By Michael Howell
The Bitterroot Valley Elks Lodge No. 1651, through the Elks National Foundation, was able to obtain a grant to develop a Community Investment Program within the Bitterroot Valley. Harry Potton, a member of American Legion Post 94 in Stevensville, told the council that the Stevensville Town Council at its 24 meeting that the Elks Lodge had installed a beautiful flag retirement box in Hamilton last year. He said the box has been well received and in its first month of use they collected four 50-gallon bags of flags. He said the aim was to get a box installed in every town in the valley and that Stevensville had been chosen to get the next box.
Potton noted that the Elks Lodge was a generous organization and contributed over $1.3 million nationally to programs which help veterans. He urged the Council to accept the gift and place it at the Veterans Park. He said that the Elks Lodge and the American Legion would retire all the flags on Veteran’s Day.
The vote to accept the Flag Retirement Box and place it at Veterans Park was unanimous. Councilor Robin Holcomb was absent.
Stevi Phase III water system improvements draw to a close
Phase III of the Town of Stevensville’s Water System Improvement Project is almost complete. Donny Ramer of Professional Consultants Inc. (PCI), the engineering firm in charge of the project, told the town council at its last meeting that a punch list of items required for completion had been identified and final completion is scheduled to occur August 16. He said the Town would have a two-year warranty on the system starting from the date of final completion.
The Phase III project cost a total of about $4 million with about $2.1 million of that being financed by a bond. Work included the development of four deep-water wells at the well field located adjacent to the Twin Creeks Subdivision. It also included the replacement of about 15% of the town’s water mains and associated individual water line services. Although it will take time to get enough accurate comparisons, the amount of water being billed appears to be about 66% of what is being produced. This is an improvement from the time prior to making the water line replacements when it was estimated that only about 30% of the water being produced was being billed.
Park Board appointments
Mayor Gene Mim Mack’s recommendation for the first four appointments to the recently re-constituted Park Board were unanimously approved by the Council and included Raymond Smith, Tonya Eckert, Streets and Parks Supervisor Ed Sutherlin and Police Chief James Marble. Two Park Board positions remain to be filled.
Council committee appointments
In separate motions and votes, Councilor Jim Crews was appointed to be the council’s representative on the Airport Board and Councilor Tim Hunter was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Board.
Crews said that he was really interested in the airport and aviation.
“The airport is important to the Town,” he said. “We need a pro-active, strong board and I’m willing to participate.”
Hunter recently replaced Ron Klaphake who served on the Airport Board, but he said he was glad to serve on the Planning and Zoning Board.
“I think I will be a good fit,” he said. “This one suits my background and experience and it’s important to the town.”
Municipal Court Judge Ron Klaphake, who recently resigned from the Council to take the appointment as Town Judge, gave his first report, something the previous judge was famous for not doing. Klaphake said that he had handled eight cases in his first week: six pleaded guilty and paid a total of $2,030 in fines. He said that two paid immediately and four were placed on a payment plan. One was dismissed and one is headed to trial.
New grocery store coming
Missoula grocery store owner Jim Edwards, Jr. has applied for a business license to operate a grocery store in Stevensville. The store will open in the same building that his father, Jim Edwards, Sr. owned and operated a grocery store for many years. The town has been without a grocery store since the last grocery business in the building, Cottonwood Market, shuttered its doors.
Bike rest worth looking into
Councilor Tim Hunter was one of a group of town’s people to take a trip to Twin Bridges recently specifically to examine the town’s Bike Rest facility. The facility consists of one building that houses both a shower and a bathroom and has room to allow bikers to take refuge if the weather should turn really bad. Otherwise the bikers camp on the surrounding lawn area. He said that visitation to the facility was light and averaged about two to three people per night. He said, “It is worth looking into.”
Councilor donates laser target training equipment
Councilor Jim Crews, who is a professional firearms instructor, donated some laser targeting training equipment to be used by the Stevensville Police Department and other staff, for firearms training.
Mayor Gene Mim Mack reported that the Town had received a $20,000 payment from the Missoula Federal Credit Union. The money was owed the Town as part of a negotiated settlement over the fact that the sewer lines in the Twin Creeks Subdivision did not meet the necessary specifications but were accepted as sufficient by the Town. The settlement money was due upon sale of the first lot. The lot recently sold to Habitat for Humanity. The money will be used to help pay for a camera system for inspecting sewer lines.
The Town also recently purchased two new trash cans and a bench for Main Street landscaping.
Responding to a citizen’s inquiry about the use of a water truck on newly paved streets in town, the Mayor said that the watering is done to hold down the dust when the road is swept. He said a truck holds about 2,500 gallons of water which cost the town about $4.85. He estimated the job under inquiry used about $10 worth of water.
Earlier in the meeting the Mayor also noted under claims that a $2,700 expense was to the consulting firm Morrison-Maierle for providing maps and being available to respond to questions at the public hearing held concerning the Airport Affected Area Ordinance. He said that work was outside the scope of any contract but was deemed necessary to facilitate a meeting that involved a tremendous amount of public interest.