John Engen

UM President Royce Engstrom speaks about UM's handling of sexual assaults at a July 10 press conference in Missoula, MT.
Eric Whitney - MTPR

The University of Montana Police Department has met federal requirements to improve its response to reports of sexual assault on campus.

The University agreed to the requirements two years ago, following a 2012 investigation into reports of sexual assaults at the school by the U.S. Departments of Justice, and Education.

Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.
Cheri Trusler

Missoula's mayor says he's glad a judge agrees with the city that public ownership of the local water utility is better than private ownership. But John Engen says there’s still a lot of work to be done , not the least of which is determining a fair price for Mountain Water Company.

Cheri Trusler

A new audit shows Missoula is doing a better job of responding to reports of sexual assault. That same audit also says there's room for improvement.

Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.
Cheri Trusler

Closing arguments were heard Monday in the condemnation trail for the City of Missoula’s water system.

The city has been trying to buy the privately-owned Mountain Water Company since 2011.

Mountain Water Company, Missoula, MT.
Cheri Trusler

Attorneys presented their opening arguments today in the city of Missoula’s lawsuit to force the sale of its water utility from current owners, Mountain Water Company and the Carlyle Group. The city filed the suit nearly a year ago, claiming it's in the best interest of Missoulians for the city to operate it instead of a private company.

Courtesy photo

Media outlets including Montana Public Radio earlier reported that the legal bill for the City of Missoula in its condemnation action against Mountain Water Company had reached $3.5 million. Missoula Mayor John Engen says that number is not accurate.

Mountain Water Company has maintained throughout the condemnation proceedings that the city is better off leaving its water supply to the private sector, and that money being spent on condemnation would better be directed to more pressing municipal needs.

The Missoula City Council may vote tonight on a proposal that would allow the mayor to continue his effort to force the sale of the local water company to the city.

The Carlyle Group currently owns Mountain Water Company. A Canadian firm, Algonquin Power,  has entered into an agreement to purchase Mountain Water and its California based parent company for $327 million.

The city's attempt to use eminent domain to take ownership of Mountain Water has proven to be costly and raised a few eyebrows.

Courtesy photo

The employees of Missoula’s privately-owned Mountain Water Company today asked the city to give up its quest to buy the company via condemnation.

Missoula Mayor John Engen says the city won’t abandon its efforts to buy Mountain Water.

Eric Whitney

Missoula Mayor John Engen says he understands Algonquin's intent in buying Mountain Water, but he's not convinced the company can actually buy it, given the city's attempts to take ownership by condemnation from The Carlyle Group. Engen spoke at a press conference in his office this morning after meeting with Algonquin's CEO.

Danny Dauterive

Montana Public Radio’s Edward O’Brien sat down with Algonquin Power and Utilities CEO Ian Robertson. Robertson says "we would like to be part of the Montana utility landscape forever."

Edward O'Brien

It looks like Missoula's city water system could be sold to a Canadian company.

Liberty Utilities, a subsidiary of Algonquin Power & Utilities, has reached an agreement with The Carlyle Group, which currently owns Missoula's water system.

Algonquin is expected to pay an estimated $327 million for Missoula's system and three other utilities. That price includes assumption of about $77 million of existing long-term debt.

Montana Dignitaries Break Ground On Missoula College Site

Aug 22, 2014
Christopher Allen

On a blustery, rainy afternoon, several Montana dignitaries gathered just offshore of the Clark Fork River today to officially break ground on construction of the Missoula College’s new site.

Officials expect construction of the $32 million project to last about two years, after nearly eight years of planning and some controversy. College officials considered several other sites, including the 90-year-old university golf course, before funding complications and public protest forced them to look elsewhere.

Missoula and the southern California town of Apple Valley are separated by over 11-hundred miles, but both have at least one thing in common; officials from both towns want their local water systems under public ownership.

Leaders from both communities met earlier this week in Missoula to discuss ways to do just that.

Apple Valley's water system is owned and operated by Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company. In Missoula, it's Mountain Water Company.

Edward O'Brien

A second grade exercise in persuasive letter writing led to an official reminder from Missoula authorities today: leash your dogs and - oh yeah - don't forget to pick up their poop, too.

Edward O'Brien has more:

Sally Mauk

The city of Missoula has filed to obtain its privately owned water system through eminent domain. The complaint was filed in District Court. The city has been trying to negotiate a purchase of the Mountain Water company from its owner, the Carlyle Group, but has not been able to reach agreement. Missoula is the only major Montana city not to own its water system, and Mayor John Engen says it's in the public's best interest to control its water. He says the current owner is only interested in profit and has not been a good steward of the water system.

State lawmakers are asking what rights local governments have to charge fees to megaload shipments moving through Montana cities and towns.

These vehicles carry enormous pieces of equipment, blocking traffic as they haul their freight often to the tar sands of Canada or the Bakken oil patch.

The legislature’s Revenue and Transportation Interim committee inquired into the fees Tuesday.

Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce says the city of Missoula began charging them a few years ago. 

Courtesy photo

A public hearing will be held later this month before the Missoula City Council on a proposed ordinance that would give Mayor John Engen authority to open negotiations with The Carlyle Group to purchase Mountain Water Company.

Carlyle, a global alternative asset manager, purchased Mountain Water about two years ago, with the stipulation the city of Missoula would get the first shot at buying the utility if it ever went up for sale.

In this feature interview with Edward O'Brien, Engen explains why he thinks it's important to pursue this discussion - and why now.

City of Missoula

When it comes to fireworks there doesn't seem to be lots of middle ground; you either love them or would be quite pleased if you never heard or saw one again in your life.