Havre Daily News
Wal-Mart plans a supercenter for Havre, complete with a grocery store, garden center and tire center, a company representative told the Hill County Commission today. The store, which Wal-Mart hopes to open by the end of 2006 just west of Kmart, may also have a gas station.
Today's meeting at the Hill County Commission office was the community's first look at the proposed Wal-Mart.
Matt Sitton, a real estate manager for the company in Helena, said Wal-Mart has had good results with its other Montana stores and is happy to find new communities that can support a Wal-Mart. He said the company looks at demographics and considers how far shoppers are willing to drive as criteria. Havre met the company's standards on these points, he said.
Sitton showed the commissioners and 15 members of the public plans for a 105,000-square-foot supercenter and a 570-space parking lot. The plans show the store just west of Kmart with its front doors facing Kmart, not U.S. Highway 2.
Sitton said a store of this size normally employs about 275 people, 60 percent of those full time and 40 percent part time.
Jim Shipton, project manager for CLC Associates, the company Wal-Mart hired to help plan the store, was there to talk about the plans as well. He said the chain was looking at purchasing 12.5 acres. He said his company would be submitting plans to the state for sewer and water service.
County planner Clay Vincent said the property would have to be subdivided into four parcels for the store to carry out its plan.
The project will go out for bids in February 2006, Shipton said.
After Shipton and Sitton's brief presentation, the county commissioners asked for questions and comments from the public.
"As you can see, there's lots of interest," Commissioner Kathy Bessette told them.
Members of the public wanted to hear more about the jobs.
Doris Halverson asked if Havre could provide as many employees as the store would need.
"We're aware of how far we are from other towns," Sitton said. "We feel you have a strong enough, a vibrant enough economy" here.
Sitton said the store will be the smallest supercenter-type store the company builds.
"Is Wal-Mart going to continue to be a team player and come to the table" with local business owners, Havre Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Debbie Vandenberg asked.
Sitton said Havre is a good community and Wal-Mart wants to be a part of it.
"I like Wal-Mart myself, but it might be a big trade-off," Halverson said. She said many small towns with a Wal-Mart lose downtown business.
Others said they were happy about a Wal-Mart for Havre.
"I'm tired of hearing people gripe," local store owner Mel Gomke told Sitton after the meeting. "We need jobs."
Ted Demontiney, who owns D's Log Works at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, said he welcomes Wal-Mart.
"It would help both the reservation side and the Havre side as far as jobs," Demontiney said. He also said he'd rather drive 30 miles to shop than the two hours it takes to get to Great Falls, the nearest Wal-Mart.