Monday, January 25, 2010

View From The Bridge 1/27/10

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
By Muncie

I am so enthused by the Web Cam project I cannot type fast enough. As close to the facts that I can recall, this is how it all came about. I received requests, e-mails, and phone calls asking for the Cam to be returned to the Benton Pharmacy Building. The problem? The Cam that was there was no longer in working condition. The camera on the hill was not adequate for the Levee. The only solution was to purchase a new one.

I was of a mind to ask the different organizations to donate toward the cause but since I was already asking them for money toward cottonwood trees along the Levee...that option did not seem feasible. I was scheduled to attend the C.I.A. meeting on Thursday evening but at the last minute, it was cancelled. They did not know when the next meeting would be. I then played my trump card and came up with four men who offered to cover the cost.

From Fort Benton, there were three donors, Steve Vielleux, Randy Morger, and Wally Morger. Don Beecher from CA had from the beginning of last week offered to chip in. It was the same with Steve who gave half the cost of the new CAM. Randy gave his donation as a birthday present for his brother Shane in CA who cannot start his morning without opening the Fort Benton Web site.

The biggest player in this game is Rodger Hankins (sorry I misspelled you name last week) because he is willing to install the new camera and maintain it. He has been doing this for fifteen years and he has agreed to continue with the installation and the maintenance. I certainly was not aware of that and I learned a great deal, about how the camera functions (more in next paragraph.) He said that the old camera which had been up for fifteen years, attracted thousands of viewers and tourists to the site. The new camera will also track the number of persons who log onto it. It will be very interesting to report on each month.

Several people asked if the camera could include the Old Bridge and the Old Firehouse Visitors Center as well as the Levee, the Shep Statue and the Grand Union. It cannot and the reason being the location of the sun. The sun shining into the lens of the camera could damage it. That would be especially true in the summer when the sun comes up in the southeast and it is at its hottest temperatures. I did not question what was involved with moving the camera to see the Old Bridge and Visitors Center but I wonder if it could be done in the winter when the sky is overcast. I will check that out.

By the time I picked up the check from the C.I.A. (the donors had made their deposits to that non-profit organization,) and took it to Rodger, he had already ordered the camera. It should be here on Tuesday (1/26), it should be up, and running as soon as Rodger can install it. Check the Fort Benton web site for the magic moment.

You say you did not know Fort Benton had a web site or you did not know how to get into it. Go to Click on Fort Benton The Birthplace of Montana. Scroll down to Enter Here. Now you have Fort Benton Montana Best Kept Secret and all the links are listed. If you want to spend an hour or so, click on all 21 links and learn everything you ever wanted to know about Fort Benton. The links are About Fort Benton, Attractions, Museums and Historic Sites, Businesses, Chouteau County, Come Live in Fort Benton, Community Services, Fort Benton Weather, Live Web Cam, Montana Weather, Search Tools, Accommodations, View from the Bridge, Chamber of Commerce, City Hall, Community Calendar, Fort Benton Schools, Landmark Wireless Accounts, Map It, Recreation and Special Events. Of course, my favorite is View from the Bridge but then I am prejudiced.

These sites are a wealth of information. The Fort Benton site even includes videos and they are awesome. I cannot imagine that anyone who has never been here would not want to travel here immediately. Visitors have traveled here as you can read by their comments.

The site on Fort Benton Schools should be of interest to you parents who have children in the schools. They have a calendar with all planned programs on it. If you are wondering if there is a sports, music program, or other events connected with the school…check out the site.

The next project planned is a new Weather Station. Rodger is working on it and I will have more information at a later date. I have been told and have no way of checking, that our weather readings come from Malstrom Air Force Base. Even now, it is a fasctinating site as it gives readings by the hour. Check it out…I am sure you will find it very interesting.

It is not too late to make plans to spend Saturday the 30th at the Elementary School to see 17 great Showcases. Remember, there is no charge. You are very welcome and if you happen to see some of the performers around town…give them a big Fort Benton Welcome. Artists are very pleased when you greet and welcome them. The Cowboy Poets love to come to Fort Benton because of the friendliness of the people here in town. We would like the Showplace artists to have the same feeling about us. See you there.

Just another reminder that Foothills Brass will be performing on February 3rd. That is a Wednesday evening and you may not get the River Press in time that day to remind you to attend the show that evening. This is a toe tapping show so see you there.

The same reminder about the Cancer Support Groups Soup Supper and Chair Auction on Friday the 5th of February. If you have “Cabin Fever”, next week offers you the opportunity to get out of the house for some fun evenings. The Cancer Support Group needs all the help they can get because they do so much for our fellow Bentonites who have cancer. Those cancer patients also need all the help they can get. Please make an effort to invite just one more person to attend with you as that would double the attendance. See you there.

I have some exciting news about the machine that the Center has just acquired. There has always been a Micro Film machine at the Center where you can look for any River Press articles for years back. The problem is when you find your article (you have to know the approximate date) you have to manually copy. I did that very thing a few months ago when I did some research for an article.

I had not been to the Center for two months and went I returned for my one day a week volunteering, I found a new machine that will print the articles for you. For a very long time the Helena Historical Society was the only place that had a copy machine. Great Falls Library now has one but I do not know how long they have had it. Fort Benton is the only small town in the North Central area that can boast about having a printer.

I used it last week with Hank Armstrong’s expert help, to find an article from what we thought was January 1939. As it turned out, the search found it in December, 1938. We were able to print it out for a permanent record. The surprising thing was that Hank, as he was looking for my article, found another on the same page that was of interest to him. It is very fascinating and more so a plus for researchers. I invite you to come to the Center not only to do research on your families but also to see how this modern technology works for the Community and the Research Center. Come see us soon.

I have been urging readers of the River Press to come to the Center with their old pictures. They would be scanned and returned to you immediately. In all this time, no one has come at my request except a few weeks ago Madeline Ragland gave me a very old picture of the Court House. She does not know where it came from or how old it is. The trees are very small and I would judge it to be in the early 1900’s. The important thing is that she did get it to the Center so Hank could preserve it for those who in years to come will appreciate. Please come over soon and look up your family’s history or more importantly add to your family folder. “If you don’t know where you came from, you cannot know where you are going.”

Now that the cold weather is back, be very careful that you do not fall. Just stay put and enjoy a good book. Perhaps a little letter writing would fill your days. I received a hand written letter today and it was such a pleasant surprise. I am afraid though; letter writing is a long lost art.

God bless America.