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Director's Report March, 2005
- Legislative Update:
As the current Legislative session comes to a conclusion there are a few key bills of interest to report on:
- HB 301 (the license plate bill) – The Senate Finance & Claims Committee passed this bill with an amendment to remove some language regarding administrative overhead expenses. As of 4/7/05 the bill was en-route back to the House for another vote. I believe this bill is destined to be passed and signed. This bill outlines that revenues from the L&C plate starting on January, 2007 will be split between the Montana Historical Society, Pompeys Pillar, Traveler’s Rest and the L&C Interpretive Center in Great Falls. Revenues until 1/07 will continue to come to the state Commission.
- HB 417 (the “original” Signature Event funding bill) – This bill was tabled in the House Appropriations Committee and did not make the transmittal deadline.
- HB 771 (the “new” Signature Event funding bill) – During late March this bill was introduced and seemed to have nine lives as it was voted down, and then revived, only to be tabled again. Funding was to come from a tax on the transfer of recreational vehicles owned by corporations. The bill was amended to remove the appropriations language, and then was tabled and killed.
- HJ 24 – this Joint Resolution speaks to the historical importance of the Lewis & Clark Expedition and the American Indians to Montana. The Resolution was signed by the Governor on April 7, 2005.
- On March 21st I participated in a Legislative Reception as a part of the annual Governor’s Tourism & Recreation Conference.
- Publiity Update:
- During March I was interviewed by both the AP and USA Today regarding planning preparation in Montana for the Bicentennial. Some of their questions centered around recent comments by Governor Schweitzer regarding the anticipated large fire season this coming summer. I assured them that Travel Montana was prepared to issue pertinent and timely press updates should 2005 prove to be a significant wild fire year.
- I am continuing to work with both Gannett and Lee Enterprises on the over-print of their respective Lewis & Clark newspaper inserts for this Spring. The new Lewis & Clark state map that shows Montana’s two National Signature Events, “Significant Events,” and the Montana Corps II host locations might also be duplicated and widely distributed to visitor centers.
- In March we also sent letters through the Montana Newspapers Association to encourage local newspapers to run calendars of events and local Lewis & Clark stories of interest.
- On March 1st I met with Robbie Carpenter and Melody Dobson (the Clark on the Yellowstone Signature Event co-coordinators) in Helena to discuss the implications of the March 2nd resignation of Jeff Dietz from the Yellowstone County Bicentennial Commission. Robbie and Melody will continue as the event coordinators; however it is presently unclear who will assume the leadership of the regional commission.
- In early March I had some discussions with the Travelers’ Rest State Park and the National Guard in reference to options for the building of a new bridge to span Lolo Creek just South of Lolo, MT. The Guard may be able to assist in providing a temporary pedestrian bridge, but the focus still remains on securing funds for a permanent structure by September 2005.
- On March 2nd I met with Tom Ronk and three of his Discovery Expedition of St. Charles team in Helena. They were on a reconnaissance trip from Great Falls to Dillon. Bud Clark’s team also made a planning trip to Western Montana in March, and Mike Calwell’s team is planning for the Fort Union to Fort Benton Segment. After now visiting more with these folks I am very confident that with funding from the Challenge Cost Share Program they will provide a very valuable attraction this coming summer. They will know their funding very soon.
- On March 3rd from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM I participated in a strategic planning session for the Undaunted Stewardship Program. This is a program that encourages proper land stewardship of Montana’s ranch community. The program is a partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, Montana Stockgrowers’ Association and Montana State University. I represent the state Commission on an advisory committee. Pending on-going Congressional funding, the program has plans to continue and expand in Montana.
- I also this month have been in communication with the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, the Havre Chamber of Commerce and the National Park Service regarding plans to locate Corps II on the Rocky Boy’s Reservation. The Havre Chamber is working to assist with some PR and promotion.
NOTE: I also communicated with the Fort Belknap Tribal Council and the National Park Service and can report that Corps II will locate in Fort Belknap from May 24-27 at their rest area/visitor center property.
- On March 5th I traveled to Great Falls to attend a portion of a meeting of the Lewis & Clark Trail Foundation Board. I also had an opportunity to meet with Steve Adams with Corps II. The discussions with Steve and the Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation centered on “life after the Bicentennial”. Would there potentially be monies in the Challenge Cost Share Program in the coming years to at least partially fund interpretive signage? I mentioned to Steve that the state Commission was seriously considering budgeting some monies in FY’06 and ‘07 to create a fund that perhaps the CCS program could match for signage maintenance. I will coordinate with both entities on this question over the coming months.
- On an on-going basis this month I have been coordinating with Explore! the Big Sky and the Lewis & Clark at the Confluence events to provide assistance and insight as I am able for the state Commission. Among other things we provided a VIP list of dignitaries for the L&C at the Confluence event (and are helping with the actual invitation process), and explored the feasibility of immediately accessing some FY’06 funding for the Explore! event; it was determined that couldn’t be done at this time.
- I visited with the Missouri Breaks Regional Bicentennial Commission to facilitate them making contact with the Discovery Expedition St. Charles re-enactors. Tentative plans are in the making for the Missouri Breaks RBC to host a “meet the re-enactors” activity at the James Kipp Recreation Area on May 23-24.
- During March I had some conversations with PPL regarding the status of monies contributed by PPL for new interpretive signage in the Great Falls/Fort Benton area, and the Lewis & Clark and Gallatin County areas. Understandably, PPL desires to see progress being made with signs in these areas prior to additional monies being contributed by them for the Yellowstone River corridor in 2006.
- The Montana Historical Society this month received a miniature clay model of the Senate Art Legacy Project from the artist, Eugene Daub. This clay model will now be professionally photographed which will provide an image that can be put into a new sales brochure. With the fundraising about to go into full gear with the new brochure, the artist will work to turn the miniature clay model into a larger image from which the bronze will be made. The finial large art piece will hang in the Montana Senate chambers. Dedication of this final image is now anticipated to be in the summer of 2006.
- We worked this month to update the Lewis & Clark map recently produced in partnership with the Montana Department of Transportation. We added the “Encounter the Bitterroot Salish” event, and corrected some Corps II locations and dates. This newest map is accessible in two printable sizes on the state Commission’s website (www.montanalewisandclark.org/WhatsNew).
- On March 15 I participated in a meeting of the MTRI interagency group. Plans were discussed for the participation of member agencies in the upcoming Explore! the Big Sky Signature Event. A coordinated display format was reviewed and approved, as was the establishment of a “speaker/performer” area in a nearby building in the Great Falls fairgrounds.
- Planning continued on the new highway pullout and interpretive signing project at Ross’ Hole near Sula, MT. Construction is now underway on the re-designed pullout/interpretive area, and sign designs are being reviewed and approved. The project is anticipated to be complete by mid-summer.
- On March 18th I gave a Bicentennial planning update presentation to the Helena area AARP group. This group is eager to have the Bicentennial activities happen!
- The annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Recreation was hosted by the Helena Red Lion Colonial Inn on March 21-22. Two breakout sessions featured presentations by Peggy Bourne with the Explore! the Big Sky event; Betty Stone with the Lewis & Clark at the Confluence event; Mary Jane Charlo with the Encounter the Bitterroot Salish event; and Jeff Olson the PR man for Corps II. I also participated in a Legislative Reception held on Monday evening, March 21st. Rita and I also designed and staffed a Lewis & Clark display in the vendor area.
- I also continued to communicate with the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) in March to explore more ways to update Montana teachers on upcoming Lewis & Clark events. It was agreed that after the current Legislative Session concludes the state Commission and OPI would generate and release a joint press release identifying key upcoming events and resources available to teachers.
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