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Executive Committee Meeting
Montana Historical Society, Helena, Montana

Attendees: Hal Stearns, Jack Lepley, Homer Staves, Executive Committee Members; Arnie Olsen, Commission Member; Clint Blackwood and Rita Cortright, Commission Staff. Darrell Martin was absent.

Commission Chair Hal Stearns called the meeting/conference call to discuss strategy for the upcoming Legislative Session. He reported on a recent conversation with Peggy Bourne, Exec. Director, Explore! the Big Sky signature event, where she related her groupsí plans to meet with Gov. Martz. Mr. Stearns said representatives from both signature events planned to lobby the Governor directly for funding support. He questioned whether Corps II host community representatives should be encouraged to contact their local senators and representatives regarding support.

Arnie Olsen stated he had met with Chuck Swysgood, director of the Budget and Program Planning Office, regarding the Historical Societyís budget, which included the L&C Bicentennial Commissionís budget. Mr. Swysgood said he had been directed by the Governor to not accept any new funding requests. Mr. Olsen said it would be best if signature event representatives met with their local legislators. He explained that General Fund requests are directed to Bed Tax revenues, and this created a certain amount of competition between the Historical Society and the Lewis & Clark Commission for funding.

Homer Staves, speaking as a member of the Tourism Advisory Council, said he did not want to see any attempts to divert Bed Tax revenues. He expressed appreciation to Betsy Baumgart and Travel Montana for their great support of the L&C Bicentennial Commissionís budget.

Arnie Olsen said the Historical Society was contacting gubernatorial candidates and providing them personal tours of the Society. He said Mr. Davison and Mr. Brown had already toured; Mr. Vincent and Mr. Schweitzer were scheduled to tour. He said it would be good to identify a funding source that was not so competitive as the Bed Tax, but did not know what it would be.

Mr. Blackwood said he wanted clear direction on the following policy with regard to the Legislature; that the Commission would not be proactive in finding legislators to carry bills, but would be supportive of signature events and communities looking for funding through their local Legislative representatives.

Jack Lepley said he backed support for the signature events and suggested that one sum of money be sought to be split between them. Mr. Blackwood asked about including the Corps II host communities. Mr. Olsen agreed on support for the signature events; however he questioned the amount of funding needed by Corps II host communities. Mr. Blackwood explained that many of them were seeking funding for infrastructure improvements and programming expenses.

Mr. Olsen suggested redirecting Commission funds from Organizational & Planning Grants in 2005 and 2006 to support Corps II host communities for those two years. Mr. Stearns suggested communities would have a clearer picture of financial requirements following the April 7 planning meeting in Billings. Mr. Staves proposed that the Commission support the Legislatureís need to fund signature events and significant events from a source other than Bed Tax. He agreed with the proposal to support Corps II host communities with redirected O&P Grant funds. Mr. Lepley said that communities who had applied to host Corps II should have already assessed their financial needs.

Mr. Blackwood said Betsy Baumgart, chair of the Grants Committee, would be making a recommendation to the Commission regarding the future of the Grants Program and would need to consider the Executive Committeeís recommendation. Mr. Staves and Mr. Lepley agreed that both signature events and the significant events needed Legislative support. Mr. Olsen agreed that the Commission should support a locally driven request for funding. Mr. Blackwood agreed to contact the four representatives of the signature and significant events. Mr. Olsen said the Commission could advise them on strategy and provide a couple of options; they could then initiate contact with local legislators, with support from the Commission.

Mr. Stearns supported Mr. Stavesí suggestion of supporting the Corps II host communities and suggested another conference call following the April 7 meeting. He suggested that Clint Blackwood bring up the topic of financial needs with community representatives, and in particular the needs of Indian Reservations that would also host Corps II during the April 7 workshop.

Mr. Staves asked how much funding the Commission was providing this year for project grants. Mr. Blackwood said $35,000 had been agreed to during the Feb. 10 Commission meeting; however Executive Committee authorization was required prior to releasing the funds. There are 18 Corps II host communities identified in Montana, two of which are also signature event sites. Mr. Staves suggested pooling the Commissionís O&P and Project Grant funds and dividing it equally among the host communities in the next two years. Mr. Olsen suggested providing $2,000 each to host sites and using the balance as a challenge grant, or allocating half of the pool to host sites and using the other half as a challenge grant with the Legislature providing matching funds. Mr. Staves supported funding for the four large events and not supporting smaller projects. Mr. Lepley agreed that the larger events needed the majority of support to ensure their success.

Mr. Staves suggested supporting a Legislative request for additional funds for the four major events from a source other than Bed Tax. If this was not possible, the Commission should look at its available funds for supporting Signature Events and Corps II host communities.

Mr. Olsen suggested holding off making a decision on the future of the Commissionís Grants Program until April. Mr. Blackwood said the issue of making good on the Legacy Campaignís pledge debt of $250,000 needed consideration by the Commission. He had already spoken about this with Betsy Baumgart and Betty Stone. Mr. Olsen questioned the need to have the Grants Committee meeting at this time. Mr. Blackwood explained that they usually meet prior to the Commissionís fall meeting to review the program and make recommendations to the Commission for the coming grant cycle. He agreed it may be too early to make decisions at this time, but different options should be discussed on or before the Commissionís June meeting.

Mr. Staves suggested that the Executive Committee recommend to the Grants Committee that any available Commission funds for the next two years be made available to the signature and significant events and Corps II host communities. Mr. Olsen agreed with the recommendation to the Grants Committee and said the Legacy Campaign debt could be dealt with later.

Mr. Stearns asked about scheduling another Executive Committee meeting/conference call following the April 7 meeting. Mr. Olsen suggested that the information be most helpful for the Grants Committee, not the Executive Committee.

Mr. Stearns asked about contacting gubernatorial candidates regarding funding for signature and significant events and Corps II host communities, and providing them with a program overview and plans for the next couple of years. Mr. Staves agreed with the contact and suggested expressing appreciation for the past support from the Legislature and Travel Montana using Bed Tax revenues; however it should be stressed that the Commission was not looking for additional Bed Tax support for these projects. Mr. Olsen said the Society had scheduled 1-hour visits with candidates but the contact had been made 2 months in advance. Mr. Staves suggested talking points from the various areas would be useful. Mr. Blackwood agreed to work up talking points. The list of contacts was divided as follows: Mr. Lepley will contact Mr. Davison; Mr. Stearns will contact Mr. Brown and Mr. Schweitzer; Mr. Staves will contact Mr. Vincent, Mr. Bollinger, Mr. Miller and Mr. Keating.

Mr. Stearns directed Mr. Blackwood to prepare speaking points and an overview of the Commissionís efforts, based on the Legislative Report prepared in January, 2003. Mr. Blackwood said there would not be follow-up with the Executive Committee after the April 7 meeting; however, the Executive Committee would be contacted in the next two months regarding release of the $35,000 for project grants.

The meeting adjourned at 4:50 p.m.


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Montana Historical Society
P.O. Box 201201
225 North Roberts
Helena, MT 59620-1201
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