July started with me attending the final days of the Explore! the Big Sky event in Great Falls. On July 1st I traveled around Great Falls to take in the various activities (the Honor Guard’s camp at the Upper Portage Camp, the Indian encampment at the fairgrounds, Corps II, and the USFS 100 year birthday party). That evening I enjoyed the Rita Coolidge concert. On July 4th Rita Cortright and her husband joined me in Great Falls for the parade and a catered lunch at the fairgrounds. We also took in various entertainment groups including the North Dakota marching band. A fire works show highlighted the evening activities.
Rick Hays with Qwest stopped by our office early in July which allowed us the opportunity to say “thanks” for their sponsorship of Corps II programming. I visited with Rick about a contact I had with the Regional Sales Manager from Qwest who was looking for proof of publicity given to that sponsorship. We are considering applying for 2006 monies later this fall.
No word yet from PPL Montana regarding their pending 3rd payment of their pledge to the Legacy Campaign ($20,000/year). This funding would allow for some interpretive signing along the Yellowstone River, very possibly at Pompeys Pillar as a part of their now on-going construction of a new visitor/interpretive center.
The Great Falls Tribune did report on the current financial situation of the Explore! the Big Sky event. Randy Gray has said publicly said that in spite of the overrun of expenses the event was well worth the cost to present to the public. He mentioned specifically the Indian Symposium as being well worth the expense since it is very seldom that any one venue has such distinguished speakers assembled in one place at one time. Peggy Bourne and I have visited about some possible negative local reaction to the newspaper publicity, and are working to have some positive letters written in response to the anticipated negative comments that are sure to be written. NOTE: On July 19th I was interviewed by the Billings Gazette regarding what lessons were learned from the Explore! event. I stressed that the programming in my mind should be geared toward the locals to entice them to attend, with a quality of presentation that visitors would appreciate.
The state Commission continued this month with the drafting of a Legacy Document that summarizes the work of the Commission since 1998. Rob Bauer has been researching and roughing out a draft of that report (which is funded by a grant given by the National Park Service). Two meetings were held in July with Rob, Rita Cortright, Dave Walter and myself to review the progress made so far, and to outline what additionally needs to be added next summer. Rob is now back in Missoula as he has completed the first ½ of the document, and is without material to write about until the planned events take place in 2006. A graphics person has also been identified and has committed to put the final report in final form.
Corps II was in Helena from July 9th to July 17th. The attendance was very good, only being surpassed by I believe Oklahoma City this past spring. Here is an overview of the activities that were made available:
July 9 to the 11 – Corps II performances
July 9-10 – Indian Art Market
July 13 – the dedication of the Lewis & Clark Trail which is embedded in the Great Northern Town Center sidewalk (this larger project also includes an amphitheatre and a water fall)
July 15-17 – Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and public agency displays
July 15- a Reunion concert of the Mission Mountain Wood Band
July 16 – Musical Currents at the Gates of the Mountains
July 17 – the dedication of the Tower Rock State Park, and a performance of “Project Bandaloop” (an aerial dance off the Hardy Bridge)
July 20- the dedication of the Two Camps Vista interpretive sign complex
In mid-July I drafted a letter for distribution to the Regional Commission, Tribes and Chapters of the Trail Heritage Foundation. This letter was asking for more detail in the signing reports submitted in October of 2003. Rita then reworked the letter and accompanying worksheets to show what information was submitted in 2003, and also conducted some research to outline who else should receive this letter. We are working to generate a sign inventory to quantify the amount of money needed for sign maintenance through in the state Commission’s budgets in 2006 and 2007, and to initiate an overall inventory of signs installed over the Bicentennial time frame. That letter and the informational templates were mailed out the third week of the month.
On July 13 the Circle of State Advisors (COSA) representatives that plan to attend the August 5th meeting in Portland met via a conference call to complete their agenda and to talk strategy. The group anticipates the creation of a current inventory of attractions, and to identify the “legacy” contact in each state. We also discussed how projected scoping meetings could be held in conjunction with the National Park Service. The concept of continued funding through the NPS’s Challenge Cost Share program was also debated.
I brainstormed with Arnie Olsen, the Director of the Montana Historical Society, this month to generate more names to receive the Senate Art (legacy) mailing. This is an ongoing effort to sell 75 of the miniature bronzes of this image. It was agreed to also call and visit with Eugene Daub to obtain his “short list” of potential buyers.
July 22nd was the Grand Opening of Corps II in Bozeman. This featured Bob Doerk portraying President Jefferson, and Joe McGeshick talking about “What Lewis & Clark Have Meant to the Native Americans.” Pierce Mullen was the Emcee. Corps II will be in Bozeman from July 22nd to the 31st.
On July 23rd I visited with Kevin Crisler, the on-site coordinator for Corps II, and stressed the necessity for quicker turnaround on speaker confirmations for communities wanting to host Corps II. He committed to work to achieve that goal by early 2006. I participated in the Sacajawea statue dedication in Three Forks (along with the multi-talented Hal Stearns). From Three Forks I went to the Headwaters State Park where the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles was camped. These re-enactors were later a part of the Saturday night “fireside chat” in front of approximately 150 attendees.
On July 25th I traveled to Lolo, MT and participated in a meeting of the Corps II Advance Team and members of the public safety (fire and police). The meeting went very well with the decision being made that FW&P and NPS would share in the cost of expanding the RV parking lot to accommodate Corps II. Additional discussion outlined where the various Corps II “support agencies” would locate. The bridge over Lolo Creek is scheduled for installation in mid to late August 2005.
I traveled to Townsend on Tuesday, July 25th to once again meet and have dinner with The Discovery Expedition of St. Charles. Upon my arrival I found out that I was on the agenda to welcome the re-enactors, and to make some brief comments to the community members in attendance. I was very surprised when Rose Oleson, the local Lewis & Clark contact, gave me a framed picture of the Crimson Bluffs as a way to say “thanks” to me. I would like to say “thanks” to the community of Townsend for all of your hard work!
On July 28th I called and visited with Dick Kodeski, the site manager of Pompeys Pillar. Dick said he wasn’t sure about Corps II coming to the Pillar instead of Billings, but was hopeful that could happen. We also talked about the construction schedule of the new building, and briefly discussed the idea of having a sign on the “Donor’s Wall” sponsored by PPL Montana. He was very open to that idea.
As the month came to an end I called Steve Kubick. I talked to Steve about his submitting final reports for the PPL monies given to him in 2004. He is awaiting the final billing from those who have been promised funding from his account. He may request an extension on that report, but most of the projects have been completed.
The month did come to a close as I traveled to the Jefferson Valley Presents outdoor amphitheatre near Cardwell, MT for a program and barbeque. Hal Stearns portrayed Captain William Clark, while the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles talked about their firearms and period dress uniforms. Approximately 150 people attended this great community outing. Congrats to the Whitehall community!