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Director's Report February 2006
- February started with a letter being drafted and sent to the COSA group inviting them to consider a purchase of a maquette to help support the Commission’s Senate Art Project.
- In early February I drafted and sent an email to the Corps II host communities reminding them of the Montana Committee for the Humanities’ funding for speakers for the Tent of Many Voices. I also reminded everyone that the Education Initiative of the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles will still be on the Trail this coming summer, and may be searching for story leads. And, lastly I reminded the Corps II host communities that the National Park Service needs to review and approve any proposed “Tent” speaker’s list before speaker confirmations are sent out.
- Bryant Boswell called to say the funding has been secured for the bronze of Clark’s bust to be placed at Pompeys Pilllar this coming summer. The question of where to place the bronze statue at the Pillar is now to be answered, as well the arrangements with the St. Louis-based foundry are still to be decided. The bust will be dedicated during the National Day of Honor festivities in July 2006.
- The Circle of State Advisors (COSA) met via a conference call on February 21st. The agenda include a report on David Borlaug and Karen Seaburg’s visit to Washington, DC in late January to visit with key Congressmen about the future of the Challenge Cost Share Program. Wendy Rainey also made a trip to DC in early February to visit with many of the same Congressmen. Those visits went very well by the way. We also talked about the US Mint program that was initially designed to be a “money-maker” for the National Bicentennial Council. Some problems arose regarding being able to provide enough private-sector monetary match; that dilemma is still not 100% resolved. The group also discussed various details with regard to the reception/dinner planned for the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center on March 31st. Tom Daubert, or someone of his choosing, will report on the Undaunted Stewardship Program, and Carol Bronson will coordinate with Laurie Heupel for a report on trail-wide projects funded with CCS funds. “Dear Colleague” letters will be sent to all Congressmen in the next few weeks to solicit their continued support for the CCS Program after the current allocation. The COSA state reps were asked to RSVP soon so I could confirm attendance counts with the food vendor.
NOTE: On February 26th I traveled to Great Falls to meet personally with Senator Burns to encourage his continued support of the Challenge Cost Share Program. Carol Bronson and Wendy Rainey also met with the Senator on behalf of the Trail Heritage Foundation.
- Hal Stearns was interviewed by KPAX TV in Missoula on February 1st for inclusion as an evening news story on the Senate Art Bronze. The 30-second PSA that Hal filmed in late January will be ready for statewide distribution via CBS affiliates very soon. Options for displaying the maquettte at the Charlie Russell Auction weekend in Great Falls appear to have hit a dead-end (the smaller display rooms were all reserved for artists already affiliated with this annual auction). Hal and I have a luncheon meeting set for Wednesday (3/1) to discuss what else can be done to promote the Senate Art Bronze.
- Throughout February I conversed with Brent Arnold with the Great Falls Tribune about the process necessary to get 40,000 placemat maps printed (last year we had 60,000 maps printed). These will be available for Rita and me to distribute at the 2006 Governor’s Travel & Tourism Conference in Great Falls. We will also make contact with the necessary “vendors” for statewide distribution while in Great Falls.
NOTE: On February 23rd I met with the MDT to start the update process for the map side of the placemat maps noted above, as well as the interagency agreement that was signed to initiate this cooperative project. The 2005 events were taken off, as were the Corps II host locations for last year. New will be the proposed Blackfeet event on July 26-29, and the Lewis & Clark in the Rockies Bicentennial Festival to be held in the Missoula area from June 22 to July 9th, and the National Signature Event to be held at Pompeys Pillar on July 22-25, 2006.
- On the same day as I met with the MDT re: the map updates, I also met with Mike Bousliman to discuss options for MDT to host our “grants program” funds. This now gives the state Commission two options for eventually dispersing funds to local communities (and possibly to various public sector agencies) for the update of Lewis & Clark Interpretive Signs; the MDT and the FW&P Division. I should mention that at this point in time the Commission is unsure of how much funding might be earmarked for a sign maintenance program.
- On Monday evening, February 6th, I attended public interviews that were conducted to fill the vacant Parks Director’s position. Joe Maurier was selected from a field of 5 finalists to be the new leader of that Division.
- We did finally receive an application from the Western Montana Regional Commission for the $20,000 the state Commission had earmarked for them for an event to be held in western Montana from June 22 to July 9th. The contracts were drafted following our February 16th meeting, and sent to Scott Sproull allowing him access to these funds, contingent on his completion of a delinquent O&P grant report.
- The planning process for the proposed Lewis & Clark in Blackfeet Country hit a snag this month, in that a scheduled meeting on February 20th didn’t happen due to that day being a federal holiday. George Heavy Runner continues to lead this event planning effort scheduled for July 26-29th at the Meriwether Meadows Campground between Browning and Cut Bank. Some have questioned whether this event will happen; we remain optimistic that it will take place as planned.
- The National Park Service is making some changes in Great Falls. As it now stands, Laurie Heupel who has been stationed in Great Falls at the USDA’s Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center for the past few years will be reassigned to the Omaha office by October 1st. At that time the NPS will put a person in a “term position” in Great Falls for upwards of a year; beyond that time would depend on the NPS receiving some funding assistance from its federal agency partners. If you see the value of an on-going NPS position in Great Falls, please relay your thoughts to Jane Weber, the Interpretive Center’s Director.
- The state Commission met in Miles City on Thursday, February 16th. The weather and road conditions affected attendance, as numerous Lewis & Clark personnel from communities chose not to attend this particular meeting. The meeting was held at the Miles City Community College. Of special interest this time was a discussion on the delinquency of a 2002 Project Grant by the Crow Tribe. In order for them to qualify for “new” money in 2006 in anticipation of Corps II locating on their Reservation, the project reporting delinquency must be brought current. Following the Commission meeting I have been in contact with folks from the Tribe, and am now awaiting a decision on how that grant will be dealt with. Also of interest was the discussion of the status of the Senate Art Bronze project, and who was responsible for various project elements to ensure the project’s successful completion. Following a rather lengthy discussion it was agreed that the Montana Historical Society would continue to take the project lead with the state Commission assuming the bulk of the fundraising responsibility. Input on marketing strategies would be provided by the state Commission’ newly formed special committee of Mark Baumler, Mark Sansaver, Betsy Baumgart, Clint Blackwood, Hal Stearns and Homer Staves. We also had Dick Williams attend this next to the last meeting of our Commission to say “thanks” for our collective work with the Challenge Cost Share program, and to encourage local input on Trail management issues. On behalf of the state Commission, Homer Staves presented Dick with a certificate of appreciation and lapel pin as way to express that his commitment to Trail work in Montana was very appreciated. Dick introduced his associate, Suzanne Gucciardo, who will be collecting Trail data for inclusion in a new centralized GIS system.
NOTE: Following the Commission meeting Hal Stearns, Mark Baumler and I met with the staff of the Miles City Star to give them an update on the Senate Art Project.
- The final topic that I will report on is the “Missing COSA Banner”. It would appear that it was lost around the time the vendor show at the Signature Event in Great Falls was being dismantled. If anyone can assist us in finding this banner, then I would happily send it to Idaho for their Signature Event in mid-June.
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