By Darlene Grove, Victoria Howell, Amy Ling, Robin Holcomb and Billy Donaldson, Stevensville Civic Club
We are not sure those who live in the greater Stevensville community realize the importance of the Stevensville Civic Club. It’s been the main mover in many of the activities, projects and events that have taken place in our community from approximately 1945 until today. The mission of the Civic Club is to improve the quality of life for residents of the Stevensville area. In 2000, the Stevensville Main Street Association, a vision of the Civic Club, was established to address the needs of the business community and to preserve the downtown historic district. The two groups, though separate entities with separate goals, work together on many projects and events.
Had we not had an active Civic Club, we would not be enjoying the swimming pool, Lewis and Clark Park, the Creamery Park, the River Park, Father Ravalli Park, trees along Main Street and the River Path. Just think of what Stevensville would be like without those amenities.
In order to encourage tourism in Stevensville when the Highway bypass came to be, the Civic Club encouraged the restoration of Fort Owen, helped to publicize St. Mary’s Mission and other historical attractions and built information kiosks at the north and south entrances to Stevensville. The Civic Club also raised money for a large billboard and carved entry sign at the junction.
The Civic Club was the birthplace of the Stevensville Community Foundation. Two vibrant ladies who fulfilled a vision of a path to the river realized the need for a group with non-profit status that could raise funds needed for the many civic projects and other needs in the community. The Foundation serves as a grant source for our many dreams and needs.
The Creamery Picnic, the biggest festival of the year, is organized and implemented by the Civic Club. A committee starts in January to plan for the summer event and meets regularly for the seven months prior to the event and several after. One of the aspects of Picnic time is the Garden Party where the community’s special citizens, businesses and organizations who have given much of their energy and skills to the community during the year are honored.
In more recent years, the Civic Club sponsored a focus group to work with the Montana Department of Transportation in the development and design of the improvements to Highway 93. From those many volunteer hours we now have an extended path to the highway, bike paths which extend north to Lolo and south to Hamilton, and a basic structure for some nice landscaping.
The results of other projects we see today are: town and fire department logos, Fourth of July Pignic, Clean-up Day, Pantry Partners food bank, Christmas lights, and flowers on Main Street, and countless other projects that help make Stevensville a great place to live.
Right now the Stevensville Civic Club needs your help. As you can see from the history, many volunteers are needed to carry out existing responsibilities and projects and plan for the future. We need people to be on the board, families, young and old persons, retired and working folks, those who live in the town and those who live in the school district. We are all part of the Stevensville community and we need you to give a bit of time so the jobs do not fall on the few who give much and soon wear out. Where do our community activities usually take place? In the town, its parks and public places. We need all of you to continue this good work.
Come to the next Civic Club meeting on Thursday, March 14 (second Thursday of each month) in the basement of St. Mary’s Mission Visitor Center from 12 noon to 1 p.m. Or, contact Robin Holcomb, board member, at Rocky Mountain Bank, 777-5553.