Signs, Civics Lessons, and Whiners

by jhwygirl

Most of you have probably heard of the controversy stirred up by Sentinel High School and its desire to put up whatever in the hell it wants.

Binky Griptight, an occasional 4&20 commenter, has gotten himself a blog – and has a spot-on analysis of the sign issue and the students take on it. Must read.

Speaking, though, of good neighbors – who is that sign company that is selling the sign to that school? Because you have crack pushers and you have crack addicts – and they’re both playing a roll in this fiasco. Shame on that not-so-good-corporate citizen, whoever they are.

Further – I know that off-premise signs are regulated (prohibited, actually) by our current ordinance. If Sentinel is going to subsidize its sign by advertising for other businesses, it seems to me that those businesses, then, would be in violation. I mean – who is in violation with that off-premise advertising – the enabler (the sign) or the enabled (the advertiser)?


  1. goof houlihan

    The Bozeman school board gave the city the finger and put up an illegal sign at the Ressler Chevrolet High School.

  2. klemz

    This has gotta be the most mundane thing that’s gotten people worked up in this town, in at least three days.

  3. petetalbot

    I was back East recently doing a video shoot, driving around Vermont and New Hampshire. It was a beautiful tour and I finally figured out why: no flippin’ billboards! They’re against the law on most roads.

    Billboards mar the Montana landscape something fierce. (Catch the new McDonald’s billboard in front of the Mission Mountains near St. Ignatius, yet?)

    And now there’s a move in Montana to put up lighted billboards — big, ugly, power-sucking, dangerous things — that will degrade our urban and rural scenery even more.

    Great idea, Sentinel High. Let’s turn South Avenue and Bancroft into a mini-Las Vegas.

    I don’t often agree with Councilman Jon Wilkins but he’s right on with his criticism.

    And thanks, Binky, for keeping this story alive. (It’s one of the things I should have put in my 4&20 profile: I HATE BILLBOARDS!)

  4. petetalbot

    And klemz, I disagree. This is about neighborhoods, view shed, commercialism of our schools, city self-determination, traffic safety … I’m sure there’s more.

    By the way, mind if I put 56 sq. ft., 25,000 watt sign next door to where you live?

  5. goof houlihan

    It’s about traffic safety too. Studies show those flashing signs cause accidents. It’s also about civics, and civility, which is not what the school board is teaching the students.

    The business owners wonder how it is the school district can do it, but not them.

    There’s a brand new billboard either in Townsend or just a few feet south of the town. I had to stop and take a picture. It’s huge! And the aspect is sort of 4:3 instead of 16:9 so it looks different. I guess the company has a similar one south of Gallatin Gateway but I haven’t seen that one.

  6. goof houlihan

    Maybe the school board is teaching the students how to design casinos. Those ubiquitous establishments have written the book on garish.

  7. For a while now, I’ve been liking Councilman Wilkins. He campaigned on giving neighborhoods a voice, and he’s really worked hard at doing it…in a non-partisan type of approach.

    He goes up for re-election this year, and I hope he maintains his seat.

  8. Pronghorn

    It’s nighttime and you’re driving south on 93 from Missoula. You round the last curve and…Lolo is spread out before you like the glorified truckstop that it is. You start to wonder, “Wait, was I just in a wreck? Have I died? Because, clearly, I see the bright light that they say we rush toward when we leave these earthly confines; yes, certainly it is the brilliant eye of my Maker toward which I…”

    Snap out of it, it’s the KT’s Hayloft video sign towering over the intersection of US93 & US12, blazing and blinding, a hovering UFO flashing frenetically, some of the screens so bright that they cause temporary vision impairment…I guess the naked woman in the big mug of beer just isn’t tacky enough for KT’s.

    Now that THAT’S off my chest…Mr. Watson, the Sentinel principal, is a good, reasonable, and decent person, and I suspect he will allow his students this learning experience while shepherding them appropriately.

  9. Say what you will about the happy naked lady in the beer mug, Pronghorn, but at least she’s never triggered an ocular migraine. Ugh.

  10. klemz

    “By the way, mind if I put 56 sq. ft., 25,000 watt sign next door to where you live?”

    I don’t think you own property where I live, Pete Talbot.

  11. petetalbot

    Your missing the point, klemz. Someone does own the property all around you. So, I’ll ask again, you want a 56 sq. ft., 25,000 watt sign next door?

    By the way, Sentinel doesn’t “own” the property. It was bought and paid for by community school bonds and property taxes.

  12. klemz

    I know you’re trying to put this into context but the truth is that Missoula in its entirety is dispensable to me.

    I’m trying to imagine this in my home town, and, while I would admittedly be opposed to it, I wouldn’t rush out and stump for new laws, bearing the ultimate effect of turning my home into something that I hate with the fire of 1,000 suns (the East Coast). Frankly, where I come from, we have more important things to worry about than (another) sign.

    By the way, viewshed is zoning jargon. Unlike water, nobody owns line of sight. The term makes me edgy because I’ve seen it wielded against the projects with no small human toll. NIMBYism may be fairly innocuous here, but I’ve seen it do some terrible things. Actually, I’m of the opinion it stifled a pretty good thing in the Pov’s day center.

  13. JC

    “Mr. Watson, the Sentinel principal, is a good, reasonable, and decent person, and I suspect he will allow his students this learning experience”

    Except when he does things like violate the Equal Opportunity Act’s Title IX by giving boys’ sports programs preferences over girls’ programs.

    His boneheaded maneuvers 5 or 6 years ago when he was principle at Rattlesnake Middle School cost him a great coach, and not a few girl volleyball players when he moved girl’s VB practices off-campus to a sub-standard facility so a boy’s wrestling squad could have the gym.

    As I clearly remember the girls VB coach’s words, “I’ll move forward if Rob will listen, or I’ll step aside if he won’t, but I’ll never move backward.” He resigned rather than move backwards.

    He and his wife were veterans of college Title IX battles in the past and were abhorred at Rob Watson’s lack of foresight and knowledge about the law or equal rights between the sexes when it came to sports.

    Many of us parents contemplated legal action, but our kids (the VB players) didn’t want to be made a spectacle of. They just wanted to play. So we tried to make the best of a bad situation. But it has left a sour taste in my mouth for Principal Watson ever since. The “learning experience” his girl students/sports athletes received from him was quite humiliating and degrading.

    I see that he has taken his blindered philosophies on to Sentinel. Good luck on trying to reason with him. It failed with many of us in the past.

  14. …and in typical bureaucratic style, it appears Principal Watson was promoted.

    Title IX is dear to me – I interviewed Bill Bennett, former Secretary of Education, on the matter. A few times.

    He hung up on me.

    That’s a good thing, right?

  15. petetalbot

    Ahh, Klemz, NIMBYism is alive and well here in the Garden City. But it’s such a double-edged word. Is it NIMBYism to try to keep students from living in the university area or keep affordable housing out of an upscale development? How about keeping a gravel pit out of your neighborhood or a casino from building down the street? NIMBYism seems to mean lots of different things to lots of different people — it can be self-serving but it can also help keep a community livable. (And I, obviously, see a big, lighted sign on South Ave. as detrimental to the community.)

    I agree with you on the Pov. Day Center but I think that issue goes more to how it was presented than to the Center itself — although putting a homeless center in any neighborhood is going to be a tough sell, no matter how worthy the project.

    As for viewshed, I happen to think that it should be more than zoning jargon. Ridgelines come to mind. I’d hate to see homes built on the crests of Jumbo and Sentinel. There are some really bad examples of ridgeline homes near Bozeman (south of Four Corners in the Gallatin Canyon) and on the Rimrocks in Billings. I guess I’d also apply viewshed concerns to garish signs hovering over neighborhoods and cluttering scenic vistas.

    And it’s not just an aesthetic thing, it’s economic. Would people rather live in North Las Vegas or Stowe, Vermont … if given a choice.

  16. klemz

    Yeah, it’s subjective. Look, the major slight against NIMBYism is that it’s myopic — of course people should be self-interested to a certain extent.

    When an assisted living house for developmentally disabled adults meets with neighborhood protest because some uneducated Doris doesn’t realize the difference between that facility and a halfway house for cons, then NIMBYism becomes a curse. The Pov situation wasn’t quite that bad, but I still left that meeting feeling sick.

    I really don’t have that strong of an opinion about signage. Actually, my initial reaction to the Missoulian story was thinking the kid quoted hasn’t been told yet that the world doesn’t owe him anything.

  17. Cathie

    I don’t know – I kinda like all the signs. Keeps me from getting homesick for Detroit.

  18. goof houlihan

    Nimbys are good or bad depending on whose ox is being gored, obviously.

    IMO, NSHO at that, nimby’s are good eyes on the ground and keep government theorists in touch with the people they’re supposed to be serving.

  19. “I know you’re trying to put this into context but the truth is that Missoula in its entirety is dispensable to me.”

    Really? A local beat reporter would be completely comfortable to watch this city disappear? As one of your readers, I don’t find that comforting.

  20. klemz

    Staff writer, and you shouldn’t worry because I don’t write about it. Montana is another matter, by the way.




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