Archive for December 4th, 2008

by Jay Stevens

It looks like the story of the abuse of a mentally ill woman at the Missoula County Detention Center is coming to a close:

Missoula County officials have agreed to pay $490,000 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit over the mistreatment and abuse of a mentally ill inmate, according to Hal Luttschwager, the county’s risk manager.

I suppose it’s a kind of justice, but it seems weird to have all this settled by money.

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by jhwygirl

One year ago tomorrow December 5th, Forrest Clayton Salcido was brutally stomped to death – murdered – for no excuse other than being somewhere at the wrong time, and encountering the worse of human kind.

Salcido, 56, was a Navy veteran of the Vietnam war. He was known as a kind and gentle soul, who was more comfortable – despite family in the area – braving the elements and shunning the rat race. He had worked for years at the Evans mill after leaving the service, and later MRL when the mill closed.

I had met Forrest, briefly, in mid-October, while home in mid-day for lunch. He was rooting through the dumpsters, collecting aluminum cans – and had huge bags tied to his bike. I waved and said hello, and ran inside and grabbed my recycling cans to give to him. It was a Wednesday. We struck up a conversation. He was pleasant and sociable – and other than the more-than-usual amount of necessities he had tied to his bike, one might never have known he was living on the street. As we parted, I asked him if he collected cans regularly, and he said he did it every Wednesday because (if I remember correctly) Pacific Recycling paid double for aluminum.

So I started collecting the cans at work. I missed the next week, but the following I left them out the back door in the morning, and they were gone when I got home. I mighta got another two batches out there for him – but later there was another that wasn’t picked up.

Forrest was murdered on a Wednesday.

A week later, when I saw this story in the paper, I got sick to my stomach all over. I say all over, because as I had read the coverage of his senseless murder that previous week, I had been sicked to think that someone would meet such a horrible end for nothing other than ‘I’m having a bad day’ reasoning.

But there was his picture. Forrest Clayton Salcido was the guy I had struck up a conversation with just what seemed just a few short weeks ago. I knew then why that bag of cans was still sitting out the door.

Months and months later – maybe it was spring this year? – I found another guy reaching through the dumpsters nearby for aluminum. It was a Wednesday. He’s a military veteran also. Pleasant, sociable – his hobby is race cars. He stops by every Wednesday to bring another veteran who is a neighbor a warm lunch or dinner meal and a visit of conversation. I occasionally take that same neighbor a meal (on the rare occasion I cook something that he can eat – he likes my stew and my chicken and dumplings), but not nearly enough.

I try every week to get my workplace’s cans brought home with me on Tuesdays, and set them out there for my neighbor’s friend to pick up. Remembering Forrest Clayton Salcido reminds me to do it – and for a year now, I don’t think there’s been a Wednesday, whether I get the cans out there or not, that I don’t think of Forrest.

Forrest’s death opened the ugly door to the realities of life that homeless people face amongst our oh-so-civil world. On any given night in Missoula, more than 500 are homeless. A canvas done in 2008 turned up 906 homeless people in Missoula County. Nationally, more than 1 in 4 homeless are military veterans. The VA estimates that 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. 400,000 will be homeless during the course of a year. 11% of Montana’s population are military veterans. Is this how we treat the men who sacrifice so much to defend our freedom? Councilman Jon Wilkins spoke eloquently about just this issue on Veteran’s Day last month. If you didn’t see it then, you should read it now.

His murder also shed some more undesirable light on the ugly violence that is here in Missoula – that many choose or refuse to acknowledge. Salcido’s murderers were an 18-year old Hellgate High senior and a 20-year old friend. What environment – what community – unwittingly fostered a situation that created such monsters? That may be tough to hear – but this paragraph and the paragraph above it are all questions we should be asking ourselves.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I believe I will make a trip down to the bridge tomorrow at darkness and light a candle for Forrest.

surviving the Bush Crash

business-closed

by problembear

susan picks her kids up at day care every weekday night before 6:00pm. this night she is waiting in her car outside while the tears flow. fortunately it is dark and no one can see her crying. she clutches her checkbook which has 78.37 left in the bank. the business she worked for the past 8 years is losing money and she was just informed tonight that she is laid off. the bookkeeper told susan that her final check will be mailed to her on monday. with allowance for mail susan should receive one week’s pay 356.80 by next wednesday or thursday. only 7 employees remain from a peak staff of 17 in 2006. the business specializes in  making cabinets for new construction in montana. it is a very respected company and susan was making a decent wage there but with few new homes being built and no remodeling anywhere there is no good outcome on the immediate horizon. and bills are immediate now. no cushion remains to tide susan over through this.

the split up and divorce from mark used up all her savings in moving expenses and lawyer fees last year and the home they bought together three years ago was turned over to the bank last spring. susan lives with her sister and brother-in-law in a large mobile home in Bonner. with susan’s two girls and her sister’s three boys and infant daughter it is very crowded but everyone gets along reasonably well. susan was hoping to catch up on paying off the last of her credit card debt before saving for a new apartment but now those hopes look dim and blurry through the rain splattered windshield of her smoothly idling but battered 1992 toyota corolla.

the day care wants last week’s check for after school care paid in full tonight -121.75 and the lady who manages the day care told susan that she would have to pay up front on monday from now on. susan made the check out for 121.75 and tore it out of her checkbook before stepping out of the car and into the cold rain. thanksgiving was last week and she notices that the kids still have crayon hand turkeys plastered all over the big picture window of the tidy warm home as she climbs the steps wiping her tears away and rubbing her face to hide the redness. a care worn teenager gathers the kids…..

Part 2

allysa and megan come running out of the recreation room. they immediatlely fall to the floor and start pulling  boots on beneath the coat rack. susan hands the check to the teenager who goes back into the kitchen to write out a receipt.

“how was your day?” susan asks the kids as she struggles to pull allysa’s arms through her new sweater. “ok, i guess.” answers megan, the older of the two girls. megan’s eyes are light grey-blue just like her mom’s. 8 years old and tall for her age. she towers over her younger sister allysa who only laughs and begins to cough. allysa is very small for a five year old. her eyes are deep blue like mark’s. she fidgets while susan wraps an old scarf around her neck and hands her an old hat. “i don’t wanna wear that hat..” allysa whines. she is overtired and her eyes close as she shakes her head stubbornly to prevent susan from putting it on.

“here’s your receipt.” the tired teenager slips the receipt in susan’s hand and rushes back to the recreation room where only a few kids remain in the rec room watching madagascar. susan thinks briefly about telling the teenager that she will pick up the kids from school on monday but then decides to put off making any big decisions tonight. partly because she can’t quite believe that she has lost her job. the reality will take awhile to sink in. susan takes each child by the hand and walks with them alone through the dark sidewalk to the car. so much to do on monday….this weekend will have to take care of itself. susan will allow herself these few days to allow the reality to set in and to think about her options. right now, the car needs gas and she needs milk and bread and she and the kids need to get home…

at the gas station susan’s card is declined and she writes a check for bread, milk and gas. she remembers her wedding ring still hidden in an envelope taped to the bottom of her sock drawer in storage and makes a plan to visit the pawnbroker on monday before the two checks she has written can clear. susan’s mother always told her where there is a will there is a way but it might not be the easy way. susan stopped asking for help from her parents about the time the house was lost. she still feels so guilty about losing the money they had loaned mark and susan for the down payment.they still help of course especially when the divorce lawyer demanded a retainer. but usually, susan figures out how to get by on the day to day things. she hasn’t bought any new clothing for herself in at least a year and now she needs to look her best for job interviews. what jobs? susan thinks to herself as the car pulls into her sister’s driveway. the lights are dark and the wood stove has gone out. susan remembers that willy and ted and the kids are at bonner school for their son eric’s basketball game tonight. the kids switch on the tv while susan puts her leather gloves on and goes out to the carport to split some wood.

part 3

as susan swings the axe she begins to sweat and it feels good . the smell of freshly exposed wood and the sound of well cured tamarack splitting makes her smile. she stuffs the earth stove with enough kindling and quarter rounds to build  a base and lights the newspaper she had swaddled beneath them. the draft roars and the metal in the stove pipe pings with the heat. the kids are  asleep in front of the tv. susan covers them with a comforter and steals quietly through the sliding glass door back to her wood pile. ted has a logger friend deliver five cords of logs to the house every year with an old kenworth self loader and he saws the rounds in the spring so the wood can dry good before fall. as susan works on the wood pile she tries not to think about the layoff. she thinks about mark and where he is right now. when the garage he worked in laid him off last april he took his tools to reno and found a job working with a diesel mechanic who trained him to work on the big engines for the gold mines nearby. susan has tried to get nevada to send her child support through child services in helena but it has been six months now without any check and mark has disappeared. he called on allyssa’s birthday in august and the kids were acting funny about what he said so susan told mark he had to get some counseling before she could let him speak to them again. mark swore at her and hung up and that is the last anyone has heard of him.

susan tried to call mark’s mother in libby but got nowhere. “i don’t know what to tell ya’ honey…” was all she said to susan and hung up. at least, susan has a good relationship with her sister willy and the kids all get along. even ted seems to be holding up well under the strain. susan stacks several quarter rounds in a long line under the carport between two roof supports near the back door and carefully keeps the wood four inches away from the vinyl siding of the trailer to keep the bugs away from the house. she feels good after chopping about two weeks worth of quarters and begins with the half rounds. when she hears the car pulling up the drive from the highway susan stands there in the headlights holding the axe and smiling as ted parks the car and waves. eric, looking tall with his bonner basketball shirt still on runs into the front door with his kid brothers and baby sister, abigail toddling after them. they can be heard yelling about the big win tonight , waking up their cousins. the kids squeal and begin to chase each other through the house as willy and ted walk up to the carport carrying something in two small white freezer bags from albertsons. “those  better be dreyer’s chocolate” susan says. she hands the axe to ted and he laughs as he looks at the pile. “nice job sis.” he notes that susan has kept the wood neat and away from the house.

susan and willy hug as they enter the house and ted stays outside to have a quick smoke.

susan will survive this because she has some good options thanks to love and a family who sticks together.

Postscript:

this post about a family in trouble could be written in any town in this nation. it happens to be about a family from missoula montana. for the purposes of providing some help locally, below you will find information that directs folks who are hurting to private non profit groups and agencies nearby who can help:

(if anyone who knows of other sources of help for families in need please feel free to add you information in a comment)  thank you for reading and i hope we can provide some assistance to folks as things get worse.

First Call For Help:  10-2 M-F      call 211  or    549-5555

Food Stamp Hot Line  (800) 332-2272

Senior Help Line  728-7682

Missoula Job Service  728-7060

Human Resource Council  728-3710

Head Start     251-9410 and 728-5460

Child Support Enforcement 329-7910

Family Basics  WORD   543-3550

Missoula Food Bank   549-0543

Food Stamp Assistance 329-1200

Joseph House (temp housing) 549-6158

Low Income Energy Assistance 728-3710

Meals On Wheels   728-7682

Medicaid  329-1200

Missoula 3:16 Rescue Mission  549-4673

Missoula Housing Authority  549-4113

Parenting Place  728-5437

Partnership Health Care  258-4789

Poverello Center  728-1809

Salvation Army  549-0710

YWCA   543-6691

for those who want to help – please donate to any of the above and to volunteer please check out :

RSVP   728-7682

remember that as client loads increase the need for more funds and more volunteers increases so please do what you can….

THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME AND YOUR CONCERN….




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