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Libby residents react to Baucus' retirement

By Rebecca Vogt, KCFW Reporter, rvogt@kcfw.com
Published On: Apr 23 2013 10:01:01 PM MDT
LIBBY, Mont. -

Libby residents said Senator Max Baucus was a driving force in ensuring the word got out to as many people as possible about what was really going on in their small city.
Gayla Benefield remembers "the first meeting" when Baucus met with her and others from Libby. They had been exposed to asbestos from a vermiculite mine owned by WR Grace.

"Max listened and he promised to carry through," said Benefield.

"We've relied on him so much here in the city of Libby, Montana," said resident George Bauer. "He was the main spearhead for the asbestos situation here and he has done so much."

Recently, Baucus fought to speed up settlements from the state and Grace with over 1,000 getting money to offset expenses. But another thing he will be remembered for is funding for the Center for Asbestos Related Disease Clinic, a non-profit organization that screens and treats people struggling with asbestos related illnesses. Some say without his help, the clinic might not have ever opened.

"There were times when I was on the board and we almost closed our doors because of funding," continued Benefield. "Max always came through because the realized the importance of righting a wrong that had been done to the people of Libby."

For the, Baucus has been more than a lawmaker. He took the trouble and pain from Libby and made sure the entire country listened.

"He has helped us overcome many challenges that we had to confront throughout the past 13 years. And his legacy in Libby will be one of his great accomplishments to go down in history," said Dusti Thompson, reading a statement from the CARD Clinic.

"He just went head over shoulders doing everything he could for us," said Bauer. "It's going to be a shock for Libby and our country."