Tuesday, June 16, 2015

View From The Bridge 6/17/15

VIEW from the BRIDGE
By Muncie

Just a quick reminder that next Sunday is the day for cards and phone calls. I have not had to think about doing those things for 35 years since my father died. I have enjoyed Father’s Day since I have been in Fort Benton because of my Sweetheart’s 9 Kids, making it a really special time.

On this holiday and every day, tell everyone within hearing distance, how much you love them. Life changing seconds can happen and it may be a different story tomorrow.

Happy Father’s Day to all Fathers, Grandfathers, and Great Grandfathers. Are there any Great Great Grandfathers out there?

Summer is due at the end of that week and you can celebrate outdoors. We should be able to smell BBQ all over town. Today, Sunday the 14th, was a heavenly day. It cooled off from Saturday and I was able to do some chores in the yard.

It is the nickname for the Museum of the Upper Museum. One day on an errand to that building, I spied B.J. and Dr. Bylund filling the planters with flowers. They do this on the q.t. and all on their own every year. It looks so refreshing and beautiful. Ride or walk past the MUM and see for yourself. If you see the Bylund's out and about town, please tell them how you appreciate their efforts.

In late August and September of 1999 work began on transforming the room in the Fire House into the Chamber of Commerce Visitors Information Center. For about 3 or 4 years, the Center was where the restrooms are now. It was a very small space with a make shift wall separating the volunteers from a City storage area. (The Nativity Set and other large pieces were stored.) It was completely open to the weather. We had a few brochure stands and a couple of chairs. The brochures suffered from the moisture and if it rained, we had to give it up.

It was decided to have a Visitors Information Center because of the need to expand tourism. It was a great setup and I am sure you all have visited there many times. You picked up Montana Maps, Fort Benton maps, brochures about all the historical places in Fort Benton, and every other place you wanted to visit in Montana. At that time we had a VCR with videos about Fort Benton, the White Cliffs, and Glacier and Yellowstone Parks.  (Since then the VCR was replaced with a computer.) The Center had, “Everything you wanted to know about Montana.”

In 2000, the Center was ready to open except for the fact that the handicapped sidewalk had to be put in. We had to wait 6 weeks before the grand opening in early July.  2015 marks the 15th anniversary. The Center has been a complete success and we have had thousands of visitors. They come from all over the world and it is the most interesting volunteer job in town.

There are many stories that come out of the Center and I only know mine. When I greet people from CA, I always say, “I’m sorry and when are you moving to Fort Benton.” To our Canadian visitors I say, “When are you going to join the United States?” I always get the same answer, “When are you going to join us.” What a power force that would be with Alaska in their northwest corner. (I know it will never happen.)

Last year was actually my anniversary of writing the View from the Bridge because I began on 7/7/1999. My darling step-daughter Audra Morger Bonilla came up with the title. I wrote each year from May when the Center opened until Labor Day.

About 5 years ago, my friends Randy, Connie, and Sharalee went to the Governor’s Conference on Tourism. They decided that I should write every week instead of just during the Visitors season. What else could I do? I have never learned to say, “NO.” So I went from 90 hours writing a year to 312 hours a year. Those are not exact hours because I took time off here and there. Believe me, I love every minute of it especially now in my life when I am trying to keep busy.

As I looked back to those old records, I just wrote about the visitors and the volunteers stories. It is quite unlike in the last five years when I am here, there, and everywhere. Some people do not talk to me because they are afraid I will put it into the View. (Muncie note: I would never do that without your permission although I have heart some in creditable stories that I cannot reveal. Just kidding)

At last and after about 6 months, Fort Benton is back on the KRTV Weather Map. I am not trying to promote that station and it just happens to be the one I watch after the 5:00 p.m. World News with Scott Pelley.

The Weather Map has always been on KFBB.  I actually watch KFBB often because they have local news at 5:00 p.m., World News at 5:30 p.m., and local news again at 6:00 p.m. PBS and CSPN also have world news. My watching depends on my schedule for the day.  I like variety of reports on the same subject. It gives me a great opportunity to discuss the reports with myself.  I usually win the argument.

I want to assure the Loma readers that I truly love your town. I hope that I do not offend anyone by having “Loma” name removed from the weather map and replaced with the original Fort Benton. I just felt surprised back in January when Fort Benton’s name had been replaced by Loma because our temperatures vary 3 to 4 degrees. At least that is what I have found by my Weather Station clocks and the Fort Benton web-site. (Muncie note:  I am sure that you agree that 3 to 4 degrees really makes a difference.) Enough about that subject already!

My father taught me LOGIC, “Because I said so, that’s why”