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Ravalli commissioners were overwhelmed by crowd for refugee lett - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Ravalli commissioners were overwhelmed by crowd for refugee letter hearing

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Hundreds turned out for a meeting this week in Hamilton (MTN News photo) Hundreds turned out for a meeting this week in Hamilton (MTN News photo)
HAMILTON -

Ravalli County commissioners are still astonished at the hundreds of people who wanted to comment about a letter raising concerns about the relocation of Syrian refugees to Montana.

Commissioners knew their proposed letter of concern about vetting refugees for security was going to draw a crowd. But 30 minutes before the hearing started, the county administration building was already under siege, with people packed so tight no one could move, with no parking for blocks. 

The hearing was moved to Hamilton Junior High School, but even then the auditorium was too small and the meeting was moved a second time into the gym.

"My expectation was just kind of based on the the phone calls and emails I got. I was expecting around a hundred people - which our facility would accommodate. It would be tight but it would accommodate a hundred people," Ravalli County Commissioner Jeff Burrows said.

"And I don't know what the was, it could have been 500 or 600 hundred, so we were five or six times that. We had people flowing down the hall, downstairs and outside. We could get everybody in the building," he added.

Burrows isn't sure why there were so many people, beyond the growing concern over the Syrian refugee issue - and he's hoping Hamilton schools aren't getting "too much flak" for trying to help deal with the overflow crowd. Burrows says the commissioners are very appreciate for the district's help.

The commissioners approved the letter at the end of the two hour hearing. 

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