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Jim Miotke has worked for the University of Montana power plant for several years.  He says that although the proposed biomass plant would do more harm than good, the University did not take his and fellow power plant employees opinions into consideration while going through the environmental statements.

Elliott Natz celebrates the 4th of July.

Steve Elliott carries loads of corn stalks to the start of the Day of the Dead Parade in Missoula.  Elliott and his parade group handed out ears of dry corn to bystanders.  

Runners from Missoula, Mont. area high schools step off on a heat for the 100- meter dash on April 22.

Shannon O'Reilly throws to first during a snowy inning in Big Sky's 2-8 loss to crosstown rival Sentinel High School on April 19, 2011.

University of Montana students enjoy on of the first warm days of the year by playing basketball.  Missoula experienced an unusually long winter in 2012.

Members of the boys varsity soccer at Sentinel High School team take a water break during their match with Hellgate High.

The Prow looms high over Blodgett Canyon in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana.

Backpackers make their way to Mount Patrick Gass in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Mike Mershon, of Billings, Mont., prepares his rope before an ascent of the route No Sweat Arete in Mill Creek Canyon, Mont.

Former University of Montana president George Dennison addresses a full Montana Theatre during the Grateful Nation statue unveiling.  The memorial was first proposed and approved during Dennison's term.

An iguana scampers on the ancient Mayan ruins of X'cambo near the town of Progreso on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Steve fills up his truck outside of Superior, Mont. on his way to New Jersey.

Clyde Simonson, 64, of Long Beach, Wash. and his grandson, Nate Ritola, 10, fish for surf perch on the Long Beach Peninsula.  Simonsin will wade into the ocean to make one long cast, then head back to the sand to wait for a bite.

Jamie Spaniolo, of Twizted, dances to the beat.  Twizted opened for the Insane Clown Posse at the Wilma Theatre in Missoula on Oct. 1, 2011.

A child is given earplugs by his father in the front row of the raucous Insane Clown Posse crowd.  ICP followers are known as 'Juggalos'.

Luke Wyland (far right) and Dana Valatka (drums) of AU are joined by two others in their massively energetic set during the closing night of the 2009 PDX Pop Now! Festival in Portland.  The duo opened for Menomena.


Doug Waters is the director of the Missoula City Cemetery, which has been home to the deceased since 1884.  Thanks to decades of planning, the cemetery has enough space dedicated for future departed souls.  Water's challenge now is to bring the cemetery into the 21st century.

Closer to Home

Closer to Home sits on 20 acres of land beneath the Mission Mountains.  Before the Closer to Home was opened, the building it occupies was a restaurant run by a local Amish family.  The interior was entirely remodeled to accomodate an assisted living facility.

ST. IGNATIUS IS A SMALL TOWN on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Northwest Montana, and in a small town, one can expect small things.

The Closer to Home assisted living center is one of those small things.

The home was founded in 2005 by Sheryl Hitchcock, and is located on 20 acres of land seated below the scenic Mission Mountain range. Hitchcock says she has always had a passion for caring for people, so it made sense to open a facility in a town that was lacking in care for the elderly.

The small population at Closer to Home ensures close attention to detail and a high quality of care, says Hitchcock. Hitchcock and her staff provide 24-hour care to just 10 residents, each with varying degrees of dependence. The community created by Closer to Home is unique to assisted living centers, where it might not common for everyone to know each other’s names.

The small cast of residents come from all over the state and country to spend their last years in St. Ignatius. The atmosphere of Closer to Home changes dramatically when a person leaves or someone new moves in, just like any small community.

Michelle McLoughlin, staff, greets Carroll, 80 years old, in her room.

Lynda, 60, graduated from Ronan High School in 1969.  After five years, she is the longest standing resident at Closer to Home.  She plans on being there the rest of her life, saying there's nowhere she'd rather be living.

Emalyn Walters sorts through medicine next to Wilma, 90, during Closer to Home's Halloween party.

Closer to Home's newest resident, Dyanna, is only 52 years old.  She struggles with her newly limited lifestyle.  Because she is not legally allowed to drive, she is trying to sell her car.

Because Lynda cannot lift herself, Closer to Home staff use a hoyer lift to get her in and out of bed.

Don L., 48, rarely strays from his room, even choosing to eat on his bed with his cat.  The exception is the rare cigarette break, where he goes to a patio alone.

Mary, 69, and Don S., 72, smoke outside.  Many residents smoke cigarettes if they are able to get outside.  Because they rarely go to town, residents rely on staff members to get packs for them.

Michelle McLoughlin helps Betty, 82, into a chair.  Betty was moved from Closer to Home after she was deemed a Category C patient by the state, meaning she might wander, or is a threat to herself or others.  Closer to Home is only licensed to care for Category B patients for now.

John, now 79 years old, was a rural doctor in the Flathead Valley before his health deteriorated.  He relies on an $8,000 mattress and a hoyer lift to get him in and out of it.

Closer to Home's owner, Sheryl Hitchcock, feeds yogurt to John.

Carroll sits in her room looking out towards the Mission Mountains.  Because she relies on supplemental oxygen and her wheelchair, Carroll is unable to go outside for very long.