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Director's Report February, 2005
- Legislative Update:
Two bills continue to be the focus of the state Commission this month:
- HB 301 (the “license plate bill”) – was passed out of Committee and by the full House. It will now move to the Senate; no Committee Hearing date is set as February 28, 2005
- HB 417 (the Signature Event funding bill) – was passed out of Committee and by the full House. The bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee. A March 2nd Committee Hearing date is scheduled.
- A question arose in early February regarding whether with Darrell Martin’s departure from the Fort Belknap Tribal Council if the Fort Belknap Tribal Council wanted Corps II to locate in or immediately adjacent to the Fort Belknap Reservation. Up until this time we were anticipating that Corps II was going to set-up in Dodson just east of the Reservation. On February 23rd Dick Basch and I met with a portion of the Fort Belknap Tribal Council to more fully explain Corps II’s mission, and what would be the local responsibility. That meeting went very well, and I’m looking for a phone call any day now regarding the Tribe’s final decision.
- Starting in mid-month members of the Discovery Expedition of St. Charles (DESC) started to conduct their “reconnaissance” trips through the state in anticipation of that group’s plan to re-enact and/or to re-trace the Lewis & Clark route this summer. Different members of the DESC each have been assigned specific segments to research for possible community interest, campsites and river access. It is my understanding that the reports from these advance parties will be combined later in March to form the framework of a master plan to re-enact the Montana portion of the 1805 Expedition this coming summer. Funding is a challenge for the DESC; however they are working to solicit grants and private funding.
- Pat Jones and Darrell Martin made a trip along the Hi-Line in early February to visit with Rocky Boy, Fort Peck and Glasgow re: Corps II visit in 2005. They were confirming set-up locations and talked about programming for the Tent of Many Voices.
- On March 7th I met with the key Lewis & Clark planners in the Montana National Guard at Fort Harrison. The meeting was facilitated by George Donnelly and was attended by the MT Air Guard, Al Garver, COL Jackson, MSG Reichert and a gentleman working with the Discovery Boxes. The Montana National Guard has really stepped up its planning and preparation in recent weeks having made numerous planning trips from Fort Union to Lolo. One idea being promoted by the Guard is local tributes to Montana veterans (tribal and non-tribal) in communities in conjunction with Corps II’ visit.
- I met via a conference call with Doug Eiken and Katie Hunn to discuss plans for the COSA, COTA and National Council meetings in Fort Benton/Great Falls in June. It is now planned that COSA will meet in Great Falls the evening of June 2nd and the early afternoon of June 3rd in Fort Benton. COTA will meet in Great Falls on June 1st, and the National Council will meet in Great Falls on June 2nd. The opening ceremonies of the Explore! the Big Sky will take place in Fort Benton starting at 4:00 PM on June 3rd.
NOTE: The Montana Bicentennial Commission will meet in Great Falls at the Holiday Inn the afternoon of June 2nd and at the Ag Center Museum in Fort Benton the morning of June 3rd.
- Two days of Lewis & Clark activities took place in Helena on February 14 & 15.
- February 14th – I met with Linda Wolff and Marcie Hamburg in the late morning to give them an advanced overview of what to expect with Corps II’s visits to Miles City and Sidney in 2006. In the early afternoon I was interviewed by the Helena Independent Record; Melody Dobson and Julie Klesh were interviewed by Channel 12 re: their Signature Event planning. Both Signature Events had displays in the Capitol Rotunda for the day as well.
- February 15th – The state Commission met at the Montana Historical Society most of the day. The agenda was full with discussions on existing and future grant programs, the Commission’s developing Transition Plan, and how to most effectively support proposed legislation being key topics. The full meeting summary will be posted soon on the state Commission’s web site.
- At 6:00 PM on the 16th I met briefly with the Lewis & Clark County Bicentennial Commission to get their input re: support for the Signature Event funding bill (HB 417) currently being debated in the Montana Legislature. They are supportive, but not overly excited about having a “Lewis & Clark Day” at the Capitol later in March. That idea has since been scrapped due the amount of time and funding deemed necessary to organize and facilitate. I did get to see the new Lewis & Clark mural in the baggage claim area of the remolded airport. It looks great!
- In late February I visited with Lisa Perry the newly hired “Special Projects Manager” for PPL Montana. Lisa and I talked at length about the status of the two payments already made by PPL to the Legacy Campaign for new interpretive signs in the Great Falls area, Helena and in the Headwaters State Park. Understandably PPL wants to see tangible results of their first-year investment prior to making an additional campaign pledge payment later this year. I have contacted the Upper Missouri Regional Commission requesting a detailed status report.
- On February 17th I met via conference call with Betsy Baumgart and Doug Monger regarding the option of the state Commission organizing a “Lewis & Clark Day” event at the Capitol sometime in March. After considerable discussion, and upon learning that the Rotunda was fully booked through the end of the legislative session, it was agreed to forego that idea. Instead energies will be focused on various lobbying efforts to work toward the passage of HB 417.
- Also on February 17th I attended the awards ceremony in the Rotunda of the Capitol sponsored by the Montana Committee for the Humanities. Darrell Kipp received special recognition for his work with native language preservation, and Joe Mussulman for his “Discovering Lewis & Clark” web site. Congrats to both!
- Late in February I wrote to Montana’s Congressional delegation requesting their support for an FY’06 Appropriations Request for the on-going Public Safety Program involving three western Montana and five Idaho counties.
- Also in late February I met with Patti Keebler, the Appointments Coordinator for Governor Schweitzer, re: the state Commission seat vacated by Darrell Martin’s resignation. Interested Tribal members are encouraged to apply on-line through the state’s home page, or by submitting a letter of interest and resume to Patti’s attention in Helena.
- And finally, at the request of the state Commission I drafted and sent a ‘thank you’ letter to Jim Fall and the Montana Newspaper Association for all of their coverage thus far of Bicentennial planning and activities. We also encouraged continued statewide press coverage realizing articles and Lewis & Clark-related ads in Montana daily and weekly publications is many times the only publicity options available to smaller communities.
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