Wednesday (12/23) from their Whitefish site.
The Pre-Christmas Food Distribution included a turkey, fresh yams, crescent rolls, and stuffing, in addition to the usual groceries. The distribution began at 10:30, and, at 10:30, the line to the Trego Civic Center stretched towards the Post Office. Once distribution began, the line quickly shrunk.