Havre Daily News
A whistle-stop tour led by Gov. Brian Schweitzer in support of Amtrak will roll through Havre on June 1, Bear Paw Development Corp. executive director Paul Tuss said Monday.
The two-day tour will extend from Glasgow to Whitefish, with town meetings and rallies being held along the way. Long-distance passenger service on Amtrak has been threatened by funding cuts proposed by the Bush administration.
Bear Paw Development Corp. is working with the governor's office to coordinate the tour on a grass-roots level, Tuss said. Bear Paw officials will work with economic development agencies along the route to coordinate the tour.
Also on board will be Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger and representatives of Montana's congressional delegation.
Residents in Havre and elsewhere will have the opportunity to express at town meetings how important Amtrak service is to them. Citizen comments will be recorded and presented to the governor's office in a document that will show how much riding the rails means to the Hi-Line's people and its economy, Tuss said.
"It will chronicle what people have said about how they utilize Amtrak and how it's important to our area," he said today.
On Monday, Tuss asked the Havre City Council for its help in applying for a Community Development Block Grant. The funds will be used to coordinate efforts in Havre and other communities over the coming month to prepare for the whistle-stop tour. The City Council unanimously approved the grant application. Tuss said up to $15,000 will be available, but he will likely apply for $10,000 to $12,000.
The city will not be responsible for any of the matching funds required by the CDBG program, Tuss said. Those funds will be handled by in-kind donations of labor from Bear Paw Development Corp., he said.
Council member Dana West said supporting the rail service is important.
"I think we need to get on board to support the efforts to support Amtrak," she said.
In other City Council news:
Havre Mayor Bob Rice said he wants to see a financial statement from the coordinating committee of the Rocky Boy's/North Central Regional Water System before he will forward a $21,000 "good intent" fee that was approved by the City Council on April 4. An engineering firm will study the costs of Havre joining the system once the fee is paid. Rice received a letter from the coordinating committee dated April 25, which requests the money and a formal letter from the city.
"I want a statement of all of their funding," Rice said after the City Council meeting. "What they're receiving and what's going out. I want to see how the money's being spent."
The coordinating committee also asked to schedule a meeting with city officials on May 17 in Great Falls to discuss Havre's water needs.
Council member Terry Schend asked for an update on the city's study of annexation of land outside the city limits. Rice said public works director Dave Peterson has until June 30 to look into the issue and present information to city officials. Schend also asked whether any steps have been taken to get Hill County to increase its annual payment for the operation of the Havre Community Pool.
"It seems to be a difficult issue to address," Rice said. "(County officials) feel they are paying their fair share. It will be addressed, but I'm not sure when."
The City Council voted unanimously to appoint Jim Magera as a city representative to the Havre-Hill County Historic Preservation Commission.
The speed limit in the Carpenter Park area will be reduced from 25 mph to 15 mph between Lincoln-McKinley Primary School and the park. The City Council unanimously approved the change on recommendation from the Streets and Sidewalks Committee.
Rice and Havre Police Chief Mike Barthel presented Cathy Morris with a community service plaque and flowers in appreciation for her extensive work at the animal shelter. Morris has logged more than 350 volunteer hours at the facility and will soon be moving to Helena.