In our line of work, we see the sadder side of our community.
But we also see a lot of exciting things that lift our spirits. We see people doing tremendous volunteer work and countless acts of sacrifice. When you hear people say that folks aren’t volunteering enough these days, we can see countless number of cases of people who donate time, effort and money for valuable causes.
So, in the spirit of the season, we’d like to offer our happiest greetings for a merry Christmas to some of the special people we’ve met over the last year.
Here are just a small number of the great folks in our area:
The students and faculty at Hays-Lodge Pole school district.
Many students and teachers think it would be great to have a school without a principal, but it turned out to be very difficult for students at this Blaine County school.
The school board and administration were in complete disarray because of some bizarre politics. With no leadership to speak of, students and faculty pretty much ran the school. Faculty members ran the day-to-day operations as much as possible. They continued teaching. The learning process went on. Students, for the most part, did all they could do to keep on learning. The teachers and students were an inspiration.
Nadir Greytak, an 18-year-old Boy Scout and son of Gary and Diana Graytak, finished his project this year to renovate a small children’s park on Havre’s north side. It was part of a project to obtain his Eagle Scout award. Most Eagle projects involved 80 to 100 hours of work., Nadir’s project took about 1,500 hours.
He raised money, gathered materials, garnered community support and did the work. The park was named Gracie’s Place, after two cousins, Grace Gibson, who died after a courageous battle with cancer, and Grace Loftus, who plays in the park.
A native of Kazakhstan, he spent the first eight years of his life in an orphanage. We are lucky he ended up in Havre. He’s a tremendous example to fellow Montanans.
Shaylee Lewis is a Havre High School special education teacher who has a special passion for special students and their need and their right to receive great educational opportunities. Parents and students rave about her work. She has been the organizer and a cheerleader for the Havre Special Olympics program.
Havre and Hill County have a fascinating history full of great stories. We hope that rich tales of the homesteaders, the bootleggers, the first residents of Rocky Boy, the first railroad people are preserved for future years so that generations yet-to-come will know the county’s history. That’s why the volunteer work being done by so many people is so important. People like Toni Hagener, Gary Wilson, Frank DeRosa, Emily Mayer, Alvin Windy Boy, John and Anna Brumley, Keith Doll and so many others have helped contribute to the body of knowledge we have about our rich Havre and Hill County history.
Every day, volunteers gather at Feed My Sheep Soup Kitchen to help prepare and serve meals to people who would be hungry otherwise. They talk, laugh and pray together as they do their work.
Brenda Skornogoski, Don Richman, Karen Sloan and Debi Rhines — two Republicans and two Democrats — ran for public office this year and lost. They put forth great campaigns and concentrated on the issues. They deserve praise for their efforts to provide voters with a choice. They are the reason that Hi-Line voters — unlike those in many parts of the country — have to pick the better of two candidates, not the lesser of two evils.
The new Rocky Boy tribal council members have their work cut out for them. There has been widespread skepticism of the board from tribal members, some of it clearly deserved. The election in November saw a nearly complete turnover in the tribal government, and it appears that government members are doing their best to reassure the public that changes are on the horizon. That’s great new. Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation faces lots of problems. Internal strife just gets in the way of the progress that needs to be accomplished.
Marc Mariani didn’t have a good football season. The Havre-raised Mariani, a Tennessee Titan star, was seriously injured on national television. He has remained a class act as he recovers and a pride to his hometown.
Montana Actors’ Theatre provides an outlet for a lot of talented people of the Hi-Line, and there are quite a lot of talented people on the Hi-Line. More important, they provide first-class entertainment for people from throughout the area.
All of the people of Havre and Hill County deserve praise for their constant willingness to help friends and neighbors in need. Nearly every week, there is a benefit of some sort to help people down in their luck. Many area groups, most notably the Eagles Club, make their facilities available. Businesses donate items to eat or as gifts to be auctioned off. People donate time and money, and they give up their time to attend events, bid on items and contribute money. Not every community is so caring of others. It is another great reason why this is such a great community.
To all of these people and all the people who make the Hi-Line such a special place to live by donating time and money to many causes, we thank you all and wish you a merry Christmas.