Havre Daily News
Two Democrats filed Monday to run for seats on the Havre City Council in the November election. City Council member Allen "Woody" Woodwick is seeking his second term as the representative from Ward 4. Resident Bob Kaul filed for the Ward 3 seat held by Tom Farnham, who is not seeking re-election.
Woodwick, 43, lists economic development, the city budget and improving communication as his main priorities if he is re-elected this fall. He said he is running again because he enjoys serving the city he grew up in.
"I really enjoy the process" of local government, he said. "I feel like I've given something back to the community. It's a challenge, but that's part of the reason I enjoy it."
The possible construction of a Wal-Mart and the proposed construction of a special events center at the Hill County Fairgrounds mean more people will be coming through town on U.S. Highway 2, Woodwick said. The goal is to get them to stay awhile and enjoy downtown Havre as well, he added.
"The multipurpose center is moving forward, and that is something that will bring in some growth and maybe some motels," he said. "It'll bring in business, sporting events, concerts and trade shows. We need to be ready for it. If they build (Wal-Mart), it's going to bring people into town. We're going to need a reason to bring people downtown."
Woodwick said whether or not Wal-Mart comes to town, the city should seriously study the possibility of annexing county land.
"That's going to be one of the big things that's going to be facing the council in the future," he said.
"I see economic development coming our way," he added. "It's a slow process. There's a lot of pluses in our downtown area. We need to expand on those. Anything we can do to help out the downtown area is going to be an asset."
The city's possible involvement in the Rocky Boy's/North Central Regional Water System and the First Street reconstruction project are two of the larger issues on the horizon, said Kaul, 62.
Kaul said he wants to see results of a study before weighing in on whether the city should join the regional water system.
On April 4, the City Council voted to pay $21,000 to the regional water authority to study the costs of connecting to the system, which will bring water treated at Tiber Dam at Lake Elwell to at least 18,000 residents across seven counties.
"Water is always a concern," Kaul said. "If you don't have water, you don't have anything. Until we get the study the city has asked for, I don't think anybody can say it's a go. The decision needs to be based on facts. We need to see what our options are." The reconstruction of First Street, which includes resurfacing the road, replacing the sidewalks and landscaping, is scheduled to begin in 2007. The City Council voted in November to raise city water and sewer rates to aid in the replacement of the lines that run beneath the thoroughfare.
It will be a good thing for Havre, but it will cause some headaches for local businesses, Woodwick said.
"At some of the meetings we had, it sounded like we're going to do it in two stages, so there will be some access to the businesses," he said. "But it's going to hurt the businesses a little. We need to be ready for this."
Kaul said the work needs to be well-planned to benefit the city.
"We know we're going to have some major work when we put the highway in," he said. "We have to look at the best possible deal for the taxpayers. This all needs to be thought out and done right."
He said Havre has a lot going for it.
"We've got a good school system," Kaul said. "We've got a good medical facility. I feel that the infrastructure needs a little fine-tuning or tweaking, and I think the Havre City Council can play a major role in that."
Woodwick said the city's budget is an ongoing concern.
"We're trying to watch what we're spending," he said. "What we really need versus what we can do without - that's where opinions vary."
Woodwick said there needs to be more communication on the City Council, a need that extends to other local entities, such as the Hill County government and Havre Area Chamber of Commerce.
"Communication (on City Council) is a must," he said. "On some things, we're not finding out about them until it's time for us to vote. That doesn't give us time to get our homework done."
City Council member Pam Hillery, a Democrat, filed on Monday to run for mayor. She officially announced her candidacy on Thursday.