and Ellen Thompson
Havre Daily News
A firm has been selected to design proposed major improvements to the Hill County Fairgrounds.
Great Falls-based CTA Architects Engineers was chosen by the Hill County Commission on Thursday. The firm was recommended by an ad hoc committee that is discussing construction of a special events center at the fairgrounds.
CTA was chosen over Billings-based SGA to plan improvements that include the events center, a visitor/cultural center, paved parking, landscaping, and possible upgrades to the rodea arena and 4-H buildings. CTA will work with committee members, local government officials and the Great Northern Fair Board.
The plan will be completed by February, Bear Paw Development Corp. executive director Paul Tuss said today. The committee and county commissioners plan to pay for a portion of the improvements with taxpayer dollars and are working to get a bond issue on the ballot in November 2006.
The plan will consist of an overall view and cost estimates for buildings and other improvements. CTA also will assist the committee in educating Hill County residents about the benefits and costs of the project, Tuss said.
"They'll be providing presentation pieces for us that are professionally produced and easy to understand, materials that members of this committee can utilize when we're talking about this project," he said. "(CTA) is very committed to assisting the committee in terms of describing the project as they see it from an engineering perspective."
The firm was selected after committee members interviewed representatives from both companies and evaluated their written and oral presentations, Tuss said.
Choosing between CTA and SGA was not a simple task, Tuss and Hill County Commissioner Mike Anderson said.
"We had two very well qualified firms in this process," Tuss said. "At some point, you have to make a decision. There was just a general feeling that folks were more comfortable with the firm that was selected. CTA just came out on top."
"They both would have done a good job, but one had done more research," Great Northern Fair manager Tim Solomon said Thursday before the commission's vote.
"Both firms were very professional," Anderson said. "Both have extensive backgrounds and have worked on projects in our area and in the state."
CTA has already worked with the committee to create conceptual plans for the event and visitor/cultural centers.
"I think that firm's familiarity with the project gives it a jump start," Tuss said.
The master plan will be paid for with $15,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds and matching funds raised by the committee. So far, the committee has raised more than $21,000 from local donors.