Tuesday, September 7, 2010

View From The Bridge 9/8/10

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
By Muncie

What a treat it was and what a wonderful time the Volunteers from the Visitors Information Center had last Wednesday. It was a nice day to travel and be away from Fort Benton as we learned later that our town had a violent rainstorm. The weather in Philipsburg was a little chilly and did threaten rain several times but did not happen.

We left at 7:30 a.m. with 19 women and one man and the women said there was a single rose amongst 19 thorns. The one man insisted it was the other way around. Larry Garlic was our bus driver and we all noted that he is an excellent driver and very patient. He put up with our…”it’s too cold, it’s too hot and we need to make a pit stop.” Our first stop was in Great Falls, the second in Helena, and we managed to make it all the way to Philipsburg without another stop.

Philipsburg is a charming little town. It is set on a hillside and when the bus turned off the highway to enter the town, the sight that greeted us was like a Swiss Village. The main street is about four blocks long and an interesting variety of businesses (no empty buildings.) The hub of the businesses is the famous “The Sweet Palace #3 Candy Store,” and the owner is a bubbly, hard working organizer. She said that everyone pitches in to do whatever project needs to be accomplished in town. She also added that everyone works together like a team and they are all on the same page. She quoted, “Either get on the train or get off because the train is leaving.”

She filled out grant papers about ten years ago and was one of three cities in the entire Nation that was awarded a grant for painting the buildings on the main street. Every business pitched in, (some had to be convinced,) and the storefronts became a showcase.

Philipsburg is a town of many volunteers. Volunteers, for instance, staff the Thrift Shop. They gave $75,000.00 to their hospital last year for equipment.

The town has many events and the two I thought most interesting were the Opera House Summer Stock and the Rocky Mountain Accordion Celebration. They have seven other events that draw visitors to their town. Fort Benton has an advantage as many of our events and venues are historic. For history buffs, that is the ultimate especially in Montana.

We drove up and down the some of the hilly streets and observed there were no properties that needed the grass mowed. Every home had flowers, many flowers, in their yards. The homes were picturesque, neat, and tidy. There is a lot of pride along those streets and you could just feel how special the residents feel about their town. They are a tourist town and they know how important it is to their community.

We all scattered to explore on our own to cover all the businesses along the street. A few of us met at the Museum that had a recreation of a mine in the basement. It made you realize how unfortunate conditions were, if you had to work there. Hundreds of feet below the surface is not someplace I would like to be.

When we left Philipsburg, we headed south to Georgetown Lake. On the way, we saw some gorgeous scenery. Many old homesteads and small barns were over one hundred years old. Many of these old buildings were collapsing. It makes one think about who were the people who built these homes, what happened to them, and are their descendants still in the area. It makes one realize the enormity of the size of Montana. You can drive for mile after mile without seeing a home, farm, or ranch. It is awesome. I know that is an overused word but there just is not any other way to describe it. “Montana, Montana, glory of the west, of all the states from coast to coast, your easily the best. Montana, Montana, where skies are always blue.  M-O-N-T-A-N-A, Montana I love you.”

On the way home, each of the volunteers wrote one sentence of what they would like to see Fort Benton do that Philipsburg has done. The results will be reported at the next Chamber of Commerce meeting. We will update you next week.

Do you remember a few months ago when the Rocky Mountain International (Tour Guides from Europe,) came to Fort Benton for three hours? The General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Fort Benton served about 40 Guides for lunch. Under the chairperson, Beverly Grass, it was very successful and they were rewarded with many compliments.

On Saturday, September 25th The National Garden Clubs from all over the United States will be visitors to our town for the day. There will also be about 40 members and The Fort Benton Garden Club is going to host a salad luncheon. Because the Garden Club is not very large, we are asking for some help in making salads.

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs Fort Benton and The Friends of the Library are well known for their salad luncheons. If you can possibly make a salad, it would be very much appreciated. Please call Nancy Lachapelle on her cell phone at 868-6210.

I have been told that whatever you do in kindness for someone else, you will get back a hundred-fold. It works for me but as I reread it, it sounds a little selfish. Oh well, it is nice to spread a little kindness around.

As of tonight, (Sunday the 5th) I have had several questions about the Veterans pictures asked of me. The answer to, “Do you want servicemen and women who are now serving?” Yes, I would like every conflict the U.S has been involved in and all who are serving now. Yes, they should all be 5 x 7 in plain black 5 x 7 frames.

I have not however received any more pictures to date. My goal is to have this project completed by Veterans Day, 2010. That is two months away. It is possible with your complete cooperation. It does seem like a monumental task but not if each picture is delivered in the next couple of weeks. Please. Many people tell me that it is an important project but talking does not cut it. Positive actions are now the key words so let’s get on the train.

No. 3 on the list is…GO FOR SECONDS. Recycling does not mean only separating your cans and bottles. It can mean using things a second (or a third) time. That nice padded envelope you got in the mail, for example. Instead of throwing it away, scratch out the address/put a new address sticker on it, tear off the stamps, and use the envelope again.

(Chouteau County Performing Arts first performance is Monday, September 27th) starring Saxophobia direct from Disneyland. They are absolutely the most entertaining group ever, as many of us heard them as part of the Consortium that was held in Fort Benton earlier in the year. Get your season tickets and be there.

I am so looking forward to those glorious warm autumn days and cool for sleeping nights. We are already into the football season (Go Horns, Grizzlies, Bobcats, Saints and all the high schools and colleges your kids may go to.)

Be kind, do a good deed, and call in any good stories that you might hear or are involved in personally.