Tim Leeds Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
With $300,000 in hand, the Hill County government and Bear Paw Development Corp. are preparing to move ahead with an effort to bring new industry to the area. “We’re looking forward to getting that out there and attracting some people who want to come,” Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said after Montana Department of Commerce Director Tony Preite presented the award to fund the Montana Agro- Energy Industrial Park. After the ceremony at Bear Paw Development, in which Preite presented four local awards, Preite, Bessette, Commissioner Mike Anderson, state Sen. Ken “Kim” Hansen, D-Harlem and Bear Paw Development Executive Director Paul Tuss broke ground at the location of the park, northeast of Fort Assinniboine. A sign designating it the future location of the park, as well as a sign showing it has been funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, have been erected at the site. An industrial park is an area zoned and planned often with infrastructure developed, such as roads and water and sewer systems to attract and house industry in an area. Dave VanderGriend of Idaho last year donated the 40 acres of land to be used in creating the industrial park. Creating a new industrial park in Hill County has been in the works for several years. The county was prepared to take action in 2007, until a company, which said it wanted to bild a biodiesel plant if a park was created, backed out. A year later, the Hill County government and Bear Paw Development Were back in the research stages, with Bear Paw saying several businesses expressed interest in coming here if a park were available. Pam Lemer, Bear Paw’s Food and Agriculture Development Center program manager, said Monday before the check presentations that Bear Paw still is in discussion with businesses about locating at the park. The park is in the planning stages, with the City- County Planning Board planning to meet Tuesday to discuss and make a recommendation to the county commission on subdividing the 40-acre section. Lemer said the plan is to divide it into two large and four smaller lots, which could be occupied by up to six different businesses or be combined into larger sections. Lemer said once the subdivision is approved and the engineering complete, the $300,000 will be used to develop roads in the site, construct a storm water pond and complete wells and install gas lines. Installation of electrical lines the site is just north of a power substation probably will not be done until tenants move onto the site, Lemer said. Planning for a rail line also will be completed later. A line cuts across the southeast corner of the site, and Lemer said the best option appears to be to run a spur from the line across the southern edge and up the western side of the site. During the presentation of the checks, Preite said developing the site will help spur growth and development. Preite said that while working to provide new sewer lines to businesses and houses on the west end of Havre more than 30 years ago, the local governments decided to extend that project. “We moved water and sewer all the way out to the junction (of U.S. highways 2 and 87),” he said. “Visualize seeing nothing but sagebrush out there, because that’s all that was there then,” Preite said. The development since those lines were put in has benefited the area, he said, and now will benefit Havre as the city prepares to annex much of that property. Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette said the county government visualized that happening with the new industrial park while it worked with Bear Paw. The project moved forward with the idea “if we build it they will come,” she said. Preite also thanked state Sen. Ken “Kim” Hansen, D-Harlem, and Rep. Shannon Augare, D-Browning, for their work getting funding for the industrial park and other projects as the 2009 Legislature debated how to use the money from the Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The industrial park funding almost was cut from the projects funded until Hansen put it back in the last minutes of the session. “If it had not been for Kim, who consistently bugged people on this Hill County project and other community projects, this never would have happened,” Preite said.