Havre Daily News
Respective groups on Thursday asked the Hill County Commission to consider two Hi-Line projects eligible for Community Transportation Enhancement Program funds - the Rudyard Dinosaur and Depot Museum and the proposed Hill County Visitor and Cultural Center.
Depot Museum board members Lila Redding and Clifford Ulmen said they want to use the funds to install sidewalks and landscaping around the two museum buildings.
Bear Paw Development Corp. planning director Craig Erickson said the center's board would use the federal funding for preliminary engineering and planning of the structure.
Great Falls-based CTA Architects and Engineers Inc. estimates the cost of the early planning at $21,329, of which $18,467 could be covered by federal CTEP money. The remainder would come from a 13.42 percent local match. Erickson said the board already has the funds for the match.
The board is also throwing a benefit gala on May 12 in the Duck Inn Olympic room that will include a silent auction and entertainment by local musicians. Presale tickets are available for $50 per person at Creative Leisure, Gary & Leo's IGA and the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce.
Preliminary engineering will determine what the building will look like, and the cost to build and operate it. The operations and maintenance costs will be the responsibility of the occupants of the center.
The planned center would house the Great Northern Fair Board and manager, the Montana Actors' Theatre and the Havre Area Chamber of Commerce and also could serve as the starting point for tours of the Wahkpa Chu'gn buffalo jump, Bear Paw Battlefield and Fort Assinniboine.
The Rudyard museum's main display will be a cast of a hadrosaur, or articulated duckbill dinosaur, which was found on farm land north of Rudyard owned by Lila and her husband, Dan, about two years ago. That fossil is named the Oldest Sorehead, Redding said.
The museum is affiliated with the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman and Montana State University and will cycle its displays.
Redding said the board has about $7,000 in its fund that can be used for the local match dollars.
Erickson said the county has a CTEP funding capacity of more than $52,000 when the local matching funds are considered together with CTEP money that is already available or on its way.
He said the two projects will enhance one another because the museum will bring more people to the Hi-Line and the center will help promote local attractions.
“That's what CTEP funding is made for,” Hill County Commission chair Kathy Bessette said.
Bessette called the decision to support the two projects a “no-brainer.”
The CTEP federal funds are allocated to the county commission by the Montana Department of Transportation. The commission decides which projects to fund and then it is the responsibility of the project organizers to come up with the local match. Erickson, who will administer the funds on the commission's behalf, said the county has about $28,000 available and is waiting on the 2005-2006 allocated federal funding. Erickson said the county usually gets about $35,000 in CTEP funding each year. He said the funding will not be available until next year and suggested that the museum board start with some of the smaller projects and plan for those to come.
According to the CTEP requirements, funds can be used for scenic or historic highway programs, including tourist and welcome centers, and for landscaping and scenic beautification.
CTEP funding has been used to rehabilitate the post trader's building at Fort Assinniboine, constructand install in new signs for Chester and Joplin in Liberty County and various landscaping along the Hi-Line.
Erickson said the two projects would help to entice more of the about half million tourists who drive through the area on U.S. Highway 2 each yeat to stop and check out local attractions. The increased attendance of museums and other tour spots would mean a better economy for all surrounding businesses. Hill County sees about $12 million in tourist dollars each year, he said.
The museum board has purchased new 5-by-8-foot metal signs for use both east and west of Rudyard along the highway. The signs are being made by a local artist and will include designs of a dinosaur, a tractor and a windmill.
Redding said all of the board's efforts so far have been covered with donor dollars. The group has hosted fundraisers like pancake breakfasts and spaghetti feeds.
Erickson told the museum board members that the process of applying for CTEP funds is the same for a sidewalk as it is for a $2.8 million cultural and visitor center, so once they are going through process, they should add everything on their wish list and do it once to “get the most bang for your buck.”
The museum board will meet soon to decide whether to start on landscaping with the funds they have or to wait and see if they will receive federal funding, Redding said. She said the board had been working paycheck to paycheck, earning the funds for a particular project, using the funds and then starting the process again. The board might use the CTEP money for more long-term projects, Redding said.
Erickson said he will have the funding applications for the two projects done and ready to submit to the commission next week.
Redding said the museum should open sometime in early May.