By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The population of Havre will grow by more than 5 percent on Jan. 28-29.
Close to 500 students, plus coaches, drivers, and families will be in town for the 2000 Class A-B-C State Speech and Drama Tournament.
"This is the single biggest event we can bring to Havre," said Charlie Klimas, Havre High School activities director. "It brings in the most people for the most time."
The Havre Area Chamber of Commerce Athletic Committee bid on bringing the tournament to Havre two years ago, Klimas said. Much work was needed to set up the tournament once it was awarded to Havre.
And the work is still going on.
"Two years ago Havre committed to this tournament," Klimas said. "To give some idea of the commitment, the school calendar was built around it."
There will be no school in the district during the tournament.
Klimas said this is necessary for the size of the tournament. Classrooms in three of Havre's schools, Havre High, Havre Middle School, and Sunnyside Elementary School, will have to be used in the event.
Many people have been involved in the organization of the event, Klimas said. Superintendent Kirk Miller and Ric Floren, director of buildings and grounds, have had to be involved to coordinate classroom use and the custodial work schedule. The school principals have also been directly involved.
The Havre High speech coaches have been integral to setting up the tournament, Klimas said.
"I certainly want to give those folks credit," Klimas said. "They're work horses."
Klimas said that the tournament heavily impacts the hotels, restaurants and retail stores in Havre, and area business owners are also involved in the planning.
There is a problem at the moment finding enough rooms to house the participants, Klimas said. Every room in Havre is booked for that weekend, and more rooms are still needed, he said.
Many schools have overbooked rooms in case they need more than is expected, Klimas said. The actual need per school won't be known until after the state divisional tournaments on Jan. 21-22.
Klimas sent letters to the various schools involved in the tournament, requesting that they confirm reservations and cancel unneeded rooms as soon as their actual need is known.
Area businesses are also helping with the problem.
"Our motel people committed to do everything possible that they can to be sure that everybody has rooms," Klimas stated. "I'm optimistic that they will, but it will take a real effort on the part of area businesses and the schools."
The Havre Area Chamber of Commerce's athletic committee also committed to helping with the tournament Wednesday, Klimas said. They offered to help with the motel situation and finding judges, anything they can do to assist, Klimas said.
Any community with the resources can bid on the tournament, Klimas said, although it's usually Class A-B-C communities which do bid. Hamilton has held it recently and Columbia Falls has bid on it.
Havre has an advantage in bidding on the tournament, Klimas said. It has the resources needed to host an event of this size, and is centrally located in the east and west.
Klimas feels that Havre's main advantage is in its experienced coaching staff. He said that while there is a lot of work for the administration to bring this tournament to Havre, it's a tremendous amount of work for the coaches. He complimented them on their work.
"This is Peggy Fink's first year at Havre," he said. "She definitely knows what's what in running a tournament. We're really fortunate to have folks like her and Axel Schmaing. Karla Bolken has been there before. We have every advantage. I really believe the reason (the tournament) was awarded to Havre is the caliber of the speech coaches we have and their experience in putting on tournaments."