GREAT FALLS (AP)
Friday’s debate between Sen. Conrad Burns and his Democratic challenger, Jon Tester, has been moved to a larger venue after residents complained there weren’t enough tickets available for the general public. The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce has moved the debate from the 750- seat Bill Williamson Hall at C. M. Russell High School, to the school’s fieldhouse, which can seat up to 4,000 people. Initially, the Chamber gave 100 tickets to both the Burns and Tester campaigns, and offered some to Chamber members, who snapped up 365 seats, leaving only 185 for the general public. When Chamber President Teresa Olds arrived at her office at 7:45 a.m. Monday she found 200 people lined up in the rain to get tickets. “That speaks volumes,” said Olds, who called the intense interest in the debate “a testament to our community spirit.” She thanked the Great Falls School District for rescheduling a series of volleyball games to free up the fieldhouse on short notice Monday. “There’s an awful lot of people excited about the change because the average person was not going to be able to attend,” said Robert Melhoff, a high school math teacher who spoke out about the lack of tickets. Friday’s debate, which starts at 6 p.m., is the final one scheduled before the Nov. 7 election. Tickets are not required.