Tuesday, September 18, 2012

View From The Bridge 9/15/12

“VIEW from the BRIDGE”
By Muncie

Well at last, The Old Bridge side railings painting project has been completed.  It now looks like an old bridge should look minus the yellow paint, the rust, and the not-so-well done maintenance look.  It may pose a problem for all those artists and photographers who have done their thing involving The Old Bridge.  They may have to return and do it over again in black. Perhaps painters can just repaint their work but it is not possible for photographs.   

The first contact of the F.B.I. (Fort Benton Idealists,) about The Old Bridge was with the Montana Historical Society Preservation Office in Helena.  It was with Mark Baumter, PhD and he is the State Historic Preservation Officer.  He introduced us to Pete Brown who is the Historic Architecture Specialist.  Pete was a wealth of information about our Old Bridge.  We all know that the Bridge was build in 1888 originally, however did you know it was the oldest and first iron bridge across the Missouri in Montana.  I did not know that fact. 

Pete said that since the replacement, (the original first idea concerning the railings,) of the Old Bridge wood railings, could not meet current codes.  He continued that replacement could be done in a way that would be in character with the bridge.  After getting bids from several local contractors, the F.B.I. decided that it was not financially ready to replace the rails at that time.
The painting of the side rails came as a band-aid solution to bring the Old Bridge more into character.  Black paint was suggested, (by the Historic Society,) to keep in character of the bridge color.  At no time was it a question of painting the bridge itself.  That question had been asked of one of the B.F.I. members.

Other, what I consider good news, is documentation that the Montana Historical Society Historic Preservation Office, in spring of 2011, that they are in the process of nominating all the bridges to the National Register of Historic Places.  This was another questions brought up to a member of the F.B.I.  Our County Commissioners may be considering whether to approve or disapprove the nomination of the Old Bridge.  I will, as soon as possible, check in at a Commissioners meeting and see if anything has be done in that direction in the last year and a half.  I will keep you posted.

An anonymous person, (who said I had to die if I told,) purchased 100 solar lights and placed them around the B on the hillside several months ago.  I mentioned it in the View but most residents I spoke with about the FB lights had never seen them.
Mr. Anonymous recently, (in the last two weeks,) noticed that the bottom half of the B no longer was lit.  No, it could not be true.  Yes, it was.  Someone had stolen the lights.  Why would anyone do a thing like that?  I never will understand people who steal or destroy other peoples property.  If anyone knows any details of the stolen solar lights, please notify the Police Department.  There is a reward. 

And now, the rest of the story.  The Fort Benton High School students not only replaced the bottom of the B and they also completed the F too.  It really looks spectacular.  I am calling it, “The 9th Wonder of Fort Benton.”  Why the 9th?  Fort Benton has so many great wonders within our city and 9 is one of my lucky numbers.
Now I know that you are all going to take a ride after dark to see this wonder.  I have arranged for Police Traffic Control for the crowded Highwood Rd.  There will also be a parking area and there will be a $3.00 parking donation for three nights.  The donation will go to the High School students who purchased the solar lights. I realize that someone had complained at the Chouteau County Fair gate, that he/she had paid a $6.00 fee when they paid their car registration, to park on state land.  I will check tomorrow to see if that area is state land and if it is then, forget about the parking donation. You could then park there for three nights free.  It that adeal or what?  (I DO HOPE THAT YOU READERS REALIZE THIS IS A JOKE.)

It is now Monday afternoon and I just returned from a meeting with the Commissioners.  The FB is on private property and you will not be able to park to view the FB.  However, with traffic control, you can drive slowly, go to the top of the hill, turn around and return to Fort Benton having a second look.  Another option is to drive on River Street although you will not be able to park there.  Just drive slow and when you get to the end of the street and turn around, let someone else drive so you can get a better view.  Let me know what you think.
P.S.  I think Tim will have to take another picture of both the F and B lit up.  He had a picture in the August 15th edition of The River Press of the B only. 

Pie Day is Friday the 21st at 2:00 p.m.  Take a break from your chore obligations, your business obligations, and enjoy a homemade piece of the best pies in Fort Benton.  It not only satisfies your sweet tooth but it is a fund raiser for the Golden Age Senior Center.  I have nothing but admirations for those ambitious women who get up early on Friday morning to bake.  They did not bake during the hot summer months, (and wasn’t it hot,) so this is a real treat coming up.\ for this fall season.  Invite just one other person to come with you so you not only enjoy pie but conversation with each other.  You may not have seen much of your friends and neighbors during the summer because of the heat, so let us see you on Friday.

The first of this seasons C.C.P.A. (Chouteau County Performing Arts,) entertainment evenings will be on Wednesday the 26th of September.  I am reminding you this week because you may not pick up the 26th edition of the River Press in time for you to read about the pe4formance.  Put it on your calendar now and we will see you there.

The members of The Friends of the Library enjoyed a real treat last Wednesday when Kareen Swensgard Bratt was our guest and speaker.  She grew up in Fort Benton and wrote a book about growing up on a wheat farm in Chouteau County.  Her book, “My Home’s in Montana,” was her subject, of course, and it was a most enjoyable hour listening to her talk about her bringing up.  Everyone at the meeting (there was quite a crowd,) enjoyed her book and having her tell us some background stories.  She was most informative about self-publishing. 

That should interest several people I know who have written books and would like to publish them.  You can get in touch with Kareen about her book by contacting me.      If you are a farm family, it is a “must read” book.  It will bring back many memories for you too. This meeting was another good reason to join “Friends of the Library.”  As Cindy always says, “Be a friend and bring a friend to Friends of the Library.

Friday is our last day of summer.  Where did it disappear?  Saturday will be the first day of fall and it is certainly in evidence.  The trees across the Missouri are turning yellow and the smell of fall is in the air, (that is when you cannot smell smoke.)  On my way to Helena last Saturday, there were also many trees that were half yellow and half green.  I had to turn the furnace on two morning this past week because the house temperature was at 50 degrees.  I really do not mind what Mother Nature is handing out these days but I do mind the days getting shorter.  Several people have voiced that complaint to me.  I will just have to look forward to 3 months from now when the days get longer again.  In the meanwhile just enjoy every minute of every day.